Want to see the most beautiful landscape you could have ever imagined? Go to Alaska. Cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line to travel Alaska in style and to make it relaxing. No reason to stress about how to get from one port to another, plus there’s always the endless food supply! This is my fourth cruise, second NCL cruise to Alaska, and it was one of the best memories of my life! I’ve been on a Royal Caribbean and a Carnival cruise before, but the people at NCL know how to make sure you have a great vacation!
We did a 7-night tour, which is the popular choice. It starts and ends in Seattle, Washington, so airfare is cheaper than going to Alaska, plus you can explore that city before or after the the cruise (blog post will come later).
Start: Seattle EMBARK
You won’t leave the port until 4:00pm, so we flew in the night before since we were coming from Florida (never know about the flights). Then, you have the morning and lunch to explore the city and get to the boat between 1:00-3:00pm.
This stop was absolutely breathtaking, and that’s because of what we did on land… or should I say in the air. We didn’t get an excursion with the boat, instead we walked around Ketchikan and visited a a tour info center right by the dock. We chose a sea-boat tour, and I’ll NEVER forget it. The scenery, the landscapes, and the realness of Alaska can’t be erased from your memory after this tour. You glide over mountaintops and lakes wedged in between mountain ranges, you fly through the clouds, and you even get to land on one of the hidden lakes, which is only accessible via plane. There are a lot of sea-boat tours but the pilots do a great job of keeping you away (for safety, obviously, but also so it doesn’t ruin the views).
Juneau is where I saw my first glacier (that I could remember because being a baby doesn’t count). What an experience it was! It rained all day, but hey, that’s real Alaska climate for ya. It was the classic experience. We booked an excursion on the cruise ship the first day we were at sea. We chose the Whale Watching and Mendenhall Galcier Photography Tour. Now, I am an amateur photographer, but no one else in my family is. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t go on the tour! Honestly out of the 12-15 people on the tour, only about 4 had nice cameras. This tour included a whale watching boat ride, and we saw quite a few whales and some other wildlife (Bald Eagles and seals).
Then we drove to a rain forest and were provided snacks and water! Then we trekked through a rain forest and guess what…it was raining! The scenery was STUNNING and the walk wasn’t that bad.
At the end of the hike was Mendenhall Glacier. This glacier is pretty famous and is quite the beauty to see! The sad part about the glacier, which I only know from a paper I did in college, is how quickly the glacier is melting and not re-forming to the same size each winter due to climate change. There were chunks of ice in the water that stood between the end of the hike path and the glacier itself. Now, if you do another tour you might end up at the Visitor’s Center at the glacier, but don’t worry! My mom said it was better to go to the Visitor’s Center because you get closer to the glacier than where we were. However, you still see a wonderful view wherever you are standing Then you trek back to the bus and back to the dock. The day was over and another great day of exploration was complete.
There’s a famous railway tour in Skagway, but we already did that when we visited Alaska when I was a child. This is the port to see “The Yukon”. With that said, many people chose to do that tour, which is a great option. But, we did something different and took a land tour and saw sled dogs. We actually were driven through parts of Canada (we needed our passports) to get to the sled dogs, but the tour guide/driver stopped at many lookouts along the way and a place for the restroom and snacks.
The dog sled portion was okay, with the sled being on wheels and the dirt hardly snow. The best part was seeing the sled dog pups, from only a couple of weeks old to just under a year.
Cruise to Sawyer Glacier
AMAZING. STUNNING. BREATHTAKING. So this portion of the cruise, was the second half of the Skagway day, so it was a bit of a rush to get through Skagway. However, totally and completely worth it because the mountain ranges alone the side of the water pass and the waterfalls cascading down the mountain sides were perfection. When I think back to our trip, this scenery is the first that comes to mind with Ketchikan second! One thing to keep in mind is that some cruises go to Glacier Bay instead – check here to see the differences. Glacier Bay is better for first timers and is an all-day thing and you may even get to see chunks of ice break off the glacier! Sawyer Glacier seems to have more of a scenic travel to the actual glacier. Make sure to grab a great spot for viewing either one you choose to do!
Victoria, British Columbia
Lastly, was Victoria, BC, Canada. Make sure to check your cruise ship about the passport thing. We did a city tour on a double-decker bus that was also an on-off tour, so you could pick whatever landmarks you want to spend more time at. There’s a famous hotel, The Empress, to check out. There are some whale watching tours that take you to some great viewing points for whales, but the times conflicted with our time to reembark and disembark times. However, it’s a great experience if you can do it or if you can’t go on whale watching excursions at any other port. If not, there are many things to still see, shops to check out, and food to eat.
Ends: Seattle DISEMBARK
Such a sad day, the last one of the trip. You dock early and are let loose on Seattle. So enjoy it if you weren’t able to before you left for the cruise. My family and I rented a car to head to Portland, which is only a couple of hours away. That will be coming up in a new blog post, later!
Enjoy, and travel on!