Tuesday, 17 September 2013

An Un-Cruise Adventure - Pt 11, Friday Harbor

Nearing the end of our magnificent voyage from Juneau to Seattle aboard the SS Legacy with the unique style of Un-Cruise Adventures...

Legacy Cruise - Day 11

Once again, we're up bright and early because the morning is, well, bright and early. The approach into the San Juan Islands is beautiful at the best of times and, with a stunning sunrise, our arrival in the main port of Friday Harbor is simply stunning.

We're told that orcas and other whale pods are often to be seen in these waters, but they are conspicuous by their absence this morning, although we do spot several curious harbour seals and glimpses of the small and rather shy harbour porpoise.

As we potter into our mooring point, the sun is up and the backdrop of this uber-pretty town makes for a truly picturesque scene, with few people yet out and about and dozens of
pleasure boats and yachts bobbing in the marina.

This is largely a relaxing day - made doubly so by the brilliant sunshine - and we start at 10am with a tour of the local Whale Museum, a fascinating repository of all things cetacean and sea-mammalian. Our guide provides a great insight into whale habits and numbers in the area, and a lot of the conservation issues they still face.

The resident orca pods are an endangered species here due to pollution and depletion of the big chinook salmon they feed on, so there are various schemes in place to try to help them out. Helpfully, every orca has its own pod designation and name, including Oreo and her offspring DoubleStuf and Cookie! You can also look up more about their Whale Adoption Programme here: http://www.whalemuseum.org/programs/orcadoption/whalerates.html

After almost two hours at the Museum, we are free to wander off on our own steam and enjoy the rather boutique environs of Friday Harbor for the rest of the day. Although slightly steep from front to back, it is easy to negotiate on foot (barely 10 blocks square) and there are some pleasant and eye-catching shops to explore, cafes to sit outside and restaurants. Lots of restaurants.

We make our way back to the main harbour area and are spoiled for choice for lunch. The Cask & Schooner pub looks good, as does the busy Rocky Bay Cafe (clearly a good locals'
choice as there is a line out the door for breakfast!), but, on such a gloriously sunny day, we decide we need somewhere outside and with a view of the port, hence the multi-tiered Friday's Crabhouse is our choice.

We make our order, stake a place on the outward-facing deck overlooking the harbour and enjoy their Fish Tacos and Fish Sandwich with a glass of local ale and are as happy as Larry. We watch the ferries come in and out, depositing hundreds of new visitors at a time in the space of two hours (our timing is pretty good - as Friday's fills up rapidly after we've ordered), and are reminded of little Mackinac Island up in Michigan with its legions of day-trippers.

This is still more residential territory, though, so the comparison is not as obvious (and there are no fudge shops selling endless amounts of sweet confections!).

Eventually, after another gentle amble around the streets, we wander back to our own little boutique hideaway, the Legacy, and troop up onto the sundeck to enjoy the afternoon glow. As it's a Sunday, the harbour is non-stop with traffic in and out, including the ferries and several sea-planes, and it is mesmerising to watch the recreational boating going on.

Clearly this is an absolute boating haven and, on a day like today, it brings almost everyone
out onto the water. 

Finally, it is time to get ready for Cocktail Hour in the Grand Salon and dinner, so we head down again to freshen up for our final main meal aboard. Tomorrow morning we will be back in Seattle and it is the Captain's Farewell Dinner tonight. 

The final dinner encapsulates everything that is good about the onboard cuisine, with an artichoke and olive amuse bouche, a grapefruit salad appetiser, and then a choice of prime rib or baked halibut for the main course, followed by a swan cream puff dessert; elegantly simple but beautifully palate-pleasing.

After dinner, we are treated to a slide show in the Grand Salon of the whole cruise - various
photos taken by the entertainment team and compiled into a long series of wonderful visual memories.

Truly, we will not want to get off in Seattle tomorrow...  

To learn more about Un-Cruise adventures, call 1888 862 8881 in the US; or visit www.un-cruise.com. In the UK, specialist cruise agents The Cruise Line can also help with bookings.

Be sure to read the full report of the cruise in the Autumn edition of World of Cruising, out now! You can subscribe here: www.worldofcruising.co.uk/subscribeOrder.html