Hello there! It’s been super busy over here. B and I got back a little over a week ago on a cruise to the Western Caribbean [Mexico, Belize, Honduras & The Bahamas] so I thought I would post our cruise adventure from last summer.
My mom turned 75 in early August and surprised us all by taking the entire family including spouses and grandchildren on an Alaskan cruise. This was my second cruise experience and it happened to be on the same cruise line. Click here for a recap of my trip to Cuba. Read on for more on our adventures in the land of the midnight sun.
We live just north of Seattle so getting to the terminal was a Shuttle Express ride away. There were eight of us traveling, six adults and two kids. My mom splurged for balcony state rooms which was really nice! We went on the new NCL ship The Bliss with stops in Juneau, Skagway & Ketchikan as well as cruising through Glacier bay with a final stop in Victoria BC.
I was not certain what to pack as the weather was going to be in the 50’s and 60’s but we were also going to be on board a ship and near icy glaciers so layering was my friend. I purchased an Away rolling carryon bag and packing cubes before our trip to California in March which was only four days. My expectation was this pieces of luggage would still be fine for a week long trip. Most of my clothing items I would wear at least twice with my bulkiest outfit for embarkation/debarkation. I managed to fit everything in and wore all but two items.
The day was actually kind of chilly in the morning. I wore my skinny jeans, a short sleeved striped grey & cream shirt, caramel riding boots and my blue Goretex shell. Getting on board was a breeze. We grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria and ate on the observation deck. It did warm up as the day went on. B went to the bar and got us going away drinks. A Vodka dirty martini for me and an Old Fashioned for him.
There were plenty of seats along the large windows in the observation lounge. My brother [waving in the photo below] and mom found a spot a little further down the length of the room. We all took in the view of downtown Seattle on a bright blue day.
We oriented ourselves a little more and ordered another round of drinks from the bar to toast the cruise and my mom’s birthday [we had the beverage package which I highly recommend]. From the left, my brother, mom, myself & B.
Once our cabins were available I was lucky to spy my luggage in the hallway on the way to the room. I ditched my shell in the cabin and changed in to grey capri hiking pants and my Brooks running shoes.
We took a short tour of the ship, especially the top deck with a go kart track, water slides & five hole mini golf. B suggested we go to The District Brew House for a beer. We quickly learned this was actually our muster station as well. Everyone is required to meet at their muster station just before or after leaving port. In the event of an emergency so you are funneled to a waiting lifeboat.
Shell Casing Art on the wall on the way to the brew pub.
There are lots of dining options on board. We ended up in The Local for dinner which was a pub style restaurant. All the excitement of the day led to an early bedtime.
Our first full day on board was at sea. I wanted to be comfy and warm. I wore a blue hooded top, grey yoga pants and my favorite Brooks running shoes. We were out in the Pacific ocean and I did have about an hour or so where I was not feeling so great due to the movement of the ship. We settled in to the Observation lounge with my brother and played a few games of Guillotine.
Even being from Seattle you cannot escape Starbucks. Yes there is one onboard [my brother, niece & nephew in the photo below]!
Can’t seem to escape work either.
B and my nephew wanted to take advantage of the go kart track so we arranged a time the next day before getting to our first port. Below is my nephew on the first curve of the Go Kart track. Yes, he wore shorts every day – did not matter the weather.
Our first port of call was Juneau, the capital. The weather was mild but on the chilly side and I was prepared with a sweater and leggings along with my shell and boots. B & I had our sites set on getting some Geocaches to earn our Alaska souvenir. Our first stop was a mystery cache that B had solved before we left Seattle and my nephews first cache ever. We found a TB hotel and then tried for another which we had to come back to three times due to muggles. We found an earth & a virtual all on his first day of caching. Mom wanted to see the capitol building [a bucket list item for her]. My back was acting up so I waited in town and solved a clue to one of the caches we were looking for. We stopped at Barnaby Brewing for a flight and root beer for the kids.
After Barnaby we visited the legendary Red Dog Saloon where kids are allowed. My nephews first bar experience complete with sawdust on the floor and waitresses dressed like cancan gals!
After a bit more walking around mom and I took a shuttle back to the ship and my brother, nephew & B did some more caching on the way back where my nephew made his first find. Dinner that night was at a sit down restaurant called The Manhattan. A tad bit too early for me to eat and I rested in our room after dinner. Later B & I went to the whiskey bar where I discovered a drink they called the Matador. Ingredients below and link to recipe here. So good!
- 1.5 oz Bulleit Bourbon
- .5oz Fresh lemon juice
- .5oz Elderflower syrup
- 3 pieces candied ginger
- 3 dashed blood orange bitters
- Splash ginger ale [or beer]
The next morning I had the most amazing breakfast! Dill & spinach pancakes with salmon and sour cream. Sounds weird and the color was a little bit off putting. Generally I am not a pancake person but these were so good! The restaurant menus changed daily but I was able to get these twice!
We were early enough at breakfast that we got a window seat and saw at least 20 wales that morning. I was never quick enough to get photos but it made breakfast that much better. Sometimes the memory is just as good!
Skagway was our second port of call and one that I was hoping would not disappoint. I went there when I was ten [a little less than 30 years ago] and loved it so much. I was hoping it would not have changed with the cruise industry. I took advantage of layers and wore a grey turtleneck sweater, jeans, boots and my shell. I also brought along a large white & black scarf for the wind.
We took a shore excursion on a train up to the top of White pass. We got an earth cache while on the train. A passenger even saw a bear.
The tunnel we are headed in to was really black and one of two on the trip.
This bridge we went by was built in the early 1900’s during the winter. It’s no longer used for obvious reasons.
The trail of 98.
We crossed in to Canada briefly and then looped around to head back down the mountain.
We spent much of the day wandering town and visited Skagway brewing for beer and a snack.
That night was another dinner in a nicer restaurant, Cagney’s Steakhouse. Will you look at the size of these shrimp mom had as an appetizer. Jumbo for sure!
B and I each had the surf and turf. The little white bag had a lemon in it. Smart so you could squeeze out the juice and not get seeds in your lobster. That lobster tail was larger than my hand and the filet was 8 oz. This didn’t include the two appetizers, two sides and dessert. Too. Much. Food!
The next day was a day at sea cruising through Glacier Bay. I wore my yoga pants and a different hoodie as it was bound to be a tad chilly. Breakfast was a bagel with salmon, dill, capers, butter lettuce, red onion & cream cheese and I had a side of country potatoes. I was able to get this breakfast twice on board as well. I had a LOT of salmon on this trip!
Each of our rooms received a complimentary bottle of champagne and we decided to chill them in our fridges and open them while cruising through Glacier Bay National Park. Rangers came aboard in the morning and we were able to hear their talk through the entertainment system in our room. There was also a bow camera we could view on the TV.
I have to tell you, my photos do NOT do the glaciers justice!
Margerie Glacier [also an earth cache] a 21 mile tidewater glacier. The boat in the photo should give you an idea of how immense the glacier is. We saw it calve several times while we were there. The ship rotated so no matter what side you were on you could see it. We were about a mile from the leading edge.
I don’t remember the name of this glacier. I loved the different colors that formed the glacier. Kinda reminds me of cookies n crème.
Johns Hopkins Glacier [also an earth cache] is 12 miles long. We were about six miles out from the leading edge of this glacier.
My mom, brother, sister, Brother in law, niece & nephew were on the opposite side of the ship from us so we did venture over. When we returned to our room we had guests. Our neighbors children were feeding the seagulls bread and they were not afraid. I was able to come right out on the balcony and sit within two feet of this guy.
Dinner that night was at Teppanaki, a Japanese style steak house. B and I opted for a the Wasabi cocktail which doesn’t actually have any wasabi in it but does have a lychee for garnish. My brother had the Shaku-Shaku which I tried. I like it much better.
Our last port was Ketchikan, unfortunately the weather was too windy for us to be able to dock so we did not get off the ship. My brother had made plans to meet up with a friend. It was a real bummer but it meant getting in to Victoria early.
The rest of the day was spent hanging out with my niece & nephew in the observation lounge playing card games.
B and I had reservations for Le Bistro, the French style restaurant on board as we arrived in Victoria. I chose this night to dress up and wore khaki linen pants, a lavender linen wrap top, orchid cardi & espadrilles.
Last stop was Victoria BC. I repeated my first at sea day outfit of blue hoodie, grey yoga pants and Brooks running shoes. B and I got out and wandered for a bit with my brother, niece & nephew. The goal was to get caches and a Canadian souvenir for my nephew. We already have our Canadian/BC souvenirs and have even found some in Victoria. The first cache we looked for my niece found.
There was a virtual and we walked along the breakwater near the ship for two additional caches.
Sunday morning and back in Seattle for debarkation and heading hope to my poop doodle!
- While Alaska was not high on my bucket list I enjoyed the cruise. Glacier bay was amazing.
- I would highly recommend a beverage package [there is one for kids too]. One note, when in port they do charge you tax. Some ports [Victoria in this case] require only one bar per deck to be open, the others have to stay closed.
- I would recommend the dining package as well. Especially if you don’t like cafeteria style dining. On the Bliss there were four main restaurants that offer sit down meals but the rotation of food can get a tad boring for a seven day cruise.
- I learned this after the fact. You can find reviews of restaurants onboard ships! Great way to study the menu and get an idea before you cruise. By far the most reasonable meal we had was Teppanaki. Le Bistro and Cagney’s were super expensive if you did not have the dining package.
- I am really glad I bought my Away luggage. It’s the same size as my last carry on. The only draw back is that my last carry on had two outside pockets where this one does not so it cuts down on how much I can pack. I need to work on my travel capsule wardrobe.
- I always travel with a book but am also glad we brought some card games with us. The library on board did offer checkout of board games [and books which was a nice bonus] but there is no guarantee they will have something you want to play or available when you want to play.
- If you have kids, there are rooms separated in to different age groups with all kinds of scheduled activities. My nephew loved the teen room. My niece was not as enamored with the activities for her age group [she is 11].
- Book shore excursions in advance. This will guarantee you get what you want. Sometimes excursions are canceled or adjusted due to weather. In the case of a cancellation you will get reimbursed automatically to your room.
- Your “currency” is your room card. You use it at every meal and with every beverage or duty free purchase or activity [go kart’s, shows, gambling, art auctions, etc.]. The cruise line holds a credit card on file and it is run at the end of the trip. In our case we were able to view our balance whenever we wanted on the TV in our room.
- We did not have a Wifi package. For the most part it was fine. You just had to be old school about meeting up. Every room has a phone and you can always leave a VM. It’s pretty amazing with 4,000 people on board how easily it is to run in to your peeps often.
Have you ever cruised before?