The Alaskan portion of the inside passage is approximately 500 miles from north to south and approximately100 miles from west to east. There are some 1,000 islands and thousands of bays and coves making it a popular tourist destination. There are wildlife viewing opportunities from land and sea, whether you are exploring the rugged coastal mountain ranges or exploring by boat, cruise ship or kayak on the water. Over 2 two million visitors a year cruise this region in a variety of cruise ships. In addition to the cruise ships, more than 35,000 recreation boats transit the inside passage annually.
This day was a quiet sea day as we slowly wound our way north. The morning weather was very gray, cloudy and foggy. By afternoon the weather cleared and temperatures reached about 50 degrees.
We attended a lecture with the ship’s naturalist who gave us an overview of the types of wildlife that we might see along the way. She let us know that it was early in the season and that the whales who spend the winter near the Hawaiian Islands were slow to return this year. The surface temperature of the water was cooler than normal so the whales were waiting for the water to warm. She said we would most likely see some whales that winter in the area but closer to Juneau. Bald eagles would be plentiful along the shore, as would bears, birds and seals.
Nick the cruise director gave a presentation on the Iconic Whales of the Northwest with photos and videos about the different types of whales in the area, their migration patterns and feeding habits.
At lunch in the main dining room we sat with two very nice ladies named Mary and Ann from Las Vegas. There parents were Holocaust survivors who migrated from Holland to the United states in the 1950’s and settled in Covina not far from Whittier where I grew up. We had lovely lunch exchanging stories about our lives with them.
The afternoon included another presentation with cruise director Nick titled Breaking the Ice ceiling. In this segment he told the stories of three accomplished Alaskan women. One who had nearly died climbing Mount McKinley and went on to become a pilot. Today she flies climbers into and out of the camps at Mount McKinley when not being a domestic mother to her two children. The second was a coast guard captain who risked her and her crew’s life to reach the town of Nome in Alaska during a horrible winter. If not for her knowledge of her ice breaker ship and the assistance of a Russian ship, the town may not have survived the winter without fuel and supplies. The third woman featured was a fisherman who enjoys the risky job of fishing the high seas in a world mostly occupied by men. She comes from a family with many generations of fisherman in Alaska.
Later in the afternoon Kent watched a Disney film called Disney Nature Bears about an Alaskan bear family as its cubs are taught life’s most important lessons. Mark attended a performance at the Lincoln Center Stage with a pianist, a violinist and a violaist. They performed music by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.
Dinner this evening was classified as dressy which appeared to mean anything goes. People were wearing sneakers, t-shirts and most anything else. As time goes by cruise ship dress seems to get more and more casual. We made a reservation at the Tamarind dining room for dinner. They serve a variety of Asian cuisine that was excellent. Our appetizers included a mixed satay sampler and shrimp tempura. For our entrees we tried the Panang curry with chicken and the Thai basil Szechuan shrimp accompanied by steamed jasmine rice, Dungeness crab fried rice and Asian eggplant with spicy coconut. For dessert we had a mango posset which included a coconut macaroon, passion fruit jelly and mango sorbet. Also, a Yuzu cheesecake with honey tuile and white chocolate. Yum!!
After dinner we attended a dance performance on the main stage. I’m assuming this is a cost saving measure to only have dancers and no singers. Also gone were the elaborate sets like we used to see in the past. The dance show featured only projected colors and images on large white panels.