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Juneau, Alaska’s capital, is accessible only by air and sea, due to the rugged mountain terrain that surrounds the city. It has been a world-class travel destination since the early 1900’s. The city has plenty to offer the outdoor adventurer. You may choose to explore on foot along the Perseverance Trail or around Mendenhall Glacier, or board one of the many local whale-watching boats, or view the mountains and extensive glaciers of the Juneau Icefield from a helicopter.
Although founded by Alaskan pioneers, this area was in use for thousands of years by the Tlingit people and was originally settled by the Auke tribe, taking advantage of the abundant food and natural resources provided by the land and sea. Their descendants continue to gather clams, gumboot chitons, grass and sea urchins to this day.
Originally named Harrisburg in 1880, after the gold prospector Richard Harris, the name was later changed to honor his partner Joe Juneau.
Tracy Arm is a 30-mile fjord in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. It is one of two branches extending from glaciers into the Holkham Bay. Tracy Arm and the other branch, Endicott Arm, are designated as the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. During the summer, these fjords are typically filled with floating ice fragments calving from the glaciers that fill about a fifth of their extent. The ice varies from small “bergie bits” to icebergs the size of a three-story building. Depending on the current ice conditions, your captain will sail slowly along one of these fjords for scenic viewing of the ice and the wildlife along the way. Your Ventures by Seabourn team may also offer optional kayak or Zodiac excursions in the arms.
One of the straightest stretches of the Inside Passage is the Stephens Passage just south of Juneau, a 105-mile channel between 5,000-foot peaks that cuts through the Alexander Archipelago between Admiralty Island on the west and the mainland and Douglas Island on the east. It is a good place to be on deck, because Admiralty boasts more bears than people, and the spruce and hemlock forests come right down to the water. The Passage is generally considered some of the best whale-watching water in Alaska, and also holds plentiful populations of huge Steller sea lions, as well as flocks of gulls and guillemots that clatter aloft as the ship passes. The passage was named by George Vancouver in 1794 after being charted by Joseph Whidbey.
Decision Passage is the western end of the Sumner Strait, which runs through the Alexander Archipelago into the Pacific Ocean in Southeastern Alaska, bounded on the north by Kuiu Island and Cape Decision, the location of a 1932 lighthouse. This is the route your ship takes when coming from or going to the colorful historic community of Sitka on the west coast of Baranof Island, which was originally the Russian fortress town of New Archangel.
One of the thousands of islands of the Alexander Archipelago, Wrangell Island sits at the heart of the Tongass National Rain Forest and receives approximately 80” (203 cm) of rain per year. The city of Wrangell, a true Alaskan frontier town, sits at the northern end of the island, a short distance from the mouth of the mighty Stikine River. The history of Wrangell is deeply rooted in the Tlingit people, the fur trade and the gold rush. The Stikine River trade route brought the Tlingit people here thousands of years ago, evidenced by some forty petroglyphs at Petroglyph Beach State Historic Site and Totem Park.
The Stikine River, Shakes Glacier and Anan Creek Bear Observatory are highlights in the region. Anan Creek boasts the largest pink salmon run of the Inside Passage, attracting brown and black bears in great numbers. Wrangell was named for Ferdinand Petrovich Wrangel, a Russian explorer and administrator of the Russian-America Company during the mid-1800’s.
Stikine Strait is a picturesque channel in the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska between Zarembo Island and Woronkofski and Etolin Islands near the mouth of the Stikine River south of Wrangell. It first appears on an 1848 Russian chart as Stakhin Strait and has been spelled variously on many charts since that time.
The 108-mile Behm Canal runs from the Clarence Strait through the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska, and into the channel separating Revillagigedo Island from the mainland. It forms part Inside Passage on the route between Ketchikan and the Misty Fjords National Monument. The canal was named by George Vancouver during his surveying expedition in 1793, in honor of Magnus von Behm, who had been governor of Kamchatka in the Russian Far East when Vancouver called at Petropavlovsk with Captain Cook’s expedition following the Cook’s murder in Hawaii.
Scottish-American naturalist John Muir compared the 2,294,343-acre (930,000 hectare) Misty Fjords National Monument to his favorite place in America, Yosemite National Park. Often shrouded in mist, Misty Fjords is a true wilderness.
Its vertical granite cliffs, which reach 3,000’ (900 m) above sea level, descend another 1,000’ (300 m) below the water’s surface. Carved by glaciers and covered in a green carpet of mosses and lichens, Misty Fjords receives more than 150” (381 cm) of rain per year. Western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and western red cedar dominate the prolific vegetation along its shore. Mountain goats, brown and black bears, coastal wolves, sea lions, bald eagles, ravens, Dall’s porpoises, orca and humpback whales can be spotted along its shorelines and throughout its waters.
Long before the arrival of John Muir, the Tlingit people lived and moved throughout this region, surviving on what the land provided. Evidence of their historic and ongoing presence is recorded in the many pictographs found along the shores of Misty Fjords.
Misty Fjords National Monument is a section of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska’s extreme southeastern Panhandle region. The monument consists of over two million acres of deeply cut fjords cradled in U-shaped valleys between mountain ranges rising 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level. The fjords themselves extend as much as 1,000 feet below the surface. These granite ranges are covered with virgin forest, and most of the monument is also a dedicated wilderness area. Misty Fjords inspired the explorer John Muir to proclaim them among the most beautiful places he had ever seen. Your ship will cruise among these spectacular forests, waterfalls and mountains. The onboard Ventures by Seabourn team will offer optional excursions including kayaking the fjords and a short sightseeing floatplane flight.
Prince Rupert, set amongst the coastal mountains, is the jumping-off point for travelers joining the coastal ferries to Haida Gwaii, Vancouver or north to Alaska. Highlights include the quaint Cow Bay with its shops and restaurants, the Museum of Northern British Columbia, the totem carving house or the stunning sunken gardens.
Prince Rupert certainly has abundant wildlife. Whether you join a local boat for whale-watching, hike along the Butze Rapids or take a scenic flight, you are sure to be pleased. The region is home to the highest concentration of grizzly bears in North America. The Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, established in 1994, was the first area in Canada to be protected specifically for grizzlies and their habitat.
Founded in 1910, the town was named for Prince Rupert, who was a governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670. Prince Rupert is the northern terminus of the Canadian National Railway and an important port for goods moving towards Alaska.
Grenville Channel is a long, well-protected channel along the northern British Columbia coast between the large Pitt Island and the mainland. It is an important shipping lane, and you are likely to see ships of many different types and sizes as you pass through. The shores are mountainous on both sides, with two notable peaks about halfway through, Mt. Batchellor on the east side and Mt. Saunders on Pitt Island to the west. There are a number of Indian Reserves and Marine Parks in the mountains and narrow waterways off the channel.
Whale Channel is a picturesque waterway separating Gil Island from Princess Royal Island in British Columbia’s Inside Passage. Surrounded by snow-capped mountain ranges and teeming with marine life, It is a diversion from the main shipping lane, located roughly halfway between Prince Rupert and the First Nations village of Klemtu.
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The Princess Royal Channel separates the largest island along British Columbia’s coast from the mainland. It is located roughly halfway between Bella Bella in the south and Prince Rupert in the north, in one of the province’s most remote areas. Princess Royal island was named in 1788 by Captain Charles Duncan, in honor of his ship, the Princess Royal. The island is uninhabited, although there are two small villages in the channel, the First Nations community of Klemtu on Swindle Island and Hartley Bay on the mainland. Wildlife, by contrast, is plentiful, including Kermode, black and grizzly bears, deer, wolves and foxes. Golden and bald eagles nest in the region, as well as the endangered marbled murrelet. In the waters, there are abundant salmon, elephant seals, whales, orcas and dolphins.
Located on the now-dormant Alert Bay volcanic belt, Cormorant Island is host to Vancouver Island’s oldest northern community, the small town of Alert Bay. It is located in the traditional territory of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation and today is a blend of both aboriginal and pioneer culture.
A walk along the shores of this tiny 0.69-square mile (1.8 sq. km) island will amaze you with its history, spectacular views and abundant wildlife. Remnants of its former fish-salting plant from the 1800’s remain along the harbor. The U’mista Cultural Centre is Canada’s longest-running First Nations museum and home to the famed Potlach Collection. This collection of ceremonial regalia was confiscated for preservation by Canadian authorities in 1922, and finally returned to the community during the 1980’s. Seabirds, humpback, orca, and gray whales, sea lions and white-sided dolphins are all present in the surrounding waters. Alert Bay was named in 1860 for the Royal Navy ship HMS Alert which conducted survey operations in and around the region.
The Seymour Narrows is a 3-mile/5 km stretch of the Discovery Channel north of Vancouver Island, British Columbia that is notorious for the strength of the tidal currents flowing through it. The average width of the narrows is just 750 meters. During extreme tides, the current through the narrows is subject to severe Venturi effect, resulting in an increased velocity that can reach 15 knots. For much of its modern history, there was an additional hazard in the narrows called Ripple Rock, a shallow obstruction that claimed no fewer than 119 ships and 114 lives. In 1958, after months of tunneling and preparation, Ripple Rock was blown up in the largest commercial, non-nuclear explosion ever recorded in North America. Still, the navigation of Seymour Narrows is dependent on tidal and other conditions, and requires skill and technical accomplishment.
The humble beginnings of the City of Vancouver, in the settlement of Gastown on Burrard Inlet, rose out of the old growth forests and the sawdust of the old Hastings Mill. Its location between the Pacific Ocean and the snow-capped coastal mountains creates one of the most idyllic settings of any city in the world. As a world-class city it has the best of both worlds, intermingling urban sophistication with a sense of wilderness and outdoor adventure. Whether you are exploring Vancouver’s diverse downtown core, strolling through the giant trees of Stanley Park or taking in the 20 miles (30 km) of uninterrupted waterfront trails along the seawall, you are bound to fall in love with Canada’s third largest metropolitan center, which is consistently ranked as one of most livable cities on earth.
In 1886, the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Vancouver, completing Canada’s ‘National Dream’ of a connection between east and west, and opening up new trade routes between Asia and Europe. The city was named for British captain and explorer George Vancouver.
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