One of the places in the world that I have wanted to go to for many years is Alaska and the second part of our epic 8 week travel odyssey involved an amazing 7 day Celebrity Cruise from Vancouver up the inside passage to Juneau and back.
This was the main reason for this trip and was one of many highlights of a holiday packed with firsts for all of us.
After a great 7 days in Vancouver (see my previous post) we left our fabulous apartment and headed down to the waterfront to check into our cruise. We had traveled with Celebrity 2 years ago when we went from Singapore to Hong Kong and loved every aspect of cruising with Celebrity and so when we were looking for a cruise line to go with we went with what we know. We did however book the Celebrity Infinity this time and whilst the layout was similar to the Millennium there were some differences but the staff were incredibly accommodating, professional and made for a great cruise.
Cruising to Alaska allows for much gazing from your balcony, or up on the top decks being on the look out for whales, seals, dolphins and much more. It also included 3 shore excursions along the way and that was probably the most complex part of the trip – which excursions do we do and what do we want to see in each of the stops!
There really were so many options and there was everything from zip lining to whale watching, photography courses and walking tours.
We chose 3 very different experiences in each of the ports of call. But before we arrived at our first destination we settled into life on board with a great selection of places to eat, a full gym to work out in and work off all the amazing food, a great cocktail bar to indulge our premium drinks package (all beer, wine, soft drinks, cocktails and spirits for the whole trip) and so much more.
We had decided to book cabins with a balcony because we had some people who said it would be too cold to enjoy and others telling us it was a must and we were really pleased that we did as the weather was simply amazing for the complete trip. For the whole trip except half a day it was sunny and reasonably warm. We spent much time on our balconies watching the world go by, spotting whales and other sea life and just enjoying the amazing views.
Every day there were interesting lectures to go to about all the different ports and also the places we would be sailing past and too like the most amazing Hubbard Glacier, which was probably the highlight of the cruise as the day we arrived it was sheering lots of ice and we stayed an extra hour there so we could all enjoy the spectacle. It really was breathtaking.
As mentioned before the food was amazing in all of the restaurants, the shows we went to see in the theater were great fun and it was an overall great time on the ship. It was smooth sailing all the way, with no rough seas once.
It was even so warm on the way back that people were swimming, outdoors in the pool and sun baking which was really unusual for one of the last cruises of the year up to Alaska and back. Normally it would be quite cold and the crew were amazing at how stunning the weather was for the whole trip.
Our 3 stops, other than our cruising next to the Hubbard Glacier were Ketchekan, Juneau and Icy Strait Point. We chose to do very different things at each one and started with a trip on some all terrain vehicles followed by a trip down the zip line that is tagged as the longest, highest in the world! To say that I was a bit nervous for the zip line trip is an understatement as this is an activity I have always watched and never done but it was an amazing experience and one that I would do again in a heartbeat.
First we head off in our ATV’s and traveled around the island and got a great tour of the local landscape, history, views and more. Then it was time to get onto the shuttle to take us all up to the top of the mountain and be briefed for the amazing experience of the zip line.
This zip line is as tall as the Empire State Building in New York and travels all the way down to the shore line. You do not really realize how far above the trees you are because you start off flying off over a cliff and then it just drops away and it is simply breathtaking. What a highlight and one I can highly recommend.
Next it was back on board for more food, more drinks, more shows and some great gazing at the ocean as we sailed off towards the Hubbard Glacier.
There is nothing to say here except to comment on how breathtaking it was like I said earlier. This is the largest glacier in the world and to see it under blue skies in all of its amazing glory was just incredible.
Then it was off to Juneau for another brilliant experience of boarding a plane and flying over 5 more glaciers before ending up at the remote Taku Glacier Lodge for a lunch of freshly caught grilled Salmon and the chance to wander around and look at the incredible views from every vantage point.
Flying over the glaciers was another one of those memorable experiences and the photographs really do not the expanse and grandeur justice.
The final port of call was Ketchekan and we chose on this trip to do a great small boat cruise down the river inlets in search of local wildlife and were fortunate to spot bears, dolphins, bald eagles, otters and seals. It was the perfect day out in gorgeous weather and the chance to enjoy the scenery and the wild life that just seemed to be all around us.
With all of the options of excursions that we had the chance to do we chose 3 very different experiences and we really enjoyed each of them.
This was one of those life highlights and if you get the chance it is one of those things that I highly recommend.
The cruising was fantastic, the food brilliant, the stateroom comfortable, the balcony a must for us, the entertainment was fun and the overall experience was fabulous!