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Cruising Alaska:
Celebrity Infinity ("Ultimate Alaska" 11-Night)

by Murray Lundberg

Cruise Day 7: Icy Strait Point (Hoonah)

Page 1, & Trip Index

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

Sunday, May 16: Sunrise today was at 04:29, and we arrived at Icy Strait Point (Hoonah) at about 06:00. We had booked a whale watching tour with F.I.S.H.E.S. ($159 each for 3 hours) for 07:30 so caught one of the first tenders. There was no lineup at all for the tender, which was a nice surprise.

Floyd was waiting outside the Icy Strait Point gates for us - Cathy and I, Dee and Nancy from our online group, and Len and Chris from Great Britain. We were soon on board Floyd's boat, heading out of Hoonah harbor under a partly-clear sky.

Searching for whales...
...and bears along the beaches...
While it didn't take too long to find some humpback whales (a cow and calf), we weren't able to get close to them. We did, though, get up close to some Steller sea lions, who often follow whales. The one neraest in this photo had a nasty wound on its back, likely from an orca attack.
Sightings like this may not be the norm, but are sure worth waiting for!
A broader view of the scene. Even if there were no whales this would be a wonderful place to spend a day.
When a humpback whale surfaces this close to your boat you have to be very quick to capture the event. While the Regulations Governing the Approach to Humpback Whales in Alaska state that you can't approach within 100 yards of a whale, sometimes the whales do surface closer than that.
Spouts and tails are what you usually see when humpback watching but while we saw lots of less common behaviours there were no tails. Finally just as we were about to head back to Hoonah I got this shot.
On the way back to Hoonah Floyd went by an area that can be good for brown bears. We did see a couple at a great distance, nothing like the up-close-and-personal bear encounter that we had the last time we were out with him.

This is Floyd and the Silver Spoon back at the Hoonah harbor.

The Hoonah small boat harbor.
The Infinity at Icy Strait Point (ISP). ISP is a facility built for the cruise industry - it's beautifully done, partly because only one ship per day is allowed.
After our whale-watching tour we went back to the ship to get changed, relax and have lunch.
The hot saltwater therapy pool is wonderful.
The ISP sea kayaking excursion.
The Crab Station at ISP has whole, fresh Dungeness crab for $21.15, halves for $13.75, which seemed reasonable.
Icy Strait Point on a day like we had is a superb place to wander, or to just park yourself on a bench and enjoy the sun and scenery.
The hot new attraction is the ZipRider - on a mile-long cable you can reach speeds of 60mph!
Cathy with our table-mates Lucy and Ed, who are from Florida. They had just done the ZipRider and Ed shot a video that he showed us at dinner - that's some ride for $99!!
This sign is a great way to get "souvenir shots" with your ship in the background.
This humpback provided hundreds of people with decent whale watching for free - right from the ship, beach or dock!
The was the beach at Icy Strait Point as the whale cruised by. This is for the folks who say that cruising isn't for them because they couldn't handle the crowds

I went back to the ship at 1:00 pm to get ready for my next presentation, this one on glaciers. Cathy stayed at ISP and soaked up the sunshine with some new friends.

We sailed from ISP at 5:00pm, towards the end of my presentation which drew about 180 people (a number that I'm very pleased with). Sailing west from Hoonah we met this Holland America ship.
The "portholes" in the floor of the Oceanview Cafe are pretty cool.
Watch watching is usually not very good from a cruise ship. This day was the exception - in the space of 2 hours we saw half a dozen orca fairly close, and perhaps 2 dozen humpbacks including this one. This photo was shot from my table in the OceanviewCafe on Deck 10.
The view from the Constellation Lounge on Deck 11.
There were hundreds of sea lions on these rocks. A bit too distant for a camera (you can just make them out in the enlarged photo) but a wonderful sight anyway.
The view at 10:48pm.
A broader look at the same view as above. Another place for solitary contemplation of the world passing by.
To Cruise Day 8: Hubbard Glacier