Princess Cruises holidaymaker had a more memorable stop-off than she bargained for when she got lost on a day hike – forcing her cruise ship to leave her behind in a forest home to black bears.

When the Coral Princess docked in Juneau, Alaska, last week, the 79-year-old tourist embarked on a hike to Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. The holidaymaker from Ontario, Canada, planned to walk the East Glacier Trail, a 3.5-mile loop that usually takes about two hours, but she became disorientated.

She veered onto a different trail and got lost, missing the ship’s 4pm departure. When night fell, she wild-camped in the forest near the glacier, in an area where black bears are often encountered. In the past, the trail has been closed due to bear activity. She was without any camping or safety gear.

 When the passenger didn’t return to the ship, crew alerted the police. A search team scoured the area for signs of her until midnight, to no avail.
But the next morning, the woman – who has not been named – hiked to the visitor centre. She was tired and wet, but otherwise unscathed. Police officers drove her to the airport, and she flew to Ketchikan to re-join her ship.

Speaking to local newspaper Juneau Empire, Nikki Hinds, assistant director of the visitor centre, said the woman “didn’t have camping gear, but she wore layers and a rain coat. I’m sure she was still cold, but it was a happy ending when she came in this morning”.

“She’s a hardy soul,” said Kirby Day, port manager for Princess Cruises. “She is a strong lady, and she knew what she was doing. She did all the right things except for making one wrong turn.”

It “was one of those [stories] that turned out good,” Day said. “We’ve had a couple over the years that didn’t.”