Some years ago – never mind how long ago precisely – we decided we would sail about a little and see the watery part of…Alaska. There are many different cruises offered by several different cruise lines. Our particular voyage was on the Westerdam of the Holland America Line. We would depart from Seattle Washington and sail to Juneau, Alaska’s Capital. From there to Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Sitka and Victoria in British Colombia, Canada.
This will mostly be a visual post with photographs and extended captions.
The Ports of Call for our Alaska Cruise. Ours was a round trip out of Seattle, but others leave from Vancouver. There are other cruises that depart from Anchorage and sail to Seattle or the reverse. You fly into one and depart from the other. Land tours of the natural wonders of Alaska are included in some and others offer optional shore excursions and tours.
This is from the Cruise Terminal in Seattle. Getting the whole ship in the picture proves to be impossible from this close. You see just the bow section of the Holland America Westerdam. Next is a picture of her sister ship, which we encountered on the voyage.
The entirety of our ship looked just like this one, Holland America’s Noordam. Actually, the Westerdam has three fewer cabins (958 vs. 961). The occasional sighting of a passing ship is yet another photo opportunity. You begin to appreciate that these really are floating cities.
In port still, looking back at Seattle, past a neighboring ship.
My Dream Vacations Cruise Director and Wife of 27 years, Maria on the balcony of our stateroom, with Mount Rainier in the distance.
The views from the decks and promenades of the ship are impressive and available by a short stroll even from an inside cabin. But, a balcony adds a delightful closeness, immediacy and privacy to the passing beauty of nature at a moment’s notice.
Approaching the Port at Juneau, Alaska’s Capital. At extreme right and two-thirds up the picture, you can see hovering there, a cable car – part of the many excursion options available. Details are available at the Dream Vacations web site or email Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org
The fishing Industry is very important to the economy of Alaska and salmon hatchery like this one are a vital part of same. This is what is known as a ”fish ladder” where the fish returning to spawn jump up the compartments and into huge holding tanks where the next generation of salmon are conceived.
The Cruise Director and the view of the Juneau surroundings. Juneau is a city spread out over several islands with lots of water in between. None of the cities in this part of Alaska are places you can drive to. By air or water only can you arrive. The third way to get there is to be born there. That was in the Alaska Trivia Contest (I won a bottle of Champaign).
This is the Mendenhall Glacier. Breath-taking views were the rule rather than the exception on this voyage. Mendenhall is one place where stumps of huge trees from the Medieval Warm Period (around 1000 AD – hence the name) were found – still rooted in the ground – as the glaciers retreated after the Little Ice Age (roughly 1600-1850 AD). No such trees are found there today. That’s right, the climate was much warmer than today – and then much colder – long before the Industrial Age. Remember this when someone tries to tell you that the weather is our fault. 😉
As the ship entered Glacier Bay, the deck at the bow of the ship – usually restricted to ship’s crew – was opened to passengers with binoculars and cameras.
This glacier face is made up from merging streams of ice flowing slowly down two different valleys. They “park” the ship here for a while, for sightseeing from the balconies, decks and promenades. First with the portside facing, then after a while they turn the ship around and park for a while longer. They don’t drop an anchor, you understand. These days, the Navigator just tells the ship to “STAY” and it will position itself, unmoving until told otherwise.
Needless to say, viewing the natural wonders is not the only activity. Sports (swimming for me), games (there is casino gambling), shopping and shows featuring music or comedy filled the days. Most cruises offer the options of “formal” sit-down meals with waiters or self-seated buffet dinning. The food is included in the fare, generally of excellent quality and – of course – unlimited. There were specialty restaurants (small additional fees) and bars (not included). We especially enjoyed the piano bar where a very talented guy (whose name I forget) played every request for hours, with only an occasional glance at his collection of sheet music.