We took the Misty Fjords excursion run by Promech Air in a 1950s De Havilland float plane - an unforgettable experience that will live with us forever. Don't miss it! Ketchikan is small and unspoilt, and we had the luck of seeing it in sunshine - rare, we gathered.
Small Alaska town that retains its original charm and hasn't been trashed. Visit the Russian church while you're there and browse the art galleries. The Sea Otter Quest was a fantastic excursion, with really knowledgeable and enthusiastic naturalists onboard - terrific.
Very busy, with five huge ships in port. This rather detracts from any sense that you're in the wilderness, especially with fleets of helicopters ferrying tourists to the glacier every half hour; it sounded like Apocalypse Now.
However, another wonderful excursion, this time in a jetboat from Haines along the Chilkat Valley: awesome in the truest sense. The day was hosted dazzlingly and very entertainingly by a young man called Gabriel who should be on TV!
Some truly dreadful 60s and 70s development have seriously uglified Alaska's capital city. However, the whale watching compensated, with humpbacks fluking just feet from our boat. Not a place we'd ever return to though.
Victoria is a delight - a pretty and bustling little city built on a human scale. We had a great lunch outside at Sandbar Wharf, overlooking the harbour in the sunshine (it seems to have the best of the weather on Vancouver Island). The boat excursions into the San Juan islands gave us the privilege of seeing orca in the wild - unforgettable.
It had been 25 years since my last visit and Vancouver's expansion is fairly shocking. It's a big, vibrant, bustling city now - and a bit of a shock after a cruise! Worth a mention is Water Street Cafe in Gastown.
We stayed 3 nights at the Pan Pacific hotel right at the cruise ship terminal. While convenient for embarkation, it's large and impersonal - more of a people-processing plant than a hotel. It's also seriously overpriced for the room size, with very average service.