14 August 2012

Alaskan Odyssey

Breathtaking views and stunning scenery make Alaska an unforgettable cruising experience, combining the rugged charm of snow-capped mountains, ancient glaciers, and gold-rush towns with the luxury of a full-service vessel featuring an array of entertainment, leisure, and dining options.  The MoMI proudly presents photos of a recent Alaska cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia to Whittier, Alaska from 1-8 August 2012.

First we take a virtual tour of the ship...   
M/V Island Princess
class: Sun class 
tonnage: 91,627GT
length: 964 feet
beam: 106 feet (waterline) 122 feet (bridge wings)
height: 204 feet
draught: 26 feet
speed: 21 kts (24mph / 39kph)
decks: 16 (12 for passengers)
capacity: 1,970 passengers, 900 crew
built: Chantiers de l'Atlantique, Saint-Nazaire, France
launched: June 2003
maiden voyage: 12 July 2003
cost: USD$330 million
port of registry: Hamilton, Bermuda
Island Princess deck plan, which conveniently folds up
into the size of a credit card for easy pocket stowage.
The reverse side of the deck plan.

The Atrium.  Spanning Decks 5-8, this centrally-located open-concept core features two glass elevators, fountains, and tropical plants.  Many of the ship's public rooms are located on the decks surrounding the Atrium, including: Passenger Services, the Shore Excursions Desk, the Bordeaux Dining Room, and La Patisserie (Deck 5); the Provence Dining Room, Essence and Meridian Bay boutiques, and Calypso Cove gift shop (Deck 6); Crooners Bar, the Churchill Lounge, and the Wheelhouse Bar (Deck 7); and, the Library, Card Room, and Internet Cafe (Deck 8).  
Passengers watch as several of the ship's chefs put on a fruit carving show in the Atrium.  The finished creations included a fish made out of a pineapple and intricate rose flowers carved into the sides of watermelons. 
A pianist plays smooth jazz on the Atrium piano during boarding in Vancouver.

The impressive, sculptural entrance to the Bordeaux Dining Room on Deck 5, behind the Atrium's glass elevators.

The interior of the Provence Dining Room (Deck 6) between sittings.

A six-person table in the Provence Dining Room between sittings.  The large picture window looks out the starboard side of the ship, giving diners fantastic views of the waves rolling by.

Crooners Bar on Deck 7.  This venue features a live pianist during the evenings, usually singing Billy Joel hits, as well as large murals depicting the Rat Pack.

The Library on Deck 8.

The surprisingly well-stocked library contains hundreds of hardcopy books as well as audio books.  The collection includes volumes on travel, geography, history, biography, transportation, as well as fiction.

The entrance to the two-story Universe Lounge, located aft on Decks 6 and 7.

The ground floor of the Universe Lounge, featuring comfortable couches, intimate tables, and large, round picture windows with automated curtains that lower before showtime.  A full bar is located at the rear of the theatre and features table service by waiters.
A view from the Deck 7 mezzanine level of the Universe Lounge.  In addition to more seating, this level of the lounge includes a full production booth and theatre lighting systems.

The entrance to the Bayou Cafe, the New Orleans-themed steakhouse and seafood restaurant.  The dark wood and warm atmosphere inside is enhanced by the jazz stylings of the  Percy Ellis Trio, playing nightly on the intimate stage near the Bayou Bar. 

A view of the inside of the Bayou Cafe on Deck 7.  As a specialty restaurant, diners pay a $20 per person cover charge but enjoy sumptuous meals, including thick-cut steaks grilled to order, fresh seafood and lobster, and southern delicacies like fried green tomatoes, succotash, and jambalaya. 

The entrance to the French-themed Princess Casino, located on Deck 6.

A view inside the Princess Casino, which features table games and a wide variety of slot machines.

Some of the slot machines in the Princess Casino.

One of the entrances to the Wheelhouse Bar, located on Deck 7, forward of the Atrium.

The Wheelhouse Bar features dark wood panelling and richly-upholstered couches, wing-back chairs and brass-accented wood tables, clustered in intimate groupings and interspersed with nautical artefacts, including a large ship's wheel, and brass engineroom telegraphs and signal lamps.
Featuring live entertainment in the evenings, the Wheelhouse Bar is perfect for a quiet drink or a good book while you watch the ocean pass by outside the large windows on the port side.
Located at the Atrium entrance to the Wheelhouse Bar is the small but interesting Wheelhouse Museum, containing a treasure trove of artefacts from the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O Line) as well as large framed paintings of famous P&O vessels.  As with PrincessCruises, P&O Line is now owned by Carnival Corporation.
A cozy corner in the Wheelhouse Bar, the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet moment while basking in the aura of the transatlantic passenger liners of the 1920s and 1930s.

The main entry to the Wheelhouse Bar, located off the promenade on Deck 7.  The bar's namesake ship's wheel is positioned just inside the doors, while two nautical figureheads and brass hurricane lamps flank the entrance.

Looking forward at the promenade as it winds its way past the Wheelhouse Bar on Deck 7.  This section of the promenade features the same dark wood panelling used in the Wheelhouse Bar, and displays several paintings of famous P&O Line passenger veseels on the walls. 

The entrance to Sabatini's, the other specialty restaurant aboard for those passengers wishing a more intimate, gourmet experience for an added fee.  Sabatini's features Italian cuisine.

A row of comfortable chairs in the Deck 6 promenade look out through large picture
windows onto the sea.

Explorers Lounge, a nightclub featuring late-night live entertainment on Deck 6.  The decor is an eclectic mix of exotic Oriental, Indian, and African murals and sculpture, evoking the travels of the great explorers.

Another view of a quiet, daytime Explorers Lounge on Deck 6.

The entrance to the Princess Theatre, the largest live entertainment venue aboard Island Princess, located forward on Deck 7.

Looking down from the top of the Princess Theatre.  Seating hundreds of guests, the Princess Theatre is used for everything from educational seminars and lectures to stand-up comedy and elaborate, full-sized gala stage productions by the ship's troupe of singers and dancers.

A typical staircase aboard Island Princess. This one is located on Deck 5 aft. Unseen to the right is a bank of four elevators.

Signage on Deck 5, also known as Plaza Deck.  This deck is the second-lowest deck aboard Island Princess and the lowest deck with passenger accommodations.

Looking aft down the port side passageway on Plaza Deck.  None of the staterooms on this deck feature balconies, though most do have unobstructed ocean views through large windows. 

A view of Cabin P610, located on the port side of Plaza Deck, shortly after arrival aboard.  The large mat with the Princess Cruises logo is a baggage mat to enable passengers to unpack without soiling the linens.

Another view of Cabin P610.  The small, but highly-functional cabin features two Twin beds that can be combined to form a Queen, a mini-fridge, a desk, a TV, a safe for valuables, ample closet space, and a washroom with sink, toilet, and shower stall.  

The large picture window lets in ample light as well as stunning views of the Alaskan geography, while light switches on the headboard allow you to turn off the lights without having to get out of bed.

Moving topside now, we see the illuminated Island Princess nameboard and Princess Cruises "Sea Witch" logo mounted on either side of the funnel.  The silver tubes resembling jet engines are purely decorative. 

The Lotus Pool, located on Deck 14.  This enclosed, two-story Thai-inspired space features teak decking, lounge chairs, hot tubs, thatched pagodas, and sculptures, as well as ping pong tables, an ice cream parlour, and a bar. 

Another view of the Lotus Pool, with the glass roof seen at the top of the photo, a feature that permits swimming on even the coldest Alaskan days.

Looking forward on Deck 14, or the Lido Deck.  This photo shows the ship's mast, with the Princess Grill one deck below (Deck 15), and the Lido Bar and Princess Pizzaria immediately behind the passengers on Deck 14. 

Another view of the Lido Deck, as seen from Deck 15 above.  The pool and three hot tubs are flanked by padded loungers.

The Lido Bar, closed while embarking passengers in Vancouver in accordance with Canadian law.

A cold, rainy night on the Lido Deck.  Despite the weather, a few brave souls watched Movies Under the Stars, using the ship's large outdoor screen to play Hollywood feature films.  The wet, chilly weather was moderated somewhat by the provision of popcorn, hot chocolate, and heavy woollen blankets to spectators.     

Located at the rear of the ship on Decks 14 and 12 (there is no Deck 13), the Sanctuary is an astroturfed adults-only exclusive retreat featuring lounge chairs, a pool, and pavillions that can be rented out at a cost of $10/half day and $20/full day.  This venue features wait staff who will deliver fruit and beverages to you.

The exterior promenade on Deck 7.  This broad, open-air deck stretches right around the ship and is perfect for a morning jog, evening stroll, wildlife or glacier viewing, or simply relaxing on one of the comfortable padded loungers positioned at intervals.  As noted, 2.8 laps of this deck equals 1 mile. 

Another view of the Deck 7 exterior promenade.  The ship's lifeboats hang overhead, while blue-padded loungers are perfect for stretching out with a good book and your favourite beverage while cruising off the Alaskan coast.

The Alaskan cruise market is booming today, and one often finds multiple large ships berthed alongside the piers in towns like Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway on a daily basis.  Here are some shots of the other cruise ships encountered during Island Princess's recent Alaska cruise, as well as two of the Alaska Marine Highway System ferries sighted... 

Holland-America Line's M/V Volendam (1999; 60,906GT; 1,432 passengers), berthed at Canada Place cruise terminal in Vancouver, 1 August 2012.
Norwegian Cruise Line's M/V Norwegian Pearl (2006; 93,530GT; 2,394 passengers), berthed at Ketchikan, Alaska on 3 August 2012.

The Norwegian Pearl in the foreground and, in the background, Holland-America Line's M/V Oosterdam (2006; 82,000GT; 1,848 passengers) berthed at Ketchikan, 3 August 2012.

Celebrity Cruises' M/V Celebrity Century (1995; 71,545GT; 1,808 passengers) entering the harbour at Ketchikan, 3 August 2012.

Carnival Cruise Lines' M/V Carnival Spirit (2001; 85,900GT; 2,680 passengers), berthed at Juneau, Alaska on 4 August 2012.

Regent Seven Seas Cruise's M/V Seven Seas Navigator (1999; 28,550GT; 490 passengers) entering Juneau Harbor, 4 August 2012.

Alaska Marine Highway System ferry M/V Matanuska (1963; 5,658 tons; 499 passengers and 88 vehicles), 3 August 2012.

M/V Malaspina (1963; 5,641 tons; 500 passengers and 88 vehicles), berthed at Skagway, Alaska on 5 August 2012.


Princess Cruises runs both northbound and southbound Alaskan cruises between Vancouver, British Columbia and Whittier, Alaska during the summer months.  This particular cruise was the "Voyage of the Glaciers with Glacier Bay (Northbound)" option, departing Vancouver on 1 August. 

The three port calls during this cruise were in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, all located in the southeastern part of the state, in that finger of US territory sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and northern British Columbia.

Day 1: Vancouver, B.C. (embarkation), 1 August 2012   

M/V Island Princess berthed at Canada Place in Vancouver, BC.  At 964 feet in length, Island Princess and her identical sister, Coral Princess, are the longest ships in the Princess Cruises fleet and are the company's only ships capable of transiting the Panama Canal.  

Opened on 2 May 1986, the distinctive Canada Place houses Vancouver's cruise ship terminal, the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, and Vancouver's World Trade Centre. 

Island Princess transits under Vancouver's Lions Gate Bridge.

Meal Diary 

Lunch in the Horizon Court buffet: Roast beef, chicken wings, mashed potatoes, vegetables, salad, roll, walnut brownie, iced tea.

Dinner in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Appetiser of spring rolls with peanut hoisin sauce, followed by cream of porcini mushroom soup.  Main course of Hawaiian luau pork with apricot drippings.  Princess Love Boat Special for dessert, consisting of chocolate mousse with cream and strawberry coulis. 

Day 2: At Sea, 2 August 2012

Looking over a vast expanse of ocean from the forward observation deck on Deck 11 while underway.

Sunset over the coastal islands of northern British Columbia, a fine end to a beautiful day at sea.

A full moon over a gentle sea.

Meal Diary
Breakfast in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Blueberry pancakes with ham and hashbrowns, cup of tea.
Lunch at The Bar & Grill: Bratwurst on a bun with mustard and French fries, with iced tea.
Dinner at the Bayou Cafe: Chicken and chorizo jambalaya appetiser, followed by mixed greed salad with bacon, tomato, avocado, and dandelion.  Main course of thick-cut New York striploin steak served with roasted potatoes, fried green tomatoes, succotash, rice, and coleslaw.  Chocolate pecan fudge cake with vanilla bean sauce for dessert.  

Day 3: Ketchikan, Alaska, 3 August 2012

Ketchikan, known as "Alaska's First City" on account of it traditionally being the first stop for prospectors and settlers heading north, is now a thriving tourist destination, featuring numerous jewelry and souvenir shops, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Centre, and the historic buildings of Creek Street, which once housed the town's brothels from the gold rush era of the 19th century to the outlaw of prostitution in the 1950s.  Ketchikan is also known as the "Salmon Capital of the World," with many fishing charters available in town.

Approaching the pier at Ketchikan, 3 August 2012.

Sandwiched between the mountains and the sea on Revillagigedo Island, Ketchikan is home to numerous floatplane charter companies and quaint homes perched overlooking the harbour.

A portion of the waterfront boardwalk that conveys cruise passengers from the pier to the downtown shopping and attractions.

The large sign welcoming visitors to "Alaska's 1st City" and the "Salmon Capital of the World."

One of the entrances to Creek Street, a series of old wooden buildings built on stilts over Ketchikan Creek.  This neighbourhood was one of Alaska's two red-light districts until the passage of the Anti-Crib Laws in the 1950s.  Today, the buildings house souvenir shops, cafes, and art galleries.

Another view of Ketchikan Creek, which sees thousands of salmon return every year to spawn.

Two DeHavilland Beaver floatplanes berthed at a charter company in Ketchikan harbour.

Meal Diary

Breakfast in the Horizon Court buffet: Eggs Florentine, scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese, roll, bacon, and sliced peaches.

Lunch in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Greek salad appetise, entree of fried fillet of sole with lemon and parsley and mushrooms served with roasted potatoes.  Dessert of Dutch double chocolate cake with fresh cream. 

Afternoon Tea in the Bordeaux Dining Room, 3:45pm: Finger sandwiches, cakes, scones with jam and clotted cream, pots of Lipton black tea.

Dinner in the Horizon Court buffet: Roast pork, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad with ranch dressing, slice of pork scallopini with Marsala reduction, dinner rolls.  Dessert of chocolate brownie, slice of chocolate brandy cake, and scoop of tiramisu.

Day 4: Juneau, Alaska, 4 August 2012

Juneau has been Alaska's capital since 1906, and is named after gold prospector Joe Juneau, with the majority of its 31,000+ residents working in government.  The city occupies a narrow strip of land between the Gastineau Channel and steep mountains rising to between 3,500 and 4,000 feet.  Juneau is notable for its lack of road access to the outside world, being accessible only by ship or aircraft.  The picturesque Mendenhall Glacier is located a short drive out of town, fed by the massive, 1,500 square mile Juneau Icefield, and tour boats offer whale watching tours in the nearby Lynn Canal, a natural inlet plunging to depths of 2,000 feet and a favourite summer feeding location for humpback whales. 

A view of downtown Juneau, Alaska as seen from Island Princess during her approach to the pier.

A vintage fishing vessel alongside a dock in Juneau.

A view of South Franklin Street in Juneau, lined with seasonal tourist businesses, most selling souvenirs and gold & diamond jewelry.

The terminal for the Mount Roberts Tramway, Juneau's most popular attraction, and a costly one at $29 for an adult ticket.  A ticket entitles the holder to ride the aerial gondola as many times as he wishes on the day of purchase.  The Tramway and the attractions on Mount Roberts are managed by Goldbelt Inc., a native-owned corporation made up of shareholders of the Juneau and area Tlingit people.

A gondola makes the 3,819 foot ascent to the top of Mount Roberts.  The ride lasts six minutes and each gondola can carry up to 60 passengers.

A stunning birdseye view of the City of Juneau and its surrounding mountains during the ascent up Mount Roberts.

The Island Princess recedes below as the gondola continues its ascent.

A view of Juneau harbour from the top of Mount Roberts, nearly 4,000 feet above sea level.

The Mendenhall Glacier located a short drive outside of town.  The glacier continues to recede, having retreated 1.75 miles since 1958 and over 2.5 miles since 1500.

The Shelter Island Lighthouse, now a bed and breakfast with stunning views of the Lynn Canal.

A whale watching boat is dwarfed by the vast expanse of water and mountains of the Lynn Canal.

Sealions sun themselves on the beach of a small island.

A glacier seen from the whale watching boat in the Lynn Canal.

A humpback whale surfaces next to the tour boat.  Guides emphasise that the best way to spot the whales is to look for the tell-tale puff of spray exhaled when they surface.

A humpback whale dives deep, providing tourists with a classic photo opportunity of a full breach of its tail. While spectacular, such a deep dive usually means a 3-9 minute delay before the next surfacing. 

Another humpback surfaces briefly next to small boats in the Lynn Canal.

Meal Diary

Breakfast in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Lumberjack breakfast of fast fry steak served with two sunny-side up eggs, hashbrowns, and sauteed mushrooms, and a cup of tea.

Lunch in the Horizon Court buffet: Pork loin roast, roasted potatoes with bell peppers, cauliflower au gratin, and a dinner roll.  Chocolate cupcake for dessert.

Dinner in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Soup course of corn and sweet potato chowder, followed by Caesar salad.  Entree of cured, smoked pork loin with gravy, served with roasted potatoes and sauerkraut.  Creme brule and tea for dessert. 

Late-night snack in the Horizon Court buffet: Slice of pie and two cookies.

Day 5: Skagway, Alaska, 5 August 2012

Skagway's origins lie in the Klondike goldrush of the late 1890s, with the town seeing thousands of American prospectors arriving on steamboats to make the 500-mile trek to the Klondike goldfields in the Yukon via the White Pass through the Coast Mountains.  By the spring of 1898, Skagway's population had reached 8,000 and saloons, stores, and offices soon sprouted along its muddy streets.  By June 1898, Skagway was Alaska's largest city but also rife with criminality, liquor, and prostitution.  A narrow gauge railway to convey prospectors through the White Pass was built between 1898 and 1900 though, by the time this White Pass and Yukon Route railroad was completed, the goldrush was waning.  Today, Skagway has around 100 preserved goldrush-era wooden buildings and a population of more than 900, which doubles during the summer in response to the nearly one million tourists that visit every year, most from the numerous cruise ships that call at the town's wharf.    

The welcome sign seen by visitors as they make the walk or drive into town from the cruise ship wharf, located approximately 1/4 mile from the centre of town.

One of the White Pass & Yukon Route tourist excursion trains alongside Island Princess to embark passengers.

The historic Red Onion Saloon at the intersection of 2nd and Broadway.  This saloon, built in 1897, was once Skagway's premier brothel and now houses a bar and restaurant as well as a brothel museum upstairs.

Some of the historic wooden buildings along Broadway, Skagway's main commercial thoroughfare.  Many of the buildings were rebuilt or restored with the assistance of the US National Parks Service and retain their goldrush era names.  "Lynch & Kennedy" was the name of the dry goods store that originally occupied this building, and which now houses a high-end shop selling carvings, jewelry, and local crafts.

Many of Skagway's buildings feature false fronts characteristic of frontier towns in the late 1800s.

Another view up Broadway.  Note the wooden boardwalks that add to the frontier charm of Skagway.

The Mascot pub is now a free, walk-in museum managed by the National Parks Service.  Inside, visitors can view a recreation of the bar as it would have appeared in 1898, complete with authentic wallpaper, bottles, furniture, and mannequins dressed in period clothing.  Display cases in the back room contain photos and artefacts from early Skagway.

A large sign featuring the logo of the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR), as well as a model locomotive and passenger carriage, on display in the restored railway depot downtown.  Tourists who have not advance purchased excursion tickets from their cruise line can purchase tickets at the wicket in the depot.  The cost is $119 for the three hour return trip to the summit of the White Pass.

A rotary snowplow built in 1899 and restored in 1995.  It was used to clear snow from the railroad's tracks in 2011.

The White Pass & Yukon Route railway depot.  The building on the left now houses The Train Shoppe, selling WP&YR-themed souvenirs, a restored waiting room and ticket counter, and a cafe.  The building on the right houses administrative offices for railway management and employees. 

A view inside the WP&YR traincar Nakina River, one of over 80 passenger carriages now operated by the popular tourist excursion railway.

A torrent of white water passes underneath as the train crosses a trestle bridge over a river en route to the White Pass summit.

A view of the lush scenery racing by, as seen from the exterior platform of the carriage.  

As the train climbs toward the summit of the White Pass, the air becomes chillier and clouds and mist blanket the landscape.  The trains climb nearly 3,000 feet into the mountains in just 20 miles, employing grades of up to 3.9% and curves of 16 degrees, as well as two tunnels and numerous bridges and trestles. 

A view of one of the wooden trestles over which WP&YR trains travel en route to the summit of the White Pass.

A view of the train as it rounds a bend on the journey back to Skagway.

The souvenir booklet distributed aboard the White Pass &Yukon Route scenic railway.

Meal Diary

Breakfast in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Pancakes, bacon, hashbrowns, hot tea, orange juice, and chocolate croissant.

Lunch in the Horizon Court buffet: Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad, and dinner roll.  Orange shortcake and coffee puff pastry for dessert.  Complimentary lemonade served.

Afternoon snack at the Princess Pizzaria, Lido Deck: Slice of pepperoni pizza, iced tea.

Dinner in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Chef's special dinner menu tonight.  Appetiser of double-baked goat cheese souffle, followed by cream of wild mushroom soup.  Entree trio of lamb chop, veal breast, and chicken kebab, served with brochette potatoes and garlic spinach.  Dessert was "Menage a Trois" of three small cake-type sweets, served with hot tea and small cookies.

Late-night snack in the Horizon Court buffet: Chocolate cookie.  

Day 6: Glacier Bay, Alaska, 6 August 2012

Proclaimed a US National Monument on 25 February 1925 and later enlarged and renamed Glacier Bay National Park on 2 December 1980, this 3,283,000 acre park features soaring mountains, spectacular glaciers, and pristine water of a greenish-blue colour indicative of silt-laden glacial runoff.  The body of water known as Glacier Bay covers 1,375 square miles of glaciers and comprises 27% of the area of Glacier Bay National Park, though the area was covered by a single large glacier of solid ice until the early 18th century.  Whilst a popular destination for scenic cruising, the US National Park Service imposes restrictions on the number of vessels that may enter Glacier Bay, limiting daily access to two cruise ships, three tour boats, six charter vessels, and 25 private vessels.  Notable sights seen on this cruise through Glacier Bay included the Lamplugh, Margerie, and Grand Pacific glaciers. 


Passengers view the glaciers on the chilly forward observation platform on Deck 11.
One of the tidewater glaciers, defined as a glacier whose terminus is in the sea.  If lucky, cruise passengers will be treated to the sight of large chunks of the glacial face calving off and plunging into the aquamarine waters.  The sea in front of these glaciers is peppered with chunks of ice slowly floating down the fjords toward the open sea, though these do not represent any threat to the cruise vessels.

More passengers crowd the starboard side of Deck 7 to view the glaciers.

Another of the numerous tidewater glaciers in Glacier Bay.  Island Princess's captain proceeded into the dead-end Tarr Inlet and rotated 180 degrees to give all passengers on both sides of the ship an opportunity to see the glaciers.

The aquamarine waters of Glacier Bay.  Small chunks of ice that calved off the glaciers can be seen floating throughout the bay, though the concentration lessens the further away one is from the glacier.

The entrance to a large ice cave at the base of the Lamplugh Glacier.  The dark, stained appearance of the Lamplugh Glacier is due to the presence of gravel and earth alongside the ice.

Meal Diary

Breakfast in the Horizon Court buffet: Bacon, scrambled Spanish-style eggs, sauteed potatoes and mushrooms, chocolate croissant, and slice of hazelnut stollen.

Mid-morning snack on the Lido Deck: Bowl of hot beef bouillon (ocean liner tradition).

Lunch in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Appetiser green salad with walnuts and entree of blue cheese burger with potato wedges and onion rings.  Dessert of peach cobbler with toasted oat topping.

Afternoon snack in the Horizon Court buffet: Hot tea and cookies.

Formal dinner in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Appetiser of asparagus spears with Italian bacon and tomato with Hollandaise sauce, followed by roasted tomato cream soup with croutons.  Entree of red wine-braised beef short ribs served with mashed potatoes.  Baked Alaska and hot tea for dessert.

Day 7: College Fjord, Alaska, 7 August 2012

Located in Alaska's Prince William Sound, College Fjord contains five tidewater glaciers, five large valley glaciers, and dozens of small glaciers, making it a popular cruise ship destination.  College Fjord derives its name from the fact that its glaciers are named after elite Eastern US universities, named upon their discovery by the Harriman Expedition in 1899.  The glaciers on the northwest side of the fjord are named after women's colleges (e.g. Barnard, Wellesley, Vassar, Bryn Mawr), while those on the southeast side are named after men's colleges (e.g. Amherst, Yale, Dartmouth, Harvard).  College Fjord was the epicentre of the most powerful earthquake in US history, the 27 March 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale.  The four-minute long earthquake killed 143 people, and caused massive tsunamis, landslides, and property damage across much of south-central Alaska.

Snow-covered mountains tower over College Fjord in the distance.

The glassy-still water of College Fjord reflects the mountains and glaciers which overlook it. 

A close-up of a glacier clinging to the side of a mountain in College Fjord.

College Fjord littered with small chunks of ice from glacier calving.

A tidewater glacier spills down from the mountains into the sea.

A glacier meltwater stream cascades down the lush mountainside and into the waters of College Fjord.
The view from Deck 15 on Island Princess as the final day of the cruise nears an end. 
Mountains glide by as Island Princess threads her way out of College Fjord en route to Whittier.

Sunset over the stunning, snow-capped mountains and calm waters of College Fjord provides a fitting end to a wonderful Alaskan cruise.


Meal Diary

Breakfast in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Blueberry danish, ham and cheese omlette with hashbrowns, glass of cranberry juice, cup of hot tea.

Lunch in the Horizon Court buffet: Thin-sliced beef brisket, scoop of beef goulash, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli with cheese sauce, and pumpernickel dinner roll.  Dessert of chocolate cream and apricot puff pastries.  Complimentary glass of lemonade also served.

Special "Landfall Dinner" in the Bordeaux Dining Room: Philadelphia pepperpot soup, followed by Caesar salad.  Entree of roast tom turkey with fruit stuffing, cornbread, potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner roll.  Dessert of chocolate souffle and hot tea.

Day 8: Whittier, Alaska (disembarkation), 8 August 2012

Following Island Princess's arrival at the port of Whittier in the early morning of 8 August, passengers were directed to muster at their appointed time and location for disembarkation between 0600 and 1000.  While some passengers boarded Princess Cruises trains to take them to lodges for the inland component of their vacations, others boarded motorcoaches for the two-hour drive to Anchorage for their flights home.  The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport proved surprisingly large and modern, hosting numerous shops, restaurants, bars, and even an observation deck housing displays of native art and sweeping views of the airport runways and tarmac.  A major cargo hub for trans-Pacific flights, a constant stream of 747 freighters can be seen landing and taking off from the airport's runways.

The exterior of the South Terminal arrivals level at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

The South Terminal main atrium at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

An Alaskan Airlines 737 at the gate.  Anchorage is the airline's third-largest hub after Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon.

A view of C Concourse in the South Terminal of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.  Food and beverage outlets include Starbucks, McDonald's, Quizno's, Chili's Too, Cinnabon, Yogurtland, the Norton Sound Seafood House, and Humpy's Great Alaskan Ale House. 

One of the many stuffed animals on display at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.  Here, a glass case holds a gigantic, 31-year old halibut, measuring 9 feet, five inches and weighing 459 pounds.  Other specimens on display throughout the airport terminal include Kodiak brown bears, polar bears, a wolf, an albino beaver, and a Dall sheep. 

A Korean Air Cargo 747-400 lands on Runway 7L at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Meal Diary

Breakfast in the Bordeaux Dining Room: French toast, chocolate croissant, and glass of cranberry juice. 

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