14th Unlock the Past Cruise: Days 1-3 Embarking, Glaciers, a Squirrel, and a Saloon

The Unlockthe Past Alaska cruise was one I’d been looking forward to for a long time as Alaska was a place I’d never been to (and in reality probably won’t get back to again). But everyone who’s done an Alaskan cruise said how totally fabulous it was. So it sounded a great place to visit.

Add in a genealogy conference and we had 7 nights, 17 speakers, 45 talks, and great places to see along the way! Sounds awesome.

This cruise started in Seattle,Washington, USA, the went up through the Inside Passage to Juneau, Alaska, then Skagway, Alaska, before heading back and sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord, stopping at Victoria, Canada and then back to Seattle. There was certainly plenty to see, which means plenty to write about.

So let me take you on the cruise …

Friday – 7 September 2018 (Seattle, Washington, USA)
Embarkation day, so we (note: by ‘we’ I mean the UTP organising team) got down to the port as early as we could which was good and bad. Good to be there early, but bad as it was crazy with people, as three three ships had arrived in that morning with passengers leaving, and who knows how many thousands of passengers arriving to go on them. Anyway we were onboard the “Explorer of the Seas” before lunchtime, and made our way to the Conference Room down on deck 2, and set up the registration desk for the UTP cruisers.

she’s a big ship for sure!

So throughout the day people from ‘our group’ could come and collect their name tag, lanyard, program book and other bits-and-pieces. And after the compulsory lifeboat drill, the ship left at 4pm, and while it was a grey day in Seattle, the rain did hold off.

entrance to the Conference Rooms onboard

a grey day as we left Seattle

The conference officially started in the evening with the Meet & Greet session which was followed by Dick Eastman talking about ‘Going Nearly Paperless’. Good talk, but I don’t believe I can go paperless anytime soon. I like my filing cabinets too much.

the conference begins

Saturday – 8 September 2018 (at Sea)
This was a sea day, and actually it was grey and drizzly, not that we cared as we had a whole day of conferencing! The program had talks starting at 9am and going through until 8pm, and you just chose the ones you wanted to go to. The talks I attended were:
– Lost in London: Breaking Down Brick Walls in London (Caroline Gurney)
– Why Transcripts Are Essential to Includes in Your Family History (Teri Shaller)
– Be Your Own Digital Archivist: Preserve Your Research (Cyndi Ingle)
– Toleration or Turmoil: English Non-Conformity and Our Ancestors (Janet Few)
– Using Evidentia to Organise Your Research and Analyse Your Sources (Ed Thompson)
A great mix of talks from a great bunch of speakers, with lots of notes taken.

I was excited to catch up with Brenda from Queensland along with Charlie B (her bear) (see the pic below). For those who are interested in Charlie B’s adventures, you might like to follow his Facebook page.

Ed Thompson taking about Evidentia

it was a grey, drizzly day

A reminder of how good their food is! The choice is endless

Charlie B, with his UTP lanyard and Seapass card too

Sunday – 9 September 2018 (Juneau, Alaska, USA)
This was a tourist day at Juneau, although we VERY NEARLY didn’t make it. The weather was sunny with blue skies, BUT (here’s the but) the wind was causing big issues for the ship to dock safely. Anyway after a 1 1/2hr delay we made it in, and I went with a bunch of others who had a hired a minivan (thankyou Michelle and co), and we went off to see a glacier. Ooh, how exciting – my first glacier! I heard later that other ships didn’t make it in at all, so we were very fortunate, and had a great day in Juneau.

the Mendenhall Glacier at Juneau

When leaving the glacier, we spotted a squirrel just racing around, and to my surprise I managed to snap a half-decent pic of him before he scampered away. Squirrels are gorgeous, but they’re just too hyper to take decent pics of.


Anyway then it was of into Juneau itself, and we ended up at the Red Dog Saloon (as you do). But wow, what a place. It’s just like a western movie with the flippy-entrance-doors and all, and there was even sawdust on the floor. It was an interesting place for sure. Check out this video for more.

the saloon!

see I really did make it Juneau

Back on the boat in time for tea, then the evening talk which was ‘Where Else to Look?’ by Maurice Gleeson and Michelle Patient. This was essentially a talk on “you had a DNA match but the match has no tree, where do you look?” and they came up with plenty of useful suggestions, but you just need to be a detective about it.

evening talk with Maurice Gleeson and Michelle Patient

Next up is a day in Skagway … so stay tuned.

2 Responses to “14th Unlock the Past Cruise: Days 1-3 Embarking, Glaciers, a Squirrel, and a Saloon”

  1. Nola Mackey says:

    Thank you, Alona for your interesting post. It brought back so many wonderful memories of that part of the world. Looking forward to your reports of the talks too.

  2. Geniejen says:

    Sounds like great fun which is hardly surprising!

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