Tuesday, 10 September 2013

An Alaskan Un-Cruise Adventure - Pt 7, Wrangell

Continuing our magnificent Alaska cruise experience with Un-Cruise Adventures on their unique SS Legacy...

Legacy Cruise Day 7

After staying overnight in the Petersburg channel, we were greeted by thick fog in the morning, denying us a second look at the town as we sailed on to today’s rendezvous in the equally small and fishing-based community of Wrangell.

The sound of the ship’s foghorn kept us company through the moody morning mist, but, before long, it was replaced by stunning blue sky overhead and a truly brilliantly sunny day. The Morning highlight today was provided by a chance to indulge in that classic riverboat (and Gold 
Rush steamer) activity – Texas hold 'em poker.

Under the guidance of Hotel Manager Neil, we enjoyed some spirited card-sharping in the wonderful Pesky Barnacle Saloon (below), complete with whisky, of course, and actually managed to while away a full two hours before lunch, swapping chips and make (often outrageous) bets in best play-acting fashion. 

It proved a completely amusing and utterly novel and authentic way to pass a glorious morning in south-east Alaska and we were certainly ready for something to eat at the end of our marathon card session. Lunch was then followed by today’s inclusive tour (although there was an alternative one, to take in the major bear-viewing site of nearby Anan, a 30-minute jet-boat ride away, with guaranteed unobstructed wildlife viewing in the company of
an armed guide – it sounded compelling but, at 
$300/person, a bit rich for us). 

Two buses arrived to carry us off to the nearby Norton Museum, where Wrangell’s long – and often highly volatile and lawless – history was laid out in clear fashion. Next stop was the town’s Totem park, where a Native Tahltan tribe member told us his family history, as well as that of the local tribespeople.

It was refreshing to hear this summer had been marked by a major gathering of peoples from all over the north-west coast here in Wrangell, and the central ceremonial Chief Shakes Tribal House had been the focal point of a big re-dedication ceremony involving the Tlingit tribe and other First Nation peoples.

Our driver/guide then took us off to the famous petroglyph beach to the north of town, where we marvelled at these 2,000-plus-year-old markings in the rocks hereabouts – and took rubbings of them with the stems of ferns! 
Finally, it was back in town for a quick look around (not the longest of tours, it has to be said) while continuing to enjoy the clear sense of community and
purpose that Wrangell appears to have in abundance.

Like Petersburg, this is almost totally a working fishing town, and the vast majority of cruise lines never visit this little gem, which is both a shame and a blessing.

Back aboard, the magnificently sunny day continued long into the evening, affording some magnificent photos of the surrounds and our departure from the harbour, with dinner spent dodging out to the aft deck to snap away as the blue gave way to magnificent oranges and pinks.

This evening, it was the turn of female interpreter Arika to provide the women’s view of the Gold Rush, with another one-person presentation in the main lounge. It sparked some pleasant follow-up conversation about the region’s history in general, and the female perspective of it, before it was time to turn in for the night.

Tomorrow we have a much bigger port to explore – Ketchikan, plus, weather permitting, the potential enthrallment of Misty Fjords National Park.

To learn more about Un-Cruise adventures, call 1888 862 8881 in the US; or visit www.un-cruise.com. In the UK, specialist cruise agents The Cruise Line can also help with bookings.

Be sure to read the full report of the cruise in the Autumn edition of World of Cruising, out September 20. You can subscribe here: www.worldofcruising.co.uk/subscribeOrder.html