Alaska, here I come! I was beyond excited when I booked my Alaska cruise. To eliminate the need to fly, I was initially looking at a Vancouver roundtrip cruise. I decided against that because I preferred the northbound itinerary on the one-way cruise with the Diamond Princess. I mean, I was going to Alaska, I may as well see as much as I can in the time frame available.
Our northbound cruise to Alaska from Vancouver couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather, the scenery, the Princess crew, the people of Alaska, and the cities and towns. Here’s a summary of what we experienced.
We embarked in Vancouver at Canada Place cruise terminal. From the airport, the taxi ride is about 30 minutes, approximately $30 not including tip. There’s also public transportation, what locals call the skytrain, that is a short 20 minute trip straight to the terminal.
Looking ominous in the photo above, the sun did manage to shine for us as shown in the photo immediately below.
An advantage to cruising to Alaska out of Vancouver versus Seattle is sailing the lush and scenic inside passage right away. When sailing out of Seattle, ships sail along the west cost of Vancouver Island and half of the ship’s view is the open ocean.
Our first stop was Ketchikan. Unfortunately, we didn’t spend any time exploring this cute looking town. Instead, we did a kayaking excursion, discovering the surrounding area. I don’t regret this — as with any trip, you can’t do it all and I’ll just have to return for more some day!
Our guide was personable and informative, and there were only two of us on this excursion! He said that they don’t work with the cruise lines as they prefer to offer more intimate experiences and cater it to the desire of the people on the excursion.
Back onboard after dinner we decided to hang out at the atrium. There was an interactive martini shaking contest that caught our attention. Beware, being a spectator may result in participating in some fun activities!
Our next port of call was Juneau, the capital of Alaska. We were in Juneau until 8 pm, so had a lot more time to explore than we did in Ketchikan. With dog sledding on a glacier excursion booked mid day, we walked around Juneau, which was unexpectedly, yet not surprisingly hilly.
Our helicopter and dog sledding excursion was the most exciting activity. It’s truly something you must experience, soaring above Juneau and hovering over ancient glaciers.
The helicopter ride was about 20 minutes and it was breathtaking. This for sure warrants its own blog post.
Our last port of call was Skagway, Alaska. It was another brilliantly warm and bright day. So what did we do? We found a local pub and enjoyed beer on the patio. The town is very small is home to about 1000 people in the summer. The number goes down drastically in the winter season.
The next two days were spent sailing aboard the Diamond Princess glacier viewing. Because we booked a balcony, we enjoyed both days, mostly in the privacy and comfort of our stateroom.
Glacier Bay was another amazing experience. We ordered room service and watched and listened patiently for the glacier to calve. Our cruise ended in Whittier, but the Alaska experience wasn’t over for us just yet.
We booked Cruise Experts Travel’s transfer from Whittier to Anchorage which costs less than the cruise line’s AND includes a one hour stop at the Wildlife Conservation Centre on our way to Anchorage airport. The driver was wonderful! He pointed out spots and shared stories of life in Alaska.
The Conservation Center takes orphaned animals and nurses them. Unfortunately, most animals cannot be released because the wouldn’t be able to fend for themselves. Fortunately, though, they have plenty of room to roam.
My Alaska cruise was an amazing trip that I’ll have to do again. Next time around will be a cruisetour which goes further inland and visits Denali National Park. A girl can dream, right?
If you’d like to experience Alaska, you can start off by browsing the deals we offer or even better, call 1-800-565-2784 to speak with an Alaska Cruise Specialist.