Alaskan Cruise

Early this year Amit Sarma contacted our daughter Sarah and generously suggested that Pat and I join their famlies in an Alaskan cruise. Since this would give us the opportunity to see Alaska and spend time with many of the Sarma family, we accepted. Sarah offered to come along and help. Her husband, Joe, was committed to a later reunion with his family and was unable to come. The Sarmas have been friends since 1977, when they lived one block away in Austin.

Those on the cruise were: Pat and Mel Oakes and daughter Sarah; Barada and Nandita Sarma, their daughter Supria and her husband Firoz Antia and their sons, Gyaan and Jehan; son Amit and Gillian Jacob Sarma and children, Sonali, Lyla and Nathan; Firoz's sister, Shirin Price and her daughter, Roshanna.

The cruise was with the Celebrity cruise line on their ship Solstice. It was for seven nights "Alaska Glacier Cruise" departing from: Seattle, Washington. Ports of Call: Ketchikan, Alaska • Cruise Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier • Juneau, Alaska • Skagway, Alaska • Cruise Inside Passage, Alaska • Victoria, British Columbia.

I have tried to arrange the photos in chronological order.

Amit Sarma brought along his telephoto zoom lens and as you will see below, he captured an amazing set of photos of nature, wildlife, septuagenarians and the rare octogenarian.




Alaskan Cruise Photo Gallery

Sunset over Puget Sound. The Sarmas rented a house on the sound before the cruise departure.
Pat's birthday breakfast with Mel at his market in Seattle.
The day before departure on the cruise, Amit Sarma arrange a tour around Seattle and its harbor on the amphibian "Duck". Everyone enjoyed it. The tour guide was hilarious. Highly recommend it. Here we see at right, Roshanna, Shirin and Amit.
"Stormy Weather", the tour guide on the "Duck."
Stormy Weather in costume.
Seattle skyline from the "Duck".
Celebrity Cruise Ship Solstice. Pat and Mel's cabin shown with arrow.
Luggage Tag
Gillian, Nathan, Sonali, Lyla, Amit Sarma and Solstice
Luggage Seattle
Goodbye to Seattle
Pat's Birthday Cakes June 28
Pat's Birthday dinner. Clockwise starting at 7 pm: Sonali Sarma, Amit Sarma, Roshanna Price, Waiter, Pat Oakes, Sarah Oakes, Pria Sarma, Nandita Sarma, Barada Sarma, Firoz Antia, Mel Oakes, Shirin Price
Mel and Pat's stateroom.
Container ship seen from Oakes balcony first night out of Seattle.
Mountains at night.
Nandita Sarma and grandson, Gyaan Antia
Sarah Oakes and Gillian Jacob Sarma
Nandita and Amit Sarma
Lyla and Nathan with mother, Gillian Sarma
Sarah Oakes and Supria Sarma
Nathan Sarma and Mel Oakes
Sonali Sarma, the scholar
Jehan Antia, Lyla, Nathan and Gillian Sarma
Sarah, Mel and Pat Oakes selfie.
Firoz Antia, Shirin Price, Nandita Sarma, Sarah Oakes, Gillian Sarma, Supria Sarma
Nandita and Barada Sarma
Ketchikan and Mel Oakes
Lumberjacks Competition, Ketchikan

Mel and Pat Oakes, Tlingit-style totem pole, Potlatch Park, Ketchikan. The Tlingit people, whose name means "People of the Tides", have a vast history; many speculate its origins dating as early as 11,000 years ago. Two major theories exist as to where the Tlingit people originate from, the largest being a coastal migration across the Bering Strait land mass from north Asia. Others, however, believe that the Tlingit people may have migrated from Polynesia by island-hopping. However, it is not disputed that the Tlingit settled along Southeast Alaska thousands of years ago. For these many years, they lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, subsisting off of the abundant Alaskan wildlife in a fashion few still continue today. The Tlingit people shared relations with the neighboring Haida and Tsimshian tribes, as they do in the modern era. These peoples traversed the area with large canoes of red cedar, often averaging sixty feet in length. Trading their prized Chiklat robes, shells, and jewelry, they received well-crafted canoes and sturdy cedar trees from the Haida lands. However, times were not completely peaceful; the tribes fought and raided each other’s villages for riches and slaves.

The figures featured on totem poles are comparable to family crests, featuring animals used in describing the tale of a clan’s history and mythology. Bears, killer whales, and eagles were commonly carved into these large columns of wood; these animals may have assisted in the survival of the clan or contributed to a major discovery in their legends. For example, one well known totem pole tells the story of Kets, a man who, after hunting in the woods for a bear, fell in love with a female grizzly disguised as a human. 

However, totem poles can also be crafted in commemoration of an event, such as a birth or war. A deceased member of a clan, often a beloved chief, could also have their ashes stored in a compartment within the pole. Since the story displayed on the totem pole was typically decided by a former clan, the meaning of a totem pole can be lost throughout many generations. In addition, many of these works, up to ninety feet in height, were destroyed by Christian missionaries under the misconception that they were a form of idolizing the Tlingit deities. Fortunately, these unique pieces, artworks representative of the Tlingit way of life, are still being created to this day, often within the entrances of ceremonial buildings.


Chief Kyan Totem Pole which is in the new US Passport. Whale Park, Ketchikan. The Chief Kyan Totem pole is a lineage pole and has three figures. The Crane, at the top, represents Chief Kyan's wife, the next figure is a Thunderbird, Chief Kyan's wife's clan, and the Bear at the bottom is Chief Kyan's family crest.
George Inlet Lodge, the Sarmas visited this wildlife area. Ketchikan. The first 7 eagle photos are from George Inlet.
This is the first photo of an amazing series of photo of this eagle catching a fish in Skagway. Click here for the full series Eagle Fishing.
Harbor Seals
Harbor Seals
Great Blue Heron (Thanks to friend Dave Ross for identification.)
Solstice Cruise Map
Detailed cruise map.
Endicott Arm Fjord and Dawes Glacier, between Ketchikan and Juneau.The glacier lies at the end of Endicott Arm.
Dawes Glacier
Dawes Glacier. Between 1987 and 2015 the glacier has retreated 1100 meters and thinned.
Corrugated ice calved from the Dawes Glacier.
Endicott Arm Fjord
Four bald eagles on ice from Dawes Glacier
Ice in Endicott Arm Fjord
Ice Endicott Arm Fjord
Mel and Pat Oakes approaching Juneau.
Mountains and ship's wake
Nathan Sarma and Alaskan Crab, Juneau
Firoz Antia and Alaskan Red King Crab. Amit Sarma in background. Tracy King Crab Shack, Juneau, Alaska
Nandita and Jehan Sarma and Alaskan King Crab
Feast at Alaskan King Crab
Nathan, Lyla, Sonali and Shirin, identi\ty of crab not known.
Sonali Sarma and friend
Amit, Gyaan, Barada, Jehan and Firoz salmon fishing trip.
Firoz and Jehan on salmon fishing trip.
Jehan and his salmon.
Firoz and his salmon, catch and release.
Nathan and Gyaan
Sarah and Pat Oakes
Roshanna Prices's birthday.
Mel Oakes
Shirin Price
Roshanna Price
Sarah Oakes
Pat Oakes
Firoz Antia
Gillian Jacob Sarma
Jehan Antia
Barada Sarma
Sarah and Supria
Gillian and Amit Sarma
Nandita Sarma
Whale watching boat engaged by Amit Sarma for the group, Juneau.
Humpback whale in distance, Juneau.
Humpback whale
Humpback whale diving.
Humpback whale breathing.
Humpback whale diving.
Humpback whale diving.
Humpback whale diving.
Humpback whale surfacing.
Humpback whale surfacing.
Humpback whale surfacing.
Dall's Porpoise
Dall's Porpoise
Humpback breaching. It is on its back with its flipper up.
Pat Oakes doing her squats at the rail in a strong wind.
Sarah and Mel Oakes on Solstice heliopad.
White Pass Scenic Railway, Skagway
White Pass Scenic Railway, Skagway
White Pass Scenic Railway, Skagway
Sarah, Pat and Mel Oakes, White Pass Scenic Railway, Skagway
White Pass Scenic Railway, Skagway
The Steel Cantilever Bridge. The steel bridge was begun in 1898 and finished in the winter of 1901. It was at the time the highest steel cantilever structure in the world. It served faithfully until 1969 when the new 18A bridge and tunnel were built to handle longer and heavier trains of zinc, silver and lead concentrates headed for the Skagway docks.White Pass Scenic Railway, Skagway. For more information see: History of WP & Yukon Railway
Flowers in Skayway.
Carmanah Point Light Station is a lighthouse on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island at the entrance from the Pacific Ocean to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Jehan, Roshanna and Gyaan
Jehan, Nathan, Sonali, Lyla and Gyaan
Amit, Nandita, Barada and Pria Sarma
Amit and Gillian Sarma
Shirin and Roshanna Price
Supria, Jehan, Gyaan and Firoz Antia
Mel, Pat and Sarah Oakes
Mel, Pat, Nandita and Barada
Front: Sonali, Nathan and Lyla Sarma
Second Row: Gillian Sarma, Mel Oakes, Pat Oakes, Nandita Sarma, Barada Sarma, Jehan Antia
Back Row: Amit, Sarah Oakes, Supria Sarma, Firoz Antia, Shirin Price, Roshanna Price, Gyaan Antia
Victoria, BC dock
Victoria, BC
Dinner with friends in Victoria. Faqir C. Khanna, Raj Khanna, Pat Oakes and Mel Oakes. Faqir and Mel were graduate students in physics in 1958 at Florida State University, 61 years ago.
Chihuly Glass Museum, Seattle
Chihuly Glass
Chihuly Glass
Chihuly Glass
Chihuly Glass
Chihuly Glass, Seattle
Lunch Seattle, Firoz, Gyaan, Jehan, Pria, Mel and Pat