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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Alaska’s Inside Passage: Glaciers, Tlingit Culture, and Crab & Salmon

Written by  Maureen C. Bruschi
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Imagine seventy-six miles of flowing rivers of ice gushing into the sea forming a 7-mile wide, 600-foot high wall of ice.  Hard to imagine?  Absolutely.  But that’s exactly what you’ll witness at Hubbard Glacier, an amazing natural phenomenon not to be missed if you travel to Alaska’s Inside Passage.  

And this was only one day of an incredible voyage, which started and ended in Vancouver, Canada, stopping at Alaska’s Icy Strait Point, Juneau, and Ketchikan.  We toured the Inside Passage for seven days via Celebrity Cruises and experienced an impeccable staff and crew, and several cultural and festive shore excursions. And best of all we lucked out with perfect sailing weather for the entire cruise.   

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We set sail for Icy Strait Point on a Sunday.  For a day and a half we cruised the Inside Passage, a spectacular long line of rugged and remote coastal islands comprising fjords, cliffs, snow-covered mountains and rocky capes.

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At mid-afternoon on Tuesday, Celebrity dropped anchor in Icy Strait Point harbor and we were tendered ashore.  Icy Strait Point does a superb job of showcasing Alaskan Native traditions, in particular, Native American Tlingit history and culture.  

Flightseeing over Glacier Bay National Park, whale watching, and Native Tlingit dance performances highlighted the excursions available to cruisers.  Those looking for a little excitement, could opt for the more popular excursion, riding the world’s largest zip-line (5,330 feet)  with a view overlooking Icy Strait and the unspoiled coastal rainforest.  We toured Icy Strait’s 100 year-old historic fish cannery and the adjacent Native Heritage Center displaying Tlingit artifacts.

After a ride back on the ship’s tender, the Celebrity headed for Hubbard Glacier.  Nothing on the trip came close to the beauty of this magnificent glacier.  The temperature dropped quickly to about 35° F, as our cruise ship slowly glided along the Yakutat and Disenchantment bays toward the glacier.  Our captain decided the ship’s proximity to the glacier based on weather, currents, tides, visibility and ice conditions.  According to crew and staff, recent visits to Hubbard Glacier had been disappointing because heavy rain, high winds and colder temperatures made viewing the glacier almost impossible.  

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Last modified on Wednesday, 31 December 2014

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