Alaskan Cruise 2016 – The Highlights

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.

Seattle, skyline, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMSeattle, skyline, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMConnecting with friends, and toasting our adventure!

Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

At Sea – May 21st

A full day at sea meant education, exploring the ship and getting our sea legs, and “Evening Chic” dining.

Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

(Celebrity has exchanged “Formal Night” with “Evening Chic” – dressier than Smart Casual but not requiring gowns and tuxedos.)

Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

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 passengersAlaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMWe 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.

Lmberjacks, The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, Ketchikan, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMLumberjacks, The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

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.

Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMTracy Arm Fjord, glacial ice, iceberg, bald eagle, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

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.

Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

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.

Whale watching, Juneau, Stephen's Passage, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMI 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.

Bald eagle, Juneau, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

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)!

White Pass Railroad, Yukon Territory, Skagway, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMWe traveled 20 miles to the White Pass Summit and the US / Canadian border, and a few more miles on Canadian track before we turned around and headed back down to the docks in Skagway.

I spent most of the ride standing on the platform between two rail cars.

White Pass Railway, Yukon Territory, Canada, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMYes, it was cold. And absolutely worth it!

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.

Skagway, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

Inside Passage – May 24th

We then sailed south through the Inside Passage, where more glaciers could be seen in the distance.

Inside Passage, glaciers, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

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

Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMVictoria, BC – May 26th

I love gardens, and our after-hours tour of Butchart Gardens was a delight!

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC, Canada, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMButchart Gardens, Victoria BC., Canada, greenhouse, flowers, waterfall, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMSeattle, WA – May 27th

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 …

Chihuly Gardens and Glass Museum, Seattle, Washington, sculptures, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM… and a ride to the top of the Space Needle with its panoramic view of Seattle.

Seattle, Space Needle, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJMSeattle, Space Needle, panoramic view, Alaska, Alaskan Cruise, Celebrity Solstice, MS Foundation, wheelchair accessible, excursions, nature, adventure, education, wildlife, culture, highlights, Anything Is Possible Travel, Images by RJM

Gratitude

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

 

 

6 thoughts on “Alaskan Cruise 2016 – The Highlights

  1. I am happy that you folks were able to take this trip, and I’m glad MSF organizes trips like this. These pictures ( truly beautiful and entertaining) brought back memories of an Alaska cruise my husband and I took in 2000. I’m sorry you weren’t treated to many, many bald eagles. I likened one of our views of bald eagles to a Christmas tree with bald eagles being the decoration!

    • Thank you, Barbara. Next time, I’ll go on one of the fishing excursions. I’m certain that will bring more birds!

  2. Great diary entry… I “think” an Alaskan cruise is on our bucket list, but I just haven’t made the jump as yet. Lovely photos as well… several I really, really liked!

    • Thank you, Lora! I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about the cruise. =)

  3. Gorgeous!! A trip to AK has been on my bucket list forever and I can’t wait to share with my sibs and spouses on our cruise/tour in a few weeks.

    It looks so peaceful. Thanks so much for sharing, Jeri 😘

    • I am confident you will love your cruise! And I can’t wait to see your photos and hear of your experience!

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