Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Planes, Trains and Automobiles...and Boats: Our cruise to Alaska

Carnival Miracle, Ketchikan (Alaska)
Photo credit:  Ronnie Perrault
I would like to tell you about our family adventure on an Alaskan Cruise, in July 2013.  We were planning on taking a family vacation and with two teenagers, it's hard to come up with something that everyone will like.  We started out by deciding between California and British Columbia, but as I was doing some research on the internet, an ad came up that said, "Cruise to Alaska".  I thought, what a great idea!  We had been told that cruising in the summer is dangerous, if you are planning to go south to the Caribbean due to hurricane season.  No one had suggested Alaska...except the computer!

We have been on two family cruises in the past with Carnival - The Fun Ships.  We enjoyed both cruises, so we felt that it was a safe and sure thing.  We booked our staterooms and flights a few months ahead, and waited.

In the meantime, we had heard from so many people that an Alaskan Cruise was awesome.  So many people had been on one or knew someone who was going or had been on one. The only complaint I had heard from one person was that it rained a lot.  So, we knew there was nothing we could do about the weather, so we were determined to make the best of it.

The pictures of the cruise ship, "Miracle", looked beautiful.  The Italian artistry and craftsmanship looked amazing according to the pictures we had seen online.  We chose a 7-night cruise leaving from Seattle, Washington, with ports in Skagway, Ketchikan and Juneau (Alaska), and Victoria (British Columbia).  We also had a day where we spent a few hours going up the Tracy Arm Fjord, to the Sawyer Glaciers.  We had a lot of options for excursions and we decided to wait until we got there to decide what we were going to do.

Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord (Alaska)

What struck me most about the icebergs was their amazing colour.  They were the colour of the sky!

Iceberg blue

The ship had a group for teenagers aged 15-17, called, "Club O2".  My daughter is 15 and my son is 17, so that was perfect.  They joined up with some other teenagers, and we hardly saw them!  We made sure to have supper with them in the Bacchus dining doom every night, however. 

We decided to take two excursions.  The first was in Skagway, called, "The Best of Skagway" which included a train ride, a visit to Liarsville, and a tour of a brothel museum.   Our excursion started with a bus ride from Skagway up to Fraser, BC.  The train ride back was amazing.  Although it was quite foggy and desolate at the top, as we traveled down the mountain side we were thrilled with some amazing views. The fog started to clear as we got closer to the town.  We then went to Liarsville and had a salmon bake and watched a show.  We even got to pan for gold!  We got to take our gold flakes home.  It was really neat.  Then we went to the Red Onion Saloon, where we learned the history of the brothel.  My kids sure got a piece of history there!

Near Skagway, Alaska

The second excursion we went on was in Juneau, Alaska.  We chose to go on a "Whale Watch".  We took a bus down to the boat that took us out to see whales and wildlife.  It was amazing.  We also saw a black-tailed deer, some sea lions and eagles.  Humpback whales are so huge, and they are quite magnificent creatures.  We got to see them blow out of their blow holes, and watch them come up for air.  I took a lot of videos and pictures.  I also learned a lot from the naturalist, Michele, on board our ship.  There were also killer whales in the area, but I missed them.

Humpback whale, near Juneau, Alaska

We  also stopped in Ketchikan.  We didn't do any excursions there, but we enjoyed the little town.  This was our last stop in Alaska, so we made sure to buy some souvenirs and smoked salmon in the "Salmon Capital of the World".  

Victoria, BC

Our last stop was in Victoria, BC.  We had only a few hours, so we decided to stay close to the ship. We walked along the pier, and there was a beautiful sunset and moon rise.  It was cold but it was well worth it. We took lots of pictures!

Victoria, BC

The next morning, we arrived in Seattle, Washington.  We flew home that same day.  It was an amazing trip.  The food, service and entertainment on the ship were incredible.  Everyone was friendly, and the kids had an amazing time with their new found friends in Club O2. A great summer family trip that will never be forgotten.

Have an awesome day!

Angela G. Gentile

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