Millions of years ago, shifting glaciers carved out a dramatic formation of islands in southeast Alaska. Known as the Inside Passage, this hauntingly scenic stretch of coastline has become the most popular cruising destination in Alaska.
About as far removed as you can get from being in the Côte d’Azur mid-season; it is, in fact, far removed from anything and anywhere - which is, after all, one of the attractions of going there. The largest state in the US, both in terms of land and water, Alaska is so vast that despite it being an increasingly popular destination, you can still steer a solitary route much of the time, enjoying the sensation of exploring a complete wilderness.
In this vast terrain of ocean, ancient snowfields, glaciers, fjords, conifer forests and mountains, many of the world’s most elusive creatures make their home. Lost in the depths of the vegetation ashore, black and grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, elk, lynx, bison and deer roam wild; in the ice-cold waters, seals, sea lions, salmon, otters and dolphins cavort in wonderful isolation. But king among them all in size, as ancient as Alaska, and as awe-inspiring as its vast glaciers, is the whale. Watch from your yacht as they smoothly glide past, calmly breaking the surface for air.
Deep in southeast Alaska, Juneau is a beautiful town encircled by water and mountains and is well worth the extra effort to get there, both to explore it in its own right and because it is the ideal entry point for a cruise of the Inside Passage. Forget the speed, noise and drama of the digital age, here it’s all about timeless, majestic landscapes and the remarkable wildlife that has inhabited them for thousands of years.
- Marvel at the haunting Mendenhall Glacier that covers more than 1,500 square miles, best seen by helicopter.
- Spot a wide variety of fish, birds and mammals in their natural habitat as you cruise along the stunning coastlines.
- Embark on a mini-cruise to Holkam Bay, at the mouth of the Tracy Arm Fjord, known locally as the ‘iceberg graveyard’.
- Experienced kayakers can enjoy paddling the waters of Endicott Arm, home to the Dawes Glacier.
- Enjoy glacier watching from the divine waters of your outdoor hot tub.
- Try to catch a glimpse of one of the 600 humpback whales that inhabit the local waters from April to November.