August 1, 2014

After watching gigantic cruise ships sail past our home on Puget Sound every summer for years we finally decided to try an Alaska cruise ourselves. But we didn’t want to be with three or four thousand people on a fast round trip from and back to Seattle. On the other end of the scale are expedition ships that focus on a specific area and we wanted an overview. We settled on the Navigator owned by Regent Seven Seas Cruises and which operates on one-week cruises from Vancouver BC to Anchorage or the reverse. It holds 490 passengers, maximum, and was a good choice for us.

Next problem was worries about the weather. Southeast Alaska is notorious for rain at any time of the year and we were sailing in June, hardly the height of their brief summer. I expected gray, maybe more than fifty shades, but we were fortunate and found the long days drenched in color. Sky, water, mountains, flowers, native art and even signage combined to make a kaleidoscope of beauty.

The cool color of ice of Hubbard Glacier where our captain sprinkled ashes on the water in honor of a local deity. We assumed the ashes were from one of the many volcanoes – or did the chef burn something? At any rate, it worked because the weather held.

And icebergs in Tracy Arm:

The many colors of Russian dolls in Sitka:

And Russian icons in the Orthodox St. Michael’s Cathedral:

And malachite green, too:

The brilliant color of a coffee ad in Skagway:

The pink of wild roses:

And of foxgloves:

The orange of salmonberry:

The multicolored flower baskets everywhere:

The soft colors of Tlingit art on weathered gray cedar:

And the brightness of new masks in a museum in Ketchikan:

Even the no smoking signs get the message across with color:

We saw pods of orcas; schools of whales; and herds of sea lions, along with sea otters, bear and innumerable birds. Too difficult to photograph well, they made for an unforgettable experience, especially when we saw two eagles leap into the air from an iceberg as it turned upside down while a Humpback whale breached. A truly spectacular memory of Alaska.

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