About a week ago, my family and I went on a cruise to Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia. I haven’t been on a cruise since 2008, so of course I was excited. This would be my 4th cruise, and my 3rd one taken with Royal Caribbean. One of their ships, the Explorer of the Seas, would be our home for the next 7 days. It departed from Seattle, WA, which is about an hour and a half flight from SFO.
The cruise kicked off with a sail away party, complete with DJ and some of the cruise staff leading line dances. Travelers were quick to get in on the festivities. After getting some rest in our staterooms/cabins, we had the first of many dinners at the main dining room. Two seating times were offered at 5:30pm and 8:00pm. We chose the latter since we normally have dinner around 7 at home. After roaming around the ship afterward, we decided to wind down early for the next day since we had been up since 5 in the morning.
The first full day of the cruise was spent at sea, as we were on our way to our first stop in Juneau, AK. Several events were scheduled throughout the day. My mom and I attended a discussion about the excursions being offered for the ship’s ports of call. I later stopped by the dining room to see a sushi demonstration by one of the chefs who worked at the ship’s Japanese restaurant. Following the demonstration, the chef informed us of a sushi making class taking place later on in the week during the next day at sea. Spots were limited, so I made sure to sign up for it. More roaming around the ship for me after meeting up with my family for lunch at the Windjammer Cafe, which is a more casual dining room on the ship’s 11th deck. I found the locations of the ship’s rock climbing wall, mini golf course, and wave generator called the Flow Rider. They’ve definitely made some awesome changes since my last cruise.
Later in the evening was the first of two formal nights. Almost everyone got dressed up for the occasion. Professional photographers were scattered between the 4th and 5th decks to take photos of cruisers before or after dinner. We stopped by a Michael Jackson trivia session following. I actually tied with another group for the highest score. The breaker was to guess his time of death. The other team won, but I still won a prize! Last stop for the night before turning in was a dance show at the ship’s theater. I returned to my room to find a cute towel critter on my bed. Might be silly to say, but I’ve actually missed these guys.
Day 3 was spent partly at sea until we reached Juneau in the early afternoon. We took an excursion to the MacAulay Salmon Hatchery and Mendenhall Glacier. At the hatchery, a tour guide gave us some information about their operations with preserving the salmon population and how the employees help care for them while they grow there. Inside the hatchery are large holding tanks with what look like a couple hundred small fish. The hatchery’s main purpose is to assist with the salmon’s growth before they make their migration to the outside world. In another building was an aquarium with some full grown salmon and other fish, petting tanks, and a small shop that sold salmon products and souvenirs. Got a few bags of their jerky, which was really good. We then hopped on our tour bus to head to the glacier and the visitor center. There are different trails leading to both the glacier and Nugget falls right next to it. Those visiting the center could purchase more souvenirs, and check out exhibits, which included a piece of glacial ice over 100 years old that could be both seen and touched. Pretty cool (pun intended)!
The excursion lasted about 2 hours before we headed back to the ship, which left for our next port of call after 9pm. One thing I regret not knowing this day was the opportunity to view the Northern Lights. A cruiser I met later in the week told me about it and even showed me photos. They informed me that they weren’t as bright since the sky wasn’t very clear. Still, it would have been great to have witnessed it.
Day 4 was spent in Skagway, which is located in southeast Alaska and along the route of the Inside Passage. Although a small city, there’s quite a bit that visitors can do. Some options were dog sledding demos, gold panning, and seaplane, railway, or street car tours. My family and I decided to explore on our own and instead took a shuttle to their downtown area. Although it only runs about 7 blocks, it houses a variety of shops and restaurants within its small vicinity. This was where majority of mine and my family’s shopping was done. I regretted not getting more than one bag of salmon jerky in Juneau, so I was able to grab a few more here. We were in the area for just over an hour, then headed back since the weather was drizzly. I later warmed up a bit at the ship’s pub with some Alaskan beer. During diner later that night, the dining staff was introduced by their director, and they sang a rendition of an Italian song, O Sole Mio.
And that’s part 1 of my trip! The second one will be up shortly. 🙂