Cruising Alaska

Alaska has rapidly become one of the top cruising destinations in the world. With flights being more and more affordable from Europe to Canada. The cruise season runs from May to September and 2019 saw a total of 1.3 million visitors.

Many of the stops along the shoreline including Juneau the capital are inaccessible by road.

When choosing your cruise in Alaska it’s a good idea to check out the stops the ship is making, the duration of the stops and excursions on offer. I chose to cruise in July, as it was the month with the best opportunity to spot wildlife. I flew into Vancouver with Air Canada and spent 2 nights there, i’ll cover this in a separate post. I then took the flight north to Anchorage to meet the ship.

I’d booked a transfer to the ship from the airport with Anchorage tours and transfers, which was a half day tour including a stop at the Alaska wildlife center costing around 60$.

At this time of year forest fires are becoming more and more common. I was unaware how hot the climate could be in July so far north with it reaching 31 degrees on my arrival. So far by 12th July 1.2 million acres had burnt in Alaska that year alone!

Stopping at the wildlife centre the smoke was pretty bad but i did look around and saw a few animals including bears and reindeers.

Arriving at Whittier, I had chosen to cruise with Princess Cruises for the first time. The ship Royal Princess was sitting in the dock looking huge. This was my 4th cruise to date. With a week on board, the cruise had the following itinerary:

  1. Glacier bay
  2. Day at sea
  3. Skagway
  4. Juneau
  5. Ketchikan
  6. Day at sea
  7. Vancouver- disembark.

The ship was very impressive built in 2013 and refurbished in 2018 it held 3600 passengers. I chose an inside cabin purely because of the cost but actually I slept so well as there was no disturbance from the daylight! In July the daylight hours are very long it didn’t get dark til nearly midnight.

The First day at sea was my birthday.

The ship was due to stop at the Hubbard glacier but due to fog it couldn’t happen. There was some amazing scenery on the way and I saw my first whale!

We did have this magnificent sight during passing through glacier bay though.

The first port of call was Skagway, I took a tour to Yukon, Canada hoping to spot bears but sadly they were all hiding. I did see my first eagle.

Before wandering around the city dating back to 1897 and famous for the gold rush.

Second stop was the capital Juneau. It didn’t feel like a city at all. I took a whale watching tour and was lucky to spot a few. Then I stopped off at the Meadenhall Glacier. A 13 mile long giant!

The final stop was Ketchikan. This place was incredible and a personal favourite. It really oozed with so much character.  Known as the salmon capital of the world, with a good chance to spot bears. The town was full of old wooden buildings and totem poles.

I was lucky that my whole cruise the weather was amazing. Around 25-30 degrees with blue skies every day. It was easy to realize why the ice is melting so fast and the forest fires are raging. I packed 2 jumpers and a coat and they didn’t get worn once.

On board the ship there were many options for dining, 3 swimming pools, a casino, nightclub and spa as well as a full size gym. The food was incredible.

I arrived back into Vancouver where I had a flight booked to San Francisco.

The cruise was outstanding, I highly recommend princess cruises and I really hope that after the covid crisis they can recover and people return to cruising. I know for sure that I will. I think it’s a great way to cover an area when you don’t have too much time. Hopefully next I can do a Caribbean one.

Previously I have cruised with P&O cruises too, which I also can’t recommend enough. If you want endless plates of good food, great entertainment, a comfortable bed at the end of the day then a cruise is a great option.

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