All I can say is WOW! Well, actually there is a lot more I can say but the fact is this was the best cruise I have taken yet. Will (my husband)and I took a group of 50 wonderful people to Alaska and boy did we have a great time. I have to say this was a great bunch and they really kept us smiling….Most were from Tallahassee but some came from other places in the US and Jose Ma and Gin Tugas came all the way from the Philippines!
I know I should try to keep this short but there is just so much to say about our time there. I thought I would break it down almost by the places we went to keep my mind somewhat organized while typing this. So here I go………..
FLIGHT- While this was not the longest flight I have been on it sure came close. We flew in from Tallahassee to Atlanta and from Atlanta to Anchorage. The good news is we got to watch 3 movies which helped the time go by. We landed at about 7:30pm which was late my time ….11:30pm.
ANCHORAGE- When we got to Anchorage for some reason we were wide awake and ready to check out the city and quickly changed clothes and went to dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse. We also happened to see the best sunset ever! It was all colors of pink, red, orange and lit up over the mountains which were just amazing. Now back to food (Notice I’ll do this often)I splurged and had the king crab legs which I was thinking about for weeks before my trip. They were delicious! We also shared a peanut butter chocolate pie type desert. YUMMMM 🙂 The food totally made me crash, mind you it was by that time 2:30 our time so we hit the hay for the night.
Funny thing happened the next morning….you know how jet lag works, and being that we are 4 hours behind in Alaska I woke up at what I thought was 4am thinking there was no way I could sleep any longer. Well, after getting up and dressed we found out the clock in our room was set to another time zone and it was in fact 7:00am…Great, just in time for our breakfast buffet! hehe
In Anchorage there was so much to do. We spent the entire day checking out Anchorage top to bottom, hoping to burn off some of the food we ate and were about to eat 🙂 First thing we did was take a Trolley Tour which was a lot of fun and only $10 each, and we got to see a lot of Anchorage in just an hour. Than we walked into quite a few gift shops on 4th ave. What do you know its food time again…so we decided to have a quick reindeer sausage hot dog from a street vendor. We took a little longer walk to the Ulu factory to see them making the authentic Ulus and watch the Salmon running from the bridge over the river. For dinner we went with Ken and Marcia Stoner to a little Seafood place on 5th Ave. TIME TO MEET THE GROUP! After dinner we met with the group to answer some questions about luggage tags for the trip.
TRAIN DAY- This morning was an early morning but with the time change was not so bad. We all gathered in the lobby and boarded the bus to get to the train. We met our tour guide Grant, who I have to say was fabulous! He was funny and very knowledgeable about Alaska and its history. The train was one of the highlights of the trip. We were so lucky from the day we got there the weather was perfect. Since it was so clear we were able to get some perfect pictures of Mt. McKinley and all of its surroundings.
DENALI- We checked into our hotel McKinley Villages after a short motor coach tour of the area. We than went into town and had some dinner at Lynx Creek Pizza which was great and CHEAP! Our hotel was right on the river so not only did we have a nice view but we sat out by the river for a bit of relaxation. Will likes to take a little memento from everywhere we go he picked up a handful of sand and took that home in a jar 🙂 To each him own I get. I guess that just means more money for my memento…hehe.
The next day we got up early, really early, and had a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel. We were the 3rd bus to go into Denali National Park which gave us a better chance at wildlife viewings. We saw Doll Sheep, Moose, Bears (real close up to the bus, and Caribou. Got some great snapshots on that trip.
Next day we took a motor coach back to Anchorage and on the way stopped at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This was also fun and educational on Alaskan history. What I liked best was going into the authentic native houses they built to demonstrate how they lived.
WHITTIER- We took a motor coach to Whittier where we picked up a Sea Life Cruise in Prince William Sound. I have to say the whole group loved this part of the tour! Again the weather was perfect and we got some amazing pictures of Seals, Otters, and Glaciers!
After the Sea Life Cruise we walked over to our cruise ship and set sail for 7 days! I could not wait for the next two days at sea to relax sit back and enjoy the view….
COLLEGE FJIORDS- On this day we did not have to wake up early but we chose to get up at 5:30 so we could watch the scenery from 6-10am. It was a bit more overcast the morning but also made for great pictures. I got my first of many hot chocolates that morning. TIP: On Princess Alaska Hot chocolates are not free so if you drink a lot of that or specially coffees you can buy a coffee card for 15 coffees/hot chocolate and a mug for about $28. Another idea is bring a box of your favorite hot chocolate and use their free hot water :)Ken gave a short but inspiring sermon that put us all in a good mood for the day…Thanks Ken! I also hit the gym this day and got a spinning package for $30 which gave me 3 classes on each day at sea. I’m telling you those instructors work you to death!
GLACIER BAY- Today was the first day I really slept in. Again perfect weather, now it is not normal to get weather like this so many days in a row in Alaska as it tends to rain quite a bit so we were lucky! We spent most of our time in the aft of the ship relaxing on our lounge chairs and those with balconies spent a lot of time there enjoying the view. I got my second workout on the bikes this day and boy was I feeling it :)We all met for Tea today and while sipping our tea we had some yummy scones and cream and party sandwiches all with white glove service…what a treat! Than a few of us headed for the sports bar to watch the FSU Clemson gave. Unfortunately we were not celebrating that night, but the comedian cheered us up some:)
SKAGWAY- We had our first rain in Skagway and from what I hear it is not that uncommon so come prepared with good waterproof shoes and a raincoat and you will be just fine. I had one but saw the cutest pink rain jacket at the Skagway Outlet for only $12 so I had to buy it 🙂 We had an excursion on the White Pass Rail, which is their most popular trip over there. We had about 10 of us from the group do this and it was quite an experience up there even with the fog.
JUNEAU- Again we woke up to some rain so I got prepared and brought my rain jacket. I have to say though Ill take that cool crisp air, even with rain, any day over Tallahassee weather in August! We were all set for a hike, and had the best guides you could ask for. We took a 4 mile hike though the rainforest and stopped at several lookouts for Mendenhall Glacier.
Quite a few people in the group took off on some float planes to Taku Lodge for brunch …Sandi opted for the helicopter ride landing on a glacier. Both trips turned out fantastic! I loved all your pictures…thanks Sandi, Vicki, Marie and Merrill.
I think we had our favorite meal was in Juneau at the Twisted Salmon….yummmm than we stopped over next door and bought some lox and smoked salmon to be shipped home. It was here the next day and we already made salmon dip with some of it 🙂
KETCHIKAN- On this day we had a group of 14 of us who took the Private Tour of Saxman Totem Village, Rainbow falls, and Herring bay. We had two mini buses and had a couple of very good tour guides. Today we were lucky and spotted a bear eating some fish and eagles up in the trees. I bought myself a little candle version of a totem pole this time as the real ones are quite pricey….
SEA-We spent our last day at sea relaxing from our balconies, or in the lounges or enjoying a meal with others in the group. Some of us went to go see Shek 3 in the Explorers Lounge. That afternoon we did a slideshow of our week and looked back at how much fun we all had.
VANCOUVER- I almost forgot about Vancouver! We stayed at one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed at…the Airport Fairmont. Now if you are doing something like we did and only stayed one night to leave at 6am the next morning it’s a perfect place to stay. It’s not just close to the airport it’s just on top of the airport terminal so it only requires a escalator ride down to check-in.
There is just so much to see and do in Vancouver so since we only had one day we did a city tour to get a taste of many different places. We went to the Capilano Bridge (they had the best fudge ever!) this place was a whole lot of fun! We went downtown, through Chinatown, and Stanley Park and Granville Island. I could have spent a whole day doing Granville Island. There are lots of cute little shops and a fantastic farmers market.
That night we went downtown for a bite to eat and to window shop. There was so much going on but we were so tired we came back to the hotel early to catch some sleep.
Will and I truly had a blast and from what I have been hearing the rest of the group did too. Mission accomplished! Thanks everyone for making this trip so great!