Alaskan Cruisetour Photo Gallery

Day 6 (May 22, 1999) - The Gulf of Alaska

Fairweather Range
The Fairweather Range. Mt. Fairweather is the tall mountain on the right.

We had now entered the Gulf of Alaska, preparing for the final 500 mile leg of our sea journey. In the next 30+ hours, we would cover more than half the distance we had covered in the previous 120 hours.

Almost as soon as we entered the Gulf, the pitching of the ship in the waves reached its maximum for our journey. By the time we went in for dinner 30 minutes later, there were a number of folks looking distinctly greenish, including one of our table mates. Riding the elevators had also become an adventure - there's nothing quite like riding an elevator that is pitching back and forth and to and fro. It was also lobster night, and we weren't about to let the fun house nature of getting around keep us away from dinner.

Upon finishing dinner, we headed toward the Princess Theater for one of the nightly shows. As we were approaching one of the doors to the Promenade deck, people up ahead were turning their heads to the right and gasping. When we got there, we did the same, for there in all its glory was the rarely seen Fairweather range, along with the 15,320 foot Mt Fairweather. Fairweather isn't named for the weather in the local area, since the weather is rarely fair in this part of the Gulf. Mt. Fairweather is so rarely visible from the gulf that I had not expected to be rewarded with this sight. I wasn't about to let this opportunity slip by, so I blew off the show, though I had wanted to attend this show in particular, and headed out on deck, camera and binoculars in hand.

Mt. Fairweather is the 10th highest peak in the US. Alaska contains the 14 highest peaks in the US, which makes Mt Fairweather one of the babies of the various Alaskan giants. Still, it is an impressive sight.

Later that evening, we would also be able to see Mt. St. Elias, though binoculars were necessary to pick it out in the low light. Mt. St. Elias is the 3rd highest peak in the US at 18,008 feet, with the two highest peaks being the double peak of Mt. McKinley.

Sunset Approaches
Sunset nears. Though the sun is very low in the sky, there's still more than 30 minutes to go before sunset. During that time, the sun would move quite visibly toward the north.

Fairweather in fading light
The Fairweather Range reddens in the fading light.

Staying outside instead of going to the show proved to be the right thing to do. Nature put on a show that was far more stunning and spectacular than any cruise ship show would have been. Nearly every time I turned my head to look in a different direction, there was something that took my breath away. And the big finale was yet to come - an absolutely gorgeous sunset.

The moment of sunset.

Almost an hour later, 10:39 pm, the sky is still afire with the glow of the sun.

...of Sunset on the Gulf.


Alaska seek

Copyright © 1999, Pete Hanson