Summer 2017 Fourteen Day Alaskan Cruise



Happy hump day everyone! Hope everyone is having a nice week so far. To be honest, I’ve been on such a post-travel slump, it’s making catching up on work I’ve fallen behind on pretty difficult around here. On top of it, the heatwave isn’t helping this not-so-hot-sun-loving gal at all, as it’s sapping my energy! You know how people get winter blues? I get summer blues. That’s precisely why we embarked on a two week cruise to Alaska, instead of going on your typical summer Caribbean destination this time of year.

As perpetual travelers, Alaska was one of the last vacation destinations on our bucket list, but as we were planning on places to go that’s much cooler in the summer, Alaska was suggested to us. We quickly considered the option and got intrigued by Holland America ms Amsterdam’s Alaskan itinerary, embarking out of Seattle, Washington. As I’ve said before, the hubby and I think cruising really is the best way to vacation. It’s like a tapas experience - you get to taste a little bit of so many different places, giving you the opportunity to discover and explore cities/countries that capture your heart the most and would definitely be worth going back to spend more time exploring.

Cruise vacations for us these days are really to decompress and chill out, meaning that unlike previous years where we would run ourselves ragged at every port, we are now much more selective in our excursion choices. And today for this post, I’m sharing the highlights of the ports we checked out each day, including the two that were my/our favorites.

Tracy Arm Fjords
The beauty of being on a much smaller ship as HAL ms Amsterdam, not only meant higher quality of service, but it also gave it the leverage to go through glacier inlets that much bigger ships cannot. As in the case of this moment, experiencing the captain’s skilled expertise, slowly gliding the ship through the icy waters of one of its first glacier inlets: Tracy Arm – home to Sawyer Glacier, cascading waterfalls, and cobalt-blue icebergs with adorable seals chilling on pieces of icebergs. We were completely awestruck.

Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line

Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line


Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line
Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line
Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line
Juneau
We took Mount Roberts Tramway that takes you up 1,800 feet to the most scenic birds-eye views of the area. Once you reach the Mountain House at the top, there are trails that begin in a sub-alpine where you can climb another 300 feet into the true alpine surrounded by snow-capped mountains. A length of one-half mile and an elevation gain of just 150ft, the main trail will take you to open vistas, mountain valleys, snow gullies, rocky ridges, sighting of white mountain goats and stunning views of mountains in Glacier Bay, British Columbia.

Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway_Juneau, Alaska

Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway_Juneau, Alaska_birdseye views
Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway_Juneau, Alaska_birdseye views

Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway_Juneau, Alaska_birdseye views

Hubbard Glacier
Is for sure a gigantic beauty off the coast of Yakutat, 200 miles NW of Juneau. It is more than six miles wide where it meets the ocean and most of that ice is below water. Floating through the icy water channel, the ship inching towards this impregnably blueish iceberg of what appears to be an island of ice at the foot of snow-capped mountains in the foreground, is just awe-inspiring. One of the highlights was watching pieces of the glacier crashing down into the water. The sound of that can best be described as a mixture of canon balls and roaring thunder together. This is a must see in person experience for sure.

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Icy Strait Point
If you’re into nature, walking through the vast spectacular forest (which isn’t very long) is a must. For me, walking through the wilderness on that cloudy, misty morning enhanced its beauty and made the scenery even more peaceful.

Icy Strait Point_with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line


Icy Strait Point_with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line


Icy Strait Point_with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line


Icy Strait Point_with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line

Anchorage
We rode the nine hour round trip glacier discovery train through scenic stretches of Alaska, winding along the alpine meadows of Grandview and Placer River as it slowly traveled through impressive mountain tunnels. On this train ride, you get to appreciate the great views of Spencer Glacier, Spencer Lake, and the wilderness of the Chugach National Forest while making brief stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers at the resort town of Girdwood, Portage and Whittier.

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Tip: If you’re set on seeing wildlife, I’d highly suggest getting off in Portage to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center or do a different excursion altogether, as you will NOT see any wildlife while riding the train as promised.

Homer/Kodiak
Given that it was a gloomy, drizzly day at these ports, we opted to chill out on the ship instead. I even took one of their many workshops and of course, enjoyed classic afternoon tea, watched movies and relished in happy hour in our favorite lounges.

Sitka
Formerly ‘New Archangel’ under Russian rule, is one of the most charming towns to walk around. Though it was yet again another drizzly day, we took a bus ride into town and strolled this quaint little town in light jackets, casually making our way up to Castle Hill – a former site of Baranof’s Castle that offers beautiful views of Sitka from the top. Spotted some eagles atop the trees out in the distance. Such a lovely day this was.
Sitka Alaska_Holland America Cruise LineSitka Alaska_Holland America Cruise Line_Castle HillSitka Alaska_Holland America Cruise Line_Castle HillSitka Alaska_Holland America Cruise Line_Castle Hill
Unfortunately, when the ship docked at Ketchikan, Homer and Kodiak, it was rainy, foggy, damp and cold. On those days, we took in the sights from the various decks of the ship, caught up on reading at one of the lounges, enjoyed playing some scrabble in the ship’s library and got to have spa time. The serenity of plain relaxing was also our best pastimes.

I know I said I was going to share the two cities that were my/our favorites, but it’s really three: Juneau, Sitka, and stay peeled for the recap of my third favorite city. For the hubby Juneau made his favorite list, for he especially enjoyed the scenic hike through the wilderness and snow-capped mountains. 

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