Day 4, Wednesday, we stopped in Skagway. I had a full day planned with two excursions. We docked at about 7 am I believe and folks began to go ashore as soon as the ship was cleared. Because I had an earlier excursion, I had room service deliver a breakfast sandwich so I could eat before going ashore. Princess docks closest to the hill which is painted with names of cruise lines and other things (sorry, didn’t grab a picture this trip). The pier is a decent length, so they do have a little trolley car that will take you to the end if you prefer not to walk it which is complimentary. They also have some cargo containers opened up and put together end to end so you can walk to the end protected from the weather. This was helpful as it was windy and drizzling when we arrived.
My first excursion was a mini-bus ride to the Klondike Summit. Even though we could not pass into Canada, we had to bring our passports as you do pass through a customs check coming back down. I ended up not needing to show it to anyone, but had to have it with me. The driver gave a heads up, as several people had large coffee cups with them, he warned there are no restrooms along the route. There is one at the end of the pier before you leave.
The drive is nice and scenic and the driver was full of Alaska history and stories along the way. Several stops were made along both the trip up and down the mountain for photos. I had already heard that the train ride was not going to be able to go as far due to an issue with the tracks. At one stop, he pointed out the reason – land slide on the tracks. Up at the top, we stopped at the Welcome to Alaska sign, which was to be our turn around point since we were not allowed to cross the border. This is the sign folks see as they enter Alaska from the Canada side. Our guide offered to take photos of each of us with the sign, which was great. It’s a large sign so a selfie made it difficult to get a good shot (for me at least!). I was glad I took along my gloves/hat and jacket as that wind chilled you to the bone! Once we all had time to take some quick pictures it was back down the mountain we went. The excursion was about 90 minutes long and the driver offered to let folks out in town if they wanted to shop then they could either walk back to the ship or pay a couple dollars and take the town trolley back. I had another excursion about 90 minutes later so no time to shop. Back to the ship for a bit for me!
My second excursion was titled “Alaska Nature & Wildlife Expedition” and was listed as just over 6 hours in length. It began with meeting on the pier then loading up on the fast ferry to Haines. This is about a 40 minute ride depending on weather/water conditions. There are restrooms onboard and covered seating on the lower and upper decks. Some of my photos could be better quality, but were taken through the wet windows of the ferry.
Once we arrived in Haines, the various excursions (there were several onboard) located their appropriate excursion bus and loaded up and headed their own way. The hope was to spot some wildlife so our bus took us down river roads and inlets in search. But unfortunately, you certainly can’t predict where or when you’ll spot something. We did see a couple of harbor seals and bald eagles. The scenery was nice though. We spotted a couple of fishermen in the river. All I could think was brrr as it was only in the 50s outside, so that water had to have been pretty chilly! Our guide then pointed out a person sitting on a seat attached to a bridge. It is this person’s job to count a particular variety of salmon. There is a gate that was put in. At the end of their work day, they close the gate until the next morning. This all has to do with monitoring the quantity of the species and fishing.
After some stops, they drove us into a campground. This gave us an opportunity to use the facilities and then we took a nature walk. I will say I do not recommend this walk for anybody with balance issues or issues with walking on unstable ground. There were roots everywhere that we kept tripping on, and even though most of us had on hiking boots, we were still slipping on the wet ground. There were also areas they had planks down as a “walkway”. They were not overly wide planks and some were becoming rotten. In other areas, they had planks end over end on top of each other so you had to step up or down on these planks. Overall though it was a nice hike. Quite a variety of fungi spotted, and a yellow blob that honestly looked like vomit as we first approached. It is called Scrambled Egg Slime.
Then it was time to head back to the pier and rejoin the ferry back to Skagway. It was about 5PM when we rejoined the ferry so once back onboard the ship, I headed straight to dinner.
Later, I pulled a few slots, then enjoyed some time at my favorite bar then it was time to call it a night as the next day was Glacier Bay and I knew it would be a slightly early day as well.