The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

03 June, 2015

Inside Passage Cruise, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan

We were picked up from our hotel in Anchorage early afternoon by bus and transported to Whittier with most of the journey travelling the same way as our drive yesterday to Seward.  Weather had turned cold, windy and wet and we had to wait at a 2 mile one way tunnel until it was our turn to drive through.

We boarded the Coral Princess in cold blustery conditions and was suppose to sail at 8.30pm but weather conditions prevented this so set sail at midnight.  Apparently during the night we had to turn back and take shelter due to a severe storm. The ship was rocking quite a bit and Helen did not feel too well so she stayed in our cabin for the next day - one of our travelling companions gave her some sea sick tablets which helped.  She did not bother with tablets prior to boarding as thought this was going to be smooth sailing down the inside passage, however we had to travel down the Gulf of Alaska with stormy weather and rough seas.  Unfortunately due to having to turn back we did not have time to pull into our first scheduled stop which was Hubbard Glacier.

Whilst Helen was happier in the cabin, I was out exploring the ship and attending photography classes,  a formal dinner and an evening ventriloquist show.  This was certainly a different way to travel than what we were used to and could tell from the start that we would come off the ship in 7 days time weighing twice our current weight!!

Our ship, Coral Princess

Rough sea through our cabin window, Hels didn't want to look!

Nice pool and spa, unfortunately a bit too chilly for us.

The main entrance and atrium on board

As the weather warmed up some took a dip, not us though.

Lifts in the Atrium

Night outdoor movies, yep Sound of Music.

The second day aboard Helen felt much better and the weather had certainly improved.  We had also entered Glacier Bay which was much more sheltered.  We stopped at Margerie Glacier which extends upstream for a length of 21 miles to its source, is approx 1 mile wide with an ice face = 250ft high above water line and base = 100ft below sea level.  The ship idled near the Glacier and we were able to experience all the creaks and groans of the ice.  Also we were so lucky to see another calving which was spectacular and I was absorbed in photo snapping as you can see below!!

Heading into Glacier Bay

In front of  Margerie Glacier

Again so lucky to see a calving Glacier

This was quite a large chunk of ice breaking off

Our first land stop was Skagway which is the northernmost point in Alaska Inside Passage.  In its heyday Skagway was the boomtown gateway to the Trail of '98 and the Klondike gold fields with the population dwindling from 20,000 gold seekers to about 968 salwart year-round citizens. When a few cruise ships are in town the streets get very busy.   Weather was quite windy and bit chilly but Helen thought it was great to breathe in the "fresh" air after being on the ship in air conditioning.  Seemed to walk around for miles but was back on the ship by 1pm for lunch!  Our evenings consisted of dining followed by a show and then onto the Crooners Bar for drink and entertainment.

Docked in Skagway harbour

Skagway main street

Sailed at night and next day stopped at Juneau - the City and Borough of Juneau is the capital city of Alaska. The weather had improved slightly but was still a bit wet however we ventured out to explore the place.  Were not impressed as the town was saturated with jewelers and gift shops and got a bit fed up with so many commercial shops (most of them owned by the Cruise Ship entities).  Did have a look in the Red Dog Saloon bar - originating during the heyday of Juneau's glorious mining era, this world famous saloon has provided hospitality and fellowship to weary travellers and local patrons alike.  Early day proprietors Earl and Thelma Forsythe provided dancing and long time entertainer "Ragtime Hattie" played the piano in her white gloves and silver dollar halter top.  During territorial days, during his tenure of over 20 years as owner, Gordie Kanouse would meet tour boats with his mule that wore a sign saying "follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon".  It still has swinging doors and sawdust floors - the Saloon that is!!.

After getting back on board we were talking to some of our group at happy hour (still had to continue the tradition from our RV Tour!), and they had walked up the hill beyond all the shops and saw some of the local houses some of which were brightly painted and had beautiful gardens.  If only we had kept on walking we could have seen the 'real' Juneau.

Morning coffee with a smile before leaving the ship to visit Juneau

A wet morning as we walked into Juneau, the red building is the Red Dog Hotel

The narow streets lead up the hill to the residential area

Red Dog Saloon

Not the best day for a cable car ride
Once again we sailed at night and docked the next day in Ketchikan which is set at the southernmost entrance to the Inside Passage.  Ketchikan is best known for feisty salmon, beautiful scenery and a rich Alaska Native culture.  Due to it's thriving century-old commercial fishery, Ketchikan is known as "The Salmon Capital of the World".  Picked up a Historic Ketchikan map which had a designated walking track around the town with interesting information on various buildings and sights.  Saw quite a few Totem Poles from Tlingit and Haida villages testifying the artistry of 19th century Native carvers.  Also in our walk we came across a creek where salmon school for their swim up the falls. On the creek we saw the Fish ladder where the salmon struggle back to their native streambed, fighting lower falls and then using a concrete fish ladder to avoid the roughest white water. Apparently in summer salmon by the thousands spawn in the gravel beds where they were born years before.

Another interesting discovery was Creek Street which became a red-light district in 1902 with more than 30 bawdy houses, most with one or two 'working girls' lined the creek over the years.  We had a tour of Dolly's House - Dolly Arthur was Ketchikan's most famous madam in the heyday of Creek Street and her house, preserved much as she left it, features antiques, caches and garish decor (including a shower curtain decorated with silk condoms!!)

After spending 7 days on board the Coral Princess we both were pleased to be disembarking (really glad we experienced the cruise but don't think it is our preferred holiday option).

Ketchikan, busy while the cruise ships are in port

As the last ship leaves port it becomes much quieter in town

Creek Street - Dolly's House "where both men & salmon come upstream to spawn" is written on the building 

Inside Dolly's bedroom

The bathroom, look closely at the curtain decorations - silk condoms!

Creek Street

Some residential buildings around Ketchican

Wouldn't like to carry the shopping up these stairs

When the ship docked in Vancouver we were picked up by bus and treated to a tour of the city driving through Chinatown, Stanley Park, Granville Island where we stopped for lunch (a huge Market area), before checking into our hotel around 2.30pm.  After freshening up the group met up for our last dinner at a nearby Brewery and had a fantastic meal.  From here the group was splitting up as some went back to Australia, while some, including ourselves, extended our holiday and were venturing off in different directions.  Had a wonderful group to travel with and have many special memories of our Canada/Alaska Trip.

Arrived into port at Vancouver

Our cruise ship getting ready for the return cruise

Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver - completed in 1938 and provided access for the Guinness family who owned 4,700 acres of land on West Vancouver.  A pair of cast concrete lions, designed by sculptor Charles Marega were placed on either side of the south approach to the bridge in 1939.  The Guinness family charged a toll to cross however this ceased when the provisional government purchased the bridge in 1963

I was fascinated by the dual turning wheeled concrete trucks

Granville Island Produce Market

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