The Admiralty Dream needs a big sticker across its stern that reads: We stop for wildlife.
The 66-passenger vessel will travel the Inside Passage for next summer’s WolfTreks Southeast Alaska cruise (Aug. 10-17, 2013), and Kathy Hart, who manages the Alumni Association’s travel program, previewed the trip last week.
“Captain Stu slowed, stopped or positioned the Admiralty Dream so that we could see sea lions lazing on South Marble Island, a mother wolf and her cubs feeding on salmon at the mouth of a stream in Glacier Bay and mountain goats perched on steep, rocky mountain ledges,” Hart says. “If you truly want to experience the beauty and wildlife of Alaska, then a small-boat trumps the big cruise liners any day. We saw and did things that were only possible from a smaller vessel.”
Travelers will be able to disembark the Admiralty Dream to kayak or skiff in bays where they might see bears on shore; sea lions, sea otters or harbor seals in the water; and eagles or puffins flying overhead.
“On one kayaking adventure, a curious sea lion surfaced within a foot of the boat, and on a skiff ride, we saw a mother bear and two cubs ambling on one shore and another bear running along the opposite shore,” Hart says. “The amount of wildlife we saw in its natural habitat was awe inspiring.”
Naturalists will be aboard to provide comprehensive information about the wildlife, habitat, geology and history of southeastern Alaska. And travelers will learn about the culture of the Tlingit [pronounced kling git], the indigenous people of the area. See their totems, watch their dances and hear the stories of this society that hunted and gathered in the Alaskan rain forests.
And what could be more spectacular than seeing a calving glacier, a fluking humpback whale or a pod of orcas (killer whales)?
“We visited two glaciers — Sawyer Glacier in Tracey Arm and Margarie Glacier in the Glacier Bay National Wildlife Refuge,” says Hart. “We skiffed within a quarter mile of Sawyer. We saw seals napping on ice throes, heard the glacier cracking and listened for the sound of ice cascading into the water to indicate a calving. It was an experience of a lifetime.”
Every day offers an adventure on this seven-day cruise that begins and ends in Sitka. And that’s why Hart chose small-boat travel for her WolfTreks travelers.
“It’s flexible and provides a more personal travel experience,” she says. “When the captain heard on the radio that orcas were in the area, he took us right to them. The next day, he saw ‘blows’ on the horizon and the next thing we knew, we were surrounded by 40 to 50 humpback whales who put on a show that amazed even the native Alaskans on board.”
If you would like to read more about next summer’s Alaskan adventure, visit the travel section of our website and click on Southeast Alaska, Aug. 10 to 17. Hart will be posting photos and videos from the trip soon, and you can call her to make reservations on the phone with a credit card or just to ask questions.
The Alumni Association’s Ginny Hall is with a group of NC State alumni and friends on a Wolftreks cruise along the Mediterranean, exploring the shores of France, Monaco, Italy, Greece and Turkey. Here is a dispatch from their journey:
We completed the Italian leg (or should I say “boot”?) of our voyage, having visited three Italian ports in four days. The first port, Livorno, is Italy’s second-largest port and serves as a gateway to the Tuscany region and the great art centers of Florence, Siena, Lucca and Pisa.
We spent two nights in Livorno, with our group heading off in many directions, taking advantage of the fifteen tour options offered over the two-day period. Apart from the privilege of visiting the many museums and historic structures in this region, it is also a pleasure to ride through the countryside and see the many acres of sunflowers (a cash crop), and to visit the plethora of shops in Florence, specializing in the area’s most popular products, gold and leather goods.
Our second Italian port was Civitavecchia, serving Rome, the “Eternal City.” Our tour included visits to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, as well as St. Peter’s Basilica and the ruins of the Coliseum. We were in town on the holy day of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul and the Pope had actually celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s the morning of our visit, though we did not see him.
We had a wonderful guide in Rome and were grateful she had made reservations for our group at both St. Peter’s and the Coliseum, allowing us to skip the long lines of people baking in the hot sun.
Our final two ports were Positano (serving Amalfi, Positano and Ravello), and Taormina (serving Taormina and Sicily). I have to say these were my two favorite ports in Italy, somewhat because the pace of each visit was slower, but also because they are stunningly beautiful.
Amalfi is known for many things, but nothing more so than its lemons, cultivated on terraced cliffsides, and the locally made apperitif known as “Limoncello.” The word “Sicily” immediately calls to mind visions of “The Godfather” (and there are tourist shops playing to this theme), but it is a gorgeous city, with ornate wrought iron balconies on its building facades, cascading boughs of brightly blooming bougainvillea everywhere, and bushes of wild capers growing right out of the walls.
Following our tour of Italy we spent a day at sea, enjoying a bright, clear sky, cool breeze, smooth seas, and a wonderful view of our NC State flag flying in a place of honor alongside Oceania’s own flag.
NC State alumni traveling with the WolfTreks cruise to New England and Canada docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia, last week. Several travelers toured the city’s Public Gardens, Canada’s only remaining Victorian garden.
Winding streams and unusual trees offered a respite from the city. Others ventured to the Citadel, a centuries-old fort in Halifax overlooking the harbor.
On Friday, the travelers went to Cape Breton Island, where some toured old coal mines that were once the region’s economic backbone.
On Saturday, it was on to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown, in Canada’s smallest province, is akin to Philadelphia in terms of its historical significance; it was the site of the meetings that resulted in the birthplace of the confederation of provinces that is Canada.
Locals sometimes speak with a slight Scottish accent, and the influence of early Scottish settlers can be seen in a treat served with tea: Oatcakes.
On Sunday, the Wolfpack travelers who went ashore saw the rugged coastline of Newfoundland, which claims the largest number of moose of any province in Canada.
No moose sightings were reported, but there was a beautiful sunset off the Regatta when it pulled out of the harbor in Corner Brook Sunday evening. The vista included snow-capped mountains along with rocky peaks carved by glaciers. No word on whether anyone tried the local delicacy, fried cod tongues.
On Monday, the ship will be heading down the St. Lawrence River to French-speaking Quebec City.
NC State alumni on a WolfTreks cruise enoyed a private wine-and- cheese reception as the ship sailed off the coast of Maine.
See the NC State flag? We are planning to have the it flown from one of the ship’s masts before the cruise ends in Montreal. We’ll try to post a picture of the flag flying.
Rainy weather kept some indoors when the ship docked in Bar Harbor, Maine, but some intrepid travelers took a tour of Acadia National Park and were able to visit a spot called Thunder Hole, where the waves crash so hard against the granite cliffs that it creates a thunderous roar.
Next stop, Canada.
Visit our website to learn more about upcoming WolfTreks tours.
About two dozen WolfTreks travelers sailed out of New York Harbor at sunset on Friday with a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty on one side and the new Freedom Tower – the replacement for the twin towers destroyed on 9/11 — in Lower Manhattan on the other.
The Regatta’s first stop on the WolfTrek’s New England/Canada Fall Folliage Cruise was Newport, R.I., where the travelers toured the mansions of the Gilded Age that made Newport famous as a haven for the wealthy.
Later it was on to Rockland, Maine, where the travelers enjoyed strolling through the coastal village. Lobster rolls – buttered, toasted hot dog buns filled with lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise – are a local delicacy, and a number of NC State almuni tried one for the first time.
NC State alumni traveling through Italy together visited Umbria’s ceramics capital, Deruta, this week.
The group learned about the traditional art of Italian ceramic decoration during a demonstration at the Maioliche Binaglia shop. Two sisters own the business and do all the artwork by hand.
They use an antique dusting technique to stencil patterns onto terracotta pottery. The process starts by tracing the design onto a thin sheet of paper with pin size holes. Charcoal is dusted into the holes to transfer the design onto pottery so it can be painted.
“I was impressed by the intricate and delicate work that was all by freehand,” WolfTreks traveler Paula Taylor said. “It gives you a different perspective for the work that goes into creating each piece.”
The group then traveled to the town of Perugia. The MiniMetro made getting up and down Perugia’s hilly terrain much easier on the group. “The MiniMetro was like being in Disney World on the tram. I loved it and it got us up the hill,” WolfTreks traveler Becky Mangum said.
After a walking tour of the town’s notable sites, some alumni made a stop at Perugina, a store widely known for its fine chocolate. The confectionery company is most famous for its “Baci”, chocolate balls filled with hazelnut, which many of the travelers purchased as take home gifts. “The Baci were sinfully good,” Taylor said.
Leaving Perugia, the group traveled to Tuscany, where they stayed at Villa Lecchi. The restored 18th century villa, originally built in the 1500s, overlooks the Chianti hills and the Elsa Valley. “I’ve enjoyed the villa,” WolfTreks traveler Mary Todd ’67, ’68 MS said. “I love the view and being out in the country.”
In addition to the picturesque scenery, alums have savored traditional Tuscan meals prepared by the villa’s chef, known as “Momma.”
“I thought the food was excellent. To me, it was like down-home cooking but in Italy,” WolfTreks traveler Jim Norman ’53 said.
The hotel even has its own resident Bambi, a young deer who greeted alums after breakfast one morning. Bambi’s mother was killed by a car, so the family that runs the villa is raising her. She gets goat’s milk everyday and enjoys nibbling on the flowers around the property.
Check back for photos from the group’s adventures on our Flickr site. Visit our website to learn more about upcoming WolfTreks tours.
Jim Norman ’53 celebrated his 80th birthday in Rome with fellow NC State alumni who are traveling through Italy on a WolfTreks tour.
The group enjoyed Italian cuisine at the Taverna Flavia, where a guitar player sang Italian and American songs. Jim, a retired chemical engineer, is on the tour with his wife of 53 years, Barbara. Italy is the couple’s second time traveling with WolfTreks. They also visited Russia with other NC State alumni some time ago.
Jim said his favorite part of the Italy tour so far has been the Amalfi Coast. “It’s beautiful and nothing like I have seen before,” he said.
Night at the Italian Opera
Wolftrek travelers Mary Todd ’67, ’68 MS, Pat Palmer ’72 PhD, and Betty Stagg attended a concert of Italian opera arias at the All Saints Anglican Church in Rome.
They then enjoyed a night stroll back to the Empire Palace Hotel, near the Piazza di Spagna. Before turning in for the evening, they stopped for wine at Ristorante La Pentolaccia, a sidewalk restaurant and bar. They stayed so late that they were asked to leave because it was closing time.
Palmer said she will always remember the night that “she closed down a bar in Rome.”
Cooking Italian style
After spending a couple of days in Rome, where they took guided tours of the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel, the group traveled through Umbria, known as the “green heart of Italy.”
Their first stop was Orvieto, perched on high on a plateau, where they attended a pasta-making demonstration at Ristorante Zeppelin, a Culinary Art Institute.
“I thought it was interesting how the chef cut the pasta into so many different sizes and shapes,” Betty Stagg said.
The cooking lesson was followed by a five-course meal that included antipasta, bruschetta of creamed ricotta with truffles, fettucine with tomato sauce, asparagus lasagna, guinea hen with cannellini and a ricotta cheese mousse with chocolate sauce.
Tour of Umbria’s medieval hill villages
While in Umbria, the group also toured Todi, Assisi and Perugia before traveling to the Tuscany region.
Check back for photos from their adventures in Rome and Umbria on our Flickr site. Visit our website to learn more about upcoming WolfTreks tours.
A group of NC State alumni are traveling through Italy together as part of the Alumni Association’s WolfTreks Travel Program. The travelers are in Rome after spending four days along the Amalfi Coast. Check out photos from their adventures in the seaside towns of Amalfi, Ravello and Sorrento.
The trip’s highlights so far include visiting a 13th-century papermill in Amalfi, enjoying fresh limoncello in Sorrento, walking through Ravello’s 19th-century gardens and touring the ruined ancient city of Pompeii. After another day in Rome, the group will travel to Todi, a medieval Umbrian village.
Artist Joyce Lambert recently gave the Alumni Association a painting of Holladay Hall. It will hang in the Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center room named for Lambert’s brother, Lynn W. Eury ‘59. Eury sponsors multiple NC State endowments and served as co-chair of the fundraising campaign to build the alumni center. Hole No. 5 at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course is also named for him.
The political unrest in Egypt has led to a rare occurrence at the NC State Alumni Association - the cancellation of an alumni trip.
Thirty young alumni were scheduled to leave today for a one-week trip to see Cairo, cruise the Nile and check out the Sphinx and the pyramids.
Kathy Hart, associate executive director of the association and coordinator of the Wolf Treks travel program, says some of the would-be travelers started raising questions last week about the safety of the trip.
Hart says Contiki Vacations, the company arranging the trip and providing the guides, initially assured her that conditions were safe in Egypt. But Hart continued to monitor the situation in Egypt as the week progressed. “By Friday,” she says, “many things had changed.”
“Some travelers wanted to cancel immediately; others wanted to wait to see if the situation settled down over the weekend,” Hart says.
On Friday, the NC State travelers were offered the option to cancel with a full refund, choose another destination or wait to see if things improved over the weekend. By Saturday, the unrest was growing and widespread, and Contiki decided they could no longer guarantee a safe trip. Hart says the trip was canceled. It was the first time she has had to cancel a trip due to political unrest since she began coordinating the travel program about five years ago
“There’s no question that if there was any danger we would cancel,” Hart says. “When it escalated, we clearly made the call.”
But Wolf Treks Young Alumni Travel has several other trips coming up later this year. Destinations include Ireland, Sept. 2-10, 2011, and Italy, Nov. 11-19, 2011. To read more, visit the website at www.contiki.com/ncstatewolftreks. In fact, Contiki will be offering a webinar for the Ireland trip Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 9 p.m. EST. To register for the webinar, visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/750602064.