Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Alaskan Cruise - Part I - San Francisco, Ketchikan, Juneau & Glacier

I've had the wonderful opportunity to travel with family on a cruise. While it's not a favorite form of travel for me, I certainly understand the appeal. It was such an easy way to see a variety of places throughout what must be a very challenging landscape to traverse by car. All in all I'm very grateful to have been taken on this fun journey that began in San Francisco and continued north to Glacier Bay, Juneau and other ports of Alaska.

We departed from San Francisco, and getting these views of the bay was stunning. I definitely rate it highly as an experience, and as you can see above, there is a great view of Alcatraz on the way.

The view of the city from the boat was incredible. This alone was so much fun.

I had to snap quite a lot of photos.

Before long it was time to head back in to the boat. I do get a little bit edgy out there on the open sea, so it's not the most relaxing thing for me. But again, I can see the appeal.
Onboard, cruises must be a lot of fun for folks who like to gamble and eat. I was glad to be with a large group of people. We had a nice time socializing and just chillin, playing cards. If I was convinced to go on another cruise, it would ideally be as part of a bigger group.

The next morning we made our first stop in Ketchikan.

It's a quintessential American city.

We got to treat ourselves on this trip, because so much of it had been generously paid for, so we went on some awesome little excursions (that I arranged on my own and not through the cruise line), such as this zipline course. I'd never been and figured it would be a lot of fun in Alaska. I really enjoyed it but I suspect my husband was a tad underwhelmed.

It goes without saying but there is a lot of natural beauty in Alaska.

There are also plenty of curious cats in Alaska as well.

Te cruise ships seem to overwhelm these quaint little towns, probably increasing the population by hundreds of percents.

Headed back out of port...

..and onto our next destination, Juneau.
Another nice little Alaskan town, they have a fun cable car, the Alaskan tramway. It's not cheap but the view is amazing. Another fun treat that might have otherwise been out of my budget.

Unfortunately the weather was not great, with clouds obscuring most of the landscape in the distance.

Back on the ground, we went on another great excursion, this time my first helicopter ride. We'd been flown to a glacier where we'd get to have a look around. While I got a little airsick, I really enjoyed our tour, and the fun pilot at Era Alaska.

Another couple of helicopters were taking off ahead of us. After we got airborne ourselves, the views were awesome. Jaw-dropping and for me, a little stomach-turning. I could really feel the flimsiness of the machine around us, so high up in the air.

All in all it was completely worthwhile, although I'm not sure it's an experience I'll repeat.

Above, you can see the propeller spinning in the shot.

I presume that due to the weight of the helicopters and/or the dearth of good landing sites, it's not a good idea for a bunch of helicopters to try to land together. We broke off from the little group and went along on our own. Here, the views somehow got even more spectacular as the glaciers came into focus. The only thing that might have been better would be a sunny day, but I'm not at all disappointed with our experience.

The surfaces of glaciers often have amazing and mesmerizing features. 

There were still plenty of landscapes to take in.

We got to land and check the glaciers out up close, and it was a memorable experience.

We'd shared the helicopter ride with another couple, seen in the shot above.

Before long it was time to head back.

There was even more in store for us, to come in Part II...

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