Join us for the last 3 stops of our Alaskan cruise on the NCL Spirit. We sailed for 16 days from Hawaii to Alaska and these last 3 stops were outstanding as well. We are thrilled that we were able to do this cruise and see 2 states that we had never seen before. It was certainly a treat!
Scenic Skagway: From the NCL Freestyle Daily
Skagway a compact city in SE Alaska is located in a narrow glaciated valley at the head of the Taiya Inlet, the north end of the Lynn Canal, which is the most northern fjord on the Inside Passage on the South coast of Alaska. It’s home to gold-rush-era buildings, now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The White Pass and Yukon Route railroad “Scenic Railway of the World”runs vintage locomotives past the famously steep Chilkoot Trail and offers sweeping mountain views during its climb toward Canada. Surrounded by the unrivalled landscapes and inhabiting wildlife of the national park, Skagway paints a picture of Alaska like no other.
Side Note: My parents drove to Alaska with my aunt and uncle and some other relatives on a camper/RV adventure about 20 years ago. I had seen pictures of their trip and Skagway was one of the stops. The town hasn’t changed a bit and we took pics of the same buildings, like that driftwood covered one and the dome topped yellow building you’ll see below.
Our ship docked right into Skagway port and this is what we saw when we got off and walked toward town. We had booked an excursion with a tour company not affiliated with the ship and it was fine. We were in a tour bus with a few other people and drove up the the mountains for sweeping views of the snow covered peaks.
As mentioned above, this town feels like an old western town right out of the movies.
That driftwood covered AB building was so unique and the domed hotel was too. Mom had these buildings in her photo album too, so that was fun to compare.
Golden North Hotel
We headed up into the mountains with soaring scenery all around. Lots of ice and snow capped mountains were in view.
It was spectacular, so we had to take pics of us in there too. You know how that is!
Alaska is such a rugged place with scenic views all around.
At the uppermost part of the mountains there was an avalanche sign. We saw some campers who had snow mobiles taking them out for a spin while we watched.
It takes a special person to want to camp in the cold of Alaska. It wouldn’t be my thing, but a lot of people apparently do.
Just look at all that snow and those far away snow covered mountains.
You can see the snow mobiliers have had a great time.
Back down the mountain, this view of our NCL Spirit ship was quite pretty as well.
Our driver took us by the Gold Rush Cemetery, where we walked through the old graves and ended up at a beautiful waterfall.
Isn’t that gorgeous?!
We enjoyed this walk through nature. It wasn’t that cold and our jackets were plenty for the day.
Mark bought all the t-shirts. That’s his thing, to buy t-shirts from most everywhere we visit. He has a lot of them!
Our ship waiting for us.
We saw some incredible sunsets while on the ship in Alaska and I tried to capture as many as I could.
Juneau, Alaska: From the NCL Freestyle Daily
The City and Borough of Juneau more commonly known simply as Juneau, is the capital city of the state of Alaska. Located in the Gastineau Channel and the Alaskan panhandle, is located within some of the most break taking geography including grand mountain peaks and the pristine waterfront. With its backdrop of grand mountain peaks, Juneau has billed itself as “Alaska’s Peak Experience”. Juneau, might be one of the best places in the world to see a bald eagle. In fact, estimates say there are between 15,000 and 30,000 of them within the Juneau area.
We opted for a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier while in Juneau. This is also the day that Mark began to feel badly. He got some sort of cold/head thing that made him really not feel good, but he rallied this day and we took a bus to the glacier, walked the trails to a pretty waterfall and then came back to the ship.
We saw a video about Mendenhall Glacier at the Visitor’s Center and then took a leisurely walk through the woods to a waterfall.
We saw a mountain goat high up on the hill above us. We heard there are so many wild goats all around Alaska and saw a few from a distance.
The waterfall was gorgeous, flowing out from the mountains by the glacier.
I was particularly fascinated by all the moss growing on the rocks and all over the forest. It was so verdant and green.
A view of our ship docked at port. We ended our day in Juneau on this excursion of the glacier and went back to the ship to rest and have dinner. Mark really wasn’t feel good and we had one more excursion day left the next day, so I told him not to try to go that I would just go by myself so he could rest. He stayed in the room all day and slept and I’m glad he started feeling better the last day at sea.
Ketchikan: From the NCL Freestyle Daily
Just 90 miles north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Ketchikan hugs the bluffs that form the shoreline along the southwest corner of Revillagigedo Island. Known for its many Native American totem poles, on display throughout town. Nearby, Misty Fiords National Monument is a glacier-carved wilderness featuring snowcapped mountains. Ketchikan is known as Alaska’s “first city” due to its location at the southern tip of the Inside Passage. Located in the midst of the Tongass National Forest a 17M-acre rainforest full of lush cedar, Sitka spruce, waterfalls, and wildlife. Earning the nickname “Rain Capital of Alaska”. The average annual rainfall is between 140 and 160 inches per year.
I had booked us a tour to see the Tongass National Forest. I should have done a little more research on what there is to see, but it all worked out pretty well after all. I got off the ship and onto the shuttle bus that took us to the town of Ketchikan. I had instructions on where to meet my tour guide and after asking for directions found him in front of the rain gauge. We weren’t in town long and met up with the other 2 couples on the tour, so it was a small one.
I had a chance to look around town a bit on the walk to meet my tour guide. There were two Princess cruise ships docked there at the same time and we found out that NCL has built their own cruise dock because they were getting bumped out of the prime spots in town. We boarded our van and headed for the Tongass National Forest where we did a walking tour of the forest.
Our guide was very knowledgeable of the area and it was nice to listen to him.He was a Native Alaskan of the Tlingit tribe and did a great job with our tour.
One of the first things we saw in the forest were these pretty yellow flowers that reminded me of calla lilies. They were called Skunk Cabbage, we were told. Not a very appetizing name for a beautiful flower.
He explained that trees uproot in the forest and then they create another habitat and almost an artistic look about them. I thought these were fascinating to see.
Moss covers everything in the forest too, creating a magical landscape.
There are ponds and waterfalls all around as well.
A hollowed out tree trunk gave a fairy like look to this tree. We expected gnomes to come out!
I can’t remember now what he called these little bowls on this twig, but they were fairy-like too, very small and delicate.
We walked and saw some gorgeous scenery. I was glad that Mark stayed back on the ship though because it was a bit of walking.
We did see a couple of bald eagles while in the forest. He said this was a young one.
I was very fascinated by the yellow skunk cabbage plants. They were everywhere.
Our ship was waiting when we got back and I was happy to get back on and get ready for our next to the last day’s dinner. We had one more day at sea before we arrived in Vancouver and flew back home to Atlanta.
Our last night on the ship before we got to Vancouver. We made the most of our cruise and enjoyed every minute of it.
One last sunset to end our adventure on the water with the NCL Spirit.
Did we love our cruise? Yes, we absolutely did love it! It’s such a memorable trip and I made photo books of Hawaii and Alaska to remember it all. We really had a great time and had no regrets about going for such a long time, although we were ready to get home too. We are home bodies, but love to travel. This one is in the memory books forever and we can check Alaska and Hawaii off our list. As I mentioned, we are more Hawaii people than Alaska people, so we will definitely plan a trip back to Hawaii to explore more of the islands. It helps that Mark’s daughter and family are living there, that gives us a good excuse to go back.
I hope you all enjoyed going along on this cruise with us. It truly was the trip of a lifetime!
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