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Cruising Alaska:
Coral Princess (Northbound, Vancouver - Whittier)

by Murray Lundberg

The Coral Princess in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska     This photo album and review is from a cruise that I took on the Coral Princess, sailing northbound from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Whittier, Alaska. We left Vancouver on June 26th, 2010, and docked at Whittier on July 3rd after visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjord.

    A small part of what you read here is not typical of an Alaska cruise that you might go on, as I was working on the ship as the naturalist, but the majority of my experience was the same as that of regular passengers.

    The Coral Princess, which entered service in December 2002, is 964.5 feet long, has a beam of 105.6 feet and is rated at 91,627 tons. She has a passenger capacity of 1,974, with 900 crew members. There are 11 public decks, and of the 987 cabins, 727 have private balconies, making her a wonderful ship for sailing Alaska.

    I only took one major excursion during the cruise, a whale watching trip at Juneau. After editing, I have 927 photos in my trip file, shot with a Fujifilm S1800 - 135 of them have been posted in this journal.

    Days 1 & 2: Vancouver & at Sea
    Day 3: Ketchikan
    Day 4: Juneau
    Day 5 : Skagway
    Day 6: Glacier Bay
    Day 7: Prince William Sound & College Fjord
    Day 8: Whittier to Whitehorse

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

Saturday, June 26: this was the end of the second and the start of the third of 3 sailings that I was working on the Coral Princess, and on the changeover day I have no duties. For people doing back-to-back cruises there is a bit of paperwork to do, including meeting with Canada Customs, and having a new photo taken and a new Cruise Card issued. The Cruise Card is both the key to your cabin and the charge card for all expenses on board. Because of my position I have a separate plain blue room card - you can see an image of both cards here.

The first photo shows "the calm between the storms" - a corner of the atrium and the Guest Services desk after everyone from the last cruise had disembarked and before the new passengers boarded.

Having the ship empty makes it easy to get laundry done. The cost is very reasonable - $1 for soap and $1 per washer and dryer complete cycle (ca. 40 minutes). There are self-serve laundries at the aft of every deck with cabins.

There's always work to do for the crews - this fellow is sanding the handrails on the Silver Shadow in preparation for varnishing.

The ships are all beehives of activity on changeover days, inside as well as outside, with cabins being cleaned and often reconfigured, and all the eating venues being cleaned and restocked.

The Lido Deck is the place to be for sailaway on a sunny day. "Buckets of Beer" and "Drink of the Day" specials (as well as good music and lots of good prizes) help get things going.

This photo was shot at 4:40pm.

This is by far the youngest crowd I've seen on a cruise. There are lots of young families, hundreds of kids and hundreds of people in their 20s.

How's that for an interesting mix of vessels? A sternwheeler and a tug at the floating gas station and a schooner motoring by.

We're heading "North to Alaska" again, off on a new adventure! In this photo we're about to sail under the famous Lions Gate Bridge. While most people here are getting further and further from home, I'm on my way home, though on a roundabout route that will take 7 days.

Stanley Park, with the seawall promenade and Siwash Rock.

As usual, I wandered the open decks listening for people discussing things about the cruise - the ship or any aspect of the route - that I could answer. One of the women I talked to about the whales we might see took this photo for me.

The Point Atkinson Lighthouse, built in 1912.

The ship got very quiet early tonight - many people spent all day travelling, so right after dinner, just before 8:00, I went to my cabin. I shot this picture as we passed Nanaimo, then decided it was too nice to not be on deck.

A wide-angle view off the stern.

I met some of my dinner companions on the Promenade, and made 3 circuits (a mile) with Glen, a retired cop from Ontario. I got rewarded for being on deck by a little rainbow over the mountains to the west on Vancouver Island.

This was shot at 8:50 from the secret viewing deck at the front of Deck 11 (there's a similar one on Deck 10). For some odd reason you go have to go through doors marked "Emergency Use Only" to reach these 2 decks, but they're by far the best forward views on the ship. The bridge officers can see you out there and there's no problem despite the signage.

Sunday, June 27: I slept in today, which was a full day at sea. When I got up just before 8, we were nearing the north end of Vancouver Island and the Canadian pilot boat was alongside to move the pilot to his next job, a southbound freighter.

The Pine Island Lighthouse.

This was the view from my cabin at 11:30am as I was getting ready for the first of 2 presentations I was scheduled for.

At midnight as I was writing my blog, the music from the Universe Lounge right above me was making the walls of my cabin vibrate. I'm willing to bet that there are a few passengers in cabins near mine whose travel agents didn't warn them about this aspect of their cabin location and weren't too happy.

To Day 3: Ketchikan