HAL Statendam, Inside Passage to Alaska
Eleanor and I have sailed this passage about eight times, so one might conclude there's nothing new to report about this itinerary. As usual, it included stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and a day in Glacier National Park.
The weather can be tough in late September and this year was no exception, but the captain stayed in the Inside Passage Northbound and, Southbound, because of 14' waves outside, sailed inside the Inside Passage where we passed through many narrow channels and the sounder showed depths as shallow as 20 meters. We passed only one small community in this part, probably a First Nations community. As we passed the village, the ship was faced with a sharp turn and sounded its horn. People on shore responded by sounding their car horns.
One shore excursion I would recommend is the "Whales & Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari" in Juneau. The glacier is rather tame compared to Glacier National Park but whale watching was superb. The boat was new and ideally fitted with windows that all could be opened for photos. It was also driven by 750 HP so you moved and found whales very quickly. The were only 14 passengers so we had no trouble taking photos.
Threading inside the Inside Passage
Backdrop to whale watching
Calving from Majorie Glacier
The park rangers told us that two of the glaciers in the park were endangered but three were considered sustainable because they were fed from 15,000 feet.