Definitely Not a Folly
Dear Alaska, you are beautiful . . .
You Wanna Go Where?
When my Daddy retired this past January, I asked him what he wanted for his retirement present.
What did he want?
He (always has) wanted to go on an Alaska cruise.
Wow! I initially honestly thought he was so full of sh*t. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know that’s not nice to say about your Daddy, but it was the truth and I’ll tell you why. . .
Simple: My Daddy (Matthew Drake) DOES NOT FLY. And was quite vocal about it. Despite flying quite a bit for work in the past, my Dad has developed a HUGE fear of flying. And no matter how hard I’ve tried, I failed to convince him that there’s a whole world out there he’s missing by not flying. In fact I’m pretty sure (in true Matthew form) he retorted something very smart-assy like “I’ve got DirectTV and the National Geographic channel. So I’m good. I can see the world from my house.” Ugh, insert eye roll right here.
So as you can see, he wouldn’t budge. It was a “No ma’am Pam” for him. It wasn’t happening. It wasn’t up for discussion. Period.
Fast forward to 8 months later and I’m happy to report that my Daddy conquered his fear of flying like a champ annnnnnd we (my Mom, Dad and I) can now cross Seattle, Alaska (Juneau and Skagway) and Victoria, British Columbia (Canada) off of our lists.
***And get this, my Daddy is ready y’all! He is ready to fly international now. Watch out world!!!
Stay tuned . . .
For anyone wanting to go to Alaska, I would say be prepared to see the following: breathtakingly beautiful scenes from nature, infinite waterfalls, lush palettes in hues blues and greens and magical centuries old icebergs and glaciers. Alaska was gorgeous.
A little background: This was cruise number 3 for me and my parents (The Cruise Pros) have collectively been on at least 10 cruises (they honestly, lost count). They are spunky seniors and cruising is what they LOVE to do. Combined with our past cruises, here’s a few tips we learned from our Alaska cruise that’ll hopefully help the next time you set sail. Bon Voyage!!!
*For the visual Cliffnotes version of our trip, check out my InstaStory “Alaska” highlights on Instagram. (make sure to turn the volume up when you watch).
9 Things You Need to Know Before Your Alaska Cruise
1. Arrive Early
It’s true what they say, “the early bird gets the worm”. Cruise check-in lines can be BRUTAL. In my opinion, this is hands down the worse part of cruising. Think about it this way, the cruise line allows 6 hours for guest to check in for a reason. Why? Because there are literally 1000’s of people on one ship. We arrived at 10:30 am and it still took us about 45 mins to complete check-in. Do yourself a HUGE favor and get there as early as possible to check-in.
2. Bring a Real Watch
There’s one thing cruise ships and Las Vegas have in common . . . no clocks. Have you ever noticed? Vegas’ does this so you’ll loose track of time in their casinos and I’m pretty positive cruise lines do this because they want to focus on fun and relaxation. Which is fair. However not knowing the time, stresses me out (the exact opposite) due to the time zone changes. And typically my 85 gadgets (obviously an exaggeration) keep me on track by magically adjusting to whatever time zone I wander into. Sad to say, but this time technology failed me. We jumped 3 time zones and my phone did not update. Probably has something to do with being in the middle of no where and having no reception. Ugh! So pro-tip, bring an “old school” watch with you on the cruise so you don’t miss out on activities, dinners (that’s important) and getting back to the ship on time so you don’t get left (super important).
3. Beware of Roaming Data
We live in a pretty tech dependent society these days. I’m
co-dependent connected. You are co-dependent connected. We all are co-dependent connected. I’m not sure what your cell phone plan consists of but if it’s anything like mine, it doesn’t include international calls or service in international waters either. Because of this, it’s best to turn your phone off. Did you know that if you opt to leave you phone on, you could be charged for all incoming correspondence (I.e. text messages, voicemails and etc) even if you don’t answer your phone? Here’s a little tip, check with your wireless provider prior to leaving. We did and our plan allowed for us to turn our phones on and use them without fear once we docked in Alaska and Canada. If your plan allows the same, don’t forget to turn your phone off prior to reembarking the ship.
4. Bring the Drama(mine)
I’m not gonna lie, sometimes the ship experience a little “chop”. Meaning, the water can get a little rough and cause the ship to rock for prolong periods of time. Err on the side of caution and always bring some Dramamine to kill the motion sickness just in case. Did you forget your to bring the drama(mine)? No worries. The ship should have some available to you free of charge in the infirmary or at the guest services desk.
5. Get a Room . . . a Balcony Room
When I asked my friends, who’ve been on an Alaska cruise before, “what’s the one thing I should do or know about an Alaska cruise?” And the reply I got time and time again was, “get a room with a balcony.” Well I guess that settled it. We got a room with a balcony. What’s so special about a balcony on an Alaska cruise? Having a balcony gives you access to view alllllllll beauty of the ocean, the mountains, the waterfalls and the icebergs from the comfort and privacy of your own room. And best of all, the balcony gives you VIP (so to speak) access to the MAJOR glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord. See the picture above? This picture was taken on our balcony around 6:30 am (I know because I was wearing my “old school” watch). Pro-Tip: When the ship cruises to Tracy Arm Fjord, which is essentially an inlet blocked by a beautiful centuries old glacier, the ship will cruise up to it, and slowly make a 180 degree turn. By having a balcony, you get a front row seat to the going into and exiting Tracy Arm Fjord, the mountains, the waterfalls, the icebergs the seals (if you are lucky) and the massive massive glacier. No worries if you don’t have a balcony, all this can be viewed from the top deck of the ship too.
6.Skip the Lines
One of the perks of having a suite on the ship is the use of the concierge services. Got a question? Just ask the concierge. Concierge services was such a life saver and soooooooo painless compared to waiting in the looooooooooooooong and winding lines of guest services.
7.Skip the Pricey Excursions. Instead, Ask the
One of the BEST adventures on our Alaska cruise we had was thanks to the recommendation of a crew member. Long story short, our shore excursion plans hit a little snafu. So, we were left with no excursion plans when we arrived to Juneau. After a brief conversation with one of the ladies who worked in the ship’s jewelry store, we were off to enjoy the Mendenhall Glacier via cab and the sky gondola (see below). Not really sure what took me so long to figure out to ask the crew for recommendations. After all they are the experts. Did you know that they typically work on a 9 month contract on the ship. This means they’ve docked at Juneau (and other ports) countless times. They can give you the dets on where to go and what to do and sometimes at a fraction of the price.
8. Try New Tastes
Each night, you are treated to a fancy smanshy dinner served in the dining room. So if you ever wanted to try something new, now is the time to get your sample on. Ever had Baked Alaska? What about peach and mango soup? How about roasted duck? Listen, you ain’t gots to be scared. It’s part of your cruise fare. Just try. And if you aren’t a fan, just let your waiter know. They’ll be happy to bring you something else more suiting to your tastes.
9. Check the Weather
When I thought of Alaska, I instantly just knew it was going to be for-reeeeeezing cold. I mean, it is by the North Pole and Santa does live there, right? And Alaska has glaciers and icebergs, right (again)? So imagine my surprise when I found out that the predicted low for our trip was in the mid 40’s and the high was in the 60’s. Moral of the story, Alaska’s temps do vary throughout the state and throughout the year. It’s not just cold. #noted
Would I recommend taking an Alaska cruise?
So get cruising.
Drop me a line below in the comments with your awesome tips, tricks and hacks from your Alaska cruise.
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