Sea Day – Alaska Cruise 2017

This post documents our September 15, 2017, sea day leg between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Vancouver, BA. It’s also the continuation of my documentation of our 2017 Alaska Cruise which began in November 2017. How’s that for running a bit late?

Anyway, current and previous posts relating to this cruise are HERE(link).

There’s a gallery at the end of each post and a SmugMug gallery HERE(link). Photos in SmugMug can be viewed full-size.

You can click on the photos in the body of this post to see a larger-but-less-than-full-size-version. I should also mention this will be a smaller (shorter) post than the previous posts because, well, the sea can be a bit boring In fact, for a goodly while, I just photographed the ship’s churning of the sea as the most interesting thing I saw.

September 15, 2017, had me shoot far fewer P900 and D7000 photos than other days, and even the Note II was underutilized (although I did take some videos of celebrations which I’ll share in a separate post). Of those photos, a small sampling is posted below.

I should probably do a brief introduction . . . 

First off, here’s the Princess Patter(link) for the 15th of September of 2017. 

Here’s a map of the whole cruise from Whittier to Vancouver. Since this is a copyrighted map, I’ll not share a high-resolution version. However, the left side of the map shows the starting point in Ketchikan and the ending point in Vancouver (red circles at the top and bottom). The right side shows the previous legs of the cruise. I may reference some of the numbers on the map in association with some photos. I’m referring to the numbers along the line connecting the two red circles.

There is an associated Vancouver port publication, but I’ll share that in the post about Vancouver.

Right, that be enough background stuff to bore even the staunchest readers to tears. Many — I’m sure — have already tuned out and left. 

Most of these photos are from the Nikon P900 but there are D7000 photos that I’ll identify and even compare to the P900 version. Keep that in mind in case you’re considering whether using a point-and-shoot camera suffices to document your travels. Even more for the photos in this post, let me say that while the P900 photos are sufficient for documenting travel sights, they are less-than-optimal for pixel-peeping and I suspect prints from these files would be limited to nothing larger than an 8×10 (if even).

~ ~ ~ ~ here we go ~ ~ ~ ~

I mentioned this was a sea day . . . and I mentioned that I was fascinated by the interplay between ship and ocean. Specifically, the patterns and waves generated by the passing of the ship. Almost all were shot with the D7000, and they are shared in the gallery below.

Yes, I know it’s extremely boring and that something is lost in the static capture of a dynamic subject. Still, here they are . . . a (boring) sample gallery of what captured my attention in an otherwise empty ocean. . .

But, of course, it’s seldom an empty ocean when sailing near land. Or, even when sailing routes frequented by other cruise ships. Here, we see the Nieuw Amsterdam (LINK) last seen berthed in Ketchikan.

D7000 capture

Here, I want to compare the above to the equivalent shot from the P900. Notice the difference in detail (even more evident in the full-size photos in SmugMug).


Understand that I tried to process each photo to the best of my ability. Meaning, each is processed to get the most out of the original. Again, while the P900 takes decent photos, there are limitations one should be aware of.

On the other hand, this is what the P900 excels at . . . in addition to the above, these next two photos were taken without having to change lenses.


I should reiterate that one of the things we both loved about this ship is the promenade which wraps all around the ship. Also, the fact that it’s not usually crowded. In this next gallery, the first two photos are from the P900, and the remaining four are from the Note II.

Grab a coffee from the International Cafe (and maybe a snack), the camera, and you have your pick of a relaxing chair to enjoy as you watch the ocean and contemplate stuff.

Now, I have three more D7000 photos, and they are some of my favorite photos of the trip (not the favorite as that would be a lot more difficult to pick).

Again, I’ll compare shooting the subject with the D7000 versus the P900, and again, understand that the flexibility of the P900 — in addition to the big zoom — is a plus.

Yes, the D7000 with a $2K lens takes a higher quality photo . . . but the $600 P900 is no slouch and I still carry it when I go out shooting (I carry both cameras). Also, from here on, all the photos are from the P900.

By the way, that’s the BC pilot coming on board, which means we are at Waypoint #4 – The Pine Island Lighthouse. A working lighthouse operated by the Canadian Coast Guard.

Here again, we see the versatility of the P900 and the advantage of a 2000mm (eq.) zoom.

Pine Island Lighthouse
Pine Island Lighthouse
Pine Island Lighthouse

By the way, you might have noticed different color casts for individual photos. That is another limitation of the P900. Because I’m not shooting RAW, the camera processes based on what it thinks it sees, and the decisions it makes are difficult for me to edit or change. Changing the zoom changes the predominant color in the shot, and hence you get different White Balance values which are then difficult to match between photos.

Still, I’m impressed with that last photo because we were not that close. Now, admittedly, this is one of two photos I shot, and the other was blurry, but that was on me, not the P900.

Like, for instance, this next shot was badly blurred, and that I used the Topaz Sharpen AI app to make it halfway presentable. For the record, I should have switched back to the D7000, but they left the log before I could switch cameras.

Salvaged using Topaz Sharpen AI

The Nieuw Amsterdam was not the only ship shadowing us. I know the Ketchikan post was a long time ago, but here’s the Kennicott (LINK) heading to Bellingham, WA.

Both of those photos are “soft” from the amount of atmosphere between the camera and the subject. Just because one can zoom a long way, doesn’t mean you’ll get clear photos. And, yes, that’s after I tried to ‘better them’.

Other cruise ships and ferries were not the only things we saw. Here’s a tug . . .

. . . towing a barge that appears filled with either sand or finely ground gold . . .

Yes, it’s time for another example of the awesome flexibility and zoom power of the P900 . . .

Around this time, we headed into a narrower portion of our passage, and the landscape got ‘closer’. Also, the ships lined up; the Kennicott behind us, we in the Middle, and the Nieuw Amsterdam ahead of us. Here’s a shot of the Kennicott slipping in behind us . . .

I mentioned we were going into the narrower portion of the route. From waypoint #4 to waypoint #3, it’s Queen Charlotte Strait (LINK), and from #3 to #2 it’s the Johnstone Strait (LINK) hitting Seymour Narrows (LINK) before getting into the Strait of Georgia (LINK).

As mentioned, the surrounding landscape got progressively closer as we made our way South.

From here on, we also get to prime whale-watching areas. There’s one area where Orcas can sometimes be spotted, but we didn’t see any on this particular crossing. We did see whales and whale watchers . . .

Because I was moving from one to another, and because the viewfinder on the P900 is sub-optimal (crappy might be more accurate), I missed a few sightings as can be seen by the flatwater areas (at least, I think that’s what those are since that’s near where whales could be seen moments prior to the photos) . . .

I also tried shooting videos, but they’re not worth sharing because they jump all over the place. I mean, you see whales, but only glimpses. In retrospect, I should have switched back to the D7000 for both the photos and the videos, but . . . well, maybe if we cruise again. Still, I got some photos, and even one tail flip (should have been shooting bursts).

Soon enough, we were past the prime area, and the only excitement was seeing some seals on a small rock island . . .

. . . and the two ships escorting us, one way behind us . . . 

. . . and one way ahead of us.

Yep, both were far enough that the atmospheric distortion made a clear photo impossible.

By the way, did you notice the odd turbulence between us and the ferry? Like is a boat crossed our wake?

Apparently, that’s caused by the confluence of two tidal flows as we navigated the straits. I can’t tell you where exactly it was, but for a bit, the sea was churning for no apparent reason.

I mentioned this was a shorter post than most . . . and it is. The next post will cover our arrival in Vancouver, our land excursion, and a few walking photos. Hopefully, you won’t have to wait too long for it.

As I wind down documenting this cruise and look ahead at documenting two more, I’m reminded that we liked many aspects of cruising . . . and also that cruises will not be the same from now on.

I don’t know what the “new normal” will be, or when this new normal might happen. I know that there’s no chance we’ll take another cruise as long as people insist on being idiots.

It was bad enough when people went on cruises while sick with the flu, but now the danger is much greater because as bad as it is getting sick at home, it’s multiple times worse on a cruise ship. Until the cruise lines and airlines and hotels get serious about minimizing the risk of getting sick, we’re not cruising. Heck, we’re not even planning any land vacations.

OK, here’s a gallery of the above photos . . . except the editor keeps kicking me out with an “unexpected error”. I suspect the gallery block is short of being robust and chokes on the number of photos. So, after four tries, I’ll split the summary into three galleries . . .

Not sure when the next installment will go live, but I won’t say it won’t be too long . . . because last time I obviously — if unintentionally — lied.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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