Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 7]: Icy Point Strait, Alaska

We’re almost nearing the end of the vacation.  Second last stop before we arrive back in Seattle and finish off that half of a day before going home.  But, let’s not jump ahead too much. These vacation posts are in delay and I did do a few little day trips afterwards so I’ll be probably posting about those after this series 🙂

After a beautiful day in Glacier Bay National Park, we arrived early morning at Icy Point Strait, which seems like a little island.  We didn’t have any shore excursions for this one so we just wanted to do a walk around the island and explore. For the first time, we needed to get a ticket sort of thing and have a shuttle boat or whatever you call those things get us from the cruise ship to the shore.  New experiences, right?

Right when our boat was about to head to shore, a whale popped up right in front of it. Obviously, it was a split second deal so my eyes captured it and not my camera.  Throughout that day, it was fabulous weather in Icy Point Strait and the island had a little trail that we took a walk around and then just explored the little museum area.

Along the waterside, I took a ton of close-up shots of shells, waves, stones, seaweed.  Stuff that doesn’t matter but I really like taking close-up shots and thing finding focus and adjusting what is the key of the photo and whatnot. That’s just the learning photographer side of me.  Here’s just a few selected ones that I thought was pretty good.

Icy Point Strait

Icy Point Strait

Icy Point Strait

We ended up going back to the cruise ship relatively early and having some time to finally enjoy some time in the hot tubs with my mom.  While I was reluctant and first to do it at first, it was remarkably comfortable and relaxing.  Plus, from where we were, we could see humpback whales playing in the water everywhere.  It was pure awesomeness! We didn’t get any whale watching shore excursions but we still got to see it as a bonus 😉

Icy Point Strait

It was a great day.  The next one would be spent at sea before we head on board back in Canada at Victoria, British Columbia.  I have a friend that moved out there so I was pretty excited to meet up with her.

Drop by next week to see the post on Victoria, BC 🙂

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Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 6]: Glacier Bay National Park

We’re at Day 6 everyone! Glacier Bay National Park is possibly the most anticipated in this whole trip.  We get to see glaciers and on top of that, we got fantastic sunny weather.  It was a little chilly in the morning and I had to get into a few layers since I was stupid and brought a ton of t-shirts and a sweater, fall scarf and a zip-up cardigan.  What can I say? I ended up doing a tank top, t-shirt, sweater, cardigan and scarf mix to accommodate the weather which I eventually took off the sweater by midday because it started heating up.  It may sound like a lot but I was in my 3/4 yoga pants since I was going to do workout and whatnot.  Still, we ended up running from the sun deck to the front of the ship that they opened up specifically for this area to take pictures and whatnot.

Glacier Bay National Park

It was breathtaking! And, we heard the glacier shift.  It was super far away and I barely saw it because I’m height challenged but it was this gigantic sound that just echoed in the wilderness.

This post, nothing much happens since we had fabulous weather and basically went in, did a turn and the captain took us for another turn because it was just so smooth.  Bonus on the trip, always a great thing 😉

So, here we go! Some of the best shots that I took 🙂

If any of the shore excursions didn’t work for anyone, I’m positive that this was worth full ticket price. We were surrounded by some of the most pure and breathtaking scenery that I’ve ever seen.  I may have grown up surrounded by snow in Montreal where its 6 months of the year in winter but nothing quite beats that moment where I heard the glacier crack and saw the ice in the water and the sun and landscape reflecting on the beautiful water.  That feeling..I just can’t even describe! 🙂

For the rest of the day, we pretty much traveled back into non-snowy areas, heading for Icy Point Strait. I don’t have much pictures for the rest of the day.  I probably saw a show, ate at the buffet because I was super tired of overeating, and working out like a beast like the rest of the trip before that.  There was always a show in the evenings at the lounge and I’d sometimes see people I met there from previous days.  Cruise life can be pretty routine as well but just so relaxing! 🙂

That’s it for Day 6! Check back next week for Day 7 at Icy Point Strait! 🙂

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 5]: Skagway, Alaska

At this point in the cruise, I’m thinking that its going really fast.  Look at this, Day 5 already.  I’m also thinking that I’m super tired because the night before I slept late chatting with some acquaintances and then woke up early to get on a specific time for the Skagway shore excursions. It was costly but also one of the must-sees of the trip. It was a lot of jumping through borders.  We crossed the US back to Canada then back to US.  It was kind of funny and fun all at the same time.

Shore Excursion: White Pass Railway

White Pass Scenic Railway is one of those must-sees.  It is super pretty and although I think I did a pretty decent job on the pictures, it doesn’t even come close to what its like to just take in the whole experience.  Its over an hour on the train ride but there’s an actual conductor and you get to take in a good part of the history which of course, is over my head now but I have all the information pamphlets and whatnot that we got during the trip.  Its not quite so special to see snow but the scenery here is absolutely breathtaking.

On the way to the next site, we took a stop at the Welcome to  Alaska sign after we crossed back into US from the northern parts of British Columbia.

Alaska

Shore Excursion: Klondike Gold Mines & Gold Panning

 Our next (and final) stop for the shore excursion was going back to Klondike Gold Mines.  We go through the history of mining for gold and how it all works from the evolution of the machinery.  I had a field day going around taking macro pictures and blurring backgrounds and whatnot.  I apparently like weird things but the photos turned out pretty cool.

Klondike Gold Fields

Klondike Gold Fields

Klondike Gold Fields

We ended this little trip with our own little try and sifting for gold and the whole procedure from how to swirl the pan and have the gold surface.  We got to weigh our gold afterwards and take it home.  Of course, its nothing crazy but mine came to $13 (at the gold levels then, I guess).

Walk around Skagway

After going back and having a little lunch, we went back out to take a little walk around Skagway and the interesting symbols of the cruises on the rocks across from the harbor.

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Evening on the Cruise

That evening, there was probably a show that I can’t remember what it was.  Some music probably.  Every night its about the same so it probably was workout when I got back, dinner at the buffet area since at this point, I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed from all the eating. And then that night, there was The Beatles Tribute or was it Rock Night (I think) in the lounge.  At least I think so. Regardless, this was the group on the cruise.  They are called Next Stage (I believe).

Norwegian Jewel

I might be getting that rest of the day all mixed up but somewhere in there I took a little walk around the boat.  All I remember was that it was REALLY windy but the scenery was A-MAZING! Just look at this…

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Alaska, on the way to Glacier Bay National Park

Okay, no joke here.  I was thoroughly excited about going into Glacier Bay National Park.  It was a day at sea but it was going to Glacier Bay National Parks to see actual glaciers and if this was just going into Glacier Bay and we were even there, can you imagine how beautiful it would be?

Drop by next week for Day 6: Glacier Bay National Park! 🙂

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 4]: Juneau, Alaska

Other than the price being really worth it for the Alaska Cruise, it was also a nice route because there were only 2 days at sea and after that we were pretty much at port or circling the Glacier Bay National Park.  That’s coming up…but next up was Juneau.  If there’s anything you’ll notice, Alaska ports are pretty much all rainforest territories.  Vegetation grows on so little earth and it rains a lot, although not so apparent for us because we got only that one time where we were leaving port and it rained.  I just can’t remember if it was at Ketchikan or at Juneau.

Day 4: Juneau, Alaska

We’re here! Day 4! Juneau’s port isn’t right next to the city so we had a shuttle to go which we realized was actually a little silly because the walk back wasn’t too bad either.  It’s like a mile.  Still, we took advantage of the free service 😉

Juneau Alaska

Arriving into Juneau, Alaska

We also had a shore excursion booked for Juneau which included stopping at 3 locations. Let’s see them, shall we?

Shore Excursion: Mendenhall Glacier

This place to visit Mendenhall Glacier was stunningly beautiful.  Its a pity that we couldn’t stay longer because it had a few trails and there was the waterfall which was a decent distance to get to.  We did get there and have to run back to catch the bus on time.  There was some really nice scenery with water, glacier, icebergs, etc.  It was so peaceful and nice despite all the tourists around. There was also some really nice plants and flowers growing around the trail that we took.

Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier

 Shore Excursion: Macauley Salmon Hatchery

I’m from Canada so salmon is kind of a thing we know about. Hatcheries and all that stuff, I’ve visited a few of them in the past.  This place didn’t have so much value for me.  The facilities were really  nice though.  Inside there was some animals displays and had a little aquarium going with some marine life like shellfish and coral and some fishes.  It was a quick little stop for some coffee and to know a little more about the various types of salmons in the area and just how the hatching process works and the role of the hatchery.

Macauley Salmon Hatchery

Macauley Salmon Hatchery

Shore Excursion: Glacier Gardens

The last stop of the shore excursion was at the Glacier Gardens.  Its a 50 acre rainforest botanical garden that features Flower Towers which are using dead tree trunks overturned to fill with plants as decor.  It also includes a tour that elevates a good few hundred feet to a vantage point where we can get a beautiful view of the whole Juneau area. Its breathtaking and beautiful.  The ride up was fascinating as the guide tells us about the history of how the Gardens came to be and how the owner came to have the Gardens set in the Tongass National Forest.  Its a unique experience and a lot of fun.

Glacier Gardens

In the Gardens Gift Shop

Glacier Gardens

Gardens Gift Shop: A special Mother’s Day photo with my mom.

Glacier Gardens

The ride going up to the peak

Glacier Gardens

The view at the top

Glacier Gardens

The view at the top

Glacier Gardens

Flower Towers

Rest of the Day

The tour took up a good few hours, probably around 4 hours or so.  We went back to the ship for lunch and came back out to explore the city a little.  On the path there, I bought two t-shirts which were rather subtle tourist-y ones.  But they were really nice and made from bamboo so really comfortable. We also walked by this really tourist sort of restaurant called Red Dog Saloon.  We didn’t want to go in so we just took a picture outside.

Juneau Alaska

In the city of Juneau, tourist spot, Red Dog Saloon

As I mentioned before, this day was also Mother’s Day so the boat had some little decoration in the buffet area.

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The Moms in our group got to choose the location of dinner that night and we went back to Chin Chin Restaurant.  Unfortunately those pictures turned out a little fuzzy and I already showcased that restaurant before.  I think we might actually have another night there so there might be more pictures. I just can’t remember until we get there.  That night, it was also comedian and that didn’t work with my mom and her friends since they wouldn’t understand it so we skipped the show.  I did end up spending some time with my mom to walk around the ship and look at the decorations and take some pictures with my mom.  This trip overlapping Mother’s Day was one of the highlights so since I  moved out, its these moments that matter a lot.

I ended the evening after my mom headed back to rest since we had an early start the next day going to the lounge again.  There was some nice music and that’s when I met a few more very awesome people from southern part of the USA.  Very nice people and it was nice to chat with some younger groups of people.  We have no contact now but hey, it is a cool memory.  We did hang out a few more nights during the trip at the lounge and had some fun times. No pictures of these events since I was off duty with my DSLR and my phone was slowly dying during the trip.  I’ll tell you all about the debacle when it actually happens later on 😉

For now, this is the end of Day 4 of the Norwegian Alaska Cruise at our stop in Juneau! A really captivating shore excursion for the most part and a great evening making it a fantastic way to spend Mother’s Day with my mom! 🙂 Which reminds me, I should get that picture with my mom printed and framed.

Remember to check back for Day 5!
Easily one of the most memorable stops and the day we cross back and forth from Canada and USA over and over again 😉

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 3]: Ketchikan, Alaska

Day 3 on the Alaskan Cruise was our first stop.  After a day of being at sea and exploring the boat thoroughly, this first stop was a welcome time. We had an early wake-up time to meet up for the bus to go to where our tour start.  Right off the boat, it was full of the city and by the shore was tons of souvenir shopping.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Good morning, Ketchikan! 🙂

Rainforest Canoe Trail

Let me just start by saying that my mom and her friends did not know what they were getting themselves into, so they didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I did.  If you’ve followed here for a while, you know that I LOVE water.  I mean, like cruise feels great but I used to do dragonboat so canoeing felt great.  They thought someone would paddle the canoe but nope, it was all about us doing the work to get there.  There wasn’t a lot of people doing the tour on top of that so it was kind of funny how it was the guide, one of the cruise employees and me doing most of the paddling. Still, it was fun.  Plus, the view was beautiful!

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

We did a tour of the lake and then made our first around the river bend where there was a chef lady who had prepared some clam chowder, smoked salmon, coffee, etc for our snacks.

Ketchikan

Smoked Salmon

Ketchikan

Chef and Clam Chowder

Rainforest Canoe Trail

The view of the lake from where we parked the canoe

Then, we got to do a tour of the rainforest on that island to learn a bit of the vegetation.  The guide was young and energetic and he seemed genuinely in love with nature making him rather enthusiastic so it was even more engaging to listen to. 🙂

Ketchikan

A Berry plant..I think its salmonberry

Ketchikan

Fallen logs that nuture the growth of other plants

Ketchikan

Skunk Cabbage

Ketchikan

Can’t remember the name but these things grow in 90% non-polluted air, making Alaska one of the most non-polluted places

Dinner at Tsar’s Palace

We got back to the boat for the sailing away at 3pm or something after doing some souvenir shopping and hopping back on the boat for lunch.  I did go on the deck and take a nice picture of the Ketchikan harbor/city from there.

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

I can’t remember the schedule exactly.  Its somewhere in my stack of papers.  From my notes, we did sit in the sun a little. There was the Sail Away Party in the lounge where I did go for a little while.  I think we just sat and walked around until dinner time. I might have gone to workout (since I did that everyday).

The details aren’t so important since this is freestyling cruising.  Seeing that’s Norwegian Cruise Line’s tagline, it works out, right? 😉 Tsar’s Palace is the other main dining palace.  A part of the menu is the same as Azura but there is some dishes that vary on a daily basis.  It is a bigger restaurant and has a more grand decor.

Here’s what we had.  I’m sorry that I can’t remember any of the dishes specifically anymore.  I should’ve taken a picture of the menu but apparently I didn’t…so there’s no going back from that.

Evening: Shows, Games and Country Hoe-Down

Alaskan Cruise

I don’t have a whole lot of pictures from evenings but that evening, we went to the show at the Stardust Theatre.  I walked around (resulting in the shot above of the sunset) and caught the Guess The Tune game, which was pretty fun.  That night it was called the Country Hoe-Down.  I had a ton of fun learning how to line dance.  I think I still remember some moves.  It was super fun because this old couple was owning the dance floor, aside from the staff of course.  They were right there next to me and when I got tired, I remembered that I couldn’t get owned by some elderly folks so I tried to learn it even better. It was really fun.  That’s all I’m saying 🙂

Events like this and I started making acquaintances, not bad, right? Only took 3 days 😉

That’s it for Day 3! The beautiful Ketchikan graced us with no rain until we were sailing away.  It was really some nice awesome weather we had the whole way, you’ll see…  That canoe trail though, man, I have to find some of those here and sign up for one of those.  You want to feel like being one with nature? That was totally how I felt about it.

Alaska Cruise on the Norwegian Jewel: Day 1&2

I debated wrapping up the end of my trip with the second half of Seattle but I figured I might as well follow how my vacation went.

Day 3 of vacation was the morning blitz mode in Seattle that I wrote about HERE in the previous post.

Second half of that day was spending about an hour or so boarding the cruise ship.  During the first part of the line-up, I have to be honest that I freaked out just a little when I searched all my bags and I couldn’t find my passport.  Somehow I found it tucked somewhere or another.  It was just hidden.  Its been so many months that I can’t even remember where it finally popped up.  But that is generally how I am when I travel.  Good thing I pull out these documentation in advance. Imagine the stress of not finding it at the last minute and holding up the line, I can already feel the stress 😉

So, security checks and check-in for the cruise ship, getting our Norwegian Jewel card that is technically our access and payment for EVERYTHING for the 9 days on there.  I can tell you one thing, the perspective of life changes a little when money becomes this behind the scenes figure (kind of). I’ll talk about the entire cruise experience when I’ve finished with everything during a recap.  For now, lets get these rather uneventful Day 1 and 2 over with.

Day 1: Boarding ship and settling in!

Here’s our room, which is the first place we went after we boarded since we chose to carry our own luggages there. We didn’t bring a lot so it was light and easy.

Norwegian Jewel

Our room

There were no windows.  We were on the 8th floor.  It was a decent size and really tidy.  To be honest, I really just went back to rest here between activities or sleep at night or shower between workouts and meals.  I didn’t stay in there incredibly a lot so it didn’t really bother me much. It was really comfortable and the whole no windows thing made us kind of lose track of time in the mornings when we didn’t have to wake up for a tour because we couldn’t see when it was light out 😉 That’s vacation!

There was some Sailing Away activities in the afternoon as we inched closer to the 3pm time when we departed Seattle.

Norwegian Jewel

The Deck

Norwegian Cruise

View of Seattle from the Cruise Ship

When we sailed away, we walked around the ship to explore what there was and where it was all situated so we’d be able to get to wherever we wanted for whatever activities soon.  We peeked into the Workout room which I ended up spending a lot of time the next 9 days between trips and whatnot, starting the next day where I went two times or something since we were at sea. There were activities on the middle area with pools, sat down and enjoyed the sun a little, then found where the theatre for all the evening shows and we ended up finding the game room where we found a set of Mahjong complete with all the tiles.  Guess what? My mom and her friends wanted to kill some time doing that so we did until dinner time 🙂

Our first night at dinner was the restaurant we scouted out.  My mom and her friends had already been on various cruises before but its the first time they saw Asian cuisine as free dining on the cruise ship so of course, that was our first choice. Here’s what we had at this restaurant called Chin Chin.

The service was very nice.  The food was very westernized.  They called it Asian fusion, but its not.  Although, you will see that we did end up going back for lots of dumplings and possibly fried rice 😉

To wrap up the evening, we went for an evening walk on the deck where I discovered the Spinnaker Lounge which I will end up spending nights there checking out their game/theme nights and its kind of my way to have some alone time to relax and not be rushed from point A to point B. It was still relaxing but I do enjoy time to myself.

Norwegian Jewel

First Night on the Deck

There was also the Welcome Aboard Show at the Stardust Theatre to end off the night.

Day 2: At Sea

I was still experiencing jet lag on Day 2.  I’m telling you, as I get older, this jet lag business takes longer to settle especially those 3 hours time shifts.  So, guess what? I woke up at like 5 or 6 am or something and walked up to the deck and took some sunrise shots.

Norwegian Alaska Cruise

2nd day, sun rise!

Fresh air, ocean in front of the us and the dawn of a new day! That was an amazing and incredible feeling! 🙂

I had an early breakfast, headed to my first ever Zumba class then because the instructor was late and the class wasn’t long, I headed up to the gym to get in some jogging and rowing, before showering and heading down for lunch.  Sadly, it seems I didn’t take many pictures of the buffet portion of the trip, which I spent mostly for breakfast and lunch.  I can’t remember exactly what happened but I remember activities in the middle area with the pools slowly being opened and the hot tubs and whatnot.  There was the Mr. Alaska competition which was pretty entertaining, some music that followed.  We sat in the sun a little, booked our tours for the next few stops and just relaxed.

I’m telling you..I love relaxing but the first two days started getting so relaxing that I didn’t really know what to do so I walked around and explored by myself, especially after I went to do a second workout and lost my mom in the process on the ship.  I eventually found her right before dinner.  This night, we had already said to meet at one of the main dining halls called Azura.

Azura was very accommodating, especially for my food allergies.  The service was great and the food was delicious.  I can’t remember the name of the food at all but I have an idea of what it all is.

We ended the evening with a show at the Stardust Theatre called Back on the Road Show. I think it was a singing show.  I can’t remember anymore.  Then there was a game show called Battle of the Sexes which was really funny.

Its a calm two days and nothing much to really talk about so I put them together. We arrive at Ketchikan in Alaska for our first stop the next day! 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Way

In-between moments can be just as memorable as grand finales. This week, share a photo you took on the way to something else. – The Daily Post

I haven’t been able to get together any posts for vacation just yet but here are some shots from Seattle & Alaska. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

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First leg of the flight to Toronto for layover to Seattle!

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Above the clouds on the flight to Seattle!

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The first night on cruise, at sea for the next day!

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Sunrise on the second day, officially at sea on the way to Ketchikan!

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Day 8: Heading into Glacier Bay National Park!

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Leaving Glacier Bay National Park, heading towards Icy Point Strait!

Being on a cruise is always about being on the way to the location! There’s always time to meet new people but also time to admire everything around not only the cruise ship but also the breathtaking calm and peaceful view. While life on the cruise ship is slow, there is so much to take in.  I’d be lying if I don’t miss that a little right now, even if I sometimes felt it was a little too slow. I don’t quite mind being on the way all the time because travelling and seeing new places is just awesome!!