From The Boathouse: Onboard a cruise ship to the Last Frontier

September 13, 2012|By Mike Whitehead
  • The Tracy Arm fjord, heading toward the glacier, is part of a valley carved by glacial activity.
The Tracy Arm fjord, heading toward the glacier, is part… (Mike Whitehead )

Ahoy from aboard the Princess Cruises' Star Princess while I am enjoying my radio station's Alaskan cruise this week.

CRN Digital Talk Radio, which syndicates my "Boathouse Radio Show," is hosting a murder mystery cruise. My wife and I could not miss the opportunity visit Alaska, even if the weather is a little chilly and wet this time of year.

As you read the morning paper Friday while sipping your coffee, we are on a course returning to Seattle where we will disembark Sunday for our flight back to John Wayne Airport. However, I am writing this column from our balcony as the ship is cruising in Tracy Arm fjord, and I am watching huge floating chucks of ice from the Sawyer Glaciers pass by the starboard side.

This is a spectacular waterway that leads up to the glaciers while you cruise through valleys that were carved out by glacial activity. Sheer-faced cliffs with tree-covered mountains and water depths of a thousand feet allow this 953-foot ship to access this area.


The ship can only travel up the passage until the floating ice becomes impassable and too risky for the ship to continue. Then the ship spins 180 degrees for the voyage out of the fjord, giving me a view of the other side of the channel before docking in Juneau later this afternoon.

I had an odd encounter with a Transportation Security Administration agent when I was going through the screening at JWA to fly to Seattle to board the ship. I was wearing my usual attire of Docker short pants and a Reyn Spooner shirt for the flight.

As I exited the new screening equipment, an agent stopped me and said that we have a situation. It appears that the screening machine flagged my head and right knee for potentially hiding objects. I looked at him and I said, "You are kidding, right?"

He was baffled for a moment as if he did not know what to do, because I was not wearing a hat so you could see the top of my head, and my knee was exposed below my short pants. Now, my wife tells me often that I must have a steel plate in my head, but that is story for another column.

Finally after a few minutes, he realized that the machine must have given two false readings, because one can visually see my head and knee. Now I have very little confidence in the new screening equipment at the airports, plus the employee training manuals should have a chapter on common sense.

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