Cruising is one of the best vacations you can take, and this was the best we've been on. I think a combination of things contributed to that. First, it was a new location for us (we've always gone to the Caribbean in the past), so we got to see a lot of new things. The people here aren't near as pushy either. In the Caribbean ports, you're just bombarded with people trying to sell you stuff and they want tips for everything they do. Here, things are sold in stores only and I don't think I heard anyone ask for a tip. Second, there's such a great group of people on board and I mean both the passengers and the crew. Everyone is very friendly and that really makes for a great time. The group we had dinner with every night was especially great. One night after dinner we went to the Crown and Anchor reception and we had such a good time sitting there talking we didn't realize the reception had ended and everyone else had left. Finally, the weather has been great on this cruise. Everywhere we've been, the tour guides have told us how lucky we were to be there on such a nice day. We had no rain and mostly clear skies the whole voyage. Temperatures have gotten into the 70s most days and we really didn't need the heavy clothing we brought with us, so I'm sure this cruise isn't typical of an Alaskan adventure.
We started from our home in San Antonio and flew to Seattle then took a bus to Vancouver. Overall, the travel arrangements went very well. We stayed at the Best Western in downtown Vancouver then took a shuttle to the pier. Getting onboard was especially fast and since it was nice out we were able to enjoy some drinks by the pool. The first evening, we met the great crowd we would have dinner with every night.
On the second day of the cruise, we saw whales from our balcony. That was a real treat. We just enjoyed the day at sea with lots of eating and went to a lecture titled "North to Alaska - The Gold Rush." It was very interesting and made our excursions during the trip a lot more interesting.
On day 3, we stopped at Icy Strait Point and took the Spasski River Bear and Wildlife excursion. We managed to see a few brown bears and some eagles. Spent some time looking through the souvenir shops then went back to the ship for lunch.
Day 4 took us by the Hubbard Glacier. Unfortunately, it was very foggy and we really couldn't see anything. We sailed through a lot of ice that apparently was caused by an earthquake breaking off pieces of the glacier a couple of days earlier.
On Day 5 we woke up in Skagway Alaska. This was the entry point for most of the Gold Rushers over a century ago. We spent some time in town doing some shopping and taking pictures, then headed out on the Yukon Jeep Adventure. It was a great drive through Alaska and into Canada, ending in the Yukon. We stopped in the small town of Carcross for a snack, then headed out for some four wheeling. We stopped on the way out and back at some really scenic areas and got some great pictures of the Canadian and Alaskan wilderness.
The next day we were in Juneau. I was really surprised to learn that there are no roads into or out of the capital of Alaska. Our tour guide said there were only three ways into the city: plane, boat, or birth canal. In Juneau we went on a whale watching tour. We got excellent views of a number of humpbacks and even an Orca. We also saw bald eagles and seals. It was a very exciting tour.
The last day on the ship was just a relaxing time. We didn't do much and enjoyed every minute of it.
Getting off of the ship went a lot smoother than we expected. Other piers should take note. I think the reason was that we went through customs before we had to pick up our luggage. Since everyone wasn't lugging their bags around, they were able to get through customs faster. Our trip back to Seattle took longer than expected. We had a three hour delay at the border trying to get through customs. We finally made it to our hotel about 5:00, had some dinner and got some sleep.
It's been such a great cruise, I'm sure we'll do it again.