Day 1 – A beautiful to embark onboard a ship bound for Alaska, sunshine and virtually no wind! Vancouver is a beautiful city to spend a few hours admiring before checking onto the ship. We arrived shortly before 11 am and took in the sights, sounds and fabulous fresh air at Canada Place.
Check in began at noon and it is advisable to be early, as the line moves quickly and customs/immigration are not too congested. Once onboard, lunch was available in the Lido restaurant, and the staff greet their new batch of cruisers warmly. Our stateroom was ready by mid-afternoon and we spent most of the day admiring the stunning view of Vancouver in the distance! We had dinner in Canaletto’s that night and it was fabulous. The starter was beautiful antipasti – almost a shame to eat! Canaletto’s has a dining fee of $10 per person but it is so worth it, if you are fan of Italian cuisine you will want to treat yourself at least once!
Day 2 – Cruising through the Inside Passage is gorgeous, and scenic! We were lucky to have sunshine all day, so enjoying the air on the outside decks is a perfect way to spend the day. There was a port shopping talk in the theatre that afternoon which is very informative to attend, especially if you have not been to Alaska and are unsure of what and where to get the keepsakes and gifts you are looking for! Formal night in the dining room this evening exceeded expectations, as the staff and the food were out of this world! And although dinner was exceptional, make sure you don’t skip dessert…
Day 3 – Juneau! We began our day with breakfast in the Lido, and headed off the ship in a timely manner as Juneau has so much to offer for the explorer. We started off with a shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier. The drive is interesting and our driver explained some historical facts about the city and glacier, once in the park you can take a short walk to the Visitor Centre, and view the glacier from inside. They offer gifts and souvenirs inside or, if you are looking for a closer look at the glacier there is a variety of walking trails to choose from. The shuttle goes every twenty minutes, so it is up to the individual how long you wish to spend in the park. We took the long trail, and made our way to the glacier and the waterfall along the “beach” and through the woods on our way back.
And for the really adventurous traveler you can take a helicopter tour over the glacier! We took the shuttle back into town and headed over to the Mount Robert’s Tram, which runs all day and passes that you purchase are valid for you to use as many times up, and down as you wish until 9 pm. The view is breathtaking, and once atop the mountain there is a restaurant, gift shop, hiking trails and a theatre where we watched a video about the local wildlife.
A cute picture opportunity presents itself as you can sit in a real eagle’s nest! And a little bit of trivia, the average Bald Eagle’s nest can weigh up to 2000 pounds.
Juneau offers shopping galore for those so inclined, and in addition one of the city’s claims to fame is the authentic Red Dog Saloon, from sawdust floors to the original log beams it is sure to impress. You can pop in for a picture, a pint or some wings!
Day 4 – An exciting day on your Alaska trip, in Skagway. We booked the White Pass Scenic Summit railroad excursion and had to be off the ship bright and early. The train is awaiting its passenger’s right outside the ship! A must see as this three hour plus train ride offers stunning visuals and detailed narrative from your guides onboard.
We reached the summit with an elevation of 2865 feet, and found ourselves on the Canada and US border. Certain excursions allow you to cross the Yukon border with the option of train and/or coach.
Skagway is a sleepy little town, built on the fascinating history surrounding the Gold Rush, starting with the Gold Rush trail and building up to the development and construction of a railway!
And if you are wondering how the tracks are cleared during the snowy season…?
A nice walk back from the downtown centre of Skagway to the ship is through Pullen Park and across the creek; where in July and August you can view the newly hatched salmon as they prepare for journey out to sea!
Day 5 – One of the added bonuses of this itinerary was the inclusion of a day in Glacier Bay National Park. You may not be getting off the ship in a port, but there is never a dull moment! From the gorgeous views of the glaciers, to the possible glimpse of wildlife and all the information that the Park Ranger provides you are sure to be captivated.
The bow of the ship is opened for passengers to partake in a special viewing and picture opportunity.
A beautiful formal dinner was a nice way to conclude a relaxing day onboard the ship in a beautiful surroundings! The dining room was abuzz with enthusiastic expressions regarding the day’s observations.
Day 6 – The supposed rain capital of North America, we found the sun again in Ketchikan! The locals told us we brought it with us as our cruise right from the start had exceptional weather. One of Ketchikan’s claims to fame is the historic Red Light district “Creek Street.”
For a small cash admittance fee you can tour through “Dolly’s house”, the creeks most famous madam.
And for fun, dress up a little and go back in time!
Ketchikan is just a nice little walk around town that offers a lot of options with easy accessibility whether you want to see totem poles, a live lumberjack show or an authentic native village.
We shopped for a few hours, looking for the perfect totem pole to bring home, so needless to say we built up an appetite and were really looking forward to our dinner at the Pinnacle Grill! It is recommended reservations are made at the beginning of your cruise because space is limited and you will not want to miss out on this dining experience. The value well exceeds the $29 dining fee, as the service, atmosphere and the menu are tremendous!
And no meal is complete without the Grand finalE!!
Allow plenty of time to enjoy the Pinnacle Grill; this is not a night to rush.
Day 7 – Cruising the Inside Passage on the way back to Vancouver is bittersweet. The entire trip has flown by and you will be amazed at how much you can enjoy in seven seemingly short days.
A day to reflect the wonderful experiences and new friends made along the way. The entire cruise surpassed our expectations, including the staff, the accommodations, the culinary creations, the activities onboard and the entertainment!
Doesn’t he look like he will miss us?
Day – 8 Sad to be disembarking today. Back into Vancouver and off the ship you go, Canada Place staff and the Holland America staff make the disembarkation process practically seamless. For those travelers who do not call Vancouver home, this is a great day to spend enjoying the sights and sounds of this beautiful city.
Until our next adventure…