Alaska is full of surprises. For a start, it’s one of the largest rain forests in the world with 162 inches of rainfall a year. It is incredibly beautiful, incredibly spectacular and incredibly vast. It appears to be an endless wilderness. Everywhere you look there are panoramic vistas of mountains carpeted with towering hemlock and spruce trees, reaching from the shoreline up to the clouds. The evergreen seems to stretch on for ever. In a way, it’s heartening. The sheer size gives you hope that we haven’t completely destroyed the planet just yet.
That was part of Brent Nixon’s message. He was one of the highlights of the cruise. He’s a Naturalist Lecturer who filled the Celebrity theatre most days and enthralled everyone with his non-typical, fact-filled and funny video and slide illustrated shows. He gave separate lectures on the wildlife, all of which helped us to get more out of the sightings of whales, bears, bald eagles, sea lions and seals. In this mountain greenery the almost unreal pastel blue of the Hubbard Glacier was astonishing. Everyone on board was entranced as iceberg after iceberg calved off from the immense ice cliff in front of our eyes.
To a certain extent all cruises depend on the excursions you take. In Alaska you’re almost spoiled for choice. A star tour for us was in Ketchikan when we visited the Misty Fjords. The weather wasn’t misty but beautifully clear. The trip was amazing, especially Rudyerd Bay, a deep fjord with 3000 feet cliffs rising sheer from the water. Seals and bald eagles looked on as we, after the three hour boat trip, climbed aboard the float plane for the 20 minute flight back to Ketchikan.
Another memorable day was the hike we took out of Juneau to look down on the Mendenhall glacier. Our guide took pleasure in pointing out the bear scat. At one point there were two sets of droppings, one very fresh. One of the hikers was heard to say nervously: ‘So now we’re on a two bear path!’ After a day out hiking in the cold wind and rain, despite wearing the complimentary protective poncho, it was delightful to return to the cosseted luxury of Infinity and to be greeted with all the courtesy and friendliness for which Celebrity is famous. There were, of course, other great outings in Skagway, Vancouver and Victoria. And once again we were blessed with delightful company at our table with two pairs of old friends and one very welcome new couple.
The cruise was 100% perfect and as for the long haul flights, the World Traveller Plus seats on BA were fabulous.