My wife and I began preparing for this cruise 5 years ago when we took our first Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. We had so much fun, and it was so amazing, that we decided we'd do another for our 35th. And this time ... Read More
My wife and I began preparing for this cruise 5 years ago when we took our first Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. We had so much fun, and it was so amazing, that we decided we'd do another for our 35th. And this time we'd do our own pre-cruise tour before sailing southbound. I would have preferred to sail earlier in the year this time, but as it turned out it was the same timeframe as the first one, which meant we were cruising over our anniversary again. So that was fine.
We arrived in Anchorage on Sunday the 26th. Unfortunately, Delta had fun with our flights a few times and our original 12:30pm arrival ended up being 3pm. With a delay in landing and then waiting for the hotel shuttle, we didn't arrive to the Lakefront Anchorage until about 4pm. Only 15 hours after we had gotten up! Somehow we managed to stay awake until dinner time and we went for a short walk around the area and the lake with all its float planes. But that was the end of Sunday.
On Monday we headed for Denali National Park. We made a few stops on the way for some supplies, and we also visited the Earthquake Park. It's always interesting to see something that I've read about in the History books. That Good Friday earthquake in 1964 was something else.. We spent 3 nights at Carlo Creek Lodges in one of their private cabins with a private bathroom. The cabin was cozy, and the bathroom even more so, but it was clean, comfortable and only $124/night. The location was very nice, about 15 minutes south of the park entrance. Fortunately, we had a chance to see Mt. Denalij on our drive up to the Park.
Tuesday we took the hop-on/hop-off bus into Denali. The weather was not great, with scatterings of sun, rain, fog, low clouds, etc, so we didn't do any hopping off, hopping on.
Wednesday was great weather when we went to the park again This time we started the morning off climbing Mt. Healy. And then it rained as we got within the last mile of the overlook, so we came back down. We went to the Dog Sled Camp later, when the sun was back out.
Thursday we drove back to Anchorage. It was a rainy drive, but when we got to Anchorage the rain stopped and we got to explore more of Anchorage. We did some shopping for souvenirs. TIP- we found stuff up in Denali area just as cheap as in Anchorage, so you don't need to panic.. This time we stayed at the Clarion Suites as they had a shuttle to the train station. They take your name for it, but someone we were overbooked. Not sure how that happened, but we got everyone to the station on time.
The train ride to Seward was so much fun, and the scenery was great. We paid for the upgraded Gold Star service. The breakfast was great and the dome car was so nice to really see things It helped me spot a family of 3 moose for all to see! We met some great people on the train. As it turned out, the couple seated behind us on the train, was our next door neighbor on the cruise.
When we got to Seward, we stopped at Alaska Seafood Grill for some lunch. The chowder in a bread bowl is excellent! We had reservations with Body Abode for massages before the cruise. With arrival around 11, finding lunch, walking to our massages and all that, it was 2-2:30 when we arrived at embarkation. This was the first time that we were the ONLY people in line to check in. It was surreal and, as you might expect, really quick. Best boarding ever.
The ship was clean and seemed well maintained. We enjoyed it alot. The Solarium is one of the best I've seen on RC and I've 9 of the ships so far. The Park Cafe was also nice, we ate their a couple of times. We split our time between the MDR and the Windjammer. The only bad time we had though was one of the last nights in the Main Dining room. Our service was just awful. It was the first time ever in the MDR that we had bad service over 10 cruises. It seemed like our waiter and asst waiter were too busy with one of the tables near us to even bother to make sure we had water. In fact, one of the couples at our table asked for water, and they got it. But the other 4 of us didn't, and my wife's glass was pretty much dry. We then had to ask the head waiter for water for the rest of us. (And I must say that the head waiter never actually introduced herself to us at all). They were slow on bringing us our food, especially our desserts. I've never complained before, but we did that night. One of the other couples actually told us that they pulled their pre paid tips from the wait staff. That might have been a little extreme but it was frustrating.
The Hubbard Glacier is amazing. We got to within a half mile that day, and we able to see some nice calving. Then they came around with hot chocolate which we could add Baileys to, and that really hit the spot. Man, was it cold there!
At Juneau, our only excursion was the twilight whale watch, so we explored Juneau on our own. We walked on the Seawalk to the new Whale fountain. We wanted to eat at Tracy's but the line was sooooo long. We went to Pier 49 and while the food was good, the wait was too long. Especially when people who ordered after us got served before us. Way before us. I would not recommend them.
In Skagway we did the Bike ride down the mountain. We weren't able to book the one including the White Pass Railroad, but the ride was fun anyway. Plus we saved about $150. We also visited the local museum and we had lunch at Northern Lights pizza for burgers. Very good. And not an arm and a leg!
The only about this soundbouth cruise is that all stops are one right after the other. That makes for some busy days. I would love a Sea Day in the middle to break it up, but that's probably not gonna happen.
Icy straight Point is a Hoonah village and I've read where some people don't like it. I think it's great to see how the locals live and to share that experience. Not everything can be packaged and sold to lazy consumers. We just did a hike with a local and it was great. We learned a lot. It 's a nice island. Maybe next time we'll do something else.
And finally in Ketchikan, we didn't do any excursions. In the morning it was raining, go Figure, so we walked to Creek Street, went up Married Man's way and saw the Fish Ladder. We went by some shops and we even bought some smoked salmon to send home. Later on, the rain stopped and the sun came out, so we went back to the fish ladder, and explored the city more. We went by Creek street again. We had a late lunch at the Alaska Fish House. seating was limited so we shared a table with a couple who turned out to be the owners of the Crab Fisherman's Experience shore excursion. Yeah, we were eating at a place the locals eat at. My wife had the chowder and I had the halibut fish and chips.
I don't even remember the last day at sea, but I think it involved sleeping, reading, hot tubs and eating.
When we got to Vancouver, we spent the day there, as we had a train to Seattle at 4:45pm. We went to Stanley Park and visited the aquarium there as well as walking around the flower garden. We spent time along the harbor as well enjoying the float planes.
In Seattle we stayed at the Belltown. It was a nice hotel and located near some nice dining. On Saturday, we explored a bit of Seattle. We checked out the sculpture park, and visited Pike's Market again. (We had visited Seattle 5 yrs ago so all the regular tourist spots were already visited). We did go on the Locks Cruise and saw the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat. Our flight home wasn't until 12:30am, but after a nice pizza dinner at Zeeks pizza. Read Less