Lower Dewey Lake, Skagway

Going Off-Broadway in Skagway, Alaska

A walk down Broadway, Skagway’s main street, is a bit like visiting Universal Studios. Carefully crafted wooden sidewalks are lined with a-little-too-rustic frontier-style wooden store fronts and “saloons”. Most of them seem to be purveying either jewelry or glow-in-the-dark t-shirts, although you can pick up a pretty sweet ulu knife at more than one shop. I don’t mean to sound cynical—it is a beautiful town, […]

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Shawn told us a bit about the local history.

Cruising to Prosperity: Icy Strait Point, Alaska

A down-on-its-luck fishing village reinvents itself. A few years ago I went to visit a friend in a small coastal town in BC, and she described the place as “a little drinking village with a fishing problem.” That description could fit an awful lot of places on the coast, and it’s interesting to see how these towns, faced with sagging fishing and logging revenues, struggle […]

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At sea, Alaska

At Sea Again, Cruising

  I never get tired of being at sea. It occurred to me today that this is probably our 35th cruise in five years. I never would have chosen cruising as a holiday style—I’ve always been an independent, off-the-beaten-path kind of explorer. But the work I do on cruise ships is so immensely satisfying, and the ports of call so endlessly varied, that we have […]

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Salmon, Ketchikan River

The Salmon Stream, Mortality And Me

They tell me I can cross an Alaskan river on the backs of salmon and not get my feet wet. Here today, I can almost believe it. Today, I’m in Ketchikan, Alaska and it’s not raining. This is not a small thing. I have seen Ketchikan in gentle drizzle and I’ve seen it under sheets and sheets of pouring rain. But I can’t recall when […]

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Primordial Splendour: The Hubbard Glacier

Fragments of ice up to ten stories tall began to peel off its face and crash into the sea below. I work as a cruise ship naturalist during part of my year, giving presentations about the wildlife and geography of places like Alaska, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean. It is exciting and tremendously rewarding work, and the luxury of cruise ship life (and the international […]

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The streets of Montevideo

The Streets of Montevideo

Montevideo was recently recognized as having the best quality of life in all of Latin America. It seems that everyone nowadays needs a bucket list, that public register of Things You Must Accomplish before you join the choir invisible. I suppose it’s a nice idea—none of us is getting any younger, and it’s good to remember that all the things we dream of doing aren’t […]

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Paris, girls on bicycles.

In Paris, it’s OK to stare.

Paris is the global capital of live and let live. It’s not easy being a street photographer. You’re eternally caught in a dilemma: do I ask permission to shoot, and end up with someone posing stiffly and awkwardly for me? Or do I just shoot and risk their wrath? This torments me. I have the right to shoot in public—the law is on my side. […]

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St. Kitts: The Frigatebird Whisperer

Frigatebirds are the unofficial mascot of every cruise ship in the Caribbean. But getting a good photo is harder than it looks. Being a birdwatcher, or a ‘birder’ as we call ourselves in a vain attempt to sound cool, is not for everyone. I recognize this. But when people tell me, emphatically, “I just CAN’T tell one kind from another! It’s too hard!” I have […]

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Slumming with Sloths in Costa Rica

Almost everything you do on the ground, sloths do in the trees, upside-down and in slow motion. They’re the Ginger Rogers of the animal kingdom. I’m staring straight at it, and I can’t see a thing. I’m standing in the sweltering, sticky afternoon air of Costa Rica’s Atlantic rain forest, squinting, craning my neck, shifting sideways… and I see nothing but leaves. Yet my young […]

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Stockholm, Sweden

Eight Great Hours in Stockholm, Sweden

Cruising to Stockholm? Make the most of your short time in one of Europe’s great cities. And bring your sweet tooth. It’s madness, of course, to visit one of the world’s most beautiful cities in a single day. It’s pure cruelty, in fact, to drop anchor at the doorstep of one of the world’s most civilized cultures only to call “all-aboard” a few short hours […]

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