In May 2007, I embarked on a 9-day cruise in southeast Alaska, U.S.A., with
Cruise West. The itinerary is called the Wilderness Inside Passage,
which offered me the best opportunity to experience the wild and rugged nature of
southeast Alaska. Only 20 guests booked this cruise on the small ship, Spirit of
, which has a maximum capacity of 84 guests. The ship is 166 feet in length, has
a cruising speed of 13 knots, carries several inflatable excursion boats, is registered
in the United States, and has about 20 American crew members.
I spent one day in Juneau,
before the cruise began. I stayed in the
in downtown Juneau. Several big cruise ships, carrying thousands
of guests, were also visiting Juneau. I visited the downtown area and the
Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.
Ship Departs Juneau
I hiked the Rainforest Trail on Douglas Island, which is across from Juneau,
separated by the Gastineau Channel. The trail enters a rainforest and exits at a
rocky beach. The Spirit of Discovery departed Juneau in late afternoon.
Tracy Arm fjord
Tracy Arm is a fjord, a long, narrow, and deep waterway carved out by ancient
glaciers with high cliffs on both sides. Small icebergs began to appear in the water.
The crew launched three inflatable boats to take guests close to the cliffs and
the icebergs. I spotted a black bear foraging on the cliff.
More Tracy Arm
As snow melted, waterfalls appear on the cliffs in Tracy Arm and Red Bluff Bay.
I spotted humpback whales in Chatham Strait and bald eagles as our ship approached
the city of Sitka.
Sitka was the capital of Russian America
for 63 years before Alaska was sold to the United States. I visited the
Sitka National Historic Park,
which has a collection of original and replicas of totem poles. As our ship departed
Sitka, I spotted humpback whales in Icy Strait. Our ship's Chief Mate gave a tour
of the bridge.
Bartlett Cove is the location of the headquarters of
Glacier Bay National Park.
I hiked a trail, parts of which were still covered by several inches of snow. As
our ship sailed further into the park, I spotted sea lions hauled out on rocks.
At Tarr Inlet, I saw the Grand Pacific and the Margerie Glaciers.
more Glacier Bay
More Glacier Bay
The water around Johns Hopkins and Lamplugh Glaciers in Glacier Bay was full
of small icebergs. Our ship moved forward gently to deflect oncoming icebergs.
Our ship visited Elfin Cove, a very remote community on the coast of Chichagof
Island. It's population varies from about 10 during winter to about 250 during summer.
It produces its own electricity by diesel generators. There is no road. Only boats
and float planes can reach Elfin Cove.
As I disembarked from our ship at Juneau, the crew stood along the dock to bid farewell.
I spent one more day at Juneau and took
to the top of the Mendenhall Glacier.
- Film camera: Canon EOS Rebel Ti.
- Kodak color negative film: Ultra Color 400UC.
- Canon zoom lens: EF 75-300mm F4-5.6 III USM.
- Sigma zoom lens: 24-60mm F2.8 EX DG.
- camera bag: Lowepro Nova 3.