Puffins

August 31, 2014

We had a leisurely breakfast and did a little shopping before heading to the ship at 11:30. Our cruise ship, the MS Statendam was waiting for us rather majestically in the harbor. It was the only cruise ship in port. From experience, I know that we will have company further south. Our 1200 passenger ship will look tiny compared to the 4000 passenger behemoths. Our “mid-size” ship is fine for me.

Getting checked in was a 15 minute process and painless. We could go our room that was ready despite the last occupants leaving it only a couple hours before. We enjoyed a buffet lunch as it was the only option. We try to eat in the dining room as much as possible to avoid the temptation to graze at the buffet. The old joke about checking in as a passenger and checking out as cargo comes to mind. Besides, the table service adds a touch of elegance and costs no more than serving yourself. You can always help yourself to a snack at the buffet line the other 18 hours a day.

We caught the shuttle back into town to see the Seward Marine Life Center. The highlight was the seabird aviary. We would be held in rapture by the antics of the Horned and Tufted Puffins. We refrained from touching the cute little guys. They obliged us by swimming, diving and bathing no more that couple feet away from us. The puffins are in the midst of molting and needed to bathe themselves some four hours a day. Bathing means splashing, spinning over and over, and diving in bubble-encased ventures to the bottom of the tank. Bobbie delighted in getting splashed by the overly active birds.

The other birds, like the Common Murres and seagulls, were noisier but not nearly as cute. The Steller sea lion was huge and the harbor seals were energetic. The fish stared at us blankly and were boring. We returned to the puffins for our last hundred or so pictures. We found Bobbie the ultimate vest festooned with puffin embroidery. It was relatively expensive, but she said she wanted it. We figure she will be wearing it so often that she will become known as the Puffin Lady of Columbia. To say that she enjoyed the experience today would be quite an understatement.

We managed to have a couple of beers on the pool deck before adjourning to dinner. But first we needed to participate in the mandatory safety drill. Just like a school fire drill. I look somewhat cynically at drills as a fantasy. In a real emergency people will do whatever they feel like doing. I figure the best solution is avoid Italian ship Captains who place their love life above passenger safety. I figure Dutch crews are serious about their jobs and these “dam” ships are as safe as you can get. Nonetheless, I did pay attention since the water in these seas are really cold.

Dinner was excellent and elegant although the wine prices were way too high. We headed off to bed at 10 as tomorrow will be another day.

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