Saturday, 14 September 2013

An Un-Cruise Experience - Pt 10, Canada's Inside Passage

Continuing our magnificent voyage from Juneau to Seattle aboard the SS Legacy with the unique style of Un-Cruise Adventures...

Legacy Cruise Day 10
 
A dull foggy start to the day as we chart a course down inside Vancouver Island and along Johnston Strait. Sadly, it stays that way for much of the morning, with only occasional glimpses of the islands to either side and a ‘ghost boat’ looming out of the gloom at regular intervals.

There is still plenty to enjoy on board, though. The lounge quickly fills up with our now-familiar group of Australians, New Zealanders and Americans, around 60 of us after a few disembarked in Ketchikan to return to work.

The group on board has become very close, like good friends enjoying a mutual journey of comfort and hospitality, and it is easy to strike up a conversation with anyone, not least the eager and personable crew.

A visit to the bridge reveals Capt Dano and First Mate Katie in constant contact with other
boats along the narrow Strait, as well as the ‘traffic control’ stations ashore that monitor the regular to and fro hereabouts.


There is a Galley Tour for those interested in seeing how all those magnificent meals are created (by a five-person staff in fairly small confines) while re-enactor Ryan regales the Lounge audience with readings from Jack London, the famous turn-of-the-century author who made his name with visits to Alaska (White Fang being his most well-known novel, but dozens of other stories spinning off from his travels in the area). Lunch is eagerly greeted by all concerned, once more at 12.30pm, while the Pesky Barnacle Saloon is a peaceful haven for those wishing to read a book or do some writing.

By early afternoon, the fog has finally lifted and we are able to enjoy the fabulous full view of both sides if the Strait, approaching Seymour Narrows, where all traffic has to gingerly negotiate the half-mile wide channel with its treacherous currents and tidal movements.

We are also hoping for Orca sightings this afternoon, as the waters between here and Seattle are renowned for killer whale sightings, often in the dozens.

Better still, the afternoon quickly evolves into a late-summer spectacular as we traverse the
Strait, brilliant blue skies and millpond-calm seas soothing our passage between alternately heavily-forested slopes, small fishing communities and the occasional large town, boasting
some sumptuous cliff-top houses.


The mountains continue to dominate the horizon in both directions port and starboard, and it is an absolute treat to be out on deck soaking up this visual feast.

Re-enactor Ryan provides commentary through the Narrows and Larry takes over for more insight into the areas we are passing by.

We take cocktails on the top deck – by now re-christened the Sun Deck – and, just as we think we have enjoyed enough blissful sun and spectacle for one day, the ship suddenly changes course and the announcement of “Orcas!” has us all racing for the forward rails.

Sure enough, crossing our bow and moving lazily off to starboard are a family pod of 6 killer whales, rising and diving in the dazzling early-evening sunshine. The vista is truly stunning
and provides a fitting climax to the day before we all troop below for dinner.


Tonight’s 4-course repast includes a clam soup appetiser, marinaded courgette salad and a choice of either poached salmon in coriander or chicken masala for the main course. 
 
A fresh crème brulee completes things in memorable fashion and the final business of the day is conducted in the Lounge where Ryan, with the help of Kenny, tells the story of how sailing vessels gave way to steam in the 18th century and how it affected the Yukon gold rush. Another blissful day aboard SS Legacy is complete and tomorrow is our final full day, so we must hope for something equally spectacular as we visit Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands….. 
 
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 now! You can subscribe here: www.worldofcruising.co.uk/subscribeOrder.html