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.