Cruising Stephens Passage
One of the straightest stretches of the Inside Passage is the Stephens Passage just south of Juneau, a 105-mile channel between 5,000-foot peaks that cuts through the Alexander Archipelago between Admiralty Island on the west and the mainland and Douglas Island on the east. It is a good place to be on deck, because Admiralty boasts more bears than people, and the spruce and hemlock forests come right down to the water. The Passage is generally considered some of the best whale-watching water in Alaska, and also holds plentiful populations of huge Steller sea lions, as well as flocks of gulls and guillemots that clatter aloft as the ship passes. The passage was named by George Vancouver in 1794 after being charted by Joseph Whidbey.