Alaskan Cruise: How the Journey Differs From Others

This morning when I woke up and looked out the porthole, the first thing I saw was a waterfall streaming down a slate rockface. It was speckled with patches of small brush and pine trees, some only two or three feet tall.

I’m starting to feel relaxed and at home on the ship now – I will admit that the first day or two was a bit of a struggle for me. It had nothing to do with anything other than the fact that I’m always anxious to tackle a destination, and there was nothing to do but wait. The days are longer up here – the sun rises between four and five and doesn’t set until after ten (last night’s sunset was at 10:44 p.m.). The waiter was pouring the table an after-dinner glass of champagne at around ten, and when I looked out the window I could still see the snow on the tops of the mountains.

The anticipation that had built up during the days at sea was finally fulfilled when we arrived in Juneau on Sunday and then Skagway on Monday. We had two jam-packed days – a seaplane ride in Juneau and a scenic train ride in Skagway. I’d recommend both, stories to come shortly.

I’m currently sitting in a lounge that’s located on the top deck of the Rhapsody, writing from a table that sits in front of floor-to-ceiling windows. We’re directly in front of Dawes Glacier, slowly spinning in a circle (we’ve been here for about 20 minutes now). This is the second arm, or channel, that we’ve sailed down today. The ship has consistently been about 100 yards from the shore on both the port and starboard sides, and the mountains, glaciers, pines, snow, waterfalls and low-hanging clouds have filled the windows since Sunday morning.

Locations and temperatures aside, one thing that really separates an Alaskan cruise from other popular routes departing from the United States (such as a trek across the Caribbean) is the scenery during the days spent at sea. Aside from the first day when we saw nothing but water, we have always sailed well within sight of land, usually on both sides and always worthy of your attention, constantly changing and evolving (as you’ll see when I tell you about Skagway, the conditions in Alaska can go from whiteout snow to lush spring-like green colors in a matter of miles).

The Internet has been going in and out due to the remote locations of our travels, and uploading photos has been a bit tedious through the blog. I’ve had some success via Facebook – check out Wake and Wander’s page for images (I will eventually upload them here when I can).

We are currently on our way to Victoria, BC, arriving on Thursday.

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