Archive for the ‘Vancouver’ Category

Alaska, the Inside Passage, part 1

Starting out 

Flying into Vancouver, B.C. is the perfect opener to an eye-popping scenic adventure. Miles of forests, rivers, straits and mountains surround the city, whetting the appetite for the gorgeous scenery to come.  To stay overnight in Vancouver, we chose a hotel on the water within walking distance of our port. But we arrived early enough to take a scenic bus tour around the city. Floatplanes constantly took off and landed outside our hotel, giving us our first idea of how important small planes are for getting around in BC and Alaska.

As host to the Olympics in early 2010, Vancouver  added several hotels so finding one to meet the budget and travel style is not a problem. 

Vancouver BC

Vancouver’s cruise ship port looks like a distant cousin of the Sydney Opera House

Float Plane Landing Vancouver BC

Floatplanes constantly landed and took off outside our hotel

 

  

 

Vancouver BC

Stanley Park, a good place to spend the day, sticks out into the water like a thumb

Ketchikan 

Jaded travelers may say that Ketchikan, usually the first port of call, is a mere tourist trap. Maybe if a visitor spends the entire time on shore browsing the cute village shops, the person would leave with the impression the town is about shopping.  We did our share of browsing but what we loved in Ketchikan was the Saxman Native Village. The town claims to have the world’s largest collection of totem poles. Many of them can be seen at Saxman, Totem Bight State Park and the Totem Heritage Center.  After sitting and putting away more food that was good for us, we also liked the hike to Saxman, particularly passing trees filled with eagles and houses that had totem poles out front. 

Ketchikan, Alaska

Cute shops attract shoppers in Ketchikan, a fishing village also known for its totem poles

 
 
 
 

Totem poles line the Saxman Native Village entrance

Totem poles line the Saxman Native Village entrance

Saxman should be a Ketchikan destination

Saxman should be a Ketchikan destination

Eagles take over the trees on the way to Saxman

Eagles take over the trees on the way to Saxman

Links For More Info:

Tourism Vancouver
Travel Alaska
Visit Ketchikan
  

Coming Up: Alaska, the Inside Passage, part 2

Move travel to Alaska up on the vacation destination list

  
Alaskan Glaciers

Alaskan Glaciers

You think a spectacular phenomenon such as the glaciers in Alaska will remain amazing no matter when you manage to travel there.  That is unless you attend a climate change conference or the new, temporary “Climate Change” exhibit that opened at Chicago’s Field Museum June 25, 2010. After seeing in graphic detail that Greenland and the glaciers across the northern hemisphere are shrinking, going to Alaska takes on a new urgency. 

 

 Now that it’s high on the list comes the interesting part – looking at all the options that turn a good trip into a great one. The best options are the ones that fit your lifestyle.

   

   

Getting there  

 
 
 
 

Sunset from the ship

Sunset from the ship

We were traveling with another couple so a few compromises entered the planning. The result was to take a Princess Line cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia, just over the Canadian border, to travel up the Inside Passage. Our option, booked ahead, was to leave half the passengers who were just doing the cruise, then continue on with Princess across Prince William Sound for our land portion. We chose Princess because the company has lodges in different Alaskan locations and buses to get us there so we could relax and leave the arrangements to someone else. That is not our usual style but it worked well for Alaska.

 

 

Tips:
 

• Book a room in Vancouver or from wherever you will be sailing the night before you leave on your cruise. Not only does this apply to Alaska, but is a good tip for taking any cruise, anywhere in the world. Weather and transportation schedules are too iffy to chance “missing the boat,” as the saying goes.  In addition, towns like Vancouver are worth seeing as part of your trip.

• Consider traveling just before or just after the main tourist season. For Alaska, tourist season is summer when the mosquitoes are large and swarming and the prices are higher. The end of May into early June is a better time to go. The weather is not so cold as to hinder sightseeing and you won’t have to share the sights with hundreds of other visitors. Just add a jacket and a couple of turtleneck shirts to the suitcase.
 

• Speaking of packing, bring binoculars to better spot whales and other sea life and bring more than one pair of comfortable walking shoes. If you like dressing up, throw the fancy duds into the suitcase but you don’t really need to pack a tux and gown any longer. A jacket for men and cocktail dress for women will get you through the door on formal nights.

  • There is not a lot of open sea time traveling to Alaska.  People who want a spa treatment aboard should look at the schedule when booking the trip, then make an appointment for the treatment well in advance to get the desired time. This is true for any cruise. The same book ahead advice applies to snagging a seat for an evening splurge in the fine-dining restaurant.

Coming up next: Alaska, the Inside Passage

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