By: Brooke Greenwald
If an Alaska cruise is on your bucket list, (It sure should be!) Then you've come to the right place!
I recently returned from the adventure of a lifetime! For seven days, I had the incredible opportunity to become immersed into the grandeur and splendor of The Last Frontier. And it was AWEsome! It filled my heart with inspiration and amazing memories that I will never forget!
Although I could go on all day raving about Alaska, I just want to share with you a few of the highlights and some things I learned along the way!
Day 1: Seattle, Washington
The city that stole my heart! This was my third visit to Seattle and each time I go, it continues to captivate me more and more. It's such a unique city and there is so much to see and do!
Day 2: At Sea
My second day was a sea day. I spent the morning attending a seminar, learning all about Holland America, and the rest of the day was spent exploring the ship and meeting new people. One of the unique aspects of an Alaska cruise, is that you can see land at almost all times. So I spent a lot of time walking around the outside of the ship checking out the gorgeous views.
Day 3: Juneau
What can I say about Juneau other than WOW! This being my first time ever in Alaska, Juneau really left an impression! I started the day by taking the tram up Mt. Roberts. It was a foggy day, but even so, the view from the top was beautiful! After that I went on an excursion to see Mendenhall Glacier and to go whale watching. If whale watching is on your list, I would definitely recommend doing it in Juneau. I saw so many whales, both Humpback and Orcas. It was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had!
Day 4: Glacier Bay
Pristine. That is the best word I can think of to describe Glacier Bay. It was so incredibly immaculate and fascinating. I was surrounded by nature that was untouched by man. It was incredible! I was so lucky to have had a stateroom with a balcony as I spent a lot of time sitting out there, sipping coffee, and just taking it all in! I even saw a some sea lions, and eagles and bears! (Oh my!) It was so neat! Glacier Bay was definitely one of my favorite days!
Day 5: Sitka
The highlight of my stop in Sitka was kayaking. I can't rave enough about how much fun this was! It was my idea of a perfect day. It sprinkled off and on which only added to the beauty of the landscape. The water in the Sitka sound was so smooth and silky looking. The group I went kayaking with was so fun and entertaining and I met some incredible people! Even our tour guide was awesome. She had so much insight and information about Sitka and the marine life in the sound. At one point we were being followed by a little seal. He was playing hide and seek with us and was very curious about what we were up to. I've been kayaking several times, in several different locations, but nothing even comes close to my experience in Sitka! But the day didn't end here. Later on that night after dinner, (remember that in late May in Alaska, it doesn't get completely dark until midnight or later), we were all blessed with a beautiful sunset on the water. So I spent the late evening at the pool bar watching the sun go down.
Day 6: Ketchikan
Our sixth day was spent in Ketchikan. Also known as the Salmon Capital of the world. The weather was beautiful which I was extremely grateful for! I love adventure so I opted for a zip lining excursion. It was fantastic! The views were amazing, no surprise there, and I had such a good time flying through the trees! It gave me a sense of freedom with a little bit of adrenaline all mixed into one. After I returned from my zip lining adventure, I wandered my way through town and found Creek Street. This used to be the red light district during the prohibition era. It was fun to hear the stories and see the unique structure of the street itself. I definitely could have spent more time there!
Day 7: Victoria, British Columbia
As my adventure was coming to an end, I finally got to cross off Canada from my bucket list! I was so charmed and intrigued by Victoria. It is such nice, clean, and romantic city. The beauty of the picturesque landscape, with the hustle and bustle of the city, made for the perfect combo. Since I didn't make any plans for this port of call, I decided that I was just going to wing it. And that's exactly what I did. We got off the ship to find that it was raining, so a lot of the tours were cancelled. We were approached by a young man and he asked us if we'd like a tour in a Rickshaw. I thought that sounded fun. Then he informed us that he would be running us, literally RUNNING us, around the city. I totally thought he was crazy but we decided to go for it anyway. Well I was right. It was insane. Maybe the weirdest thing i've ever done. But it turned out to be so much fun! Our Rickshaw guy was awesome. He was very informative, took us to all the main attractions, and even let us in his Dad's Bubble Tea store after hours and made us some Bubble Tea! It was delicious! If you've never had bubble tea, you should! Our Rickshaw adventure was a great way to end my trip and is defiantly something I will always have a good laugh about!
Day 8: Seattle (and back home)
I was sad to be heading back to reality, but when we got to port, Seattle was definitely showing off! I was happy to take in the views of my favorite city one last time before heading back home. The last day is always a bummer, but there is no doubt that I will never forget this amazing experience! Alaska is hands down the most beautiful and serene place I have ever been. To see such pure, raw, untouched, nature was something that simply cannot be matched. It was both humbling and breathtaking. I already can't wait to go back!
Here's What I Learned:
Get The Balcony!
Seriously! You will be SOOOOO glad you did. Having a private space where you can go outside and not have to fight a crowd is totally worth it! I am a huge "views" person and I spent so much time out on my balcony. Everyday I would wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and sit out on the balcony. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the quietness of the morning and watching the incredible views that would pass by, without anyone disturbing me!
Upgraded Restaurant Options Are Stellar!
One of the reasons people love to travel is for the food. And it's no secret that cruise ships have a reputation for fancy and delicious food options! While all of the food on the ship was great, the food at the specialty restaurants is heads and tails above the rest of the ships food. I would encourage people to try at least one specialty restaurant during their cruise vacation!
Glacier Bay is TOTALLY Worth Waking Up Early For!
I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I might go as far to say that I especially dislike mornings. But waking up to THAT view.... HOLY COW! I've never seen such beauty and serenity. I know it's a vacation and sleeping in is great. But trust me, you're gonna want to experience Alaska during that mystical part of the day. During the quiet moments. It's then when you really understand how vast and expansive this place really is! So wake up early, take in the scenery, be in the moment. You can always take a nap later!
Wifi is Expensive and Slooooow!
We live in a connected world. And of course you want to post all those beautiful pictures on instagram right away. I get it! I felt the same way. But ask yourself how connected you really need to be. I purchased the internet package and it was so NOT worth it! I would try and post something on social media and it would take hours to actually post. It drove me crazy! I would have been better off without it and just posting pictures later. And since my phone plan has coverage in Alaska, I was able to connect when onshore no problem! My advice-- don't bother with the ships wifi.
Most of Southeast Alaska is a Rainforest!
The Tongass National Rainforest in Ketchikan is the largest national rainforest at 17 million acres and is considered a temperate rainforest. Ketchikan itself is the rainfall capital of Alaska so I consider myself extremely lucky to have had sunshine all day while in Ketchikan!
Alaska and Hawaii Have a Seasonal Relationship!
From whales to tour operators, Alaska and Hawaii seem to have a strong link. I learned that just like the whales, people will also summer in Alaska and Winter in Hawaii. Not a bad gig!
I Could Totally Be a Wilderness Girl!
I couldn't help but envy the pioneer lifestyle of those who live and work in Alaska. From the beautiful scenery, outdoor adventure, and rugged mountain men 😜, I could definitely live there for a stretch of time!
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