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Cruising Alaska: May/June 2006

Radiance of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

Page 4: Seward - Whitehorse

Vision of the Seas
    Page 1: Whitehorse - Seattle - Juneau
    Page 2: Skagway - Icy Strait - Victoria - Seattle

Radiance of the Seas
    Page 1: Vancouver - Juneau
    Page 2: Skagway - Sitka
    Page 3: Icy Strait - Hubbard Glacier
    Page 4: Seward - Whitehorse

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

    Mount St. Elias (18,008 feet), seen from a point a few miles north of the mouth of Yakutat Bay.

    Chief Engineer Øyvind Risvaer, Captain Rune Lokling and Hotel Director Roger Jackson share a light moment during the Captain's Corner presentation. Captain Lokling was a very chatty fellow, in marked contrast to the almost-never-heard Captain on the Vision.

    Saturday, June 3: Towering over Seward's Small Boat Harbor is Mount Marathon, site of a famous race, to the summit and back to the bottom again. The record time is just over 40 minutes!

    Among the first of many land excursion and shuttle buses loading at 06:40 a.m.

    The arrival of the USS Chafee (an Arleigh Burke class destroyer) to participate in war games added some interest to Seward harbour.

    Aboard the USS Chafee.

    We had booked a shuttle to Anchorage with The Park Connection ($110.16 for the 2 of us). It was delayed by a half hour due to a heavy passenger/baggage load. We weren't impressed by the driver - I think he needs a career change. His driving was quite aggressive, and although when he did give any information he did a good job, that didn't happen very often. Oh well, I know the area well anyway, and that saved a few dollars in tips that he might have gotten.

    Sunday, June 4: Anchorage has one of the best viewing areas of any airport, made even better by the fact that Anchorage is a major air freight hub, so jumbo jet freighters are seen that are seldom seen together anywhere else. I was in no hurry for the call to board our Alaska Airlines flight to Juneau.

    Some more of the air freighters at Anchorage.

    Cook Inlet

    The Chugach Mountains, with the Knik Glacier in the upper middle of the photo.

    College Fjord from 25,000 feet. In the enlarged photo, you can just make out a cruise ship leaving Harvard Glacier at the head of the left arm. We got a similar, though not as clear, view of Glacier Bay with one of Holland America's distinctive dark-hulled ships visible.

    I think this is Mount St. Elias (18,008 feet) in the foreground, and Mount Logan (Canada's highest peak at 5,959 meters - 19,550 feet) behind. Hubbard Glacier is just to the right of this picture.

    Coming into Juneau, we must have been close to minimums (Juneau is said to have more flights cancelled due to weather than any other major airport in North America). Things didn't look good for getting to Skagway in the manner we'd planned (small plane), and we started talking about options - waiting (possibly overnight), or taking the ferry.

    I was hoping to get a flight in Wings of Alaska's Cessna Caravan, but things were really backed up as a result of the bi-annual Tlingit Celebration in Juneau, and we were assigned to an extra flight in this Cessna 207A. The weather was bad (low ragged clouds), but Craig got us through with a fair bit of cloud-dodging and flying between cloud layers (an odd feeling - when I used to do it occasionally when required, it was illegal in Canada).

    Like many Alaska airports, the Juneau airport has a water runway for float planes alongside the paved one.

    Auke Bay, from where most of the whale watching boats depart.

    Lynn Canal

    Eldred Rock Lighthouse

    Almost home! My son Steve and his partner Rachel met us at the Skagway airport - from there, it's an easy 2½-hour drive home, up the very scenic South Klondike Highway.

    Some of the incredible experiences from the past 19 days will be in my memory forever - but it's great to be back home!