This trip can be described as
planes, trains and automobiles
— and boats.
In five days, our
g roup traveled more
t han 900 miles, most-l y on a motorcoach
but also on the Yukon
Q ueen riverboat and
t he White Pass & Yuk on Route railroad
f rom Fraser, British
C olumbia, to Skagway, Alaska.
Most of our group
t hen boarded a Hol-l and America ship
bound for Vancou-v er, while a few of us
Line of Alaska, the company that
runs the land portion for HAL.
While close in distance, it is impossible to drive from Skagway to
Juneau, the only U.S. state capital
inaccessible by road.
Traveling in Alaska means understanding time and distance in
a different way. The next town
over, Haines, is only 35 minutes
from Skagway by fast ferry, but it
is a 720-mile drive.
In covering as much distance as
this tour has, the group appreciated the different modes of transportation. Many cited the train to
Skagway as a highlight of the tour.
The railway was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, and
the restored train climbs almost
3,000 feet over 20 miles, through
tunnels blasted in the mountains
and along bridges and steep cliffs.
The route begins in moonscape-like alpine tundra and becomes
greener and more mountainous
as the train crosses from Canada
back into the U.S.
Skagway is a crossroads between two kinds of travel in this
region. It is the beginning of the
Gold Rush route that continues
north, through the Yukon and
into Fairbanks. Skagway is the
port where most of the tens of
thousands of men and women in
search of gold began their arduous trek that for the vast majority
ended in failure.
Places like the former saloon
and brothel, the Red Onion (now
only a saloon) are vestiges of that
time. Built in 1897, the staircase
by the bar and restaurant on the
Dispatch: Glacier Bay
Three days later, as Cruise
West’s Spirit of Endeavor wound
through the straits of Glacier Bay,
the ship’s captain, Michael Fleming, and Matt, a young waiter, put
g ot on a nine-person plane for a 40-minute
flight to Juneau; most people on
these trips do a combined land-cruise tour, but a few couples
booked directly through Gray
first level leads up to the former ship exploration line launched in
brothel area, now a museum that 1983, as part of the Chuck West
tells how some women who par- family of Alaska tourism compa-ticipated in the search for gold nies.
ended up making a living. Captain Fleming will slow
Going north or south from here down the 100-passenger Spirit
offers breathtaking scen- of Endeavour if there is
ery and chance for wildlife wildlife worth stopping
viewing, but the Yukon is for, such as a pod of orcas
clearly the history buff’s Alaska
Yukon route was in Dawson,
a place that one member of
our bus group described as
feeling about 150 years be-
hind the rest of the world. on our first evening out of
Juneau, mountain goats
on a steep cliff or a grizzly
bear scouring for food on a
rocky beach in Glacier Bay.
The ship’s small size allows
the captain to get within 70
yards of the shore, as close
The roads aren’t paved, the as I wanted to be to a hun-
sidewalks are made of wood To read all five of Cruise Editor Johanna Jainchill’s gry grizzly bear.
planks and Diamond Tooth Alaska dispatches, go to www.travelweekly.com and During dinner, Jess, our
Gertie’s Gambling Hall is search the words Alaska and dispatch. exploration leader, made
the nexus of the nightlife. a surprise announcement
Dawson’s charming buildings on an impromptu guitar sing- that we would make an un-
were built mostly during the along in the dining room. planned stop at the Bartlett Cove
Gold Rush and retain their origi- The Eagles and Bob Dylan were Lodge, home to the ranger and
nal look. Many of us felt as if we on the set list, as was a lot of fum- interpreter. After a full day of gla-
had walked onto the set of an old bling for the right lyrics. cier and bear viewing from the
Western. The captain had already shown small vessel, which doesn’t have a
The much more popular coast- off his talents earlier in the day running track or fitness center, I
al sightseeing destinations — Ju- when he played a few songs was grateful to get off and spend
neau, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan with the Huna some time hik-
— lie south of Skagway. These cultural inter- ing in the lush
places are famous for glaciers, preter who was forest, especially
whale watching and a lot of rain brought on- since in Alaska
and are where a majority of cruis- board for the in June you can
es spend most of their time. This day of Glacier hike until alis where someone most interested Bay cr uising. most midnight
in nature and scenery would be That was after and still have
betteroff. the national sunlight. De-
Alaska. The one full day
spent in a town along the
I will be able to experience park ranger, who also came on- spite a run-in with a porcupine,
both. Tomorrow, I board a Cruise board for the day, played us a with its quills ready to shoot, my
West ship, the Spirit of Endeav- farewell tune on the violin. hike was a very welcome surprise
our, for a seven-day trip through Such spontaneity is the way on activity.
Alaska’s Inside Passage. Cruise West sailings. The small- Others hung out in the lodge
and listened to a ranger give a
lecture on Glacier Bay or took a
guided forest walk nearby.
Cruise West is all about what’s
outside, which is good since there
is not much on the inside. The
Travel Agent Rewards 25-year-old Spirit of Endeavour is rather bare bones.
Besides the dining room, there
is one indoor gathering area — a
lounge that is also a bar, lecture
area, hangout, viewing room, Internet cafe, library and souvenir
But the cabins have windows,
and some windows are pretty
big — that is the most important
amenity one could ask for here.
Even when I can’t rouse myself
out of bed for a 6: 45 a.m. wake-up call, it is usually followed with
an announcement about a humpback whale off the starboard side,
For more information visit eagles fishing off a nearby coast-
vacationexpress.net line or seals lazing on rocky outposts. So I just slide open my curtain and enjoy the view.
The outdoor decks are where
people, clutching cameras and
binoculars, spend much of the
time while sailing.
It’s a small vessel, so you get
know your neighbor, especially
when there is a big nature sighting and everyone is suddenly
built mostly during
the Gold Rush, retain
their original look.
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