Our journey to Alaska was on Norwegian Pearl, a family ship. Norwegian Pearl had a lot of small children on board. For a more adult experience, Celebrity, Holland America and Princess also follow the same route.
After passing whales and dolphins and hundreds of small islands and the odd iceberg which looked like sapphires in the Pacific, we arrived at the capital Juneau in the afternoon of the third day.
We had booked a tour which included Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier. It was raining heavily in Juneau which thankfully didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the glacier. Apparently if it is overcast, the glacier looks bluer so it was an amazing sight and a totally different experience from the Columbia Icefields in Alberta.
Juneau is small and looks like a studio set of a cowboy town. The main road is “The Road” and the bridge is just as imaginatively “The Bridge”. We spotted plenty of American Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles as well. The house of the governor of Alaska was also pointed out to us. This used to be Sarah Palin until Sean Powell was since appointed
Skagway is the furthest point north and west that I have been in my lifetime. Skagway is a gold rush town. There are some good clothes and souvenir bargains in Skagway as well as the usual cruise port shops. In Skagway this has been very tastefully done as any new shops have blended in with the old and in the old gold rush style with a mountainous backdrop. Fortunately it has not had its beautiful landscape ruined by ugly shopping malls, at least not yet.
We booked the White Pass and Yukon Railway, an excursion that we would recommend. This goes from Skagway across old wooden bridges up the mountain and across the Canadian border. Most of the scenery is on the left on the way up, but for those sitting on the right there is a replay on the way down
Our next day was no ordinary day at sea, it was a day at Glacier Bay, the largest area of wilderness after Antarctica. This is filled with some of the most incredible scenery I have ever experienced. We sailed slowly in and out of bays and saw hundreds of little islands, mountains, glaciers and even a couple of beaches as well as birds, whales and a large colony of seals. We were blessed with good weather in the morning so we were able to see mountains that are rarely visible as the weather in Alaska is often dull and cloudy.
As Alaska is 9 hours behind the UK, we saw some very stange phenomenon. The evening brightened up again and we not only watched the sun going down, but also the moon as well at around 1030pm when it went completely dark, but we never saw any stars. The sun rose again at around 4am. In September you can experience the Northern Lights but perhaps at the expense of the weather and the many daylight hours that can be enjoyed in July.
Our last stop in Alaska was to Ketchikan. Ketchikan, although in some ways similar with its old wooden gold rush buildings, it is very much a fishing harbour.
Shopping in Ketchikan is excellent as well. We took the only Duck tour in Alaska, entertaining and reasonably priced. This is a half land, half water 90 minute tour. We saw the main highlights of Ketchikan and also lucky enough to see a couple of bald eagles.
If you would like more information or to book a cruise to Alaska or any other destination please contact me