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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 to Whitehorse

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

Monday, June 28: passing the Ketchikan Coast Guard station at 05:40 this morning. On the left is the 213-foot cutter USCGC Acushnet (WMEC 167), the oldest commissioned cutter serving the U.S. Coast Guard.

The crab boat Aleutian Ballad heads out with a group from the Norwegian Star. That excursion gets extremely good reviews - I just may try it some day.

With a beautifully-equipped boat like the Tranquility, an entire summer wouldn't be long enough to explore the coast of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska. A few books have been written about such journeys, with Jonathan Raban's "Passage to Juneau" being among the best.

One of the few local stores left in downtown Ketchikan.

When I left the ship there was a light misty rain falling but after about 15 minutes it starting raining very heavily. I spent quite a while in 2 shops, then when the rain stopped went back to my original plan to take the city bus out to Totem Bight State Historical Park. The bus stop is right across the street from this eagle carving - see the bus schedule here.

There were a fair number of people at the park, but it looked like I'd be able to stay away from the big groups. My plan was to spend just over an hour there to catch the 2nd return bus. At the small gift shop, I bought an excellent book on the park and its totems entitled "Silent Storytellers of Totem Bight State Historical Park" by Tricia Brown.

A small garden at the entrance has native plants that were used medicinally by the local Tlingit Indians. This is the flower of the wild rose - rose hips, the fruit of the plant, are extremely rich in Vitamin C and were used in teas, for example. "Alaska's Wilderness Medicines: Healthful Plants of the Far North" is an excellent resource for studying that subject.

The path to the totems is through a forest that was logged many decades ago.

This is a wonderful example of a nurse stump - the rotting stump of a logged tree nourishes the next generation.

"Man Wearing Bear Hat" is a 1995 copy of a 1930s copy of a grave marker found on Cat Island, south of Ketchikan. Note the whales painted on the hat's brim.

The interpretive signage at Totem Bight is very good.

The Clan House is a replica of one that would have housed 30-50 members of one Tlingit clan. The main pole isn't really tilted - that's just the way the camera makes it look.

I was a bit too early, but if you arrive when the salmonberries are ripe, they're delicious!

The slate beach in front of the park is a great place to explore.

You have to get down and look close - these snails are only a fraction of an inch long.

It's a shame that most folks on cruise ships never see how rich these seas are. It surprises most people, who think that warm water must have more life.

"On the starboard side you can now see Totem Bight State Park..."

A few drops of rain fell at the park but it was raining heavily further down Tongass Narrows (this is looking south towards Ketchikan).

This large tour group soon moved past me.

This is "Master Carver", wearing a necklace of ten faces representing ten lessons that Master Carver taught the Haida. This pole was designed for the Mud Bight project and was raised in 1941.

This is early for fireweed but a few stalks had bloomed. In another month there would be a lot of it fringing the grassy totem pole area.

Due to the sunshine, I suppose, most people waited until the last minute to return to the ship, and the boarding lineup was very long. Our departure was delayed by half an hour as it took that long to get everyone on. To have lineups like this is very unusual - this only the second time I've seen it in all of my cruising.

Tongass Narrows is a busy place. Two of the airport access ferries are mid-stream.

On this sailing we had no luck with whales even at Snow Pass, but seeing Sumner Strait like a millpond almost made up for it. There was a line of showers ahead but they cleared as we approached.

The dramatic limestone peak of Mt. Calder on Prince of Wales Island. "PoW" is yet another place I'd like to see in detail - the karst formations there fascinate me.

Cape Decision Lighthouse, at the junction of Sumner and Chatham Straits, at 9:41pm. Evenings on the water don't get much more beautiful than this - but few people on the ship saw it.

Sunset over Baranof Island, shot a minute after the photo above.

I went to hypnotist Kelli Karl's 10:15 show - it was good fun, but I think it'd be cool to be one of the volunteers on stage, to see how it actually works.

What a way to end the day!! Moonlight over Kuiu Island at 11:24pm.

To Day 4: Juneau