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Eclipse 10 night Alaskan May 9th 2019 review. I thought it rained in Alaska?

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"It's going to rain be prepared". That is all we heard for a year leading up to our 10 night Eclipse Alaskan cruise. Sometimes mother nature shines on you and leaves you in awe. 

 

I am doing this review as a record for myself. It will be long and picture heavy so that the unbelievable experience my wife and I had will be kept on the interwebs for all eternity. 

 

A little background. My wife and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary and wanted to do something different. We are experienced Caribbean cruisers. Having cruised with Carnival, Royal, NCL and HAL in the past. So I will also try to compare the lines a little bit and rank some of things they each do well and not so well. Since we have cruised the Caribbean so many times in the past at first we tossed around the idea of doing a land based vacation in Tahiti or Fiji. While we discussed this option my wife blurted out "Alaska". I said "hmmmm. Let me think about it". Not that I was against the idea. But we are beach lovers. And spending two weeks in the cold rain was not really my idea of a vacation. As it turned out we saw not one single drop of rain in any port we went to on this trip. I know that is ridiculously rare. But it is true. The only rain we saw was on our sea day back to Victoria Canada. The weather was simply perfect. And made the entire trip stunning to say the least. Our plan evolved to include 3 nights pre cruise in Vancouver. What a gorgeous city Vancouver is. Truly a gem. And if you like Asian food like we do it is the place for you. One other point about just how perfect this trip was. 10 minutes through security at Dulles airport on the day we left. Two of the smoothest flights I have ever been on from Washington DC to Seattle and Seattle to Vancouver. No line at Canadian customs where I declared some extra tobacco I brought along and the border agent simply said "have a great vacation". No tax. No duty. NOTHING. An amazing 5 star hotel that I bid on on one of the online sites (more on that later). Three perfect days in Vancouver. From the hotel to on the ship in 45 minutes on embarkation day. An incredible 10 night Alaskan itinerary. Walked immediately off of the ship on disembarkation day....The list goes on and on. 

 

Here was our Itinerary:

 

May 6th: Depart Washington DC arrive Vancouver at 2:45 PM for a three night stay

May 9th: Embarkation day

May 10th: Cruise the Inside Passage

May 11th: Ketchikan

May 12th: Sitka

May 13th: Skagway

May 14th: Icy Strait Point 

May 15th: Juneau

May 16th: Endicott Arm

May 17th: Sea Day

May 18th: Victoria Canada

May 19: Disembark

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Posted (edited)

Day 1. May 6th 2019. Waking up at 4 AM is never fun unless you are leaving on a 2 week vacation! Up early the wife and I pound our morning cups of coffee and do a final check to make sure we are not forgetting anything. Bags look good. Checked bag weighs 49 pounds. I checked it three times. We will be leaving our car at my wifes fathers house as he lives 10 minutes from the airport. Nice not having to pay for parking. We make the drive to his house and he drops us at the airport at right around 5:20 AM for a 7:45 flight. Perfect timing. It takes us 10 minutes to get through security. Literally no line at all. We grab a bite in the Airport and wait for our flight. 

 

The flight leaves on time. It is an older Airbus A319. Nice enough. But cramped for sure. She has a window seat I have the isle. We are not small people. I felt sorry for the guy between us. But he was a smaller man and the flight was relatively comfortable. Right around 5 and half hours. We then have a 2.5 hour layover in Seattle and spend the time talking about what is to come on this trip. Second flight leaves on time and we arrive in Vancouver at around 2:45 PM. We catch a cab to our hotel.

 

As I mentioned earlier I bid on a 5 star through one of the online sites. And the hotel we got was the Trump International tower in Vancouver. The hotel is simply stunning. The service second to none and the rooms are gorgeous. I bid on an Executive room with a balcony. We ended up on the 20th floor with a really nice view of the mountains between to tall buildings. And a great view of the offices in the building across the street. Those people working there must get sick of hotel guests sitting on their balconies staring at them. 🙂 View from the balcony:

 

 

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We were tired after a long day of traveling and decided on Korean food for dinner. We walked a couple of blocks up to a restaurant named Damso. I had the Bulgogi and it was fantastic. My wife had the fried chicken and she thought it was just OK. After dinner it was over to local liquor store for some stocks for our fridge in the room. Then a relaxing evening in the hotel for the rest of the night. We were going to be up early tomorrow for a long day of sight seeing.

Edited by clskinsfan

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Posted (edited)

Day 2. May 7th 2019

 

I love travelling to the west. You wake up early because your body clock is three hours ahead of everyone else there. We were up very early and walked a couple of blocks down to the local 7-11 for some coffee, doughnuts and snacks for the room. Spoke for about 10 minutes with a local police officer who was heading to New York on vacation the next day. Really nice guy and I hope his vacation was great. We brought the haul back to our hotel room and ate our doughnuts and coffee while enjoying the view from our balcony. The plan for the day is to walk Stanley Park in the morning then head over to Granville Island in the afternoon for lunch. 

 

Stanley Park is simply stunning and HUGE! We walked out of our hotel straight down the hill to the waterfront. Then made our way west on the waterfront to the entrance of the park. We walked around the entire eastern sea wall up to Prospect Point. Then down through the center of the park to exit. Almost 5 miles total. But the sights are something to behold.

 

Eastern Seawall:

 

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From the Eastern seawall to the totem park in Stanley Park. We spend a few minutes here taking in the sites:

 

 

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Then back up to the NE seawall. The Lions Gate Bridge is visible in the distance:

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We follow the seawall to a spot where a couple of different paths converge. We take the path up a pretty steep hill to Prospect Point. It is definitely worth the walk:

 

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Edited by clskinsfan

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Posted (edited)

When leaving Prospect Point we come across some beautiful flowers in a planter in the center of the walkway:

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Then down a hill to a bridge that gives you a stunning view of the Lions Gate Bridge. We will be sailing under her in 2 Days!

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We walk through the center of the park and through some of the most beautiful forest I have ever seen. Huge mature trees and moss covers just about everything. 

 

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We exit the park and walk S/W through the city to English Bay Beach. We then walk along the beach walk to the Seabus station that takes you over the Granville Island. 

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Unfortunately I took no photos of the seabus or Granville on my phone. I am sure we have some on the our camera which I have not moved the pictures to my computer from yet. I will update later with more pics of that area.

 

After Granville we walked back up through the city and back to the hotel. We then went for dinner at the Keg steakhouse which is right across the street from Trump tower. The meal was really good. Not cheap. But good. Then back to hotel for a couple of night caps and more time on our balcony. Then off to sleep. We covered almost 9 miles on foot today. We are not in the best shape and we paid dearly for this :).

 

I am going to stop here for tonight. Tomorrow I will update with day 3 which includes Capillano Suspension bridge Park and walking around Canada Place and the waterfront.

Edited by clskinsfan

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Thank you very much for posting this. We took a shorter cruise on Solstice right in between your trip. The weather was amazingly good with sunny days and high at 60s most of the time. It was even mid 70s in Vancouver.

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4 hours ago, clskinsfan said:

"It's going to rain be prepared". That is all we heard for a year leading up to our 10 night Eclipse Alaskan cruise. Sometimes mother nature shines on you and leaves you in awe. 

 

I am doing this review as a record for myself. It will be long and picture heavy so that the unbelievable experience my wife and I had will be kept on the interwebs for all eternity. 

 

A little background. My wife and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary and wanted to do something different. We are experienced Caribbean cruisers. Having cruised with Carnival, Royal, NCL and HAL in the past. So I will also try to compare the lines a little bit and rank some of things they each do well and not so well. Since we have cruised the Caribbean so many times in the past at first we tossed around the idea of doing a land based vacation in Tahiti or Fiji. While we discussed this option my wife blurted out "Alaska". I said "hmmmm. Let me think about it". Not that I was against the idea. But we are beach lovers. And spending two weeks in the cold rain was not really my idea of a vacation. As it turned out we saw not one single drop of rain in any port we went to on this trip. I know that is ridiculously rare. But it is true. The only rain we saw was on our sea day back to Victoria Canada. The weather was simply perfect. And made the entire trip stunning to say the least. Our plan evolved to include 3 nights pre cruise in Vancouver. What a gorgeous city Vancouver is. Truly a gem. And if you like Asian food like we do it is the place for you. One other point about just how perfect this trip was. 10 minutes through security at Dulles airport on the day we left. Two of the smoothest flights I have ever been on from Washington DC to Seattle and Seattle to Vancouver. No line at Canadian customs where I declared some extra tobacco I brought along and the border agent simply said "have a great vacation". No tax. No duty. NOTHING. An amazing 5 star hotel that I bid on on one of the online sites (more on that later). Three perfect days in Vancouver. From the hotel to on the ship in 45 minutes on embarkation day. An incredible 10 night Alaskan itinerary. Walked immediately off of the ship on disembarkation day....The list goes on and on. 

 

Here was our Itinerary:

 

May 6th: Depart Washington DC arrive Vancouver at 2:45 PM for a three night stay

May 9th: Embarkation day

May 10th: Cruise the Inside Passage

May 11th: Ketchikan

May 12th: Sitka

May 13th: Skagway

May 14th: Icy Strait Point 

May 15th: Juneau

May 16th: Endicott Arm

May 17th: Sea Day

May 18th: Victoria Canada

May 19: Disembark

Hi guys Gary and Wilma here. We talked with you quite a bit on the cruise. Our daughter lives in Ashburn. Thanks for your review nice yo relive our memories. Wasn’t the cruise ,Vancouver  and the weather incredible. Looking forward to day 3. Now we are gearing up for our visit to VA in 3 weeks.

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Thanks for doing this.  We were on the same cruise, so it's nice to re-live it again through someone else's eyes.

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Hi Gary and Wilma! It was a pleasure to meet you all. I hope you enjoy your upcoming trip to VA. It is a great time of year to visit.

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Day 3. May 8th 2019

 

We wake up early again. Did I mention how much I like traveling to the west coast? The wife has a need for some Starbucks this morning. Fine by me. I love their coffee. Overpriced. But I love it. She runs out to the local establishment and picks up some coffee and scones for us to eat for breakfast. I lay in the bed relaxed and sore from yesterdays walk. 

 

The plan for today is to catch the first free shuttle over to Capilano Suspension Bridge park. For those that want to do this .The bus picks up from numerous locations in downtown Vancouver. We caught it in front of the Blue Horizon hotel. Just a couple of blocks from the Trump Tower. After Capilano the plan is to explore the Canada Place area and Gastown. We never made it to Gastown. As we were exhausted from yesterday's exploring. 

 

I am afraid of heights. Like literally terrified of them. So I didnt know how Capilano was going to work out for me. It was on the must do list for the wife. So we were going. Period. 🙂 We ended up catching the second bus over which arrived promptly at 9:15. It was a nice ride through Vancouver, over the Lions Gate bridge and through north Vancouver to the park. 

 

The park itself is beautiful. If you are crazy enough to walk to the other side of the bridge. There are boardwalk style walking trails all through the forest. The trails lead to some pretty amazing views down into the gorge and also of the surrounding landscape. Beautiful. Speaking of crossing that bridge. It bounces all over the place, feels unstable as anything can be and basically gave me a heart attack while walking across it. Once I got on the other side I saw a sign explaining that a multi ton tree had fallen on the bridge in the past and that helped convince me to walk back to the entrance. I was seriously concerned I would need to be carried back on a stretcher. Here are some views of the bridge and park:

 

 

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Posted (edited)

My personal opinion the park isnt worth the price of admission. My wife may have a different view but she isnt writing this :). On the bus ride back to Vancouver we got off at the Canada Place stop instead of up closer to our hotel. We wanted to explore the area and the portion of the sea wall we did not see yesterday. It is very convenient for those of you that have a one day stop in Vancouver as it is located about one block from the cruise terminal. We explored the area for the rest of the afternoon. The Volendam was in port today.20190508_120335.thumb.jpg.95fefa6381557a148e74601ab7f48613.jpg

 

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Mid afternoon we were tired and needed a break. So back to the Hotel we went. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting by the outdoor hot tub at the hotel and relaxing. Then up to the room to get ready for dinner. While getting ready the Volendam was heading out for their 7 night cruise.

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We decided to have Chinese for dinner tonight. And we chose a small mom and pop restaurant named Chongquing. It was walking distance from the hotel and rated very highly on TA. It did not disappoint. The food was outstanding and the service was personable and great. I had the Hunan Beef and it was amazing. It nearly melted my face off. It was HOT and very tasty. After dinner it was back to the hotel for some more balcony time and to get everything packed up and ready for the start of our cruise tomorrow. We really enjoyed our 3 nights in Vancouver. It is a very special city. Tomorrow I will cover embarkation and sail away. The vacation is really ready to get started now.

 

Edited by clskinsfan

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I'm really enjoying your review and looking forward to the rest of it.  So glad you liked our fair city.  We got off Eclipse as you got on.

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Thanks for sharing...

Enjoying both the review & the asides ... 

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Day 4. May 9th 2019.....Embarkation Day!!!

 

I am awake very early this morning. I never sleep well the night before embarking on a cruise. I am just so excited and wound up to get started. As soon as I woke up I checked to see where the Eclipse was. She was roughly 5 miles from the Lions Gate entering Vancouver. Perfect. I sit up in bed and wait for the ship to pass by. I grab this picture as the Eclipse is co ming in to port. The sun was very low in the sky:

 

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We spent the majority of the morning relaxing in our hotel room. And enjoying the last views from the great balcony we had. Around 10:30 we double checked that we were not forgetting anything and headed downstairs to the lobby to call a cab for a ride over to port. The cab ride was $7.00 Canadian and took roughly 5 minutes. Vancouver is a little different as far as ports go. When you arrive you go down a ramp under the building and that is where you check your bags. From there it is a little bit of a walk to check in. Very small line. Checking took maybe 10 minutes. After checkin it is off to US customs. Another bit of a hike to get there. No line at all in customs. We have a short conversation with the customs officer about what we did while in Vancouver. He asked us if we made it to Grouse mountain. We did not unfortunately. He highly recommended we try to get there on our disembarkation day. We will have to catch it on our next trip to Vancouver unfortunately. Out of customs and another hike to get to the boarding area. Boarding had not started yet so they sat us down in a large waiting area. Everything was handled very well at the port. But there is a lot of walking for those that have mobility issues. After maybe another 15 minutes of waiting we were allowed to board. We immediately went to the buffet to grab some lunch. This was our first taste of Celebrity food. And it was good. From the buffet we head up top to deck 14. The weather was fantastic that day. Sunny and low 60's. We grabbed a couple of deck chairs and watched the views until our staterooms were cleared:

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Mount Baker was looming large in the distance with the clear skies:

 

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The staterooms were cleared right at 1:00. We head down to the stateroom to unpack and get the cabin settled for the next 10 nights. The cabin seemed smaller to me than other balcony cabins we have had with other lines. But it was perfectly fine for our needs. We had cabin 8252. It is the first cabin on the rear of the hump. And has a huge balcony. We get everything settled and head back up top to the Sunset Bar. We would end up spending the most time here and in the Observation Lounge on this cruise. We really loved both of those spots. We had a couple of drinks and before we knew it we were underway. The views this evening were stunning to say the least. Passing under the bridge and out to sea was awesome. 

 

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We eventually head back down to the room to get ready for dinner. We had dinner in the MDR that night and the Prime Rib was excellent. Our waiter Jorge was fantastic. And we were lucky to have him for the duration of our cruise. We had anytime dining and this was handled very well. The only night we had to wait for a seat was the second Chic night when lobster was served. But they gave us a pager and we went down to the Martini Bar and waited. It was no big deal. We did have a 4 night dining package on this cruise. We usually do not go to specialty restaurants. But this was a special trip and I went ahead an bought it pre cruise. I will review the restaurants on the days that we attended them. After dinner we went to a show in the theater. I thought it was bad and we left early to walk around the ship. The majority of the entertainment was decent on this cruise. We really liked the comedian one night. And the magician on another. The staff shows were hit or miss. After walking around the ship for a couple of hours and having a couple of more drinks we went off to bed. I have to say I was really surprised how dead the ship was at night. The ship was usually VERY quiet by 11:00. But we kind of expected that with Celebrity. My biggest gripe of the entire cruise was the lack of late night food choices. In the buffet you could have salad, pizza or pasta after 10:00. THAT IS IT. And it got old about half way through the cruise. 

 

Tomorrow will be  Sailing through the inside passage.

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I just got off the Solstice May 17 cruise to Alaska.  In the 70s and sunny every day.  In my experience, May is an excellent time to go to Alaska.  That was my third May cruise to Alaska.

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You were very lucky with the weather. I see that SE Alaska is going to have rain for a week starting this Thursday.

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On 5/24/2019 at 7:19 PM, clskinsfan said:

 

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We were on board this sailing from Honolulu to Vancouver !  Port side 1581.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks clskinsfan. We were on this cruise also, it was the seventh Alaska cruise we have taken in May, and have enjoyed great weather on each of them. May is the best-kept secret in Alaska cruising! Prices are lower, less ships in port, less families and children and May is the driest month of the year in Alaska.

 

Speaking of less ships - the only port we shared with more than one other ship was Juneau, and we were the only ship in port in Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Straight Point and Victoria.

 

Only downside to the great weather - 70's by day, high 50's and 60's by night - was not being able to get close enough to view Dawson Glacier due to the amount of ice calved due to the warm temps. But we did not book this cruise for glacier viewing(we wanted to visit Sitka and ISP) and were grateful to be able to wear shorts in all the ports... and for leaving our coats in the closet.

Edited by cattman

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Sounds like we have picked the right month to travel to Alaska! May 17 2020. It can’t come soon enough😊

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Day 5. May 10th 2019.....Cruising the Inside Passage

 

We slept in a little bit this morning. Well if 8:00 can be considered sleeping in? We tend to do that on sea days. We awoke to another beautiful sunny day. With temps in the high 60's in the afternoon. We walked up to the buffet for breakfast to find it almost empty. An odd thing to us. The buffet did get crowded early in the morning. But if you could wait a little bit to head up there you had your choice of window seats. We actually ate on the rear deck outside this morning as the weather was so nice. We both agreed that The Eclipse has the best breakfast buffet of any ship we have ever sailed on. Made to order eggs and omelettes are just a couple of minutes preparation time away. We spent the majority of this day either in the Sky lounge or at the Sunset bar just watching the world go by. 

 

We had dinner reservations at Murano tonight. And the food and service were simply incredible. We both had the lobster which was prepared table side by an excellent waiter. I wish I could remember his name. Because he certainly deserves recognition. After dinner we headed down to Quasar for some trivia. Then back up to the Sky lounge to end the night. We were in bed relatively early tonight as we had our first port and excursion early tomorrow morning. Here are some pics we took throughout the day:

 

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I really love sea days. My wife not so much. She is a port person. Sea Days for me are just a nice relaxing day to sit around and have a couple of adult beverages. Relax and watch the world pass by. And that is exactly what we did.

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Day 6. May 11th 2019....Ketchikan

 

We were up with the sun this morning. Out on the balcony with a hot cup of coffee watching the ship pull into Ketchikan. We had to be in the Theater at 7:30 for our excursion. But had plenty of time to enjoy the Eclipse coasting into docking position. We went up to the breakfast buffet around 6:30 and it was much more crowded than yesterday morning. No crazy wait times. We just had to settle for an inside seat instead of at the window. Oh darn :). After breakfast we head down to the theater and arrive right around 7:20. Up to the stage I go to get our stickers with our group numbers on them. We are in group 5 for our excursion. No long wait we are on our way downstairs to deck 2 promptly at 7:30. Of the ship and onto our excursion.

 

The excursion we chose for Ketchikan was The Misty Fjords Explorer by high speed boat. And it was simply stunning. The Misty Fjords are just gorgeous. The excursion picks you up dock side by the ship. Then you are off on a pretty long boat ride to the Fjords themselves. But the ride is beautiful and you have your choice of inside or outside areas during the journey. Here is a picture of the inside of the boat:

 

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On the way to the Fjords you pass by New Eddystone Rock. It is a beautiful chunk of basalt that seems to just be stuck in the middle of the water all by itself. The naturalist explained that it is the top of a long dead volcano:

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From there it is into the Fjords. Now I mentioned that we had no rain at all in any port on this trip. But there was definitely mist in Misty Fjords. Not enough to obscure any of the views. But the air was definitely damp. The Fjords themselves are simply stunning. Huge sheer cliffs on either side of you. With too many waterfalls to count. We saw porpoise, sea lions, seals (which one of the girls on the boat called little gray sausages) and eagles on the trip. I still chuckle thinking about the little gray sausage comment. I have way too many pics to put on the site. But here are a few of my favorites. 

 

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Here are the little gray sausages:

 

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And some sea lions:

 

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The ride back from the Fjords is a long one. But the scenery is beautiful. I spent almost the entire boat ride back on the rear deck taking pictures. This excursion was almost 5 hours long. So it isnt for everyone. But we LOVED it! And I would not hesitate to do it again if we ever make it back to Alaska. Once we returned to the dock we had plenty of time to go explore the town a little bit. We walked down the waterfront and found a little shack to get some halibut fish and chips. It was great. From there we walked over to Creek street and took the mandatory photo of that area. We spent the next couple of hours shopping for trinkets and such.

 

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After shopping for a bit it was back to the ship and a date with the Sunset Bar for some sail away Pina Colada's. 

 

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We went down to the room around 6:00 to get ready for dinner. We ate in the MDR tonight. And once again the service and food were excellent. We didnt make it to the show that night. After dinner we headed down to the Martini Bar and people watched for a couple of hours. Then off to bed. 

 

Tomorrow is our favorite port of the entire trip Sitka. We loved some of our excursions better than Sitka. And Misty Fjords is one of them. But as far as ports go. Sitka is simply stunning.

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10 hours ago, maggie.1008 said:

You were very lucky with the weather. I see that SE Alaska is going to have rain for a week starting this Thursday.

 

I don't think so.  This was my third May cruise to Alaska with wonderful weather.  May is Alaska's driest month.

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Lovely photographs, thanks. Sitka was also our favourite port.

 

This was our second cruise to Alaska - the first one being early May four years ago when we followed up with an inland Alaska tour (Princess).  The weather was simply stunning, both times!  Sympathy to all of those who are not so lucky with May.

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We were just off the Solstice as well......couldn't believe how warm it was in Vancouver, in Alaska, and no rain in Seattle!  Incredible weather...

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