When I think of going on vacation, normally the first thing that comes to mind is white sandy beaches and more sun than I can handle. This trip had none of that. We initially were looking to go down to New Orleans because the vibe looked interesting, but somehow we ended up booking an Alaskan cruise and leaving home for this adventure the very next day! Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep that night… way too stoked to see glaciers and all the different ports—Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Glacier Bay National Park.
The first stop on the itinerary was Juneau.
Even in a torrential downpour, the charm of the city couldn’t be masked. The cool blue colour from the glacier creeping from between the mountains was unreal and everything surrounding so lush and green. During our hike to see the Mendenhall glacier, we noticed a trail of dead salmon. I guess the bears were feasting nearby. Fun fact- the bears were only eating the brains and the eggs, leaving the rest for other wildlife. If the supply of fish abundant, they’ll only eat the high-calorie parts of the fish.
The glacier is definitely worth going to see! After all the oo-ing and awe-ing from our first time ever seeing a glacier, we booked it back to the port in hopes of spotting some of the last whales hanging out in Alaska. Most had already begun the long swim to Hawaii. We hopped on a small boat and off we went—we did end up sighting some whales, though I would have been happy either way. The views around Juneau really are something else. The rain added a certain charm to it all and made the mountains look extra moody (in my opinion anyway).
Our next stop was Skagway.
Raining again, but hey, that’s just the way mother nature likes to roll sometimes. Full disclosure—we typically don’t do too much planning before going on trips. We usually just show up and ask locals what the best things to see and do are. This way of travelling might not work for everyone, but for us, it keeps things exciting!
After walking around the downtown, we ended up booking a tour that would bring us to the Yukon along the iconic Klondike Highway. I had my fingers crossed we’d come across some gold (thats a tongue twister right there), but Christopher was just happy to check off another territory in Canada. I don’t know how he managed to explore so much of our country without me but… the only place he hasn’t been to now is Nunavut. I’ve got some catching up to do!
We hopped on a tour bus and made several scenic stops along the way to the Yukon. Who’d have thunk we’d check a Canadian territory off the list on an Alaskan cruise? It certainly wasn’t in the plans! It was really neat to see the change in vegetation and landscape along the way. We were also able to spot a few mountain goats—these guys are serious daredevils eh?
Ketchikan was a highlight.
While I didn’t think our trip could be any more magical, Ketchikan did not disappoint. It was the end of September, the rain was heavy, and the bears were out in full force getting ready for winter. I tried to take pictures to show everyone just how magical this place was but I guess I wasn’t meant to. Word to the wise: some SLR cameras don’t hold up too well under copious amounts of water. You’ll just need to take my word for it.
We saw almost a dozen bears feasting on salmon in the stream, cubs chasing each other up a tree, and were startled came face to face with a mama bear who probably wanted us to skedaddle along. Thankfully, we did get some photos before the camera decided it’d had enough rain for one day.
The majestic Glacier Bay is a must-see.
Make sure you pack warm clothes! A tuque, mitts, and a waterproof jacket should be on your list. You’ll want to bask in the glory that is Glacier Bay and not get distracted by how frigid and damp you might be. Not every Alaskan cruise passes through Galcier Bay. You don’t get off the boat, but it is listed as a stop. So check the itinerary before you book!
I was blown away by the glacier we saw in Juneau and I had no idea what was in store for us in this national park. Sheer magic. The colour of the glaciers was a bright light blue and they looked like giant crystals. It was such a strange thing to see a piece of the glacier break off—when it did, it sounded like thunder. While the water might look inviting with its emerald blue colour, I can only imagine how cold it must actually be. Brrrrr!
We checked Alaskan cruise off our bucket list… on a whim!
We only had the chance to explore a few different areas in Alaska this time around, pretty much just a southern coastal strip actually. I definitely want to go back and explore further up north! A lot of people seem to have it as a bucket list destination. I don’t think I’d recommend the end of September for an Alaskan cruise (we were on the second to last ship of the season). Summer is probably the ideal time if you want nicer weather and want to see whales. The bears were out in full force for us though, so no complaints, despite the rain!
There’s no time like the present to check it off your list. You can even take an Alaskan cruise from Vancouver, where you’ll find plenty of vegan eats!