- Alaska Then and Now -
The Alaska cruises of today have become adventures tamed by luxury. Visits to national parks, glaciers and fjords are counterbalanced by fine dining, spa treatments, fabulous shows, and five star accommodations aboard vessels designed to pamper and excite. But it was not always so.
The Alaska Photo Exhibition
Princess Cruises has unveiled a special exhibit aboard its seven Alaska ships that takes passengers back in time to the early days of cruising the Inside Passage. Developed in partnership with Princess and the Alaska State Museum, the show, entitled “Then & Now: 100 Years of Cruising Alaska’s Waters,” gives cruisers a glimpse of Alaska and the Inside Passage as they were a century ago, when early steamship “excursionists” sailed these waters
Displayed in the atria of Princess ships during the port call in Juneau, the exhibition features a selection of 30 historical photographs and artifacts largely from the collections of the Alaska State Library and Alaska State Museum.
The images, taken in the early 20th century in Vancouver, Victoria, Ketchikan, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Skagway and the Inside Passage are paired with historical artifacts from the museum’s collection. Most of the places in the photos are still cruise destinations today. Therefore, cruisers can learn the history of places they’ll visit during their vacation, and see how these places have changed over the past century.
“Although certainly Alaska has changed since these photos were taken, the essence of the state passengers visit today has its roots in the past century,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “This is a fascinating opportunity to learn a bit about those who made Alaska journeys before them.”
Origins Of Alaska Tourism
Alaska tourism had its beginnings in the late 1870s, not long after the United States purchased Russia’s claim to Alaska in 1867. “The steamships of the era were tiny compared to the cruise ships of today,” said Steve Henrikson, senior curator of collections for the Alaska State Museum, “and carried cargo and passengers, visitors as well as locals.”
Back then, steamship accommodations were cramped and visitors were treated to a “real Alaskan experience,” for better or worse. The adventure could include visits to native villages, big game hunts, wading through muddy streets, and frequent groundings. The early tourists didn’t just learn about history, they lived it. They encountered U.S. Navy ships practicing “gunboat diplomacy” with Alaskan natives, rubbed elbows with miners heading to the Klondike Gold Rush, or were sometimes swindled by criminals such as Skagway’s Soapy Smith.
“Then & Now: 100 Years of Cruising Alaska’s Waters” will run through the summer Alaskan cruise season.
This Princess Cruises press release was edited and augmented by Andrew Kruglanski, Cruisin Susan Cruise Blog.
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* Photo courtesy of Nick McPhee
Sailing Ship photo is in the public domain.