Alaska – Like You Have Never Experienced it Before
Have you dreamed of Alaska and its lush green forests, massive glaciers, abundant and diverse wildlife and picturesque beauty? Have you considered going, but are not sure exactly what type of trip to take; cruise, tour, train, etc.?
Alaska is a hugely diverse state, but for visitors the two most popular areas to visit, since time is usually limited to a week or two, are the interior around Denali National Park (tour) and the Inside Passage (cruise). For the sake of this article let me introduce you to a remarkable means of seeing Alaska’s Inside Passage in an up close and personal way.
Most visitors experience the beauty of the area on board one of the many wonderful large cruise lines that sail the waters from Skagway to Vancouver/Seattle from May to September. They visit a few ports and venture out on excursions that give them a glimpse of Alaska’s wonders. The ships are large and have every amenity imaginable. As remarkable as they are, there is another way to get even more intimate with the Alaska we all dream about; an option you have probably not heard of before – the small ship cruise.
These cruises don’t often leave from the distant ports in Vancouver, Seattle, Seward, Whittier or San Franscisco. They leave from Juneau, Sitka or Ketchikan and you are immediately in the heart of adventure. You can visit locations little known to outsiders. Places like Kuiu Island where in the early 2000s, the census reported 10 residents on the island, with the main residents being black bears, deer, wolves, sea lions, salmon, seabirds, and birds of prey, or Chichagof Island which has the largest population of bears per square mile of any place on earth.
Icy Strait will likely be a stop along your journey, where you will set your course for arguably the richest whale waters in Southeast Alaska. Keep watch for the telltale blow of the humpbacks as you scour the nutrient-rich waters in search of whales, porpoise, sea lions, and other wildlife. Join the Captain on the bridge, or go on deck with your Expedition Leader. In the late afternoon they’ll drop the skiffs and kayaks for closer inspection of the remote coastline for possible bear sightings.
With these cruises there is no binding agenda, so you might cruise the waterfall coast of Chichagof Island. Marvel at the grand scenery of Alaska’s wilderness as the crew expertly guides you through those “not in the guidebook” places known only to the locals. They will likely sail up a waterfall-laced fjord, where there will be time for skiffing, beachcombing or treks ashore. You may choose to explore by kayak to look for sea otters and bears before calling it a day near Baranof Island and tucking the ship in for the night.
Many out of the way fjords are sliced into the mountainous mainland. Depending on your itinerary, your ship may slowly slip into an area widely acclaimed as the most beautiful in Alaska – Endicott Arm and Fords Terror. You can explore this majestic fjord by kayak or skiff, a unique opportunity indeed. View rugged ice-covered mountains gleaming high overhead and a glacier that actively calves into the ice-filled fjord of Endicott Arm. You will get much closer to them on this cruise than from balcony, or rail, of the large cruise ships.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a moment to watch this video – it is worth much more than a thousand words. And if you would like more information about these grand adventures give us a call – we love Alaska and would welcome the opportunity to share our enthusiasm with you.