That some have pictured only in their dreams. That some may never get the chance to see with their own eyes. That some may never get the chance to take. You are their eyes. You are their ears. And you are the one that gets to share your experience with them. On one of the first tours in Alaska the sentences above were mentioned. Before the trip I never thought of travel that way. In a “blessed” sort of way. I know in my heart I was just dying to get a way for awhile. I wasn’t looking for anything else. Then I heard those words and to me it was so simple. You are meant to capture and relay a story some days. It looks like even on vacation days I am looking for my why. My purpose on why I am here at this time. And it is because of those thoughts that I write.
We slept in that Saturday morning before we headed to the port. It was July 4th. The earliest we could check in was noon on the cruise ship so we took our time those first few hours packing, grabbing coffee, and relaxing. I worried about what to wear (story of my life), and I can just remember being calm about everything else. Calm about where we were headed. Calm about being on a ship for seven days. And with that attitude on my heart, we headed to the port to board the cruise ship the Crown Princess with the Princess Cruise Line. We arrived to the dock a little early (around 11:30 a.m.) and luckily the check in lines were moving so we started the process. After thirty minutes in line, we had finished all the check points and were heading across the platform to walk onboard the ship. Very smooth process.
We boarded the ship, checked out our room, and then headed to the dining room to grab lunch. This was my first time on a Princess cruise ship and overall the amenities were nice. Good food. Nice size room. Lots of ways to spend our time.
We set sail around 4:00 p.m. that afternoon. We watched from the back of the ship as the ropes were lifted to allow us to begin our vacation. After setting sail, we spent the afternoon walking around each floor making our way to the top checking out each deck. We finished the day by grabbing dinner and retired to our room for the night.
The second day on the ship was a day at sea enroute to Juneau. The shipped was equipped with movies on the outside decks and shopping and delicious food to keep us entertained throughout the day. That night was a formal dinner night where we dined, did a champagne toast, and ended with tons of cruise photos at the multiple photo setups around the ship. Note to self: Don’t take cruise photos in a formal cocktail dress AFTER dinner. We purchased none of those photos; however, we had a GREAT LAUGH on the last day looking at all of our “staged” photos. Even the photographer was laughing at the way we cracked up at each photo… More of that to come.
When we woke the next morning after being at sea, we headed up to the 15th deck and had breakfast. As we cruised towards Juneau you could see whales right outside our window along with gorgeous mountains, blue-green water, and trees everywhere. We docked at Juneau very soon after breakfast. Our excursion for the day was whale watching for two hours and then ending the day with a hike to the Mendenhall Glacier. Let me begin by saying this was one of my favorite days. How often do you get the chance to see whales?! It sounds more exciting when you are in the moment, but it is the truth. They are something to see. We took a short bus ride into Juneau and headed to the dock where we boarded a small boat. We had about twelve individuals on this tour with us, which for me was the perfect amount of people to have a great experience. No crowds. No waiting. Just you, them, a boat, and whales. Lots of whales.
It didn’t even take us five minutes after beginning the boat ride to see the first whale come through the water. Sitting here writing this.. I’m not even sure I can do the experience justice, but I’m going to give it a shot…
Picture this: 70 degrees outside with a slight breeze. You just boarded a small boat with eleven other individuals and a tour guide who has photography experience (yay!) and a love for Alaska that you are thankful he shares. All you see is blue-green water and snow covered mountains and trees for miles. You ride for a few minutes and then slowly the engine in the boat is turned off. You begin to wait. Anticipating what you are going to see because let’s be honest you didn’t expect you would be doing this. I mean yes you booked the excursion, but who really knew what you were getting into. You have your camera in hand. In TV mode. Continuous shooting on. And you are waiting. Watching. And waiting. You pull out your phone to send a text because you aren’t quite sure how long this waiting will actually take. And then it hits. Just like that someone to your right yells. “There. Over there. I see one.” And like that you are off. Boat turned on. The Captain is doing his best to get you as close as possible to the whales very quickly as he radios the few boats in the area with the message, “Oreo cookies spotted to the right”. He slows down the boat, and right there in front of you is your first site of orca whales. Three together. Just swimming.
Welcome, everyone, to Juneau, Alaska! And that is how I spent my first two hours in Juneau. Well that and maybe finding a few sea lions as well. You know just killing time on a Monday afternoon.
That afternoon we spent our time taking a one mile hike to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was a short hike with very few hills. When we reached the glacier I was surprised at how gray the water was around it and how much rock was actually included in the ice. Thankfully we had a very knowledgable tour guide that gave a great history of the area and some background information regarding glaciers.
As our tour ended, we decided to grab dinner at Tracy’s King Crab Shack, which was a short five minute walk from the dock. We sampled crab legs, crab bisque, and crab cakes. All very delicious!
Up Next: Skagway, AK and the Yukon Territory.
Thank you for following along everyone!