Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 1

(please note there are 20+ photos on the next few postings, they might take a bit of time to load)

One place we had always wanted to see was Alaska, but much of it is very difficult to get to. We decided the best way to see it was on a cruise.

I had been on a large ship cruise once for 3 days and kissed the ground when I got off, the tacky shows and lines for everything got old fast. For this trip we chose to go on a small ship cruise from a company aptly named ‘Uncruise’. And no this is not an advertisement for them, but an honest assessment on how great this turned out to be.

We set sail on a rainy Saturday evening from Juneau. The next day we arrived at a fjord called Endicott Arm. The walls soar 1000′ above the water for dramatic effect.

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At the end of the fjord is Dawes Glacier, a tidewater glacier.

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The main ship was close enough to get some dramatics up on the glacier with a zoom lens.

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The difference between the large ships that most people cruise on and the small ships like Uncruise is you get off the boat and do things other than shop at trinket stores in ports. For this portion groups of 8-10 people took ‘skiffs’ the last 6 miles up the fjord to within 1/4 mile of the 200′ high face of the glacier.

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As we neared the glacier a guide plucked what she thought was going to be a small piece of ice out of the water. It turned out to be much larger. This piece of ice was brought back on board the ship for a contest when it would finish melting. It took 3 days.

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We spent about an hour at the base of the glacier in the skiffs. Every once in a while you would hear loud cracking sounds and nothing happened. For us though, we were fortunate enough to see a major ‘calving’ event, when a large chunk of the glacier fell off into the sea.

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As noted this face is 200′ high, so the splash it made is likely + 75′. Amazingly it does not create a tidal wave, just some small ones like someone went by with a small boat and created a wake.

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We returned through the icebergs on our way back to the ship.

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The Wilderness Adventurer is about 190′ long with 30 passenger cabins. Our trip had 55 passengers and a crew of 20 (or so – I didn’t do an exact count !). As shown below the ship has a number of 2 person kayaks, some paddle boards and the skiffs (which are missing on this photo since they are out at the glacier.

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After everyone had returned to the ship we continued on our way we came upon a number of whales who were diving for food. They came upon a couple of sea lions, one of which took refuge on the back of the ship, which got the crew all excited as they said they had only heard of this only ever happening once before.

Since we were stationary at the time he sat there for a while. Once the crew was confident these particular whales had moved on they shoo-ed him/her off the back.

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Even things as simple as the wake on the very calm waters made for great photo ops.

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Later we came across more whales feeding.

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Finally (for this portion of the trip) we passed a small island filled with more sea lions.

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The day ended with a great sunset.

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More to come…..

 

 

One thought on “Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 1

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