When we moved to Seattle, we decided to prioritize traveling along the west coast or places more accessible from the west coast, including Alaska. While I had hoped to give a great deal of thought to planning a major trip to Brian’s 50th state, complete with boat, rail and air travel so we could discover everything the state has to offer from multiple perspectives, we ended up quickly throwing together our plans for an Alaskan cruise when our trip to Japan didn’t pan out.
We were able to narrow down which cruise line and which cruise fairly quickly based on the week we wanted to travel, the duration we wanted to be gone and the fact that we wanted to stop in Sitka, which isn’t a stop for many cruise lines. Those criteria basically left us with one option—Holland America cruise line’s MS Eurodam for a week-long Alaskan Explorer cruise to Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka and Ketchikan, with an initial day at sea.
We are light packers so we didn’t take much with us and had an easy Uber ride from our house to the Smith Cove cruise terminal in Magnolia. We breezed through security and before we knew it, we were in our room and checking out our balcony, where we hoped to enjoy views of the Alaskan coastline.
Brian had spent a lot of time calling around and finding us the best deal for booking the cruise and the one he landed on offered us a fair amount of shipboard credit and two bottles of champagne—we were ready to enjoy some time off!
It was early afternoon as our ship pulled away from port, and we had fantastic views of Seattle from the aft deck.
There was music, drinks and appetizers, and tons of people crowding the railing to take pictures of the skyline before it disappeared—ourselves included!
It’s amazing how big the ships are—being so high on the water offered an interesting perspective of the city.
As we set off, navigating around Whidbey Island and out past Port Townsend, Brian and I lounged on some deck chairs and prepared for our evening and day at sea.
The wind picked up as we left the land behind, and before we knew it we were grabbing some dinner and then enjoying the views from our balcony as we cruised along the Strait of Juan de Fuca along the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula and out to sea.
A second cruise ship wasn’t far behind us, and we caught occasional glimpses of it in our wake. The sunset was beautiful, the moon hung big and bright in the sky, and we were on our way.
Our first full day was a day at sea, and we were quickly reminded why we don’t usually cruise—we go stir crazy! Sure there are lots of activities on board and we did end up watching a few documentaries and movies from our stateroom, but we weren’t interested in shopping or the spa, we don’t gamble, we didn’t plan to fight everyone for time in the pools and hot tubs, and we really wanted some activity to work off all of the food we seemed to be eating.
One of our favorite activities ended up being our daily walks on the lower promenade. We were outside, we were getting some exercise, and we were away from all of the people who seemed to be everywhere we turned. We spent quite a bit of time roaming around the various public decks on ship.
I had hoped we would get to enjoy some views along the way but we were so far from shore that we really only had views of general land mass and water. It was pretty, but I was glad Brian had invested in a really nice zoom lens or else nothing would have been discernible in our pictures!
What we did end up enjoying on board were the music and shows. The shows were ok—we went to see a couple of productions and a magician on the days where we were on board more than we would have liked—but I preferred the smaller musical acts.
There was a dueling piano bar, a string quartet, and a larger band that performed Motown, jazz and any number of other recognizable tunes. We also discovered a wine and appetizer pairing and took part in those discussions and tastings on a couple of occasions.
I was glad we invested in a balcony room for this particular cruise—it was nice escaping to our room and enjoying the views in a more private space and without having to wait for a seat or area of railing to open up.
On our mornings at sea, I would run up to the coffee shop in the front of the ship to get a latte or cappuccino and then enjoy my beverage and my book on our balcony before we had to get ready for the day.
Although it’s cheesy, I also looked forward to the towel designs our housekeeping team left for us each day and tried to snap a picture before we put them to use!
Thankfully, even on the rougher days at sea, I didn’t get sick this trip. My mom had gathered a number of holistic items for me to try. Although I didn’t use the ginger gum, I did keep the pressure point bracelets on and I felt fine. I’m well aware it was likely all in my mind, but it worked—I don’t really care why!
Our days at sea were not my favorite days of the trip, but we explored the ship, got in as much walking as we could, and tried to use the time to relax and plan for our excursions. Maybe when we’re less active cruising will become more appealing, but for now, I would say it’s not my favorite method of travel.
What I do like about cruising is waking up somewhere new each day and seeing some places from the perspective of the ship. Alaska by water was interesting in many ways, but I look forward to going back and discovering much more via other methods of travel.