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

by Murray Lundberg

    Day 1: Whittier
    Days 2 & 3: Hubbard Glacier & Glacier Bay
    Day 4: Skagway
    Day 5: Juneau
    Day 6: Ketchikan
    Day 7 & 8: At Sea & Vancouver

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

Sunday, June 20: I awoke this morning to the sight of Kayak Island, Cape St. Elias and Pinnacle Rock out of my porthole. By 6:00am when I took this photo, I was up on deck looking back at it.

We met the little Nippon Maru coming out of Yakutat Bay at 2:00pm. I'd never seen her before - she's a budget ship out of Japan, on a 52-day circle-Pacific cruise. Built in 1990, she carries 408 passengers.

This was as close as we got to Hubbard Glacier due to heavy ice conditions. This photo was shot at 4:25pm. We only saw a couple of skittish sea otters and a few seals while we were there. Few people stayed up on deck very long.

A closer look at the sea conditions and the face of Hubbard Glacier. There's obviously been a great deal of calving in recent days, and the face is so sloped now that there may not be good calving again for weeks.

Monday, June 21: this was another gorgeous morning, though it wasn't clear what was going to happen when we sailed closer to the coast. This photo of a thick fog bank was shot just west of Cape Spencer at 06:20.

This was the view from my cabin as I got ready to head up to the theatre at 8:30 to get set up for a presentation. On deck, a handful of people were watching sea lions and whales - I should have been on the bridge talking to people, not in the theatre.

Heading back to my cabin to get rid of my computer and get changed, I glanced out a window I was walking by and a bunch of active humpbacks very close. I rushed out the nearest door but the bubble-feeding frenzy was over and they never re-appeared.

Just before 10:00, just as the whale show ended, the National Park Service boat arrived and the rangers boarded.

How's this for a welcome to Glacier Bay?! The Zuiderdam can be seen close to the far shore (right above the girl in green), heading into John Hopkins Inlet.

Seeing Glacier Bay now, it's hard to believe that some 250 years ago a single tidewater glacier covered all of Glacier Bay. By 1750 the glacier began to retreat and has now retreated 60 miles to the head of the bay.

A closer look at John Hopkins Inlet - the Zuiderdam is just rounding Jaw Point, so named because that's what drops when you see the view beyond.

I didn't stand in line the get to the "Taste of Alaska" seafood buffet last sailing, but today I waited until the line had almost ended and then joined in, then found a lounger to sit on to enjoy the meal.

The glacier viewing areas on the Coral Princess leave a lot to be desired. There's blue tinted glass everywhere and no opening windows in this area of Deck 14, so people are crowded at the short sections of open deck that have low railings.

The Margerie Glacier.

I could spend a week in Glacier Bay just focussing on waterfalls!

The variety of light was near perfect today - an enormous range from sun to dark clouds that offered photo ops in every direction.

More waterfalls....

A small river runs from under the Lamplugh Glacier. It's hard to judge scale but I'd guess it at about 50 feet across. The face of the Lamplugh Glacier is 180 feet high above the sea and another 10-40 feet below water. It is .75 miles wide and 16 miles long, flowing downhill at a rate of 2-3 feet per day. It is considered to be stable (not receding), but thinning.

I wandered around the ship until almost midnight, and there was a lot of good music being played. It was old time rock 'n' roll night in the Universe Lounge. I didn't stick my head in there but most other venues were very quiet - the piano player at Crooners had half the tables filled, though.

I actually went to my cabin just after 10:00 but the TV was on the bridgecam channel, and when I saw the sunset light ahead in Icy Strait I went back up on deck. The next 2 photos were taken at 10:24 and 10:32pm.

MUTS (Movies Under the Stars) is a very cool concept but no doubt is much more popular in the Caribbean - only 8 people were bundled up on the loungers watching The Invention of Lying.

I thought that the popcorn wagon was a great touch until I had some - bleh! I suppose putting butter and salt on it would make it hardly to clean spills up.

This was the view from my cabin at precisely midnight last night - June 21st, the longest day of the year. As many years as I've been seeing this, I still get a thrill from it.

To Day 4: Skagway