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Trip Report Our Alaska Inside Passage Cruise on Cruise West

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This will not be a long, very detailed Trip Report. Figure the pictures (link attached) should tell more of the story.

We took a 8-day, 7-night cruise on the Cruise West Expedition. We had won this fabulous trip in an auction, so it was a last minute unexpected, unplanned trip. We had always wanted to take a cruise in Alaska but the mega ships turned us off. There were about 65 people on the Cruise West trip.

The only really tough part of this was the flights from NYC to Juneau. (Cruise was Juneau to Juneau) Took us 17 hours and three planes to get there. Luckily, going home it was only 13 hours (but still 3 planes.)

We got in at 10PM, very tired. Stayed for the first night at the Goldbelt Hotel because Cruise West has a hospitality room there and that's where they pick you for the Cruise. Pretty disappointing hotel. (I've heard all the hotels in Juneau are.) Bathroom floors were linoleum, and when you turned on the fan to disperse the heat, it stank and made a very annoying noise. But, it was only for the first night so it was bearable.

Highlights:
- First morning on the ship - Tracy Arm. Woke up to icebergs outside our window. And Sawyer Glacier. Turquoise all around us. Stupendous.
- Siting of grizzlys on shore
- All the birds, especially the eagles and puffins
- Harbor seals, Stellar sea lions, mountain goats
- All the whales - We even were privy to a pod (about 8 whales in a group).
- Siting of sea otters.
- The small group size.
- The expedition leaders (naturalists) who were with us every day, all the way.
- The exceptional Captain (Dave) who got us into small coves and so close to the shore and waterfalls, that we couldn't believe the boat didn't crash.
The enthusiasm of the group.
- Our luck with the weather. It only rained twice. When we got to Glacier Bay, we even had sun. We could see the top of Fairweather Mountain. We were told that it's hardly ever visible.

Our room was an "AA" - two single beds. Very small. But perfectly fine. Door led to an outside deck. And the beds were very, very comfortable.

Only took one shore excursion - A walk around Wengall. Very good tour leader. People raved about the "Bears of Annan" excursion.

The towns we stopped at were Wrangell, Petersburg and Sitka (and Juneau). None are super special. But I did like Petersburg for its small stores (not owned by the Cruise Lines like they are in Juneau), and walking around the docks. It's the biggest fishing center in Alaska.

But the reason to come is the scenery and wildlife. We took small pontoons out to get even closer to the whales and to stop on an isolated bit of shore.

Food- Very good. Great desserts. The last night we had filet mignon. The dining room manager, Robert, was very funny and a great choice of Cruise West's for that job.

No tipping - it was included in the cruise fee. Nice.

What more can I say?

Our pix: > http://insidepassagealaska.shutterfly.com/

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