Balaji Rangaswamy


Balaji Rangaswamy

Family man, interested in travel. Likes to visit places with geographical and historical significance

North America » Canada » British Columbia » Vancouver September 5th 2018

We had already sent our suitcases for transfer. It would be ready to be picked up when we land. We woke up around 6 am in the morning. The ship was pulling into the port as we woke up. Nice thing is that they allocate departure time from the ship based on your flight timings. Since Pranav’s flight was earlier (around 1:45 PM), he had a departure time of 8:45 am compared to ours at 9:20 am. We decided to hook up with Pranav once we reached the airport. We freshened and had our last big meal, breakfast on the ship. Interesting fact is that the Ship was planning to leave around 4 PM that evening back to Whittier. The workers there get minimum break, I guess. We did notice that some of the ship’s crew ... read more

Woke up late this morning as this will be our last day at ship. We had not spent a lot of time looking at shops or other entertainment at the cruise ship. There were some planned activities also such as ‘Intro to Chefs and maitre d. Even though, the program was not a serious cooking show, it included a tour of the kitchen and other cooking facilities. SOme of the statistics for serving 2000 folks in the ship are staggering. For example, 800 pounds of coffee powder per day is used in the ship. It is a massive operation and so much preparation and work that goes on in the background before a smiling waiter serves you with the dessert when you are at your dining table. Crew typically stays for 9 months stretch (most of ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Ketchikan September 3rd 2018

The excursion that day was set for 10 AM, so the family decided to wake up at a more leisurely time. Appa went out early to run in the brisk air and nice little city. Pranav, Amma, and I woke up a bit later to walk around the town. After snapping a couple of pictures of various statues, totem places, and neat looking shops, we all convened to have breakfast, take a shower, and hit the road for the special event of the day. There was quite a bit of apprehension and excitement as we were signed up to ride in a seaplane to watch black bears feast on salmon. From the port deck, we were bused for 15 minutes to another area where there was a big hangar for the planes. This service is called ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Juneau September 2nd 2018

Juneau is the capital of Alaska. It has about 46 miles of proper road. THere has been talk of connecting it to Ketchikan and Canada for a long time. But the plan has been put on hold as the cost does not justify the needs. Typically people move around using boats and sea plane. Our plan today is to start early (you know how Pranav feels about this :) ) . We had a very early breakfast as the shore excursion expected us to be in the pickup area by 7:45 am. Our plan today is to visit the Mendenhall glacier, a temperate rainforest garden and the state museum. It had rained the previous night and it was a chilly morning. We had our jackets on and still can feel the cold. As the tour bus ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Skagway September 1st 2018

The cruise reached the southern city around the nauseating early hour of 6:00 AM. We had an excursion planned for 8:30 that day, so we hastily woke up around 7:00 to get ready and had a brief breakfast. The weather that day was nice; just the proper temperature for a light jacket and a hat. Getting of the boat, what hit us first was the abundance of green. We were straddled by deep emerald trees with only a couple of bare brown buildings in sight. We were only a bit always from downtown Skagway and yet we felt as if were in a different world altogether. Humbled and in awe, we made our way to meet up point for our excursion with time to spare. Joining us was three couples and our tour guide, surprisingly wearing ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Glacier Bay August 31st 2018

There was a lot of hype about spending most of the day in Glacier Bay national park right from yesterday onwards. They even had glacier themed desserts for lunch and dinner! At 10 am in the morning there was a program about Glacier bay area in the auditorium. It is really a national park like grand canyon. As such, you have rangers that work there. Ranger, a lady came on board this morning and she stayed with the ship till 4 pm this afternoon. It is very interesting the way ranger comes on board the ship. The ship does not stop anymore, it could be that it slows down. The ranger is in another boat parallel with ship at same predetermined speed. She gets on a ladder dropped in by the ship to come on board. ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska August 30th 2018

A leisurely morning as the ship was in open waters speeding towards the Hubbard Glacier area. We were supposed to reach the glacier around 4 PM. There is no port to stop here. Captain will stop close to the glacier for sometime for all us to take a look and then turn around. Sandhya and I went to have breakfast around 9 am in the morning. It was a bit chilly in the open deck with occasional showers, nothing heavy though. We decided to explore the ship as we walked around on 14th and 15th floor for some time. This is where the food court and open deck are with swimming pool. The have glass panes on top of the open deck wall. I am not sure if that was a later addition as there were ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Anchorage August 29th 2018

Woke up at leisure this time. All of us worked out that morning before breakfast. Good variety by Fairfield! Praveen and I ran around a park near by. It was extremely nice. We got an Uber to Egan convention center. Well organized. We dropped off the bags to be checked in. There were 2 big buses waiting g to ferry passengers to Whittier. Bus promptly left around noon. It is about 90 to 120 minutes depending on tunnel to Whittier. This tunnel is a one way one lane road allowing vehicles and train to share. Top of the hour, Whittier transports head to anchorage and at the bottom of the hour, it is the other way. Driver was very informative and funny. Buses get the preference when they start allowing traffic to flow into Whittier. As ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Anchorage August 28th 2018

We could not get breakfast as we had to leave around 8 am from the hotel to the train station. The day started off cloudy and cold. Hotel shuttle bus took us to the train terminal. One can easily notice the temperature and wind impact in Denali compared to Anchorage. That 300 miles north brings the temperature down about 15 degrees. We had seats in the first row of the train car. All the arrangements were very similar to the train we took up to Denali. Dylan and Kiki were the conductor and bartender for this car. Dylan’s commentary was really good. We debated about having breakfast in the train, but decided to go for lunch instead. We had variety of snacks at hand and that came in handy as breakfast. Soon clouds started to give ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Denali August 27th 2018

We had ordered boxed lunch to be picked up at grande denali. They were a bit expensive but came with a cooler pack as a souvenir. Packed rain gear. It was drizzling as the day started. Shuttle took us to the Denali bus depot. We were there by 5:50 am. Tour started at 6:40 am. Allen was our driver. Lot of instructions about dos and don't initially. This is the tundra wilderness tour. It is an 8 hour tour with a return point near Eilsen visitor center. It is 62 mile one way. We got a snack box used that for breakfast. It is a converted school bus, not that comfortable to sit. Driver hired us to watch for animals while he would keep us safe driving. He was surely driving a bit fast for spotting ... read more

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