Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cruising to Alaska

View of Alaskan mountains from Solstice of the Seas

With a climate different than that we grew accustomed to on our previous Caribbean cruises, we knew that a cruise to Alaska would definitely feel quite novel. However, we did not expect the route to Alaska to be as magical as it was. On our previous cruises, much of the scenery while sailing consisted of crystal water in all directions. During our Alaskan cruise, we hugged the coast enough that we could make out land for much of the cruise. Certainly the views were even more magnificent once we reached Alaska!


A view from the cruise ship while sailing to Alaska.
A view from the cruise ship while sailing.
We had a balcony during this cruise which I highly recommend.  If your itinerary is similar to ours, you will probably be sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm Fjord (which may depend on weather) as well as the Inside Passage. All are incredibly scenic. However, you will be passing through for some time so you may not want to be sitting in lounges with the crowds. Quite a peaceful experience on your own balcony!

Endicott Arm Fjord Alaska viewed from a cruise ship
Endicott Arm Fjord
Along with the scenery, you will most likely view wildlife while sailing. The first evening we even saw whales! In fact, we saw whales most days as well as pods of dolphins. Can you make out the whale in the photo below?

Whale spotted from cruise ship
Whale spotted from cruise ship
While sailing through the Endicott Arm, we encountered harbor seals. Part of our voyage took us through a protected area where the young are nurtured. We saw many young on small ice bergs and even some mothers. At some points, the seals seemed to dot each icy float.

Harbor seal in Endicott Fjord Alaska
Cute harbor seal
Along the coast, there were spots to watch for brown bears. We did see a couple with the aid of binoculars. Our cruise ship, Celebrity's Solstice of the Seas, was fortunate to host acclaimed naturalist Brent Nixon. During our time in the fjord, he notified us of wildlife sightings. I was unable to capture any of the bears with the lens but below is an example of the search areas.

Alaska
Bears can sometimes be spotted along shore areas like this.
Once landing in Alaska, a number of bald eagles flew past the ship. Magical!

Bald eagle soaring in Ketchikan, Alaska
Bald eagle soaring
The cruise ship also brought us face to face with glaciers like this stunning view of Dawes Glacier with no one else around!

Dawes Glacier, Alaska from a cruise ship
Dawes Glacier
The ability to revel in so many natural treasures without leaving the ship really sets an Alaskan cruise apart. Traveling during the summer solstice afforded us hours upon hours of daylight which we used for our advantage. Binoculars are very handy--especially a pair that you can easily keep with you the whole day. Our ship's naturalist provided useful tips for spotting wildlife which enhanced our experience.

Waterfall in Alaska seen from cruise ship
Waterfall in Alaska
Despite all of the wonders to be discovered while sailing itself, you will want to experience Alaska while in port as well. Our visit to Alaska fed our appetite for nature exploration with phenomenal scenery, unique experiences and time for gentle tranquility. Over the next week, I will share more about the ports of call including:

*Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
StumbleUpon

2 comments:

  1. Ek! We are taking this same passage in August. Found your post through bloglovin'. Seeing your photos makes me more excited to go! I just hope the scenery is the same for us! Any tips? We don't wanna do any shore excursions, but instead just hop off the ship and do our own thing. Those prices were WAY TOO high. Sadly we don't have a balcony, so I'll be sure to hop out on the deck early!! What was the temp like? I'm in TN so super used to the warmth here, wasn't sure to bring a heavier jacket or a light one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ketchikan and Victoria were easy to do without shore excursions. Here are some ideas for Ketchikan--there is also a totem pole discovery center in town we did not have time for: http://www.alittletimeandakeyboard.com/2016/07/ketchikan-alaska-for-families.html For Juneau and Skagway you may be able to get independent tours. Some also recommend renting a car in Skagway. In Skagway, you can also buy train tickets when you get off the ship. I am not sure of the price difference in comparison to the tour. My tip is you want to make sure to give yourself plenty of cushion time to get back on the ship or it will leave you if you are not on a cruise tour. We always make sure to be back an hour before all aboard just to be safe. Layers are key. It was 60's-70's when we were there but it was in the 90's before and after our visit. It is buggy in Skagway so bring bug spray. If I think of more I will write again. You will love it!

      Delete