Ports of Call and My Favorite Things at Each:
- Juneau, Alaska– It was amazing to see the bald eagles and bears in their natural habitat. Mendenhall Glacier was epic; I had no idea the glaciers would be that huge, beautiful, and mesmerizing. My daughter and I singing “Those Were the Days” with the crowds at Red Dog Saloon was memorable as well.
- Ketchikan, Alaska– My daughter wanted to come on this trip specifically to recreate Holly Madison’s “Girls Next Door” episode by having her picture made on the giant stuffed moose at Barnaby’s souvenir shop. The shop has been visited by dozens of celebrities.
- Skagway, Alaska– The cruise port has many interesting shops to explore and we tried reindeer sausages. We took a bus through US customs to our salmon bake location.
- Cruising the scenic Tracy Arm Fjords- (we were on the boat the entire time for this) The fjords were the only place that required us to wear a jacket the entire trip. We all stood on the deck and watched as we weaved our way through the somber and chilling ice formations. It was fascinating!
- Victoria, British Columbia– We hired a rickshaw driver for a cheap price to take us on a tour of downtown Victoria. He showed us many great sites plus we stopped by two establishments for microbrews and appetizers. I loved seeing Victoria’s impressive Chinatown. The fiddling Darth Vader in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel was cool.
Embarked From: Seattle, Washington- My friends and I arrived a few days early so we could explore Seattle. Air to Seattle from West Virginia was quite pricey, over $800, but we made the most of it. My daughter and I enjoyed the harbor, the original Nordstrom and Starbucks, Pike Place market, but mostly exploring the Capitol Hill neighborhood and dining at Julia’s on Broadway. We also hired a guide to take us on a tour that included the Puget Sound islands, the Salmon ladder, and the houseboats.
Why I Chose This Cruise: My friends and I wanted to see Alaska but not invest the time and money for the extensive land and sea trip. Seven days were perfect to get a taste of the exquisite beauty Alaska has to offer.
Cruise Line and Ship: Golden Princess (dated at the time but has since been refurbished).
Favorite Activities: Playing trivia, bingo, and participating in the group scavenger hunt. The Grand Casino was fancy and contained many of my favorite slots. People were actually winning money! As always, the four pools on this Princess ship were pristine though not many people were partaking in them due to the chilly temperatures.
Food Worth Mentioning: The ship had a surprise buffet one evening serving local foods that was exceptionally well received. Princess has pay restaurants, Sabatini’s and Crown Grill, that my girlfriends and I visited. The food quality and preparation is tremendous and you get plenty of it for a small surcharge. Be sure to try the antipasto, tiramisu, and seafood pasta.
Special Offerings by Princess: The afternoon tea and adult Sanctuary area were my top picks. Princess is also famous for Movies Under the Stars.
Best Part of the Cruise: The selling point was the itinerary as we had three ports in Alaska offering totally different things as well as a visit to British Columbia. My daughter thought the Remix teen club was the best one she had experienced thus far.
Worst Part of the Cruise: The excursion we chose in Skagway, Liarsville and salmon bake, which was pretty cheesy and I did not find it worth the money.
My Thoughts: I would recommend this cruise to anyone. It was just enough time for seeing all the ports and cruising through the fjords was memorable and interesting. The captain always broadcast news of things of importance and where to see them from the boat as we were cruising the entire trip.
FYI: In Juneau, we opted for the Photography Tour by Land and Sea, an excursion offered by the cruise line. We saw adorable sea lions on buoys and a mother whale and her calf provided hours of entertainment for us.
Tip: The only cold temperatures we were exposed to occurred while sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord, in June. I actually had to break down and put on a coat, hat, and gloves for this portion. The rest of the time we wore light jackets. Through the fjords, the boat weaves its way, melodically, through giant blue icebergs. My daughter compared it to the Titanic sailing.
Bonus: My friend Jo, more adventurous than myself, flew over the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan, took a helicopter ride to dog sled in Juneau, and took the train from Skagway to Yukon Territory; seeing mountain goats, bears, and the Alaskan Pipeline along the way.
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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