- Photo Tours
- Carnival Breeze – Exotic Eastern Caribbean
- Carnival Freedom – Western Caribbean
- Carnival Miracle – Mexican Riviera
- Carnival Paradise – Cuba
- Carnival Pride – Bahamas from Baltimore
- Coral Princess – Ultimate Alaska with Cruise Experts Travel
- Cuba Cruise Louis Cristal – Cuba
- MSC Divina – Eastern Caribbean
- Norwegian Breakaway – Christening
- Norwegian Epic – Eastern Caribbean
- Norwegian Pearl – Alaska RT Seattle
- Quantum of the Seas – Preview Cruise
- Zuiderdam – Alaska Inside Passage
- Hurtigruten FRAM – Antarctica
- Hurtigruten Midnatsol – North Cape
- Passing Cloud – BC’s Gulf Islands
- Passing Cloud – Haida Gwaii
- S.S. Legacy – Columbia & Snake Rivers
- Safari Endeavour – Alaska’s Glacier Country
- Safari Voyager – Mexico’s Sea of Cortes
- Schooner Zodiac – Brew Cruise 2013
- Schooner Zodiac – Wine Cruise
- Silver Discoverer – Australia to Indonesia
- Silver Explorer – Arctic Svalbard
- Silver Explorer – British Isles
- Silver Galapagos – Galapagos Islands
- Wind Spirit – Stockholm to Oslo
- Wind Star – Rome to Nice
- EUROPA 2 – Greece & Turkey
- Queen Mary 2 – Eastbound Transatlantic 2012
- Queen Mary 2 – Westbound Transatlantic 2015
- Seabourn Sojourn – Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn
- Silver Shadow – Exotic Alaska
- Silver Shadow – Southeast Asia & Myanmar
- Silver Spirit – Athens to Barcelona
- Silver Spirit- Eastbound Transatlantic
- Silver Wind – Mediterranean
- Silver Wind – Middle East
- Silver Wind – South Africa
- AmaLotus – Cambodia & Vietnam
- AmaLyra- Danube Christmas Markets
- American Empress on the Columbia
- Avalon Expression – Amsterdam to Nuremberg
- Emerald Waterways Emerald Star – Danube Delights
- G Adventures – India’s Ganges
- S.S. Maria Theresa – Christening
- Tauck ms Inspire – Maiden Voyage
- Tauck Swiss Jewel – Blue Danube
- Viking Baldur – Danube Christmas
- Viking Baldur – Rhine Christmas
- Viking Forseti – Chateaux, Rivers & Wine
- Viking Freya – Danube Christmas
- Viking Longships Christening 2012
- Viking Longships Christening 2013
- Viking Longships Christening 2014
- Viking Longships Christening 2015
- Viking Vidar – Grand European Tour
- Upcoming & Past Cruises
- About FTDC
Journey to Whittier and Embarking the Coral Princess
As I write this, it is 11pm and the sun is shining brightly. Since leaving Whittier aboard Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess, we’ve sailed past one magnificent snow-capped mountain range after another.
We’ve passed islands so small you could barely fit two people on them, and some that are large enough to build a small village.
The sky is an ever-changing array of colours, shapes and textures as clouds weave in and out, and the sunshine that has graced us all day burns brightly beyond the horizon. It’s no wonder that the native Indians that call this region home felt the Northern Lights had magical powers; even in summer, the sky is a changeable canvas of beauty.
But perhaps I should back up.
We had time to explore Anchorage, Alaska on our own this morning during our stay at the Quality Suites Anchorage. At the leisurely hour of 10:45am, we set out for our first stop of the day: a wildlife conservation society conveniently located along the route to our eventual destination: Whittier and the Coral Princess.
Where the wildlife at Denali was miles away, the animals were just feet away at the conservation center. One of the animal handlers was showing a Reindeer to visitors, while bears, moose, elk and other animals were on display.
These are animals that could not be successfully re-introduced into the wild, so they are sheltered and taken care of here.
Our time here was brief, but for good reason: we had to clear the tunnel that separates Whittier from the rest of the world.
At the top of the hour, traffic is allowed through a 2.5 mile, incredibly narrow tunnel channeled through the base of a mountain from Whittier to the other side. At the bottom of the hour, traffic is allowed to proceed to Whittier.
Our cheerful Tour Director, Cam, said to us, “Oh, I hate this tunnel. Me and this tunnel do not get along.” Which, to me, sounded odd – until I realized what the tunnel was.
It’s barely wide enough or tall enough to fit a motorcoach through. It runs in a straight line, with hypnotic pot-lights that whoosh past every few seconds.
And, of course, an entire mountain rests above you.
Halfway though, the “pucker factor” kicked into high gear: I wanted out, badly. I saw exactly what Cam meant when he said he hated that tunnel – it’s a nerve-jangling triumph of the will.
Or, as our driver Lindy said, “Oh good – I can open my eyes now.”
Bidding farewell to these two talented individuals was hard on the guests I have been hosting for the past four days, and which I continued to help along on our journey to Vancouver. As each guest stepped off the coach and shook hands with Cam and Lindy – or embraced them – I was struck by how quick and powerful the bond among travellers can be. They have both shown us a side of Alaska – and indeed the United States – that many of us never knew existed.
Once again, Lindy’s words were wise.
“You save enough money and maybe four, five years later you come back here. Come see me. I’ll take you up north to see my brother. He’s an even better storyteller than I am. And we’ll fish and go to the villages. When you travel, bring something from your home town, ladies and gentlemen, that represents your family. Leave it behind. Our time here is short, but our loved ones are still there, in spirit. We believe that. We know that.”
Once I was sure all the guests had successfully gone into the terminal, I said my goodbyes to these two fantastic people. I hope to see them both again – I’d like Cam to show me the Anchorage that has become his home, and I’d like to go fishing with Lindy. I’m not a fisherman – I never have been – but I think I’d like to learn.
I’d like to visit a Native village. I’d like to learn their customs, if they’d let me. I’d like to learn their way of life, if they’d have me. In this world where we’re so connected to so many things of such little significance, I want to learn – now, more than ever – the way things used to be.
After I said goodbye, I turned my gaze to the gorgeous, 965-foot long Coral Princess.
I can remember standing at Canada Place the first time Coral Princess came in to Vancouver in 2003. I was just completing Film School then, and I said to myself, “someday, I’m going to sail on that ship.” I thought it was the most stunning ship I’d ever seen: sleek, modern, yet still retaining plenty of nautical touches like a gently rounded stern, tapered forward and aft decks, and plenty of floor-to-ceiling glass.
And here we are.
My opinion that Coral Princess is one of the line’s most beautiful vessels was only reinforced when I stepped aboard and into the striking, four-story tall atrium. My past favorite Princess ship was the lovely, 2006-built Crown Princess, but I think Coral Princess might take the cake. She’s also fresh out of an extensive drydock that added the super-cheery International Café to Deck 6 and gave her a top-to-bottom makeover that revitalised her Horizon Court Café located on Deck 14 forward.
Because I like to experience every kind of stateroom possible, I have a cozy Obstructed Oceanview stateroom on Emerald Deck. This is exactly like it sounds: a regular Oceanview stateroom, but with a window blocked by a lifeboat.
Is that a downside? That’s for you to decide. For me, I am actually enjoying it immensely and I was pleasantly surprised at how large the overall room was. I also forgot how much I like the “open-closet” design on Princess; it’s similar to what ultra-luxury line Silversea has done with their suites. Plus, it’s a heck of a good value.
On the downside: the beds are still as rock-hard as I remember them. Come on, Princess – “pillow top”!
Having said that, though, I realized I’ve missed Princess – from the sweet smell of their Princess Patter daily programs to the friendliness of their crew.
Tonight, sail-away at 8:30pm from Whittier was remarkable, and drew a healthy crowd to the ship’s upper decks. But my favorite viewpoints are the “hidden decks” – those located all the way aft, and the lone forward viewpoint on Caribe Deck. In an age where cruise lines are restricting access to these wonderful vantage points, Princess deserves credit for the striking amount of intimate open spaces they’ve put aboard Coral Princess.
Here in Crooners Bar on Deck 7, I am almost moved to tears by the scenery outside. We’re making an easy 16 knots, and Coral Princess is cutting through the ocean like a knife.
For those who haven’t sailed to Alaska before, all I can say is this: you’re missing out. And I can say that because, for six consecutive Alaskan cruises, I’ve missed out on some of the most spectacular scenery and culture this fine state has to offer.
Our Live Voyage Report from Cruise Experts Travel’s Ultimate Alaska CruiseTour continues tomorrow as we sail to Hubbard Glacier aboard Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess! Be sure to follow along on Twitter by following @deckchairblog or using the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.
- April 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019
- December 2018
- September 2018
- August 2018
- July 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- February 2018
- January 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009