A Cruise Skeptic Sails to Alaska
The main logistics for our group of nineteen were handled by a travel agent who had coordinated other trips for my family. Of course, many of the specifics were up to each traveler, which involved a boatload of research on my part – pun very much intended. Spousal Unit can be happy doing most anything, so he let Yours Truly of Strong Preferences take charge.
Our group voted for the southbound route of Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas – a ship with superior amenities for those traveling with babies – to allow for pre and post tours of Denali and Vancouver, respectively. Spousal Unit and I chose an inside cabin for the significant cost savings, figuring we would do any scenic viewing from elsewhere on the ship. We also chose to go directly to the cruise and stay on to visit Vancouver and Seattle, a pair of unique West Coast cities I have been curious to spend some time in. This would keep the total trip time short enough to avoid Away from Home Disconnect and focus our additional tourism on my interest in urban exploration.
Alaska cruises are all about the destinations, and I am all about activities and getting a strong sense of local appeal. After extensive surveys of others’ trip reports and reviews, I booked the following excursions.
Level 3 Extended Glacier Trek Via Helicopter – Northstar Trekking
Where in the world can I do something like this? Nowhere else I am apt to be in the foreseeable future. This was my must-do impetus for the trip, so I insisted on making the most of it. The longer you are on the ice, the more of the glacier you can see, and the fitness requirement tends to dissuade those who would be apt to slow down a shorter excursion.
To me, scenery and animal sightings are a bonus of play time in the wilderness. This hike, bike, and float tour focuses on the play time and lets the rest enhance the trip as per nature’s whims. Even if the weather were low visibility crap, and the wildlife refused to put on a show, we would be out, about, and active – visiting ruins of a gold rush town, then chatting with a local guide all through the woods and down the river.
3-Hour Rainforest Walk and Totem Park – Wild Wolf Tours
Ketchikan is famous for its large collection of totem poles. I wanted to visit Totem Bight State Park, which is a ways out of town, but I worried about dealing with the once-an-hour public bus – apt to be mobbed by other cruisers – or hailing a cab over limited cellular service. I was also interested in hiking the local trails. Wild Wolf Tours is well reviewed for enthusiastic, informed, and highly personal guidance well off the usual tourist paths. Though I inquired a mere month out from sailing, fearing I was too late and would lose out, Tracy worked with her other bookings to fit us into her schedule.
Grand Tour – Cycle City Vancouver
Vancouver is a bicycle-friendly city with lovely neighborhoods and an expansive park along the sea wall. It seemed ideal to enjoy all of those aspects with traveling friends and a local guide. Cycle City easily worked with me to accommodate a changing group size for a private tour, ensuring that we would all ride together.