- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

17 July 2019; Juneau, Alaska.

Today we are in Juneau and the shopkeepers must be very happy and also the shore excursions people as it is a full house in the port. We have in port the Royal Princess (3600 guests), Azamara Quest (686 guests), Crystal Symphony (848 guests), Star Princess (3100 guests), Westerdam (approx. 2100).  So based on lower bed capacity we are already talking over 10000 guests. I put approx. 2100 for the Westerdam as normally the number is lower but it being high season we have a lot of families on board and then the bunk beds fill up.  This also means approx.4000 crew in the port and if 50% would make it ashore then it is even busier. Most crew are going to the supermarkets and Costco in the valley for which a whole myriad of shuttle buses are in existence. It is known that Costco stocks up on gadgets when the tourist seasons starts as they know that this is of great interest to the crew. They cannot take TV’s home but small electronics they can. And a lot of crew have extended families with lots of nephews and nieces and they all want a present when the sailor comes home. I once saw a Filipino bar tender going home with 41 fluffy toys in a box. He told me that his wife had sent him a list of so many in pink, so many in green and so many in blue and preferably Pokémon characters. He was quite happy as he gotten them for a very good deal in Chinatown Vancouver. But for the older ones, electronic gadgets are needed and that is all out there.

Juneau has two bookshops in down town, one for new books and one for antiquarian books, so I went briefly ashore to have a look. New Alaskan shipping books are not greatly advertised in Europe and this bookshop always has a nice selection but there was nothing new for me. The 2nd hand or antiquarian bookshop has a very nice selection of Alaskana but also other topics. Alaskan people read a lot in the winter and cherish their books and thus there is always good turn over in the 2nd hand trade. There used to be 4 or 5 antiquarian books in Juneau but the internet put an end to that, plus the cost of leasing a shop has also becomes prohibitive as who can beat Columbian Emeralds. I believe the two bookshops here own their properties and thus they can still live from their trade. And most booksellers I know live for their work and not for their bank account and thus they are not tempted to lease out to accommodate even more souvenirs shops. I was glad to see that they were also doing well with many cruise guests inside. I had to laugh when a Lady came in and asked for a “book about whales” and I admired the store owner as he patiently queried her about what exactly she was looking for as he had about 70 options on offer. Turned out she wanted one for a toddler and one for a teen, and yes with so much choice, the right book was there.

The pontoon docks. The high gangway is the emergency gangway, the lower gangway, almost flat, is the one we use for  the regular guest and crew traffic. At the end you can see a long ramp leading to “town level”. The long catwalks are for the linesmen to get to the various bollards to handle the mooring lines.

When we came in this morning, the Azamara Quest was already at anchor and thus we had to use the available space left. Luckily not much of a problem as the tide was coming in and thus the Quest was straining behind the anchor to the north and that left us more than enough space, to swing to the dock. With 585 feet in length she is not a very large ship anyway (Slightly smaller than our ex Prinsendam) and Juneau Harbor can handle two ships of that size at anchor. Thus we could nicely swing in front of the Quest and dock at the Cruise Terminal. (E.G. the floating pontoon in front of what used to be the Cruise terminal or ferry dock in the past) The new pontoons are making our lives and that of our guests a lot easier as the gangway can now remain on the same deck as the pontoon goes up and down with the tide in the same way as the ship does. From the pontoon long ramps go up to town level and that makes it also a lot easier for less mobile people to get off the ship.

This is the Royal Princess and she is together with the Norwegian Bliss this summer the largest ship in Alaska. I can post this photo as Princess is part of the HAL Group (Holland America, Princess, P&O Australia, Seabourn) so we are all one family. The part that is sticking out at the back is called a ducktail and helps with improving speed efficiency  by acting as a sort of car-spoiler. I am waiting for some clever clog to come up with the idea to put a outdoor bar on it to optimize the space.

Although Juneau remains the port where most of the ships stay the longest, basically as there is so much to do for the guests, the time in port schedules do vary. The Crystal Symphony was in by 0700 hrs. and stayed until 1800 hrs. As she is only an occasional caller she had the dock furthest from town, The Star Princess is a weekly caller so she docked behind us but only came in at 12.30 as she went for a visit to Misty Fjords, just outside Juneau first. The Royal Princess had a regular call from 06.30 to 17.00 hrs. and she comes in very early as it takes so much time to dispatch so many cruise guests from that ship. The Azamara Quest is also a semi exploration ship (a direct competitor for Seabourn) came in at 0900 hrs. and is staying until 23.00 hrs. And thus there will be a late evening cruise ship parade as we are leaving at 22.00 hrs. followed by the Star Princess at 22.15 hrs. The Quest might even sail first to give the Star more space as she has to swing around as she came nose in today.

Tomorrow we are in Skagway at the end of the Lynn Canal. With us will be the Star Princess again as she will follow us up the coast. Weather for tomorrow: Overcast with a chance of showers 62oF /17oC and a 40% chance of rain at lunch time.



1 Comment

  1. Captain Albert, you state the Star Princess went to Misty Fjords first before coming to Juneau, I thought that was outside of Ketchikan ?

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