Inside Passage (July 17-19)

When we left for Alaska 6 weeks ago we didn't really think past driving the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks and seeing Denali, much less consider our route home.

Our digs on the MV Malaspina
While driving up, we thought we might return via the Top of the World Highway through Chicken and Dawson City, then on to Faro, with its rare Fannin Sheep. But we'd covered a lot of miles by car, and traveling the Inside Passage on the Alaska Marine Highway System would allow us to make some southbound progress without Mike having to be behind the wheel of the car.

We studied the schedules and routes and found that we could cruise at a discounted rate if we exited at Prince Rupert, BC instead of going all the way to Bellingham, WA. Plus that route would allow us to see new areas in the interior of British Columbia. We had a plan! We booked a berth with double bunks for two nights, and of course a space for our car.

Always something to see from the deck

Solarium on the Malaspina; backpackers were allowed to sleep here

Although not fancy, we found the MV Malaspina to be clean and comfortable. It had a nice little restaurant, solarium and up front in an enclosed area were comfortable chairs where we could enjoy the view and listen to the occasional naturalist talk. All sort of people were aboard, from backpacking tourists to a group of Sitka high school football players returning home from a game. Everything about our trip ran smoothly and we wouldn't hesitate to travel the Alaska Marine Highway again.

Mike on the deck reading Michener's "Alaska"

We cruised to Sitka, Kake, Petersburg, through the narrows to Wrangell, and Ketchikan before leaving Alaska and docking at Prince Rupert. Our trip was a through cruise, which didn't include time to get off and look around at these places any for any longer than it took to let passengers get on and off. But I did manage to convince Mike to run off the ship at Petersburg, in the rain, just to set foot briefly on the ground. We missed seeing Ketchikan because we stopped there after dark -- wait a minute -- it was actually getting DARK!

A rainy stop at Petersburg

Susan out on the deck looking for whales

The weather could have been better, but that didn't spoil absolutely the best part of the trip -- whale watching. From orcas to humpback whales, we couldn't get enough of it.

We saw a pod of perhaps a dozen humpback whales nearby

Humpback whales diving

Late in the afternoon of our third day at sea, rested and 4 degrees of latitude closer to home, we drove off the MV Malaspina and headed east.

Here are the main stops on the Alaska Marine Highway System between Juneau and Prince Rupert, BC, Canada:

View Larger Map

No comments:

Post a Comment