Monday, July 19, 2010

Just Cruising Along

My husband and I used our upcoming thirtieth wedding anniversary for an excuse to take a long-anticipated Alaskan cruise. Jim spent most of his school years living near Prince Rupert, BC, just south of the Alaskan panhandle, so this served as an opportunity for him to show me some places that had been special to him.

We're a day's drive from Seattle, Washington, so we drove down on Friday, June 18, and boarded the Norwegian Star on Saturday around noon.

We've enjoyed several vacations on Vancouver Island and the smaller islands between it and mainland BC, so the evening cruise through this area was a fun experience. All day Sunday we chugged north out of sight of land, encased in fog, and when we woke up Monday morning, we were already docked in Ketchikan, Alaska. Shopping doesn't hold Jim or I for long, so we explored the town with its boardwalks, a fun little tram to a lookout, and Creek Street (where the creek literally IS the street).

Tuesday morning we spent in Juneau. Well, mostly above Juneau! A tram from the waterfront took us way up Mount Roberts to an alpine meadow with hiking trails. The weather was foggy/misty but it didn't actually pour on us this day. What a gorgeous view!

Later that day we cruised up Endicott Arm to view Dawe Glacier, which comes right down to the ocean. In this fjord we saw whales (not our first ones, but the closest we'd seen to that point) and many dozens of seals on the ice floe at the foot of the glacier. The seals were too far away for my camera, but we could clearly see them with the binoculars, dotting every chunk of ice floating in the bay!

On Wednesday we climbed on the White Pass Railway for a ride to the Canadian border. The narrow gauge rail climbs nearly 3000 feet in 20 miles! The best part was that due to too many booked tickets, they 'had' to take four trains instead of the usual three or less. They can only get three trains reversed at the border itself, which meant one train (ours!) had to travel an additional 7 miles along the high alpine lake to the next turn-about. Yay! We were back in BC, even though it was unofficial!

On Thursday afternoon we docked in Prince Rupert, BC, our last port. Here a friend of my husband's mom met our group at the pier and took us on a tour of Jim's old haunts before taking us to their home for a salmon dinner. For Jim, this day was the highlight of his trip. He walked the streets, talked to the current owner of the house he grew up in, checked out the (overgrown) path to his old fishing hole, and walked the waterfront. Although bald eagles are frequent sighted where we currently live, they were thick like flies along the harbor.

Friday we cruised south toward again. Though we'd seen whales every single day, this was definitely the big day with spottings of over a dozen humpbacks, gray whales, and orcas.

We finished off the last evening aboard with a special dinner in the Star's finest restaurant to celebrate our anniversary.

As you can see, for us the cruise was all about the natural beauty of the places we visited more than the towns themselves, and more than the cruise ship. But the Star itself was very comfortable, the food excellent, and the crew pleasant and helpful. The Alaskan coast is no different than the BC coast, really, but all of it is full of the majesty of God's handiwork. I hope you've enjoyed taking this little vacation with me!

Valerie Comer lives on a small farm in Western Canada with her husband, an energetic puppy, two curious kittens, two hives of bees, and a herd of Herefords. Now that vacation time is over, she needs to get back to work revising the novel she hopes to pitch at ACFW conference in Indianapolis in September!


  1. Congratulations on your anniversary, Valerie, and what a great way to celebrate. You didn't say how you fared in Johnston Strait. When I took the Alaska cruise many years ago, the whole ship was sick as we went through that piece of rough water : ) If I ever take an ocean cruise again, I'm taking my own seasick pills. The line-up at the ship's pharmacy wound around the whole deck!

  2. The water was fairly calm for the most part, Alice. A few mornings when I woke up early I could feel the ship rocking and knew that if I dwelt on it too long, I'd get nauseous. Thankfully it never really hit.

  3. Valerie, I love the photos! Thanks for sharing your amazing cruise with us and congrats on your upcoming anniversary :-)

  4. We did an Alaskan cruise several years ago. (A writers' conference, no less.) You account and pictures brought back many great memories. The coastal views left us in awe of our great God.

  5. You're welcome, Narelle! Oh, wow, LeAnne, I'm not sure I'd want a writing conference and a cruise at the same time. When did you have time to sit and stare out, watching for whales? :)