Cruising the Inside Passage in Alaska

Alaska’s Inside Passage is lined with stunning glaciers and fjords, and lush scenery. My family and I took a Princess cruise along the Inside Passage, starting in Vancouver in August 2011 as part of our Alaska travel itinerary with two very young kids. It was one of the most magnificent (and expensive) trips we had taken till then.

This sign is actually part of the Yukon territory, one of our day excursions, and marks entry into Alaska from Canada.

In Alaska, there are beautiful, pristine landscapes waiting to be captured as far as the eye can stretch, but two of my fondest memories are of daily sunrises/sunsets over the blue waters of the Pacific, and my first whale watching tour in Juneau, the capital of Alaska, and one of our ports of call during the cruise.

While I had been on cruises before, there must have been something about the Inside Passage that caused me to just sit and stare at the blue sky and water while cruising on our ship. I was mesmerized, so much so that, at night, I would leave the door of our balcony cabin open to feel the breeze and hear the sound of waves in the ocean.

Where heaven meets earth – cruising the blue waters of the Pacific along the Inside Passage in Alaska
Motor Boat Trail in Calm Ocean Waters

And then there were the simple sunrises and sunsets. They can only be experienced, not described.

Beautiful Sunrise over the Marina in the Small Harbor at the Port of Skagway in Alaska

It was a sunny 72° F when our ship halted in Juneau. According to our ship crew, this was the best weather they had seen in Juneau all season that year. We had two excursions planned at this port – a whale watching tour and a visit to the Mendenhall glacier.

Having never done a whale watching tour before, I didn’t know what to expect. It ended up being one of the highlights of our vacation, and enabled me to click one of my most successful stock photos. We were booked on a small private boat with another couple for company.

Our boat captain, an experienced sailor, told us that it was against the rules for a boat to approach whales at a distance closer than 30 feet; however, there were no rules if the whales decided to approach us! And it did happen! While I was expecting to see maybe a whale or two, that day we saw dozens of humpbacks playing in the ocean around our boat! There were so many whales nearby that, had they wanted to, they could have in unison easily toppled our small boat, and made a nice meal out of us. In between their playtime, the whales called out to each other, and the sounds they emitted reverberated like cosmic booms across the ocean. We learnt that humpback whales emit a tall spray before they surface — by the end of our tour we had become experts in spotting whales.

Humpaback Whales Playing in the Ocean in Juneau, Alaska

And a couple came so close to us , that I could only capture their fins with my telephoto lens 🙂

Humpback Whale Dives in Blue Ocean Water, Juneau, Alaska

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