The Norwegian Encore continued sailing the Inward Passage south, arriving in Juneau Wednesday morning about 8 AM. Kay had an early morning excursion to view the Mendenhall Glacier, now part of the Tongass National Park.
She was particularly anxious to see how much it had receded since we last saw it in September 2004. She photographed the terminus on the far side of Mendenhall Lake, and watched blue icebergs floating in the water amidst reflections of southeast Alaska’s coast mountains. (Note: The Mendenhall Glacier has retreated approximately 2.5 miles since its most recent maxima during the Little Ice Age in the mid-1700s.)
Rain continued through the afternoon and evening, and we again listened to the various musical groups appearing throughout the ship.
On Thursday morning we arrived at the last port of call, Ketchikan. Ketchikan is known as Alaska’s “first city” due to its location at the southern tip of the Inside Passage—it is the first city you reach as you cruise north, and only about 90 miles north of Prince Rupert in Canada’s British Columbia. Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles found throughout the city. With a population of almost 14,000, it is Alaska’s fifth largest city. We both stayed aboard the ship because of rain and heavy fog, spending the day reading, writing, and editing photos. It was low tide when we arrived about 8 AM, and we were able to observe Bald Eagles feeding on carrion on a exposed shoreline.
Throughout the day, we saw Bald Eagles and other birds soaring just below the clouds. In the evening, we saw an outstanding production of Choir of Man. Performed in front of a capacity crowd, this show is 80 minutes of unadulterated entertainment that combines high energy dance, live music, and foot stomping choreography with the incredible talent of nine ordinary guys, backed by a band of four, who perform everything from sing-along classics to classic rock. Not only is the concert set in a pub, but it has a real working bar from which the cast pulled quite a few pints for members of the audience. Though not a broadway show, it was one of the best performances we’ve ever seen.
All of Friday was spent “at sea.” We lounged about, and used the afternoon to organize and pack for the flight home. We watched some of the ship’s variety game shows and listened to music the rest of the evening.