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Photos by Susan Milne
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©Susan Milne, 2002
GTS INFINITY - ALASKA INSIDE PASSAGE
September 7 - 14, 2001
By Susan Milne
Upon arrival at Canada Place in Vancouver, passengers were escorted to a seating area where they could wait to board the Infinity in comfort. This was the first indication that our enjoyment of the cruise experience was to be of paramount importance throughout the following week. Infinity in the Inside Passage was an opportunity to relax and be pampered. All our needs were graciously taken care of as we sailed through some of the world's most spectacular scenery.
Infinity is a magnificent, state-of the-art vessel. Combining modern elegance with high-tech features, she has a warm ambience and a graceful charm. The ship is decorated throughout with the floral artistry of Emilio Robba of Paris adding color and flair to every public area. The backlit onyx staircase in the Grand Foyer is stunning. Notes, music library, a full service florist and floral conservatory are other unusual features on this vessel which entered service for Celebrity Cruises in March of 2001.
At 90,090-tons Infinity is one of the largest ships sailing to Alaska but carries only 1,950 passengers making her a very spacious home away from away. Powered with an environmentally friendly gas turbine system and having azipod propulsion, Infinity glides in and out of port smoothly. The only vibration noted was in the aft section when the azipods were altering course.
Infinity is an excellent choice for Alaska. A very open ship with lots of glass , there is no feeling of being closed in and you are never far from a view outside. A bank of panoramic elevators offers exceptional views as you travel from deck to deck. You won't miss a thing while you dine as the Trellis Dining Room has excellent outside observation and the Oceanview Café is glassed in on both sides. (Don't miss the windows in the floor which give you a view 10 decks to the sea.) The Constellation Lounge, high up on Sunrise Deck 11 is the official observation lounge. It offers spectacular views from walls of windows on three sides. Acres of deck space provide plenty of outdoor viewing areas as well, especially appreciated on the day at Hubbard Glacier. Another plus for Alaska is the indoor pool at the AquaSpa where you can enjoy a swim even in inclement weather.
When whales, dolphins or bears are sited, the naturalist on board makes an announcement so you can make your way to the right side of the ship to see them. The naturalist also gives lectures during the cruise and describes scenic areas as you sail through. The informative description and history of Hubbard Glacier and the Grenville Channel was most appreciated by passengers.
The Inside Passage is a series of deep channels, bays and fjords that lie inside a chain of coastal islands off British Columbia and Alaska. The passage is therefore protected from the rough seas of the North Pacific Ocean. Infinity, like many of today's huge cruise ships, sails "outside" part of the way, then enters the Inside Passage and sails along one of the most impressive parts: the Grenville Channel which lies between Pitt Island and the mainland of British Columbia. Only a fifth of a mile wide at its narrowest point, Grenville Channel rises 3,500 feet from sea level and is 1,600 feet deep. The area is characterized by dramatic scenery along the entire route with thick forests, cascading waterfalls and granite cliffs. Fishing boats, sea birds, seals, migrating whales, eagles and bears can be seen along the way.
The morning spent at Hubbard Glacier is the highlight of the week. Sailing slowly through Yukatat Bay to Disenchantment Bay, everyone prepares for the viewing of the longest tide water glacier in North America. The area is so vast with mountains towering behind, it is hard to grasp that this wall of ice is actually six miles wide and stretches for 76 miles to its source on the slopes of Mount Logan in the Yukon. Infinity sails up to Hubbard then turns and makes her way alongside the wall of ice. Turning again she sails back along the glacier before heading out of the Bay. Most passengers are on deck for the experience and Infinity offers a variety of heights and angles to view Hubbard. The naturalist's report alerts passengers to areas about to calve. The creaking of the glacier and loud roar as ice calves into the bay is as unforgettable as the visual scene.
Ports in Alaska for Infinity are the capital city of Juneau, the historic gold rush town of Skagway and Ketchikan, home of the largest fishing fleet in Alaska. Shore excursions are many and varied allowing you to do everything from dog mushing, flying over a glacier, hiking and cycling to gold panning and taking the scenic White Pass train journey to the Yukon border. Of course, you are also free to head off on your own to explore these Alaskan settlements.
The Inside Passage on Infinity is a wonderfully rejuvenating cruise experience, a chance to get away from it all in pristine wilderness enhanced by an exquisite ship, fine dining and attentive service.
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