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Russian to Action


Sumiki

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-----We awoke hungry, and breakfast ended at 10:30. Our cabin and the entrance to the galley were pretty much on totally opposite ends of the ship, and it was thus to our advantage that the Malaspina is not a particularly long vessel.

 

-----I remain nonplussed with the state of affairs when it comes to the operations of passenger services. Our breakfast was plentiful and tasted good … when we got it. There are too many options and the line takes forever to get through. But they piled the breakfast foods high and we came out as satisfied as we came in hungry. (Subsequent meals were timed so as to avoid this.)

 

-----Our route, which had stopped in Juneau in the middle of the night—something I expected to at least jostle me awake, but one which I slept through—took us through narrows towards Sitka, one of the oldest settlements in Alaska, which served as the capital for the Russian operations before the Alaskan purchase. The Marine Highway was kicked out by the cruise ships to a dock a good seven miles out of down, and we were amongst the handful of Malaspina passengers to disembark in anticipation of somehow seeing the town.

 

-----Sitka’s approach towards tourism, unfortunately, skirted something akin to what we’d witnessed in Haines in that they’ve always had it and take a lackadaisical approach to it with the idea that it’s always going to be there. The people at the ferry terminal had absolutely no clue what they were talking about, but knew a vague something about a bus that would be cheaper than a cab, and so we and another family got on the bus—once the bus found us, because while the bus stop exists, the sign certainly doesn’t. The bus driver mumbled his way through confusing answers to eminently straightforward questions, but we learned one extremely important thing: if we got off the bus, we’d have to take our chances on one of the cabs we’d been promised were everywhere but which turned out to be essentially nonexistent.

 

-----The bus seemed to only care for the ferry terminal as an afterthought, as it served more to shuttle locals around town. The locals are friendlier to tourists than in Haines, perhaps because—as inefficient as their transportation options are—they do understand something about tourism as an industry. This is not to say that the six dollars we paid for the bus was wasted, as the time we had in Sitka was not extremely long for any sort of cab ride or tour. We got a view of the spread-out town with stops at grocery stores and downtown strips alike, and we caught glimpses of the famous Russian church architecture in the place they used to all “New Archangel.”

 

-----The bus arrives back to the ferry terminal every thirteen minutes past the hour, and as we needed to get back on board at 2:00, our only choice was to stay on the bus as it completed its loop and traveled back to the terminal. We did so, and after some more ambling around, got back on the ship around 1:30. The car deck is the only way to get on and off, and while many cars were on board when we got on in Haines, only a fraction remained.

 

-----Going out of Sitka took us back through the same narrows, and we admired the scenery from our window for a while. We ate lunch, where I satiated my inexplicable craving for chocolate milk, and thereafter napped. We saw some sea otters and a few pods of porpoises in the respite from the rain, but the rain came down again, as it always does. Dinner—if you can call it that—was simply some drinks from the galley and a few bites of a mediocre cheesecake amidst the bounding waves.

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