Recently, my husband Steve and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and to mark the occasion we flew from Toronto to Vancouver, Canada and embarked on a cruise of Alaskaand the inside passage. We viewed the spectacular coastline as well as numerous fjords and glaciers. An onboard expedition team of naturalists and wildlife experts led shore excursions in zodiacs* and kayaks* and yes, we actively participated in many of these thrilling adventures!! I have included photos of a map of our itinerary, our ship and some of our most favourite excursions.
*zodiac: an inflatable, sturdy boat; the sides and bow are constructed of inflatable tubes filled with pressurized gas, making them light, fast and easily transportable
*kayak: seaworthy, small boat that allows one to maneuver through the water while watching wildlife
Our first adventure involved Alaskan fishing and wilderness dining in an area known asKetchikan. Once we met our guide and were outfitted head to toe with warm, waterproof gear, we boarded an open air boat (skiff) and glided into a breathtaking landscape. It was a thrill to catch the fish then head to a campsite where a chef grilled our fresh catches over the fire. We enjoyed a culinary delight of homemade fish broth and delicately seasoned potatoes with our fresh fish served atop a saffron-infused bouillabaisse. It was delicious!
Our adventure in Sitka was a multi-faceted tour that involved an ocean-going boat ride, a visit to a residential floating house, a hike through an old-growth National forest and kayaking on a scenic lake. Most of the hike involved areas of steep terrain and our guide was fully prepared in the event of a bear encounter! That’s right, Alaska is known for bears and it is not uncommon for residents or visitors to see bears. Fortunately that did not happen this time!
The next adventure involved exploring the Inian Islands of Alaska by zodiac and kayak. We did this in an area that is one of the main gateways for migratory humpback whales entering th sheltered waters of Alaska. In addition to seeing a humpback whale (approximately 25 metres from our zodiac), we were also surrounded by sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals and numerous bald eagles and other bird life flying overhead. This whole adventure was majestic!
Our next adventure took place in Juneau
, Alaska and involved a true Alaskan experience of dog mushing. I must admit I had mixed feelings about this adventure until I met the Alaskan huskies who seemed to be bursting with excitement once we boarded the custom designed wheeled training sled and it was time to run!! An added bonus was we were able to meet and hold the adorable husky puppies. For those of you who want more information on this, check out https://iditarod.com
The subsequent venture was probably the most memorable one for me. This took place in the Endicott Arm fjord. Here, we were mesmerized by the Dawes Glacier and the stunning backdrop of mountains rising thousands of feet heavenward. Once again, we transferred from our cruise ship to a zodiac then into our tandem kayak. Immediately, we were met with the cacophonous sound of rumbling thunder which was actually the ice cracking and calving and rocks sliding from the mountains above. Seals and sea otters swam all around our kayak, poking their heads out of the water to look at us before submerging and resurfacing in a different spot. We were transfixed by the beauty of the glacier and the shades of blue of the ice as well as the numerous waterfalls surrounding us. The glacier itself has been extending and receding for millions of years. It is 24 kilometres in length and almost 1000 metres high. The glacier is also 1000 metres below the water surface!!
The next adventure was a true test of strength and endurance as we did a strenuous 8 hour hike into Wrangell, Alaska’s rainforest. The entire hike involves a man-made boardwalk staircase that winds through incredible scenery. We hiked up 13 000 stairs to the top of the mountain. (Each step was 30 cm wide and approx 30 cm high). The steep terrain was made even more challenging by the fact it did not have handrails and it was extremely slippery as it poured rain for most of the trip.
After a brief lunch at the summit, we hiked down the other side of the mountain…
13 000 stairs!! This adventure was both physical and psychological and I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity.
Overall, the cruise was fantastic despite the fact it rained most days. The views were always breathtaking and the air was pure and fresh. The cruise began and ended in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We spent a few days here when we disembarked and did some more sightseeing and hiking along the famous Vancouver SeaWall walk (almost 15 km) along the perimeter of Stanley Park. Vancouver is a bustling west coast sea port as well as one of Canada’s most ethically diverse cities. The city is famous for its outdoor recreation, mountains, fresh, local seafood, liveability and Hollywood North. Unfortunately, it is also known for its abundance of liquid sunshine!!
As we all know, we are living in a time where there is much turmoil between ourselves and the environment and how we are treating it. The trip served as an important reminder of just how beautiful nature is and how we should strive to protect it and not take it for granted.
I hope you have enjoyed this condensed version of our trip of a lifetime! If anyone is interested in more information about the cruise, check out Seabourn.com