Alaska cruise is beautiful, restful and awe-inspiring

Alaska is still one of the most beautiful areas you can cruise – and so easy to do from our area.  Even with very little notice, you can usually find some space. That is what we did. On the spur of the moment, we managed to gather a small group and head out on Golden Princess for a beautiful, restful week.

We left Seattle on a Sunday afternoon, headed into the Inside Passage.  How nice to have an entire day at sea on Monday to learn our way around the ship. We were very lucky to be able to obtain cabins next to each other. It made it so easy o decide what we would do each day, and every afternoon we shared tea time.

The first stop was Ketchikan, the self-described “Salmon Capital of the World.” We rented a large van and took off to see what it was all about. Our journey took us past small creeks and rivers where the salmon annually return to spawn. We spotted eagles on the shore and in the trees waiting for their chance at dinner. Even a bear was out foraging. Totem Bight State Park has 14 intricately carved and painted totem poles offering insight into the Tlingit and Haida Indian cultures.

One of the wonderful things about an Alaska cruise is the lighter, longer days. We were up very early on Wednesday morning and hanging out over the balconies as we entered Tracy Arm Fjord.  You could almost touch the shoreline and feel the spray from the many waterfalls as we glided through this truly magnificent scenery. Glacial ice floes drifted past, and we learned the true beauty of “ice blue.”  Wrapped in blankets off our beds, we spent a great deal of time just watching and finally ended up staring straight into a glacier. It truly makes you see the wonders of this world we live in.

Leaving Tracy Arm Fjord, we headed for Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. Sarah Palin wasn’t out to greet us, but we did take a tour that went past the capitol building and then out to the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier. Such a site, but a disappointment as well when you think of global warming and how these massive structures have moved back so far in recent years.

The highlight of our touring, however, was The Red Dog Saloon. Here is Alaska as you always picture it during the gold rush days. The rowdy bar room crowd sings along with a piano player and enjoys good food and fun. They even sang “Happy Birthday” to Audrey Stacy, one of our own, who was celebrating her 98th on this cruise.

It was then off though the waters of the Upper Lynn Canal to Skagway, which gives off the feel of those in the area with the fever for gold. The buildings have remained with that look. The year-round population is 965, but that swells to more than double during the summer cruise season.  It was a bit of a rainy day, but we headed to visit the Red Onion Saloon, which was Skagway’s most exclusive bordello in the day and now is a National Historic Building. The ladies are dressed in costume, and you can take a tour.

The next couple of days were spent at sea as we headed back south toward Victoria and eventually our return to Seattle. There was still plenty to do on board with Movies at Sea, a full casino, shops and even restaurants we had not had time to enjoy. Cruising is a wonderful vacation with everything taken care of. We will continue to do it.

Plans are already being made for a cruise sometime in the winter. Keep a watch here for further information or call me at 253-927-8207. Have your name added to the e-mail list at There still might be time for you to join the Leavenworth theater group this month or get on the list for Cuba in December. New adventures are added all the time.

Carl and Lea Vest and Ann Armstrong help Audrey Stacy (right) celebrate her 98th birthday at The Red Dog Saloon in Juneau during their Alaska cruise. (Courtesy photo)
Carl and Lea Vest and Ann Armstrong help Audrey Stacy (right) celebrate her 98th birthday at The Red Dog Saloon in Juneau during their Alaska cruise. (Courtesy photo)