Cruisin’ Together: Alaska

Last week was…. relaxing. Minh and I took a week off for a cruise to the Alaska Inside Passage (start and end in Seattle, WA, with stops at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, BC). I have been looking forward to this trip ALL SUMMER. And although it wasn’t the most amazing, spectacular trip that I was hoping for, it was still A LOT of fun.

NOTE: We took over a thousand pictures during the trip, but I tried to narrow it down to a summary within 100 pictures. ENJOY!

Day 1: ALL ABOARD

The day started out early. We opted to fly in on Sunday rather than staying a night over in Seattle. We had already been to Seattle this year, and decided that there wasn’t much more that we wanted to see that would validate spending the extra money. So, we woke up at 5:15(ish) to catch the 7:20AM flight out of Long Beach to Seattle. The flight was smooth and uneventful.

I just flew in from Long Beach... and boy are my arms TIRED... heh heh..

We got to Seattle a little early, and headed to the cruise terminal (Pier 91). We decided to head straight to the ship because we didn’t want to hang out with all our bags. We waited around the cruise terminal for a while (in many lines) before they let us onto the boat. We were one of the first 30 passengers to get onboard. From there, we went straight to the buffet for some food (and thus begins the endless buffet all week). The rest of the day we just hung out and got settled in. Took in the “Welcome Aboard” show and had dinner. After dinner, we played Taboo, girls vs. boys. Girls won, of course, thanks to our ability to read minds and the boys’ lack of ability to describe things.

Mandatory safety drill and muster station meet'n'greet... HELP!!!

 
 
 

Day 2: At Sea

Our first day at sea was a testament to what most of our time on the boat would be like. We played some bingo. Watched a lot of TV. Napped some. Ate unnecessary amounts of food from the buffet. Moseyed around the boat looking for stuff to do. Hit the gym (or the running track). Played Scrabble. Took some Pictures. Nothing incredible to anounce here.

BINGO = my cruise guilty pleasure

 

After dinner, we watched the first round of “Princess Popstars” – which is like American Idol, only on the boat, and with a karaoke machine, and not as good. There were 10 contestants that first night, and most of them SUCKED. We were going to leave, but ended up staying till the last one.. and I’m glad we did. She blew those other contestants OUT OF THE WATER (!!!) with Black Velvet.

Enjoying the discovery of "power hour" long islands ($3)

Day 3: Ketchikan

We made it in to Ketchikan on a drizzly morning. We had no plan for the day, since we decided NOT to book any excursions. Instead, we took the local city bus to Totem Bight State Park. Walked around a bit and took pictures. Harrassed some Banana Slugs. Headed back to town for lunch. Walked around some more to see the Fish Hatchery and Salmon Ladder. Took a stroll on Historic Creek Street. Got some souvenirs and then headed back to the boat.

FEED ME!!

Our attempt at imitating the totems

Honestly, there wasn’t much to do in Ketchikan, and the rain made it one of the least-liked stops of the trip. But it was cool to witness the salmon swimming up-river, against the current to go lay their eggs. It was also cool to see them jumping out of the water and trying to overcome some serious rapids.

This is the best shot I could get of the salmon at the fish ladder

When we got back to the boat, we had the usual routine. Eat something from the buffet. Nap. Watch TV. Play Scrabble. Around our dinner time, we were supposed to be sailing through a nature preserve, with whales and all. I think I saw a couple, but it was dark out and they were quick and stealthy, those whales.

There's a whale out there somewhere..

Day 4: Tracey Arm Fjord Scenic Cruising and Juneau

In the morning, we were still stuck on the boat, but we were cruising through the Tracey Arm Fjord. I got some good pictures, but, alas, no wildlife was out for our viewing pleasure.

There were some cool iceberg/glacier break off pieces in the water

Later in the afternoon, we headed into Juneau. Minh and I booked an excursion to go biking and then beer drinking. It felt good getting on a bike after a few days off (even if the bikes we had weren’t the best machines out there). We stayed mostly on paved or dirt paths, but we got some good pictures of Alaskan rainforests and Mendenhall Glacier. I wish we had more time to explore more of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, but we had to be back in time for the beer tasting. The beer tasting was a little disappointing because I thought we’d be getting to try more breweries from around the state, but we mostly only tried Alaskan (White, Summer, Amber, and Porter). It also would have been nice if it was a brewery tour rather than just a bar, but it was fun nonetheless.

at Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

We met up with Michele and Hung after our beer tasting. They took a helicopter tour TO Mendenhall Glacier (we didn’t get to go on it) with dogsledding ON the glacier. I asked Minh if he wanted to do that tour, but it was really expensive, and we would be able to afford to do anything else if we did.

Day 5: Skagway

While in Skagway, Minh and I booked the White Pass and Yukon Route tour, which took us by train up White Pass to Fraser, BC, and then by Buss to Carcross, Yukon. We had a good lunch at Cariboo Crossing, just pass Carcross, and got to check out some huskie puppies. We didn’t take the dog cart ride because we didn’t think it’d be THAT cool. There’s a pretty neat taxidermy museum with the world’s largest polar bear. We also got all-you-can-eat donuts, but they were cold.. so good but not great.

Taking a train to CANADA

PUPPIES!!!

We stopped a few times on the way back to check out some photo opportunities and tour the city of Carcross (which isn’t that big). Apparently, there’s really good sushi (“Gold Rush Sushi”) in Carcross, but Minh and I didn’t believe that it was “real”, so we didn’t go. By the time we got back to Skagway, it was already time to get back on the ship, so we didn’t get to walk around downtown at all. I wish we had some time to do that because the downtown area looked pretty neat. The stores were all the same as the other towns, but all the store fronts looked like they came out of an old spaghetti western.

Day 6: At Sea

Another day at sea. It was pretty much like the first day at sea, only a little worst because it was MORE BORING.

Day 7: Mostly at Sea.. then Victoria, BC

The morning was just like the day before. Gym. Eating. TV. Bingo. I FINALLY SAW A WHALE. And I got a good look at it too, but no pictures. It was too fast.

Victoria was nice, but I wish we were there earlier and had more time to walk around and see things. I can see Victoria being a pretty cool town to visit during the day. We mostly only had time to walk around downtown and take pictures. Didn’t have time to take the shuttle to Butchart Gardens. Didn’t check out any castles. Didn’t go into Miniature World. Victoria definitely needs to be revisited.

Welcome to VICTORIA!

Day 8: Back to Seattle.. and flying Home.

It was a long journey to get off the boat.. to the airport.. and then home. Our boat docked at about 7AM, but we didn’t get off the ship until 9:30AM (our assigned disembarkation time). Then we waited for the airport shuttle, which took FOREVER. Luckily though, we waited so long that the only shuttle available was one of the limousine busses. It was pretty cool. Then we got the airport and had to wait in line to get checked in. Then a long line for security. And then just a lot of waiting around for our flight to leave. Yep.. it was a long day of waiting and traveling.

The flight was uneventful, although I don’t think we were under the command of a seasoned pilot. Just felt a little more unstable than the usual 2 hour flights. We got into Long Beach early, and then headed home. Back to reality

Scrabble patriotism

In Conlusion….

Overall, the trip was nice. I definitely relaxed a lot and it felt good to be away from work and any sort of stress. But, I’m also glad to be home. Seven days on a boat is pushing it a little for me. Maybe a 9-day Mexican Riviera Cruise would be the max that I could stay on a boat. Definitely couldn’t stand one of those “world cruises” that lasts 107 days, or anything like that. After a while, you just get tired of cruise food and the limited activities. And definitely couldn’t spend that long away from nature and my bike.. and just general exercise outdoors.

Alaska was fun though. I would definitely come back for a nice backpacking or camping trip, or even a mountain biking trip would be fun.. maybe take one of those historic gold rush trails (White Pass or Chinkoot Trail) into the Yukon. But definitely not coming back on a cruise.

Here’s the GALLERY:

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One thought on “Cruisin’ Together: Alaska

  1. Pingback: 2010: The Year in Review « Think Tran

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