Our 10th anniversary cruise to Alaska was everything we had hoped. It truly was a second honeymoon. Knowing my man so much better and fuller, and having weathered some storms together, made the trip sweeter than a honeymoon.
We sailed on the Norwegian Pearl out of Seattle on a Sunday. Monday was a day at sea, which we loved. It allowed us to get acquainted with the ship, take advantage of the overwhelming amount of activities and entertainment on board, work out in the fitness center, read, watch the waves, eat way too much food, and spend meaningful time together. One of the attractive features of a cruise is the lack of cell service and internet access. That translates into beautiful focus on each other and conversations free from media distractions.
Our tiny inside cabin was perfect! There were so many things happening on the ship and various comfortable viewing areas available that we didn’t mind not having a balcony or window in our room. Though, it did make for some very dark mornings with no natural light.
There were several complimentary restaurants available, but we found the buffet was our favorite. It took a few days to decompress and learn how to be Husband and Wife without being Daddy and Mommy. I had so few things to carry and no one to look out for but myself. I loved being able to hold Stephen’s hand instead of corralling our little people and juggling baby and diaper bag!The weather was usually chilly, so we didn’t get in the pool even once. But we did enjoy the hot tub a couple of times. We were literally “up to our necks in hot water” while being sprayed in the face with an icy glacial wind.
Juneau was our first port, and our favorite too. On the passage up to Juneau, we saw a school of dolphins, and several whales. I even caught sight of a whale’s tail through the binoculars. Once in Juneau, we began to spot bald eagles left and right. I was shocked at how much Alaska delivered on the wildlife sightings! We hopped on the bus to Mendenhall Glacier. While setting foot on the actual glacier required a helicopter, we were able to hike up to Nugget Falls and get a good view of the bright blue ice caves and crevasses on Mendenhall. We filled our water bottles with ice cold glacial water and then hiked back just in time to see a mama black bear fishing for salmon in the nearby river.
It was incredible that she wasn’t bothered by the hundred tourists on the bridge just overhead. Stephen even got a selfie with the bear.
The salmon were running, so the river was quivering with life. Our tour guide explained that Alaska has five types of salmon that can be remembered by using the fingers on your hand. Thumb (fat finger)—Chub Salmon, Pointer Finger (can poke someone’s eye)—Sockeye Salmon, Middle Finger (tallest finger)—King Salmon, Ring Finger (Silver Salmon), Pinky—Pink Salmon. I was suprised to see that the salmon don’t swim in a consistent upstream motion. Instead, they swam to maintain their current position, and then suddenly jumped or darted upstream where they again swam “in place” to hold their spot in the river. It looked impossible.
Back in Juneau, we rode the aerial tram up Mount Roberts and then sampled salmon and bought souvenirs in the shops. The funniest moment of our trip happened on the tram. Another tourist, who wasn’t in our tram car, was taking a picture of our car heading up the mountain. Stephen saw him about to take the photo and smiled wide. The guy suddenly realized Stephen was smiling for a random stranger’s picture, did a double take, and then snapped Stephen’s picture anyway. Makes me laugh just thinking about it. Our time in port flew by, and before we knew it, we were back on board headed to Skagway the next day.
Skagway is an even smaller city than Juneau, and it’s home to the White Pass Railroad. We took the three hour train ride up the White Pass where gold seekers in 1898 picked their way up the treacherous mountains during the Klondike Gold Rush. The train ride was impressive itself with several trestles and tunnels, but my favorite part was seeing the tiny, narrow (now mossy) trail that the gold diggers hiked up boot to boot. Our tour guide explained that if a man stepped out of line, he might wait 2-5 hours before someone would let him back in line. Pretty cutthroat!
After our train ride, we shopped in Skagway and rented a tandem bike to pedal over to the historic cemetery and hike to Lower Reid Falls.
To be continued…