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Alaskan Cruising 1975

When P&O acquired Princess Cruise in 1974 Island Princess’s first cruise season was basically Mexican Cruising. Pacific Princess joined the fleet in April 75 and in the summer both ships did their first season cruising Alaska. We were based in Vancouver and sailed up the inside passage normally visited, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka and Ketchikan. Yes, it did become a bit like a bus route. Tuesday it must be Skegway etc. Having said that you did get to know the shore agents very well.

Because of US immigration rules and being of foreign registry Princess ships at this time often carried a US immigration official full time on board to process passengers and crew. I cannot remember all the details and wonder if this still happens today. I guess Alaskan cruising was fairly new at this time and better systems are now in place. Our first season we carried a young immigration office call Randy and he became very much a part of our team, especially being included to all the pour outs that took place.


The ports were pretty basic in those days, but always very friendly places to visit. I remember on one trip we had Cary Grant as a passenger which had been kept fairly quiet, he was travelling in the owner’s suite and I was lucky enough to chat to him on a few occasions. Well word got out that he was onboard, and the good ladies of Juneau turned out in force on the quayside with home-made pies and cookies. From memory I don’t think he went ashore that day, unless of course he was in disguise.

Red Dog Saloon Juneau 1975

A trip to Juneau would not be complete without a couple of beers in the Red Dog Saloon. Back in 1975 the saloon was located a couple of blocks away from its current location where it moved to in 1988. Founded during Juneau's mining era, the Saloon has been in operation for decades. For a time, "Ragtime Hattie" played the piano in white gloves and a silver dollar halter top. Later, in territorial days, the owners would often meet the tour boats at the docks with a mule that wore a sign saying, "follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon."

Skagway was one of my favourite places. Not much there, pretty much a one-horse town in those days. I bought a canteen of silver cutlery in a thrift shop there that I have and use to this day.

Of course, the highlight of Skagway was to take the train on the White Pass and Yukon railway. The railroad began construction in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush as a means of reaching the goldfields. With its completion in 1900, it became the primary route to the interior of the Yukon. I believe the route is now owned by Carnival Corporation.

In 1975 there was no road from Skagway to Whitehorse, so the only method of transport was the railway. During this time the railway thrived on ore transportation as well as passenger transport. The cruise ship tours would take you to Bennett Lake station where moose stew was served in the station building before setting off back to Skagway.

The salmon bake was always a nice break away from the ship. Back then it was a few upturned logs to sit on and the salmon was barbequed having been marinated first. But like everything else l guess this is a big commercial exercise these days.

Another of my memorable tours in Alaska was to take a six seater float plane and fly over the glacier. Although cruising in Glacier Bay was always spectacular.

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