Carrieanna’s first cruise experience was with her Aunt Vicki three years ago – you can read about it here – when they went to Alaska with a Multiple Sclerosis Foundation group on the Celebrity Solstice.
She found she loved cruising, and when MSF announced a cruise to the Caribbean in January of 2014 she asked me to accompany her – and I discovered that I, too, enjoyed cruising!
MSF scheduled another Alaskan cruise for May of 2016, and Carrieanna wanted to go again; she assured me that I would love seeing Alaska.
She was absolutely right … and now I understand why cruisers return to Alaska many times!
A Few Highlights
In the coming weeks I will be writing about each of our ports of call: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, BC, as well as our pre- and post-cruise adventures.
For now, here are just a few highlights of the trip. I hope they’ll inspire you to visit our 49th (and largest) state!
Sail-Away – May 20th
The skyline of Seattle was almost too beautiful to leave as we sailed away.
At Sea – May 21st
A full day at sea meant education, exploring the ship and getting our sea legs, and “Evening Chic” dining.
(Celebrity has exchanged “Formal Night” with “Evening Chic” – dressier than Smart Casual but not requiring gowns and tuxedos.)
Ketchikan – May 22nd
Sunrise came at 4:25 a.m., and while I’m not an early riser the opportunity to photograph an Alaskan sunrise was all the incentive I needed to set my alarm and greet the day on the Solstice Deck – the top level available to passengersWe arrived in Ketchikan at 7:00 a.m., and during our 8 hours in Alaska’s First City we enjoyed a tour of Saxman Village Totem Park and a very entertaining lumberjack show.
Tracy Arm Fjord and Juneau – May 23rd
We started this day with an early-morning visit to Tracy Arm Fjord. The ship cruised slowly and quietly into and around the Fjord. The passengers were equally quiet, awed by the beauty of the mile-high cliffs and the glacial ice. This four-hour experience was one of my favorites.
Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching – May 23rd
Although we were on separate shore excursions – she visited the Mendenhall Gardens, I went on a whale watching cruise – Carrieanna and I briefly crossed paths at the Mendenhall Glacier.
I then boarded a catamaran and cruised Stephen’s Passage looking for humpback whales. Allen Marine guarantees whale sightings (or they’ll give a $100 cash refund at the end of the excursion).
No refunds were needed.
I will claim a small disappointment in Juneau – I thought I’d see bald eagles everywhere. I did not. However, an eagle-eyed friend – pun intended! – pointed out this guy sitting on a light pole near the dock.
Skagway – May 24th
Tied for favorite with Tracy Arm Fjord, the White Pass Scenic Railway excursion filled my heart with joy (and my camera card with photos)!
I spent most of the ride standing on the platform between two rail cars.
Following our train ride (and a brief return to the ship for hot chocolate), we spent a little time exploring the quaint town of Skagway.
Inside Passage – May 24th
We then sailed south through the Inside Passage, where more glaciers could be seen in the distance.
At Sea – May 25th and 26th
More education, some trivia and shopping, and MS Foundation’s farewell party shenanigans before we reached Victoria, BC the evening of May 26th
I love gardens, and our after-hours tour of Butchart Gardens was a delight!
Disembarkation, and leaving friends, can be a sad experience, but we had two more tours to look forward to: The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum …
Alaska, thank you for the beautiful scenery.
Celebrity Solstice, thank you for the wonderful journey.
Carrieanna, thank you for knowing how much I would love this adventure!
All photos: ©2016 ImagesByRJM