The Gateway to Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound is a wonderland of massive glaciers, dense spruce forests, and abundant wildlife. Embark on a journey that retraces the path of early explorers Vitus Bering, Georg Wilhelm Steller, Captain James Cook and Captain George Vancouver. These great explorers discovered Alaska in 1741, navigated these waters in search of the Northwest Passage, identified new species of animals; Steller sea lion, Steller jay, Steller eider and Steller Sea eagle, and traded with the indigenous people. Professional narration is provided by U.S. Forest Service Rangers with stories about these early explorers and their adventures along our cruise routes.
Glaciers and Geography
A place of breathtaking beauty with abundant glaciers and mountains, Prince William Sound is located in the northern corner of the Gulf of Alaska. Prince William Sound is comparable in size to Puget Sound in Washington State and 3 times the size of San Francisco Bay. The Sound is about 70 miles wide from east to west and covers an area of 15,000 square miles. It has 1,500 miles of shoreline and an additional 1,500 miles of shoreline around approximately 200 islands, hundreds of islets and rock reefs. There are 150 glaciers in Prince William Sound, 17 of them tidewater.
The shores contain black and brown bear, mountain goats, and Sitka black-tailed deer on some of the outer islands. Marine life includes Dall's porpoise, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, thousands of sea otters, and whales. The waters are filled with five species of salmon along with halibut, cod and numerous other fish and shellfish. Prince William Sound is home to 200 species of bird-life, including an abundance of breeding bald eagles.
In the past, fox farming was very popular and at times profitable. Most of the farms raised blue fox and were on islands to prevent the animals from fleeing, for the fox cannot swim. The height of fox farming came in 1925 with 34 islands actively farming. The 1929 stock crash was the beginning of the fall of fox farming and the last fox farm closed in 1959. The men and women who were involved in fox farming were a colorful part of the history of Prince William Sound.