Saturday, September 7, 2013

High on ice, glaciers, fjords of amazing Alaska

 Cruising's pleasures heightened by exilirating Alaskan adventure

The wonders of Alaska unfold for Cookie, above, snug in her layers, enjoying the view from Carnival's Miracle.

The captain's delicate maneuvering helps guests enjoy
the wonders of the majestic Sawyer Glaciers, tiny islands,
sea life and more.  Our appreciation and concern increased. 

I STILL feel a bit giddy.
Call it an iceberg high.
I've smoked my share of ganja and had a few nips too many, but I've never been as high as I was a few days ago, infused by nature's wonders and reveling in the thrill.
My intoxicant?
The stunning bluish icebergs of the Tracy Arm Fjord of Alaska.
Glaciers in Tracy Arm are receding with each year, threatening wildlife.
FROM OUR veranda aboard the Carnival Miracle, we listened with astonishment to the ominous "white thunder" of immense spires of ice breaking from Sawyer Glacier.
After they tumbled and crashed to the sea, we watched them melt leisurely into whimsical shapes -- horses, flowers, entire tableaux.
From the earthquake-like cracks which startled us, the massive hunks of ice transformed to subtle, serene floating works of art. We witnessed the evolution of ice sculpture.
And we had our environmental consciences tweaked.
All in a few hours time.
ENJOYING these magnificent sights and sounds would not have been possible without the luxury of a time-saving cruise.
A cruise offers security, mobility, beautiful ports, no packing.
They're affordable now, so consider cruising as a wonderfully safe and efficient way to move about the world, experiencing several ports in a week or two, enjoying their splendors without wasting precious time on packing and unpacking.
ON THE Miracle, we entered Alaska's glacier area as children squealed with delight and adults gasped in awe. At one time, we counted 22 ice bergs of various sizes, with hundreds of cameras aimed at the spectacle.
We'd layered up, as our savvy naturalist advised, with turtle-necks, sweaters, scarves, hats and jackets to transit the 30 miles of wonder in the world famous Tracy Arm Wilderness Area.
WE WANDERED from own stateroom to our private veranda, to the larger decks above and below, to change and enhance our views -- like sitting in various sections of a changing theater --  making certain
Floating ice sculptures entrance cruise travelers to Alaska's fjord country.  
we absorbed the entire  spectacle.
In eight days of cruising, this unusual  "floating ice" orgy represented, for us, a tie for "most exhilarating day" -- the humpback whales were yet to come.
While we would find an abundance of whales and sea lions, we were alarmed to see for ourselves the diminishing glaciers and ice fields. We renewed our memberships to conservation and preservation efforts, reminded of the fragility of the earth's balance and the importance of glaciers and water to sustaining marine life and preserving polar bears in particular.
The sunsets aboard a ship at sea are hard to beat, here exiting Alaska's stunning Tracy Arm Wilderness Area . 
A room with a view:  The brilliant aqua glacial melt.

THE THRILL of being close-up to a steep, snow-clad mountain rising up 7,000 feet from sea level, would satisfy most of us.
Add to that the sound of cracking ice, the view of tons-heavy glaciers glinting in blue and pink light, splashing of tons of ice into the sea, then the melting "decorations," the ever-changing vistas as the ship made serpentine turns.
ALL SPECTACULAR.  Ending with one of the prettiest sunsets we've seen. And we hadn't had a drop of chardonnay!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Captain Luca Lazzarino presents a surprised Cookie 
with a "Miracle" cake created by the ship's chief chef:
a  happy 100th cruise party with Keller and officers.
COMING NEXT: Our Alaska-Seattle adventure continues, with a segue to British Columbia. Join us for an exciting series of pieces: In Alaska we are aboard Carnival Miracle's, where captain Luca Lazzarino, honors Cookie on her 100th cruise.
Cookie and Keller on the road to Alaska, ready for adventure.
We find a friendly pod of seven humpback whales near Juneau, take a narrow-gauge rail trip to the White Pass summit, hunt for bears (with our cameras!) and end our revels in international style at the famous Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C., for a spot of tea, a sip of sherry and a spectacular view of the Parliament Buildings lit up at night.
FINALLY,  full circle back on the mainland, we savor Seattle for a cocktail sail on Far Niente yacht, take a discovery trip to the locks aboard Argosy's Good Time III, and delight in a beguilingly elegant hotel, Pan Pacific, with stunning service and views to match.
The Space Needle shines in Seattle's sky,
luring our travelers to linger.

Remember to explore, learn and live.
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