Solway Shipping    

LIVE COVERAGE

A  seven night cruise to Alaska required a necessary 9 hour flight to Vancouver in Canada to join the ship, Holland American Lines "Nieuw Amsterdam" Landing at Vancouver the weather didn't look to promising as heavy rain was hitting the aircraft window and it was no better as we made our way to our hotel in North Vancouver to spend the night and join the ship the following morning. However we needn't have worried as the sun was out and the sky blue as we awoke and we could see the ship across the bay at the unique Canada Place cruise terminal. "Nieuw Amsterdam" with her black hull was on the right and the larger "Star Princess" on the left (on far left of the picture) but both ships were dwarfed by the impressive downtown skyline.
We were soon on board and keen to explore the ship after unpacking our luggage in the spacious and comfortable cabin.
The aft deck with the city ahead of the ships bow.
A few hours later with all the other passengers on board we set sail passing a huge sulphur works where "UBC Santa Marta" was waiting her turn to be loaded and headed for the Lions Gate Bridge and the open sea to the north.
En-route to the state capital Juneau, which is unique by the fact there are no roads to it and access is only by sea or float plane, we glimpsed the "Star Princess" astern of us and a little later BC Ferries "Queen of Cowichan"
The "Celebrity Solstice" was already moored as we arrived. Note the float planes, they were constantly leaving or arriving.
Juneau is home to the famous Tracy's King Crab Shack where one leg off the huge crabs can cost $25...but they are big! These are the type of crab that the fishing fleet on TV's "Deadliest Catch" fish for. It was interesting watching the American bald headed eagles swooping around the ships wake as the mud on the seabed was disturbed by the ships propellers.
The next port of call was Skagway which was basically one long street full of gift, craft and jewellery shops but a nice place to walk around. We decided on a 3 hour trip on the narrow gauge White Horse Pass scenic railway into the mountains.
Alongside the ship was this tug "Skookum" which looking at I certainly wouldn't have liked to go far on it!
Leaving Skagway we headed for what was the highlight of the cruise, the World Heritage site of Glacier Bay, it is a strictly controlled region where only certain cruise lines are able to enter and the time is limited to one hour per ship and one at a time so as we approached the famous Margerie glacier Ruby Princess departed.
Its an amazing place, you can hear the glacier cracking and if you are lucky catch sight of chunks falling into the sea off the leading edge.
All too soon our hour was up and  it was time to continue south through the inside passage to our final port Ketchican, the salmon capital of the world,  and rain capital of Alaska. As we left Glacier Bay there were large rafts of floating seaweed all over the place, most had an inhabitant!
The following day we arrived at Ketchican to find four other cruise ships already in port, "Golden and Star Princess", "Eurodam" and at anchor Oceania Cruises flag ship "Regatta"
and round the corner, somewhat dwarfed by "Eurodam" her neighbour, the "American Constellation"
Despite six vessels in port the town didn't really feel crowded and there were lots to do and see like the Lumberjack Show...which is a "must do" and nice sights like Creek Street, however the day soon passed and we were heading back to Vancouver and the end of the cruise.
Entering a narrow part of the journey required taking a pilot,
With the pilot safely on board the journey continued, A few hours later we came across these two live fish carriers "Viktoria Viking" and "Roy Kristian" that were working on the numerous fish farms in the vicinity,  both vessels have worked on the fish farms in Scotland and have actually been to the port of Workington to collect young fish to take to Scotland. "Roy Kristian" is now registered in Vancouver.
We arrived back in Vancouver at 7am so had an early breakfast then disembarked off the ship by 8-30 and heading back to our hotel for one more night before flying home the following day, this of course gave us the chance for a walk around the area.
Historic tug "St. Eval"
the yacht marina
Vancouver float plane base
still at anchor in the bay from the previous week "Golden Incus"
and finally, our ship "Nieuw Amsterdam"
This cruise was shown on "Cruising with Jane McDonald" on channel 5 and may still be available on "catch up" if you would like to see more.