It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I need to share my Alaskan Cruise with you! In May 2017, the Family and I went on a 7 Day Alaskan Cruise, Inner Passage. We decided on Princess Cruises because this cruise line has been the # 1 cruise line for Alaskan cruises over the past 10 years by Travel Weekly!
Alaskan cruises are generally May thru September, with May being the cheapest. Our schedule allowed us to cruise in May, so we decided on the 13-20 May 2017 cruise out of Seattle, Washington (https://www.princess.com/learn/cruise-destinations/alaska-cruises/roundtrip/seattle/index.jsp). Based on our past cruise experience, we book our flights to arrive a day prior to the cruise to avoid any mishaps that flight delays or cancellations may cause. Unfortunately, our flight departure times were changed, and we had only two options, depart extremely early or evening. We decided to go with the evening flights which did not allow much time for sightseeing. Following was our cruise itinerary:
Day 1 – Depart Seattle, WA
Day 2 – At Sea
Day 3 – Juneau, Alaska
Day 4 – Skagway, Alaska
Day 5 – Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Day 6 – Ketchikan, Alaska
Day 7 – Victoria, British Columbia
Day 8 – Arrive Seattle, WA
We cruised the Inner Passage on the Ruby Princess which has a guest capacity of 3080 persons (or 1542 guest cabins), a crew size of 1200, a total of 19 decks and was recently refurbished in December 2015. The cabins were 220 sq. ft. as compared to Carnival (230 sq. ft.) and Royal Caribbean (164 sq. ft.). The service was awesome, the food phenomenal, and the ship very relaxing. I think the cruise prices were comparable to other cruise lines, but Princess is a leader in this location!
In addition, Princess had enrichment programs on board to add to the overall Alaskan experience such as visits/presentations by:
- The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Libby Riddles
- A Lumberjack
- Sled Dogs/Puppies
- Gold Rush Klondike Festival
- Fresh Alaska seafood throughout the cruise as well as cooking your own catch
- National Park Rangers and naturalists
- Alaska storytellers and authors
When we arrived in Junea, we did a dog sled excursion. It was one of our most memorable experiences!
Before coming on the Alaskan cruise, I did a lot of research to determine what to pack. Everything I read talked about dressing in layers. We decided to leave our winter coats home, but bring sweaters, jackets, heavy socks, winter gloves & hats, and rain attire. Overall, the weather was mild and varied between the 50-60°F. There were many comments about the lack of rain during our visit because there is generally lots of rain in May. What I was not prepared for was the Glacier Bay National Park! I was raised in Chicago, so I was familiar with cold weather. However, it was literally freezing in Glacier Bay! The Ruby Princess ships’ log says the temp was 46.4°F, but it felt much colder than that! The layers, gloves, hats, etc. did not allow me to get warm! I could feel the cold to my bones! I have never felt a cold like I did when viewing the glaciers! Following are a some facts and a couple of pics:
- In 1750, Glacier Bay was a massive single glacier but due to higher average temperatures and lower average snowfall amounts over the last several centuries it has been transformed into what is now a 65 miles (105 km) fjord with many smaller glaciers.¹² (see notes below)
- There are 1045 glaciers identified in Glacier Bay National Park.
- There are more than 50 named glaciers in the park including Grand Pacific (2 miles wide by 35 miles long), Johns Hopkins (1 mile wide by 12.5 miles long), Margerie (1 mile wide by 21 miles long), and Lamplugh (.75 miles wide by 16 miles long).
- 7 of the glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park are tidewater glaciers.
1. Choosing a cruise line – Most cruise lines do Alaskan Cruises so do your homework and decide on your priorities. If excursions are your priority, then the cruise price can be cheaper leaving you more money for off ship activities. If the cruise ship is your destination, then make sure you pick a cruise line that offers on board activities that you enjoy!
2. Type of cruise and locations – There are a variety of Alaskan cruises. Options include cruise only, land and sea cruise, Glaciers cruise, Tracy Arm Fjord cruise, etc. Departure locations vary as well to include Seattle (WA), Vancouver (British Columbia), and Alaska.
2. Transport between pier and airport – Most cruise lines provide transportation for a fee. We used the cruise line bus transportation and there were some draw backs. The “Greyhound” type bus waited until it reached capacity which took an unusually long period of time. Also, the airport drop off location was an extremely long way from the airport check in. The only thing that saved us was my Mom needed a wheel chair, and we accidentally stated our flight departure was soon.
3. Pre-cruise activities – Before purchasing your flight, consider doing some pre-cruise excursions or venture out on your own. If the cruise departure location is a place you’ve never been, this is an opportunity to do some sightseeing!
4. Post – cruise activities – This is another opportunity for sightseeing or visiting family.
Between The Dashes