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Alaska Cruises: Your Ice Age Odyssey Begins

Jun 25, 2008
The ooohhs and ahhhs begin as your Alaska cruise ship glides effortlessly northward through the 1,000mile Inside Passage that parallels the coasts of British Columbia and the southern Alaskan panhandle.

Alaska is located in the North West corner of the North American continent. Nearly one third lies within the Arctic Circle separated by Canada from lower 48 states.

Alaska has a total area of 663,267 square miles and it is the largest state in the U.S. It has an east west width is equivalent to the width of the lower 48 states.

You pass thousands of densely forested islands totaling 40,000 miles of coastline, all kissed by the placid waters of fjords, coves, and bays created by the chaos of glacial gouging millions of years ago.

Mountains tower as high as 15,000 feet above the seashore, waterfalls tumble down their faces, and bald eagles soar high above. Youre in the homeland of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indians, and your ship may dock at Canadian ports along the way. All this, and your Ice Age odyssey has only just begun.

For most cruise lines, the first Alaskan port is Ketchikan, where a wealth of traditional Native American culture awaits, including the worlds largest collection of totem poles.

Nearby, youll be mesmerized by Misty Fjords National Monument and Tongass National Forest, a temperate rainforest abundant with animal life and ancient conifers one of the worlds rarest ecosystems and the largest national forest in the U.S.

Highlights of the your journeys northern passage include Sitka, the Russian capital of Alaska from 1808 to 1867, Juneau, featuring the massive, glacierinfested Juneau Icefield, and Tracy Arm Fjords picturesque waterfalls.

Choose an Alaska cruise that sails to Skagway, and you will float upon the glassysurfaced Glacier Bay, a 72mile stretch of pristine beauty unlike any in the world. Sailing past frosted cliffs towering high above the water, you might see a pod of humpback whales breaching the surface, a brown bear lumbering along the shore, and a sea otter floating on its back while devouring a meal.

As you encounter glacier after spectacular glacier and hear the powerful explosionlike sounds of mammoth blocks of ice crashing into the emerald water below, its like witnessing the Ice Age of a distant past.

Disenchantment Bay is home of the creaking, groaning, constantly calving Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier In Alaska, covering 76 miles from its Yukon source, Mt. Logan, to the head of Yukatat Bay.

The glacier cuts a wide swath through the mountains like an immense river of ice heading for the sea. Small icebergs inhabited by sea birds and seals add to the surreal atmosphere along the way. If youre lucky, you will experience white thunder as huge chunks of ice crash into the bay.
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