Hey Life and Travel readers! I’m Amanda, a college administrator by day and wannabe personal trainer by night. I was born and raised on the North Shore of Boston and enjoy travelling, CrossFit, and gardening. I’m a mom to an adorable gray tabby kitty, Nala. My husband and I are fairly new homeowners so we’ve always got some kind of project going on.
Earlier this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Alaska for two weeks with my Aunt Lois. The destination has always been on her ‘bucket list’ and since her husband doesn’t like to fly, I made the sacrifice (sarcasm, of course!) to be her travel companion. We’ve always been very close, so I’m grateful that we got to experience so many amazing places together!
We toured the Canadian Rockies for the first five days of our trip – beginning in Calgary and heading west through Canmore, Jasper, Kamloops, Vancouver and ending in Seattle, WA, where we embarked the Norwegian Jewel (link to https://www.ncl.com ) for seven days.
The cruise featured four port stops: Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia. Each port was very distinct, so I feel that we got a true sense of the Alaskan culture.
It was my first time on a cruise, so I was really unsure of what to expect. The ship itself was great – a little dated, but I didn’t seem to notice because there were so many other things to do – from nightly entertainment, great restaurants/bars/lounges, gym classes, spa services (which I totally took advantage of and recommend!), etc. The ship also had a great pool/deck/hot tub area, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperative so we couldn’t take advantage of this space. (And yes, I’m wearing the same jacket in all of these photos – don’t judge – it rained almost every day of this trip and boy was I glad I packed that jacket!)
Whether you’re looking to explore the downtown areas of each port on your own or book an excursion (each port had dozens to choose from), Norwegian really makes it easy to customize your trip.
*Also, if you’re interested in a longer duration cruise or going further north in Alaska, Norwegian Cruise Line has many other cruise options to accommodate.*
Here are a few highlights of each port we visited, including Seattle:
- Claim to fame: Alaska’s first city and the salmon capital of the world; Creek Street – Ketchikan’s old red-light district
- Things to do: great shopping, featuring locally made artisan items; Creek Street Boardwalk; tour Dolly’s House, featuring antiques, old photographs, secret caches, and a video history of Creek Street’s most famous madam, Dolly Arthur; George Inlet Crab Feast & Wilderness Exploration (link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPRWBnLrOEY); Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show; and the Totem Bight State Historical Park
- Claim to fame: Alaska’s capital city, reachable only by boat or seaplane
- Things to do: Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventures – a must see in my opinion! (link http://www.glaciergardens.com/); the Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls; and the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
- Claim to fame: This small town (of only 6 downtown blocks and between 800-1,000 residents) was the heart of the Western Gold Rush, featuring gold-rush-era buildings
Things to do: downtown shopping; White Pass & Yukon Route Scenic Railway (link https://wpyr.com/); and Alaska 360 (https://alaska3sixty.com/home/), featuring an Iditarod meet-and-greet with a former race competitor and the dog team, gold panning, a dredge tour, and the ‘40 below’ experience
- Claim to fame: The capital city of British Columbia located on Vancouver Island; Victorian architecture; fairly mild temperatures (by Canadian and Northeast U.S. standards!) with an average of only 10 inches of snow per year
- Things to do: Fairmont Empress Hotel afternoon tea; Butchart Gardens; Craigdarroch Castle; dining and shopping along the harbor
- Claim to fame: Washington state’s largest city and capital; home to a large tech industry, with Microsoft and Amazon headquartered there (and Starbucks). Though not part of the tech industry, I’m pretty sure Starbucks keeps the tech industry folks fueled and caffeinated – which pretty much means they can be considered part of the tech industry 😉
- Things to do: Chuhily Garden and Glass; Ivar’s Salmon House with views of Lake Union and Seattle’s skyline; the Space Needle; Pike Place Public Market; tour of the city via duck boats.
We booked our tour through YMT Vacations (link https://www.ymtvacations.com). It was great because the company handled hotel reservations, transportation – bus, cruise, and flights (although we booked our flights on our own because I found it to be cheaper), and a tour guide during our time in Canada. The convenience of having everything planned out was great because we didn’t have to think about anything however, there are a couple of things to consider before you book:
- I was the youngest member of our tour by about 30 years or so. Since I’ve got an old soul, this didn’t really bother me, but if you have children or are looking to meet couples under the age of 55, this company may not be for you!
- Because there were so many sights to see, we didn’t always have enough time to spend at certain locations. With 30 other travelers, it’s hard to please everyone!
- There was a lot of sitting. The coach bus was very comfortable, however we were on the road each day for 12+ hours. Of course we made stops at landmarks along the way and walked a lot during this time, but I don’t think I was prepared for the amount of travel time on the bus.
This trip was a once in a lifetime experience that I would recommend to anyone looking for a scenic, active vacation!
Follow me on Instagram @fit_testah for more photos of this trip as well as fitness inspo, Nala selfies, home reno projects, and other shenanigans!