Featured image: Crystal Serenity’s Captain Birger J. Vorland
The experts on the expedition team from Arctic Kingdom – Crystal’s partners for the 2017 Northwest Passage journey – offer their firsthand insights and experiences throughout this epic voyage. Here, on the Crystal Insider, you’ll find some of the highlights. For other updates, also follow along the official Northwest Passage Tracker. Below is the first entry, and historical background of the remarkable regions the voyage will explores.
Jagged mountains and remnants of the glaciers long gone cling to the shadowed valleys that surround Seward, Alaska. Houses dot the coast above the harbor where fishing vessels, tour boats and other local ships are moored. Precisely as scheduled at 20:00 local time Captain Birger J. Vorland, the Master of the Crystal Serenity, smoothly guided our ship to sea and thus begins the historic journey.
Crystal Serenity’s 2017 Northwest Passage has begun. Our topography will change dramatically in the days to come as we sail around the state of Alaska. One hundred and fifty years ago, Russia and the United States signed the “Treaty of Cession,” agreeing to the sale of the Alaskan Territory. The treaty was signed on March 30, 1867, in Sitka, formerly known as Novo-Arkhangelsk, the capital of Russian America. Alaska became a Department of the United States, becoming a full state when it was admitted to the Union in 1959. March 30 is marked as “Seward’s Day,” after then US Secretary of State William H. Seward.
The official transfer of the territory took place on October 18 of that year, a day that became Alaska Day. Seward, located at the head of the Resurrection Bay received its name from Alexandr Baranov, who was forced to retreat into the bay during a bad storm in the Gulf of Alaska. When the storm settled it was Easter Sunday, so the bay and nearby Resurrection River were named in honor of it. Our journey of exploration begins.
Kodiak Island. Yes, our first port of call on board Crystal Serenity is actually an island. Emerging almost 10,000 years ago as massive glaciers released their ‘ice-age’ grip on the land, and as the ice receded chiseled peaks and fjord-like bays revealed rocky islets and valleys, that today are Kodiak Island.
In a port where the sun rarely shines the day was more than pleasant. While liquid sunshine did rain down with enough force to create streams in the road that might allow salmon to swim upstream in the tire ruts – the sun shone more than it rained.
Did you know the Alutiiq natives have inhabited the Kodiak Archipelago for more than 7,000 years, and that in their language, kadiak means “island”. And, Kodiak bears are the world’s largest, with some adult males exceeding 1,000 pounds. Both facts as per the official Kodiak information site online.
Our adventure continues as we sail westward toward our next port of call – Dutch Harbor. Made famous by the television show – ‘Deadliest Catch’.
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