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Inside Passage

June 4, 2022 – the Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, Canada

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Map of my photos taken between Ketchikan, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, including the Inside Passage
Map of my photos taken between Ketchikan, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, including the Inside Passage

I have breakfast in the main dining room, but they don’t have a group to seat me with, so I eat alone. The Nieuw Amsterdam emerged last night from protected waters after leaving Ketchikan into Hecate Strait, and is proceeding down the Canadian Inside Passage: Queen Charlotte Strait, Johnston Strait and Georgia Strait. The ship will wait overnight in the strait before arriving in Vancouver harbour the following morning around 7AM.

I take some photos of the rain and fog outside as I sip my morning cappuccino in the Crows Nest Explorations Cafe. I’m eventually driven out of there by the noise and crowds playing some game with a host, so I wander around the ship at loose ends. Since the shipboard Internet hasn’t worked for me for the last several days, I complain to Customer Service. They can’t get my connection working either, despite insisting it is working for others, so they give me a 2-day credit.

Crow's Nest - Explorations EXC & Explorer's Bar
Crow’s Nest – Explorations EXC & Explorer’s Bar

I meet friends on the Lido pool deck for lunch, which is protected today with a closed canopy. I have a Beyond Meat version of The High Dive burger and fries, along with a beer. My friends tell me the crew have said are only around 700 passengers aboard, but there are 1,700 passengers boarding in Vancouver tomorrow. I believe the ship holds about 2,100 passengers, so currently they are only one-third of capacity. Having so few passengers aboard but with a full complement of crew means we have been spoiled on this voyage with excellent service. Although some of the crew are new, and they are operating under new protocols like having to wear masks the whole time they are on duty, they have all done very well. I know the passengers have appreciated their work…I certainly have!

Lido Bar setup for evening service
Lido Bar setup for evening service

I go to my favourite premium restaurant this evening at 6PM. Tamarind is an Asian Fusion restaurant which I find offers superb service, very creative and tasty food, and it is located mid-ship on the top deck, offering wonderful views while dining. There is a dedicated sushi chef and eating area for those who go for that cuisine. Personally, I like my seafood cooked and served in a traditional way, so I stick to their main dining area. They also offer a lovely bar, which offers a nice, quiet area during the day, since Tamarind only operates in the evening.

Mongolian barbeque lamb chops - Tamarind
Mongolian barbeque lamb chops – Tamarind

I have a Classic Martini to start, made with Tanqueray 10 gin. Some Shrimp Chips with soy sauce & sweet and spicy sauces goes well with my cocktail as I take in the view of northern Vancouver Island sliding by as we sail south through Queen Charlotte Strait. My starter is Lobster and Shrimp Potstickers, served with smoked shoyu and pickled ginger. I have a couple of glasses of Le Grand Courtage Brut Rose French wine with my main course: very tasty and tender Mongolian Barbecue Lamb Chops, with baby bok choy, toasted sesame seeds, mirin plum sauce, with Dungeness Crab fried rice. I finish off with a dessert called Mango Posset – coconut macaroon, passion fruit jelly, mango sorbet. I leave a glowing review – JoeTourist recommended!

I go to see the Step One Dance Company: Presents Off The Charts in the main stage at 9PM. It is a pretty good song and dance show, flashing back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s performing artists. There is also a singer from the BB King venue adding her wonderful voice to the blues review part of the performance.

I walk around the Promenade Deck to get some exercise and fresh air before returning to my stateroom. It’s time to pack and put my bag out for pickup this evening, in preparation for disembarkation in Vancouver tomorrow.

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Ketchikan

June 3, 2022 – Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Ketchikan is our last port-of-call before our cruise ends in Vancouver the day after tomorrow. This morning after having breakfast in the main dining room before going on a photo safari tour excursion, which gets me out of the city. The historic Creek district of the city is our first stop. We visit the outside of the Totem Heritage Center next, mainly to see the Fog Woman totem pole. We then go to the library for a scenic view before driving to the Totem Bight State Historical Parknorth of the city. This is a recreation of an aboriginal village, featuring a clan house, totems, and other decorated buildings, along with a gift shop. The excursion was fine, but it was certainly the most underwhelming of any of the activities I’ve experienced on this trip.

Calamari starter – Canaletto restaurant

After I return to the ship, I post my White Pass and Yukon railway videos from a couple of days ago since I now have sufficient bandwidth with the roaming mobile service I’m using today. I get dressed for a 7pm Italian dinner at the Canaletto restaurant up on the Lido deck. While I’m enjoying a pre-dinner martini in the Ocean Bar, I dictate my journal for today using speech recognition on my iPhone. I enjoy a Calamari starter, Veal Florentine Cannelloni main course, and Tiramisu for dessert. I’m finding it so decadent to indulge in such gourmet food accompanied with cocktails and wine! 

I attend BBC Earth Presents : Planet Earth II with the Lincoln Center Stage performers on the Main Stage this evening. The performance is well done, with the live performers doing a great job of syncing with the media being played, adding a welcome dimension to the work. I also stop in to enjoy the evening entertainers at the BB King’s Blues Club.

BBC Earth Presents : Planet Earth II with Lincoln Center Stage performers at the Main Stage
BBC Earth Presents : Planet Earth II with Lincoln Center Stage performers at the Main Stage

It has been a relaxing cruise, but the land portion was more active and stressful, mainly from the required COVID-19 testing, since failing a test would mean quarantine, the end of the planned travel, disruption and extra expense. Now that I have an ArriveCAN receipt, I’m clear to enter Canada in Vancouver without further testing. Traveling without a smartphone and connectivity would prove to be very awkward, since using apps and online form filling are required to travel right now during the pandemic.

As is usual with cruises, the older people are hacking and coughing in the common areas of the ship. I am hopeful that they do not have the COVID-19 virus. It was a cloudy day today but we had some sunny periods and no rain, which was much better than the forecast indicated.

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Juneau

June 2, 2022 – Juneau, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

The ship arrives in Juneau at 8AM and my floatplane excursion doesn’t leave until Noon, so I have plenty of time to have breakfast and look around the city. Juneau is the state capital of Alaska, so in addition to tourism, the city has the government and some industry to base their economy on. There are nice plazas, a developed waterfront, the shops are plentiful and appear to be prospering. Before returning to the ship, I check out where Wings Airways dispatches their seaplanes from, which is only a 5-minute walk from where the ship is docked.

Five Glacier Seaplane Exploration

The pilot selects me to sit in the co-pilot’s seat, so that’s a real bonus, allowing me to see out the front of the aircraft as well as having a side window. We soar over the lush wilderness of the Tongass National Forest, catching our first glimpse of five distinctly different and majestic glaciers making up a section of the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field. We fly over the deep crevasses and azure blue meltwater pools of the Norris, Hole-In-The-Wall, East and West Twin Glaciers and lake, plus the impressive five-mile-wide Taku Glacier. Of the 36 named glaciers comprising the Juneau Ice Field, the Taku Glacier is the largest. The Annex Creek power station is visible as we fly along the Taku Inlet. There is a verdant valley between the foot of Norris and Taku glaciers and Taku Inlet.

We end the flight by overflying the harbour and city before landing on a southerly heading, returning to the dock. I buy a souvenir t-shirt and ball cap combo from the seaplane office before returning to the ship. I have lots of photos and video taken with my iPhone 13 Pro on this spectacular flight in clear and sunny weather – well worth the expense for this excursion.

I have a pizza and a beer from NY Pizza aboard the ship, sitting in the shade beside the Sea View pool on the stern, overlooking the city and harbour. It’s a lovely warm and sunny day. In fact, Juneau breaks a record today set back in 1946 for the hottest day:  28ºC (82ºF). Our Belgian cruise director complains about getting a bit of a sunburn today!

Since I have the drinks package, I’m making a point of ordering cappuccino and alcoholic drinks anytime I want one. Today I had two cappuccinos with breakfast, the beer with lunch. I also have another cappuccino in the late afternoon at the Explorations Cafe, where Maria, the young barista thanks me for leaving a complimentary comment using the Navigator app a couple of days ago. 

I skip dinner or even a snack this evening, since the personal-sized pizza I had this afternoon was 6 slices, which filled me up. I attend the 7pm Step One Dance Company Presents: Humanity and send a comment through Navigator app: “This is my first MainStage show viewed on this voyage, which I thoroughly enjoyed! Please pass on my congratulations to the performers. I know it must be tough to play to a mostly empty house, but their enthusiasm and professionalism shone through.”

I spot my first small Humpback whale at 9:30PM this evening from my verandah as we pass through Frederick Sound. The ship is making 20 knots to Ketchikan, so there is only time to grab binoculars, not my camera.

Juneau
35 photos, 1 video
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Skagway

June 1, 2022 – the White Pass & Yukon Railway – Skagway, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I have a leisurely breakfast in the main dining room this morning: vegetable scramble (eggs) with a cappuccino. There is no rush, since my excursion doesn’t leave until 12:10PM. I have lots of time to wander around Skagway, which looks a lot like Dawson City, since the storefronts are all historic looking, but mostly modern buildings inside. The first few blocks of State Street (the main street) has all the tourist shops and services, but walk further up the street a few blocks, or divert a block or two either side, and the real town reveals itself. Dominating the town are the deep sea docks for cruise ships, which once were also used for ore loading, and the multiple railway tracks of the White Pass and Yukon railway, which run from the docks along the eastern side of town.

I tick off a long-standing bucket list item today: riding on the White Pass and Yukon railway from Skagway to the White Pass Summit. The breathtaking scenery is a counterpoint to realizing the Klondike gold miners had to struggle up this steep mountain pass mainly on foot. When they got to the top, they had to go back down and up multiple times to haul their one ton stake to the summit before the North West Mounted Police would let them into Canada to seek their fortune in Dawson City, some 500 miles further! I think the excursion description is a great summary of my experience:

“Experience an unforgettable journey along the eastern side of White Pass aboard the world-famous narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, built more than 100 years ago. You’ll pass through some of the North’s most rugged terrain on board a comfortable rail car as you retrace the original route through breathtaking scenery to the summit of White Pass at 2,865 feet. Relax on the 40-mile roundtrip journey along steep grades and cliff-hanging turns as your train agent shares stories from the past.

Back in Skagway, board a motor coach and travel the historic streets of downtown Skagway, part of the Klondike National Historical Park. Visit The Lookout, a photographer’s delight offering a panoramic view of the Skagway Valley, glacier-clad mountains, Lynn Canal and your cruise ship.

Stop at historic Liarsville, a gold rush trail camp nestled beside a waterfall at the foot of White Pass. Liarsville is named for the journalists sent here to report on the Klondike Gold Rush, whose articles included tall tales of the prospectors’ exploits. Browse the authentic camp exhibits, including antiques and garments left behind by the prospectors and those who profited from them. A cast of ‘sourdoughs’ and dance hall girls will entertain you with a hilarious melodrama and a poem by Robert Service, the Bard of the North. 

You’ll also have a chance to try your hand at the art of gold panning in the Liarsville gold fields, where you are guaranteed to find some gold to keep. Enjoy a snack, shop for souvenirs or have your photo taken with a dance hall girl.”

White Pass & Yukon Railway – Skagway to White Pass Summit route map

Would-be gold miners had a choice of two routes: the shorter but steeper Chilkoot Trail, or the White Pass trail, which promised a less steep but longer route. Both were punishing routes which lead to the interior lake region where the stampeders could begin their 550 mile journey to the promised gold to be found in the creeks and rivers of Dawson City. The White Pass and Yukon railway was built a few years later by an Irish-Canadian named “Big” Mike Henry, who built the 110 mile route over just 26 months for $15 million. He is quoted “give me enough dynamite, and snoose, and I’ll build you a railroad to hell.” 

In 1982 world metal prices plummeted, so the ore from the mines the railway transported to ships dried up. The railway suspended operations until 1988, when they reinvented themselves as a narrow guage tourist excursion train between Skagway and the White Pass Summit. The active line was later extended to Bennett Lake (1990s) and Carcross, Yukon (2007). Due to pandemic border restrictions, currently only trips to White Pass Summit are offered.

After returning to the ship, I have dinner in the main dining room with a couple from south Texas. I start with crabmeat corn fritters, panko-crusted hake for the main course, and strawberry pavlova for dessert. The hake is really nice – a new fish for me. I see the Belt of Venus and the Earth’s shadow in front of us after sunset, as the ship makes its way slowly south down the Lynn Canal to tomorrow’s port of call, Juneau.

Skagway
47 photos, 2 videos
Sunset panorama looking west to north from my verandah
Sunset panorama looking west to north from my verandah
After sunset looking north up the Lynn Canal from my verandah
After sunset looking north up the Lynn Canal from my verandah
"We Love Alaska" sign on the bow of the Nieuw Amsterdam
“We Love Alaska” sign on the bow of the Nieuw Amsterdam
White Pass & Yukon Route train station and other shops in downtown Skagway
White Pass & Yukon Route train station and other shops in downtown Skagway
Shops in downtown Skagway
Shops in downtown Skagway
Shops in downtown Skagway
Shops in downtown Skagway
Parks Canada and US National Parks Klondike information center
Parks Canada and US National Parks Klondike information center
Historic Skagway Inn's Back garden
Historic Skagway Inn’s Back garden
Historic Y.M.C.A. Gymnasium
Historic Y.M.C.A. Gymnasium
Cute house with white picket fence, flag and snow-capped mountains behind
Cute house with white picket fence, flag and snow-capped mountains behind
5 electric vehicle charging points
5 electric vehicle charging points
Snowmobiles stored on top of a container box
Snowmobiles stored on top of a container box
Looking down Broadway to the valley from the stern of the ship
Looking down Broadway to the valley from the stern of the ship
Vintage steam engine and rotary snowplow
Vintage steam engine and rotary snowplow
A new engine pullling a White Pass & Yukon train from the Ore Dock
A new engine pullling a White Pass & Yukon train from the Ore Dock
Boarding the train
Boarding the train
Railway equpment on a siding
Railway equpment on a siding
Our train waits on a bridge over a moutain stream for hikers to board
Our train waits on a bridge over a moutain stream for hikers to board
Stove to heat the car in the winter
Stove to heat the car in the winter
Railway maintenace yard
Railway maintenace yard
Looking down the valley towards Skagway from Rocky Point
Looking down the valley towards Skagway from Rocky Point
The highway across the valley
The highway across the valley
Inside our train car
Inside our train car
The front of the train and a siding
The front of the train and a siding
The railway grade above us
The railway grade above us
The railway grade above us with wooden trestle and tunnel
The railway grade above us with wooden trestle and tunnel
Picking up hikers
Picking up hikers
Snow-covered mountain peaks
Snow-covered mountain peaks
View down the valley to Skagway and the Lynn Canal
View down the valley to Skagway and the Lynn Canal
Train passes over a bridge, through a tunnel and another train passes at the summit
Train passes over a bridge, through a tunnel and another train passes at the summit
Our train entering the tunnel to the summit
Our train entering the tunnel to the summit
The trail of '98 where miners struggled up this gulley to the White Pass summit
The trail of ’98 where miners struggled up this gulley to the White Pass summit
The simple sign marking the trail of '98 where miners struggled up this gulley to the White Pass summit
The simple sign marking the trail of ’98 where miners struggled up this gulley to the White Pass summit
Canada-USA border marker
Canada-USA border marker
North West Mounted Police NWMP replica cabin at the summit
North West Mounted Police NWMP replica cabin at the summit
A stream running through the snowy White Pass summit
A stream running through the snowy White Pass summit
The snowy White Pass summit
The snowy White Pass summit
Our train looping back at the White Pass summit
Our train looping back at the White Pass summit
Liarsville welcome sign with camp behind
Liarsville welcome sign with camp behind
Saloon tent
Saloon tent
Shopping list for 1 Ton of goods at Madam Jan's Fancy Goods
Shopping list for 1 Ton of goods at Madam Jan’s Fancy Goods
Laundry tent
Laundry tent
Robert Service skit
Robert Service skit
Robert Service skit
Robert Service skit
Blacksmith and hardware tent
Blacksmith and hardware tent
Panning for gold
Panning for gold
Press tent
Press tent
Overlooking Skagway and the cruise ships
Overlooking Skagway and the cruise ships
Venus' Belt as we head south after departing Skagway with a cruise ship ahead of us
Venus’ Belt as we head south after departing Skagway with a cruise ship ahead of us
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Glacier Bay

May 31, 2022 – Glacier Bay National Park, Gustavus, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I ordered breakfast from room service last night (continental, bagel and lox, coffee), so I don’t have to contend with the inevitable crowds that will be up at the Lido this morning. By 9AM we are into the Glacier Bay channel, heading north to the glacier viewing area. The bow is opened up on my deck 5, so lots of people are going by my door to access that forward view. I’ll go up there later, but I’m quite happy observing all the beautiful scenery from my verandah. It’s great to be able to duck into my stateroom to warm up, work on my journal, consult the maps to determine where the ship is located, and sip cappuccino. I’m so glad I decided to go for a verandah stateroom!

Our Timing (port side)

  • Northbound – proceeding NW, facing SE
    • Geikie Glacier (snow-covered) – 9:45AM
    • Gilbert Peninsula – 10:45AM
    • Reid Glacier (snow-covered) – 11:10AM
    • Lamplugh Glacier (blue) – 11:30AM
    • Johns Hopkins (blue) – 11:45AM
    • Margerie (blue) & Grand Pacific Glaciers (dark) – 1:00PM – 2:45PM
  • Southbound – proceeding SE, facing NE
    • Rendu & Queen Inlets (Rendu & Carroll Glaciers both snow-covered & dark) – 3:45PM
    • Muir Inlet – 4:45PM
    • Bartlett Cove

I go up to the Explorations Cafe mid-morning to get a cappuccino, and end up being given some Dutch Pea soup as well, which is a very good mid-morning nourishment break. I won’t bother with lunch! It is crowded and noisy in the Crow’s Nest, since the park rangers have setup there, and believe it or not some people are playing board games as well.

Cruise ship route map in Glacier Bay
Cruise ship route map in Glacier Bay – Glacier Bay National Park

Our ship slows to give way to kayakers, who are paddling from the Safari Endeavour excursion boat by Lamplugh Glacier. We then enter the narrow Johns Hopkins Inlet to view the beautiful glacier by the same name. I go to the bow viewing area on my deck and take a few people photos and a couple of selfies, but quickly retreat back to my stateroom, since I have great views from there without the crowds.

As we round the corner and head into Tarr Inlet, the National Geographic Quest excursion boat is heading south out of the inlet, and the Seabourn Osyssey cruise ship is at the head of the inlet giving their passengers a closeup view of Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. I take some photos of Grand Pacific Glacier, which is already visible in the distance on our Port quarter. Since Grand Pacific Glacier is quite dirty-looking, the star of the show is Margerie Glacier, which still has lots of blue-coloured ice on a distinct wall close to the shoreline. There is also a significant ice field above with dramatic chunks of ice sticking up. Mt. Fairweather is visible behind the glacier – the tallest peak in British Columbia, my home province!

The ship stays in position for at least an hour with the port side facing Margerie Glacier where my stateroom is located. The ship then turns to give the starboard side staterooms a view of Margerie Glacier for another hour before sailing SE down Tarr Inlet away from the glaciers at about 2:45PM. I take the opportunity to grab another cappuccino from the Explorations Cafe. By 3:45PM we are offshore from Rendu & Queen Inlets. The toe of Carroll Glacier in Queen Inlet comes into view first, then the viewing angle for Rendu Glacier is favourable about 10 minutes later.

This is the end of the glacier show, as we sail SE to Bartlett Cove, where the park rangers disembark to return to their headquarters. The US Parks Service only allow two cruise ships per day to visit Glacier Bay, with Holland America and Princess having priority since they have cruised Alaska the longest. Obviously Seabourn and some other ships also gets some slots.

Cellist in the Lincoln Center Stage - aboard Nieuw Amsterdam
Cellist in the Lincoln Center Stage – aboard Nieuw Amsterdam

The view from my west-facing verandah on the northbound route through Glacier Bay is nothing short of spectacular, however the east-facing southbound view isn’t too exciting. We make our way eastward through Icy Strait and then turn north at Point Couverden into the Lynn Canal, on our way to Skagway tomorrow.

After having an early dinner in the main dining room, I go to the first performance in the Lincoln Center Stage. There are three performers: a cellist, a violinist, and a pianist. The cellist plays an innovative piece, while both the violinist and pianist play more traditional chamber music.

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Hubbard Glacier

May 30, 2022 – Turner and Hubbard Glaciers, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Early this morning, I am a bit worried about not seeing the Hubbard Glacier later today, since when I’m out on the stern deck, there is a lot of fog. The ship sails past the very impressive St. Elias mountain range eastward through the Gulf of Alaska to Hubbard Glacier this morning, while another cruise ship is sailing westward. I attend the Mariner Society Welcome Reception at 11AM, where I meet some of the officers and chat with my fellow passengers with 3, 4, and 5 star Mariner status as we sip wine and snack on peanuts.

This afternoon, it clears up nicely as the ship turns into Yakutat Bay, with beautiful Mt. Cook visible. As we turn into Disenchantment Bay, I spot both Turner and Hubbard Glaciers, taking photos as we proceed. The ship eventually gets very close to the ice pack in front of the glacier face, slowly turning to allow all passengers to get views of this magnificent area.

Daniel E. Lawson – map of the Hubbard Glacier area

There is commentary from the Explorations Lounge on Deck 11, which can also be heard on outside decks. I go down to the Promenade Deck to have a look, but quickly realize I will see everything from my verandah, with the added benefit of being able to duck inside my stateroom to warm up. This is the coldest day of the trip so far, with a cold wind coming at us from the glaciers, so I wear my toque, scarf and winter coat.

Filet mignon main course in Pinnacle Grill

As the ship starts pulling out of Disenchantment Bay, I get dressed in a suit and tie for my dinner reservation in the Pinnacle Grill. I have a lovely Tanqueray 10 Gin martini to start, then crab cakes, filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms and loaded baked potato, finishing off with creme brûlée. I have a sparkling French rose with my main course. Despite the daily program saying attire is “dressy” this evening, it’s obvious that HAL no longer enforces a dress code, since I see people seated in the Pinnacle Grill who are wearing winter coats and jeans, and all manner of dress that is certainly not even close to being dressy.

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Anchorage to Whittier

May 29, 2022 – Anchorage to Whittier, Alaska and board the Nieuw Amsterdam

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

We don’t leave the hotel until 12:10PM, so I finish annotating my photos this morning, posting a new Denali-Anchorage album to my Flickr account before I leave. The hotel Wi-fi is pathetically slow, so I’m glad I have my mobile LTE roaming from Fido to work with.

I say goodbye to our Tour Director Cassandra Joy, encouraging her to look me up if she finds herself in Victoria. We board our bus to transfer to the rail station, and take an Alaska Railway dome car to Whittier, which is a 3-hour scenic trip. There is snack and drink service to the seat offered by each car’s attendant. We pass through a tunnel that is shared by road vehicles and trains – a unique approach to saving the expense of building and operating two tunnels!

The Nieuw Amsterdam is waiting for us at the dock. Check-in is slow due to the health check requirements before boarding, but it takes well under an hour before I’m in my lovely verandah stateroom on the ship. A short time later, my checked bag shows up, so I unpack and settle in.

First order of business is to find my Muster Station and register with the crew there, and then watch the safety video in my cabin. Gathering all passengers on deck at their muster stations is no longer done, in order to avoid crowding and risk of infection. I have a wonderful dinner with 4 others in the main dining room: snow crab cocktail, Alaska salmon fillet, and strawberries with ice cream. Since I have the drinks package, I have two glasses of Italian Pinot Gris with dinner. The ship leaves at 6:00PM while I’m still at dinner, which is earlier than the scheduled departure time of 10PM stated in my itinerary.

I can’t stop taking photos and video on this trip, and today is no exception. The train ride down was through a scenic inlet and moose flat wetland, and then the ship sails past snow-capped mountains and through a lovely channel with lots of islands as the sun sets behind us. I can already appreciate the charm of an Alaska cruise, and we are just starting out!

Anchorage

May 28, 2022 – Anchorage, Alaska

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Today is a down day for me – no excursions booked. I have breakfast with a couple from my tour group. These buffet breakfasts are expensive at US$23 (with tip) / CA$30! I save money be skipping lunch.

We then decide to walk the few blocks to the Anchorage Museum to have a look at the exhibits, which include aboriginal artifacts in glass cases and multimedia info, and two floors of art exhibits, which change after a few months. Admission is US$15 for seniors for the day, or US$20 for adults.

Holland America arranges for everyone in the group to be tested at the hotel for COVID-19 again today in preparation for boarding the ship tomorrow in Whittier. Thankfully, I receive notice of a negative result an hour later, however our Tour Director tells me one of the group tested positive. They won’t be boarding the ship tomorrow, and will have to stay in Anchorage for a 5-day quarantine before flying home, if I remember the rules correctly.

I annotate my photos on my notebook computer this afternoon in my room, thinking I will make enough progress to post a new Denali album online, however it goes slower than I expect. I have a lot of photos from the first half of this trip!

I go for dinner across the street again to Orso restaurant, since I enjoyed my meal there last night. I splurge a bit more this evening, having a draft beer with Seafood Gemelli, a lovely seafood stew made with local gemelli pasta, mini clams, salmon and rockfish in a light cream sauce. I finish with a cappuccino, since the last time I had coffee was at breakfast. This meal ends up costing US$53.35 with tax and tip, which is a whopping CA$70!

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Denali to Anchorage by train

May 27, 2022 – Denali to Anchorage, Alaska by dome car train

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

i put my bags out at 7AM for pickup and then go to Karstens Public House for a cappuccino before we leave at 8:30PM by bus for the short ride to the railway station. The two McKinley Explorer dome cars we ride in today are owned and operated by Holland America. The train and engine is operated by Alaska Railway. We leave the station at 9:00AM, arriving in Anchorage at 5:30PM, an 8.5 hour, 233.4 mile trip, at an average speed of 27 mph.

McKinley Explorer train route - Denali to Anchorage
McKinley Explorer train route – Denali to Anchorage

It is a wonderful ride in the deluxe dome railcar. Since I only had a coffee at the resort, I go downstairs to the cafe for breakfast, having coffee and a continental breakfast. I chat with a young Alaska couple who I am seated with. Upstairs, we have our own bartender, who also brings us snacks, so I order some salmon spread and warm pita bread to go with a Golden Ale. The big bonus for me and many others in our group is that we spot Denali (the mountain) near the halfway point to Anchorage, and I manage to take a good photo of the tallest mountain in North America with my Canon mirrorless camera and telephoto lens.

We are staying at the Westmark Anchorage Downtown hotel, which is owned and operated by Holland America. It’s nothing special, but the room is clean and the bed is comfortable, so I’m happy. Once my bag arrives and I get settled in my room, I go for an early dinner across the street at Orso restaurant having a lovely Cashew Crusted Alaska Rockfish, with vegetables and cous cous.

We have experienced exceptionally good weather so far on this trip. The weather report for Anchorage today: 23°C, windy and hot. Warning: risk of wildfires.

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Dawson City

May 24, 2022 – Dawson City, Yukon

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I go over to the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast. It is a buffet, so I have some insipid scrambled eggs, toast, a bit of bacon, some fruit and yogurt, and of course coffee. The staff are still learning their jobs, since the restaurant has only been open for a few days. It costs me $29 – these breakfasts are expensive!

I spend the rest of the morning doing a walking tour of the city, taking photos as I go. There are lots of funky buildings to see – some very old and some new. Some of the historic locations include Jack London‘s cabin and the Robert Service cabin, both of which are closed, so I see them from the outside. The Klondike Mines Railway Locomotive Shelter has several steam engines on display inside, but it is closed too, so I take photos through the dirty windows. They also have some derelict tracked vehicles outside that I speculate (despite missing dozer blades) were probably used for hauling goods through the bush, building roads and moving gravel and dirt.

Robert Service cabin
Robert Service cabin

A condemned St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – 1901 shows how a building foundation can be destroyed by permafrost heaving. The memory of the O’Brien Brewing and Malting Company is now reduced to a single beer wagon on a back street behind the Yukon Hotel. I walk back along the dyke on the Yukon River and approach the SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer on display in a dry dock beside the Yukon River. This historic site is also closed, a recurring theme today! I pass by a former bank building where Robert Service once worked, the Flora Dora Hotel, another former “dance hall” in its heyday (Lulu Mae Johnson) and Klondike Kate’s restaurant & cabins.

The Dawson City Museum has some very interesting artifacts representing much of the rich history of Dawson City during the Gold Rush. The museum also houses an active Courtroom. The Riverwest Bistro on Front Street comes recommended by our tour director as the only place in Dawson City which offers espresso, so I enjoy a cappuccino and some lunch before resuming my walking tour this afternoon. Brown’s Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon, Ruby’s Place (historic brothel), the Downtown Hotel (home of the infamous Sour Toe cocktail) are all on my way back to our hotel.

Holland America arranges COVID-19 tests for the whole group late this afternoon in the hotel. We all test negative, so we are ready to enter the USA on our charter flight to Fairbanks tomorrow. Our hotel has a steak and salmon dinner buffet this evening. I avoid the steak since it looks like shoe leather, but the salmon fillets are nicely done in a light sauce. It makes a nice meal with rice and veggies.

Dawson City
51 photos, 1 video
Klondike River and the highway below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River and the highway below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Snow-capped mountains in the distance
Snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Klondike River below with snow-capped mountains in the distance
The Klondike River from the air - final approach
The Klondike River from the air – final approach
Westmark Inn rooms
Westmark Inn rooms
Joe, our guide and others outside Diamond Tooth Gerties
Joe, our guide and others outside Diamond Tooth Gerties
Show lounge and casino
Show lounge and casino
Stage
Stage
Diamond Tooth Gertie
Diamond Tooth Gertie
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can
Dancing girls performing the Can Can with Gertie
Dancing girls performing the Can Can with Gertie
Diamond Tooth Gerties Can Can Show
Diamond Tooth Gerties Can Can Show
Photo taken at midnight of our hotel with a bright sky
Photo taken at midnight of our hotel with a bright sky
New salmon-coloured house
New salmon-coloured house
Sign: Robert Service Cabin
Sign: Robert Service Cabin
Front of Robert Service Cabin
Front of Robert Service Cabin
Back of Robert Service Cabin
Back of Robert Service Cabin
New log-style house
New log-style house
Jack London Museum, Square and Cabin
Jack London Museum, Square and Cabin
Artifacts inside of Jack London Cabin
Artifacts inside of Jack London Cabin
Roof and log construction Jack London Cabin
Roof and log construction Jack London Cabin
Derelict home
Derelict home
Classic 3-gabled house with a front porch
Classic 3-gabled house with a front porch
Derelict tracked vehicle
Derelict tracked vehicle
D.Y.M.C.O. steam engine
D.Y.M.C.O. steam engine
No. 3 steam engine
No. 3 steam engine
No. 1 steam engine
No. 1 steam engine
Rebuilding a street with underground services
Rebuilding a street with underground services
A condemned St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church - 1901
A condemned St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – 1901
Old beer wagon
Old beer wagon
Historic Yukon Hotel
Historic Yukon Hotel
Souveniers and cafes on Front Street
Souveniers and cafes on Front Street
SS Keno  sternwheel paddle steamer
SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer
Stern of the SS Keno  sternwheel paddle steamer
Stern of the SS Keno sternwheel paddle steamer
Derelict Flora Dora Hotel
Derelict Flora Dora Hotel
Klondike Kate's restaurant & cabins
Klondike Kate’s restaurant & cabins
King Street with shops, boardwalk and dirt street
King Street with shops, boardwalk and dirt street
Tired-looking old house
Tired-looking old house
Dawson City Museum
Dawson City Museum
Post Office artifacts
Post Office artifacts
Active Courtroom inside the museum
Active Courtroom inside the museum
Food and drink wooden boxes
Food and drink wooden boxes
Brown's Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon
Brown’s Harness Shop, 3rd Ave Blacksmith Shop, Red Feather Saloon
Derelict log cabin with tin roof
Derelict log cabin with tin roof
Sign: Ruby's Place
Sign: Ruby’s Place
Ruby's Place
Ruby’s Place
Downtown Hotel
Downtown Hotel
Sign: Home of the SourToe Cocktail, Toe Hours: 7-9 Thu-Sat
Sign: Home of the SourToe Cocktail, Toe Hours: 7-9 Thu-Sat
Dawson City on the Yukon River with the Klondike River
Dawson City on the Yukon River with the Klondike River
Gold dredge tailings along the Klondike River, Bonanza Creek & Dawson City on the Yukon River
Gold dredge tailings along the Klondike River, Bonanza Creek & Dawson City on the Yukon River
Divide Mountains
Divide Mountains