Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage

I never considered myself a ‘Cruise’ person. In fact, the very idea of being trapped on a large ship with several thousand other people always sounded like a horrible travel idea to me.  But, since I had always wanted to go to Alaska and I can’t say no to a free trip, I found myself boarding Holland America’s Zuiderdam ship in Vancouver and setting off into the Inside Passage!

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After wandering around the ship, I realized everything it had to offer.  A cruise ship is like a small, high-class neighbourhood with pools, a spa, gym, mini mall, movie theatre, library, several restaurants, cafes and a theatre.  So even though you are trapped on board, you never run out of things to do!

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After attending the opening night BBQ and the welcome show, we headed out onto the deck just as the sun was setting up ahead, glistening over the water. Such a peaceful sight, you almost forgot you are sharing the experience with 2000 of your newest friends!

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One thing you learn quickly is that cruise ships and diets don’t go well together. Basically, a ship is just a 24-hour buffet where you can eat breakfast four times before heading to lunch if you want! And to make it even worse, the food is generally quite tasty!

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On day two, we not only had a fancy first-time cruisers champagne lunch with the captain to welcome us to the ship, but that night we were treated to a formal dinner, where we got all dressed up in our formal attire and enjoyed a four-course meal!  The food was delicious, but it was our fantastic server, Faisal, who made the evening perfect. Faisal welcomed us to dinner and memorized our names immediately before taking our orders. As the evening went on we spent more time getting to know a little about the man behind the infectious smile. Faisal is from Bali, Indonesia and spends half the year working on cruise ships in order to support his wife and children back home, as well as pay for his sister to attend medical school.  This is what travel is all about to me – meeting people along the way and learning a little bit about their lives, and Faisal was definitely an interesting man to have a conversation with!

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As we headed further into the Inside Passage, the route grew narrower until the land on either side of the ship was only a few hundred metres away. The temperature continued to plummet until the daytime high was only around 13C and windy – pretty chilly when you are leaving behind temperatures of 30+!

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However, not even the cold wind could keep me away from the breathtaking views found everywhere you looked.  From the snow-capped hills, with waterfalls trickling down into the Inside Passage to the lush forests and rocky cliffs virtually uninhabited, beauty surrounded us.

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Late in the afternoon, a pod of Killer whales were spotted off the back of the ship and the captain announced that the following morning we’d be in whale country and could expect to see lots of them swimming by the ship.

So, we were up and on the front deck by 6:30 a.m., absolutely freezing to death in the cold morning wind.  But the whales didn’t seem to mind the chilly weather and over the next couple hours we saw a bunch of them gliding through the water on either side of the ship as we made our way into the narrows of Tracy Arm Fjord.

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This was one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen.  Mist surrounds the glacier carved walls and spectacular glacial calving can be seen here as huge chunks break off and plunge into the freezing, turquoise waters below.

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To add to the beauty, the area is filled with hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the sides of the fjord and piercing blue icebergs scattered along either side of the ship

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Cruising along the Inside Passage from Vancouver, B.C. to Skagway, Alaska was a truly beautiful voyage and between the delicious food and the breathtaking views, I may just be a ‘cruise’ person after all!image

Categories: Blog, North America, Where in the World | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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