Cruising to Alaska is an excellent choice for anyone considering a family vacation.
Cruising to Alaska is one of the most economical and comfortable ways to visit the seaside ports in this vast destination, not to mention all the unforgettable inland cities and land tours that can be added on to the beginning or end of your cruise. Choosing the right cruise line is sometimes the hardest part. The fact is that most of them have wonderful, and similar itineraries, with some having exclusive stops in some ports. No matter which one you choose, you won’t be disappointed. In all the years I’ve been a travel consultant, I have never had a client return from Alaska that didn’t think it was one of the best vacations they’ve ever had.
After discussing with my sister for quite some time the possibility of taking our parents on a cruise we agreed cruising Alaska would be perfect for everyone. We had no idea just how perfect it would be. The 2 deciding factors for the cruise line of our choice? “Service and price,” in that order. Picking a cruise line solely on the price may not necessary give you the type of cruise you will enjoy the most. Having had many clients sail on Holland America, I knew they had excellent service, and my sister was a past passenger with them so she already knew this. Add that to the price, which was a great value as always, and we had our cruise line. Even better was the fact that Holland America caters to the senior age group. There are also plenty of multigenerational activities, nightly entertainment, educational presentations, and plenty of different types of shore excursions for everyone. So, especially for my parents, who the trip was being planned for, this really was the best choice for our first cruise to Alaska.
Our cruise was 7 nights roundtrip from Puget Sound in Seattle. I highly recommend spending the night before in Seattle and taking in some of the local entertainment and visiting the Space Needle. Before visiting Seattle Center and listening to a local live band, we ate
at a traditional Irish Pub called TS McHuges Irish Pub and Restaurant located just one block from Seattle Center. After dinner, we went to the top of the Space Needle, the view is spectacular! This was a perfect way for my family to relax and prepare for our week long adventure.
The first stop on our itinerary was Juneau. There are 2 excursions I would recommend for everyone in Juneau, a floatplane excursion and whale watching. The floatplane is a great alternative to a helicopter ride. It’s less expensive, and it’s also a little more comfortable with amazing views of the glaciers and landscape. Click here to see what you can expect on a Glacier Flightseeing tour. In between excursions, we still had plenty of time for shopping and
went to the Red Dog Saloon. There they had so-so quick order bar and grill food, but there was a live piano player, lots of memorabilia and wild game mounted on the walls which made for a fun atmosphere. Also, while in Juneau my sister and her husband took the Mount Robert’s Tramway which takes you almost 2000 feet up the mountain from the pier area. Once at the top, you can find a gift shop and museum featuring native artwork and artists themselves may be there demonstrating their skills. There is also a restaurant featuring Alaskan seafood specialties, and a full bar offering a nice selection of local beers and wines. Before descending, you can experience the Mountain Station and Nature Trails.
We witnessed the magnificent glaciers calving while cruising Glacier Bay. When we pulled in the engines were shut off, and in the silence we forgot we were on an almost 63,000 ton ship. Hubbard Glacier was very impressive, and looked enormous once we stopped just half a mile from the 6 mile wide cliff face. The wall of glacial ice is approximately 350 foot tall, and that is only what you can see “above” the water. Sitting on the balcony, there was only one word I could think of …… pristine.
In Sitka, the younger folk enjoyed a kayaking trip, taking us through the harbor and Sitka Sound, we maneuvered through a kelp forest and ended at the Causeway Islands where we explored the remains of a WWII era fort. Along the way we saw Eagles, Sea Stars, a playful otter and Stellar sea lions. My parents decided on a Scenic Sitka tour. This took them on a ride along the Silver Bay where they saw eagles,seas lions and otters. Next they went to the Fortress of the Bear, a rescue center and habitat for brown bear cubs. Their tour ended in a leisurely stroll through the Sitka National Historical Park, where they learned about the lifecycle of the salmon and the old growth rainforest. After returning from our excursions, we spent some time walking the streets of Sitka, known as the Russian Capital of America. Sitka is rich in native culture as well. The Tlingit Indians inhabited Sitka when Russians arrived in the late 1700′s while looking for new sea otter hunting grounds.
In Ketchikan, I, my husband, son and daughter, opted to go zip lining! We had an absolute blast. The zip lines were all though a beautiful old cedar forest, and at the end we did some climbing and repelling on their on site rock wall. My sister, her husband and my parents chose to sail on a real commercial crab boat. They sailed on the Aleutian Ballad, which you may have seen on Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. They saw eel, prawns, octopus, and snow crabs, among other sea creatures. It was a beautiful day had by all.
On our last night, we stopped in Victoria, British Columbia. This port is filled with history and beauty. I spent some time shopping with my parents and husband at Victoria Harbor, and then took a leisurely stroll visiting coffee shops and enjoying some live street entertainment along the way. My sister and her husband, both geologists, took my daughter to the Royal British Columbia Museum, and they loved it! If you go to Victoria before the end of summer, many times you can find local events and festivals while in port.
As you can see, cruising to Alaska is a perfect way for a family to share this incredible journey, and it offers something for everyone. In addition to all the wonderful tours and excursions offered, there are many things to do on board. You have a full service spa, daily activities, educational presentations, and night Las Vegas style shows. The only way to truly experience it all is to go there, words just don’t do it justice. Rates are available now for 2012, and it is not too early to start planning your Alaska Cruise Family Vacation. Contact us today and let Hampton Roads Travel help you plan from start to finish. Get cruising today!
Welcome to the first ever Hampton Roads Travel Blog!
I’d like to personally thank you for visiting Hampton Roads Travel online. We want to be your choice when you are looking for a travel specialist. When discussing travel, the topics are endless. Let’s face it, there is a whole world out there and sometimes lots of hoops to jump through getting there. There are so many websites, and you can get lost in most of them. Wouldn’t it be nice if when you make a reservation, you are absolutely sure that you’re getting the vacation you imagined you would have? That is where we come in. Many travelers love to do their own research when planning a trip. Not only do I do that myself, I encourage anyone that is taking time off and spending their hard earned income to pay for a vacation to do the same. The Travel Consultant’s part is this, we are advocates for the traveler. We make sure that all the details are taken care of from the time you start planning, till you arrive safely at home, and everything in between. Then there are the vacations where things don’t go exactly the way you planned, and when that happens, we are there to make things right.
That being said….we would like to invite you to explore our website and start learning about all the destinations and types of travel that you have had the great privilege to visit or you may have yet to explore. During my years as a travel consultant, one thing I have learned is that the rules change constantly. It can be difficult for even the most avid traveler to keep up with and we are here to assist you with that. Check out our Travel Advice section!! It will provide you with links for essential travel information for domestic and international travel according to the US Department of State.
I would like to invite you to explore our new website. Check back often, as it will be updated regularly with more great cruise, tour, and vacation package information, as well as general updates for travelers, and advisories for travel within the US and abroad. Allow Hampton Roads Travel to be your travel specialist and whether you’re just looking for a weekend getaway, or your dream vacation, we’ll take care of all your travel needs. Call us today at (757)873-2280 or by email [email protected]