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CRUISE ALASKA


PREVIOUS: Hubbard Glacier, Alaska


ABOVE: Ketchikan, one of the ports of call


BELOW: The Lotus Spa onboard Royal Princess


I’m midway through a seven-day itinerary


sailing on Royal Princess, which is nearing the end of its inaugural season on the Pacific west coast. Right now we’re sailing 65 miles into Glacier


Bay national park. Ahead is the outrageously good-looking Margerie Glacier, all frozen expressions and Ice Age drama that’s alternately haunting and dumbfounding. Seen underneath a cloudless sky, it takes


several lungfuls to fathom Margerie’s sheer size: one mile at its widest point, it stands at a skyscraper-like 110 metres and stretches for 21 miles into the Fairweather Range, the highest coastal mountains on earth. It’s more dazzling than anything I’d been expecting. I also didn’t realise there are laws that exist when visiting Alaska’s tidewater glaciers. Standing agog, hanging over the railings, is compulsory. So is squealing, toddler-like, every time a monstrous river of ice slides past on the port or starboard side. There are “oohs” and “ahhs” aplenty when an orca breaches and a humpback whale appears, spouting an arc of glacial water skyward.


56 TRAVEL TRADE GAZETTE 13.01.2020


AFFORDABLE ADVENTURING Rangers tell me that besides the park being “a natural laboratory” comprising 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers and waterways, the National Park Service is gearing up for the preserve’s 40th birthday this year. While your average client might assume they’re not rich enough to afford a life-affirming cruise to see the bejeweled waters and diamond-like bergs of Glacier Bay in its anniversary year, it’s an experience now more affordable than ever, with Royal Princess’s itinerary costing only slightly more than a week’s all-inclusive in Spain. On paper, the cruise seems an ambitious idea:


a 3,600-guest capacity ship with around 1,000 staff and 17 restaurants, cafes and bars, comedy theatre, musicals and new-to-cruise planetarium nights, a casino, spa, gym, basketball court and swimming pools sailing smoothly through one of the world’s most untouched, pristine environments. Clients can play roulette while witnessing a tidewater glacier calve a shard of ice as big as the Titanic. Or drink a frozen margarita from a fizzing hot tub while savouring remote wilderness millions of years in the making.


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