Inside Passage to Alaska, 2005
"Sailaway" from Vancouver
As established creatures of habit, we departed Vancouver on September 9th for our fifth cruise up the Inside Passage to Alaska. The itinerary has always been the same; Vancouver, Juneau, Skagway. Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan, Vancouver. Alaska weather is unpredictable so you must take what you get. In our case, the crew told us that it was the best week of their entire Summer season to Alaska. In Juneau, we were told that it had rained every day for three weeks but stopped the day before we arrived.
Again we were on Holland America, this time on the newly renovated Statendam. We prefer the Statendam class of ships; smaller, with just 1250 passengers and slightly larger cabins.
For the second time HAL offered us an upgrade to a deluxe suite for a modest upcharge. It's twice the size of the verandah cabin we booked and comes with a dressing room, concierge service, and complimentary laundry and dry cleaning. The large verandah provides an ideal viewing platform out of the sun and wind.
The timing for major ships to travel the Inside Passage is governed by the tides in Seymour Narrows near Campbell River. The passage becomes very narrow and tidal currents can reach 30 knots. The Canadian pilots who guide the ships prefer currents of 4 knots or less. On September 9th, the Statendam left 30 minutes before its scheduled departure and traveled North at its maximum speed of 21.5 knots in order to meet a slack tide. The captain felt obliged to offer an explanation because of the ship's noticeable vibration at top speed.
On our return, we had time to pause near Robson's Bight just North of the Narrows where we watched a pod of Orcas feed on the hapless salmon.
On this cruise we were accompanied by our son, his wife and their 9-year-old son. It was their first cruise and my only regret is that everything went so well; perfect weather, excellent food at one of the best tables in the dining room, attentive crew, many views of wildlife and glacier calving; the odds are that their next cruise will not measure up to the first. I've suggested they read "Cruises from Hell" on various web sites for a reality check.
Nine-year-old Nolen was well entertained in Club HAL by a young Aussie with a degree in early childhood education, but he joined us for excursions such as gold panning near Skagway. (See below)
Calving Glacier in Johns Hopkins Inlet
HAL's Ryndam entered the Inlet as we departed
Unusual Bridge between Skagway and The Yukon
Dockside in Ketchikan
Celebrity's Summit emerges from a fog bank
Glacier National Park Scenery