alaskan cruise travel guide
Okay so I have never written a travel guide before... but with how much I travel, it's probably about time that I get used to it! Gotta give the people what they want, ya know?? I received SO much interest from people who wanted a travel guide from my family 7-Day Alaskan cruise, so here we go!
For real though before we even get started...Alaska was AMAZING. When you think of Alaska I feel like people initially think of it being isolated and boring with nothing but bears around and freezing cold weather. Well, we DID get a little lucky with the weather, but seriously - this trip was one of my all-time favorites! I won't bore you with a bunch of my thoughts, but here is the breakdown of what we did!
Daytime temperatures in Alaska range from 50-70 degrees with the possibility of rain each day! We were VERY lucky with weather, but when packing, plan to have lots of layers, and remember three words: Wicking, Warmth and Waterproof! Rain jackets, hats, waterproof pants, sweaters and layers are all things I would bring!!!
OTHER THINGS TO BRING:
-Proper wrist watch (you will change timezones a few times!)
-Small day pack
-Rain gear (recommended both pants and a jacket)
-Personal water bottle
-Lanyard (for your Cruise line SeaPass card key - super helpful so you don't lose it!)
-IPad or tablet with downloaded programs (Wifi aboard the ship is crazy expensive!)
-Wine (you can bring two bottles per stateroom for free!)
-Multi-outlet for more charging ports (the rooms only have 2!)
-Personal fan (if you don't have one of the balcony rooms to help regulate airflow)
-Portable phone charger
THE CRUISE LINE:
The cruise line was through Celebrity, and ours specifically was the Celebrity Solstice. Absolutely beautiful cruise ship - it was SO clean and the staff was extremely welcoming and friendly the entire trip. I would highly recommend booking through them! My parents booked themselves a suite up on the 12th floor with their own butler (little suckers) but my brothers, sister-in-law and fiance were on the 6th floor. If I was to go on the cruise again, I would stay on the 7th floor or higher - reason being because the lifeboats were stored on the 5th, so they did kind of get in the way if you were taking photos from your balcony! Not by much, but being such a photo person, I appreciate no obstructions. There are rooms on the 3rd, 4th and 5th levels, however you do NOT get a balcony and the rooms are a lot smaller, so I would recommend on just splurging on the higher rooms to be able to get the balcony and have a little larger space, while being able to take in the AMAZING views!
If you have never been on a cruise before, their #1 goal is to keep you entertained. So there is ALWAYS something to do. On our ship alone, they had two pools, 6 hot tubs, a full spa, a beautiful fitness center, a theatre, a grass lawn on the top deck with cabanas and bocce ball, glass-blowing classes, dance lessons, fitness classes, musicians, etc. SO MANY THINGS. You get an itinerary from your steward every morning on your bed with a list of what is going on that day and you can essentially choose what you want to do. My family booked a table in the main dining area for a family dinner at 8:30PM every night, but other than that we all just pretty much did what we wanted and met up to talk about our day! You won't be bored, I promise.
If you enjoy the occasional beer or margarita, I recommend just getting the drink package! It's not worth having to pay for every drink individually, so the Classic package should be just enough. You are still charged for tips when you're on the boat, (about 18% per drink) but over the course of the week it's only about an extra $100 or so.
There are two nights known as "evening chic" (or evening chick as my Dad calls it) where it is encouraged to dress up a little more nicely for a night of dinner and entertainment. I wore a jumpsuit or a nice dress, and all guys wore a nice suit (no tie). I did dress up a little bit for dinner every night just because I never really get the chance to, but be prepared to definitely try harder on those nights! The age range is definitely older individuals, so they take pride in looking classy.
Arrival Day: Our cruise ran Friday-Friday and we departed from Seattle, Washington. The ship left the port at 4PM on the first Friday, but began boarding around 11:30AM. We arrived right at 11:30AM to make sure we avoided the crazy lines and got all checked in! We then had lunch in the main buffet area and took the rest of the time to get settled in and start to explore the ship. We left Seattle at exactly 4PM.
Day 1: At Sea -- this is a great day to explore the boat, and get your bearings on what all is around! I highly recommend utilizing the pools (maybe even the spa if you're feeling up to it!) and attending the nightly entertainment. From comedians, magicians and dancers/singers, you are always up for something new!
Day 2: Ketchikan, Alaska -- We arrived at the port at 7AM and had until 4PM until we left for our next destination. We didn't have any specific excursions planned this day, but rather went to Church as a family in the morning, and then took the rest of the day to explore the town! We checked out the salmon ladder (where all the salmon swim upstream to spawn and then die) then walked around the shops and Creek Street, and ate some of the freshest salmon (this is the salmon capital of the world so you must try it!!!). My mom, my sister-in-law and I also checked out the Dolly's House Museum, which was a famous brothel, established around 1919.
Day 3: Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier and Juneau, Alaska -- On this morning, we woke up at 5:30AM to catch the sunrise and to get a good spot for the arrival at Dawes Glacier, which happened between 6AM - 10AM! It's a glacier that can only be accessed by boats (mostly the cruise lines) and is absolutely stunning (my photos don't even do it justice). Our ship took us all the way into the passage and spun around a few times so that we could get the best look. I highly recommend making sure you are up for this and prepared to take a million photos! After that, there was a short break before our arrival in Juneau around 1:30PM where we had until 10PM to explore. I took a nap, ate breakfast and went to the gym to get in a good sweat! In Juneau, we had our first excursion set up which was whale watching!!! I highly recommend Harv & Marv Whale Watching - they were so great and knowledgeable. We were able to see Orcas, Humpback whales, Seals and even Bald Eagles! The tour went from around 2PM until 6PM, so we simply just walked around the town for the remainder of the day.
Day 4: Skagway, Alaska -- This day was one of my favorites! We arrived around 7AM and had until 6PM to be back on the boat. This was where we did our second planned excursion! We rented Jeeps from DIY Jeep Tours and drove all the way up to the Yukon (make sure to bring your passport because you're entering Canada!!!!) I love my Dad for setting this up vs just putting us on one of the stuffy tour buses because then you have to deal with all the people, smells and useless stops. In our case, we rented two Jeeps and were able to go at our own pace, which was so nice. We arrived in Skagway to pick them up around 8AM and spent pretty much all day driving around. The Jeeps come with guided audio tours as well, so you can play them as you arrive at your various destinations. You will see some of the most amazing views along the way. We drove through Carcross as well, and even stopped at a local place that lets you pet Alaska husky puppies!!! **Be sure to just be mindful of your time -- keep in mind that however far you drive up, you need to drive back and be sure to get back through the border, return the jeeps AND get back on the boat before it leaves!!** We returned the Jeeps and arrived back to Skagway a little early (we stayed out until about 4PM) to be able to explore the town and grab a beer (it's VERY tiny, so not much to see) and then headed back on the boat.
Day 5: At Sea -- Another day at Sea to decompress and relax from all of your adventures! It was super nice to have a day in the middle of everything, just to be able to catch a break. I spent the day by the pool, and even got a foot massage with Mama in the spa.
Day 6: Victoria, British Columbia -- This was our last full day. We arrived in Victoria around 5:00PM and had until about 11:30PM to explore. A little less time than the other cities (and also at night) so no excursions were planned. We simply walked around the city as regular tourists and explored all of BC! It is an absolutely beautiful city. We went to the Fisherman's Warf Park (they have the cutest little water taxi's there!) and then walked into the city to see China Town and the the various shops, restaurants, etc.
Day 7: Arrival Day -- We arrived back in Seattle at 6AM, where de-boarding began promptly. The boat entirely clears off by 9:30AM. We had a flight back to Atlanta booked for around 12:45PM, so we just headed straight to the airport.
I hope this was helpful!!!! I'd love to hear feedback and if you want to see more of these.
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