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Why Alaska ?

Alaska is one of the most popular cruise vacation destinations.  That alone is enough to turn off some of us.  Who wants to fight crowds and stand in lines to get a peek at a place that should be quiet and unspoiled?  Some of it is certainly set up of for tourists.  But, there are spectacular opportunities for one of kind adventures.

I admit, Alaska cruising was not on my bucket list.  I have heard stories both wonderful and sad of vacationers coming back from their cruises changed for better or worse.  This past summer we had some time off in July and decided to head north.  img_0749

We booked a cruise on the Grand Princess from San Francisco to Juneau, Ketchikan and Haines Alaska with a stop in Victoria.  The Grand Princess is 949 feet long and carries 2600 guests, has 1150 crew and was just refurbished in December 2016.  More about Princess Cruises later.

I was hoping and praying for good weather in San Francisco and all points to Alaska.  The Pacific Northwest region is a good place for cold weather and fog in the summer.  Weather was definitely on our side at the gate.  We arrived for our cruise in unusually warm and sunny San Francisco.

Being out on the San Francisco Bay on a sunny day with views of both The Bay Bridge and The Golden Gate in full view while admiring the iconic Alcatraz Island…Well, pictures can’t do justice.  Before long, we were at sea and land was not to be seen.  So, what to do for the next couple days…

Shows, Movies, Games, Drinking, Eating, Dancing, Shopping, Swimming, Working out, Getting spa treatments, they have a lot to keep you entertained.  Of course, there is a casino and there are areas for younger folks to play and hang out.  Before we knew it, we were in Alaska!

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We were incredibly fortunate.  The weather was sunny in Juneau.  Our ship was late getting into port because of weather on the way there.  So, we only had time for our day trip to Lake Mendenhall and the Glacier.  We took a tour called “Best of Alaska Mendenhall Lake Canoe Adventure.”   We were picked up at the dock in a big yellow school bus.  There were only seven of us, so that was fun.  When we arrived at the lake we were offered rubber boots and overalls.  I stuck to the boots.

We all got into a red canoe with our guide and rowed across the lake.  The glacier picture at the top was our destination.  We got pretty close.  It got pretty cold.  We stopped at a little beach with a waterfall and had a snack before rowing back.  The lake was so powerfully peaceful and magnificent we were all in awe.

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Next stop – Ketchikan.  This is where we got touristy.  We bought tickets to the Lumberjack show.  I couldn’t pass that up.  It was fun.  Nothing like the Highland Games of Scotland.  But, a fun little show.  We had one of our best meals here at a little pub on the main strip.  There were plenty of seafood restaurants offering local fare.  I didn’t hear of anyone from our cruise being disappointed by the restaurant they chose.

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Haines, Alaska.  I hadn’t heard of it.  From what I can tell, it’s a relatively new stop for the major cruise lines.  And, the town is still scaling to meet the demand of all the new tourists.  We were able to buy local art and crafts here from locals.  People were happy and curious to talk with us and offer their opinions on just about everything.  Instead of maple syrup, they sell birch syrup which is lighter tasting and lovely.  If you want to have a real adventure, this is a great place to start.

More about Alaska and other adventures coming soon.