Everybody needs a vacation every now and then, and we are no different. We needed to change our pace so we decided to go on an Alaskan cruise with Royal Caribbean. It was strange getting out of the RV for a week but we really looked forward to the trip.
This was our second cruise to Alaska. About ten years ago, we sailed with Princess cruise lines and had a great time and were looking forward to seeing how things had changed.
Pre Cruise (May 9-19, 2017)
Prior to going on the cruise we stayed at Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell, Washington, which is just north of Seattle. Lake Pleasant RV Park is a small private park that is a dedicated wildlife habitat full of Canadian geese (we saw 13 babies one day) and various species of ducks. The ducks and geese were loud at times (often 24 hours a day) but it was nice.
It rained and rained and rained hard while we were there. However, we did get out a few days to explore the area. It took us a while to get used to the crisscrossing roadways and how to get around. I don’t think we would ever get used to the traffic. We’ve never seen traffic like this before. (We thought Austin was bad, this was worse.)
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market consists of a honeycomb of buildings and shops overlooking the Elliot Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington. This very busy market opened on August 17, 1907, and is one of the oldest continuously operated farmers’ markets in the U.S. It is famous for the fishmongers who will throw you some fish.
We visited Pike Place Market a few days before Mother’s Day and they were having their Flower Festival. The variety of flowers and colors were amazing.
The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is located in Seattle at Boeing Field. We enjoyed an afternoon of strolling past the exhibits of historic military and civilian aircraft. I could have spent a few more hours looking around, but we decided to get out of Seattle before the 5 o’clock rush hour traffic.
“VanGo” Goes Into Cruise Storage (May 19-26, 2017)
While we were on the cruise, “Van Go” (our RV) went into cruise storage at the RV park. It’s really just a big parking area with 20 amp electricity to keep your fridge running and the batteries charged. At the park there was a shuttle service to take you to the cruise dock but we decided to drive ourselves. We parked our Jeep in the downtown secure cruise parking lot – just in case we wanted to do something in Seattle after the cruise.
We prepared the RV for the cruise by emptying the freezer (during the weeks prior to the cruise this made for some interesting meal combinations) and the fresh food from our refrigerator. We did this just in case we lost power from the park while we were on the cruise. We also re-did our rodent repellent precautions that we normally take and cleaned the inside of the RV. These items just gave us some peace of mind while we were on the cruise.
The Cruise (May 19-26, 2017)
We had fun on the cruise and it was good to get away. We spent much of our time learning new things (there were speakers and seminars on board) and walking the decks looking for whales and other wildlife.
We left on the cruise from Seattle, Washington. We would recommend using their long-term parking, it was very convenient and easy.
Funny side note: The day we left Seattle was the first warm pretty day since we had arrived in the area and we were headed to cold Alaska!
As we left Seattle we entered the open seas of the north Pacific. The ship was really rocking and rolling and I’m sorry to report that Don got a little sea sick, along with most of the rest of the people on the ship. However, he recovered quickly when we entered the Inside Passageway.
Alaska Inside Passageway
The Inside Passage is a route along the coast that is a series of passages where ships can weave through the islands on the Pacific coast of North America. The route begins in Washington state, criss-crosses through western British Columbia (Canada) and ends in southeastern Alaska. It is a beautiful area that has been shaped by massive glaciers millions of years ago, but is constantly changing. It’s mountains are carpeted with impressive forests and wildlife-filled fjords. Ships have been using this route for years to avoid some of the bad weather and rough waters in the open ocean.
Juneau, Alaska is the remote capital of Alaska and sits at the base of 3,819 ft. Mount Roberts. It is reachable only by boat or seaplane. Last time we were there we rode the tram 1,800 feet up Mount Roberts to an alpine area with hiking trails, wildflowers and views of Gastineau Channel.
We didn’t take the tram this time because when we arrived at Juneau it was cold, rainy, and had strong winds. Several people decided to not go to town but Don and I put on our rain gear and walked to town to a coffee shop to warm up and then we did some shopping. (You’ll notice a theme, we were trying to get as many ‘steps’ as we could so we walked everywhere. And we never used the elevators on board the cruise ship, even though we were on the seventh floor!) We had a great time but there were several moments on the way to town that I thought the wind and rain were pushing us so hard that we weren’t making any progress.
Skagway is a very small town in southeast Alaska, along the Inside Passage. It’s claim to fame are the gold-rush-era buildings, now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. It is also home to vintage locomotives (White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad) which offer outstanding mountain views as the trains climb toward Canada.
We walked all over downtown exploring the area and it didn’t seem to have changed much since we were last there.
Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier
A fjord is a Nordic word meaning a narrow waterway surrounded by sharp cliffs and Tracy Arm Fjord is one of the most beautiful in Alaska. The 27 mile long fjord is narrow (no more than 1/2 mile wide in some areas), has 3,000 foot cliffs on either side and numerous water falls. It is not a stop where you get off the ship but you can observe it from throughout the ship. The Captain takes the ship into the fjord and turns to bring it back out. It is breathtaking but it has changed a lot since we were last here. The glaciers are melting and calving icebergs at alarming rates, forever changing the landscape.
If you look closely at the photo below of the iceberg, there is a bald eagle perched on the tip.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
One of our favorite places to visit is Victoria and when we arrived the weather became warm, the sun was out, and it was beautiful, as usual. In past years, we took the ferry from Port Angeles, Washington and explored the area. (Mitch even went with us once.) We have always loved this part of the world.
Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and is located on the southern end of Vancouver Island. It is known for it’s outdoor activities, Victorian architecture, and beautiful gardens. It is like a step back in time. If you have never been, this place needs to be on your bucket list.
Back to Seattle
We arrived back in Seattle early on the morning of May 26 and quickly disembarked and headed to Bothell to take VanGo out of Cruise Storage.
Post Cruise (May 26-31, 2017)
We returned to Lake Pleasant RV Park for a short stay while we returned to the RV life and just prior to our jaunt to Golden, Colorado and then on to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
A Day of Bike Riding at Kenmore, Washington
Before leaving Bothell, we took a short drive west, to a bike path along the shores of Lake Washington in the town of Kenmore. It was a scenic bike ride on a busy trail, taking a stop to watch the float planes take-off and land. Then on the way back to the RV park, we took a scenic drive back and checked out a farmer’s market.
See our campground review here.
Happy Trails – We hope you’ve enjoyed traveling with us to this beautiful part of the world.