Alaska up close and personal
For two weeks earlier in 2012, Kevin and Sheryl Percy explored Alaska’s Inside Passage aboard the Wilderness Adventurer, an Innersea Discovery expedition boat.
With only 30 rooms, for those on board, the ship offers a very different experience than a large cruise liner. Coined as ‘un-cruise’ adventures, Innersea Discovery cruises focus on ‘luxury of experience and discovery’, rather than entertainment and nightlife.
Now they’re back in New Zealand, the Percy’s dining room table is covered in photos from their trip. “We absolutely loved our time in Alaska and took hundreds of photos,” Sheryl says. “Sorting them into an album is nigh on impossible!”
When Kevin and Sheryl were researching their trip, they attended a presentation on Alaskan cruises held by Travel Designer Christine Sheppard. Immediately they liked the ‘un-cruise’ concept.
“We looked at the brochure Christine gave us and thought it looked and sounded great. Cruising on a smaller vessel gave us a chance to see an Alaska the big ships can’t. We were able to navigate up narrow passages and into secluded fjords, as well as being able to explore snowy shorelines by skiff (a small boat) which was brilliant. We were also able to kayak around, taking in the stunning scenery – up close and personal that’s for sure,” says Sheryl.
The 14-day cruise began in Juneau, working its way through the Inside Passage down to Ketchikan taking in many areas including Frederick Sound, Icy Strait, Glacier Bay National Park (the largest national part in the United States), Juneau, Ketchikan, Misty Fjords National Monument and Wrangell Narrows.
Highlights for the Percy’s included seeing brown bears, pods of orca, the wildlife, caving and weaving amongst the icebergs in skiffs.
“Most days we’d get off the boat either in kayaks or skiffs. There was no such thing as cabin fever that’s for sure!” says Sheryl.
“We saw nature at its most beautiful – wildlife in its natural setting. We even witnessed a mother bear and her cub chasing each other along the shoreline. Our guide explained what was happening at each stop and each night the crew presented talks about aspects of the landscape or wildlife.”
Every couple of days the boat would dock, enabling passengers to explore towns and fishing villages tucked in around the coast. “We explored Ketchikan, which is rich in cultural heritage of Alaska’s Tlingit Indians. It was beautiful and definitely a highlight,” says Sheryl.
“We just loved it and we’d go again in a heartbeat,” says Sheryl.