Thursday, September 10, 2009

Westerdam to Alaska: Juneau

It was no “fluke” that we saw an abundance of wildlife on our Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest tour this morning—the tour’s operators guarantee it and will hand each passenger a one-hundred dollar bill back at the dock if humpback whales are not spotted. No one has ever collected and we certainly didn’t have to today.

Although it was raining, the catamaran, which is specifically designed for wildlife viewing, was cozy inside and it was a simple matter to scoot outside to the observation deck when whales were spotted. In addition to the coffee, hot tea, and hot chocolate that were served, we also had a tasty smoked salmon snack.

The first sighting in Stephen’s Passage was a majestic bald eagle and it wasn’t long before a mama whale and her baby surfaced alongside our boat. We then passed an island populated by sea lions and harbor seals and also saw a sea otter swimming offshore. It’s somewhat unusual to see sea otters, so that was a rare treat for both the tour’s naturalist as well as us.

I had almost given up seeing a whale rise out of the water and show his tail when we spotted several spouts, the indication that there were numerous whales about to surface. And surface they did! A couple even “waved” their flukes in the air—something I’ve always longed to see. Altogether, the tour was informative, enjoyable, and delivered everything it promised.

Before we head to our next port of call, let’s back up to last night when we had dinner in the Chef’s Table, a gourmet meal with wines paired to each course. Aboard Westerdam, it’s a weekly gastronomic experience for a maximum of twenty-four diners. While still in the “testing” stage, the Chef’s Table is proving popular, so look for it to roll out fleetwide. will share complete menu details and photos in an upcoming article.

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