Our trip to Alaska began as a trip to Cuba. With relations between the United States and Cuba warming and business and trade agreements on the horizon, I had a wish to see a country essentially left in the 1950s before it became commercialized. Unfortunately, my spouse had little or no interest in Cuba. As an alternative he suggested a trip to the last frontier, a place the Aleutians called “the great land”, Alaska. Believers of science and climate change, we also decided it was an opportunity to see our largest state’s glaciers before they are gone. Alaska seemed a very good compromise.
After considerable research, we decided a small boat cruise was best suited to our interests. The eight-day cruise would focus on the area’s flora and fauna and provide us opportunities to walk with nature, play on the water and see the beautiful countryside up close.
We chose the month of May because spring time is typically the driest time of year for Alaska’s Inner Passage. It is, after all, a coastal rain forest. Temperatures during May are generally cool but not cold, to Minnesota standards anyway. And finally, Spring is a time when everything comes to life. The flowers are blooming, bears are coming out of hibernation, the birds are in their courting plumage, and critters are moving. What could be better?
Gratefully, those averages worked for us. We experienced only one drizzly and gloomy day and temperatures remained largely in the low 60s, even reaching 70 on at least one day. We saw every critter we hoped to see and even saw the puffins in their springtime regalia. In my opinion, Mother Nature could not have been kinder.
We made the trip with good friends, Sandy and Grady. One would be hard pressed to find better friends and traveling companions. There were 25 other individuals on the boat from places all over the map…. three from Australia, two from Tasmania, three from New Zealand and the balance from all over the U.S. All were pleasant and adventurous travelers and all had a love for nature and the planet. They were all part of what made this trip so very special.
The cruise itself was very casual. No dresses and heels (good things because I don’t own any) or suits and ties (Dave hasn’t purchased a suit since I’ve known him) for dinner, just a lot of fleece, down jackets and hiking shoes and boots. Quarters were small but comfortable and tidied up each morning just like the Holiday Inn. The food was amazing and far too plentiful. The crew was top-notch and the onboard naturalist and various interpreters were knowledgeable and excellent teachers. While any ship cruising through Glacier Bay National Park must be accompanied by a Park Ranger, I suspect our smaller boat gave us much better personal access and ability to ask questions.
We loved this trip and would give our full endorsement to the method of cruising and the time of year chosen. If you haven’t already checked out this fine state and its beauty, we encourage you to do so!