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Cruising in Prince William Sound, Alaska

Updated on February 7, 2013
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Bronwen has lived in, taught in and visited a number of countries and loves to share these travel experiences with others.

The Cruise Ship Dwarfs the Port
The Cruise Ship Dwarfs the Port | Source

The Cruise Ship Departs

The huge ship, Carnival Spirit, stood at the end of the street, towering over the small shops and businesses. With its 2,124 passengers and almost the same number of crew its temporary population must have outnumbered the more permanent one on shore, the permanent town glad of the sudden flush to their coffers. Then it was off again, departing this time, not for a port of call, but for an experience of mighty proportions. It was sailing to view the wonders and beauty of Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Prince William Sound

Prince William Sound

Situated on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula in the Gulf of Alaska, Prince William Sound is truly amazing. It is a huge area that boasts one hundred and fifty glaciers. Seventeen of them are tide water glaciers that calve into the sea and when that happens the splash can be tremendous. The ship travelled very slowly, partly so we could enjoy every moment of this once-in-a-life-time event, and possibly also because of hidden dangers in the waters of the Sound.

Practically every passenger rugged up warmly and went out onto the decks to see and enjoy every vista they could. Although it was summer it was still very cold, but no-one wanted to miss this experience that they had travelled so far to see.

Glacier in the Act of Calving, Just Before the Splash
Glacier in the Act of Calving, Just Before the Splash | Source

A Glacier up Close

As we watched, a glacier calved, but unfortunately I was so busy watching the huge chunk of ice fall into the sea with a spectacular splash that I forgot to take a photo.

The ship went as close as possible to a huge wall of glacier, before turning around. The colours and shapes were fantastic, as if some great sculptor had created a great work of art, and I guess that's what it really was - God's great handiwork, and we were so privileged to be there to see it.

Glacier Art
Glacier Art | Source

Sitka Spruce

It seemed so remote, but not so far away as the Bald Eagle flies, lay the largest port in Alaska, Valdez and the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system. To the East and North, lay the famous Chugach Mountains. With the new tunnel through the mountains, Anchorage was not much more than an hour's drive from Valdez.

As the ship slowly made its way along beside more glaciers, we could see the Sitka Spruce marching along the towards a glacier, sturdy sentinels in a frozen land of glaciers. It was the short summer season of long, long days and brief nights, but soon the snow would return to hide the rocks and green pastures.

Sitka Spruce and Small Icebergs
Sitka Spruce and Small Icebergs | Source

Sea Otters

We were told that there were five different types of bears in Alaska and many other kinds of animals and wild-life at this time of the year, but this day we only saw a bald eagle and the Sea Otters. They more than made up for anything we may have missed. Groups had taken up residence on a number of small iceberg that floated near the ship. We learned that seven eighths of the iceberg was under the water, so they were considerably bigger than they appeared. So were the Sea Otters; apparently these marine mammals can weigh up to 90 lbs (41 kg), although the females are smaller. They mostly live on shellfish and they like them a lot, eating up to about 20% of their weight every day. They like to play with each other and rarely go ashore.

Some of the Sea Otters rested on their stomachs on the ice, but most lay on their backs. We found that this was their favourite position, even in the water, unless they were about to dive. They swam on their backs, floated on their backs while eating or resting, some even floated with their baby sitting on their stomach. With their black triangular noses they looked so cute.

Sea Otters Resting on an Iceberg
Sea Otters Resting on an Iceberg | Source

A Wonder World

The whole experience had been like a visit to a wonder world, another planet. It was with a deep feeling of regret that we realized the ship was now travelling more quickly and we were being transported back from a frozen fantasy world into the real world again.

We turned back into the warmth of the ship to thaw frozen fingers and noses, grateful to have had such an adventure in a corner of God's vast and wonderful world.

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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is so fascinating but I know I would have been terrified. You are very brave. I couldn't even watch but bits and pieces of Titanic! Surely that entered your mind?

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Four pieces of our hearts are in Alaska so we have seen some of the wonders of that beautiful place. It really is a wonder world that defies true description. One has to see it to understand!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      So beautiful! Thank you for sharing! I would love to go on an Alaskan cruise!

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Gorgeous pictures. Going to Alaska is on my list of things to do in this life. I haven't made it yet, but you hub reminds me that I must get there someday. It is truly beautiful. Voted up and sharing.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Good news you had a wonderful vacation in Alaska. The photos look amazing. I would like to see the Aurora Borealis sometime in my live.

      Voted up awesome and beautiful, Joyce.

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 4 years ago from usa

      Wonderful pictures and I am glad you enjoyed the Cruise to Alaska. That was a huge ship.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I have yet to enjoy a cruise vacation, but your story here has allowed me a peek into a great vacation. Beautiful.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Jackie Lynnley: I must admit it did enter my mind, it was a bit eerie, but it was so wonderful I wouldn't have missed it for worlds.

      R Talloni: You're so right, it does defy true description. It's well worth the trip.

      btrbell: It was well worth saving up for, that's for sure. A great experience.

      donnah75: Thank you for your comments. Do try to go. It isn't as expensive as it sounds, as, of course, the cruise covers all meals - and they are really something, too!

      writer20: Joyce, the photos don't really do it justice. In Alaska itself I did see the Aurora Borealis and that was a wonderful sight, too. Although in typical fashion I was so busy looking that I did not take any photos - Oh, dear! Have spent all my money enjoying being retired, so can't go again, but have very happy memories.

      flashmakeit: It was huge, I needed the small map provided so I didn't get lost finding places like the dining-room! It was only when we were onshore and could compare it with buildings and cars, that its size could really be appreciated. It was like a floating city, and so much to do on board.

      teaches12345: It's well worth doing. Apart from all the amazing places and experiences, it's lots of fun as well.

    • point2make profile image

      point2make 4 years ago

      A great travelogue hub.....well done. I loved your photos. I have never been to Alaska[yet] but hopefully one day. I would love to see Prince William Sound especially from the deck of a Cruise Ship. Thanks for the trip.....I enjoyed it.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is very beautiful, esp. the Glacier art. I have never been to Alaska, but i would love to visit. Thank you for sharing your trip, I enjoyed it !!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It sure sounds like you saw a lot of wonderful things!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful hub Blossom;your obvious hard work has so paid off and here's to so many more for us both to share on here . I vote up and share.

      Eddy.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      point2make: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Do try to make it one day, it is really well worth it. Thank you for sharing our trip.

      always exploring: You're right! The 'Glacier art' is so different. The colours and shapes are stunning.

      aviannovice: We did! It's something my daughter and I will never forget.

      Eiddwen: It's great fun to share, especially when it's something like this. I should do one on Wales, it's so picturesque, but then you do it so very well anyway, with your lovely poems, too. I have a whole cupboard full of photos so I can hardly ever find the ones I want. One day! Now I know where all our money went. Hurrah for digital cameras! Bless you, Eddy.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Absolutely stunning pictures! This is on my bucket list of places to see and things to do and you only solidified my desire to see it! It is amazing to me that creatures like the sea otter can survive in the cold waters of Alaska and on the coast of California.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Adorable sea otters and amazing wild life, awesome multi colored glaciers, awe-inspiring mountain vistas - all of this hub was thoroughly enjoyed and amazing.

    • SkeetyD profile image

      SkeetyD 4 years ago from Barbados

      The scenery was amazing. Thank you for including pictures of your wonderful cruise. Alaska is truly beautiful

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Your pictures really tell the story. I would love to go to Alaska. So many wonderful things to say.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Robin: So glad you like my photos and those sea otters are amazing, they look so cute floating on their backs with a baby sitting on their tummy. I've heard that they don't have blubber like other sea mammals, but trap air inside their fur.

      Shiningirisheyes: I'm so grateful that I was able to have this fantastic experience and it's great that you could share a little of it, too.

      SkeetyD: The whole cruise was amazing, but I think the highest highlight was Alaska.

      Lipnancy: Thank you. There are so many wonderful things to see in so many parts of the world. It was well worth saving up for.

    • einron profile image

      einron 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      Your description of Alaska is very interesting and I enjoyed your photos of glacier art and otters which are rather unique.

      Cruising is so relaxing and I enjoyed cruising as compared to travelling by air and land. I did my last cruise about 4 years ago on the Queen Mary 2 and wrote this on HubPages.

      I have been on the Alaskian cruise but I can hardly remember now.

      I have visited Melbourne for three months and Sydney harbour is unique.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      einron: I enjoyed the cruise and all the sights and experiences along the way and I agree: cruising is a great way to have a holiday, and when you take into account all the extras you get, it is not expensive, so it's worth saving up for one. I'm glad you enjoyed Sydney. The Harbour is unique and there's a lot to see around it and a little further afield, but once, a long time ago, we had a year living in Sydney and I found the people and traffic in far too much of a hurry. I prefer my home city of Melbourne.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Alaska what great view of a cruise, my wife and I are planning a cruise, this let's us in on the inside track ...well done thank you..

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      FSlovenec: I loved it and I hope you have a really great time. I'd love to hear about your experience.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      I've heard sea otters use large stones as 'anvils' to break up shells, swimming on their backs as they do so; aside from some apes, they're the only animals that habitually use 'tools'.

      Nicely written travelogue, interesting images.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      alancaster149: They're very attractive creatures with their endearing ways. I thought there were some other animals that used tools, too, but you're probably right. Thank you for your encouraging comments.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Some seabird species use the rocks to drop shelled creatures onto and then fly down to retrieve them. They keep on at it until they get in.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      alancaster149: Another marine creature uses tools, too. It's the bottle-nosed dolphin in Shark Bay (Australia). It holds marine sponges in its beak and uses them to stir up the sandy bottom to uncover food and will work at it for hours. And we used to think we were the only brainy ones who could use tools!

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      ...Considering there's a great percentage of the human population leave the thinking to others and just go through the motions, I'd say these animals have passed us by long since...

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      alanancaster149: Good comment!!

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      I am green with envy. Thank you very much for showing me this part of the world and telling something of what it actually like to be there.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Highland Terrier: It was a great, once-in-a-lifetime experience and I really enjoyed every moment. Writing a hub about it means I can enjoy it all over again, so thank you for your comments.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Blossom... thank you for taking me back to a place I love... I have fished often near the Kenai and walked among the Sitka Spruce spending many an hour roaming through their hidden secrets.

      So glad you were able to enjoy the majestic country the way you did... you are right a once in a lifetime experience... voted up and shared.

      Hugs from Canada

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Rolly A Chabot: How lovely! It really is an amazing place. Sadly, I didn't fish as the licence was really expensive, but I enjoyed watching my daughter and son-in-law hauling in their supply for the larder (really the freezer) for winter.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Great HUB...My wife and I are looking forward to a cruise to Alaska this HUB has motivated me to work it sooner rather than later..

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      FSlovenec: I'm so glad. The cruise is really great. I hope you both have a wonderful time.

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