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Cruising Alaska:
Coral Princess (Northbound, Vancouver - Whittier)

by Murray Lundberg

    Days 1 & 2: Vancouver & at Sea
    Day 3: Ketchikan
    Day 4: Juneau
    Day 5 : Skagway
    Day 6: Glacier Bay
    Day 7: Prince William Sound & College Fjord
    Day 8: Whittier

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

Monday, June 13: Tongass Narrows at 4:25am. While the weather didn't look too bad in this direction (south), to the north it was very dark. It didn't look good for our day in Ketchikan, where I always expect rain but unlike 98% of other people seldom get it.

By the time I disembarked at 6:50 the sun was starting to break through! I had an appointment on the bridge at 11 so needed to get some touring done early.

For lots of information about the city, see the Guide to Ketchikan at ExploreNorth.

We berthed at the new Dock 4, which according to a sign near the gangway is 1700 feet from downtown. This free shuttle bus is available for those who don't want to walk. It wasn't getting many riders at all today but I'll bet the driver keeps busy on rainy days.

Ketchikan is doing some visitor related things extremely well and others very poorly. At the top of the "poorly" list are letting the town become inundated with Caribbean jewelry shops, and allowing too many and too aggressive tour hawkers. On the positive side are directional and heritage interpretation signage such as this one at the northern entrance to historic Creek Street, which is on most "must-see" lists.

I decided to walk up to Cape Fox Lodge on the Married Man's Trail rather than ride the funicular as I usually do. "Married Man's Trail"? Well, Creek Street used to be the town's red-light district, and the winding, heavily-forested trail was a good route for "respectable" men to travel to and from it discreetly.

The beauty of a wet forest.

I'd forgotten about one of the coast's residents that make you want to watch very carefully where you step. It'd been many years since I'd seen a slug but there were a lot of them on this trail.

This fine collection of totem poles in front of the lodge is called "The Council of Clans". Wood doesn't last long in Ketchikan's very wet climate, and these fairly new poles are deteriorating rapidly.

The back of the bear totem. There's apparently a small heart carved on this little bear bum but I didn't see it.

From Cape Fox Lodge I went down to Park Avenue - this is the view as I walked towards the Totem Heritage Center. Along the way I was stopped by a couple who had been to 2 of my presentations and I chatted with them for a while about their trip.

At the Totem Heritage Center I bought a combination pass for $15, giving me entrance to both the totem center and the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center. The totem center houses poles retrived in the 1970s from Tlingit villages Tongass Island and Village Island, and the Haida village Old Kasaan. It gets about 50,000 visitors per year according to curator Chris Hanson.

Signage at the Totem Heritage Center is very good.

These female eagles at the Deer Mountain center are both too badly injured to be returned to the wild...

...and offer the opportunity to get photos such like this. I somehow got into a discussion with the guide about whether or not using a camera's flash should be allowed. While the center allows it, I don't think it should be allowed - it has to at least add to the birds' stress level. I think that it's allowed simply because that's the easy path. Ruby did ask the next person to come in to not use flash and I showed her how to turn it off.

I hadn't even seen this poor little owl beside the entrance door - the guide took me back out to see her. I couldn't help but think that there are times when being saved from dying may not be a good thing.

The little hatchery is very quiet right now but during the season will raise more than 300,000 salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout. Among that number, they release 100,000 King salmon into Ketchikan Creek, 75,000 Coho salmon into Ketchikan Creek, and 75,000 Coho into Ward Lake.

Over the doorway to the right is a sign reading "Shortcut to Berths 3 and 4" - that route to your ship is no shorter than the public sidewalk, but as it takes you through the middle of a store it is a handy shortcut into your wallet

Some people wonder what the term "Obstructed Oceanview" cabin means. Here's a photo of the windows of 2 of those cabins - while the window lets in light, the "view" is of machinery in one case and a lifeboat in the other. Yes, the cabins are cheaper than a regular Oceanview.

One of the more dramatic house locations in Ketchikan.

I did a talk from the bridge as we sailed away from Ketchikan - this is heard by anyone on the ship who is on an open deck. It's also heard by anyone near the ship and there are some restrictions on when you can do it, so I waited until we were out mid-channel. This is the console that my microphone plugs into, on the port wing of the bridge - how's that for getting an office with a view?

The main section of the bridge, with Captain Andrea Poggi to the left and the local pilot second from the right.

The view up Tongass Narrows as we sailed away, with the ferry to the airport mid-channel right ahead.

From here I went to the main theatre and gave a presentation about the Alaska Highway, which drew about 250 people. Several people want to meet with me during the cruise to discuss coming up by RV at some future date. I then spent 2 hours with a delightful couple from Great Britain, helping them plan their 2-week land vacation following the cruise - a week-long loop from Fairbanks through Dawson and Whitehorse will make up the fully-independent part of it (I should be making commissions on the tours and hotels that people are booking after talking to me!).

I made it to the Bordeaux dining room by 7:30 and lucked into another table that provided enjoyable conversations as well as excellent food (I had a filet and shrimp). The 7 of us spent over 2 hours together.

To Day 4: Juneau