Fast forward nearly four years and after talking about Alaska for nearly three years, then saving for, booking, and planning a trip for a year, I boarded the Sapphire Princess in May 2008. Balcony stateroom and all.
We had chosen the Voyage of the Glaciers cruise that left from Vancouver and ended in Whittier, followed by a three-night land tour that visited Mt. McKinley (sort of), Denali, and Fairbanks. We really went all out for this trip, and for the most part I don't regret that. If I never get back to Alaska, I can say that I've seen plenty of it...but mind you, in the end this 13-night vacation cost us close to $10,000 and put off any future major trips for a couple of years.
|Steam clock in the Gaslight district of Vancouver|
While in Vancouver, we visited the Gaslight District and ate at the Water St. Cafe. Food and service were exemplary at the time, but reading more recent reviews has led me to believe that things may have gone downhill since.
|Gotta love the Mounties!|
As for our stateroom, the room itself was fairly small--actually smaller than the oceanview room we'd had on the Valor a few years prior--but we had chosen a room with an extra-large balcony, and that ended up being the best choice for us. We spend a lot of time on the balcony, and with all the scenic cruising that most Alaskan cruises involve, I do not regret one bit that we invested the extra money in this room category.
|Enjoying our extended balcony!|
|My dad and I being "Double Dessert Daredevils"!|
|Our guides. Umm yeah the tall one was gorgeous.|
Our second port was Juneau, and we had a pretty long day here, which was nice. We began the morning with some shopping (okay, a lot of shopping, there are some amazing local stores in Juneau!) and followed that with a Princess-specific tour that took us on a tour of the Alaska Brewing Co., to Mendenhall Glacier, and to a cooking class where we got to watch a chef prepare a special dish and, of course, taste said dish--along with some wine! After all the beer and wine we ingested, we were happy to have a couple hours left to hang out at the Red Dog Saloon. Although quite touristy, this bar is an absolute blast and I call it a must for anyone who visits Juneau!
|Porcupine in a tree at Mendenhall Glacier|
|Sailing away from Juneau|
|Arctic Brotherhood building in Skagway|
We followed the streetcar tour with a couple hours of shopping, then boarded a coach to drive into Canada's Yukon territory! Personally, I could have taken or left this excursion. Although it was a beautiful drive and I love being able to say that I've actually "been to the Yukon", there wasn't much of note for that part of the tour. We did see some black bears, but the coach driver refused to stop so that we could take pictures...therefore I have no proof of what was probably our most exciting wildlife siting of the entire trip. However, we ended this excursion with dinner at the Liarsville Salmon Bake, and that is not to be missed! Although Liarsville is a sort of "mock" town, the food was absolutely amazing. So amazing, in fact, that we weren't even too upset that we missed the crab leg dinner on the ship.
|The fault where the Pacific and Tectonic plates meet|
|Me on the Yukon Suspension Bridge! :D|
|Cruising beautiful Glacier Bay|
|Awesome wine tasting|
|My mom and I at the last formal dinner|
|More scenic cruising|
Coming up, I'll discuss the land portion of our cruisetour, as well as a planned but also surprising stop in Seattle on the way home, and give you my conclusion on whether or not a Princess Cruisetour is the only way to go!