7-DAY ALASKAN EXPLORER
Date: 18 July 2015
Ship: ms Westerdam
Embark Port: Seattle, Washington, US You may qualify for special pricing.
No roads lead to Juneau, which gives the Alaskan capital a misty inscrutability. You need to come by air or water, but when you arrive, the place will delight you with its bounty of water, forests, and mountains. Squeezed between the Gastineau Channel and Coast Mountains, Juneau offers a lot of variety in close proximity. The massive Mendenhall Glacier and the immense Juneau Icefields are at its back door. The vast Tongass National Forest stretches away to the northeast. You can shop downtown or get out and kayak, dogsled, raft, hike, whale watch, flightsee or fish. The adventures are as bountiful as the daylight.
Experience Glacier Bay
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Glacier Bay ostentatious for the way it flaunts its ice. The glaciers practically terminate in your lap. A cruise to Glacier Bay National Park with Holland America Line will show you a UNESCO World Heritage Site that protects a unique ecosystem of plants and animals living in concert with an ever-changing glacial landscape.
When a monumental chunk of ice splits off a glacier and thunders into the sea the impact shoots water hundreds of feet into the air. You hold your breath as you catch the moment on film. Then you wait for it all to happen again. And it does: Glacier Bay has more actively calving tidewater glaciers than anyplace else in the world.
The onion domes of St. Michael’s Cathedral are your first clue that Sitka was once a key Russian settlement. Indeed, it was capital of Russian America, seat of the bishop of Kamchatka, and the most important port on the West Coast for the first half of the 19th century. Catch a performance by the New Archangel Dancers, be greeted by native Tlingit people, then stand on the spot where the United States took possession of Alaska in 1867. The dramatic setting in the shadow of Mt. Edgecumbe is one of the loveliest in the Great North.
Ketchikan clutches the shores of the Tongass Narrows, with many shops and houses built right out over the water. The stairways are weathered and the vibe is cheerful in the town that calls itself the Salmon Capital of the World. Besides the main attractions – Creek Street, the Tongass Historical Museum, Totem Bight State Park and Saxman Village – try a flightseeing trip to Misty Fjords National Monument. These deepwater fjords were gouged out by retreating glaciers, leaving granite cliffs towering thousands of feet above the sea and countless waterfalls plunging into placid waters.
Cruise to Victoria
Hello, England. Fancy meeting you here! Victoria is a city that started as Salish Village, spent a roustabout adolescence as a main port for gold prospectors and opium traders, and then transformed itself into an icon of British gentility after the completion of the trans-Canada railroad put neighboring Vancouver in the ascendant. Two events were seminal: the opening of Butchart Gardens in 1904 and the completion of the Empress Hotel in 1908. Butchart is a collection of gardens more than a single garden — highlights for cruise visitors include the Sunken Garden (built from a former limestone quarry), the Italian Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Rose Garden (breathe deeply). The Empress Hotel is merely a national icon. Come in for high tea.