This past summer we crossed an Alaskan cruise off the Shappirio travel list. Without hesitation, we booked our sailing on Celebrity, our favorite cruise line, and for the first time ever, booked a Concierge Class Veranda cabin. With Concierge Class we were guaranteed a few extra perks, like priority check-in, a “Welcome Aboard” lunch, welcome fresh fruit and sparkling wine, and daily delectables. Our veranda provided us plenty of opportunities to wake up to gorgeous scenery and take afternoon naps wrapped up in North Face jackets and flannel blankets.
Our Alaska Hubbard Glacier Cruise sailed out of Vancouver through the Inside Passage with stops at Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Hubbard Glacier is not really a stop but rather a slow sail up to and past this mighty, mass of ice. The glacier calves every few minutes as enormous pieces of ice crack and fall into the water. It is truly an amazing yet alarming sight. While I felt truly thankful to see such a wonder of nature, I also understood that the cruise ship I was traveling on was certainly contributing to the rapidly melting ice. My selfish desire to see Alaska was torn with my understanding that it is us humans who are threatening our environment most.
The highlight of our cruise was Juneau. It was here that we took a bicycle tour through a rainforest to a glacier. We even saw bears! It was also here that we participated in a local beer tasting, and where I got my first taste of real Alaskan salmon. Alaskan salmon is RED and delicious.
While Juneau was indeed my favorite stop along the way, it was also where I lost my license on the street, and spent most of my few precious hours at port scouring the dock looking for my ID. I learned a few lessons from this experience: 1. Do not put your license in the North Face pocket that is made for your hands. 2. You can file a police report online in Juneau, Alaska. 3. There are still good people in this world. One of my biggest fears when I lost my license was telling my mom. Strange considering I’m 36 years old, but my mom worries, and I worry, and I was worried we were going to have a huge worryfest about someone stealing my identity and walking the streets of Juneau. But, lucky for me, a few days after leaving Juneau, a man approached me on the back deck of the ship, calling me by name. It turns out he found my license on the street, put it in his pocket, and then forgot about it. A few days later he found it, turned it in to the cruise ship, who then returned it to me. The man and his family searched for days to find me on the ship, and finally found me stuffing my face on the back of the ship while desperately searching for whales. I believe we were both in shock that, out of the 3 or 4 ships that were in port that day, I was on the same ship as the guy who found my license.
While an Alaskan cruise is beautiful, it is a lot of time at sea. It is too cold to sit by the pool or swim, and while there are plenty of activities on board, you still find yourself passing your time by exploring the buffet again and again. Eating becomes a recreational activity.
We are particularly thankful for the wonderful people we met at our dinner table on this cruise. Rhonda and Barry, our new Australian friends, were real troopers putting up with our random spurts of sea sickness that caused my mother-in-law and I to go running from the dinner table on two separate nights.
Ketchikan was your typical cruise port loaded with t-shirt shops. We did take a walk to see the salmon run, but since the salmon were dying, the smell was almost unbearable. The best part about Ketchikan is the Arctic Bar, a dive bar located just steps away from where your cruise ship parks. Here you can chat with the local bartender and sip on some local brews before heading back to your ship.
If you have never been to Alaska, we highly recommend it. A cruise is a good way to get a sample of some of what this magnificent state has to offer. Paul and I now want to go explore Alaska by land, with hopes of one day going to Denali National Park. It’s a new item on the Shappirio list, and we can’t wait to say we’ve crossed it off.
Check out a few more photos of our trip! Whale watching was pretty fabulous as well!