I can't believe it has been two months since we came back from our Alaska trip! In many ways, it seems longer ago than that - a lot has happened since then! I wrote a blog about the first week of our trip almost three weeks ago, and I expected to write the second half soon after! Where does the time go? Part of me just doesn’t feel like writing about the cruise at this point, but I do know how much I enjoyed reliving the first week when I went through all the pictures again. Also some of my SparkFriends said they were looking forward to reading the second part. So...I decided to write a blog about our cruise after all.
For those who may have missed my blog about our Alaska Land Tour and are interested, here is the link:
We chose to do the land tour first and then the cruise after hearing that suggestion from neighbors on our street who went to Alaska two years ago. They said the land tour is very busy, going from one place to another each day, and it gets you tired. When you get on the cruise ship then, you can truly relax, especially since the first two days are at sea. I think it was the best advice. And it sure was good we had those first two down days, because our friend, Denny, who was traveling with us, got sick with the flu, and he was quarantined to his room till his fever broke. Apparently there were a lot of people who got sick from the land tour (in the infirmary they said the flu was picked up in Fairbanks.) Fortunately, Karen, Dave and I did not get sick then, and Denny was well enough by the time we got to the first port.
This was only our second cruise ever, our first one being in December of 2014 when we went to the Caribbean. What's really funny is that we were on the same ship as the first time - the Royal Princess. It's a big, gorgeous ship, just the same as I remembered it!
What a difference both cruises were though (except for the food!) On the first one, our main focus was doing activities on the ship, laying by the pool during the day and going to see the entertainment at night, along with a couple excursions in the Turk and Caicos Islands. This time we weren't really interested in any of the entertainment onboard and went to bed soon after dinner! It was much more about going on the decks to walk around and on our balcony to look at the scenery along the route. Of course, our attire was quite different- not many people braved the pool!
Then we went on an excursion at each port. We were very grateful we had rooms with balconies right next to our friends. The steward opened the divider between their side and ours so we had one big balcony - we spent a lot of time there, enjoying and taking pictures of the glaciers.
This is the Alaska everyone thinks about - the Inner Passage part of the cruise. Here is the route we took.
I have so many pictures of glaciers and mountains from the first two days going to Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay - here is a handful.
Of course, the photos don’t do the panoramic grandeur justice, especially when we went to the top deck of the ship and saw everything all around us.
One regret I had was that we didn’t take a small ship up to the glacier to really get the sense of how tall they were and to hear the calving (when sheets of ice fall.) Dave and I saw a few happen, but the cruise ship doesn’t get close enough to hear it. Seeing the smaller boat in front of the glacier gives you perspective about the size.
One of the first nights on the ship, we had a semi-formal dinner at one of the specialty restaurants on board the ship. Denny and Karen couldn’t go because he was sick, so Dave and I had a nice romantic dinner, just the two of us.
Then there was formal night and all the pictures they took of us for the photo package that Karen and Denny bought.
Our first port day was Skagway, where we took a three part excursion that lasted a good portion of the day. The main attraction at Skagway is The White Pass and Yukon Railway, a beautiful train trip that goes through the White Pass summit, linking Skagway with Yukon, Canada. It was an amazing story to hear how they built the railway in the late 1800’s as a way to get to the Interior during the Gold Rush days. There were more scenery pictures galore - here are a select few.
After the train ride, we had a barbecue lunch with a singer/guitarist, silly entertainment and another gold panning activity-all at a recreated gold mining camp called Liarsville.
The last part of our excursion in Skagway was touring the historic saloon and brothel called The Red Onion Saloon, built in 1897. Afterwards we had some time before having to go back on board the ship, so we walked around town and stopped for a drink and snack at one of the local bars.
The second port we stopped at was Juneau, Alaska’s state capital, the only capital in the US, accessed only by water or air.
Our excursion this day was to see the amazing Mendenhall Glacier, 12 miles long, a half mile wide and 300-1800 feet deep. It has been slowly retreating since the mid 1700’s. We only had a short time there, so we split up with Denny and Karen going to the visitor’s center, and Dave and I hiking to the falls. More photo opportunities!
The second part of that day’s excursion was a whale watching boat ride, which was very exciting! We saw dolphins and a bunch of humpback whales. I didn’t get too many good pictures, mostly taking videos of the live action, which I can’t share here.
The last port we sailed to was Ketchikan, a colorful rustic town. It rains a lot there, so we felt fortunate to have a cloudy day with no precipitation. I wish we had more time there, since we couldn’t do everything I would have liked to. We did a little shopping for souvenirs, and then Dave and I went on our last excursion, which was a hike in the rain forest, visit to a sawmill, where they make totem poles, and a raptor center. Here are my last set of pictures from our day there.
The very last day of our cruise was a day at sea. We took it easy and rested. Dave started getting a bad cold, and Karen wasn’t feeling well either. I was the only one who didn’t get sick!
I was a little disappointed when we got to Vancouver and everyone (except me!) just wanted to go to the hotel room and crash, instead of sightseeing in the beautiful city. We ended up doing that, and only going out to dinner, and then Dave and I took a little walk once it got dark. It was another early since we had to get up early the next day to catch the long flight home.
Just a few more pictures from our last day in Vancouver.
So, that’s about it! It was an incredible trip that I will always remember! I would love to go back again, during a different month, but there’s so many other places to visit on my bucket list!