It took me a few weeks after our cruise to work on this blog, and after revisiting our photos once again, I am completed overwhelmed by the beauty of Alaska, Holland America Cruise Line, and the memories we created during our trip.
For many reasons we decided to go with Holland America for our very first cruise to Alaska. I had done some recent training and research and knew the destination was what we needed to be focused on, not exactly the ship per say. Holland America is known for getting closest to the ports in Alaska, having the most permits in Glacier Bay, and for having ships that can do a full 360 degree turn at Hubbard Glacier so everyone on the ship has access to great viewing no matter where they are. You can learn all you desire by doing online training, however when you travel first hand, it is a completely different story.
We flew into Seattle the day before our cruise to ensure we made it to the port on time. The Port of Seattle was convenient to get to and was so easy to navigate inside the terminal. Honestly, I could probably say was the smoothest embarkation we have ever had to date. We opted for an ocean-view verandah cabin, which is a must when you are cruising to Alaska. It is all about the scenery right?
Our first official visit was to Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. We had booked a gold panning/salmon bake excursion ahead of time which was wonderful. Afterwards we made a pit stop into the Red Dog Saloon for the infamous Duck Farts shot that became famous on the television show Deadliest Catch before heading back to the ship. Next time we cruise here we will skip all excursions and enjoy walking all around the area. Everywhere the ship docks on this specific itinerary is full of sightseeing things to enjoy without having to book anything in advance.
One of my favorite days sailing was the one we visited the Hubbard Glacier. We had ordered a specialty hot coffee with Baileys and Kahlua the very first day on board that was delivered to our cabin as we were pulling up to the glacier. We enjoyed viewing from our private balcony with our hot coffee before we headed up for viewing on a higher deck. Watching the calving of the glaciers was truly spectacular. Calving is when chunks of ice break off at the terminus, or end, of a glacier.
Our next stop was Sitka, Alaska. Sitka was extremely unique. It was purchased by the USA for 0.02 cents an acre from Russia. Before Juneau was the states capitol, Sitka was the capitol. It is also the area Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock visited in the movie The Proposal, although most of it was not even really filmed here. My favorite spot in Sitka is St. Michael's Cathedral, built in the nineteenth century while Russia was still in control. There was an accidental fire that destroyed the cathedral in 1966 but many original items were saved by generous people and it was rebuilt. Sitka is a very small area rich with history and the people are full of pride
Our last stop in Alaska was in Ketchikan which faces the inside passage.This was one of our favorite stops. After visiting Saxman Totem Pole Park (which was phenomenal) we enjoyed walking around Creek Street. When we take this cruise again we are going to focus more on getting off of the ship and just using our time to wander. It is such a great place to walk around, shop and dine!
Before heading back to Seattle to conclude the cruise, our last stop was Victoria, British Columbia. This stop was such a pleasant surprise. Truth be told we did not expect much from this area. We felt it was just a filler on the way back home but we were so very wrong. We loved the area so much that we want to return and do a land only stay at some point next year.
Victoria, is the capitol of British Columbia and sits on the southern end of Vancouver island. It has the perfect growing climate and is known internationally as the City of Gardens. We enjoyed a food and wine tour with a knowledgeable tour guide from the area who took us to all of the best local spots. After having a delicious crab cake dinner (and trying one of the local wines) we headed over to try the areas most talked about snack, Poutine. Then headed over the enjoy the best ice cream we ever had at a new hot spot for dessert called Perverted! With a stop at the Empress and the marina we barely had time for all there is to do here.
We have not even touched on all there is to do on the actual ship or the amazing customer service the crew provided! But that means you will have to find out for yourself. We have a group cruise available to our Starstuff Travel clients for next summer 2020 for the same exact itinerary on the same exact ship. We loved it so much and can't wait to go back again! If you are interested head over to our event page on Facebook by clicking here.
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