Thursday, July 28, 2016

Alaska Cruise Vacation - Second Port of Call, Icy Strait Point

I hope you enjoyed our tour of Ketchikan in my last post - Because,
today, I want to welcome you to day four of our Alaska cruise vacation
and to our second port of call, Icy Strait Point - Hoonah, Alaska!
Before I share this tour with you, I have to confess that I am addicted to
all those Alaska-reality shows on television. And, before Billy Brown and
one of his sons were sentenced to jail for fraud, I used to watch every
episode of their show, Alaskan Bush People on Discovery. So, when
we learned that our cruise would take us to Hoonah, one of the places
mentioned by the Browns as being where they often go for supplies and
to work odd jobs, I was curious what the locals might be able to tell us
about this big family that lives off the grid, in the rough and dangerous
Alaskan wilderness. Well, let me tell you, as soon as some of us from the
ship inquired about those people, we got an ear-load full! Because, as it
turned out, locals are extremely quick to call the Brown family's claim
that they live in the bush a hoax; one perpetrated entirely for television!
In fact, the Browns are a sore subject with locals that say they live
in Hoonah, at the Icy Strait Lodge! Shortly after we returned home,
stories confirming what we heard about the Brown's began surfacing!
So no more talk about the Brown family at Icy Strait Point!
For our excursion to Icy Strait Point, we decided
to go on a whale watching cruise because, we heard
the whale-watching is so good, it's actually guaranteed!
The tour provider advertises that if they don't spot a whale
on your tour, they will refund $100 of your ticket price!
So whale-watching it was! Since we had about an hour and a half to
kill before our excursion, we decided to take the $5 shuttle into town...
But, even the shuttle driver admitted...
There ain't nothing there!
Poo! I was really hoping for a post office because, I had about 300 post
cards to mail... However, as we rode further down the one main road,
we quickly figured out that this port is basically just an excursion stop
and nothing more. So... On the advice of our shuttle driver, we stayed
on and got off back at the pick-up point. There, we walked back to the
dock for the only real dining places and shops at Icy Strait Point!
Since it was too early for crab, we popped into the building they have set up
for people waiting on excursions and grabbed a couple of cookies and some
hot chocolate. Then, I paid $10 for an all-day WiFi pass, which no one there
could get to work... Still, just outside of that building, there is what they refer
to as the Warehouse, which houses a huge gift shop, as well as a pretty decent
exhibit, featuring information and displays relative to life at Icy Strait Point!
The main excursion tours include, whale-watching, fishing, kayaking, nature trail
walks, a tribal dance show and they also have the largest ziprider in the world!
However, since the weather for Icy Strait during the time of our cruise
tends to be cold and rainy, I didn't see us zipping down a mountain!

I believe the fact that Icy Strait Point is fairly remote and
does not have a lot going on in terms of a town or city is why
this port stop was the shortest of our cruise. Nevertheless...
We were headed for Juneau next, which made up for
the lull in excitement at Icy Strait Point in a huge way...
Just you wait and see!
Although, I have to take some responsibility for the lack
of excitement we had here. But more on that in a moment...
This feature of the exhibit reminded me a lot of Cannery Row back
home in Monterey, where they processed and canned sardines very
similarly to the way salmon was packed at Icy Strait Point/Hoonah!
All the little kids around us wanted to know if this was real!
Thankfully, not! Could you imagine the smell?
I don't even want to think about it!
Once the salmon had their heads lopped off...
Were cleaned and their meat was processed, it
was canned, pressure cooked and sent off to market!
After a quick spin through the gift shop, it was time to
head toward the boat for our whale-watching cruise!
Okay... So about my admission that I am partly to blame for the lack
of excursion excitement here at Icy Strait Point - What I mean is that
when I initially chose our excursion, I booked us into the first tour of
of the day. However, as our cruise got closer, someone told me about
how cold, overcast and rainy it is here, especially in the early part of
the day. So, I switched our time for the cruise to a later one; hoping
all the clouds would burn off and the whales would be more active!
Big mistake! Because, while we did see a lot of whale breath coming from
blowholes, (see why it's not water hereand had a few arched backs and
a fluke or two pass by our boat... There was a lot of talk by the staff about
the full humpback whale breech that occurred during their previous tour!
The tour WE were supposed to be on! I am not going to lie... Hearing
that we missed a full breech, especially when the weather wasn't any better
for our tour than it had been a couple of hours earlier, really bummed me out!

All I wanted was to see what those lucky people saw... But when
a handful of us asked, we were told no one on staff took pictures!
The pouting and kicking myself in the butt lasted for days... Until this amazing
couple sat down next to us on the boat at Prince William Sound, that is. Because,
when I call Christina and her husband, Marcus amazing, I am not kidding! Get
this; not only are they from Texas and have a friend that knows our Ranger...
No, really! They sent this man a text and he responded, saying he knows our
son - But, they were also on that earlier tour. And, even more astounding...
Christina received photos from another passenger and was willing to share
them! Proving once again that Walt was right... It truly is a Small, small world!
But before I share those pictures, let me tell you about our experience with these
incredibly majestic creatures... It's one thing to see humpback whales on television
and in pictures; however, until you're standing just a few yards away from them in
the water, you could never know what an incredible feeling it is. They make the
sweetest little, Pluffffffffff sound as they exhale through their blowhole. Also,
there is just this eerie, but cool feeling knowing these huge creatures are so close!
All in all, I am thrilled we had the chance to go whale-watching at Icy Strait
Point. As you can see from my photos, it did not rain; however, the weather
was not ideal for kayaking or cruising the zipline... Again, I cannot lie and
say a lot of my happiness with this excursion isn't tied to the fact that...
We met Christina and Marcus and got to finally see the incredible
breech this beautiful humpback whale put on for their tour!
No sir! I am not too proud to admit that they saved me...
From a lifetime of wondering what we may have seen...
Had I not second-guessed myself and changed our tour time!
This picture I took during our tour is my favorite so I immediately sent it
out as a digital postcard soon after returning to the ship! The more I compare
my fluke shot to the white flipper shown by the humpback that breeched
for Christina and Marcus, the more I wonder if it's not the same whale!
Anyway, I do hope you have enjoyed our time together at Icy Strait Point!
Also, I welcome you to stick with me because, our next stop is Juneau!
Believe me... You're not going to want to miss this one!


  1. Janet: I am really enjoying this series. It's like going without the expense! Looking forward to your next chapters! ~teri

    1. Thank you, Teri! It thrills me to know you're reading along and I appreciate your comments very much! Glad you're enjoy our cruise, which includes you! xo

  2. I too enjoy reading about your wonderful Alaska trip!
    Thanks for hunting down a picture from the morning cruise of the humpback whale.
    It's majestic.
    Have a wonderful day! Andrea


Readers who comment ROCK!