Published: August 17th 2012August 17th 2012
Located at the northern tip of Alaska’s Inside Passage, Skagway lies nestled at the base of the snow-capped mountains of the Coast Range. Typically, most ships arrive here in the very early hours. We woke to bright sunshine and after a quick breakfast were on the pier to start the first part of our excursion. We boarded a bus that would take us to Caribou Crossing with many photo stops on the way. We learned about the very storied history of the Klondike Gold Rush which began in August of 1896 when a small group of miners working along the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers in Northwest Canada struck gold. The following summer on July 14, 1897 the first ship carrying the lucky miners docked in San Francisco and 3 days later on July 17, a second ship docked in Seattle. The second ship, the Portland, carried 68 miners and over 2 tons of gold. Word spread and the rush to the North was on.
Once in Caribou Crossing, we were treated with a barbecue lunch, visited the gift shop and museum, a petting zoo which housed the sled dogs used in the Iditarod dog sled race. Back on the bus, we made a few stops for photos and stopped at a little town to have our passports stamped and then about halfway between Caribou Crossing and Skagway, we boarded the White Pass and Yukon Railway train to take us back to Skagway. The scenery was beautiful and we enjoyed the commentary from the staff, even stopping a couple of times picking up hikers.
Once again, the weather was perfect and everyone was amazed since this is one of the rainiest places in the world. We were told that this was the 1st
time the previous 12 cruises hadn’t seen the sun at all and that what we had seen, most of the other cruise ship passengers had not.
We learned that most of the tour guides live somewhere else and come to Alaska to work during the summer months. It is very apparent that these small towns rely heavily on the cruise ship industry for their livelihood.
It was a very enjoyable day, arriving back in Skagway and spent some time in town before returning to the ship. We ate a late supper and took in some entertainment by the Princess Cruise Line dancers and singers.