BC Parliament Buildings

All aboard time from Ketchikan was 12:45pm. We wouldn’t dock at our next port, Victoria BC, until around 7:15pm the next day. So, it felt like an extra “sea day.”

Again, we were itching to get off the ship as soon as Victoria came into view. Canadian immigration authorities slightly delayed our docking. We were off the ship just after 7:30pm and we had to be back on at 11:30pm. Another short port. Too bad, because Victoria was lovely!

Welcome to Canada

Welcome to Canada

This was the only port where we didn’t have a set excursion. We only had plans to walk around and eat at a restaurant. We did book a shuttle through Princess Cruises to take us downtown and back. You can also walk, but it’s about 20 minutes and we didn’t want to spare the time.

The shuttle dropped us off at The Empress Hotel.

The Empress Hotel

The Empress Hotel

Then we made our way over to the British Columbia parliament buildings.

BC Parliament Buildings

BC Parliament Buildings

After that, we walked along the Inner Harbour.

Inner Harbour

Inner Harbour

Feeling hungry, we took the shuttle driver’s advice and headed down Government Street, passing lots of charming pubs. They say Victoria is the most “English” city in Canada and it definitely feels like it.

At Bastion Square, we walked down the pedestrian alley to Wharf Street. There we found The Docks restaurant. The menu looked good, so we went in and had dinner–a lovely piece of fresh wild-caught salmon along with lobster mashed potatoes. Yum!

Following dinner, we retraced our steps along Government Street, did some souvenir shopping, and went back over to the BC parliament buildings to see them all lit up at night.

BC Parliament Buildings

BC Parliament Buildings

We made our way to the shuttle bus and back on board the ship at just after 11pm.

Our visit to Victoria BC was much too short. A lot of people on the ship booked the Butchart Gardens excursion. I’m glad we did not since we were short on time. Victoria is a lovely city and we plan on returning someday to do some more exploring.

Here is the Princess Patter for the day:

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

Island Wings De Havilland Beaver floatplane

After getting off the ship in Ketchikan, we made our way to the pier where a van was waiting to take us to our shore excursion.

Several months back I had booked a floatplane sightseeing tour over Misty Fjords National Monument through Island Wings Air Service based off of good reviews from CruiseCritic and TripAdvisor. Quick review: It was awesome!

Island Wings, Ketchikan

Island Wings, Ketchikan

Arriving at the Island Wings office, we walked down a plank and there was the floatplane. She was a beauty! – A de Havilland Beaver.

After some quick paperwork in the office, Michelle, the pilot/owner, introduced herself and it was time to board. We took off right next to the Crown Princess.

Next to the Crown Princess: Island Wings De Havilland Beaver floatplane

Next to the Crown Princess: Island Wings De Havilland Beaver floatplane

Taking off next to the Crown Princess

Taking off next to the Crown Princess

Then it was up and away! I thought the journey might be bumpy, but with good weather and Michelle’s steady hands at the controls, I need not worry!

Michelle took us through some gorgeous scenery – open water, mountains, lakes, and forests.

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

We landed on Nooya Lake and Michelle let us get out, take photos, and stretch our legs for a bit. The lake was so quiet…we were the only noise!

Landing on Nooya Lake. Misty Fjords

Landing on Nooya Lake. Misty Fjords

Nooya Lake. Misty Fjords

Nooya Lake. Misty Fjords

Island Wings De Havilland Beaver floatplane with Michelle, the pilot

Island Wings De Havilland Beaver floatplane with Michelle, the pilot

Nooya Lake. Misty Fjords

Nooya Lake. Misty Fjords

Then we took off again. The fjords are amazing. At one point, it felt like I could reach out and touch them!

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

Misty Fjords flightseeing tour

We landed back at Ketchikan and all agreed that this was one of our favorite travel experiences…ever! Michelle’s a pro at what she does and the scenery is breathtaking. Total time from pick-up to drop-off was about 2.5 hours.

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

 

Alaskan Cruise: Ketchikan

Ketchikan

Sailing overnight from Glacier Bay, the Crown Princess docked in Ketchikan at around 7am.

It was a short port day. All aboard was 12:45pm. We made the most of it though! We had booked a floatplane sightseeing excursion over Misty Fjords National Monument through Island Wings Air Service–a fantastic experience that I’ll blog more about in my next post.

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

After returning from the Misty Fjords excursion, we had around two hours to walk through town–so really only just time to scratch the surface. Ketchikan is a cute place and I wish we had more time explore.

It’s also the first time we got wet…really wet. Like pouring down rain. Up to that point we had lucked out with just the occasional drizzle here and there. The upside? All that rain brings pretty flowers!

flowers in Ketchikan

flowers in Ketchikan

We headed over to historic Creek Street to do some souvenir shopping and take in the sites.

Creek Street, Ketchikan

Creek Street, Ketchikan

Then we walked through downtown and the port area. Saw a couple of totems and then toured around the dock area before heading back onto the ship.

Totem. Ketchikan

Totem. Ketchikan

Liquid Sunshine gauge, Ketchikan

Liquid Sunshine gauge, Ketchikan

Ketchikan

Ketchikan

Here is the Princess Patter for the day:

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Getting up early for the sunrise was just part one of an amazing day cruising through Glacier Bay National Park.

Part two was the actual glaciers themselves. We got our first glimpse of a glacier shortly after 9am: Reid Glacier.

Reid Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Reid Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Sailing through Glacier Bay, we were treated to beautiful scenery:

Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Glacier Bay scenic cruising

At around 9:30am we arrived at Margerie Glacier. The captain stopped the ship and we got to observe for about an hour. The ship rotated around once so all sides could get a good view. Saw some minor calving: you would hear a crack like the sound of thunder!

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

We could also see Grand Pacific Glacier. Although it looks like a rock pile, the park service rangers on board assured us it was a glacier!

Grand Pacific Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Grand Pacific Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Then we cruised some more:

Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Glacier Bay scenic cruising

At around 11:15am, we arrived at Lamplugh Glacier. Again, we stayed for about an hour with the captain doing a rotation of the ship so all sides could get good views.

Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Then we swung by Johns Hopkins Glacier and made our way back out onto open waters towards the next port: Ketchikan.

Johns Hopkins Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Johns Hopkins Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Although the upper, open decks can get crowded on glacier viewing days, also consider going lower – on our ship we had a promenade deck that wrapped around the ship. I liked the views from both decks.

High up, you get more of a bird’s-eye wide angle view while on a lower deck – like the promenade deck – you can really get a sense of the massive size of the glaciers. We started up top, then went down to the promenade deck.

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

I bundled up! It was a chilly 48F/9C when we did our scenic cruising through Glacier Bay. I even got my photo taken by a Princess photographer!

Glacier Bay was full of “oohs” and “ahhs” and we specifically chose an Alaskan cruise that had Glacier Bay on its itinerary. We were not disappointed!

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay scenic cruising

Here is the Princess Patter for the day:

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

Cruising at sunrise towards Glacier Bay

After leaving Skagway, it was off to Glacier Bay National Park for a day of scenic cruising amid the glaciers.

But first, I did something out of the ordinary for me. I got up early. Like way early. To catch the sunrise.

Oh, and because we’re so far north and it’s summer, the sun rises at 3:59am! So I set my alarm and was out on the upper, open decks of the ship by 3:30am.

Bleary-eyed, I was treated to an amazing show of color! After first, purples and blues, then oranges and yellows. All beautiful.

Cruising at sunrise towards Glacier Bay

Cruising at sunrise towards Glacier Bay

Cruising at sunrise towards Glacier Bay

Cruising at sunrise towards Glacier Bay

I wasn’t the only one up early either. A few other hardy souls were up also taking photos. After that, I walked around the ship and was actually at the buffet when it opened for breakfast. Then I returned to the cabin for a quick cat nap before it was time to start viewing the glaciers.

Cruising at sunrise towards Glacier Bay

Cruising at sunrise towards Glacier Bay

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

Klondike Highway scenery

After walking around Skagway, it was time for our shore excursion! Independently, we had booked Frontier Excursions & Adventure’s Yukon Discovery Tour.

At around 9am we met out tour guide/driver, John, at the dock. We picked up a few more people downtown and then we were off! There were 14 of us on board the mini-bus and it didn’t feel crowded at all.

Loved this excursion! We could relax, take in the sights, and not have to worry about driving or dealing with car rentals. John, the tour guide/driver, was personable and knowledgeable about local history. He even graciously volunteered to take people’s photos.

The drive along the Klondike Highway is gorgeous and John pulled over at various scenic spots. We stopped at the Welcome to Alaska sign (even though we were leaving the U.S.– it happened to not be crowded, so we stopped here first).

Welcome to Alaska

Welcome to Alaska

We crossed into Canada at British Columbia where our passports were checked. And then we were off for more mountain vistas, lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife along the Klondike Highway. John encouraged us to shout “bear! bear! bear!” (or whatever animal we saw). Not too far into British Columbia, we spotted a bear and pulled over to observe.

bear!

bear!

The lakes and mountains are breathtaking!

Klondike Highway scenery

Klondike Highway scenery

After driving through a small bit of British Columbia, we passed into the Yukon Territory.

Yukon - Large than Life

Yukon – Large than Life

And we were treated to some more beautiful lakes and mountain scenery. Tagish Lake was one of my favorites.

Tagish Lake/Bove Island, Yukon

Tagish Lake/Bove Island, Yukon

Made a quick stop at Carcross Desert–the smallest desert in the world! I’ll put “desert” in air quotes because technically it’s just sand dunes.

Carcross Desert, Yukon

Carcross Desert, Yukon

From there, it was over to Caribou Crossing, where we enjoyed a lunch of BBQ chicken, baked potato, coleslaw, and fresh made donuts – all included in the tour price! Then we walked around the trading post, saw the sled dogs, and did some souvenir shopping.

Caribou Crossing, Yukon

Caribou Crossing, Yukon

 

Caribou Crossing, Yukon - sled dogs

Caribou Crossing, Yukon – sled dogs

Then we headed up a few miles (or kilometers since this is Canada!) to Emerald Lake with its (you guessed it) beautiful green colored waters.

Emerald Lake, Yukon

Emerald Lake, Yukon

Emerald Lake was the turn-around point. We headed back to Carcross, with a short tour around town and a stop at Bennett Lake. Then it was back down the Klondike Highway where we spotted a mama bear and two cubs.

Mama and her bear cubs!

Mama and her bear cubs!

Again, more gorgeous scenery. I can’t remember if this was Yukon or British Columbia?

Klondike Highway scenery

Klondike Highway scenery

 

Klondike Highway scenery

Klondike Highway scenery

In total, the tour lasts around 6.5 hours and is 150 miles (245 km) roundtrip . At the time of this writing, the Yukon Discovery Tour is $99 and includes pick-up/drop-off at the dock, plus lunch. Great price, small group, breathtaking scenery, and you don’t have to do any of the driving!

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

Alaskan Cruise: Skagway

Skagway

With Juneau behind us, it was off to Skagway!

Skagway, with a full-time population of around 1,000 (that swells well beyond that in the summer to assist with the tourist influx) still feels like an Alaskan frontier town. It became the entry point for many during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800s.

It’s also home to the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad – a popular shore excursion for cruise ship visitors.

White Pass & Yukon Route railroad

White Pass & Yukon Route railroad

However, we had a different plan: We booked reservations with Frontier Excursions & Adventures to take a mini-bus along the Klondike Highway and into Yukon. I’ll blog more about that later.

After docking at around 7am, we exited the ship at 7:45 and had a nice walk through town before we had to meet our tour bus.

Make sure and check out the Arctic Brotherhood Hall – with its driftwood facade, and the classic Red Onion Saloon!

Arctic Brotherhood Hall, Skagway

Arctic Brotherhood Hall, Skagway

Red Onion Saloon, Skagway

Red Onion Saloon, Skagway

Fun fact: the Radio Shack in Skagway also rents DVDs (can’t really stream movies over Netflix or Hulu…too slow in Skagway) and they sell pizza, hot dogs, and more!

Also spotted a combination Italian/Mexican restaurant in downtown Skagway!

Skagway has a fun, funky vibe. If traveling over land, I would definitely make my way to Skagway, but a brief stop on a cruise is fun too.

Here is the Princess Patter for the day in Skagway:

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

Mendenhall Glacier

We were dropped off back at the pier in Juneau following our Harv & Marv’s whale watching tour. By this time it was after 5pm and we still wanted to go to Mendenhall Glacier.

Thankfully we caught the last shuttle bus going there and arrived at Mendenhall at around 6:15pm.

The cost for the shuttle was $30 roundtrip per person (it includes the entrance fee). We only had about an hour before the last shuttle bus would arrive to take us back into Juneau. In the summer, the last shuttle bus is at 7pm–but they were running behind that day, so we had until 7:20pm. We could have stayed longer by calling a taxi, but that would have been an extra expense. Lesson learned! Give yourself plenty of time.

Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls

Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls

Since we were pressed for time, we only did the Photo Point Trail. Would have loved to have done the Nugget Falls Trail too. Oh well, an excuse to return!

Some cruise ship passengers are ambivalent about Mendenhall because you spend a whole day cruising through Glacier Bay. However, I loved it and would not pass up on any chance to see a glacier!

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

humpback whale

After getting stuffed at Tracy’s King Crab Shack, it was time for our shore excursion: whale watching! We had independently booked Harv & Marv’s whale watching a few months before the cruise, based off of excellent reviews on the CruiseCritic forums.  We chose Harv & Marv’s “Outback Special #1” — a small boat experience holding 14 or less passengers.

We were not disappointed! From the reservation request to payment, everything was handled promptly and seamlessly. At our pier in Juneau, the friendly driver picked us up to take some 15-20 minutes out to Auke Bay where we would get on our boat. Along the way, the driver shared with us local history and current goings-on in Juneau.

At Auke Bay, we met our captain, Jeff, who was friendly and knowledgeable and had a real passion for what he does! And we had a bonus: There were no other people besides our group of 4 on the boat. So we had our own private tour without having to “private tour” prices!

Auke Bay harbor

Auke Bay harbor

The whales weren’t being too cooperative that day…it’s important to remember, that they’re not there for your entertainment. We did see some humpback whales come to the surface, many sea lions, and a lot of eagles. Plus, the scenery was just gorgeous.

humpback whale

humpback whale

So glad we chose Harv & Marv. We saw some some other whale watching boats just crammed with people. We had plenty of room to sit or stand. Captain Jeff encouraged us to get up and move to open areas of the boat when we spotted wildlife. The total tour time from pick-up to drop-off lasted around 4.5 hours. Well worth the money!

scenery while whale watching

scenery while whale watching

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

Alaskan Cruise: Juneau

Docking at Juneau

We had survived our sea day! After another leisurely breakfast, we headed out on to the open decks and could see land again! We knew we were getting close!

Almost to Juneau

Almost to Juneau

Hanging out at the Horizon Terrace pool deck area, we took in the sights and snapped pics of the nearby mountains. Mid-morning, Juneau started to come into view. We docked at 11am.

Juneau is hemmed in by the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. It’s the only state capital that you cannot drive to. You need to fly in or take a boat.

After disembarking, we knew what we wanted: Alaskan king crab! So we made a beeline to Tracy’s King Crab Shack. We feasted on some of the largest crab legs I’ve ever seen, along with some excellent scallops. Highly recommended!

Tracy's King Crab Shack, Juneau

Tracy’s King Crab Shack, Juneau

After lunch at Tracy’s, we had a bit of time to walk around Juneau and pick up some souvenirs. Then it was off on our shore excursions: Harv and Marv’s whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier – both fantastic experiences that I will write separate blog posts about.

All aboard was 10pm and it wasn’t even dark yet…Juneau was fantastic!

Here is the Princess Patter for the day:

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 1 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 2 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 3 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Princess Patter, p. 4 of 4

Below are some more photos. For the full set, check out my Flickr album.

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