The Great Alaskan Cruise Adventure of 2010, or the best damn vacation ever.

1 Jun

We got on our boat, the Sapphire Princess, on May 16 at Pier 91 in Seattle, Washington. We’d talked about it for years. We’d booked the cruise back in November and finally – FINALLY – we were on our way to Alaska.

The ship was beautiful. We opted for a balcony room to better take in the scenery. There are few things better than waking up and being greeted with breath-taking views of the sea and the Alaskan coast.

On our first full day on the ship we saw humpback whales. Hundreds of humpback whales. The naturalist aboard the ship, Shelley Gill, said she’d never seen anything like it. I took approximately zero photos of the whales because I was much too busy standing on my balcony with Andrew and my binoculars marveling at the whales. It was a powerful, absolutely brilliant experience.

Our first stop was Ketchikan. We got our very first impression of Alaska here when we woke up, peeked out onto our balcony and saw two bald eagles fly by. I’m thinking they were part of the welcome crew. Either way, it was pretty bad ass.

In Ketchikan, we opted for a nature walk in the Tongass National Forest, which just happens to be a rain forest. Walking through the moss and lichen covered woods was beautiful. I’ve never in my life taken a breath of air as fresh as the air in that forest. We also got an amazing view of some juvenile bald eagles fishing outside a salmon hatchery and got to feed some beautiful, and goofy, reindeer. We got lunch at a little cafe and honestly, we just couldn’t get over the fact that we were finally – FINALLY – in Alaska.

Andrew and I can’t decide on our favorite parts of the trip, but I’m pretty sure some of the most amazing views of the whole voyage were in Tracy Arm Fjord. It was four hours of scenic cruising and I had the camera out constantly snapping pictures. It was all snowy mountains and splashing waterfalls and floating bits of ice and I couldn’t get enough.

After that, we hit Juneau and hiked into the mountains near Mendenhall Glacier and learned a little bit about the history of the glacier and the surrounding area. True fact: Juneau is only accessible by sea or air.

If I absolutely have to pick a favorite, I’d pick Skagway. It’s nestled at the bottom of gorgeous mountains, has a history nestled in with gold rush history and there’s a train that will take you up into the wilderness. Plus, you can get spruce tip beer there (I didn’t though because I suck and am was scared of it a little bit).

Skagway was also the location of our greatest adventure. We rode the train on the White Pass & Yukon Route, the rail for which was carved into the Alaskan mountains back in 1897 in the days of the Klondike Gold Rush. It was beautiful and a little terrifying. There were times when I could look out my window and not see the ground beneath the train.

After riding the train up to the tree line and all the way to Canada, which really wasn’t that far at all, we boarded a bus and went on, farther north, into the Yukon. Tracy Arm Fjord had great sea views, but the Yukon had great land views. It was beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous. I don’t even have words for it. It’s a different world up there, all wild and snowy and full of lakes reflecting these monster mountains.

We stopped at this weird little place called Caribou Crossing for a BBQ lunch. They had a few shops and exhibits set up there and, best of all, sled dog puppies. We spent a lot of time with the puppies. They were cute and cuddly and sleepy and perfectly willing to snuggle and, so help me, if I’d had a bigger purse, I probably would have taken a few of the pups with me.

On the way back we saw not one, but TWO bears. Wild, Alaskan black bears. We were all sufficiently shocked and awed because we did not expect to see bears at all and then, just like that, there they were. Just hanging out, snacking on delicious grasses and things.

One of our last days on the ship was a sea day. It was blissful. We napped. And sat on the balcony. And watched TV. It was a lazy day – the perfect way to end the trip.

The night before we got back to Seattle, we stopped in Victoria, British Columbia. Now. I had never been to Canada before. Excluding the recently visited Yukon, of course. Having visited Victoria and meeting some scary racists, I’m now afraid of Canada. Seriously, racists, Canada? I live in the former capitol of the Confederacy and I have never, ever ever, encountered such crazy racists in my whole entire life. There we were. Sitting at a bar. In Canada, for Pete’s sake. And these people we’d sat down next to us and starting talking to us. When she found out we were from Virginia, she got excited. She was wearing this shirt and, while I think the shirt might be meant to be a parody, she took it seriously. She explained how they’re purists. Not racists, mind you, purists, which apparently means people should not mingle, or something stupid and ignorant like that. We were scared. There we were, in a strange land, and these very scary looking people were going on and on about how they’re purists and how we should never, under any circumstances whatsoever, visit Vancouver because it’s a little too much like San Francisco if you know what I mean, wink, wink, icky feeling racist and homophobic nudge. Ugh. It was awful. And they kept going on about how “they’re not ignorant” and that it’s “just the way we are.”

We went back to the boat and I ate four desserts at 11:00 pm because really, after that, I’d earned it and I was on a cruise ship and if there’s one thing cruise ships do right it’s the food.

Next? Seattle, Washington.


9 Responses to “The Great Alaskan Cruise Adventure of 2010, or the best damn vacation ever.”

  1. Stacey Paradise June 1, 2010 at 9:45 AM #

    I am so jealous! I’ve always said I want to go on an Alaskan cruise and your posts (and photos!) have only made that desire burn more fiercely.

  2. H to the Izzo June 1, 2010 at 10:14 AM #

    I like the way you did the photos in little squares like that, it’s a nice way to see all the photos without scrolling through pages and pages of photos. Good idea.

  3. Margaret June 1, 2010 at 12:13 PM #

    Ah…thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

  4. andrew June 1, 2010 at 2:58 PM #

    I want to go back. Boring old Virginia just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. 😉

  5. CuppyCakes June 2, 2010 at 2:45 AM #

    waaaaaaaaaaah! I love it!
    I think I would’ve smuggled a sled dog puppy home too. Two of them. A pigeon pair.
    It looks like such fun! I can’t wait to hear more!

  6. titus2woman June 2, 2010 at 9:38 AM #

    JEALOUS! How AMAZING to go to Alaska~just your description of breathing in the fresh air totally makes me wanna LIVE there!!! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  7. titus2woman June 2, 2010 at 9:40 AM #

    btw~yer TOTALLY GORGEOUS!!! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  8. KT June 2, 2010 at 3:52 PM #

    I LOVED LOVED LOVED Alaska when I was there. So beautiful and amazing. Great pictures!

    My husband has family that lives in Alaska and I keep telling him that I would be more than happy to visit them…. 🙂

  9. Aly June 3, 2010 at 3:04 PM #

    Aaaah, see? REALLY WANT TO GO. 😀 It looks great, aside fro the crazies, that is.

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