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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.

Tuesday, June 29: even though I didn't get to bed until well after midnight last night, I was up at 4:30 this morning. My subconscious mind must have received a message about how beautiful the morning was. This photo was shot in Stephens Passage just north of the mouth of Tracy Arm at 04:52. I find it interesting that 95% of the other people up at that time of morning are always men.

Sunrise was at 03:59, but the sun actually came up over the mountains as we passed Port Snettisham at 04:54.

05:25 - time for coffee and a muffin in Hrizon Court to get the day started.

The view up Taku Inlet to the Taku Glacier and beyond is stunning. I was out in the open on Deck 15 as usual. A guy I saw sitting in Horizon Court with a huge camera on his table came tearing up the stairs to capture the scene but by then the best was past. Some scenes give you time to react like that but most don't. You're either on an open deck or you miss it.

It really bothers me to see large quantities of food wasted for no reason. Can you imagine what it's like for some of the crew members who come from some of the poorest countries in the world?

On my blog I commented about this vessel: "It seems to me that this yacht, the Shogun, belongs to someone very famous - a movie star perhaps. If I wasn't paying 50 cents a minute for Internet access I'd Google it to find out. Lovely vessel!" One of my readers soon checked it out - she's a 122-foot charter yacht that can accommodate 8 guests in 4 cabins and goes for $69,000 per week.

I had a seat booked on a whale watch at 11:15, so took the tramway up Mt. Roberts to fill the time. On a nice day, getting into the high country quickly is well worth the $27 fare. The ticket is good for as many rides as you want all day, but I seldom go up more than once.

The twisting of these trees, called snowcrook, is caused by the gradual creep of snow downhill bending the trees when they were young.

I thought I'd be 2-3 weeks too early for great wildflowers, but our mild winter meant that I hit the peak time for many species.

Looking down on the Coral Princess.

This was as high as I went, to a rocky knoll that overlooks Father Brown's Cross.

Beyond that, there's no real destination for a couple of hours.

I came back down with time to kill, but I can keep myself amused on the dock for a long time. I love this statue of Patsy Ann, a dog who used to meet every passenger ship that arrived at Juneau in the 1920s.

And of course there are floatplanes!

Another of my favourite statues anywhere is on the Juneau dock - this one honours hardrock miners.

It was an off day for whale watching - none of the boats were getting anywhere near the humpbacks and the transient orcas that were seen yesterday have moved on. This humpback is seen in front of the Point Retreat Lighthouse, which was built in 1924. Rough seas didn't help, but it certainly wasn't an off day for scenery.

The buoy off Point Retreat was full of Steller's sea lions as usual. A harbour seal wanted up too but was just getting lip from the sea lions instead of cooperation :)

Orca dropped many of us off at the Mendenhall Glacier and I hiked out to Nugget Falls again. The new trail is for some reason not open yet, and I was amazed at the dramatic change in the look of the face of the glacier.

Access to the Nugget Falls trail is back to being on this dangerous route. Very odd...

I've never seen so much ice in the lake. Apparently there was a lot of calving yesterday and in recent days a huge piece of ice had come off.

There's a $150 fine for smoking anywhere at Mendenhall except at one of these canopies, which have stoves to put your butts into. I saw a guy smoking 100 feet away from one - he finished and threw his butt onn the ground. Too bad the fine wasn't $1,000 and there were enough rangers to enforce it :(

To Day 5: Skagway