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Vacation Blog: Weeks 5 and 6: Alaska!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

This is a continuation of my "vacation blogs" covering our two-month long vacation "out west".

Most of our vacation had been a road trip with combination of car/tent camping and staying in hotels. For the next 10 days, we took a "vacation from our vacation " and went on a 10 day cruise to Alaska! We left from Seattle and returned to Vancouver. We went on Norwegian Cruise lines (on the Jewel). I was concerned that it was going to be too cold to really enjoy the trip, but I was wrong. We did have to wear lightweight jackets most of the time, but I was surprised how warm it actually was.

We have done two other cruises before leaving from Florida and going to foreign ports. Our experience on those cruises was that we didn't really enjoy getting off the ship and being badgered to buy trinkets etc. Our experience was completely different with the ports in Alaska. There are several of shops in each port that sell "touristy" things, but the prices were very reasonable for the most part and the towns were beautiful nestled on what little flat land there is along the coast. The Alaskan Mountain Range extends along the Alaskan Gulf Coast that forms the southern "tail" of Alaska. These mountains constitute the most massive and spectacular mountain system in North America. I hadn't done my homework researching this part of the trip since the cruiseline dictated where we were going and when, so each time we pulled into a port, it was all new to me. I went into this part of the trip with no expectations (other than it being too cold), and I was surprised and delighted with each port.

Going to Alaska was down low on my bucket list before the cruise. I had found a cheap price for the two of us (using Vacations To Go) and the timing was perfect for when we would be on the west coast on our road trip. The cruise in my mind was just kind of a bonus. I was so wrong. The small part of Alaska that I got to experience was stunningly beautiful and the people were wonderful. I highly recommend going on a cruise to Alaska if you have the chance. That cruise is something I'll remember with great joy for the rest of my life.

Our first stop was Ketchikan, the salmon capital of the world!

We did an excursion in little zodiaks out to the islands around the town. They outfitted us in very warm clothing and we paired off in two's to drive our own boats around. One of the cool facts we learned is that all the kids that go to school in Ketchikan go on a 3 day "survival" trip to the islands as a requirement to graduate from the 8th grade. They are sent out in small groups and dropped off on the island with only what they can carry in a coffee can for supplies. They have to build their own shelters and find food to eat for three days. It's part of their way of making sure the kids can take care of themselve if they are caught in a place without power or food. Something that is quite possible living in Alaska.

Here is our little group on the water. I think there were about 12 of us altogether. They even supplied socks, gloves, boots, gloves, rain gear etc. to keep us warm on the water. I was nice and toasty...even though it looks cold.

The ship stayed in port in Ketchikan until after dark. As we were eating dinner on the ship by the window overlooking the city, this amazing rainbow appeared. It stayed for a long time and was actually a double rainbow. It was so cool!

Our cabin had a window with a wide ledge, I discovered it made the perfect seat for me.

The next day, we were in Juneau. I was surprise how small it was considering it is the capital of Alaska. Like Ketchikan, it was on a small strip of land between the mountains and the Alaskan Gulf. We didn't do an excursion there, just walked around and enjoyed ourselves. We also spent time on the ship that day playing shuffleboard! You gotta play at least one game of shuffleboard on a cruise!

The ship didn't leave Juneau until after dark. The lights from the town were really pretty to look at from the ship. We took a walk around the ship that night after it had rained lightly. It made all the lights look special.

My computer is starting to act up...and I don't want to lose this blog. I'm going to end it here and do the other half of the cruise in a different blog.

Thank you for allowing me to share our trip with you!

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