We waited many years before booking an Alaska cruise. After all, the whole idea is to enjoy the water, the tropical climate, and the exotic islands. Well...been there and done that enough times that it was time for a new adventure. We were thrilled with the change in climate after 5 months of the Florida summer and we did not miss the pool during the day.
The cruise started in Vancouver and we flew in a day early so we could see a little of the city and allow a buffer against delayed flights and the possibility of misdirected luggage. Everything went off without a hitch with travel and we were very lucky to make our way through the airport and immigration/customs without a hitch. We were through in about 30 minutes but once aboard heard the horror story from the day before when it took 2 hours. We stayed at Sutton Place in the heart of downtown and walked everywhere. The area was "alive" with both visitors and downtown workers. It was a pleasure to walk around with great restaurants and shops. We walked about 15 minutes to Stanley Park and rented bikes near the park entrance and rode the seawall around the park. It's a great park with great views and the weather was ideal.Vancouver has a large Chinese population and the largest Chinatown in North America so we found a great restaurant on Robson and met a few of our CC buddies for dinner. Then we people watched our way back up Robson to have ice cream and go back to the hotel. The next morning we spent a couple more hours walking around downtown before the 10 minute taxi ride to the pier. Princess and Celebrity sailed out of the downtown pier while RCCL is a bit removed but not a big deal. Check in was quick and efficient at about 11:30 and we were off to the Windjammer for lunch. We arranged a pre meet and mingle in the Schooner Bar at 3 PM, prior to muster, and got a head start meeting the people that were on the thread for the past 15 months. No life jackets for the muster drill were needed and as fate would have it our muster station was the Schooner bar. Sail away was beautiful and we passed under the Lions Gate Bridge and out to sea right behind the Ruby Princess.
The first day was at sea and everyone settled into their routine for meals and activity. Lots of readers, plenty of ship activity with trivia games, card playing, bingo, casino, etc. This was also the first formal night. We were out in the open ocean so the ship had some movement but not too extreme. The highlight of day 3 was Tracy Arm Fjord. The crew navigated us up the fjord and we saw our first glimpse of glacial ice. We wound our way to the end of the fjord and were awed by the massive glacier. It stands hundreds of feet high and wide just dwarfing the ship. We put a boat in the water to scout out the larger chunks and kudos to the captain and crew for being able to manuever us in close. Hundreds of people were out on the forward decks taking pictures and taking in the natural beauty of the cascading waterfalls and sheer granite walls. The fjord was created by glaciation so the walls were high and the water was very deep. We spent a good part of the day sailing in and out before moving on toward our first port stop. Our next 5 days were port days and we zigzagged around the inside passage to stop at each one. The month of September starts the rainy season and we didn't see the sun for the whole time we were in Alaska. There were layers of clouds everywhere and some places it rained most of the time but we had done enough research to forsee this and had our rain gear ready. Believe me, it didn't slow anything down. There is very little variation in the temperature from day to night. Mostly in the low 50's during the day and high 40's at night. We slept with the sliding door to the balcony open several nights. The second week sailing down the west coast we had mostly excellent weather. Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego are just great cities and we had perfect weather in all three. The day sailing the inside route from Ketchican to Seattle was perfect sunny and cool weather. Astoria was a mix of clouds and sun with a great maritime museum. We went to a fort where the Lewis and Clark expedition ended. The biggest surprise was learning about the size and scope of the Columbia River. Growing up on the east coast we had no idea how important a river it is. We travelled with friends about half an hour down the coast to Seaside and had a great lunch along the beach promenade. The waves just pound the shoreline and sailing out of the Columbia River into the ocean is one of the trickiest navigations in the world of cruising. It was very impressive as the ship navigated the bar with the surf and waves crashing to either side. The open ocean was a bit rough between Astoria and San Francisco but the sun was out and the temperatures warmed up and we had a nice sea day.
We were in a D1 just aft of the Centrum elevators. Good closet and drawerspace for two people. Ample room in the cabin and balcony was adequate size. Liked the shower sliding doors instead of a curtain.
This is a very quaint small town that is a pleasure to walk about and tour. The highlight for us was the Raptor Center where we saw bald eagles and other birds of prey.
This town was the gateway to the gold rush trail to the yukon. We took the White Pass RR to the Canadian border and the scenery was spectacular. Walked around town and had lunch at the famous Red Onion Saloon.
This is Alaska's state capitol and the whale watching and trip to the glacier were highlights of the trip. Stopped in the Red Dog Saloon for souveniers.
This stop had the best shopping. We did a private flightseeing excursion to Misty Fjords that was spectacular and then shopped Creek Street and walked around. I could see why it is the Salmon Capitol. I looked into the creek and every square inch was a salmon.
Pikes Market was an experience as well as seeing the Space Needle. Saw the original Starbucks and the famous flying fish market. Friends gave us a private tour of Seattle and Bellevue before back to the ship.
This is my favorite city in the US. We took the Baylink Ferry to Villejo and then friends picked us up and we spent the day touring wine country and sampling wines and the freshest local foods. We caught the ferry back to Fishermans wharf and spent the rest our time checking out the shops and walking back to the ship. Perfect weather and a great day