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My Alaska Cruise Vacation

Updated on November 22, 2014
Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier | Source

Alaska-Memorable Trip

Our 2003 trip to Alaska is one I will always remember. Alaska is a beautiful state from it's majestic mountains to the amazing glaciers and the wonderful wildlife and delightful flowers that make their home there.

This page will give you the highlights of the trip and give you a pictorial view of our trip.

photographs by Mary Beth Granger

Vancouver, Canada - looking back at city from the cruise ship

We boarded our cruise ship, the Dawn Princess, in Vancouver, Canada. We took a 7 day cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage and then a land tour from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Alaska.

Seven Wonderful Days of Cruising

Cruise Featured Four Ports

Juneau

Ketchikan

Sitka

Skagway

and a Cruise through

Glacier Bay

Source

Cruise Ports of Call

five stops on our Alaskan cruise

The cruise navigated Alaska's inner passage and stopped at four ports of call, along with cruising in Glacier Bay.

Each of the towns where the cruise stopped were small but distinct. We took one of the tours offered through the cruise lines at each of the ports of call.

Juneau is the capitol of Alaska. It is located in the panhandle of Alaska and is 900 air miles north of Seattle and 600 air miles southeast of Anchorage. The population of Juneau is 30,711. The economy of Juneau is from government, tourism, mining and fishing. On our stop in Juneau we took a tour to the Mendenhall glacier.

Skagway had frontier style storefronts and was a great place to browse the shops. While in Skagway we took a ride on the oldest narrow-gauge railroad in the world. We saw some beautiful views as we rode up the mountain in the railroad car.

Ketchikan is billed as the salmon capitol of the world. In Ketcikan we took a tour of a salmon hatchery. It was very interesting to hear the story of the salmon and how they always come back to the place where they hatched to lay their eggs.

Sitka is a very unusual little town of just under 9000 people. It has a rich history from it's past with the Tlingt culture and its' Russian history. You can read more about Sitka's fascinating history at City of Sitka. At Sitka we saw some of the unique totem poles and took a carriage ride through the town.

Glacier Bay was wonderful. It is a network of inlets that channel the frozen tide to the sea and covers over 3.3 million acres. The cruise ship was required to stay at least a mile away from the glaciers for safety reasons, but as you can see in the photos, it looks like we were right next to the glaciers. Beautiful views and when one of the glaciers break off a piece (calving) it almost sounds like thunder. It was an unforgettable sight!!

Mendenhall Glacier - tour from Juneau

Source

On our Juneau stop, we took a tour to Mendenhall glacier. It was incredible. The glacier is 12 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. There was a nice park near the glacier where we were able to get great views and some good photographs.

View from the Skagway Railway - breathtaking views

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Gacier Bay - views from the cruise ship-over 1 mile from the Glacier

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This photo of my husband, taken on the balcony of our room on the ship, will give you some idea of the size of the glaciers.  The ship was over 1 mile away from the glacier you see in the background.
This photo of my husband, taken on the balcony of our room on the ship, will give you some idea of the size of the glaciers.  The ship was over 1 mile away from the glacier you see in the background.
This photo of my husband, taken on the balcony of our room on the ship, will give you some idea of the size of the glaciers. The ship was over 1 mile away from the glacier you see in the background.

Alaska Cruises and Ports of Call - guide to Alaska

It's always good to read up on the ports of call before you go. I would suggest reading this guidebook to find out the places that best fit your interests. There are several choices at each port of call and only time to take in one or two tours.

The Land Tour of Alaska

Tour of Anchorage

Visit to Denali State Park

Glass Top Train to Fairbanks

Iditarod Trail Race Headquarters - stop on bus trip from Anchorage to Denali

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Denali National Park - beautiful scenery

Source

This photo was taken at Denali. We stayed in a lodge near the great mountain and then the next morning took a bus tour in Denali National Park. It was very cloudy when we were there and the mountain was visible only for very short periods. Unfortuanately I did not get a good photo of the mountain.

The park was beautiful, though, we saw beautiful wildflowers and an occasional glimpse of wildlife in the distance.

Wildflower Photographs - and a bear in a tree

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I saw this bear climbing a tree at a stop on the bus tour.This unusual mushroom was growing near our lodge near Denali park.
I saw this bear climbing a tree at a stop on the bus tour.
I saw this bear climbing a tree at a stop on the bus tour.
This unusual mushroom was growing near our lodge near Denali park.
This unusual mushroom was growing near our lodge near Denali park.

Have you been to Alaska or do you long to visit? - please leave your comments here

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    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 5 years ago

      The Ice Festival in Fairbanks is on my travel bucketlist! This takes place at the same time it is optimal for viewing the Aurora Borealis which actually checks off two things I would like to see before... I was hoping to go next year, so we shall see:) I enjoyed your lens, thank you for sharing your experience!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      I used to live in AK - Loved it.

    • WaynesWorld LM profile image

      WaynesWorld LM 5 years ago

      My mother took my 4 sisters, two of their husbands, her sister and husband(my aunt and uncle), my aunt's half-sister(my mom grew up with them), a granddaughter, my wife and myself(12+herself). She told my brother-in-law that she could give us all some cash and we would forget about her after she was gone, but a trip-of-a-lifetime is unforgettable. We did the reverse of your trip, we flew into Anchorage, took the globe topped train to Denali then onto Fairbanks. Stayed there a day and a half then flew back to Anchorage where we took busses to Steward where the "Diamond Princess" was docked.

      *

      The ship was so massive, we stayed in mini-suites on the Baja Deck. I want to say they were just under 400 square feet. Equivalent of a nice hotel room complete with walkout balcony and jacuzzi tub.

      *

      The land portion of the package was just a bit too rushed, when you are on vacation you want to sleep in and lounge around which the cruise allowed plenty of. Now with the cruise part we stopped at the ports of call but now you were only at the ports for short visits.(hmmm? Can't we make this guy happy?)hehe

      *

      Even with the rushedness(is that a word?) I would go again in a New York minute. We would sleep in, get up and go to the buffet and pig-out, go back to our room and take naps, then do it all again. I think we were eating 7 times a day, everything was so great except the calamarri.

      *

      Ketchikan was rainy, I found out when we got home that it is the second rainiest place in the world (339 inches per year), it was wonderful though because we were from Phoenix, AZ that gets an average of 7 inches/year. I went to a internet cafe and the operator mentioned that he'd been there 6 months and could count on one hand the number of sunny days, so if you like cloudy weather...

      *

      Glacier Bay was awesome, the seals were everywhere. The cruise ship cruised up to what appeared to be half-a-mile from the glacier and they put the engines on each end in such a way to make the ship do a perfect circle. It did this for probably an hour. I was wearing just a thin baseball jacket so I would go from side to side through a doorway and large hall to keep from freezing.

      *

      I had watched a video of a guy that had gone to Alaska prior to our trip and he was wearing one of those snorkel style winter jackets with frost and/or snow built up around the face opening. It was the second week of June for his video, burrrrrr... I figured we would freeze our butts off on this trip so me and my wife went to Burlington Coat Factory and bought big down coats for the cruise. She wore hers a few times but I was used to northwest Iowa weather as a youngman so except for Glacier Bay it never really was too cold. The whole family had prayed for warm weather and they had record breaking warm weather the entire time we were there. (Our we just blessed? Maybe, but it never hurts to pray.) The morning we got up at Denali Lodge it was 32 degrees, same baseball jacket to ride the school bus out to see Mt. McKinley(Denali); largest peak in North America. The tour guide said to look quick because the peaks were not clouded in, he said they were 42 miles away as the crow flies and they are so big that they have their own weather patterns because of their height. I say 'their' because there are two peaks, one is jagged and one is rounded, the rounded one is actually the tallest. We saw a ptarmigan, some mountain goats way up on a mountain ridge and on the way back we caught the rear ends of a moose and her calf running into the brush. The guide said the moose will head towards settlements to have their calves to keep them safer, the bears are less likely to be around people.

    • profile image

      elsiehui 6 years ago

      Great Lens! Be sure to check out Cruise Ship Balcony Deals!

    • profile image

      KatBar 6 years ago

      I've been twice. Alaska is so beautiful.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 6 years ago

      An Alaskan cruise is such a memorable experience and your lens is excellent. Squid Angel Blessings to you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A wonderful experience and beautifully shared! What wonderful memories!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      What a wonderful experience for you. No, I won't ever get to Alaska now. Beautifully crafted lens and featured on Quiz-Australia from the Beginning.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      My sister stays near Vancouver in Canada and took my father to an Alaska cruise. My father loved the vacation in Alaska and could not tire describing his experiences in the ship and marine life.

    • profile image

      AnnaleeBlysse 6 years ago

      Nice lens! I was born and raised in AK. I lived in Ketchikan for several years. I'm glad that you enjoyed your visit there. It's a great town to live in too. I haven't been there since about 2003 myself. If I moved back to Alaska, I think perhaps it might be Ketchikan. I never did mind the rain. Maybe, someday.

    • Adriana Daniela profile image

      Adriana 6 years ago from New Market

      I'd love to visit some day. Until then, I can live through other people's experiences. thanks for a beautiful lens. Blessed :)

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      I have never been to Alaska but know of a few people who did and they were delighted with their trip.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Looks like a wonderful trip and great lens. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      I would love to visit alaska. Angel blessed and featured on More November Blessings :)

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      I long to visit. As long as I can't see SP's house anywhere!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing your trip with us! Alaska has always been one of the places I would love to go to. I should stop putting it off! - Kathy

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing your trip with us! Alaska has always been one of the places I would love to go to. I should stop putting it off! - Kathy

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing your trip with us! Alaska has always been one of the places I would love to go to. I should stop putting it off! - Kathy

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing your trip with us! Alaska has always been one of the places I would love to go to. I should stop putting it off! - Kathy

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing your trip with us! Alaska has always been one of the places I would love to go to. I should stop putting it off! - Kathy

    • profile image

      Joan4 7 years ago

      Our daughter and son-in-law went on an Alaskan cruise last year and they loved it. The photos are really super!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Alaska looks so beautiful, I would love to see it. Oh and thank you for your angel blessing. :)

    • triathlontraini1 profile image

      triathlontraini1 7 years ago

      Wow! Those are some beautiful photos! Your trip sounds wonderful. :)

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 7 years ago

      This brought back memories for me as we did this trip last year. A beautiful lens - Angel Blessings to you

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 8 years ago

      This is an amazing lens. I want to visit Alaska. Your Glacier Bay photos are beautiful and I love the close up of the pup. What a great trip. Your lenses are always a pleasure to visit.

    • Tuula Olin profile image

      Tuula Olin 8 years ago

      This looks so beautiful, and the huskies cute. That must have been really an adventure. Was it cold in the boat? I loved the slide show, how did you manage that?

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Love the pix! Definitely makes me want to visit Alaska!

    • Terry Boroff profile image

      Terry Boroff (flipflopnana) 8 years ago from FL

      Beautiful photos, I always look forward to your lenses, and this is another great one. This is the one cruise I have been wanting to take. Looks like you had a wonderful trip.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Alaska is on my list of places to go for sure! Great lens! Exquisite pictures.

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 8 years ago

      Once again....I am in awe of your lenses Mary Beth. IThe lights of Fairbanks.......stellar.

      I knew a man who lived in Sitka. He would come back to Ohio once a year to visit. He ran a pleasure fishing boat and was a hunting guide...interesting character.

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 8 years ago

      Just stunning pics! Love the bear! I am always amazed at the beauty I find on your lenses. It looks like a very romantic cruise and I may request one! Gorgeous!

    • FunGifts4All profile image

      FunGifts4All 8 years ago

      Another great lens by a great lensmaster. I love your lenses and photos!

    • profile image

      bdkz 8 years ago

      These are some beautiful photos!

    • profile image

      badmsm 8 years ago

      What beautiful country! My nephew was stationed there when he was in the Coast Guard.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 8 years ago

      Beautifully done! I love all the pictures you shared of your trip...it confirms my long desire to go to Alaska!

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 8 years ago

      Beautiful photos! Never taken a cruise but it would be exciting! Loved the photo of Vancouver, I live just 50 minutes from this beautiful city!

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 8 years ago

      That must have been fantastic to see the Northern Lights!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      I have always wanted to visit Alaska and this lens makes me want to plan my next vacation there. Beautiful Pictures!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      I've always wanted to take that cruise. It looks wonderful!

    • annetteghallowe1 profile image

      annetteghallowe1 8 years ago

      I so want to take my mom up to Alaska on a cruise....maybe next summer. Thanks for this great resource!

    • annetteghallowe1 profile image

      annetteghallowe1 8 years ago

      I so want to take my mom up to Alaska on a cruise....maybe next summer. Thanks for this great resource!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Great Lens. Love your photos & we love cruising. We've only been to Ketchikan, Juneau & Glacier Bay on the Alaska Cruise. I would love to visit all the ports on a Alaska Cruise. What was your favorite port? One of my brothers wants to go again; but only if we go to Sitka but, but hubby & I want to ride the train in Skagway but my brother has been to that port. Are you planning a return trip or another cruise?

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      This is number one on my husband's wish list. It looks so inviting. 5*

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Still hoping to visit and take a cruise like yours. Beautiful pics! 5*