FC: Cruise to ALASKA
1: Seven-day Alaskan Explorer Cruise 3-10 July 2011 | 3 July 2011, Departure from Seattle, Washington 4 July 2011, Day at sea 5 July 2011, Glacier Bay State Park 6 July 2011, Juneau, Alaska 7 July 2011, Sitka, Alaska 8 July 2011, Ketchikan, Alaska 9 July 2011, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 10 July 2011, Return to Seattle
2: Our ship, the Holland America ms Oosterdam
4: And we are on our way!
5: The beautiful city of Seattle from the deck of our ship.
6: After a first day at sea . . .
7: It's Formal Night!
8: Beautiful Glacier Bay National Park | Our first stop was Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, a 3.3 million acre treasure of natural wonders and wildlife near Juneau, Alaska. Magnificent glaciers...towering snow-capped mountains...abundant birds and wildlife... and mile after mile of pristine coastline.
10: Juneau, Alaska
11: No roads lead to Juneau, the capital of Alaska. You need to come by air or water, but when you arrive, the place will delight you with its bounty of water, forests, and mountains. The massive Mendenhall Glacier and the immense Juneau Icefields are at its back door. The vast Tongass National Forest stretches away to the northeast. You can shop downtown or get out and kayak, dogsled, raft, hike, whale watch, "flightsee," or fish. The adventures are as bountiful as the daylight.
12: Mendenhall Glacier
13: The most famous of the glaciers in the Juneau Ice Field, Mendenhall Glacier, was named for Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, who served on the Alaska Boundary Commission that surveyed the international boundary between Canada and Alaska. The Mendenhall Glacier is 12 miles long and 1-1/2 miles wide where it stretches across the Mendenhall Valley. Its ice can be 400 to 800 feet deep.
14: Whale Watching In Juneau | The boat we went whale watching on was specially designed for photographers, with an open deck on the front, and windows that opened for clear picture-taking.
16: Sitka, Alaska
17: Perched on the seaward edge of the Inside Passage, Sitka is one of Alaska's prettiest and most historic towns. The Russians established a fort here in 1799. Sitka today earns its keep mostly from fishing and tourism, and offers a wealth of great outdoor opportunities.
18: Alaska Raptor Center | The Alaska Raptor Center near Sitka is Alaska's foremost bald eagle hospital and educational center. Each year, the Center provides medical treatment to 100-200 injured bald eagles and other birds. Their goal is to release their patients back into the wild; some, however, are injured so severely they could not survive in the wild even after rehabilitation. Most of these birds join the Raptors-in-Residence program.
19: Volta, a bald eagle, was found injured on the ground after flying into a power line on the Sitka waterfront in 1992. He was brought to the Center suffering from a concussion, electrocution, and several bone fractures. Most of Volta’s injuries healed, but the coracoid on his right side was partially destroyed in the collision. The coracoid is a small bone in a bird's shoulder that is critical for gaining lift in flight, and without it Volta cannot take flight from the ground or a perch, making him non-releasable.
20: The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 30 and 100 pounds, making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals. Unlike most marine mammals, the sea otter's primary form of insulation is an exceptionally thick coat of fur, the densest in the animal kingdom. Although it can walk on land, the sea otter lives mostly in the ocean. Though we were able to locate several sea otters during our tour, they were difficult to photograph.
21: Sea Otter Quest
22: The stairways are weathered and the vibe is cheerful in the town that calls itself the Salmon Capital of the World. | Ketchikan clutches the shores of the Tongass Narrows, with many shops and houses built right out over the water.
23: Ketchikan, Alaska
25: Potlatch Totem Park hosts the most visible of native cultures. Peer into one of the tribal homes to see how Native Alaskans actually lived in the 1800s. You can then take a walk up to the Carving Center where you can view the carving in action!
26: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
27: Butchart Gardens
28: Fireworks at Butchart Gardens finished our trip with a bang!
29: Captain and crew of the ms Oosterdam
30: Our room steward left us a gift each morning when he straightened our room: Each day a different adorable towel animal, with some mints on our pillow.
31: The room stewards gave a class to us on how to make the towel animals.