Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Inside Passage

We awoke on Saturday morning to a gray fog covering small islands on both sides of the ship; we were slowly making our way through what is known as the “inside passage”.  The inside passage route which wends through the many islands off the coast of Canada and Alaska is probably one of the best known and most popular of cruise routes.  Starting in Puget Sound in Washington and then extending north, first along the British Columbia Coast and then the Alaska Panhandle, it was used during the Klondike Gold Rush to carry prospectors north from Seattle and California.  Our aft-facing stateroom offered the perfect place to view beautiful scenery on both sides of the ship.

We spent our first day at sea.  The slow pace of a sea day gave us the opportunity to explore the ship and slow ourselves down to a cruise pace after the frenetic activity of packing and travelling.  We have sailed with Oceania before, so the Regatta already felt like home.  Carrying under 700 passengers, it is the perfect size with both room to roam, places to meet new friends and socialize, and space to find some quiet and privacy.  

Creek Street, Ketchikan
Our first stop was Ketchikan, but we didn’t dock until the afternoon, so I took advantage of the morning to complete my transition to vacation with a massage.   It rains almost every day in Ketchikan so we felt lucky to have only one small drizzle during our stay.  We found perfect refuge in a seafood bar.

The third day was a highlight of our voyage with passage through the narrow and magnificent Tracy Arm Fjord.  Enclosed by high cliffs, our journey was rewarded at the end of the narrow passage by the sight of Sawyer glacier.  Again, our aft stateroom offered the perfect viewing point as we turned and left the glacier (see video above).  Several members of our party remarked that the cliff walls leading into a narrow crevasse reminded them of the box canyon of Telluride. 
Tracy Arm Fjord
Day four we anchored off the small town of Sitka.  A town of only 9,000 inhabitants, it is surrounded (as is most of the mainland we had passed) by the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States.  Sitka has only about 20+ miles of paved road.  It has an interesting history as capital city when the Russians owned Alaska. Going into the town by tender, we booked a nice two-hour tour and viewed grizzlies, rainforest, and totems.

Leaving Sitka, we headed south to waters outside the inside passage…next stop Prince Rupert British Columbia.  A beautiful and tranquil four days transiting the Insides Passage offers a metaphor for a tranquil spirit, which is why we take vacations.  The beautiful Regatta, with its friendly and helpful crew and interesting passengers, tops it all off.  A great cruise!

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