Published: June 2nd 2012June 2nd 2012
Alaska was amazing! We boarded in Vancouver and spent the first full sailing day going up the inside passage. We didn't expect the boat to move so much as it was so big but you definitely get quite a bit of sway going on when on the open sea. It is much smoother in the fiords and inlets where the swell is smaller or non-existant.
The scenery for the entire trip was just spectacular. Up the inside passage you had the coastline of Canada on one side with the snow capped mountains. We were never too far from land and there was always a forest covered coast line or mountains to gaze at when on deck. We spotted plenty of spouts from whales on and off during the trip but nothing more until Glacier Bay. The cruise line really pushed the jewellery market and had preferred stores in each city. As far as we could tell, these were a big have so kept well away. We also did not partake in any of the on-shore excursions as they were generally very expensive.
The first stop was Jeneau. This is a small coastal town which is the capital of Alaska.
It is not accessible by road - only by sea or air so it was nice to stop somewhere we couldn't get to by road. The population is only 33,000 so it is small compared to most cities. The shops mostly consisted of jewellery shops and the usual knick-knack stores. They also had a cable car which ran up Mt Roberts so we did this. It was very steep but the view from the top was lovely. They also had a female bald eagle at the top which had been shot and could not be released into the wild so we got a very close up view of one and they are magnificent creatures. There was still quite a bit of snow around so the trails were shut to the public so we grabbed a beer and a snack at the restaurant instead before heading back down the cable car.
The next stop was Skagway - this is a tiny town and as the cruise schedule only runs for 4 months every year am unsure what keeps the town going in between. There is a lot of history in Skagway surrounding the Gold Rush of 1897-1898 and included the
Red Onion Saloon which was an original saloon during the Gold Rush. As well as being a saloon it was also a brothal and they have kept the upstairs brothal as a museum. We took the tour for this (after lunch) and it was quite entertaining an informative. The story goes that there were ten working women, who lived and worked in little 10x10 rooms. Downstairs in the saloon, there were ten dolls which were made in a likeness of each women. A man would come in and select his "lady" and this doll would then be placed on her back on the counter to show she was busy. When the 15 minutes were up the doll was placed upright to show she was once again open for buiness.
Our next stop was Glacier Bay which was the highlight of the cruise. We sailed up a fiord to the Majorie Glacier - the water was full of chunks of ice and this was true Alaskan Wilderness at its best. We sailed up to the glacier and stopped about a 1/4 mile away. We were fortunate enough to watch the glacier calving (ice breaking off and falling into the water)
and the noise of it cracking and moving was quite intense. We spent quite a bit of time here and got to see some wolves and bears out and about on the way. During the sail out of the fiord we caught sight of a pod of Orcas (some 12-16) swimming the opposite way. We were really pleased as we particularly wanted to see some whales in their natural habitat.
Monday saw us in Ketchikan - it was a miserable day and rained quite heavily. We still went for a quick wander and found the best popcorn ever. The weather was not great during the entire cruise but it just leant an extra quality to the scenery. We would go up to the Crows Nest bar at the front and top of the ship each afternoon for happy hour and this spot provided a fabulous view. On our last night at dinner we had a group of porpoises playing in the wake of the ship which was great fun to watch. The food was endless and they had almost everything you could think of. Our room was very comfortable - we had an inner cabin with no view but
we spent very little time in it so it was fine for our needs.
We are currently in White Rock near the border of Canada and USA which is near to where we are going to get our eyes lasered. This will be next Saturday 9/6 so we are really just hanging out until then. We will not cross the border as there appears to be little to do on the other side here. This time next week we will no longer have glasses which is very exciting.
There are more photos below