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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.

Tuesday, June 15: as I started writing my blog entry for today, it was 3:15am and the Coral Princess was in Stephens Passage, 44 nautical miles south of Juneau at the mouth of Tracy and Endicott Arms. The days are much longer now than they were in Vancouver - sunrise this morning was at 3:54.

At 4:20, we met the Radiance of the Seas a few miles south of Juneau. She sails one-ways between Vancouver and Seward but I never did figure out why she was southbound in that location at that time of the morning.

At exactly 6:00am we pulled into Juneau harbor - 2 hours early. I went up to the Provence dining room for breakfast when it opened at 7.

At 9:00 the crew began preparing for a lifeboat drill. I like knowing that this sort of practice is done often, just in case those skills are ever needed in an emergency.

It was raining on and off and there was nothing in particular I wanted to see, but I walked into town for a while anyway. The concrete behind these flowers is a small reminder of Juneau's significant mining history.

For information about Juneau, see this community guide.

The Mount Roberts Tramway provides superb views and access to excellent hiking trails. There's no need to reserve in advance. You're better off waiting until you arrive to see what the weather is like, since if you can't see the top of the mountain from your ship, there are no views to be had from there.

Some of the tour kiosks along the docks. It's best to book most tours in advance - the 2 notable exceptions are the tramway and the shuttle buses to Mendenhall Glacier.

If you like the smaller groups and more personal service offered by independent operators but want the convenience of one-stop shopping and payment, have a look at ShoreTrips

Another line of tour kiosks. Although there are dozens of options, Juneau is best known for whale watching, the Mendenhall Glacier, Mount Roberts, and glacier flightseeing/dogsledding by helicopter.

The world famous Red Dog saloon is fine if you get there early, before the crowds arrive. It's certainly colorful, the food is generally good, and of course the beer is always good!

When it started raining again I headed back to the ship to do some more exploring. This is another look at the Bayou Cafe.

Trattoria Sabatini ("Sabatini's") is the Italian specialty restaurant, open for dinner from 6:00 until 10:00pm. Wikipedia tells me that "a trattoria is an Italian-style eating establishment, less formal than a ristorante, but more formal than an osteria."

Horizon Court was a good place to grab a coffee and watch the heavy rain.

By the time I took this photo from an upper deck at 6:30pm it was quite pleasant. That's Celebrity's Millennium at the dock.

The Sea Princess was anchored out in the harbor, using tenders to get passengers ashore. While tendering slows disembarkation down a bit, it's not usually a big deal.

MUTS provides an impressive place to watch "the game", doesn't it?

A look at our docking position as lines were being untied at 8:40pm.

The view from the bridge as we backed out into the harbor. It's remarkable how manoeuverable these ships are, and there are spotters aft, giving constant position reports to the bridge to ensure safety.

Looking back at the Sea Princess and Norwegian Pearl as we sailed down Gastineau Channel at 9:27pm.

Even with a heavy cloud layer there was still lots of light at 10:00pm. By the time we reached Admiralty Island at the south end of Gastineau Channel it was too dark to see much so I left the bridge and went for a quiet drink before bed.

To Day 5: Skagway