Seven mornings in Alaska

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On board a small-ship cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage

Excerpts from my Travel Journal

The Wilderness Discoverer

My recent trip to Alaska was a dream come true. Cruising through southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage on board InnerSea Discoveries’ small cruise ship, the Wilderness Discoverer, I got to experience some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable. I stood out on the deck every morning and simply allowed the scenery to overwhelm me: dramatic fjords with countless waterfalls, imposing icebergs, awe-inspiring glaciers and mile after mile of verdant forests. I clambered excitedly out of bed every morning while everyone was asleep to admire the views in solitude, then wrote in my Travel Journal to record these scenes. Here are the first few passages from my Travel Journal describing seven glorious mornings in Alaska.

Day 1 – This morning, I woke up to find ourselves cruising through a sea of ice. The captain steered the ship steadily past huge icebergs. In the distance, waterfalls tumbled down steep forested slopes. Thin, misty veils concealed the snow-capped peaks of these impressive mountains. This is the Tracy Arms fjord.

I looked out my window and spotted this iceberg

Simply spectacular scenery

Mountains and icebergs

Day 2 – I opened the blinds and gasped. We were moored in the aptly named Scenery Cove, a small, simply magical cove in Thomas Bay. I stared at the water for what seemed like ages, trying to figure out what colour it was. I decided on jade. Surrounded by steep rocky slopes with tall birch, spruce and hemlocks, the cove was clear and calm. One word keeps popping up in my mind: enchanting.

The beautiful Scenery Cove

Colorful kayaks in the jade waters of Scenery Cove

Day 3 – We left the ship for a leisurely morning stroll along Patterson Creek. We followed a narrow path through the temperate rainforest with its grand conifers, lush ferns and thick mosses. After about an hour, we reached a small clearing where we were treated to a stunning view of the river, the mountains and the Patterson glacier.

The forests of Patterson Creek

Patterson Creek with the glacier in the background

Day 4 – I stayed up late last night to capture the sunset of the longest day of the year.

The sun sets on the longest day of the year

A few hours later, I lugged myself out of bed – I was sleepy but I didn’t want to miss experiencing the first dawn after the summer solstice. Funny how travel makes me do things I wouldn’t normally dream of doing back home! 🙂 It was definitely worth the effort. As I stood out on the deck, a lone seal popped its head out of the calm water and kept me company while I took in the gorgeous scenes that slowly unfolded.

Sunrise a few hours later

Day 5 – We’ve been very lucky with the weather so far but it started drizzling last night. When I woke up this morning and looked out the window, I could just about see the heavily-forested shores of Yes Bay through the rain and mist. Angel-hair-like algae hung from the branches of the trees whilst a thick bed of yellow rockweed blanketed the rocks at the edge of the bay’s olive green water. If I could rename this bay, I would call it Mystery Bay.

The mysterious Yes Bay

Day 6 – It’s still raining – this is Alaska after all! 🙂 We arrived in Misty Fjords early this morning, a spectacular national park in the southeasternmost corner of Alaska. Braving the cold heavy drizzle, I stood at the ship’s stern and stared at the majestic panorama before me. An imposing dome rose hundreds of meters almost vertically from the fjord whilst elegant waterfalls streamed down its rocky slopes. The clouds dispersed after a while, revealing even higher, snow-capped peaks. I stood transfixed; awe-struck by this incredible sight.

Misty Fjords: mountains and waterfalls

Day 7 – My Alaska cruise ends today. It stopped raining as we sailed into Ketchikan’s lovely harbour this morning. The town’s colourful buildings gleamed as the sun popped out from behind the clouds.

The colorful waterfront of Ketchikan

My cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage with InnerSea Discoveries was absolutely amazing. The small size of the ship allowed us to navigate through spectacular fjords and moor in intimate coves. For me, this trip was a dream come true. A huge thank you goes to InnerSea Discoveries for making it possible.

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29 Responses to “Seven mornings in Alaska”

  1. velvet 08/10/2011 10:26 am
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    Welcome Shirlene! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  2. Shirlene from Idelish 08/10/2011 2:44 am
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    Beautiful photos indeed! Wished I had more vacation days so I can go too!

    Found your blog through Jeremy’s BudgetTravelAdventures weekend reading roundup! Looking forward to future posts!

  3. Cam @ Traveling Canucks 03/09/2011 7:07 pm
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    Looks like an incredible trip! I’ve never seen an iceberg before – they look so majestic

  4. velvet 17/08/2011 4:14 pm
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    Thanks Ted! 🙂

  5. Traveling Ted 17/08/2011 3:08 pm
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    I just emerged from a week canoeing in the Canadian wilderness, but Alaska is even more sensational. Beautiful pictures.

  6. Ciki 09/07/2011 11:11 am
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    Wow! It’s a kind magic!! I won’t ask how cold you got when it drizzled! Must have been freezing. You were really dedicated to take all those sunset/sunrise shots.. well done:D

  7. velvet 07/07/2011 11:01 am
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    Hi Donna,
    Scenery Cove was absolutely beautiful. So tranquil. You’re right about small cruises: they anchor each night, usually in a small cove, very secluded and waking up every morning was simply bliss.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  8. Nancy & Shawn Power 07/07/2011 2:37 am
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    We just got back from Alaska ourselves on Sunday… it truly is a Beautiful place isn’t it.

    You’re pictures are great!!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Nancy & Shawn Power

  9. Donna Hull 06/07/2011 6:37 pm
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    This is such a great itinerary. Isn’t Scenery Cove amazing? I think the best part of small ship cruising in Alaska is the fact that they anchor each night, allowing cruisers to wake up to the quiet of Alaska. Great photos, Keith.

  10. Debbie Beardsley 06/07/2011 5:58 pm
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    This is how i want to visit the Inner Passage- on a small ship! Stunningly beautiful.

  11. AdventureSmith 06/07/2011 5:47 pm
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    I was lucky enough to work aboard the Wilderness Discoverer as lead naturalist in the early 2000’s. I have so many incredible memories of kayaking with whales, glaciers calving, bears feeding on salmon and all the fascinating travelers who would come on board. Our agency has almost 200 people traveling aboard InnerSea Discoveries ships this summer and so far all the feedback has been fantastic. We expect 2012 to sell out by December, maybe earlier. Thanks for sharing your photos and journal, it takes me back to my time in Alaska.

  12. Andrea 06/07/2011 11:40 am
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    All your photos are great but I especially love the one of the iceberg. I would love to see something like that with my own eyes.

  13. velvet 05/07/2011 5:55 pm
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    Hi Dominique,
    Wow, that must’ve been an incredible trip! Though I would’ve had to think twice about braving the cold and the wet on the deck! 😉 Thanks for your lovely comment.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  14. Dominique 05/07/2011 5:52 pm
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    I love the inside passage. I took a ferry from Prince Rupert BC to Juneau AK in October 2001 and slept outside -on a deck chair in a sleeping bag- every night. It was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. Everyone should do a AK cruise or ferry trip at least once in their life. 🙂

  15. velvet 05/07/2011 5:41 pm
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    Hi Toni & Joe,
    It sure was magical! Great to have met you too. The wonderful company on board definitely made the experience a lot more special.

    Hugs,
    Keith

  16. Toni & Joe Hansmeyer 05/07/2011 5:32 pm
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    Thanks Keith! You’ve got some amazing pictures! It truly was a magical time in Alaska, wasn’t it?!

  17. velvet 05/07/2011 4:11 pm
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    Hi Simon,
    I sure did. 🙂 I’ve got many more iceberg photos. Hehe! There’s just something wonderful about icebergs: their shapes, the ethereal blue, the fact that they detach themselves from their ‘mother’ and wander off. Simply fascinating!
    I’m sure you’ll get the opportunity to visit Alaska one day soon. 🙂

    Hugs,
    Keith

  18. Simon 05/07/2011 3:19 pm
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    It looks like you had an amazing time in Alaska. Great photos. Love the one of the blue iceberg! Gosh… I wonder if there is any chance I’ll be able to visit Alaska some day 🙂

  19. velvet 05/07/2011 2:50 pm
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    Yay, thanks Charu! 🙂

  20. Charu 05/07/2011 2:47 pm
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    Always always wanted to visit Alaska, in every way! Love the shots Keith.

  21. velvet 05/07/2011 2:42 pm
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    Thank you for your lovely comment Shivya. 🙂 I hope to keep you *dreaming* for a while longer – I have more Alaska posts up my sleeve. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  22. Shivya 05/07/2011 2:39 pm
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    Brilliant. You’ve just lived all our dreams. I love how misty the Fjords look, and how beautifully you’ve captured the sun’s reflection on the water. Looking forward to lots more posts about Alaska. *dreams*

  23. velvet 05/07/2011 1:33 pm
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    Thank you Linda & Debra for your kind comments. It’s not hard to take great photos in Alaska. It’s an incredibly beautiful place and I’m thankful for the chance to experience those seven mornings there.

    Welcome to Velvet Escape Debra! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  24. Debra 05/07/2011 1:31 pm
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    Beautiful photos! Found your blog viz Stumble Upon. Boyfriend I loved looking at them.

  25. Linda 05/07/2011 1:17 pm
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    Lost for words. This is one of my dreams too! I am totally, totally jealous! BTW depending where you live it’s often worth getting up early for the sunrise!

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