Alaska Cruise Adventure with the Family

July 08, 2016  •  2 Comments


When my Mom retired, she said she wanted to go on a cruise.  Alaska came up in a few conversations and three years later, seven of us boarded a plane in Richmond to head West and meet up with the rest of the family. Sorry mom, but better late than never.

We started out in the beautiful city of Vancouver. Since there were 13 of us, we thought the best way to get a quick tour of the city would be to use the "hop on hop off" trolly with the Vancouver Trolly Company.   We stopped at Granville Island (the indoor market was amazing),  walked and shopped in Gastown and the West End and spent time walking around Stanley Park.  It was a beautiful day for a walk around the seawall.  We then ventured on the water taxi to Lonsdale Quay Market. (TRAVEL TIP: The day pass for SkyTrain also includes the water taxi.)  The market was a perfect place to meet all the food needs of the group. Then we ended the evening at the Bella Gelateria They claim to have the best gelato in Vancouver (or was it the world)? Either way,  I wasn't sold, but the lavender gelato was tasty.

Here are a few Vancouver photos. See a collection of photos HERE.

The next morning, our arranged transportation whisked us to the port and we began the boarding process to get on the ship, the Star Princess. The long line moved quickly and was fairly efficient. We  stepped on board with our carry on luggage, room keys and a map of the ship.

We soon met Efran, our very nice ship steward for the week, unpacked , had lunch and reported to our muster station for an "fire drill" to learn how to put on life jackets should we have to abandon ship. Before we knew it, we were setting sail on our Alaskan adventure.

Bon Voyage...

The first port of call was Ketchikan.  A very small town known as the "salmon capital of the world".  The free shuttle picks up passengers at the port and drops them off in town. We were there for just part of the day, so we walked around a historic boardwalk called Creek Street.  It is formerly a Red Light District where  "both men and salmon swan upstream to spawn".  Now, it's a quaint area to walk around and shop. 

Here are a few photos of Ketchikan. See a collection of photos HERE.

The second port of call was Juneau. Juneau is only accessible by boat or plane.  This was the view from the boat when we woke up to that morning...

We started the day off by riding the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts. The tram was a short walk from where we were docked and tickets were sold at a booth right off the ship. It was very foggy in the morning, but the pass was good for the entire day, so we were able to go back in the evening to catch the beautiful views.  The highlight of the day was Mendenhall Glacier. We booked the excursion on the boat that morning and the bus picked us up right at the ship. It was a short,comfortable ride to the glacier. We hiked to the best view point of the glacier and right at the bottom of Nugget falls.

Here are a few photos of our adventures in Juneau. See a collection of photos HERE.

The third port of call was Skagway. We reserved tickets well in advance for the White Pass train ride and it did not disappoint. The weather was perfect for our 4 hour ride to White Pass summit. During the afternoon, we walked around the interesting town.

The last two stops, while on the ship, were Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjords.  Both were amazing and the scenery made it hard to ever put the camera down.  Rangers were brought on board to narrate the tour and answer questions. It was a perfect ending before we headed on to Whittier for disembarkment the next morning.

We stayed in Anchorage the last few days of our trip and rented a car to explore the area. We headed south toward Seward and stopped on the way at Summit Lake Lodge for a picnic. The lodge had a small cafe and delicious coffee for the car ride. Next stop was Kenai Fjord National Park to hike to Exit Glacier. It is one of the most accessible valley glaciers in Alaska.  In just one year, it has retreated 187 feet!  After the hike to the glacier, we made our way to the small town of Seward, but then again, most towns in Alaska are "small".  On our way back to Anchorage, we stopped for dinner at the lodge and then the Animal Conservation Center in Portage.  The entire drive south was beautiful.  We drove about an hour North the next day before we flew home, but it was more residential and commercial.

My entire collection of photos from the trip can be seen HERE.  I will end this blog post with a few tips/things I learned as a newby to cruise ships...

1. Take warm clothing!  Dress in layers and take a rain jacket. I was very happy to have my waterproof winter coat and I had it on or with me at all times. Don't forget sunscreen and sunglasses!

2. Take binoculars. Very useful for spotting wildlife!

3. Internet is expensive and slow. but if you are with a group, set up your phone to use the "intranet" on the ship. You don't have to have service or be connected to "wi-fi",  but can use the messenger to text each other. It's  free.

4. Look over excursions ahead of time and reserve anything you definitely want to do. 

5. Taking wine on the ship is easy (one bottle per adult) and we were able to take it out on the deck to enjoy, while watching the scenery.













Heather, this is beautiful. Your pictures are, as always, full of depth and life.
Stunning photography and narrative. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it all. Am I ready for an Alaskan cruise??? You bet!!
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