Jump to content
twangster

Ovation Goes North, Way North to Alaska! 11 Nights, May 13, 2019

Recommended Posts

Day 9 - Approach to Endicott Arm

Yesterday the Captain projected a 5am arrival to the mouth of Endicott Arm.  Consequently I was up early and top side to capture it.

Time 4:57am.

1z49dps.jpg

The moon was clearly visible.

dkn6Zjr.jpg

This is the direction we are heading.  That valley to the right of center is where we will be in an hour or so.

5WDxvny.jpg

Glacial ice coming towards us was a sign we are on the right path.  This one struck me because at a distamce it looked like a small fishing boat.

ZKg2VWd.jpg

SquTVUZ.jpg

The sun was thinking about rising.

YyufpP0.jpg

The entrance to Endoctt Arm is close to the entrance of Tracy Arm and I suspect that is where this boat was heading.

z6tg4tq.jpg

hhfJ2BL.jpg

Looks like some rain in the distance.  No worries, that's Alaska.  

yyDYsMc.jpg

RHfdgCO.jpg

It might look like a dead end but that is where Endicott Arm leads.

k8nU0uQ.jpg

On a growler, the name for medium sized chucks of glacial ice, I spotted a Bald Eagle keeping an eye on us.

UvQi2LK.jpg

The ice was quite fascinating, very different sizes and shapes.  

KSWS0B4.jpg

Upon closer inspection this one had a small colony of birds on it.

xQFyrOu.jpg

Time to move around and see it from another perspective.

Time 5:51am.

HA4dobJ.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a lot of people become focused on Dawes Glacier and miss an incredible experience in Endicott Arm.  Glaciers are cool but you can only take so many pictures of a glacier.  Endicott Arm is constantly changing as you sail down it.  For me it's as incredible as the glacier is if not more.

While I was down here on deck 5 I thought I'd check out the outer viewing areas on this deck.  I like being down here when we are sailing through lots of ice.

SiVOKdW.jpg

C4phoLP.jpg

NuoWREc.jpg

TcmEb0I.jpg

iJF23Ow.jpg

PjDeut4.jpg

I thought I saw something on a piece of darker ice.

7r0SJNy.jpg

Sure enough a Bald Eagle was perched on the ice, watching.  

rgTot4h.jpg

PipaH8Z.jpg

The surrounding terrain is pretty amazing.  Remember that drizzle we sailed through?  Beautiful blue skies now.  That's Alaska weather.

4pQIWNB.jpg

uiJMnhB.jpg

Incredible volume of water coming down these waterfalls.

21MMEQL.jpg

Time to head up for a different perspective.

3lONuHg.jpg

They were running the North Star on a test run without any passengers.

zNUMNZq.jpg

ADiliGZ.jpg

The Solarium was a popular viewing location but I still prefer being outdoors and moving around too much to try to anchor in a chair.

AVAt2Ou.jpg

1KdTvUv.jpg

It really is pretty amazing.

WekDEqf.jpg

I knew we were getting closer and I didn't want to be fading at the glacier without anything in my stomach I popped into the Windjammer for a quick breakfast.  Talk about a meal with a view!

Time 7:34am

OplDGFs.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier, continued...

It's been a struggle but here are some of my favorites pictures from several hundred taken this day.  However I wanted people who are taking this awesome cruise to get a preview of what to expect so here comes a bunch of photos.

After breakfast I ran back to my cabin to clean my lens.  Looking forward to where we are going. 

QIgFeX3.jpg

Looking down from my balcony it's amazing to see these pieces of the glacier floating by so close to the ship.

05kHUdn.jpg

We had entered a section where there were a lot of small pieces of glacial ice.

WlXlY8C.jpg

I remember this side channel from a previous cruise.  It was estimated this is where the face of the glacier was ~100 years ago.  Note the presence and size of trees.  It takes several decades for trees of this size to arrive.  Remember 100 years ago this was solid glacial ice and no vegetation was present as the ice moved down the channel. 

7OMdGUX.jpg

I like to move around the ship so back to the bridge wings off the Solarium.

T7uMh9K.jpg

They were getting more crowded but people tended to move forward, take a picture and back away so someone else could.

lZnKA7M.jpg

For those that sought to stay in place the Solarium has awesome views.

BimCuGv.jpg

dWm2MVO.jpg

Starboard bridge wing.

ztb2t8G.jpg

Looking back where we came from.  The walls of the canyon are very steep and drop off several hundred feet.  We are in deep water.

3Bskf6Y.jpg

dzLB9kW.jpg

First signs of the glacier!  

Time 8:30am

9EN3r0m.jpg

The paid North Star Alaskan Experience ride was carrying guests at this point.

2ZFbqzd.jpg

mosj4QP.jpg

aZA7jUN.jpg

Larger pieces of glacial ice was becoming more common.  These pieces are called growlers.  Actual icebergs are pretty uncommon at these glaciers which tend to calve resulting in these smaller pieces which are harmless to the ship.  

dogIxvD.jpg

H9ERymA.jpg

We slowed and inched closer to the glacier.

ijCae28.jpg

Each growler is unique and display what has been locked inside the glacier for scores of years.

efZz39i.jpg

With my telephoto lens I was able to see the glacier quite clearly even at the distance of over a mile from where we were.

YJHjDFA.jpg

HoQ6qcJ.jpg

TPyZbz1.jpg

Crowds where starting to form to take it all in.

ycJOoQE.jpg

Large waterfalls line the sides of Endicott Arm.  These are pretty massive and the volume of water in each is pretty impressive.

dW24SAC.jpg

gsR8JtC.jpg

mPfjW0y.jpg

z8licgA.jpg

Here a mile or so from the glacier the vegetation is very different compared to where the glacier was 100 years ago   

This early low vegetation is beginning a life cycle that will eventually turn into a soil that eventually will support larger and larger vegetation   One hundred years from now trees will most likely be found here just as they are in that earlier photo of the side channel.

7dYaZH5.jpg

jk9RJlZ.jpg

I took a time lapse video approaching this point.

 

The North Star Alaskan Experience review has been posted to Royal Caribbean Blog here:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2019/05/23/review-north-star-alaska-experience-ovation-of-the-seas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dawes Glacier

My reservation for the $49 North Star Alaskan Experience was for 10am.  Best times for glacier viewing on this sailing were between 9am and 10am.  This will vary for each sailing depending on arrival time and ice conditions.

After check in for the North Star Alaskan Experience there is a waiting area in a roped off section of the North Star Bar.    Hot chocolate is complimentary.

y3qIuwa.jpg

As we waited the ship began it's turn.

sNQk6T9.jpg

Incredible weather compared to the drizzle we sailed through earlier today.  That's Alaska weather.

bv3isUO.jpg

The glacier is approximately 1 mile away at this point.  This illustrates just how big it is - that's it's this visible from this distance.

lpQGVnt.jpg

When it was our turn we were led up to board the North Star.

QuvDFtS.jpg

By the time we boarded North Star the ship had turned and pointed down the inlet in the direction had had arrived from.

RTQyKpg.jpg

NVenSSX.jpg

We started our way back down Endicott Arm.

I used wide angle lens for this next shot so it makes the glacier look small but the views are pretty impressive.  Seeing the ship from outside the ship really makes you appreciate the scale of the mountains beside us.

rmZwYmT.jpg

ep5wc2o.jpg

U7AkAzS.jpg

Rotating out over the side of ship is pretty awesome.  On Anthem the North Star only goes up and does a slight left/right move.  This ride takes you right over the edge of the ship looking down at the glacial ice floating below us.

WFM813L.jpg

5E0M9ut.jpg

OMvbQCi.jpg

It's a pretty awesome experience.  

3HbLEJj.jpg

When I first learned of the $49 charge I was skeptical but having done it at both Hubbard and Dawes Glaciers I am sold and would do it again on another cruise to Alaska.

Plus I still had my complimentary ride in the North Star booked for later today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The way back out Endicott Arm is still a pretty cool experience.  Now with the sun higher in the sky and seeing it from the other direction resulted in equally impressive sightseeing.

WuhVddG.jpg

ftMfIQd.jpg

y5jEQUv.jpg

eR0GdVq.jpg

To prove the Arm is tidal here are some chucks of ice stranded from high tide.

2HearQV.jpg

Waterfalls galore.

VLDzaAu.jpg

Paid North Star Alaskan Experience rides continued.

9utwTkF.jpg

Y6L5n5C.jpg

The inlet opens up as we move closer to the Inside Passage where we started.

Z8GdW4c.jpg

Ice like this doesn't hurt the ship, it basically bounces off..  A few days later on a bridge tour I learned they used the bow thrusters to push ice away from the ship.

aA4F6sv.jpg

Time for my complimentary North Star ride.  I had picked the first complimentary time slot of the day in the cruise planner before sailing.  

While this one doesn't go over the side of the ship there are still great views.

Time 11:30am

PoqGapx.jpg

PQUJEPm.jpg

rhFbvDZ.jpg\

ZWemNkP.jpg

If I hadn't mentioned it before the North Star Bar offers great sightseeing views.

aenbSTi.jpg

It's hard to put into words but I could sit here all day and watch the landscape go by.

V4H7Y1a.jpg

E49Hz0b.jpg

fCRbBzD.jpg

Remember that sunrise shot early this morning?

H3bYIqu.jpg

I spotted another Bald Eagle.

tzTbCn7.jpg

if6ZkNN.jpg

OAa1DmB.jpg

Jbe0SHA.jpg

LZ3ng6O.jpg

Time for a beer.  Okay I had two using my Crown and Anchor BOGO coupon.

u8rVlf1.jpg

rVkkHAs.jpg

A small tour boat was entering the Arm.

t37cwID.jpg

The complimentary North Ride Experience as we enter the Inside Passage in a time lapse captured as I drank my beer.

Lastly, here is a time lapse from my balcony starting with our entrance to Endicott Arm through Endicaott Arm to Dawes Glacier and back down to where we re-enter the Alaskan Inside Passage.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 9 - Afternoon

Shortly after leaving Endicott Arm and re-entering the Inside Passage there were dozens of whales in the area.  A tell tale sprout of water was the easiest way to spot them.

HqZ0gSz.jpg

Some were closer to the ship but many were more distant in just about every direction I looked.

KNdpjUE.jpg

iD3K5vC.jpg

When Humpback whales prepare to dive deep they go through a series of breaths designed to prepare their lungs for an extended submersion.  It starts with surfacing to deep breathe.

CwdD51s.jpg

The body barely skims the surface as they swim shallow for several breaths.

KTFGdiR.jpg

Here you can see the blow hole they exhale and breathe through.

9v1J3Ng.jpg

After several deep breathes they are ready to dive which is characterized by curving their body driving their back higher above the surface.  This is why they are known as Humpbacks.

T1N6ghK.jpg

Then they began to dive sometimes forcing their fluke or tail into the air.

SpE6KAP.jpg

Xu90X6A.jpg

Once you see the fluke disappear like this they have likely submerged deeper looking for food or to swim underwater for a greater distance.  They can stay submerged for several minutes.

au1QprA.jpg

mLq7o3C.jpg

Our position as we started the trek to Seattle.

82jUy6m.jpg

Sometime after 4:30pm I headed down to the Diamond Lounge for happy hour while continuing to whale watch.

bDM1gD0.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Earlier I mentioned that the Prince and Greene store on board was being converted to offer Alaskan merchandise.  It opened on day three. 

Here are some pictures.

lJaoAMy.jpg

eCTLwKF.jpg

VBOmW1R.jpg

iebvJzZ.jpg

POtGtn9.jpg

3zI0vei.jpg

Having been on different classes of ships to Alaska it's not a bad little store.  I've grabbed things in these types of stores before and every time I use it I am reminded of my Alaska experience.  This is a great way to dispense of any extra OBC or on-board credit you might have left over at this point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 9 - Evening

Crown and Anchor Top Tier event in Two70°.

With the screens lowered the Vistarama was displaying the virtual fleet sailing behind us.  I've seen this before on Anthem and it's impressive.  On Anthem they presented the fleet starting with the Song of Norway slowly adding ships over the years.  The video was originally created for a Board of Director's meeting a few years ago and it's pretty impressive.

Crown and Anchor numbers:

Pinnacle 84, Diamond Plus 386, Diamond  598, Emerald  284, Platinum 476, Gold  999.    Total 2,827 C&A members on board.  

CmkRKV6.jpg

With the evening progressing a sunset was in the making.  Possibly the "worst" sea conditions so far.

hXQZiqX.jpg

I ventured back to the aft Windjammer outdoor seating area for it.

vnmHdm3.jpg

8TjUd32.jpg

vIMgrkS.jpg

What fantastic weather we've had.

KkgubVI.jpg

fwIHe2V.jpg

Our progress... as we leave the Alaskan Inside Passage and re-enter the Pacific Ocean.

GuKLWLQ.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 10 - Sea Day

Bridge Tour!

How about a tour of the bridge of the largest cruise ship ever to visit Alaska?

6oTa3kz.jpg

A cadet is charged with guiding our tour today.  He is early in his nautical career and is currently spending a few months on various ships learning more about ship operations.

0LuNbpG.jpg

drXnB31.jpg

Here is demonstrates the observation panel in the floor of the bridge wing so that the pier can be seen as the ship approaches it.  It's very thick.

OUWPLHj.jpg

The view down through the observational panel in the floor.

s4DT6Lu.jpg

The view aft.

hLAOAmv.jpg

The Captain comes over to answer a few question and thank us for cruising with Ovation on this very special itinerary.

q5pSAMv.jpg

Pretty good views forward as well.

7o4GW8N.jpg

N8RiPlw.jpg

ff7L1uC.jpg

bJCpo3H.jpg

Quantum class are in the Guinness World Records. 

ESL1E9A.jpg

A pretty cool tour compliments of the Crown and Anchor Society for top levels of the program.

eDb1sVC.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 10 - Evening

The bulk of this sea day is just like any other sea day.  I did get some work done.  

Around 6pm I was in the vicinity of the North Star and there were no lines, so...

NxZbgqI.jpg

Qn5dHqr.jpg

jGIvFvl.jpg

Time change back to Pacific time tonight.

Our progress...

E26Kxa4.jpg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 11 - Sea Day

I woke early and checked our position.

PtSIkBv.jpg

Never get tired of a sunrise over the sea.

gpjUOZh.jpg

V3yf3rn.jpg

The day progressed and eventually led to the craze know as the 2 for $20 sale.   Deck 5 was a viable route to avoid the crazy shoppers that rival a black Friday experience.   

4MF7sH7.jpg

Late afternoon the Food and Beverage team put out a cake in the Windjammer.

IqkyT9Y.jpg

It grew foggy.

4rYZAtR.jpg

At times they sounded the ship's whistle every two minutes per standard fog protocol.  

D6KNkx4.jpg

At this point we were within the Strait of Juan de Fuca in between Canada to our North and America to our South.

Whale sightings became frequent.  The Captain called out some of them over the PA.

1e3H8Eb.jpg

dpAvp5q.jpg

q1qdaOX.jpg

At one point I looked down from my balcony and a whale was right beside the ship.  I could clearly hear each breath as it surfaced for air.  Amazing!

A pod of Orca's was on the other side.  More whale call outs by the Captain.  Pretty cool.

Afternoon turned into evening and the fog lifted some, enough to barely make out Canada to our North.

YjmYWJy.jpg

Our progress...

AQtiFVr.jpg

Evening turned into a sunset.

5nkBHmP.jpg

1nlfJnn.jpg

Ugh.  Time to pack.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 12 - Seattle

Around 5:30am we were along side Pier 91 in Seattle.  Below was the passenger drop off and pick up area.

DFS2Fyt.jpg

Cruise terminal to the left services two ships.

r0kyjdn.jpg

Company ship Celebrity Solstice was arriving right behind us. 

42ZDrAL.jpg

I went up to eat a last Windjammer breakfast at 6am.  Seattle from the ship.

aydkgGT.jpg

While up here I grabbed some photos of the pool signs for the main pool and the kid/baby Splash zones.

hrJz5XD.jpg

0tFyOAa.jpg

tMm0zQn.jpg

The current pool is that circular pool like a lazy river that has jets to keep it circulating.

b8k4OhJ.jpg

After breakfast I was going down the aft stairs where they have a clear floor to look down the height of the elevator bank down to deck 5 below.

aMuIYbA.jpg

The self-assist line was forming.

XL9iQvX.jpg

I headed back to my cabin for a last minute sweep for any missing items I forgot to pack and to brush my teeth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For embarking Seattle passengers Pier 91 typically handles two ships.  

pYwtS7Q.jpg

Each ship has a designated luggage drop off area.

nj32P6Y.jpg

DVspAfK.jpg

6CWKTTd.jpg

The terminal itself is not very big.  There are marked entrances for each ship. 

zRGs1YN.jpg

Ovation entrance to the left, Solstice entrance to the right.

qyuKCTa.jpg

Debarking was easy.  I made my way down and found the self-assist line already leaving.  I joined the end of the line around 6:40am with 20 in front of me.  No stopping, off the ship, down the escalator and out the terminal.  Super easy.  

Today I would be using a ride share service to reach the airport.  The ride share pick up and drop off area is on the other side of that gray building in the distance.  You can do the 10 minute walk or use the free shuttle close to the ship.  

Time 6:47am

od3kz9Z.jpg

I chose to walk since I would be sitting on a plane later.  On the walk I noticed the sign for the Quick Shuttle to Vancouver.  I looked at this as a means to fly in Seattle and shuttle to Vancouver.  They also pick up at the airport.  For any Canadians or Vancouverites this is a super easy way to get across the border.

GvR8t1B.jpg

One last look at Ovation of the Seas.

rP3c76b.jpg

The ride share area is covered and has numbered stalls where you can meet your driver.

RFTXUb8.jpg

Lyft was $33 to the airport. 

I arrived at the airport at 7:30am.

I had a noon flight but I like to get off the ship and beat the crowds.  Given it's a Friday an early ride to the airport meant beating Seattle rush hour traffic.  Ride share is often cheaper too before masses disembark and surge pricing goes into effect.  

I later learned of 1 1/2 wait times for cabs for guests leaving during later times.  There was no wait for a cab when I debarked.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Port of Seattle offers a free luggage valet program.  

This program collects your luggage the last night of the cruise and delivers it to the airport and your airline free of charge (airline bag fees may apply).

For details check out this thread:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/12993-port-of-seattle-free-port-valet-luggage-program/

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some thoughts about Voom ship internet on this cruise.

I had pre-purchased a Voom Surf and Stream package at a sale price of $11.99 per day for a total price of $132.

Of my four cruises to Alaska on RCCL ships this was my worst ship internet experience.  

It started off great in Vancouver with the faster O3b service.  Shortly after going to sea it switched to the conventional geostationary satellite service which was expected this far North.  As we progressed it became very slow.  Like slower than the old dial-up service of the 90's at times.  It didn't really improve until we got closer to Seattle on the final sea days.

Texting usually worked but email was challenging and streaming impossible.

Hg1IbKp.jpg

Returning into O3b coverage areas they kept the ship on the old satellite system.  I suspect they don't want guests experiencing O3b for a day in Seattle and then facing the stark contrast of Alaska satellite internet. 

The Voom specialist offered a 20% discount.    

Satellite internet in Alaska has challenges that are well known but this was by far the worst ship internet I've ever experienced in Alaska.  

Most ports on Alaskan cruises have cellular service for major US cell providers so you need to carefully consider if you should purchase Voom when sailing to Alaska.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...