For years, my mother-in-law talked about going on her dream trip – an Alaska cruise. To make sure that she would actually go, we promised to join her when she retired! As soon as she announced her retirement date, we planned and booked it.
We flew into Seattle (SEA) airport, landed at 10:40 AM, and took an Uber to the Renaissance Marriott at 515 Madison Street. Great central location to walk the city! We dropped our stuff and walked out the door!
First stop, the Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center – what a view! We ordered a bottle of champagne to toast my mother-in-laws retirement and had a great lunch. Once we had fuel in our system, we headed for the Seattle Waterfront Pier, Olympic Sculpture Park, Pike Place Market, and the GUM WALL – so gross but had to see it.
In the morning, we visited the Starbuck’s Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. I don’t drink coffee, but this place was impressive!
After our coffee excursion, we headed for the hotel so that we could check out and board the Norwegian Bliss. ***Tip – Google the date that you’re boarding the ship to see if any events are taking place. The Seattle Pride Parade was happening the day we were boarding and it was impossible to get an Uber. So we walked to the ship with all of our luggage and had to cut through the parade route.***
We departed port at 3:30 PM and were on our way.
The next day was a full day of sailing. We played mini golf, rode go-karts, played lazer tag, went to shows! The boat had more than enough to keep us busy. Some things, like go-karts and lazer tag, required reservations.
First port was Juneau and my first time in a helicopter! My husband and I booked the ice climbing tour and I would 100% book it again. The pilot and guides were so nice. The glacier was incredible. I just can’t find the words to explain what a great day it was. Just book it!
The next port was Skagway. The excursions listed through the ship didn’t appeal to what we wanted to do so instead, we made our own. We reserved a car through Avis and headed to do the International Falls hike. It was beautiful! My only regret is not packing a change of clothes so that we could play in the water more. The water temperature was cold but it was such a gorgeous day and gorgeous hike! As you move uphill, it’s just waterfall after waterfall – my favorite kind of hike.
After the hike, we drove to town and walked around the shops before returning the car.
Another day at sea going through Glacier Bay. SO INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL. This is your day to spot whales, seals, and dolphins. In addition to the gorgeous views, it’s just an all-around relaxing (boring for some) day. I took advantage and enjoyed a very long nap.
Now, back to the fun. Or so we thought. Port number 3 was Ketchikan and we had a rafting tour booked at 8:00 AM. BUT, someone aboard the ship suffered a medical emergency and had to be airlifted off the boat by the Coast Guard. Extremely unfortunate for the individual, their family, and for all of us that arrived to port late. We missed our excursion, so found another hike to do. It was really pretty until we got lost for a long time. On the bright side, it was a beautiful day (I think we had the best Alaska weather ever) and we saw lots of Bald Eagles!
Our final stop was Victoria, B.C. We only had 3 1/2 hours in port, so we booked the tour to Butchart Gardens. I love botanical gardens and in the summer they put on a fireworks show every Saturday. My husband LOVES fireworks so, naturally, I didn’t tell him and let it be a surprise. When I say this was the best fireworks show I have ever seen, please know that I’ve seen a lot of really cool fireworks. But nothing will EVER compare to this show. It was AMAZING. I very much recommend trying to see it at some point in your life. It was like a grand finale to our trip.
The next morning, they kicked us off the ship and we headed to the airport!
Disclaimer: we spent a lot of our trip in the hot tubs and pools! Our weather was gorgeous everyday with sunny blue skies. This is not typical, so pack for the worst and hope for the best!