Alaska’s raw, untamed coastline, carved by glaciers and coated in forest, is ripe for exploring on a luxury cruise. You can see nature on an epic scale, spot wildlife in abundance, and visit remote gold-rush towns that would otherwise be near-on impossible to reach.
Alaska specialist Piper recently set sail on Silversea’s Silver Muse, cruising from Vancouver to Seward, and has opened up her diary from her seven nights on board. She shares the highlights from her voyage — both on and offshore.
Thursday June 23, 2022
Setting sail from Vancouver
Vancouver Harbour glittered in the sun as I approached my home for the next seven days: Silver Muse. The crew appear to be just as excited as us passengers to be here and seem genuinely interested in getting to know everyone.
After a bit of exploring and a mezze lunch, I settled into my suite. My luggage was there waiting, along with a bottle of Champagne (which I was quick to pop). There’s lots of space in here, including a light and airy living room, and I’ve already lost track of time sitting out on my balcony gazing out into the blue.
There are eight restaurants to choose from — six included in your voyage. Tonight I went for an Italian at La Terrazza, opting for a steak (cooked to perfection) and a light, creamy tiramisu, with wine pairings for each course. I’m now feeling suitably full and can’t wait for the days ahead.
Friday June 24, 2022
Breakfast on the balcony & on-board activities
Waking up to the sound of the waves instantly gave me a buzz of excitement. My private butler, Phillip, brought breakfast (poached eggs) which I’d ordered last night and I sat eating them overlooking the ocean.
We’ve spent today at sea cruising along the Inside Passage, which gave me time to get to know the ship. It was raining, but with a hot tub to soak in it was no big deal as I was able to take in views of mountains shrouded in mist and tiny, fir-covered islands.
You could choose from a few scheduled activities throughout the day, too. The sushi-making demonstration left me ravenous, so I headed to the lunch buffet, which thankfully included a huge mound of fresh seafood. I also joined a photography workshop to learn a few skills that might be useful for the rest of the trip.
Tonight I’m dining at the Asian-inspired Indochine, but first, let me take in this sunset…
Saturday June 25, 2022
Crab fishing & totem poles in Ketchikan
This morning we docked at Ketchikan, the self-proclaimed ‘salmon capital of the world’, watching from the deck as its rainbow of buildings grew closer.
I decided to find out more about its fishing heritage and joined a boat trip on a working crab-fishing vessel, the Aleutian Bard. Our guide, Scotty, shared stories from his 34 years of fishing and showed us different techniques, bringing up crab, fish, starfish, and prawns for us to look at.
After that, I had a brief wander around the town. While tiny, it has a lot of frontier history and Indigenous Tlingit and Haida culture, including well-preserved totem poles you can see at the Totem Heritage Center.
Once back on board, I took time to relax by the pool. For dinner, I couldn’t resist ordering the wild Atlantic salmon at the ship’s seafood restaurant, Atlantide.
Sunday June 26, 2022
Sea kayaking & street food in Juneau
I’ve spent the whole day exploring Juneau — Alaska’s state capital — and its watery surroundings. The city has such a striking setting, bordered by glacier-gripped mountains and forest.
The best-known glacier here is Mendenhall, and on a guided sea-kayaking trip, our guide pointed out its dazzling-white mass. We also saw seals bobbing on the water’s surface and bald eagles swooping above us. But, the best moment was when a humpback whale breached the waves not far from our small group, its huge mouth agape as it gulped in its prey before sinking back into the depths, leaving a ring of foam.
Back on land, I headed to the street-food market for some rockfish tacos. Rockfish are a quintessential Alaskan delicacy, and the soft flesh had a spicy tang, balanced with a zing of lime. I also wanted to experience a hint of the city’s gold-rush heritage, so visited the Red Dog Saloon. With straw on the floor, moose heads on the wall, and staff dressed in costume, it certainly evoked the era.
Tonight, I’ve decided to treat myself to a meal at La Dame, the ship’s fine-dining French restaurant — I’m told it’s worth paying the extra for a meal here, especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
Monday June 27, 2022
Gold rush history in Skagway
Well, what a meal I had last night. Soft, creamy scallops, succulent beef filet, and a light-as-air pistachio souffle. I continued my classy evening by attending a live opera performance. I can get used to this way of life.
As for today, we docked in the 19th-century gold-rush town of Skagway early this morning. To follow in the footsteps of Klondike gold prospectors, I boarded the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, built over two years and completed in 1898 to ease access to the newly discovered gold mines.
The route cuts through dappled-green mountains, giving you dizzying views over deep gorges and waterfalls and sometimes plunging you into total darkness as you tunnel through the rock. I particularly liked the way the track wound around the mountainsides, so you can see the front of the train curving around the cliff edge ahead. On-board narrators tell you about the history of the gold rush and point out landmarks as you go.
Once back, I headed to the Skagway Brewing Company to try spruce-tip ale, made using Sitka spruce trees. It contains as much vitamin C as orange juice, so was used as a source of nutrition for local Indigenous people.
Back on Silver Muse, I had a more hands-on meal at Hot Rocks, out on the pool deck. You’re given beef or fish to cook yourself on heated lava rocks in front of you.
Tuesday June 28, 2022
Chowder & sea otters in Sitka
I took the tender boat to shore this morning, soaking in the views of Sitka and the conical, snow-capped peak of Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano that reminded me of Mount Fuji. Strolling around the town, I soon noticed remnants from its time as the capital of Russian America in the 19th century, including the Russian Orthodox Saint Michael’s Cathedral, which has an onion-shaped dome.
I headed to Sitka National Historical Park, where the smell of cedar trees fills the air and gaps in the foliage reveal views over Sitka Sound. You can stroll among the park’s collection of 15 replica Tlingit totem poles (the originals are too fragile to be displayed), each with a plaque explaining the meaning behind its design. The park’s visitor facility also sheds light on Tlingit culture, Sitka’s history, and the flora and fauna you can see.
Next, I tucked into some seafood chowder at Ludwig’s, right on the waterfront, dipping warm sourdough into the creamy, lightly spiced broth. Then, the afternoon was spent searching for wildlife on a boat trip. It didn’t disappoint: we saw 30-strong rafts of sea otters preening and basking in the sun, sea lions slumped happily on some rocks, a couple of humpback whales spouting water just ahead of us, and a female grizzly with two cubs foraging along the shoreline. It was like being on a wildlife documentary!
After returning to the ship, I spent this evening at the piano bar, Silver Note, which has the intimate feel of a speakeasy and a relaxing ambience.
Wednesday June 29, 2022
Sailing past the Hubbard glacier
Our final day at sea took us past North America’s largest glacier, the Hubbard, a mass of ice so colossal I could barely comprehend its size (though, of course, like all glaciers, it’s retreating due to climate change). Icebergs drifted in the foreground, some scattered with seabirds and harbor seals dozing in the sun.
Suddenly, there was a deep rumble, and we watched as a slice of the glacier broke off and tumbled into the water, creating great, frothy waves.
I spent a lot of time out on the deck enjoying the views and taking photos that will never do the real thing justice. There were also several activities to get involved in on board — I thoroughly enjoyed the salsa class.
For my final dinner on board, I decided to go full circle and return to La Terrazza. This time, I had the beef carpaccio and tuna steak, and my server remembered exactly what drink I liked.
I’ve just packed my bags and left them outside my suite for staff to collect in the morning — they can make sure your luggage is taken to Anchorage’s airport if you’re catching an onward flight. It’s definitely worth extending your trip to explore Alaska’s wild interior, or you could hop over the border to spend time in Canada.
But for me, it’s time to enjoy a final evening with my newly made friends (staff and fellow passengers alike) as we celebrate what’s been a fantastic voyage.
Get me there
You can spend seven days cruising Alaska’s coast aboard Silversea’s Silver Muse as part of our Alaska cruise and wilderness lodge itinerary idea.
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