Every year, my family takes a vacation; however, now my brother and I are both graduated from high school. Since we will be moving farther away and our schedules will continue to get busier, our family probably won’t have the ability to go on a big family vacation any more. As sort of a last family vacation, we decided to go on an Alaskan Cruise with Princess Cruise lines. Our trip went from Seattle to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria (British Columbia), back to Seattle. The vacation wasn’t perfect by any means– it was cloudy, gloomy, and cold most of the time; we didn’t see much wildlife; some of our tours were WAY overpriced; and there were hiccups with the communication and service on the cruise. Despite the problems, though, our vacation was filled with new experiences and memories. I’d love to share some of my favorite moments with you!
I loved Seattle! We were there before and after our cruise. Before our cruise left, we mostly explored Pike Place Market, which is a fish market meets farmer’s market. There was so much local food and so many vendors selling amazing food. I wish I was hungrier because I would have loved to sample more of it! That day, we also went to the Gum Wall near the market. I don’t know how this wall started, but it is literally an alley whose walls are covered in gum. It makes for a cool picture.
After our cruise, we spent time near the space needle in Seattle. First we ate lunch at Mantra Thai Restaurant, and it was amazing. For around $10, you can get a large meal that is delicious. I had their pumpkin curry, and it was life changing. Afterwards, we walked around the Olympic Sculpture Park, and then walked over a mile uphill to Molly Moon’s Ice Cream– another life changing food experience. Molly Moon’s is a local ice cream company in Seattle that makes unique ice cream creations. I sampled flavors such as Honey Lavender, Melted Chocolate, Stumptown Coffee, and Balsamic Strawberry. I decided to go with the last two, but they all tasted wonderful.
The last thing we did that afternoon was visit the Chihuly Blown Glass exhibit. Wow, his work was mind-blowing. All of it was over-the-top both in size and complexity. This is an art exhibit that you cannot miss. Even my brother, who hates museums and art, was blown away (haha blown away… blown glass… I’m so puny) by this exhibit.
This was our second stop on the cruise. Even though it was cloudy, we had an awesome day of exploration. We spent our time at the famous Mendenhall Glacier, which is this huge glacier located next to this thundering waterfall. The scenery was breathtaking. After taking about a 2 mi round trip hike to get a closer view of the glacier, we took another 3.5 mile hike in the forest around the glacier. Alaska is so green! I felt like I was in Jurassic Park the whole time. It was a lot of uphill climbing, but luckily my whole family survived–even my 63-year-old dad who thinks he is in great shape even though he has lived a sedentary lifestyle since the beginning of time.
Skagway was my favorite stop on the cruise. Get this, it was sunny and warm all day! On this day we went on a helicopter ride to Meade Glacier.First of all, I was right next to the pilot (which is the best seat in my opinion). Second of all, mountains look 10x more majestic from 5000 feet in the air. Thirdly, we got to be on top of a glacier, which I will probably never do again. I also got to sample glacial water which is pretty much the cleanest, purest water I will ever drink–even more pure than purified drinking water that you can buy at the store. Another fun fact is that glaciers appear blue in real life because the ice absorbs every wavelength of light except for the blue wavelengths. Science is too cool.
Skagway also has a very cute downtown area filled with shops and restaurants. If our meals weren’t already included on our cruise, I would have loved to eat here (they had coffee shops, ice cream, bakeries, sit-down restaurants, and more). I personally felt that this downtown had a lot more charm compared to other typical tourist downtowns.
So there you have it– my favorite moments from this trip. I could never ever live in Alaska, but I’m glad I got to see some of this vast, beautiful state. If I were to go back some day, I would love to go more inland to visit Denali National Park and other popular places. This may have been our last family vacation, but this isn’t the last travel experience for me. I will see the world one way or another 🙂
Lots of love,