Just returned from a 7 day cruise in Alaska, on the Norwegian Star, with Freestyle Dining, a unique approach, which we enjoyed immensely. More on that later. We visited the Alaskan cities of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Prince Ruptfort, in British Columbia. Could not have had a better time. Alaska should be called the ‚??Land of 10 Thousand Islands‚??. Simply beautiful, with hundreds of miles of wilderness coastline, both Port and Starboard, where there are no boats, houses etc. I can‚??t imagine what kind of fish exploration thrills that could bring. Many of the Islands near a port city contained a single house on them. Often the Islands were barely an acre in size, selling for millions of dollars. Owning your own Island does have some appeal to me? Ha! Ha!
I went fishing in Ketchikan, on a deluxe 31‚?? Cruiser, with a 12‚?? beam, called the Misty Bell with 4 other anglers, 2 couples from Kentucky & Dallas Texas, neither of which had fished before. We all agreed the women would be first up on a hookup. We were each assigned a rod to watch, all connected to a downrigger, except the center one which used an 8 oz sinker. Herring (frozen) was used for bait, both whole, about the size of a sardine, and cut pieces. The salmon wanted the whole Herring. Salmon like to kill bait with its tail, and then eat it as it drifts to the bottom. The bites were very subtle, so you had to be ever alert, and quickly wind down on the fish to set the hook, which is often spit out.
We fished only five miles down from the harbor, for two reasons, one this area held a lot of bait, and subsequently drew predators to feed on it. Two, the next area to fish was over 20 miles away, and the port time for the cruise ship did not allow for this long of a run to fish properly. With a little over a half day of fishing costing $199, what would a full day cost? Probably cheaper if not run through the Cruise Line?
When discussing the fishing opportunities available, given the time constraint, 5 hours, it was King Salmon only as the target, requiring a $20 dollar one day fishing License, plus a King Stamp for another $10. Asking the captain about recent fishing activity, he said his best day so far was three legal Kings (over 28‚??), averaging 25-30 lbs, with a biggest of 40 lbs., when he caught two that size one day. This did not raise my spirits for a chance of all of us catching a legal fish. Last year his best day was eight, meaning for five passengers, he never did limit out. Of course if the fish were big, I‚??m sure with all the inexperience anglers, losses of the bigger fish were common.
I was amazed at how close we fished to shore, but the depth dropped quickly to several hundred feet just 100 yards off shore. Here we are trolling for King Salmon at 2-3 knots.
First hookup was a Quillback Rockfish.
We then caught 3 of what is called a (shaker), a short salmon, under 28‚??.
This Shaker was bleeding badly, unfortunately ending up as a Bald Eagle lunch or dinner.
A Bald Eagle approaching his meal. They were very numerous along the coast of Alaska.
Everyone had hooked and landed a fish, although none were kept, except me, as my rod never got a taste of a bite. So I was up next, no matter which pole was bit. When the port down rigger went off, I was on it like flies on honey. Wound down tight, set the hook, and 100 yards of line went screaming off the reel. He then charged right back to the boat, as I winded as fast as I could to regain some tension. Another 100 yard run, and back charging the boat. I cinched down the drag a bit, as it was set very light, while it took another short run this time. Just as the skipper had cleared all lines, I yelled for a gaff ( net), as a very healthy looking King Salmon appeared from the depths. The Captain was surprised at the speed at which I brought the fish to the boat, and mentioned how soft certain parts of the mouths are, necessitating a light drag. Fortunately I hooked the fish in the gills, that hook wasn‚??t coming out.
Cory with an 18 lb. King Salmon, caught in Ketchikan, Alaska
Captain Clayton & Cory
It turned out to be only the second King caught in the whole fleet of some 20 boats, indicating how slow the fishing was. We later learned that a school of Orcas had come by in the early morning, possibly spooking all the salmon. Orcas find s to be a genuine delicacy, and often consume up to 200 lbs in one meal. Yikes! Of the 18 other anglers off the cruise ship, no one caught a legal Salmon, while one angler did catch two 20 Lb. Halibut. However, he had booked his trip outside the cruise line. Later in our cruise the same 18 Anglers fishing in Juneau also struck out on the Salmon. I did not fish Juneau; as I chose to join our group in taking a tour to the Mendenhall Glacier, which was spectacular.
More on the Alaskan Adventure.
We left overcast Los Angeles on Sat. 6-2-07 at 8am. We arrived in sunny Seattle just before 11am. We were allowed to board the ship at noon, and headed for the pool area to enjoy some Pina Coladas, and a big Fat Burger, with all the trimmings, French fries, chips and salsa, and some fantastic tasting guacamole.
View from the boat of downtown Seattle.
Preparing for Bon Voyage-Cory & wife Sheryl
Our good friends Ron and Janet Clark, their son married our daughter, getting along with in-laws, how did that happen? We have been the best of friends for over ten years now, long before they were married, just dating.
Leaving the harbor-Bon Voyage, oh yeah a week of Paradise!
All dressed up for dinner on the only formal night.
The meals were extraordinary, and there were 10 restaurants to choose from, including the all day buffet, and pool patio barbec! No time tables to keep, unless you made reservations at the four ‚??extra fee based‚?? cover charge restaurants. At first we felt the quality of food we were already getting was extremely satisfying. However, while talking to the dining manager and several other passengers, they raved about the Steak House, and several others. We decided to book the SOHO restaurant, and the Steakhouse. We were not disappointed, the cuisine was beyond words and easily equivalent to any 4 and 5 star restaurants we have had the pleasure of visiting, most of which required at least a $100 per plate average cost. The cover charge ranged between $10 and $20 per person, and was well worth it. Just the appetizer or their exquisite deserts alone were worth that much. The 16oz T-bone steak I had was the sweetest, tastiest steak I have ever eaten. Now we all need to go on diets.
Traveling the Inland Passage
Arrival at Ketchikan, Alaska,
On to Juneau, Alaska
The Norwegian Star, 1391 feet long, bigger than the four other cruise ships we docked with.
Cory & Sheryl, The Norwegian Star, in the background on the far right in Juneau.
At the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska, via a tour bus.
Calving of Glacier, results in Icebergs.
Leaving Juneau, heading for Glacier via the Endecot Fjord
Beware of Icebergs- on the way to Dodd‚??s Glacier, in the Endecot Fjord.
More beauty of the Endecot Fjord
A minefield of Icebergs
They are getting bigger and closer.
Dodd‚??s Glacier, the cause of all the Icebergs, over 200 years old.
On to Skagway, Alaska
We booked an 8 hour tour which began in Skagway via Motor coach, traveling through the Canadian border to Yukon Territory, in British Columbia. We traveled about 100 miles to Carcross, through extremely beautiful terrain.
We stopped at the world‚??s smallest Desert! Caused centuries ago by a very large glacier, which eventually disintegrated?
More beautiful scenery.
Boarding the train which passes through White‚??s Pass, the old Klondike gold mining route.
Crossing the US-Canadian Border
Skagway harbor in the distance
We visited Prince Ruptford in Canada, which was only a shopping trip for the wife‚??s, a big waste of time in my opinion. Out to sea the next day, I entered the Texas Holdem tournament, 29 entries, $60 buy in with re-buy‚??s for the first hour. I won the tournament, yee ha, what a thrill, $1134, just barely covering my bar tab. Yikes! Ha! Ha!
Our farewell dinner in the Gadby‚??s Steakhouse, food to die for!
My wife Sheryl holding a bottle of our favorite wine, which we discovered in one of the wine tasting events. A robust red wine from Argentina, with a powerful bouquet, and full body flavor.
We had the best of times, thank you Eddie Haskell for ordering the sunny weather in Seattle upon our arrival, and for reminding us what the true Seattle weather is like when we left the following Saturday to gloomy, rainy weather. Yikes!
hope everyone gets a chance to follow their dreams, and possibly add a trip to Alaska in the future. We promised we would return soon.
I took 246 pictures overall, of which I have shared about 60 of the best, although there were many other great scenery shots. Hope you enjoyed our adventure with us, thanks for your interest.