Alaska ‘gold rush’ sets sail from Seattle

Cruise season is a really big thing for the economy in Seattle, as thousands of tourists come into the city in order to sail to Alaska, Many spend a couple of days in our area spending at hotels, restaurants and gift shops. We are so lucky. All we have to do is grab Shuttle Express and head to the Bell Street Terminal.

That is just what a small group of us did recently. We boarded Norwegian Jewel on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and headed out past Magnolia Point and into the Straights of Juan de Fuca on our way to the Inside Passage.

That first day on board as you cruise through the passage gives plenty of time to explore the ship, find the restaurants, theaters, shops, lounges, pools, gym, etc.  We made oadvance dinner reservations and booked a few favorite shore excursions. We had all previously done an Alaska cruise, but here we were again, waiting to see all the splendor that state has to offer.

The first stop was Ketchikan, the “Salmon Capitol of the World” and the City of Totems. This is home to the world’s largest collection of totem poles. There are many people who can help with the stories that the totems tell, or you can make up our own.

Juneau, the capital city, offers many adventures for those who want to take them. A helicopter ride over the glaciers is spectacular and thrilling, but we opted to head into town to the Red Dog Saloon. There is sawdust on the floor and old-time costumes on the wait staff.  Entertainment is a gentleman who I think knows every song ever written and sings and talks for hours on end.

But one of the major reasons that we take an Alaska cruise is to see the beauty of the glaciers. There is certainly something to be said about ice blue as chunks of  ice break off and spill down the face of the glacier. Rolling pieces may seem dark and dirty on the surface, but as they turn over in the sun, you see the true meaning of the color.

Sawyer Glacier is such a place. Cool weather put us in sweatshirts, but it is well worth being outside to actually hear that ice break off and roar to the sea.

The last Alaska stop was Skagway, “Gateway to the Klondike.”  It was from here that so many took their chances of finding gold in the pioneer days. The town is very picturesque, and you can easily imagine what it must have looked like so long ago. A sidetrip on the Yukon Railroad is a great way to spend the day and see more of the scenery.

And then there is everything to see and do back on the ship. We took advantage of several of the speciality restaurants, enjoyed the shows in the theater, and took a couple of chances in the casino. All the time we were reminding ourselves of how lucky we are to live in the Northwest and be close to nature like this.

A quick stop in Victoria for the mandated out-of-country stop gave us a chance to see Buchart Gardens with all the spring flowers, wander in some of the shops and of course make a little pharmacy stop.

The week went by quickly, and all too soon we were back in Seattle and headed back home. There is another Alaska cruise in July that you might want to be on.

We have added a new trip to the international schedule for 2017. It will be a tour to Scotland in April. There might still be room on the Viking River Cruise in September.

Our group keeps growing. Be sure to contact me at 253-927-8207 if you are interested.  Put yourself on the email list for last-minute adventures at