Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day 4 - Afternoon - Juneau

Arrived in Juneau today….wonderful weather, sunny and reasonably warm. We arrived in the afternoon, our morning was spent cruising along the Lynn Canal with beautiful scenery the whole trip. The seas have been extremely calm throughout the entire trip up from Vancouver.

I am scheduled on a Land & Sea photography tour this afternoon for 4 hours. I checked with the front desk and they are still trying to locate my baggage, the Holland America staff have been fantastic, checking and letting me know their findings every day, at least twice a day. Everyone is hoping I catch up with my luggage here in Juneau.

Photo Tour. A small group of 14 people are on this tour. We departed from the cruise dock and were bused to Auk Bay Marina a distance of about 20 miles, here we met up with our boat captain. We boarded the boat a very nice rigid hulled inflatable with a fully enclosed cabin. The boat was built specifically for whale watching and photography tours. The side windows fold up against the ceiling with padded arm rests on the window sill to lean against while taking pictures, there is also and open bow area to stand and shoot or watch the whales.

About 15 minutes in to the trip we managed to hit a log and had to stop and check the motors…damn those submerged logs! While stopped we noticed directly ahead a humpback whale, so we slowly motored over to await it’s next surfacing. The whale surfaced several times but failed to wave his tail for us, so we moved on to another whale a little further along. This one was much more cooperative and gave us all several opportunities to capture the famous “Whale Tail” photo!! See included shots!

The radio crackled from another boat that there was a pod of killer whales nearby so we closed the windows and headed further out to find the pod of killer whales. We managed to arrive just a one of the large males Orcas launched himself completely out of the water, sadly not one of us had our cameras ready or the window up to be able to capture the shot, but the sight itself was impressive. We spent about 30 minutes with the pod of small killer whales surfacing all around us. Not one launched themselves again to our disappointment. On our way back to the dock we stopped at a floating channel marker buoy which had several seas Lions on board as well as a bald eagle…it was quite a sight, we slowly circled the marker and listened to the arguing Sea Lions and harbor seals. There was a definite conflict going on. It was very interesting to watch.

Back in Auk Bay Marina we disembarked the boat and made our way back to the parking lot where we were met by a small bus to transport us to the Visitor Center at Mendenhall Glacier. As we arrived at the visitor center and gathered around our guide to determine which trail we were taking and where our bus would meet us at the end of the hike. As we were milling about we heard from another guide there was a bear sleeping in a tree nearby along a walkway, so off we went. Managed to get a few photos, however the bear was quite a ways up and with enough branches around him to make it tough to get a good clear shot, but it was interesting.

After this little side trip we headed back across the parking lot to the trail we were going to take, the “Trail of Time”. This trail has markers along the way which report the years and locations of the end of the Glacier Ice as the glacier has been receding the past 40 years that the glacier has been studied. It was a nice trail with several opportunities to take some interesting shots.

About an hour later, we met up with the bus to return to the cruise ship! The van had bottled water and candy bars for our return snack! This was a very nice tour and well run. I have written a letter on behave of the Tour Company to Holland America.

Upon arrival back at the ship my first stop was at the front desk to check on my luggage. Nothing heard as yet! They hoped it was going to be on a 7:00 pm Air Alaska flight. I departed for downtown to pick up a couple more shirts and some more cash! Upon returning I went to my room and changed my shirt for dinner. The ship was scheduled to depart Juneau at 10:00 PM. After dinner I went to the Ocean Bar on the 8th deck for a couple drinks, Then went down for one more check on my luggage before we departed. The gangplank had already been raised and the front desk said they had not heard anything yet, so I assumed that I was set for another day without my stuff! Went back to my room and there was my luggage! So I spent the next hour getting unpacked and things put away!

So here is the story, which I found out later by the Holland America Front Desk Supervisor. The luggage arrived in Seattle, not sure on which airline, I am working on getting that information, supposedly US Air. I had filled out information with them on my itinerary so it was up to them to get the luggage to my next destination. Instead the luggage was flown on Alaska Air to Ketchikan and delivered to the Holland America Port Agent Office in Ketchikan, who took it upon himself to contact each of the Holland America ships to determine which ship had me as a passenger and was missing luggage. Upon contacting the Ryndam of course he found out I was aboard and the ship was due to arrive in Juneau, so he arranged to have the bags flown to the Holland America Port Agent in Juneau, who immediately delivered it to the ship, just before we departed.

So, it was Holland America who was truly responsible for finding the luggage and making sure it got to the proper location, while all the airlines did was screw up, I mean they could not even forward it to the correct port after I left them my itinerary.

So last year while at the Lodge my project was to create a photography book of Family Photographs…this year it will be to terrorize the morons in the baggage handling sections of AirTran, US Air and particularly the Station Manger for Air Tran in Orlando, since it was his poor decision to not unload and forward the luggage while we were delayed in Orlando. His exact statement was, this arrival was an unscheduled arrival and his staff had to work the regularly scheduled flights and could not take the luggage from our flight. I will be anxious to find out the details of how many others were affected by the morons inability to step up to the plate and make the correct “Customer Service” based decision. I have already contacted an old friend in Orlando who is working on getting this guy’s name for me and once I have that information, I intend to write a searing letter to his supervisors.

So, Day 3 – was a great day…Great Tour and the end of the day with meeting up with my luggage was a huge plus!!


Capt Jim

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