My First Cruise - Alaska

My first cruising experience was to Alaska.  We chose Norwegian Cruise Lines for their “freestyle cursing.”  This means you don’t have a specific meal time where you eat with total strangers and no formal nights.  We really enjoy NCL and used them for our cruise to The Bahamas last year.  We are also scheduled to cruise with NCL in Hawaii in 2014.

Our cruise left from Seattle with port of call in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C.  We also cruised the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay.  The scenery in Alaska is beautiful.  We did not book a balcony due to the extra cost but there are many public areas to watch the scenery go by.  I even caught a few whale water puffs in the distance.  It was June and still quite cold on the ship and more so when the wind blew along the outside decks.  Poor Kenyon came down with the cold I had the week prior to our vacation and was very sick starting on day 2 of our cruise.  He was still a good sport considering he didn’t feel 100% himself.

Our ship for the week was The Pearl. 

Eager to get off the ship!

It has been so long now I can’t remember what deck we were even on.  With this being my first cruise I was highly impressed with the service we received.  Our room steward and stewardess worked hard cleaning our rooms and making sure we had what we needed.  They even knew our names by the end of the cruise.  One of the best parts of having your room taken care of what coming home in the evening to find the cute towel animals waiting.  We learned after a few days that you need to have the evening turndown service in order to get the animals.  We thought we were being nice in not having them clean our room twice.  Once we figured that out, we let them clean our room twice.

A mouse

A sanke
A bunny

An important thing to remember when cruising is….

Since Kenyon wasn't feeling well, I went by myself to a few of the entertainment-show options on the ship.  There was a very funny comedian/juggling act that had you laughing the entire time.  NCL ships are also known for their Jersey Boys type show.  We did not attend it on either of our two cruises but I do hear it Is an impressive show.

We cruised through the Inside Passage as we made our way to Juneau.  NCL brought a local park ranger on the ship to explain over the intercom the sights, animals, and facts about the Inside Passage.  Since it is a long way from Seattle to Juneau we were on our ship for one full day and then until 2pm the following afternoon.  I learned quickly I am not a girl that likes to be on the ship.  I prefer a stop at a port every day.  Perhaps if Kenyon was feeling better I would have enjoyed time on the ship more.  However, I was really looking forward to getting off the ship and walking around. 

All of the ports on our cruise were easy to walk to from the ship.  I had done plenty of research beforehand; however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we could walk into each town very easily.  The part of Juneau we stopped on was quite small.  You could see a bridge that took you to another side of the island but that would have required a mode of transportation.  In Juneau we had booked an excursion through NCL to ride The Mount Roberts Tramway and get an eye view of the city. 


Here is our ship from the top of the tramway

Our next stop was Skagway.  This is the smallest town I have ever seen.  You could walk to the very end of town and still see our ship!  Kenyon and I booked the zipline excursion.  I have never been on a zipline before and had lots of fun.  I only wished it was a longer “ride.”  Our guide group was made up of several men who come to Alaska for the summer to work.  There was like 13 people all living in the same house!  They were really funny though.  This was also the first group excursion where we were able to visit with other cruise passengers.  We met another newlywed couple who were on their honeymoon from New York.  We ate fish and chips at the Alaskan Ale Brewing Company.


We then cruised in and around Glacier Bay.  NCL has two different types of Alaska itinerates, one with Glacier Bay and one with Tracy Arms.  I am not sure of the difference but based on other recommendations we chose Glacier Bay.  No words can describe the feeling of standing on the ship deck looking at this massive glacier.  The ship pulled up into this alcove and turned off the engine.  We just sat there in silence taking in this massive sight in the crisp afternoon air.  I think the whole trip was worth just that sight.

Ketchikan was our next port of call.  Much like the other towns we visited, this was small as well.  The popular excursion is the Lumber Jack Show.  Since that show, nor anything else interested us, we just walked around the town.  Ketchikan is known for its totem poles, which you can find all over town.

Sporting my Alaska hat
Our final stop was Victoria, B.C.  It is tough to say but I do think this was my favorite stop.  I would love to visit Seattle again and take the Victoria Clipper for another day trip.  I had THE BEST veggie burger at this pub we found while walking around town.  I am dying to go back and find that place again!  Victoria is quite large.  We decided to set out on foot and explore.  I had wanted to visit Craigdarroch Castle and had called them prior to ask about tours.  It turns out if you make your way to the castle they will let you join a tour group for a reduced fee.  I don’t think either of us realized just how far of a walk it would be to reach the castle.  It felt like we were never going to find it.  But low and behold, Kenyon’s wonderful navigation skills got us there.  I really enjoyed this beautiful old castle.

My good friend Jacquie lives in Canada.  I had to make sure I snapped a photo to prove I was in her country.

When we exited the ship we were met with various volunteers with the tourist organization all dressed in costume.  It was also surprisingly easy to get back onto the ship after visiting a different country.  We didn’t even need to show proof of our passport!

Our seven day cruise had come to an end and we arrived back in Seattle.  This was my second visit to Seattle and I really enjoy this quaint town.  We arrived at port at 7am and were off the ship by 9am.  Note to future travelers: There is NOTHING to do in Seattle on Sunday morning that early!  We were able to explore my favorite market.  We spotted an Old Spaghetti Factory so we just waited around until it opened and enjoyed some lasagna.  We caught our flight home later that day.


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