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ErLee

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About ErLee

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    United States
  • Interests
    Travel, cruising, family, dogs
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Not sure! I've loved all that I've tried!
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    I haven't been there yet!

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  1. June 17th - Glacier Bay In looking back through my pictures, I don’t have amazing pictures from Glacier Bay day, but it was a fantastic day! I woke up early, excited to see the scenery! Going out on my balcony I found out it was an overcast, cloudy morning, and I couldn’t see much. I was a little disappointed, but undeterred, and assumed that our luck would hold and the view would improve. While it stayed mostly a cloudy day, the clouds did lift so we were able to enjoy our glacier viewing. Bruce was sleeping in a bit, so I met up with our traveling companions and went to their cabin to view the early part of Glacier Bay from their balcony. Above all else, I recommend that you do not sleep in on this day! We saw a lot of great wildlife that morning as we were coming in to the bay. There were a lot of otters and seals easily visible from the ship, and perfect with a good pair of binoculars. I even got my one and only sighting on the trip of a puffin! It was brief, but I had my binoculars trained on him and got a good look which made me very happy. We saw some whales in the distance, but mostly just the spray from their blowholes. I think during that viewing period If you were someone that had a high-powered camera and knew how to use it, that would be the only way to get really good pictures of the wildlife out there in the water. There was no way for things like that to show up on a phone so I didn’t bother to try to get pictures. Being able to listen to the naturalist over the TV in the cabin while we were out on the balcony made it very easy to tell what we were looking at and help us find things to train our binoculars on. The glaciers were magnificent, and all the scenery that day surrounding us was just beautiful despite the cloudy weather! I was so glad we picked an itinerary that included it. We spent most of that day either in our cabin out on the balcony or on that front viewing deck on Caribe that I had chosen my cabin specifically to be near. There were probably only ever about 20 or 30 people out there at the most at one time throughout the day, so it was very uncrowded and a friendly group. I cannot say enough about how great it was to know about that little area! It was a perfect location to get great views of the glaciers as we approached. When the ship was turned so the glaciers were on the starboard side, we went to our cabin, when the glaciers were on the port side we went back out on the front and had a great view still. We did see some seals and otters down there as well around the floating ice, but not as many as we had seen coming into the bay. The main thing you have to know about that day is that it is very cold and windy in Glacier Bay! Both on our balcony and out there on that front deck, the wind was biting , but I would not have wanted to be inside. In order to be able to stand outside I had on every layer of clothing that I had brought with me, including gloves and a winter scarf over my head. If I had not brought the one pair of fleece leggings to wear under my pants and the multiple layers of shirts and jackets with the rain jacket/windbreaker for the top layer, I would not of been able to stand out there all day. I did not end up bringing my puffer jacket, but I had a bunch of layers that I was able to pile on that day. The rest of the trip most of that was unnecessary, but that day if you don’t have warm layers, it will certainly impact your experience! Though not not the typical Glacier pics, here are a couple I like from that day...
  2. I would say all together we were over there at Mendenhall for maybe two hours. So it all depends on what time your whale watch is. Since our ship was there late that day, I had plenty of time to do what we wanted to do which is why I rented the car. But it also depends on which dock your ship will be at, because the walk to Avis can be far from some of them and you have to factor in time to walk back after you return the car. I do think they have Uber there, but I didn’t try using it since it was only about a half a mile from our ship, and I walk every day at home so I knew it wouldn’t be an issue.
  3. There was definitely some motion on the boat, particularly because it was a small craft, I was so enthralled with what I was watching that I didn’t find it to be overwhelming. Although I do sometimes suffer from motion sickness, when I’m cruising or flying, I now start taking meclizine the day before I leave and I just take one every day the whole time I’m traveling to avoid any problems. It doesn’t make me sleepy, has no side effects for me which is surprising since I’m very sensitive to medication, and it has taken care of that issue for me altogether. My husband used to always get seasick on the first day of a cruise before he would take anything or do anything about it; this trip for the first time I convinced him to start taking it before our trip started and take it the whole way through. He never got sick either.
  4. Thank you! Yes I did zoom in for some and that works better on some pictures than others. I read on another thread someone saying that taking pictures with the phone is fine if you’re just using them for viewing on social media, but the quality is not good enough for some other uses. That’s probably true, but for the most part I’m just looking at my pictures on my iPad and used them for posting on Facebook or on here, so it worked for me!
  5. We were on the Coral to Alaska in June, and I had the same question! I wore the same things in the dining room that I would wear on a Caribbean cruise and I was never cold anywhere inside the ship. Also, I had heard that formal nights were a little less formal on an Alaskan cruise but I found that to be absolutely untrue. I’m glad we were planning to dress up anyway, because people were very dressed up both formal nights. Maybe not all the way back to the days of tuxes and sequins, but the most dressed up I’ve seen in awhile. It was our first Princess cruise, but we’ve been on quite a few other lines, most recently HAL. I think Princess people must just dress better for dinner 😄 We’ll be on the Sky in January, so I’ll be able to test that theory!
  6. Don, it would seem like that wouldn't it? But for whatever reason that just doesn't work. To me soda just doesn't good taste out of those machines.... not a problem for me on a cruise at all though, I don't even buy the beverage package! 😂 Really any incentive to choose extra water over a soda is a good thing, so bring on the freestyle machines!
  7. Yes, really it does affect the taste...I hate the freestyle machines and just order water or iced tea if I'm in a fast food restaurant that has them!
  8. Actually after agonizing over whether to try to learn how to use a fancy camera before our trip and deciding not to do it, I ended up taking all my pictures with my Android phone! I’m pleased with how they turned out!
  9. That’s what we did, the Bennett Scenic Journey with Chilkoot, van up and train back and it was amazing!
  10. We are also mid 50s and were in Alaska in June, and we booked all of our excursions during the cruise portion of our trip privately. We had nothing but great experiences! I absolutely love the more personal experience you get with an independent operator. I’m in the process of writing my trip report, but I’ve already finished writing about our experiences in those cities as well as Ketchikan. Here’s the link to my review, Juneau and Skagway are on page 2....not trying to drum up readers for my review 😂, but my answers to your questions are in those posts....
  11. We rented a car with Avis in June, and we had a fantastic day! We had a whale watch in the afternoon so we didn’t even need the car for the whole day, but it was still worth every penny to be on our own and able to do whatever we wanted to. I’m in the middle of writing my trip report and posting day by day and I’ve already written about our day in Juneau. If you want to skip right to it, it’s on page 2!
  12. We did the Bennett scenic journey in June, van up, train back, booked through Chilkoot charters. It was a day I’ll never forget. No one in our car was much interested in being outside on the chilly platform so I was able to stand out there for the entire four hours on the way back down to Skagway, and it was absolutely incredible! I definitely moved back when anyone wanted to come out there and take a picture, but hardly anyone did and no one stayed out there more than five minutes. Bring appropriate clothes to allow yourself to stand outside in the wind, it is absolutely worth it!
  13. We bought some delicious canned salmon on the river boat in Fairbanks. If you’re doing the river boat, the sample it on the boat for you and give you the opportunity to buy it - what they don’t tell you is that if you wait until you get back to the store at the dock where you got on the river boat, it costs more. We paid $24.99 on the ship for three cans, it was $34.99 in the shop 🤨
  14. After two weeks of not being able to logon to cruisecritic, I finally fix the problem and I’m ready to continue the review.... June 16 - Skagway For Skagway we had booked the Bennett scenic journey directly with Chilkoot Charters. We chose the van up and train back option so that we could start a little bit later in the morning, which my husband certainly appreciated since it allowed him to sleep in an extra hour! It turned out to be a good choice because the day started out foggy and overcast, but later turned into another absolutely beautiful day. We were picked up near the ship by our driver, Mike, and started off with a little drive through Skagway where he told us the history and showed us around the town a little bit. He mentioned one thing that we kept in mind for the end of the day, which I’ll get to later. We were in a van of 21 people, and we appreciated the smaller group as it made for faster on and off when we made our stops for sightseeing and pictures. We got seats on the right side of the van as we had been told to do for the trip up into the Yukon, probably a tip I got here on Cruise critic. We later were also able to get seats on the right side of the train for the trip back. Those are certainly the seats you want! What I liked about Mike was that he didn’t just make the typical stops that everyone makes, he threw in a few stops along the way that were just beautiful sites that he knew about where there weren’t three buses sitting there also trying to take pictures. He was very personable and told us interesting facts and history about the area all along the time that we were with him. Here’s one place we pulled down a little dirt road right down by where someone was camping just to take pictures of this lovely lake. To everyone’s excitement, at one point we saw a black bear right by the side of the road and stopped to watch as it walked along beside our van and then crossed the road right behind us....our first bear sighting of the trip! We were nearing the town where we were to meet the train, and he said he didn’t know if we were still going to have time to go up to Emerald Lake, but everyone on the van really wanted to get there so we opted for less time in the town so we could see it, and I sure am glad we did - it was gorgeous! And as a bonus, if we hadn’t driven up there we would not have had the chance to see this on the way back! Our second bear sighting of the trip! This time it was a mama bear and her two cubs, one of whom is in this picture, the other one was off playing a little further away. Once again they were fairly close to the side of the road and in clear view, so we were able to spend a little time taking pictures while they foraged. We then pulled into town for a short break and tried the ice cream which was supposed to be so delicious, but was really only average in our opinion. We boarded the train for our trip to Bennett and then all the way back down into Skagway. Bennett, BC is an abandoned historic town at the end of the Chilkoot Trail that was used by the gold miners as they made their way to the gold fields in the Yukon. It sits on the shore of beautiful Bennett Lake is only accessible by the train or on foot. We walked around the old buildings there, read about the history, and then hiked up to the top of the trail and were rewarded with this view! From there we were on the train for maybe four hours riding back down to Skagway, and this was an afternoon that I wished never had to end. The weather was kind of chilly, so no one in our car was much interested in standing out on the platform in between the cars, which meant I had it mainly to myself. I spent the entire time riding down through those mountains outside on the platform taking pictures and experiencing the beauty of the area without the barrier of a window. It’s an experience that I will never forget and can’t adequately describe; it was thrilling, it was exhilarating, it was a glorious solitude that refreshed my soul. The noise of the train and the chill of the wind did nothing to diminish my complete immersion in the moment - on the contrary it probably enhanced it! The scenery on that trip was indescribably beautiful. I took photo after photo with my camera and thousands more in my mind that will be etched in my memory forever. All I can say is, if you ever find yourself on that train, get up and go outside and stand on the platform!! Here are just a few of the pictures from that day. And here’s a fun one of the Canadian US border! We got back to Skagway around 4 PM and had a couple more hours before we had to be back on the ship. Remembering Mike’s tip, we went to the Skagway Brewing company to try the spruce tip beer. It’s only made there, and it has a fun history in that it was supposedly brewed originally to keep the scurvy away for the gold miners. It had been discovered that the abundant spruce growing in the area was an excellent source of vitamin C and people were drinking tea made out of it. Some enterprising soul realize that beer would be a lot more fun to drink than tea, and hence the birth of the spruce tip beer! What is the story is exactly accurate or not, we drank and enjoyed the beer and have the T-shirts to prove it 😁 To those considering what to do when they’re in Skagway, I know a seven or eight hour excursion on a van and/or train seems like a really long trip, but I can not recommend this trip highly enough! I think you can tell from my description it was one of my favorite days of the entire trip, and that’s saying a lot because it was one great day after another on this trip!
  15. We were just on a two-week Princess Connoisseur Escorted Cruise tour in June, including a week on the Coral Princess, a fantastic ship for Alaska, and two nights each at the McKinley Lodge, the Denali Lodge and the Fairbanks Lodge. We loved every minute of our Land Tour and I'm astounded at the comment that it was boring! I also can't say enough good things about the McKinley Lodge. It was beautiful! It probably helped that Denali was in full clear magnificent view for the whole two days we were there, and it's hard to take your eyes off that beautiful mountain! That Lodge affords a most spectacular view of the mountain. It's not even visible from the Denali Lodge at all and only visible on the tour in to the park at a couple specific spots through a v in the mountains, nothing like the view you can get from down at the McKinley Lodge. Of course that all hinges on being there on a day when the mountain is out. 😍 We actually took a flight with K2 around Denali and saw it up close and personal before we ever even checked into the McKinley lodge, and we were still enamored of the view the whole two days we stayed there. Our room was great, the restaurants were good, we had a great time there! It's a good thing we didn't take people's advice on these boards and decide against this trip, because it was the trip of a lifetime! I'm working on my trip report now and posting as I go, so if anyone is considering a cruise tour, I'll share a lot of great information with you!
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