This past summer, my family went on a cruise to Alaska. It was our first cruise so we didn’t really know what to expect. Today I wanted to share my first cruise experience with you, and talk a bit about the highlights of our trip!
In June, my family and I packed our bags and left to the airport to leave for Vancouver, Canada, which was where we were going to board our cruise. We spent a day and a half in this gorgeous city, and we used that time to explore the city (mostly) by foot. The day when we had to board our cruise was so exciting and a little nerve wracking for me. As soon as we got on the boat people were already sitting by the pool or drinking at the bar! Music was playing and of course, photos were already being taken. One thing that I loved was that there were people from all over the world on this cruise (mostly America, but it was still very cool to be around people from different places). I think that this is one of my favorite parts of travel in general!
The first thing we wanted to do was check out our rooms and explore the ship. We cruised with Norwegian, and our ship was the “Norwegian Jewel”, and it was a really beautiful boat. Walking around the ship for the first time, we saw quite a few restaurants, the buffet, a couple clubs, a casino, lounge areas, and of course, the heated pools and the Jacuzzi! Soon after boarding, we left Vancouver and made our way up to Alaska. For the first two days of our cruise, we were staying on the boat, which meant no cell phones (I’m not going to lie, this was not too easy for me)! Every day we got an itinerary of events going on around the ship. There was so much to do in just one day, that I felt like I couldn’t attend every event that I wanted to! My sister and I attended a girl’s spa day where the women from the spa explained the importance of having a skincare routine, and they taught us about the products we should use daily. They walked around and gave each of us a sample of the products and my sister and I basically did a complete skincare routine with the rest of the women in the room which was pretty fun! We also spent some time in the arcade, we entered all of the raffles and free giveaways that we could, and we went to the theater almost every night. The performers were really incredible, and I always looked forward to the shows. I made sure to bring a nice dress for dinner one night, and on the same day we took a photo with the captain. I also really enjoyed the food on our cruise, and I liked the fact that any time you wanted to eat, there was a variety of food around. Something that surprised me was the fact that I could actually FEEL the boat rocking when we were out at sea, and not surrounded by land. It freaked me out just a little. None of us got sick, but it was definitely a strange feeling that even by the end of our cruise, I don’t think I got used to.
On the third day of our cruise, it was time to get off and explore our first stop, Ketchikan. Ketchikan is a very small city, so we spent our time walking around and we took a tram up a mountainside. The next day, we got to Juneau, which is the capital of Alaska and one of my favorite cities that we visited on this trip. It rains so often in Juneau and I made sure to let my family know this, but to my surprise, it was a gorgeous, warm, and sunny day. We got pretty lucky. We walked around the city, had lunch, and we went whale watching which was one of the highlights on this trip. We went on a small boat that would fit about 20 people, and we saw whales, orcas, and sea lions! Our next stop was Skagway which was the cutest little town. The buildings and the setup reminded me of an old western town. We explored the town and went on a hike as well. After the hike, my siblings and I went to get some ice cream.
The last two days of our cruise were glacier viewing days. We were able to see Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay, and Hubbard Glacier. On these days, we woke up early and sipped some hot chocolate while we crowded around the front of the boat to get a good view of the glaciers. My sister and I decided to take advantage of the various opportunities on the boat and with the free time that we had, we went to the gym! What I didn’t realize was that I would feel the rocking of the boat while I was lifting weights (I’m telling you I could not get used to it)! I typically do not work out while on vacation, but I decided to do it since it was there and we had some time. On the last day, besides seeing Hubbard Glacier, my family FINALLY got in the Jacuzzi! There were always people rushing to them and we didn’t get a chance until the final day. I thought I’d be freezing walking around in a bikini while we were in the middle of the ocean, but I didn’t get cold until I got out of the Jacuzzi and sat around for a while.
After these two days, our cruise came to an end in Seward. Although I was sad to get off of the boat, I was excited to explore Alaska with my family for another week. In Seward, we took a hike to see Living Glacier and after this, we took a train to Anchorage. This was another favorite city of mine. It was a bit of a bigger city, which I enjoyed after being in somewhat smaller cities on the trip. We walked around, had lunch, and of course took a million photos.
On the way to our final city, we made a stop to do something that we had no idea we were going to do. We went on a small airplane to go see Denali. It was a private plane with my family and one other small family. Of course I was a little nervous, but it was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced, and it was obviously one of the highlights. We all had to wear snow boots and sunglasses. When the plane landed, we took some beautiful photos. We learned that Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America, and it was in the background of all of the photos we took at this spot.
The next day, we woke up really early to catch a bus to take into Denali National Park. The park was massive, and we spent almost the entire day exploring. We would get off the bus at different stops, take photos and walk around, then we would get back on the bus to drive some more. We saw some bears, caribou, and moose while on the drive as well. A few of us went on a somewhat intense hike up a small mountain in the park, and the view from the top was breathtaking. We were also able to see an example of a sled dog race, and attend a short information session on this. The last highlight of our trip was when we went white water rafting!
Lastly, we arrived in Fairbanks. Our final day was more relaxing (I actually caught a pretty bad cold after Denali, so I was not feeling up to doing very much). We had such great weather for the entire trip, which surprised me because I had read about how often it rained in Alaska. The next day we caught our flight and we were heading home! I am so incredibly grateful that I am able to travel often and with the people I love the most in this world. These are the experiences that I will never forget. I hope to share more of my travels with you, and I hope you enjoyed reading about my first cruise experience and my vacation to Alaska! (More photos from this trip are on my Instagram! Scroll down a little on my page to see them!)