The Klondike Express: An Alaskan Success.
Plying the pristine passages of Prince William Sound, Brad Phillips' 137-foot, sightseeing catamaran accommodates 350 passengers in splendid luxury through milky-blue and jade-green waters, the likes of which are seen nowhere else in the world.
May is National Tourism Month and while last month premiered with snow and freezing weather for most of Alaska, this June issue we seize the official season opener as our excuse to focus on many of Alaska's unique visitor options. We feature tourism for three months running and can't begin to scratch the surface of what's fun to do in Alaska in summertime.
When last we cruised aboard the Klondike Express, it was ending its first full season (2000) of operation and a full complement of passengers was on board, many visiting from around the world. If one was ever proud to be an Alaskan, that was one of the times. Scenic beauty we often take for granted had macho gauchos and dilettante docents awestruck and lost for words to describe the untamed, uncivilized and unbelievable sights of the sound.
And the boat! The boat is one-of-a-kind on the West Coast of the Pacific. Truly. An honest-to-goodness catamaran, even in the roughest waters the ride is steady and smooth. Seated inside viewing through picture-window galleries or from three open observation decks (two heated) puts one up close and face-to-face with the marine world of Prince William Sound (named by Captain James Cook for William Henry, later King William TV of England).
Nina at the Helm
Brad and Helen Phillips pioneered the day cruise industry in Alaska. In 1958 they began Columbia Glacier Cruises in Valdez. In 1986 Phillips introduced the now legendary 26 Glacier Cruise, and launched the Klondike Express' five-hour day cruise in 1999. When Brad Phillips is not in the wheel house, Captain NinaJones is at the helm, much to the surprise and thrill of passengers who are welcomed onto the bridge to have a look at the state-of-the-art navigational gear and get a picture taken with one of the captains. Jones, a lifelong resident of Seattle, is a licensed captain. A graduate of two maritime academies, she has "ojt" experience that has taken her around the world.
Phillips gives a running nature commentary along the way, often spiked with his keen sense of humor and gift of gab. (He is a retired Alaska State legislator-and an attorney!) (Oh, you didn't know that?) These traits endear him to his passengers who enjoy a complimentary, gourmet hot luncheon served by some of the most gracious deckhands you'll ever hope to meet.
The 26 Glacier Cruise and the Klondike Express depart from Whittier, a scenic hour south of Anchorage. Get there by auto, train or bus. Call Phillips Cruises, (907) 276-8023 for reservations and details. Bon Voyage.
Vern C. McCorkle
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|Publication:||Alaska Business Monthly|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2001|
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