Alaska Cruise - Glacier Bay and elsewhere

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by Ray Sachs, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Just got back from a week long cruise of the southern portion of Alaska, from Ketchikan in the South to Skagway farther north. I don’t generally enjoy cruises as a mode of travel, but this is one I always thought would be nice to do for the easy access to some of the scenery. And indeed the scenery was gorgeous, particularly the day we spent on a slow cruise through Glacier Bay National Park.

    Three of the four towns we visited, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan are afflicted by the same disease of all small towns with a cruise dock – they’ve been totally over-run by knick-knack stores appealing for some reason I don’t understand, to many of the tourists from those ship. All three of these towns once had real economies, gold-mining, fishing, etc. Juneau is still the state capital, but you wouldn’t know it. I can’t begrudge those making money in these towns. And, as a cruise passenger myself, I realize I’m the last person to complain! But I guess that’s why I don’t really enjoy cruises – the cruise itself is a world of tacky/luxurious make believe, but the towns we visit are now too. Which strikes me as a damn shame but inevitable.

    Victoria, BC is a large enough city to only be marginally affected by this disease in the area closest to the cruise docks. And, of course, Seattle is a wonderful vibrant city with enough of a summer tourist attraction that the cruise boats which launch from there just blend right in. We lived there for years and love going back – I wish we’d have spent more time there and less on the boat to be honest.

    But the cruise affords the opportunity to see and photograph some incredible scenery, so onto that. I’ll organize this into separate posts arranged chronologically including sailing through the Puget Sound and Straights of Juan De Fuca (the narrow-ish waterway connecting the Puget Sound with the Pacific Ocean), Juneau/Mendenhall Glacier, Skagway/White Pass, Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan/Victoria, and a few from the tacky coolness of the ship itself…

    First, there’s a full set of images on Flickr, including the Seattle portion of the trip (included in a previous thread here), which you can browse if interested at:

    https:[email protected]/albums/72157657017800889

    Oh, on the technical side, I shot with the Nikon DF and Coolpix A. Most of the scenic shooting was done with the DF, but several shots are from the Coolpix A, a camera that never ceases to amaze and please me. On the DF, I used my trusty Zeiss 25 and 21, but also two Nikon zooms - the 24-120 and the 70-300. I rarely use these zooms but I keep them because sometimes you've gotta have them, and this trip was one of those times...
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Puget Sound / Straights of Juan De Fuca

    First, pulling out of Seattle:

    20061464424_bd50d3906d_h.jpg Puget Sound-27-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    And a few shots from the Sound and the Straights:

    20063105323_e612cf6f76_b.jpg Puget Sound-59-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20063084293_9995d8dc87_b.jpg Puget Sound-77-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20497270189_7990be7ccd_h.jpg Puget Sound-88-Edit-2 by Ray, on Flickr
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2015
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  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Juneau / Mendenhall Glacier

    Juneau in the rain and fog:

    20657797016_c2eca886e5_h.jpg Juneau-3-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    Mendenhall Glacier / Nugget Falls

    20497306199_304a820dc1_h.jpg Mendenhall-12-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20496057320_84f90d7baf_h.jpg Mendenhall-23-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20061461424_aac6504627_b.jpg Mendenhall-16-Edit by Ray, on Flickr
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  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Skagway / White Pass Rail Trip
    20674801872_8b6114a469_h.jpg White Pass-146-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20690803961_211cc73999_h.jpg White Pass-48-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20496035680_a001a28859_h.jpg White Pass-175-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20496018458_0b0282d350_h.jpg White Pass-44-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    Sailing out of Skagway:

    20061487054_c25815f63e_h.jpg Skagway 21-Edit by Ray, on Flickr
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  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Glacier Bay National Park

    Sailing into Glacier Bay as the morning fog breaks:

    20684031175_00f71df54b_h.jpg Glacier Bay-2-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20554895035_8573d02a72_h.jpg Glacier Bay-10-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20657744366_5947c5979c_h.jpg Glacier Bay-19-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    The Margerie Glacier, one of the few tidewater glaciers left (those that still reach the water)

    20061449614_72cb3620fd_h.jpg Glacier Bay-317-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20495992808_e22d2722d7_h.jpg Glacier Bay-93-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20690792431_884016e208_h.jpg Glacier Bay-302-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    The Johns Hopkins Glacier – one of the iconic views in Glacier Bay

    19931444293_2a4a37f843_h.jpg Glacier Bay-464-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20674784552_6c8357c231_h.jpg Glacier Bay-609-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    One of the many glaciers that have melted back to the higher elevations

    20496014638_20c1207c99_b.jpg Glacier Bay-551-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    Sailing back out of Glacier Bay in the afternoon:

    20497311029_012f4b366d_h.jpg Glacier Bay-616-Edit by Ray, on Flickr
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  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Ketchikan / Victoria (combined due to limited content!)

    Ketchikan does still have some amount of a fishing economy, but you have to look for it through all of the tourist kitsch…

    20061475474_41a847d101_h.jpg Ketchikan-23-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    20674789712_6dfa2f4bd5_h.jpg Ketchikan-26-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    The grand old Empress Hotel in Victoria:

    20684020495_c348a16825_h.jpg Victoria-29-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    The tea room at the Empress:

    20690791011_0840916a54_h.jpg Victoria-38-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    And my only street shot after the first couple of days in Seattle:

    20674837002_6fd01f4dff_h.jpg Victoria-20-Edit by Ray, on Flickr
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  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    The Cruise Ship

    Spent a week at sea on this beast – may as well show some of it’s tacky luxury and a couple of abstracts:

    20061442214_194c58dd94_h.jpg Cruise Ship by Ray, on Flickr

    20676013722_bfda6c0703_b.jpg Cruise ship by Ray, on Flickr

    20496076170_8f98ba9520_h.jpg Cruise Ship 3 by Ray, on Flickr

    20657758086_fbe0f72feb_b.jpg Cruise Ship 2 by https://w
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  8. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin SC Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    wow... simply wow...
    Don't know what else to say, Ray :) Looks like you had a great trip!
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  9. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    youve got some great timeless stuff here, and i'm sure a lifetime of memories.
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  10. So many fun and lovely shots. :)
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  11. Petach

    Petach SC All-Pro

    Oct 22, 2011
    UK, Essex
    Peter Tachauer
    Golly gosh....I have just overdosed of some sublime photography. The power and grandeur of the natural world is beautifully captured Ray, from gushing falls to the clouds. I think you have even bestowed some taste to the tackiness of the ship.

    Wonderful set.
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  12. summerkl

    summerkl SC Veteran

    Oct 11, 2010
    Vancouver, Canada
    Very nice set of photos. As a Vancouverite, I've jumped on the Alaska cruise 3 times. Notwithstanding the tacky stores, I always find the Alaskans to be genuine people with remarkable tolerance given all of the tourists they have to put up with.
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  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Oh, for sure. When the cruise lines and the towns, or the state, or whoever agreed to that set of stops, what happened became an economic inevitability. And some of those towns were no doubt dying and saw this, rightly, as an economic lifeline. I fully get why those in the towns would embrace the opportunity and put up with all of the trinket hunters. What I don't get is the MANY people who get on these cruise boats and go to interesting places with interesting histories and spend all of their time shopping for tacky jewelry that you could buy ANYWHERE, and probably for a lot less. Or tons of ridiculous tee-shirts or whatever. I was happy to support the economy by hiring someone to take us up to a glacier, or to pay for a train over White Pass - I was even happy to pay too much - to see something REAL about the place, or just the natural beauty of the place.

    I don't blame the residents of these areas in the least. They've got some amazing natural beauty and good for them capitalizing on it. Nonetheless, when I go to a once interesting town that has almost none of that left, I'm bummed. That's why I don't like cruises generally. I'd rather rent a place for a few weeks in a city or region I've never spent time in and just get to know it - let the culture soak in a bit. So, my bad for choosing a vacation I knew was gonna piss me off in this way, but I've sort of wanted to do it for years and I enjoyed the hell out of it despite the tacky shops that I just don't get, but which I indirectly at least help create the demand for...

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  14. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    Great shots, beautiful...
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  15. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran

    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Nice shots Ray...'White Pass 175' and 'Glacier Bay 19' are really fine. I must admit however that many of the images showing the receding glaciers do make me a hint sad, a bit like seeing a weathered and frail old elephant in its final days.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
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  16. Nice shots Ray... you truly are a inspiration to me.. wow.. I see your photos and I think WOW..
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  17. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    More than a hint sad for me Joe. The day in Glacier Bay was almost in equal measure one of the most stunningly beautiful days of my life - practically spiritual really - and intensely depressing. When you see where the glaciers are today vs photos and illustrations of where they were 50 and 100 years ago, it's as stark an illustration as you'll ever see of what's happening to our planet. One of the more emotionally conflicted days I can remember.

    And the impact, however incremental, of all of those enormous cruise ships running around up there (there were four of them chasing each other around last week - you could see us all in a line on the last day down towards Victoria and back to Seattle) is not lost on me in the least. If, as I've heard, it's a sign of maturity to be able to hold many intensely conflicting thoughts (and feelings) at the same time, I seem to have finally arrived, because my thoughts and emotions were all over the place that day...

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  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Thanks so much Pete - very kind words!

    I have to admit to being somewhat torn when I take shots of places like this - I know it takes some level of competence to do, but OTOH it really feels like shooting fish in a barrel. When you're surrounded by such beauty it feels like it would be almost difficult not to come away with some nice photos. I felt the same way when I spent a month on the Amalfi Coast a couple years ago - one of the peak shooting experiences of my life, but how could it NOT be?

    The challenge to me is to make more mundane, everyday things look interesting and occasionally beautiful, and I seem to be failing spectacularly at that lately. Mostly even seem to have lost the inspiration for it. While you can't help be inspired in places like I visited last week...

  19. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    A beautiful set, Ray that brings back good memories!
  20. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Beautiful set of photographs, Ray.