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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Checked in at ESA Del Amo Circle

Aloha Everyone,

Back at our familiar place. We purchased a couple of bentos (Japanese box lunch) from Tokyo Central Supermarket before checking in at ESA (Extended Stay America). Rebate from the California accommodation tax was applied to our first week’s statement :-) the reason for the rebate is we stayed 30 days during our last visit.

Although there’s no time adjustments for us, being back on the solid ground require some modification for my feet.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Vancouver, BC to LAX, California

Aloha Everyone,

Taking Oceania Regatta transportation meant that two of us had to leave 6 hours early to the airport. The limousine service turned out to be a regular passenger bus. It certainly was not worth paying $140 for the two of us for this service. In the future, we will get a taxi.

After going through Canadian border check, immediately followed by the United States immigration checkpoint, the two of us went to the UAL lounge to get some hot soup and the use of a strong WIFi.

United Airline flight from Vancouver BC to LAX, California was well worth the US $335 we paid for each of us. The Airbus 320 has 12 seats in the Business Class section. Our cabin attendant was personable and attentive that he made our 3 hours flight pleasant.

As is our customary practice, we spent our first night back in California staying at La Quinta Inn LAX. To get a snack for J.J., the two of us walked to a nearby Starbucks.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, May 29, 2023

Cruising the Inside Passage

Aloha Everyone,

The captain made the announcement that we will be cruising through the Seymour Narrow today. The sea appears calm. J.J. and I spotted a large school of dolphins traveling alongside Regatta. As we arrived in Canadian water, we had a pilot board to help Regatta safely navigate this treacherous section of our sailing.

Today’s onboard activities includes last minutes bargain sale of Alaskan souvenir products. We met a couple who signed up for another cruise from Vancouver to Seattle, more less tracing our 12 days of sailing. For some, it is difficult to end this leisurely, very pampered lifestyle.

Another couple we sat with at lunch were busy thinking about their next cruise. But the husband will first fly back to Alaska for river fishing while his wife will stay home to spend time with their grandchildren. As soon as they finished lunch, she was going to afternoon tea to indulge in chocolates, cookies and sandwiches.

Photo is our room attendants. Jay on the left is from the Philippines. He took care of us for the full length of our two back-to-back cruises. Agust is from Java, Indonesia. Kiwi usually stationed in Terrace Cafe, is best among the best servers. They made our stay very special.

J.J. and I are back in our room finishing our packing.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Ketchikan, Alaska

Aloha Everyone,

The US Coast Guard is the biggest employer of Ketchikan. The town, like every community we stopped, is heavily reliant on cruise ships visiting. Regatta was anchored in a small harbor. Free shuttle buses made trips back and forth to downtown including Newtown and West End. The bus driver mentioned that at busy times Ketchikan welcomes as many as 8 vessels a day giving a much-needed boost to the economy.

Norwegian Cruise Line leased the bay for 50 years. As Oceania is a member of the Norwegian group, J.J. thinks that Regatta’s current site is costing less than if we were in the downtown harbor area.

Every person who has relocated to Alaska has stories to tell. Our bus driver found his job with a company who owns an old cruise ship visible from Regatta. His home is one of the 70 plus rooms in this old cruise ship. The bus driver said that jobs are plentiful. Anyone can find job if they are willing to wash dishes, wait tables. His cost to live on the ship is free. He eats dinner on the ship paying $12 per meal which he claims is very cheap compared to what a comparable meal would cost in town.

The state of Alaska will sell you land if you are willing to homestead. Some districts get their water from the country while others collect rainwater. Heating might be kerosine fireplaces or wood burning stoves. Alaska is the last frontier of the United States and old and new settlers face daily challenges.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Juneau, Alaska

Aloha Everyone,

During our last visit to Juneau, it was mid-June with our family. The weather was so hot, and I recall that we all dressed light. Today it was wet, windy and cold. Even then Juneau is beautiful and the two of us enjoyed walking to the shopping areas.

With 5 cruise ships visiting Juneau, the streets, stores and restaurants were packed with tourists.

One of the servers mentioned to us that she went to do her shopping at an outlet designated for cruise ship staffs. She also went to eat at a cafeteria which is for staffs from cruise ships. That makes a lot of sense. Most of the tourist stores and restaurants are selling name brands at exorbitant prices. For those cruise staffs who are seeking for inexpensive but authentic items from Alaska the outlets can easily make up with volume.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, May 26, 2023

Hubbard Glacier

Aloha Everyone,

Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America. Gardiner Hubbard, the founder of the National Geographic Magazine is the name's sake.

After dropping anchor, some passengers went on a wildlife expedition in smaller boats. A couple who sat next to us at dinner went on a kayaking tour. The two hours tour was “wet, tiring and draining with no significant wildlife encounters.” The husband told us that his legs are frozen and his arms ache from using the oars. J.J. and I stayed on board and enjoyed relaxing day. 

Here are some delicious foods we enjoyed on our 2nd week of the Alaskan cruise.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Icy Straight Point (Hoonah)

Aloha Everyone,

According to information provided by the Alaskan Tourism industry, Hoonah translates to “where the North wind doesn’t blow” in Tlingit Indian language. About 70% of the population on the leeward (downwind) side of Chichagof Island are Tlingit Indians.

A short gondola ride deposited us at the reconstructed community of Hoonah, Alaska’s largest Tlingit Village. Great photo taking opportunities including a restored 1912 salmon cannery, nature trails, museums, restaurants, hotels and finally, the world’s largest Zip Rider which included screeching sounds.

J.J. and I met a family who were traveling with their two children. One father confided to us that his son is not interested in the history or culture of the Hoonah. But they spent nearly an hour skipping stoned at the rocky beach. Reminded us of the time when J.J. showed our sons how to skip stones on the frozen surface of a lake in northern Italy.

Aloha -- Cathi