Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alaska: Juneau

So now that it is almost two months after the fact, I'm going to finally get around to writing about our cruise. In June, while the kids were at my parents house, I flew from CA to Seattle and Dave drove to Seattle. We met up and boarded the "Golden Princess," a gargantuan cruise ship that was going to take us through the Alaska inside passage.

We were planning on getting lunch in Seattle, but we were late and had to head straight to the dock. We were worried about whether we would be able to last until dinner with no lunch. We needn't have worried: we were an a cruise ship... your source for non-stop 24/7 food. We started by hitting the buffet for some lunch, which was only the first in a nonstop onslaught of dining choices. For some reason I had pictured it that you show up, slide your card through, you get to pick 1 from the selection of entrees... no, no, no. Basically anywhere and everywhere there is food. And when you go to the dining room you can order whatever you want, as many as you want. I could tell this was going to be dangerous... especially for a pregnant woman.

The first two days I managed to have only 3 bites of dessert. But then I gave up and just enjoyed myself the rest of the trip. Our first full day on the ship was at sea. It was formal night, so I got to pull out the AWESOME maternity formal that my mom whipped up for me while I was in California. Between shows and dance clubs and a GREAT comedian, there was plenty to do on board.

Our first port was Juneau, Alaska. For some reason, I had pictured the capital of Alaska as... bigger. It is only about 30,000 people and cannot be reached by road from the mainland. The scenery is breathtaking-- the town has the backdrop of huge snow-covered green mountains and cliffs with waterfalls. However, the cultural and architectural attractions of the city were... more sparse. Let's just say, that if the 3rd item on the list of recommended "Things to Do in Juneau" from the cruise ship is to "see the famous statue of a deaf dog," you're not exactly an up-and-happening place. But the attraction in Alaska is definitely the scenery-- which is breathtaking.

The actual towns (or what you can see with them in walking distance from a cruise ship) that we stopped at in Alaska were pretty similar. There are bunches of souvenir shops close to the dock and each town has a historic saloon (typically with "red" in the name: "The Red Onion," "The Red Garter," etc.). Some of the towns even have a historic brothel (now defunct, of course). I'm not sure why, but every single town we went to was overflowing with jewelry stores. Apparently we were the only people who didn't get the memo that people go to Alaska not to see glaciers or nature, but to BUY JEWELRY. Oops.

We pretty much stuck to the nature sight-seeing. In Juneau we did a whitewater rafting float from Mendenhall Glacier back to Juneau. Water activities in Alaska entail full-fledged chest-boots and rain slickers (given that the water was glacier runoff and around 35 degrees). The glacier was beautiful and we even got a few real rapids going down the river.

After our river-rafting, we walked around Juneau and went to an old Russian Orthodox church (built in Russia, shipped here and re-assembled). We even found a store selling Russian candy and treats. Dave got to chat with the owner in her native tongue. Then it was back to the ship for more food, fun and relaxation.


rlmquest said...

We took this cruise with the family...probably 3 or 4 years ago! It was fun...I would do it again! The scenery was gorgeous. The kids had so much fun on board the cruise ship. The food was great. A bunch of us adults got sick the first day at sea...but it quickly passed!

Cassie said...

Wow! You have had a busy summer! The cruise looked like a lot of fun--even if Juneau only had a satue of a deaf dog to offer.