Got up at seven o’clock this morning to find the Quest docked in Seward, Alaska. We went up for breakfast in the Windows Café and I enjoyed the full English as we knew we’d be disembarking soon. 🙁
We returned to stateroom 6009, packed the remainder of our stuff into our carry-on bags, had a last look around and reluctantly left our cabin, making our way to The Den to await the call for our group, Green #11, to disembark. This came around 9.15am and we went down to Deck 3, swiped our cruise cards for the last time, and finally left the Azamara Quest. We’d had a great two weeks on her, but our holiday wasn’t quite over yet.
We boarded one of the waiting coaches for the two-hour ride to Anchorage, where we would board an Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle-Tacoma airport. We’d been advised that the best seats were on the same side as the driver (the left-hand side in the USA!) as this would give us the most scenic route for the journey.
We set off through the town which eventually gave to wide roads and onto the freeway, and it was certainly true regarding the views out of the window; trees and lakes and snow-capped mountains against a blue-grey sky filled with scudding clouds. I took quite a few photos of the starkly-beautiful landscape out of the bus window and spent the time reading my Kindle or listening to music on my iPod.
The time flew by, and the clue that we were near the airport came by the sight of aircraft roaring overhead on their final approach into Anchorage. We then spotted the control tower, and eventually the bus pulled up at the entrance to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. A quick Google told me that the airport is after Ted Stevens, a U.S. senator from Alaska in office from 1968 to 2009. You live and learn! 🙂
Inside the check-in building we were confronted by a couple of HUGE polar bears! Luckily, however, they were in a glass case and were stuffed ones, with details of the name of the hunter and when they were killed. To be honest, killing is polar bear is something to be ashamed of, not proud, but in Alaska where hunting and whaling and fur-trapping was a way of life, I suppose that at the time the bears were killed it was more acceptable than it would be today.
Likewise, we also saw some stuffed brown bears in a glass case as well, their taxidermied bodies artificially posed, huge paws raised, and their glass eyes staring blankly into infinity.
We made our way to the check-in desk that had a short queue, and quickly managed to get rid of our cases, after having to pay an unexpected $30.00 each for checked bags! Then it was just the usual; through security and into the Duty Free shopping area and other airside amenities.
As our flight to Sea-Tac wasn’t until 3.30pm, we had quite a bit of time to kill. We therefore had a look around the airport and finally settled on a small restaurant and bar area, where they had free wifi and facilities to charge your phone or laptop. We weren’t too hungry after our substantial breakfast, but ordered a dish of chicken wings in a sort of barbecue sauce to share, as well as a pint of the local beer each.
I then charged up my phone, plugged in my laptop, and spent some time updating and uploading this blog, whilst enjoying another beer. 🙂
It was then time to proceed to the departure gate where we could see our Alaska Airlines plane sitting waiting for us on the tarmac. Boarding commenced not long afterwards and we took our seats, surprised to find that the aircraft was pretty full.
The flight to Sea-Tac was around three hours 30 minutes, and before landing we had to advance our watches one hour forwards again, to Pacific Daylight Time, which is eight hours behind BST. We’d started our holiday eight hours ahead, in Japan, and now we were eight hours behind! 🙂
We landed around 8.30pm local time and looked around for the rep to direct us to the coach to take us to our hotel, the Marriott Courtyard. No such luck, however, and after trundling our bags through seemingly endless corridors and past luggage carousels, we could only find a Princess Cruises rep and we asked her. She told us that the shuttle buses to and from the various local hotels were listed on the schedules at the bus stops, and showed us where to go.
We arrived at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel around 9.20pm after a long day doing nothing much in particular. The hotel was fairly basic but cheerful and comfortable, and we were given a room on the second floor. After dumping our cases we decided to go downstairs and get something to eat and drink as we were quite hungry by now; the last food we’d eaten was our shared chicken wings at Anchorage airport.
The hotel ‘restaurant’ was more like a fast-food place, where you ordered your meal or snack and received it packed in cardboard with paper coffee cups. I had a chicken, bacon and salad club sandwich with a tub of side salad, washed down with a Budweiser, while Trevor had a bowl of chunky soup and a sandwich.
The hotel had a lounge area with a living-flame fire and various armchairs and couches. A group of blokes were having a lively game of cards in the corner. We finished our beers and were feeling quite tired by now, so we just went back to our room, where we watched some TV and settled down to sleep.
The next morning we ate breakfast before the shuttle bus came to take us back to the airport. Then it was just a case of checking in for our British Airways flight back to Blighty and passing the nine-and-a-half hours homeward bound.
Another unusual, superb holiday had come to an end, and we could now begin counting down the days to the next one. 🙂