Friday, July 7, 2017

Icy Strait Point, Alaska

 Icy Strait Point, the only port of call that we had not previously visited, seems almost out of place on the itinerary. The shoreline is lined with trees rather than jewelry shops. In fact there are only a few shops for the shopaholic to peruse and the port only has room for one cruise ship at a time and the day that we were there, only one other ship would visit. But don't let the sparse and rugged terrain fool you. There's a lot of bang for the buck at this little community.

  If you were to look up Icy Strait Point on YouTube you would find a plethora of videos about zip line. It's what they're famous for. They boast the world's largest zip rider and although we didn't take the ride I can tell you that I wouldn't try to dispute their claim.
  After some debate among the group it was decided that we would skip the adventurous zip line in favor of the more leisurely activity of whale watching. I was okay with it. I've never been up close to a whale outside of Sea World so why not? The best and most surprising thing was that they guaranteed you would see whales. That's pretty bold. They had two hours to fulfill this claim and they delivered withing the first thirty minutes. We made our way within a hundred yards of a nice hump

back whale making its way to the feeding grounds. It wasn't really interested in us much which I suppose I don't blame him. It's an interesting game to play this chasing whales. We learned real fast that when you see that tale come out of the water you wouldn't see him resurface for around four to five minutes. The tail up is a sign the whale is diving deep. Once below the surface it's anyone's guess as to where they'll pop up. Once they do the engine comes alive and the chase is on. 
    Chase is strong word. They aren't out to harass the whales. I noticed they keep a good distance away from the animals and they are extremely careful about maintaining that distance. As the crew comes through the cabin they make sure to teach you about the whales and it is apparent that they care about the well being of the animals. Overall, very cool and now I want to go back to California for a chance to see Blue Whales when they are in the area.
  After the tour we walked he shops on shore and learned about how Salmon fishing and canning was the lifeline for Hoonah, the small town just a mile out of port. The shops still have some of the old machinery used to process and can the fish and I'll warn you that the displays are...detailed.
  Before heading back to the ship we walked a path that takes you into the lush forest along the shore. It's a short walk and well worth he twenty minutes it takes to traverse it.
  If you ask me Icy Strait Point is a nice change of pace in the middle of a busy cruise. The beauty and rugged atmosphere is a sharp contrast from the shopping bombardment you receive at the larger towns. It feels more like Alaska rather than a tourist trap. But make no mistake, it is a tourist trap. Look for Icy Strait Point before booking a cruise. I think you'd be missing out if you didn't get to visit. 
 Next week we'll finish up our Alaska cruise with our last port of call, Ketchikan. If you come back for that I may tell you about how I ended up on stage with the local tribe. See you next week.


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