Alaska. Just the mention of it is as invigorating as its legendary clean, fresh air. Unimaginably vast and ruggedly beautiful, it remains the absolute Rolls Royce of scenic cruising anywhere in the world.
You might see sodden, shambling brown grizzly bears wading ashore, before lunging through fields of giant redwood trees that stand like ranks of grenadiers as they stalk their prey. Breakfast out on your sun splashed balcony could well be interrupted by the sudden spectacle of vast killer whales, breaking surface as they surge alongside you like some kind of special welcoming committee.
Ashore, vast backdrops of jagged, brooding mountain ranges descend to the edges of the sea in the form of lush, dense valleys, carpeted with serried tiers of gaunt, expansive pine trees. You could soar above this dense, dreamlike landscape in a float plane, before alighting at some secluded waterfront village to feast on freshly caught wild salmon, and maybe even to try panhandling for a little gold yourself in the original setting for the great gold rush of the nineteenth century.
The sun never sets at all on this fairytale setting at the height of summer. In the endless, ethereal light of the midnight sun, everything quite literally takes on a different complexion.
Those vast, looming fields of ice that drifted by you like snow white sailing ships made of crystal during daylight, now resemble ink black, uninhabited islands, their jagged peaks stark and unforgettable against the endless golden glow of the sun. Maybe sharpen the breathtaking sensation of this stunning natural parade with a glass of ice cold bubbly on board as your ship cuts silently through this mesmerising hinterland, en route to your next port of call.
There are still echoes of earlier, more chaotic and heady times ashore. You’ll hear it in the frantic, melodic tinkling of a honky tonk piano in some ramshackle waterfront bar, with the smell of freshly caught fish simmering on the barbeque out on a patio overlooking a magnificent wall of towering ferns reflected in a still, glassy sea. You will almost certainly stumble upon crude, impassive totem poles, with grotesque carvings and colourful paint, fading with the passing of the years, as they stand like fantastic exclamation marks straight out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale.
Alaska’s magnificent fjords are fully the equal of anything in Norway, and a luxury cruise is without doubt the best way to navigate a course through a magnificent landscape shaped and moulded by the ice that still calves here to this day.
The stillness surprises many people. Eagles soar overhead in a sky so crisp and blue that it seems almost endless. On some slippery, wave splashed rock a polar bear attempts to keep its balance as it snaps at the shoals of fish surging upstream like an underwater armada. Even at midnight, you might just pick out the shapes of grazing moose as they saunter along the edges of the waterfront.
Wherever your personal voyage takes you, it is safe to say that Alaska will stay with you long after you leave it behind. You can view our full range of Alaska Cruise Tours here.
Written by Anthony Nicholas. Copyright 2012.