My parents and I first flew into Vancouver, British Columbia on September 11, 1998 and eventually made it to the ship.
We first went out on deck to enjoy the view of Vancouver. Then we relaxed in the Stratosphere Lounge, which had a beautiful view out of the front of the ship.
One of the first things that everybody does when the ship is underweigh is to check out the ship itself. Here are a few pictures of inside the ship. As we sailed along, we were treated to some quite spectacular views, as the photo below demonstrates.
After a day at sea, we came to Glacier Bay and some spectacular scenary, though the weather was overcast and sometimes drizzly.
Eventually, we sailed right into the bay an within a few hundred yards of the glaciers.
We even got to see some glaciers "calving", which is what they call it when they make icebergs. Fortunately for us, none of the icebergs were even remotely the same size as the one that sank the titanic.
This next picture shows you the size of these glaciers. Remember, that cruise ship holds over 2000 persons and is over 800 feet long. Also remember, that ship is probably at least a quarter mile away from that glacier behind it.
The next day, we stopped in Skagway. We took a train ride through the mountains, up to the old mountain pass that the gold rush miners used. Unfortunately, few of my pictures really came out well, but here is my shot of an abandoned railroad bridge along the route, one of the longest canteleve bridges of its day. It does give you a sense of how rugged the terrain is in that area.
Later that day, we sailed to Haines, which was my favorite town of the trip. It was more like a real town that happen to let cruise ships stop by, instead of the tourist towns that the others sometimes felt like. Being from Maine, I have grown to dislike "tourist traps".
We went on a nature tour and saw 7 brown bears and dozens of bald eagles. Unfortunately, it was too dark to get any good pictures of them.
The next day, we visited Juneau. Juneau is a landlocked town of about 30,000 people, and there were 4 cruise ships in port, when we were there. My first activity was to take a helicopter flight up onto the Mendenhall Glacier. My parents offered to pay my ticket as an early Christmas present, otherwise I never would have paid the $175. The views from the helicopter were spectacular.
We landed on the glacier and spent a while on the surface, exploring the rocks and crevices, while the pilots went back for the next load of tourists.
These are some of the pictures from on top of the glacier.
The glacier that you see behind me is over a mile away.
The crevice that you see is only a couple of feet wide, but over 100 feet deep.
Later that afternoon, I took a bus tour of Juneau with my parents, which led us right up to the foot of the glacier (ok, so it was a mile in front of it. We were close.)
Later that afternoon, I took a ride up the tram to see out over the city. The view was fantastic. Unfortunately, most of my pictures failed to capture the sites. This is a view of the harbor from the top. You can get a feel for how large those cruise ships are from this picture. There was also a walking trail that brought me through part of the rain forest. Alaska has the largest temperate rain forest in the United States. It was quite refreshing. I also saw a blue grouse just off the trail.
The last port that we visited was Ketchikan on Wednesday. I was so tired, by that point, that I only spent a couple of hours browsing the museum and a few shops before going back to the ship for a rest. I did not get any real good pictures in Ketchikan, but this next one, taken in Ketchikan, does show how large the cruise ship was.
I also did not get any good pictures of the activities on board Galaxy (our ship). Dad got a picture of me singing in the talent show, but it was too dark to scan. I also didn't get any pictures of the dolphins that appeared, 30-50 of them, on the last sailing day of the cruise. It was foggy and they just appeared out of everywhere. They might have been porpoises. I can't tell the difference. They swam next to the ship for 20 minutes or so and then just disappeared into the fog again. I also spotted two pods of Orcas during the cruise, but didn't photograph them either.
The food on board was excellent. Lunch and supper were five course meals. I tried to aviod the buffets, since the other food was so good, and it presented a better opportunity to socialize with other passengers during the sit down meal.
The last night, I caught a virus of some kind and had to suller with a progressively worsening cold on the 6 hour flight back to Boston, then the 3 hour drive to Augusta. By the next day, I was stuck in bed. I missed all but 3 hours of the next week at work, but it was worth it. It was a fantastic trip.
One last picture to show off. The cruise ship offered some spectacular sunsets while sailing through the mountains. the mountains just start at the water and go straight up for a couple miles until they end with glacier caps. It was indescribable. I highly recommend a cruise on the inner passage to anyone who has a chance.
Though we travel the world to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
As a side note, I only have 8 more United States to visit before seeing them all, though I do hope to get off this continent someday, as well as returning to many of the states that I have visited. I think I am up to 6 Canadian provinces that I have visited also.
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