A few months ago, I asked Johnny if I could plan a weekend getaway for us. His response, “YES PLEASE!” Ideal vacation for him: exploring in the wilderness, preferably near the mountains. Ideal vacation for her: not having to cook. Then somehow, a weekend turned into a 7 night cruise in Alaska.
My incredible in-laws joyfully stayed with the kids (3 of whom decided it would be a great time to spike fevers halfway through us being gone).
Monday morning we flew to Anchorage and shuttled to our cruise port in Seward. Our bus driver spent a good 17 minutes rambling on about moose before he moved on to bears, where he listed as many kinds of bears as he could. Yogi Bear, Smokey Bear, Gummy Bears, Berenstain Bears to name a few…Oh. My. Gosh.
The gorgeous scenery along the highway took my breath away. Along the way, we searched for belugas and dall sheep, neither of which we saw.
By the time we got to the cruise port, I’d say we were ready for a nap. Lucky for us, I’m
cheap frugal and booked us an inside stateroom without a window. Throughout the week, we took SO MANY NAPS. Once we woke to realize we’d missed dinner, so we hit up the “cafeteria” cafe and the soft serve station.
Day 2: Hubbard Glacier
We woke up early to grab coffee and watch the sunrise. Only about 4 other people were up at that time.
I’m not sure what was more fascinating. The stunning glacier calving or the impressive amount of selfie sticks.
Day 3: Icy Straight Point/Hoonah
Such a cute fishing town! Great shops, stunning views. We opted to skip the excursions that day and do our own thing which did not disappoint!
We walked about a mile downtown to look for a lunch spot, but neither of us really like most seafood (yeah I know…that’s basically all they eat in Alaska). We ended up going back to the cute shops by the port, where we enjoyed freshly baked donuts and hot apple cider by a roaring fire.
Day 4: Juneau
I was bummed when I saw that the weather forecast for our entire trip was rain. However, it ended up being a periodic light drizzle which ushered in the most mystical fog you’d ever seen.
We shuttled to Mendenhall Glacier and lemme just say, THIS driver was worth the fare alone! When we got there, we took the trail to the Nugget Falls where we cut off the path to a little beach, just feet away from crystal clear icebergs floating in the clearest water surrounded by the greenest trees I’ve ever seen.
Later, we followed another trail along the stream where we saw salmon leftovers decomposing next to a steaming pile of bear scat. Ahh nature. By the time we left, the fog was starting to roll in, blanketing the massive Mendenhall Glacier, completely obstructing the visibility.
Downtown Juneau was really cute, scattered with tourist shops and crab shacks. We did some souvenir shopping and I bought a $7 sweatshirt which would later turn my skin (and sheets) blue. Ours was the 2nd to last cruise of the season so things were mega marked down. Score! We lunched at The Twisted Fish and I had the peppered salmon mac ‘n cheese. YUM!
After we got back on the ship, we both decided that formal night was NOT appealing, so I threw on that $7 sweatshirt and some flip flops and we headed down for Chinese food. There were formal portrait photographers everywhere but for SOME reason, only our waiter offered to take our picture…so this is our formal portrait, photobomber included.
Day 5: Skagway
Our tour on the White Pass Railway was not until noon, so we spent the morning walking around the quiet downtown. We did some more souvenir shopping and grabbed a treat at the Alaskan Fudge company.
I read a review that suggested sitting in the caboose and I’d have to agree. For most of the scenic ride, we stood off the back with unobstructed views. Not only was it beautiful, it was rich in history. Forty miles up this 120+ year old railway, along a suuuuper steep mountain we learned loads about the Klondike Gold Rush. Occasionally you could look straight down and see nothing below you but a cliff, or an artifact left behind from the 1890’s. Exhilarating!
Day 6: Ketchikan
This was the day we were waiting for. Our last port, the big splurge excursion day! Weeks before we left, I did a ton of research and bought tickets to take a sea plane over the Misty Fjords. I saved a ton of money by booking directly (It would be $80/person more through the cruise line!)
We got off the boat and proceeded to our meet-up spot, when the light drizzle turned into full on rain. My phone rang and we got the news, suggesting we cancel our adventure due to the pilot’s weather concerns. They apologized and refunded me before we set off to see the “Salmon Capitol of the World” on foot. (I’d like to note here that the weather lifted 30 minutes later.)
We walked along Salmon Row, a river stream of salmon, shoulder-to-shoulder. It was like a scary movie, if you’re scared of fish. They were EVERYWHERE. Dead fish, spawning fish, puddles of fish eggs on the sidewalk…we almost went to the Lumberjack show, but we were having so much fun exploring the town. The town that smells of fish and firewood.
They had the BEST Christmas store, where Johnny found his most favorite obsession (besides me): Christmas Villages. Too bad we only packed carryons!
I’m actually starting to favor the photobombed photos. I could probably do entire blog dedicated to them!
The sunset that night was UNREAL.
Day 7: at sea
A much desired day of rest. Also, the only time it was “warm enough” to finish our books on the sun deck with a Bushwhacker.
We went to an incredible Russian aerialist show, and also the comedian (who had the worst comedic timing and like maybe two funny jokes) but our time spent on Norwegian Cruise Line was the BEST!
Day 8: Vancouver, BC
We disembarked and made our way to the closest Starbucks in order to hop onto WiFi (no international data plan…I didn’t plan ahead.) We rented a car and drove around Stanley Park.
Guess what? Canadians know how to spell my name!
My sister-in-law suggested we rent bikes, and we probably would have had it not been for the rain and a serious craving for Thai food. Once we got to the hotel, we FaceTimed with the kids, I checked in for our flight home and we crashed into our bed at 2:30pm.
At this point I started to feel pretty crummy so Johnny went to get meds and dinner at Safeway, cause…we fancy. Rotisserie chicken and Family Feud made for a lovely end to marvelous, exhausting week.
Whenever we get “us” time without distractions we are ready to jump back into our routines refreshed, as more loving spouses and happier parents! I’ve gotta say, our “weekend away” wasn’t too shabby!