Looking Back to Where Crystal Began Has Us Looking Ahead to Monumental Adventures
The Last Frontier was actually Crystal’s first frontier, as on July 24, 1990, Crystal Harmony set sail for her maiden voyage along the Pacific Coast to the chilly waters, towering forests and untamed wilderness of Alaska. Since then, Crystal has returned to the wildly gorgeous region many times aboard all three of our oceangoing ships, including Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. Crystal Alaska cruises have been the backdrop for thousands of epic adventures for travelers over the past 30 years, from the world’s largest ziprider and trekking and dogsledding across glaciers to sea-kayaking through ice floes and following the tracks of Gold Rushers on the railway. It was the starting point for both of Crystal Serenity’s groundbreaking Northwest Passage journeys and still – after all these years and experiences – it remains one of the destinations most coveted by intrepid travelers.
And the reasons are many. Countless, really, as even those who have trod along the rugged shores of the Pacific Northwest are keen to return, knowing there’s so much more to discover. For those who have yet to check Alaska off of their must-explore travel lists, here’s a quick reference at the innumerable “wow” moments that await you.
As Crystal marks our 30th Anniversary, we’re looking back to where it all began as we look ahead to the greatest adventures yet to come in Alaska and beyond. The region is rich in discoveries and experiences for the whole family, while bolder travelers will relish rare explorations far off the beaten path.
Eight. Species of whales who call the bays, inlets and passages of Alaska their summertime playgrounds, that is. Beluga, Humpback, Gray, Orca, Bowhead, Blue, Right and Minke whales teem in these waters during the warmer months, caring for young and meeting up with pods. It’s not unusual to spot these massive mammals from the open decks of Crystal ships (guests aboard 2019 voyages in the region were treated to more than 100 sightings) – look for enormous flukes (tail fins) in the distance, watch for breaching whales at play, and listen for the sound of their side flippers pounding against the water as they call to each other.
27,000. The estimated number of glaciers throughout Alaska, though 616 of them are officially named and recognized. Some of the most impressive numbers are courtesy of Hubbard Glacier, North America’s largest tidewater glacier (one which reaches the sea) at 76 miles long, seven miles wide and 700 feet tall, with 350 feet above the water line and 250 feet stretching down below. Other glaciers of notable size (and notably featured on select Crystal voyages) include South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord at over half a mile wide; Mendenhall Glacier at over 13 miles long; and Taku Glacier at over 36 miles long.
8,162. This is the population of the UNESCO-listed Aleutian Isles Biosphere Reserve and Wildlife Refuge about 1,600 miles from Alaska’s frontier. Here, it’s about as remote and wild as it gets, with native sea birds, sea lions and sea otters far outnumbering the human residents.
17 million and 4.1 million. Acreage of the Tongass and Katmai national forests, respectively. This is where the wild things are (even relative to the rest of Alaska), as these protected lands house bald eagles, massive Alaskan brown bears, abundant salmon and wolves. Whales, otters and other sea life flock to the area surrounding Katmai on the southern tip of Alaska, while Sitka black-tailed deer and mountain goats favor the hillsides of the Tongass in the southeast.
And as long as we’re counting…11. Opportunities for adventurists to explore the Last Frontier with Crystal. In the summer of 2021, Crystal Endeavor will sail five Alaska cruises to hubs of Gold Rush, fishing and native history, as well as the far-removed Aleutian Islands. In 2022, Crystal Serenity will sail six Alaska cruises between Anchorage and Vancouver.
Crystal invites travelers to book now and save with added peace of mind and flexibility as we look ahead to sailing together again.