Cruising College Fjord and Flying Home

My 21-day adventure on the Coral Princess is over. I’ve now been home for 27 hours and the ship is already so far gone from my mind that it could have been months ago that I was on her. At some point I’ll write up a full review and post it at YourAlaskaCruise.com. Here’s what the last couple of days with Princess looked like…

I was disappointed that we sailed far out to sea across the Gulf of Alaska after leaving Glacier Bay – the views of the Fairweather mountain range and its glaciers can be spectacular. On this sailing, there was nothing but water to see until we reached Kayak Island and Cape St. Elias – this photo, with a tug and barge passing the cape, was shot at 05:58 am.

Approaching the Hinchinbrook entrance to Prince William Sound at 11:00.

Being buzzed by a Coast Guard helicopter surprised many people! It made a couple of circles around the ship and disappeared – I was on the bridge at the time and they were apparently just “showing the flag”.

The historic Cape Hinchinbrook Lighthouse.

There were lots of rain showers around us as we entered Prince William Sound, but the ship stayed dry.

A great deal of ice could be seen in the water between Bligh and Glacier Islands – Columbia Glacier is continuing its dramatic retreat.

Wells Passage is a particularly scenic area, and a group of half a dozen Dall’s porpoises swam right beside the ship, directly below me, for a few seconds there. If I would have had my SLR I could possibly have gotten a photo but the little Fuji reacts too slowly.

Here’s what the “secret” viewing areas at the front of Decks 10 and 11 of the Coral and Island Princesses look like from the bridge (which is on Deck 12).

That’s me, hard at work in my office as we transitted Wells Passage :) These talks from the bridge are rather odd in that you get little or no feedback except occasionally from someone on a balcony – you often have no idea whether or not anyone is even listening to you. Theatre presentations are much more fun.

The MV Taku in Wells Passage.

As we crossed Port Wells, I had to get back to my cabin and pack my suitcase, then grab a quick bite to eat before getting back to the bridge.

The approach to College Fjord is impressive. Glacier Bay in miniature! This was shot at 5:00pm.

We got extremely close to this seal. Just before this, we’d sailed through a group of perhaps 60 sea otters and were close to many of them, as well as 2 bald eagles on a particularly fine-looking little iceberg.

The Wellesley Glacier.

Rain somewhat obscured the views of Barry Glacier as we left College Fjord at 9:15pm. We arrived at Whittier, our disembarkation port, at about midnight. Some people think when they see that time on their schedule that they have to get off the ship then but you do actually get to wait until morning!

A final look at the Coral Princess at 07:00.

The view out the motorcoach window as we approached the Whittier tunnel. We sat there for 45 minutes waiting for it to open at 8:00am – this train went ahead of us.

Driving along Turnagain Arm, up the Seward Highway. It’s too bad that nobody has explained to our driver (who is obviously new at this game) how to double his wages. There’s a lot to talk about on this route but he said very little and I doubt that he got any tips.

Swallows nesting in the APU exhaust of an Alaska Airlines jet! Luckily the jet is at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum :)

A visit to the museum is great anytime but is a particularly good way to kill layover time, and I had almost 5 hours before my flight to Vancouver. Craig, a commercial pilot I met on board the Coral, had been to Anchorage a few times but never to the museum so joined me. The excellent museum is an easy walk from the airport terminal and has everything from little models (in this case the Lockheed Orion Sirius Explorer of Wiley Post) …

… to large models (a Douglas World Cruiser from the US Army Air Corp’s 1924 circumnavigation of the globe)….

to real aircraft, restored (such as this 1944 Grumman Goose)…

… under restoration (including this 1931 American Pilgrim)…

… and future projects (such as this 1943 PBY 5A Catalina Canso).

Even the long-term storage barn is interesting (and open to the public, which is in itself rather unusual).

The plane for my ANC-YVR leg arrives at 2:10pm – it’s an old (1997) Airbus A319.

Anchorage is a great airport for plane-watching, with both unusual aircraft and an excellent viewing area.

I got a center seat and it was cloudy in any case, so just watched movies all the way to Vancouver (just over 3 hours). I had time for a leisurely dinner in Vancouver (finally a good hamburger after 3 weeks without!), and left in the dark at 10:05pm.

Descending into Whitehorse – back in The Land of the Midnight Sun!! This was shot at 10 minutes past midnight.

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4 Responses to Cruising College Fjord and Flying Home

  1. Kathleen O'Daniel says:

    Great trip, Murray! Are you home for awhile? Any bites on your cabin? What’s your next adventure?

  2. explorenorth says:

    It was a very interesting trip in a lot of ways. The job wasn’t what I expected and the first 10 days or so were very stressful but once I got into the groove it was fun as always.

    We got some interest in the cabin, but it’s no longer for sale :)

    I’ve got a few local adventures on the List, but on September 10th I’m taking my Dad on a 14-day cruise on the Radiance of Seas – Vancouver to Alaska, ending in San Diego. We used to have a lot of great adventures together – this will be the biggest and hopefully the best.

  3. Ron says:

    Enjoy the pic’s of your cruise but kinda glad you are home i was starting to get a little sea sick .

    From Ontario
    Ron

  4. Kathleen O'Daniel says:

    Yay! You’re not selling your cabin!!! It looks so lonesome over there. Your dogs want to go canoeing! Get right on that, will you?
    Time with your dad sounds great. I’m sure enjoying time with my mom. What an amazing lady she is. We have stories about her at Little Salmon during the River Quest in June!

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