Alaska: the cruise of a lifetime?

Posted on Monday, November 8, 2010 |
Alaska: the cruise of a lifetime?

The hour had arrived.

As the "Golden Princess" pulled away from Seattle bound for Alaska, I wondered would an Alaskan cruise meet my high expectations? After all, I'd heard it dubbed 'the cruise of a lifetime' so many times.

Having experienced cruising in Mexico, the tropical Pacific, and Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, my expectations were already high. After a brief look around the ship and a fantastic dinner I settled in for the night.

The next day was the first of only two sea days. This was the perfect start to the cruise as it gave me the opportunity to explore further and discover what the ship had to offer. I wasn't disappointed. I quickly found the indoor swimming pool, hot tubs, numerous places to eat and drink, and superb entertainment options. This was seeing Alaska in style and comfort!

On day three of the cruise we had made our way to Juneau, the capital of Alaska, where there was an abundance of tours, including a whale watching tour that guaranteed you would see Humpback Whales or your money back. With so much confidence in their product how could I say no? And considering we saw more whales than I can remember, surfacing right next to our boat, I was happy I didn't need a refund.

The day ended perfectly with a beer at the authentic, but very touristy Red Dog Saloon. The bar had everything, including an American wearing an NZ Warriors hat.

Next stop was Skagway, gateway to the Klondike - a town that embraces its Gold Rush past. Again there were plenty of tours on offer, but I preferred to explore the town streets where all of the buildings have been to faithfully restored. This gave a great insight into the history of this town.

But for me, the highlight of my Alaskan Cruise was the day we spent scenic cruising at Tracey Arm Fiord. With a Park Ranger on board to give expert commentary, and crew out on deck handing out hot drinks, we made our way into the Fiord heading towards Sawyer Glacier. Scattered across the water were large blocks of ice that had carved off Sawyer Glacier - some of these mini icebergs had seals pupping on them. I had been to Milford Sound, but this was much grander in scale! What better way to enjoy the moment than to get into the hot tub on deck and enjoy the view.

The following day we arrived in Ketchikan, regarded as the Salmon Capital of Alaska. In the peak of the salmon season (late June, early July) the salmon run up Ketchikan Creek that cuts through the middle of this small town.

The last port of call was a visit to the city of Victoria, Canada. Known as the “City of Gardens”, Beacon Hill Park was a highlight, but a standout place to visit is the The Empress Hotel. At night it is simply stunning, adorned in thousands of tiny fairy lights.

Reluctantly we made our way back to Seattle left with hundreds of wonderful memories and photographs. I asked myself, had my Alaskan cruise met my expectations? Yes was my answer. A cruise through Alaska is a cruise of a lifetime.

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