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Follow in the footsteps of the gold prospectors on this 8-day cruise brought to you by PONANT. This exceptional itinerary aboard Le Soléal will take you from Alaska to British Columbia, to discover magnificent landscapes marked by the Gold Rush. After embarking in Juneau, the capital of Alaska long inhabited by the Tlingit people, do not miss the chance to visit Skagway, where many pioneers came in search of gold at the end of the 19th century, and Haines, where majestic bald eagles are often spotted flying over the houses. Sailing along Tracy Arm, one of Alaska’s most beautiful fjords, will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your cruise. You will then discover Sitka, a former Russian settlement surrounded by tall mountains known for their centuries-old totem poles, and the small city of Ketchikan, home to charming, colourful stilt houses. Before disembarking in Vancouver, you will make your way down the east coast of Alaska, whose Inside Passage, shaped by the sculpture of imposing glaciers, is home to vertiginous fjords. Here, the natural environment includes glaciers, coniferous forests, and myriad islands and islets magnified by the wonderful play of light. Please note: your voyage rates include Transfer + flight Juneau / Seattle or Flight Seattle / Juneau + transfer.
In 1880, gold diggers flocked here, and it didn't take long before Juneau was singled out, getting itself a solid reputation and henceforth becoming the capital of Alaska. Along the Gastineau Strait, in the heart of the spectacular Inside Passage, the 31,000 or so inhabitants of Juneau enjoy some of the world’s most incredible fauna and scenery every day of their lives. Perhaps you’ll even be able to watch the antics of humpback whales against a backdrop of majestic glaciers. Culture and shopping are certainly not lacking; the city is full of places to experience, enjoy and relax in.
In the 19th century, it was through Skagway, a small town in south-east of Alaska, that swarms of gold seekers passed in their quest for gold. You can get a sense of these pioneers as you wander along the main street, Broadway, edged with the painted houses typical of this region. From White Pass & Yukon Route station, trains across pristine landscapes over the Alaskan border. All around the town, a handful of paths taken by the seekers of the precious metal, fan out into superb natural surroundings offering a glorious scenery of mountains, waterfalls, lakes and glaciers.
Hidden in the heart of this spectacular wilderness, between jagged peaks and a sapphire ocean, the legendary small port of Haines lays out all the richness of its traditions. Founded by the Tlingit Indians, peopled by the pioneers of the famous gold rush, the village is now a rallying point for modern day adventurers. You can visit its streets trimmed with colourful houses, soak up local history at Fort Seward or visit the Indian art museums, before a possible excursion into the nearby wilderness. The very beautiful Chilkatriver is especially worth a visit.
When you reach Tracy Arm fjord, 80 kilometres south-east of Juneau, you will sail into the middle of the inlet, surrounded by waterfalls cascading down granite cliffs into the sea. A few seals guarding their spur of ice may add unexpected spice to your expedition. This is your opportunity to see the Sawyer glacier close up. Majestic and otherworldly, it spans the whole length of the mountain in shades of crystalline blue: without a doubt, this is one of the most breath-taking wonders of Alaska.
Formerly a Russian colony located on Baranof island, to the west of the Alexander archipelago, Sitka is brimming with history. The historical national park of Sitka shelters totems carved out of red cedar, a tree that is omnipresent in the region. These totems are testimonials of the former presence of Tlingit Indians. This place is full of natural wonders too. You just have to look up to admire the mountain range around the port. In the distance, the snow-peaked Edgecumbe volcano stands majestic. Numerous islands scattered around Sitka stretch out before you in a vision of preserved Alaska.
The most southern town in the State is called Ketchikan. This spectacular doorway into the Inside Passage, the glory of Alaska cruises and the old world capital of salmon will blow you away. It takes no time at all to realise how deeply peaceful this port and its surrounding wilderness is. Nearby, you can delve more deeply into the rich indigenous culture in the Totem Heritage Center, which houses one of the largest totem pole collections in the world. The town also offers a number of charming art galleries. Ketchikan’s richness resides in it hospitality and sense of adventure.
Your ship will sail along Discovery Passage, between Vancouver Island and Quadra Island. As the channel tapers, you will arrive at Seymour Narrows, a narrow, 5-km long passage which, in the past, posed a significant challenge for sailors. Between 1850 and 1950, some one hundred ships hit the rocks hidden under the water, and the outcome was often fatal. At the time, due to the strong currents that run through Seymour Narrows, it was considered to be one of the most dangerous waterways in British Columbia. But in 1955, the decision was made to blow up Ripple Rock, two submerged rocks responsible for most of the shipwrecks. This historic explosion made access to this passage much safer.
Verdant and cosmopolitan, Vancouver is one of Canadaﾒs most multi-cultural cities. Located in British Columbia on Canadaﾒs west coast, itﾒs surrounded by mountains and outdoor activities are popular. In the city, you can immerse yourself in the Asian atmosphere of bustling Chinatown, shop for pashminas and silk saris at the Punjabi Market Indian district and explore the historic area of ﾠGastown. Vancouver Art Gallery is known for works by regional artists, while the Museum of Anthropology houses important First Nations collections. Granville Island Jetty is a fascinating revitalised industrial area that hosts galleries, restaurants and a huge produce market.
The encounters with the wildlife described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.
Vessel Type: Luxury Small Ship Length: 142 metres Passenger Capacity: 264 Built: 2013 Sailing under the French flag, this magnificent yacht of only 132 staterooms and suites, with balconies, joined in 2013. You will be enchanted by the contemporary decor inspired by the luxury yachting world, with fluid lines and a modern colour scheme combining natural wood with shades of grey and white. A refined ambience is enhanced by the quality of the workmanship and materials: white Corian counters in the lobby contrast with the warmth of leather to recall a boat's hull, while the central scuplture of enamelled pieces takes its inspiration from the sea. In the loungebar, the carpet picks up a tennis stripe theme symbolising a certain idea of cruising, one synonomous with French elegance and a chic seaside spirit.
• Discover Alaska’s breathtaking landscapes: fjords, glaciers, waterfalls, primary forests, giant sequoias. • Wildlife: brown bears, black bears, sea otters, orcas, humpback whales, bald eagles. • Tlingit American Indians Art and traditions in Ketchikan. • Visit of Skagway, the gateway to the mythical “Golf Rush” with optional walk along the railroad of White Pass. • Sailing in the Tracy Arm Fjord, close to Sawyer Glacier.