Alaska is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’ve spent time in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, the forests of Costa Rica, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. But nothing could have prepared me for Alaska. You grow up hearing about the vast Alaskan wilderness, the wildlife everywhere, a land remote, isolate and inviting all at once.
On Tuesday morning, we floated past a pod of humpback whales. I sat on the balcony, not even needing the binoculars I brought from home, watching them spouting water up into the air. A seal swam by the Carnival Miracle as I ate breakfast on the Lido Deck.
A SEAL! WHALES! We even saw a pair of Dulles Porpoises frolicking in the waves outside our balcony!
Wednesday morning we began our journey through Steven’s Passage, known for being feeding ground for Humpback whales, and pods swam alongside the ship for what seemed like hours. We stood, huddled together in the rain on the deck, as the Miracle’s onboard naturalist directed us where to look and told the cruisers about the feeding and migratory habits of the species. Afterwards, Angeline and I boarded a small Catamaran and took the only excursion the ship offered as we drifted through Tracy Arm Fjord, a close up encounter with the Glaciers.
There were harbor seals lazing on icebergs, lolling about with their little furry fat rolls jiggling, their whiskers twitching, just enjoying a lazy day in the sun. Our naturalist explained that in the Glacier Bay, the seals had no predators because the whales don’t go that far into the bay – that’s their safe space! They weren’t feeding, they were just lounging around, mother and pups, enjoying not being at the bottom of the food chain for a moment. We even got to see a few swimming around!
And the glaciers? They were pretty spectacular in their own right. Of course I’d never seen a glacier in person before and I was startled by the bright blue color deep within the glacier itself, which became even more beautiful as we experienced a capping! I know that the term is White Thunder, when a piece of the glacier breaks off and falls into the sea – forming an iceberg. But wow, is the name incredibly spot on! Imagine a deep, rolling thunder and then SPLASH as the ice hits the water!
The best part of the day was right before we headed to dinner – a killer whale swam alongside our balcony and Angeline was screaming MOOOOMMMMM! From outside as I rushed to get out of the shower. I only managed to catch it as it swam towards the back of the ship, but even that far away, it was an impressive sight!
Our last port of call in Alaska (before heading to Victoria, BC, and then back to Seattle on Tuesday) is in Juneau, and part of our The Best of Juneau shore excursion includes whale watching. All of my camera batteries and phone charges are plugged in…I imagine I will be taking A LOT of photos!
I was excited to see Alaska. The forests, the ocean, the wilderness, the icebergs and glaciers…but the wildlife was the main draw for me. We’re only halfway through the trip and I’ve already seen more than I ever anticipated…