A Few Tips for Cruising Alaska

 
Going to Alaska should be on almost everyone’s bucket list.  There is no doubt you will need some desire, planning and monies to make this trip.  We have explored Alaska twice on modest terms. We have put together for friends some of the points and recommendations you may want to think about when going to Alaska–our 49th State.
We use our credit cards air-miles to make the trip out west.  Sometimes the cruise lines have super deals with airfare too.  There are a number of ports to embark from: San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver BC and Anchorage (Seward and Whittier).  We prefer going out or into Vancouver BC..  It is a wonderful city to explore.  You can cruise northward, or southward.  We have enjoyed both ways.  
A good web site to see cruises is www.vacationstogo.com.   I would sign up for their email and you are allowed to see all their cruises on line.   Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity and Princess cruises are all good. 
This ship is leaving Vancouver BC, and going under the famous Lions Bridge.
 If you do book, we prefer to book directly with the Cruise Line.  It is easy to cancel up to a certain date.
You may also book through a knowledgeable travel agent.  These agents may get you some perks that you didn’t know about.    
You can select just the cruise or a cruise/tour.  We have not done the tour, but people say they love it.  
 As you are heading south, we would recommend a balcony room on the left side known as “PORT” side.  the Port side gets to see mostly land. 
Likewise if you are cruising north, try to get on the right side– “STARBOARD” side. I learned that “PORT” is of four letters like the word “left.”  Right as five letters and is known in sailor terms as “STARBOARD.” 
If you arrive or leave out of the Canadian city of Vancouver,   we would recommend staying in Vancouver for at least three or more days. A lot of first timers never stay long enough to enjoy this exciting city.   On about August 4th is Vancouver’s famous Pride Parade.  Last year over 650,000 people came to see it.
Anchorage was recently hit with an earthquake in 2018.  The last major earthquake was in 1964.  There is a pretty good chance you will not suffer a major earthquake. Anchorage is a beautiful city. The area was first seen by Captain Cook in 1778.  Secretary of State, William H. Seward brokered a deal with Russia to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million dollars in 1867.  
  
A statue in downtown Anchorage of President Eisenhower who signed the bill to make Alaska the 49th State.
  Most cruise lines stop in such ports as Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.  Many also briefly stop to take a look at Hubbard Glacier and cruise through Glacier Bay National Park. 
 
     
We recommend taking a whale tour on a smaller boat.  You may get to see whales from your ship, but it is nothing like seeing them up close on a smaller boat. 
  
Aug 3:  Docking in Vancouver, BC.
The White Sails at Canada Place is an iconic recognizable landmark.
Vancouver:  I would recommend staying at the Blue Horizon Hotel.  It is right on Robson, Vancouver’s famous commercial street.  If you do book Blue Horizon, ask for a room facing Robson street.
There is so much to see in Vancouver, three days will not be enough!  Love walking the seven mile harbor walk of Stanley Park. 
Visiting Granville Island and going to the Market is a great way to spend a morning.
We LOVE The Granville Island Farmers Market.
Seeing Gastown and their famous Steam Clock.  Every 15 minutes, steam propels the whistle.
Taking the free bus to Capilano Bridge. 
Taking the ferry over to Grouse Mountain and doing the Skyride up the mountain if it is a nice day.
OPTION: Renting a car and visiting Whislter Village, two hours away.   Whislter was the home to the 2010 Olympic games. I would actually stay in Whistler for at least two days.  There are plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from. 
OPTION:  Take a bus (three hours including ferry ride) to Victoria on Vancouver Island.  It is one of my favorite cities in the world. 
I recommend staying at least three or more days.  There is the famous Butchart Gardens.
 a beautiful downtown and harbor area.
  I would recommend Helms Inn: a clean budget hotel close to downtown with AC (just in case). 
There are plenty of good restaurants in Victoria too!
You can also rent a car and go up to such places as Nanaimo (great island of Norfolk with hiking trails), Campbell River (recommend Painter’s Lodge).
and over on route 4 to Tofino.  We saw Tofino when nobody knew about it.  Now even Canada’s Prime Minister goes there.  The Vancouver Island trip will take you at least five to seven days.
I would take the Clipper Ship over to Seattle. You can also go from Seattle to Victoria on a Clipper Ship.
Stay at the downtown Sheraton in Seattle.  So much to see in Seattle: Pike’s Market:
the Space Needle…… Three days at least in Seattle.
We once flew from Victoria to Calgary to see the famous Stampeed, Banff, Jaspier and Icefield Parkway.
You can also actually extend your trip and fly from Seattle to Minneapolis, MN.  The Twin Cities are really neat and all connected by light rail.  We stayed at the Embassy Suites near MOA:  Mall of America.  Three days at least.
 
From Minneapolis, we did a 10 day circle road trip seeing such places as Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Custer’s Last Stand and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
This is just a rough idea of what you can do.  Google is a wonderful too.  There are endless combinations.  Some people just do the cruise and come back.  Alaska is special and there is room for you. 
 You have to have the passion wanting to go, and money does help.  We are only getting older.  Do it while health still prevails.  Yes, there are detours and wrong directions along the way, all part of traveling experience.