The Summer of 2017 saw us embarking on an ALASKA CRUISE with Norwegian Cruises from Seattle across JUNEAU, SKAGWAY, KETCHIKAN, VICTORIA, and back to Seattle.
It was truly a surreal experience experiencing the Orcas (killer Whales) and their cousins the Humback Whales in the pristine glory of their natural habitat in JUNEAU, the Capital of ALASKA, USA. The challenge of capturing the whales thru the rain stained glass of the whale watching boat was more than rewarded by the fantastic flocks of whales we had the opportunity to see and experience in the Wild!
The historic and iconic WHITE PASS YUKON MOUNTAIN RAILROAD in SKAGWAY, ALASKA, evoked fond memories of these train journeys for us, with the rugged and unspeakable beauty of the mountain terrain, glaciers, gorges, valleys, waterfalls and the snow-clad peaks that held us spell bound in awe! Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, the White Pass & Yukon Route is a marvel of engineering since it takes you from sea level to almost 3,000 feet in less than 20 miles, to the borders of the US and Canada (British Columbia and the Yukon Territories) and will evoke a spirit of adventure and expedition, while triggering fond memories from your childhood for sure!
Most visitors to GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE spend a day in Glacier Bay on large cruise ships as part of a longer cruise originating at a major west coast city. It is an amazing and unforgettable day cruising through the “heart of Alaska”. The spectacular scenery and wildlife of Glacier Bay make it the ‘experience extraordinaire” of any Alaska cruise. The ship travels into the heart of the Fairweather Mountains for a trip into the ice ages. A totally humbling and overwhelming experience in the lap of Mother Nature. No photos (including mine) can do justice to this mesmerizing and spiritual voyage that must be experienced for one’s self! Totally humbled and utterly in awe of Mother Nature adorned in her pristine, serene, and verdant opulence like no place on Earth!
Our next stop on our Alaskan cruise was KETCHIKAN, the fifth most populous city in Alaska, whose economy is primarily driven by government services, tourism and fishing. Ketchikan is often called “the Salmon capital of the World” and is well known for the Misty Fjords National Monument, one of its primary tourist attractions.
KETCHIKAN is home to a number of native American-Indian tribes and boasts of the world’s largest collection of free-standing totem poles. As part of our tour, we visited the SAXMAN NATIVE INDIAN VILLAGE, where we experienced and participated in their traditional dance forms, witnessed the carving of a totem pole, and picked up some of their traditional handicrafts and curios on the way out.
Our last stop was at VICTORIA, British Columbia (BC), in CANADA, where we chose to experience the celebrated fireworks at the world famous BUTCHART GARDENS by night. Having visited Vancouver and Victoria multiple times, we have experienced the Butchart Gardens by day, but never by night, which was a treat. The fireworks are fairly exclusive and orchestrated only for the visitors from the cruise ships to ALASKA in summer, since the Gardens close for the general public at 6 PM every evening.
Robert Pim Butchart and his wife Jennie Butchart became billionaires manufacturing portland cement and once the limestone quarry in Victoria was exhausted, Jennie set about turning it into the Sunken Garden, which was completed in 1921. They named their home “Benvenuto” (“welcome” in Italian), and began to receive visitors to their gardens. In 1926, they replaced their tennis courts with an Italian garden and in 1929 they replaced their kitchen vegetable garden with a large rose garden. The Butchart Gardens receive close to a million visitors each year, and have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
What a spectacular, surreal and memorable experience on board the NORWEGIAN PEARL experiencing what is today ‘the most popular cruise on the Planet’ to ALASKA – strongly recommend including this on your ‘Bucket List’ for the foreseeable future!