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Un-Cruise Adventures - Wilderness Discoverer Cruise of Alaska's Inside Passage

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Port Houghton Bay - Day 6
Kayaking in Port Houghton Bay, Alaska from the Wilderness Discoverer

Kayaking in Port Houghton Bay, Alaska from the Wilderness Discoverer

Port Houghton Bay, Alaska (c) Linda Garrison
The next morning, I was up early (as usual), and was a little dismayed to see we had lost the sun. Southeast Alaska had returned to its mysterious normal self--cloudy, with a good chance of rain.

Early breakfast--fresh fruit and the "coffee cake of the day", were put out by 6:30, but by then the usual half-dozen of us were up, drinking coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. The coffee cake was another good one--banana maple nut. We had a good laugh during breakfast. The Captain came on the PA and announced that there was an orca cruising off the stern of the ship. The day before, we had all ran to see the orcas and humpbacks. Eighteen hours later, almost all continued to sip their coffee and taste the delicious frittata (vegetarian or sausage). One of our table mates said, "Don't think I'll go outside for AN orca." How quickly we had become jaded as to the wonders of Alaska!

Port Houghton and the Salt Chuck

Captain Marce had moved the Wilderness Discoverer to the back of Port Houghton bay, and we were anchored, with the kayaks out by 8:30 for the first group to depart. This day featured an all-day hiking and kayaking excursion, which included a box lunch ashore. Half the group would kayak and the other half would hike to the lunch spot, switching for the return trip. We had six groups on the ship, depending on where your cabin was located. Who gets to sign up first rotates each day. Our "300-cabin odd" group was next to last for this day's adventure, so most of the all-day kayak/hike spots were signed up. So, Julie and I signed up for a small boat tour in the morning and a meadow hike in the afternoon. We weren't too disappointed to miss out on the full day excursion, especially since we knew we'd be miserable if it rained all day or the kayaking was more strenuous than we wanted.

Our small boat tour left at 9:30, and we rode with Aron, the boatswain, further into the bay. It has a very narrow entrance into a large salt chuck, a very shallow estuary, lake-like area. The tide was going up into the salt chuck, and the current was very strong. We rode around for almost two hours, and saw many eagles, counting up to a dozen white heads in the trees at one time easily, with many juveniles (without the white heads) and adults flying overhead. We also saw many harbor seals laying on the rocks (and swimming around) on a small island in the middle of the harbor. The highlight was a black bear, the first seen during the week. It was on a small beach, but quickly retreated into the tall grass. However, he continued to watch us closely and we could see him, too. Julie and I both thought he was a baby, but Aron said he was full grown and just looked small since the grass was so tall.

Returning to the ship, we faced a fierce tidal current and were surprised to see the kayakers moving along the coastline. Julie and I went really glad we did the boat tour since it had also started raining very hard.

The onboard lunch was much better than eating a box lunch in the rain--meat loaf, buttered noodles, vegetables, and chocolate chip cookies. It was still pouring rain over Port Houghton, so Julie and I scratched the meadow walk. We decided even the wildlife would stay out of this rain. It was a lazy afternoon on board, and many who did the all-day kayak/hike combo were happy that they did it, but acknowledged it was more survival treking through the muck of the muskeg (peat bog swamp) than hiking.

In the late afternoon, we all enjoyed galley and engine tours. The bridge on the Wilderness Discoverer is almost always open, which is certainly different than what is found on the mega-ships. The chef told us that the ship has 17 different types of flour on board and almost as many grains. They cater to all sorts of dietary restrictions, and have been working on improving the tastes of their "gluten-free" and other offerings for those with allergies.

Before we knew it, cocktail time arrived and we got to hear the stories of everyone's day. Appetizers were the best yet--boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, cheese quesadillas, and guacamole and salsa.

Dinner was salmon, bok choy, grilled polenta, and a marvelous chocolate concoction.

After dinner, hotel manager Terry and Kristen did a "future cruisers" presentation, followed by a recap of all the places we have been on the big screen TV, using an excellent map. Un-Cruise Adventures is adding a new ship next year, the Wilderness Explorer, which will sail between Juneau and Sitka, with three days spent in Glacier Bay National Park. ASC has added a ship that will spend its winter in Hawaii.

Time for bed and then our last full day on the Wilderness Discoverer.

Alaska Adventure on the Wilderness Discoverer -- Cruise Travel Log

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