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Alaska Cruise - Small Ship Alaska Inside Passage Cruise Log


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Haines Alaska - Scenic Alaska Inside Passage Town - Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
Chilkat River and Mountains in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska

Chilkat River and Mountains in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska

Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Photo (c) Linda Garrison
Haines is connected to the rest of the world via the 154-mile Haines Highway, which links to the famous Alaska Highway. Haines is only 15 miles via water from Skagway, but is way less touristy. Only small ships can dock in Haines, but cruisers from the big ships can visit via water taxi or excursion from Skagway. Haines is the home of Fort William H. Seward, which was built as an Army post in the early 1900's, but abandoned in 1946. Today the fort is a national historic site. Because of its size, picturesque setting, and remoteness, many think Haines is one of the nicest towns in Alaska. The passengers on the Spirit of Yorktown who did not do an optional excursion all came back raving about how much they loved their included walking tour of Haines.

In addition to the quaint town of Haines, the area is best known for its bald eagles. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve has one of the highest concentrations of bald eagles in North America. We decided to take a jet boat ride on the Chilkat, and it was a good decision. We boarded a bus at the dock and rode for about 30 minutes to the Chilkat River landing. Before boarding the jet boat, we were provided hats, gloves, and jackets. It was a beautiful day, and we were glad to not need all the extra clothing. The jet boat ride on the glacial river was relatively slow, and we stopped often to look at wildlife and listen to stories from our interesting guide. We watched a moose munch on river grass, silently encouraged a baby eagle on his nest to fly for the first time (he didn't), and gazed at a flock of wild swans in a quiet area off the main river. It was a wonderful shore excursion, and we had brownies and hot drinks when we got back to the river landing. By dinnertime on the ship, we realized what a long day it had been and all we had seen and done. The next day we would be in Glacier Bay.

Author's Note: Although Cruise West is no longer operating, other small ships that cruise Alaska's Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska offer similar itineraries and cruise experiences.

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