Welcome back to the eighth installment of the Bucket List: Alaska series. If you are just joining us, you can go back to read the start of our Alaska adventure in Anchorage at this link. There will be links at the bottom of each post to take you to the next one.
On Saturday morning, we left Copper River early via motorcoach, traveling along the Richardson Highway and stopping at Worthington Glacier for a hike and photo opportunity. It was a cloudy, gray day, but that didn’t take away from the incredible scenery at all! A few sights along the way to the glacier.
Upon arrival at Worthington Glacier, which is located in spectacular Thompson Pass, we jumped off the bus, and took off for the views…it didn’t take long! Thompson Pass has been used by generations of Native Alaskans but became infamous when it became the primary route used by the Klondike Gold Rush miners, and later was used as the path for the Trans-Alaska pipeline.
Just 4 miles north of the current day town of Valdez is the Old Valdez townsite, which was the original port and city of Valdez. The city was moved to its current location just down the road after it was devastated by the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. I would have enjoyed a little more time to check out Valdez, but that became a running theme on this strictly scheduled itinerary. Note taken: organized tours are not really our ‘thing’. But we made the best of it anyway!
A few scenes from the approach to Valdez.
We had time for a quick lunch before boarding our catamaran to Whittier where we would meet our cruise ship, so we chose the Fat Mermaid which is located right on the waterfront. My favorite part of our lunch experience… 🙂
After lunch, we wandered around the waterfront a little, but a steadily increasing rain encouraged us to board the Fairweather Express II, a large catamaran that cruises Prince William Sound for scenic tours and also provides charters for the cruise lines. It is a very comfortable ship that has two levels of inside and outside viewing of the sound, scenery, and wildlife.
Here is a brief YouTube video of the catamaran experience: On Prince William Sound
We did experience a few more wildlife sightings, but they were far away and the pictures just don’t do them justice…it was an exciting introduction to the Alaska waterways, and I would definitely recommend a catamaran ride if it is an option on your Alaska itinerary. We saw glaciers, fjords, sea lions, and incredible icebergs that are a crystal blue that you have to see to believe during our ~ 4-hour journey.
The catamaran delivered us to the cruise port of Whittier, with just a short walk to the cruise check-in lines. We were about to embark on our first cruise and we were experiencing a mix of excitement, trepidation, and awe at the sheer size of the ship.
We settled into our staterooms that afternoon, and the ship departed Whittier en route to Hubbard Glacier that evening as we dined. I am amazed to realize I did not take a single photo of our cabin the entire cruise. I will share a few photos of our balcony and view next time. I have quite a few observations of my first cruise, but the biggest takeaway is that I cannot imagine taking a cruise with scenery like that in Alaska and not having a balcony. It was definitely one of the highlights of the cruise experience for us. Until next time…fair winds and following seas!