Going to attempt to cover this trip in one post, mostly because we took a cruise and only had a few hours in each port, so here goes: After last year’s epic Japan adventure, it was my turn to pick our destination. I chose Alaska for a few reasons. One, I’m still trying to see all 50 states (11 to go!). Two, I wanted to try on a cruise for size. And three, it’s Alaska. The last frontier.
To start our trip, we flew into Seattle for two nights before the boat left Sunday afternoon. I hadn’t been there since 2010 and this was Jesse’s first time. So we did some touristy stuff like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and the Underground Tour, but otherwise just roamed around and checked out his friend’s recommendations. I always forget how much better the Mexican food is on the West Coast.
Anyway, Sunday came and we hopped on our ship, the Holland America Oosterdam. I picked this one because of the itinerary, price and size. There were about 1900 passengers aboard, as opposed to 4200 on the Norwegian Joy and Bliss, which we saw a few times on our voyage.
First full day we spent cruising the scenic Stephens Passage, whale watching and get acquainted with cruising. After two nights onboard, we finally docked in Juneau and had about eight hours to check things out. That started with a meal at Tracy’s King Crab Shack and a quick trip around town, stopping at Devil’s Club Brewing and the Triangle Club Bar. From there we headed to our excursion, which took us over to Douglas Island and the local salmon hatchery before going to see the Mendenhall Glacier (or what’s left of it, as seen above).
Back to the Oosterdam, we went, eager for the next day’s stop at the Hubbard Glacier Field. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate; we had to turn around before reaching our destination. While I napped, Jesse got the chance to see some of the ice floating around the boat. Maybe next time.
Following another long stretch at sea, we made it to Sitka, which was probably my favorite stop. It was July 4, and the town was ready for it. We walked around, along the sea walk, ate some gnarly hot dogs and got ready for the day’s adventure. This one took us to the Sitka National Historical Park, the Alaska Raptor Center and the Fortress of the Bear. Our guide, Maria, was born and raised in Sitka and kept us highly entertained throughout the day, offering up humorous and educational tidbits about the city.
Next we went to Ketchikan, arriving pretty early in the day with only a few hours there. I decided we needed to see some wilderness so for this one we got to drive Jeep up some old logging roads to Harriet Hunt Lake. There we canoed across, ate a snack, wandered the woods and canoed back before careening back into town to catch the boat.
For our final stop, we arrived in Victoria, British Columbia. Somehow this was the first time I’ve gone to Canada, and it didn’t disappoint. Everything was clean and beautiful, and the people were super friendly and polite. With only a few hours there, we grabbed dinner at a local brewery and walked around until the sun went down. By morning we were back at the dock in Seattle, with just enough time to watch the U.S. win the Women’s World Cup and fly home.
Alaska was wild, and I’d like to see more. But in terms of cruising, I’m not sure it was for us. It took us a few days to figure out where to go and what to do, and by then neither one of us felt like being cooped up on a boat anymore. Everything came with a hefty price tag, and we weren’t the right demographic for any of the activities on board. So hey, we tried, and at least I got to check another state (and country) off my list. Next up…?
Images above: Seattle from the Space Needle, cruise views, Juneau from Douglas Island, Fortress of the Bear, Alaska Raptor Center, Jeeps in Ketchikan, Harriet Hunt Lake, Canadian snacks.