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Port Review: Haines, Alaska

By:
Joanna Hall
 

Part of Alaska’s northern panhandle, Haines enjoys a fascinating history, an intriguing culture, some breathtaking scenery and plenty to offer adventurous cruise guests visiting for a day.

The Facts

Location: The far northern end of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Currency: US dollar.

Docking/Anchoring: Ships dock at Haines pier, which is approximately 500 metres (1/4 mile) from the foot of Haines' main street. 

Transport: It’s easy to walk around town but there are usually a few taxis on hand if you want to take a short ride out of town.

Overview

Haines is a small, picturesque town which has a spectacular backdrop in the form of the Chilkoot Inlet as well as some stunning mountain ranges. It’s also one of those places where everyone seems to know everyone else. The local Tlingit people called the area Dtehshuh, which means “the end of the trail” and the 2,000 or so inhabitants who call it home seem to revel in their isolation, which is only disturbed by the occasional cruise ship that makes it this far up the Inside Passage.

Don’t Miss

As the name suggests, Glacier Bay National Park is the place to see some of Alaska’s most impressive glaciers, with each one seeming bigger and more grand than the last over a 13,000 square kilometre expanse.

Steve Kroschel’s Wildlife Center is located just of town. Kroschel has been running this place for two decades and is a film maker who specialises in wildlife, and you’ll see bears, lynx kittens, caribou, wolves, moose, fox, reindeer, snowy owls and a wolverine up close.

The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is one to put on your list. The Chilkat River plays host to a very late run of chum salmon, and the eagles gather here by the thousands to enjoy the feast at this sanctuary. 

Best Photo Op 

If you don’t get up in a flightseeing tour of Glacier Bay National Park, then no matter: Haines is a photographer's paradise with jaw dropping scenery, birds, wildlife, and meadows full of flowers in the lush forests, on the ocean shores, or along the banks of the rivers. Just get out on foot and savour.

Shopping

Despite its tiny size, Haines is quite geared up for cruise tourism these days, and during the season from May to September the town has dozens of shops and art galleries featuring authentic Tlingit works, which are unique to this part of the world. Paintings, jewellery, pottery, ivory sculptures, soapstone carvings, and hand-woven baskets are just some of the souvenirs you’ll find around town. The Alaska Indian Arts centre has been operating for 50 years in the historic Fort Seward district and has artists in residence who practice totem carving, silver work, printmaking and other art forms. 

Food And Drink

As with most of Alaska, there are restaurants with bars - and bars with restaurants and eateries attached - so it all depends on what atmosphere you’re looking for. On the waterfront near where ships are docked is the Lighthouse Restaurant and Bar offering lunch and dinner while the Commander’s Room Restaurant and Officers’ Club Lounge on Fort Seward Drive is famous for seafood, lamb, rabbit, and beef entrees. To whet your whistle only, The Fogcutter is a classic watering hole which is popular with the locals and they have a good range of Alaskan beers on tap with light bar food. 

Pick of the Excursions

The Haines Wilderness River Adventure is the most popular tour for good reason. It begins with a bus trip to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve before guest board a jet boat for a cruise through the scenic tributaries to spot and photograph eagles, moose and bears. 

A flightseeing tour of Glacier Bay National Park is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences everyone should do, and it provides a classic Alaskan experience. You fly through jagged snow-capped mountains which are bisected by the massive glaciers which then drop straight into azure lagoons and bays dappled with ice floes.

 

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  1. Posted by on 10th Jun 2019 Verified Customer

    Loved Haines 5 Star Review

    It certainly is a quirky place! We had an unscheduled stop here to to engine issues on a Princess Cruise and the entire town turned out to welcome us and lay on some fun things to do. Would love to go back.

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