What: 7-Day Alaska Cruise
Who: Me, the Boy & certain members of the Boy’s family
Warning: this is a photo-heavy post. 🙂
Our first stop was in Skagway, and I have to say I was not prepared for the size of this port. All of my previous cruise experience was in the Caribbean, where all of the ports were bustling cities. Skagway is the teensy tiny remnants of a mining town. It is literally 21 blocks long by 7 blocks wide, and would not exist without the tourism provided by the cruise ships. It was also our longest port stop, so we opted to sleep in, eat a good breakfast, and explore the town a bit before our excursions. Then we split up; the boys took a helicopter ride up to the top of a nearby glacier to walk around, and us girls took a train ride into the the mountains for a hike.
We had pretty decent weather, so between the thin sunshine and all the movement, keeping warm wasn’t a problem. And the hike was a good time – we had wonderful guides, and the scenery was breathtaking. Our hike was out in the Sawtooth Pass area of the Tongass National Forest, which is a temperate rainforest. I’ll admit, it was a lot greener than I expected anywhere in Alaska to be. Our guides even had us try some of the edible plants. There was one called Devil’s Club that tasted exactly like cucumber. We hiked a total of 4.5 miles, then took the train back to town. The weather was turning unfriendly by this time, so we opted to have dinner back on the ship after we met back up with the boys.
Stealing some photos from Ian because they are cool:
Our second port of call was Juneau, and again I was taken aback by the small size of the place. As the capital city, I had been expecting something much larger. We sadly didn’t have a whole lot of time to explore the town, as our shore time was limited and our excursion took up most of it. But it was an excursion well worth it! (despite the crappy weather) The whole group of us decided to do a combo mini-hike and whale-watching tour. The first part was a hike through a different part of the Tongass, out to a glacial lake at the tail end of the Mendenhall glacier. The lake was pretty stunning scenery; I wish the weather had been less grey and rainy.
After the hike, we all boarded onto a little boat, and took off into the waves. While very cold and wet and windy, and an exercise in patience waiting for whales to resurface after their dives, it was still a cool experience. We couldn’t get too close, because Alaska has laws saying you can’t get within 100 yards of a whale, but I still snagged some good photos. One in particular, nicknamed Sasha by the locals, has markings on her left tail fin that look like AK (humpback whales each have unique tail markings, and are catalogued). We saw a whole bunch of bald eagles and sea lions, too.