When Cruise Expert Lindsay Harkness first visited Alaska, she came back with a lot of stories. How many people can say they saw a grizzly just 20 feet away? In this interview, Lindsay shares some of her adventures in the Great Land, how cruising was a great way to experience everything it has to offer, and provides a tip on how best to capture exciting moments like hers.
What experience got you hooked on cruising?
I had actually never cruised before I started working here. My first cruise was a cruisetour to Alaska and after experiencing ship life I knew I had found a new favourite form of travelling. Waking up in a new place every day after having a five star dinner and night life the night before was amazing.
What are your favourite ports in Alaska? Why?
Although it’s not a port, Denali was my favourite place in Alaska. You need to take a cruisetour to get there because it is right in the interior of the state.
I saw grizzlies, dall sheep, caribou, moose and a wolf in Denali, and being an animal lover, it was heaven for me.
My second favourite part of Alaska was Glacier Bay, which is also not technically a port. It was a full day of scenic cruising where we saw dozens of glaciers calving into the ocean.
The Naturalist that came on board gave a great lesson in natural history of the area as well as wildlife commentary. I was also lucky enough to see several humpback whales off the side of the ship that day.
What are your favourite excursions that you’ve done in Alaska?
Whitewater rafting in Denali was exhilarating. They are category four rapids. The water of the Nenana river is glacier fed, and very cold, but you get a dry suit to keep you warm. There are several intimidating whirlpools to manoeuvre around, but the guides are very experienced and I had complete faith in them.
What’s your most memorable moment in Alaska?
Probably seeing the grizzly bears for the first time in Denali National Park on the Tundra Wilderness Tour.
I have seen a few black bears before while camping in BC (going through our cooler!), but the sheer size of the grizzly bears was incredible.
What was your most interesting experience in Alaska?
Taking the glass domed rail car from Denali down to the cruise ship in Whittier. Along the eight hour journey, we went over Hurricane Gulch, which is a railroad trestle that was built in 1921 for $12 million dollars. It spans 918 ft and was the most expensive part of the whole Alaska railroad.
Along that journey we also spotted a huge pod of beluga whales south of Anchorage in Turnagain Arm, just before we travelled through a mountain to arrive at the ship.
What’s the most interesting Alaska cruise you’ve booked for your clients?
The Princess Cruisetour UB8 is a great way to experience Alaska. It is 15 nights long and includes a 3 day stay in the Kenai peninsula. This is off the beaten track and has some of the best fishing, hiking, kayaking and horseback riding. You can also take a wildlife cruise to the Kenai Fjords and enjoy some amazing scenery.
What’s one thing you always tell your clients before they go on their Alaska cruise?
Always have your camera ready and take as many pictures as possible. You never know when one of the expert guides will point out some wildlife and they move fast!
Lindsay can be reached at 1-800-565-2784 or LindsayH@CruiseExpertsTravel.com.