Your Ship: Seabourn Odyssey
Seabourn Odyssey was built by the Italian company T. Mariotti S.p.A., located in Genoa, Italy and named in Venice. On that occasion, the guests on board for the maiden voyage were all honored as the ship’s godparents, and a plaque with their names was permanently mounted on a wall inside the ship. Seabourn Odyssey was designed by the same architectural team, Petr Yran and Bjorn Storbraaten, who designed the original Seabourn ships.
The humble beginnings of the City of Vancouver, in the settlement of Gastown on Burrard Inlet, rose out of the old growth forests and the sawdust of the old Hastings Mill. Its location between the Pacific Ocean and the snow-capped coastal mountains creates one of the most idyllic settings of any city in the world. As a world-class city it has the best of both worlds, intermingling urban sophistication with a sense of wilderness and outdoor adventure. Whether you are exploring Vancouver’s diverse downtown core, strolling through the giant trees of Stanley Park or taking in the 20 miles (30 km) of uninterrupted waterfront trails along the seawall, you are bound to fall in love with Canada’s third largest metropolitan center, which is consistently ranked as one of most livable cities on earth.
In 1886, the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Vancouver, completing Canada’s ‘National Dream’ of a connection between east and west, and opening up new trade routes between Asia and Europe. The city was named for British captain and explorer George Vancouver.
The Queen Charlotte Sound lies between the Queen Charlotte Strait, which winds between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland in the south, and Hecate Strait, which is northward, adjacent to the Haida Gwaii Islands off the Pacific coast of British Columbia. It is a broad reach in the long shipping route called the Inside Passage threading the myriad islands stretching from Washington’s Puget Sound to Alaska.
Ketchikan is a picturesque coastal town with a colorful frontier history, standing at the southern entrance to Alaska’s famed Inside Passage. It began as a salmon cannery in 1885, built by company employee Mike Martin at the mouth of Ketchikan Creek. Once dubbed the ‘Canned Salmon Capital of the World,’ today government, commercial fishing, and tourism are its main industries. The renowned Creek Street, perched on stilts along the mouth of the creek, would bring lasting infamy to the area for the red-light district that burgeoned there during the Gold Rush.
The town’s site first served as a camp for Tlingit people, and for thousands of years this has been their home. Their rich culture is being preserved to this day. A visit to Ketchikan is not complete without visiting one or all of Native American sites such as Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, Saxman Native Village and the Totem Heritage Center. Together, these locations comprise the world’s largest collection of standing Native American totem poles.
Originally named the Duke of Clarence Strait by George Vancouver in 1793, Clarence Strait is a portion of the Inside Passage in the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska, separating Prince of Wales Island from Revillagigedo and Annette Islands. It was named for England’s Prince William, the Duke of Clarence. The strait had actually been named Entrada de Nuestra Señora del Carmén by Jacinto Caamaño, who navigated it a year before Vancouver. It is 126 miles/203 km long, between the Dixon Entrance and the Sumner Strait. There are two lighthouses, the Guard Island Light and Lincoln Rocks Light, which served as navigational aids prior to the era of automation.
In the passage between Sumner Strait and Clarence Strait in Southeast Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago, midway between Price of Wales Island on the west and Zarembo Island on the east, is a small cluster of islands with a picturesque passageway between them called Snow Pass. It makes a scenic up-close route for your Seabourn ship during the transit.
A stroll through the streets and National Historic Park of Sitka is a glimpse into its unique and colorful past. A blend of Tlingit and Russian cultures defines this first capital of Alaska. Although fish canning and gold mining were the initial catalysts for growth in Sitka, the construction of an air base during World War II truly paved the way for Sitka to come into its own. One of Sitka’s most intriguing structures is the Cathedral of Saint Michael, built in 1848 to honor a Russian Orthodox bishop.
Sitka’s history begins thousands of years ago with the Tlingit people and their use of the land for sustenance and spirituality. Old Sitka, located just north of the present-day settlement, was founded by Russian-American Company trader Alexander Baranov in 1799. Originally named Novo-Arkhangelsk (New Archangel) under Russian rule, its name was changed to Sitka after Alaska was purchased by the United States in 1867. Sitka is a Tlingit word meaning ‘by the sea.’
As the gatekeepers to the northern entrance of the fabled Inside Passage, the remote Inian Islands stand between Cross Sound and Icy Strait, exposed to the high energy seas of the Pacific Ocean. Tidal currents surging through the narrow channels separating the islands can be severe. Nicknames like ‘The Laundry Chute’ justify their notorious reputations.
For millennia, Tlingit people came here to hunt and fish in the rich bounty that these waters provided. Today, the Inian Islands Institute, located within the islands, provides access to the abundant and protected waters for scientific research. Sitka black-tailed deer and brown bears frequent their rugged and rocky shores, while sea lions fill their stomachs with salmon before hauling out to rest on the many rocky outcrops making up this island group. Sea otters, bald eagles, and humpback whales frequent the area in great numbers during the summer months.
The Inian Islands were named by William Healey Dall, one of Alaska’s earliest scientific explorers, in 1879
Icy Strait Point is a unique community on Chichagof Island near the entry to Glacier Bay National Park. It was created and is owned by a corporation of over 1300 Native Americans of various local Tlingit tribes, for the purpose of offering visitors an enjoyable, educational experience of Alaska’s native cultures, as well as the human and natural history of the region. Your tender will dock at the historic 1912 salmon canning facility, which today is a museum. The surrounding grounds offer cultural performances, Native American-owned shops and galleries, restaurants and a variety of tours and excursions for every interest from sport fishing to whale watching, guided nature walks and excursions to view bears and other wildlife, ATV tours and even a zipline adventure that is said to be the longest (over a mile) and highest (over 1330 feet of drop) in North America. The small village of Hoonah is just over a mile away, and can be reached either by walking or on a shuttle. It also has shops and eateries, as well as a totem-carving enterprise run by the corporation. The Huna Totem Corporation maintains complete control of the content and access to the community, which has won a number of prestigious awards for its sustainable approach to exploiting the natural and historical heritage of Alaska and its native peoples for their benefit.
A short distance south from Alaska’s capital of Juneau, where Holkham Bay cuts into the coastline under a dramatic back-drop of high snow-capped peaks and the verdant Tongass National Forest, lies the entrance to Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness.
From Holkam Bay, the waterway is bisected into Tracy Arm to the north and Endicott Arm to the south. Each arm terminates at a stunning blue river of ice: North and South Sawyer glaciers in Tracy Arm and Dawes glacier in Endicott Arm. It is hard to imagine that thousands of years ago these now-distant glaciers joined in Holkham Bay, more than thirty miles from their present locations. Extremely active, the glaciers calve frequently, filling their fjords with icebergs, some three stories in height.
Brown and black bears, wolves, deer, mountain goats, seals and many seabirds frequent this vast wilderness region. Designated as a wilderness area in 1980, Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness covers an area of 653,179 acres (264,000 hectares) — and one fifth of its area is covered by ice.
Juneau, Alaska’s capital, is accessible only by air and sea, due to the rugged mountain terrain that surrounds the city. It has been a world-class travel destination since the early 1900’s. The city has plenty to offer the outdoor adventurer. You may choose to explore on foot along the Perseverance Trail or around Mendenhall Glacier, or board one of the many local whale-watching boats, or view the mountains and extensive glaciers of the Juneau Icefield from a helicopter.
Although founded by Alaskan pioneers, this area was in use for thousands of years by the Tlingit people and was originally settled by the Auke tribe, taking advantage of the abundant food and natural resources provided by the land and sea. Their descendants continue to gather clams, gumboot chitons, grass and sea urchins to this day.
Originally named Harrisburg in 1880, after the gold prospector Richard Harris, the name was later changed to honor his partner Joe Juneau.
Decision Passage is the western end of the Sumner Strait, which runs through the Alexander Archipelago into the Pacific Ocean in Southeastern Alaska, bounded on the north by Kuiu Island and Cape Decision, the location of a 1932 lighthouse. This is the route your ship takes when coming from or going to the colorful historic community of Sitka on the west coast of Baranof Island, which was originally the Russian fortress town of New Archangel.
Sumner Strait runs for 80 miles/110 km more or less east-and-west through the Alexander Archipelago in southeast Alaska, from the mouth of the Stikine River, north of the community of Wrangell, to Iphigenia Bay. The islands of Mitkof, Kupreanof and Kuiu are on the north side of the strait, and Zarembo and Prince of Wales Islands are on the south. The first European to navigate the strait was a fur trapper named William Brown, in 1793. That same year, James Johnstone surveyed the strait as a part of George Vancouver’s expedition. It was named in 1875 for the abolitionist Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. The strait passes between picturesque snow-capped peaks, and there is a 1932 lighthouse located at Cape Decision which is still a functioning signal.
One of the thousands of islands of the Alexander Archipelago, Wrangell Island sits at the heart of the Tongass National Rain Forest and receives approximately 80” (203 cm) of rain per year. The city of Wrangell, a true Alaskan frontier town, sits at the northern end of the island, a short distance from the mouth of the mighty Stikine River. The history of Wrangell is deeply rooted in the Tlingit people, the fur trade and the gold rush. The Stikine River trade route brought the Tlingit people here thousands of years ago, evidenced by some forty petroglyphs at Petroglyph Beach State Historic Site and Totem Park.
The Stikine River, Shakes Glacier and Anan Creek Bear Observatory are highlights in the region. Anan Creek boasts the largest pink salmon run of the Inside Passage, attracting brown and black bears in great numbers. Wrangell was named for Ferdinand Petrovich Wrangel, a Russian explorer and administrator of the Russian-America Company during the mid-1800’s.
Scottish-American naturalist John Muir compared the 2,294,343-acre (930,000 hectare) Misty Fjords National Monument to his favorite place in America, Yosemite National Park. Often shrouded in mist, Misty Fjords is a true wilderness.
Its vertical granite cliffs, which reach 3,000’ (900 m) above sea level, descend another 1,000’ (300 m) below the water’s surface. Carved by glaciers and covered in a green carpet of mosses and lichens, Misty Fjords receives more than 150” (381 cm) of rain per year. Western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and western red cedar dominate the prolific vegetation along its shore. Mountain goats, brown and black bears, coastal wolves, sea lions, bald eagles, ravens, Dall’s porpoises, orca and humpback whales can be spotted along its shorelines and throughout its waters.
Long before the arrival of John Muir, the Tlingit people lived and moved throughout this region, surviving on what the land provided. Evidence of their historic and ongoing presence is recorded in the many pictographs found along the shores of Misty Fjords.
Misty Fjords National Monument is a section of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska’s extreme southeastern Panhandle region. The monument consists of over two million acres of deeply cut fjords cradled in U-shaped valleys between mountain ranges rising 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level. The fjords themselves extend as much as 1,000 feet below the surface. These granite ranges are covered with virgin forest, and most of the monument is also a dedicated wilderness area. Misty Fjords inspired the explorer John Muir to proclaim them among the most beautiful places he had ever seen. Your ship will cruise among these spectacular forests, waterfalls and mountains. The onboard Ventures by Seabourn team will offer optional excursions including kayaking the fjords and a short sightseeing floatplane flight.
The Princess Royal Channel separates the largest island along British Columbia’s coast from the mainland. It is located roughly halfway between Bella Bella in the south and Prince Rupert in the north, in one of the province’s most remote areas. Princess Royal island was named in 1788 by Captain Charles Duncan, in honor of his ship, the Princess Royal. The island is uninhabited, although there are two small villages in the channel, the First Nations community of Klemtu on Swindle Island and Hartley Bay on the mainland. Wildlife, by contrast, is plentiful, including Kermode, black and grizzly bears, deer, wolves and foxes. Golden and bald eagles nest in the region, as well as the endangered marbled murrelet. In the waters, there are abundant salmon, elephant seals, whales, orcas and dolphins.
The Seymour Narrows is a 3-mile/5 km stretch of the Discovery Channel north of Vancouver Island, British Columbia that is notorious for the strength of the tidal currents flowing through it. The average width of the narrows is just 750 meters. During extreme tides, the current through the narrows is subject to severe Venturi effect, resulting in an increased velocity that can reach 15 knots. For much of its modern history, there was an additional hazard in the narrows called Ripple Rock, a shallow obstruction that claimed no fewer than 119 ships and 114 lives. In 1958, after months of tunneling and preparation, Ripple Rock was blown up in the largest commercial, non-nuclear explosion ever recorded in North America. Still, the navigation of Seymour Narrows is dependent on tidal and other conditions, and requires skill and technical accomplishment.
Your Seabourn Alaska cruise reaches its end back in Vancouver.