Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lu-Lu Belle and 26 Glacier Cruise compared

Here is a quick review comparing the two boat cruises we went on in Alaska on Prince William Sound: The Lu-Lu Belle out of Valdez and the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier.

We liked the Lu-Lu Belle best!

Fred! is the captain of the Lu-Lu Belle. He is quite a talker and he talked about history, wildlife, oil, and glaciers for nearly the whole trip. He lives with his wife in Washington and sails the Lu-Lu Belle to Valdez every year. A beautiful boat it is. It's smaller than the 26 Cruise catamaran, and slower, but also much, much more personal. I think there were maybe 30 peeps on our trip with the Lu-Lu Belle, but a hundred or two on the Glacier Cruise. Fred is a bit of a salty character and initially I was put off because he announced for everyone to "wipe the cr*p" off their shoes because he doesn't want his oriental rugs getting dirty. But I changed my mind about him by the end of the trip and I don't blame him a bit for telling folks up front to be sure to wipe their feet. He takes mighty fine care of that boat and you can tell. The wood is glossy and the ship is well loved. I warmed up to him during the trip very much.

So the main reason why we ended up liking the Lu-Lu Belle best is because you can walk anywhere you want on the boat, inside or outside, anytime during the cruise. On the 26 Glacier Cruise you go outside when they let you. They open the door, one door, and let everyone go outside. They tell you, that is, inform you, a few minutes later it's time to come in. I felt I should let out a long, 'Moooooo' as we were herded in and out.

If you like sitting mostly inside the main decks, the 26 is quite fine. For me as a grown-up I had a nice time on the 26 but our son bemoaned the fact that he couldn't go outside. He's eight and likes the wind. (We had him dressed for the cold, so no problem there.) On the 26 Glacier they want children accompanied by a parent all the times so he was not welcomed to visit or move around between the decks without us. That's a bit of a pain. He's well mannered and inquisitive and I prefer to sit. He had to sit and be with us the whole trip. When the catamaran is moving no one can be outside, all people are inside, so I don't see why youngsters who are well behaved cannot move about inside freely. I imagine since it's a large ship they must go to greater length to CYA to avoid liability. Our son once stepped up on a (find word - the thing on the deck that the rope winds around) and the captain announced on the mic "All feet on the deck at all times." As a family with a kid we had way more fun on the Lu-Lu Belle, and not so much on the 26. Kids and families are made to feel very welcome on the Lu-Lu Belle.

I have photos of a lifetime from our Lu-Lu Belle trip. Fred tells you when to click to get the best shot of a whale tail which is very helpful. He let our eight year old son steer the boat for quite awhile. I have pictures of it! (((Memories of a lifetime.))) He seems to like kids. In contrast, we were made to feel that little people are a nuisance on the 26 Glacier Cruise. The captain commented that there were more children on board than she has ever seen. Whether that was true or not, I don't know, but it didn't look like very many kids to me.

The Lu-Lu Belle was a memorable trip. Worth every penny. They had a Sunday sort of worship/chapel cruise that I wished we'd gone on. I didn't know about it. Photos from the cruise are on the June 2005 archive if you want to see what we saw. They are among the best photos I ever took in my whole life. We had such a good time.

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