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Cruising Alaska

Off we went to Alaska aboard the Ruby Princess. The coast line with plenty of snow on the mountains and ice in the fjords was beautiful. The air was chilly but the sun was shining. We didn’t see a lot of whales but did see one along the way. We were told several times that had we come a week earlier, there would have been no snow to see. We somehow managed to pick the one perfect week to explore Alaska at its best.

Our first stop was in Ketchikan where several cruise ships docked with us. We took a tour of Totem Bight State Park where we learned all about totem poles and their stories. We got to sit in a clan lodge while the tour guide told us about life among the Indians and plants there. The trees with their huge twisting roots were eerie.  It was an excellent tour that I would definitely recommend.

Totem Bight State ParkAlaska totem poleClan house Totem Bight

When we returned, we went to the Lumberman Show. It was everything I had hoped for! We got to see ax throwing, tree sawing and climbing races, a log rolling competition, and more. How they manage to do so much physical work several times a day is beyond me but they seemed to be having fun. One lumberjack made a bunny stool with a power saw and gave it to a kid in the audience. They had broken us into sides to cheer for our teams and boo the other teams so don’t expect to just sit through it. It is an interactive experience not to mention loud.

Lumberman Show - KetchikanLumberman pole climbingLumberman log rolling - Ketchikan

We still had a little time left for a fish and chips lunch next door and some souvenir shopping. I think we had the most time in Ketchikan because of the excursions we had chosen. We managed to get some of the jewelry freebies in town.

Our next stop was in Juneau. Interesting story there. When they finally got a McDonald’s, the entire town showed up the first day and they were sold out before lunch. Ah, life in the boonies! There is a tram up the mountain I would like to do next time. This time, we white water rafting on Mendenhall Glacier. The company was very professional and prepared for us. They had rubber pants and life jackets for everyone. I had hoped to paddle this time since I have been working on developing some muscles in my arms but only one of the boats got to paddle. The rest of us got boats where the guide rowed and oh my god did our guide ever row! She looked like just a little bit of a thing but she managed to get us all the way to the end without hanging up on the rocks while also telling us about the area and answering questions. The rapids were mild but still fun to shoot. We got very good photos taken by the company for purchase while we were going through them. The glacier was magnificent and there was a lovely waterfall at one end of the lake where we started. Along the way, we picked up a kayaker following us. A couple times we had to stop and wait for another boat that got hung up on rocks. Our guide and the kayaker got out in the cold water to go help them. When we reached the end, they had snacks and drinks for us as well as the pictures.  I enjoyed the trip but it was a little too long for my friend, Bernie. It was sooo cold out there on the water and she caught a bad cold.

Me, our guide, and BernieWhite water rafting on Mendenhall GlacierRafting the lake

When we got back to the ship, Bernie headed back to the stateroom to warm up while I did some quick shopping and checked out the famous Red Dog Saloon.

Red Dog Saloon - Juneau

On to Skagway and the Yukon! We had booked the combination excursion to catch both the White Pass Train ride up the pass and to set our toes in the Yukon via tour bus. Getting good pictures from a crowded train I knew would be difficult but the bus promised better chances with more stops and how many people can really say they have been to Jack London’s Yukon? Unfortunately, poor Bernie was too sick to go. We got lucky though. I informed the ship’s excursion desk that she would not be going and despite their no cancellations policy which we were aware of, they were able to resell her ticket and credit her back her fare.

The train only tour picks up passengers right on the dock next to the ships. For our tour, I had to board a bus that took me to a different train in town. It was just as well Bernie didn’t go because the “heated” train was ice cold. Next time I am definitely bringing my long underwear no matter what time of year we go. Wearing two pairs of pants did help though.

Boat dock and White Pass Train

The train ride was wonderful except for the cold. We got to see some truly beautiful scenery going up the pass along the route the gold prospectors did so many years ago. For pictures, if you aren’t by the window on the best side, you have to step out on the small platform at the rear and jockey for position or zip in and out between seats temporarily vacated by photographers that were out on the platform. On our train, the left side is the best side going up the pass. On board with us were some hitchhikers the train was dropping off. What service!

White Pass TrainGlacier lakeInteresting glacier landscape

Alaska!White Pass

At the top of the pass, the train stopped in Fraser which is where we did a little stretching and walk about. Border patrol came on board to check our passports as we entered Canada. At some point we switched to a bus to continue on to the Yukon.

Our first stop in The Yukon was at the Yukon sign of course to nail down our bragging rights. Then it was on to Caribou Crossing for a very tasty chicken BBQ lunch at Caribou Crossing Trading Post made complete by homemade donuts. They gave us branded wooden utensils to eat with which many of us cleaned up afterward and took home. After lunch we strolled around to see the sled dogs and museum. Many took the sled dog ride. I did the gold panning though I stink at it. I got some funny sled dog post cards there for my family. “Life is like a sled dog team. If you ain’t the lead dog, the view never changes.” I got some ice cream too. On the way to the bus, I joined the Canadian Mounties with help from another tourist. From there we went into the town of Carcross (tiny as it is) where you could either wait in line to try to shop in the General Store or go get your passport stamped. I chose the stamp. My passport is no longer a virgin! I sure wished Bernie was there then.

Hello from the YukonCaribou Crossing BBQ lunchSled dog

Sled dog rideJoining the Canadian Mounties

On the way back to Skagway, some bear cubs ran out in front of the bus without looking. The bus stopped fast and we got to watch the frightened cubs climb a tree on the other side. Soon after, Momma Bear came running by and scolded them to get out of the tree and move along.

Scared baby bears

Back at the ship, there was no time for shopping because this was an all day tour and it is quite a walk back to the dock from town though they will drop you off in town if you wish.

Our last stop was in Victoria, Canada in the evening. We took a tour bus around town and up the mountain to a scenic overlook. After grabbing some pics, we went on to tour Craigdarroch Castle which was built by the wealthy Dunsmuir family who unfortunately did not get to live in it for more than a few years. It looked like it was built to be full of life and parties but sadly they had to let it go too soon.

Victoria CA capital buildingVictoria and harborDunsmuir Castle

That was our trip. We had a couple of sea days to relax, lots of great food and entertainment, good service, and plenty of friend time. We missed Tracy Arm which we were supposed to sail through and I had already bought a T-shirt for. It was blocked by ice when we arrived. We went through Endicott Arm instead. I guess we’ll just have to cruise Alaska again. Smile

For lots more pics, FINALLY, click here!

2 comments to Cruising Alaska

  • What a great cruise, Katrina! We drove the RV up in 2013 and have been contemplating an Inland Passage cruise since then so we could see what we missed on the road trip. Your post definitely makes it even more inviting!! Hopefully Bernie is feeling much better and has fond memories, too, despite getting sick.

    • I’m told everyone should see Alaska both ways to truly see it. Bernie is fine. I sent her copies of all my pictures to remember the trip by and see what she missed while she was sick in bed. She’s ready to go again!

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