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Deaf Alaska Land & Cruise Tour
July 6 - 19, 2013

Some of us arrived in Fairbanks prior to the start of the land tour. Thus, we could take advantage of a wonderful river boat tour starting in Fairbanks. Also, arriving earlier made it possible to get adjusted to the time change and the mesmerizing midnight sun.

Riverboat

River Boat Tour
Train Restaurant

Enjoying Breakfast in the Train Restaurant

After everybody arrived in Fairbanks, we started our exciting trip. We transferred to the Wilderness Express train for our journey south. Our car had a restaurant on the lower level and an upstair sitting area with a glass-domed roof. We started our voyage with a breakfast while passing the beautiful scenery. Back on the upper level of the car, we appreciated our tour guides commentary regarding Alaska's history, nature, and culture. At lunch time, we disembarked the train and went on a Denali Natural History bus tour. Our overnight hotel was the Grande Denali Lodge.



We had free time in the morning in Denali. But most of us decided to go to Husky Homestead, home of Iditarod Champion Jeff King. We were greeted by cuddly puppies and we enjoyed a very educational lecture about the training of the dogs. Jeff King's compelling stories about the Iditarod allowed us to share an intimate view of the Alaskan Husky. We embarked the Wilderness Express train shortly before lunch time. Lunch was served soon. While enjoying a delicious lunch, we marveled at the snow covered mountains. Later, we enjoyed a narrated presentation about the area that we passed. Talkeetna was our final destination for this day. We stayed at the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge for one night.





Cuddly husky puppies


Waterford

Our group in front of the Wilderness Express train


Since our train was not scheduled to depart until the afternoon, we had plenty of time to discover Talkeetna. It is a small town that once served as a miner's supply center and a riverboat station. Main Street is the only paved road in town.
Late in the afternoon, we returned to the Wilderness Express where a delicious dinner was waiting for us. We departed for Anchorage where we arrived in the evening. The bus took us to the Marriott. Still, we had time for a stroll through Anchorage, the city that is located between the Chugach National Forest and the Cook Inlet.



At noon, we left Anchorage via bus heading towards Alyeska. On the way to our hotel, we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We were able to see moose, bear, elk and, bison up close. Our early arrival at the Hotel Alyeska allowed us to take the cable car up to the mountain top and enjoy a marvelous view with a blue sky and sunshine. The snow covered mountain peaks reminded us of the importance of Alyeska as a ski resort.

Alyeska

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Seals in Resurrection Bay

Seals in Resurrection Bay
While leaving the beautiful area of Alyeska, we followed the road to Seward via bus enjoying the impressive world of mountains on the left and right. Seward is located at Resurrection Bay. The town was founded in 1903 when an ice-free port was needed to be connected to the railroad system. Soon, the town prospered as a cargo and fishing port. The 1964 earthquake destroyed 90 percent of the town that was entirely rebuilt including the harbor with an earthquake proof dock. During the Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise we saw whales, seals, bald eagles and other wildlife.
We departed the Seward Windsong Lodge for the Seward Cruise Terminal in the morning. The coach took us to the down town area where some of us visited the Alaska SeaLife Center. Afterwards, we went to the pier and had a smooth check-in at the ship. Then, we had plenty of time to explore our ship, the Millennium. The ship set sail at 8 PM still in broad daylight.
Seward

Seward

Hubbard Glacier

Approaching Hubbard Glacier

We enjoyed a Day at Sea by participating in different onboard activities in the morning. During the early afternoon, we started to slowly approach Hubbard Glacier. After getting to the closest point to the glacier, the ship stopped and we had many opportunities to take pictures. The weather was perfect: sunshin and blue sky.

Most of us went on a tour to Mendenhall Glacier during our stay in Juneau, Alaska's capital. After the termination of our tour, there was still time to discover the town that was founded during the gold rush in the late 1800s. The city is the home of the Patsy Ann dog statue that was erected at the waterfront in 1992. Patsy Ann was a deaf dog who could tell when ships were on the way to Juneau before they sounded their horns. She loved to meet the ships at the docks and soon became known as the "Official Boat Greeter of Juneau".

Mendenhall Glacier

At Mendenhall Glacier
White Pass Railway Traincar

White Pass Railway Traincar

Skagway is a town that reminds visitors of the Klondike Gold Rush era. It is a place that offers visitors a nice variety of activities and entertainment. Our group embarked the White Pass Scenic Railway at the Skagway train depot and traveled up the mountains to the White Pass. After arriving back in town, an enjoyable stroll through Main Street offered many opportunities for shopping or for learning about the history of the town. During the course of the years, shop fronts and other buildings have been restored. Thus, the visitor has the impression as if they were walking through the boomtown of the late 1890s.



We embarked a tram in Icy Strait Point that took us through the southeast Alaskan rainforest and along the shoreline where Chichagof Island meets the waters of Icy Strait. We learned about the ecological and cultural significance of the forest and the daily life of the Native Tlingit people. Icy Strait Point was originally built as a Salmon Cannery. The old cannery closed in 1999. Then, the area was changed into a cruise port area with shops, historical displays and outdoor activities.
Icy Strait Point

Icy Strait Point
Ketchikan Creek

Ketchikan Creek

Ketchikan, the "Salmon Capital of the World" was our next port of call. The town is also known for the world's largest collection of standing totem poles. One of the places where many totem poles can be found is Saxman Village that we visited during our tour. Members of the native community welcomed us at the Beaver Clan House with traditional songs and dances. At the Saxman Totem Park we saw the largest gatherings of totem poles in the world. Back in town, we walked along Ketchikan Creek that is framed with a wooden boardwalks, a nice pedestrian area with small shops and galleries.
Dinner at the Lookout Tower

Dinner at the Lookout Tower Vancouver
The day of disembarkation was for some of us a day of travel in order to get home while others enjoyed a Vancouver City tour. Traveling in a mini bus, we saw the most popular landmarks like Stanley Park, English Bay, Granville Island, Gastown, Chinatown, and Robson Street. An inside visit of the Aquarium was also included in the tour.
We stayed in Vancouver for two nights. One night, we had dinner at the Lookout Tower restaurant. The rotating restaurant provides a 360 degree view of Vancouver.


Group Picture

Group Picture



Fundraising Poster

We would like to thank the following people for their donation:
  • Betty McBroom
  • David & Barbara Burnes

Contact Kerstin's Deaf Travel to book your next cruise by sending an e-mail to kerstin@kerstinstravel.com



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