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Trip Report - August 2nd, 2019 Millennium Vancouver to Seward + Private Land Tour


AuroraRose
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Friday, August 2nd: Embarkation Day! 

 

We woke up early around 7 am and got ready, finished packing a few last minute items, called the bell hop to take our bags down to the ship (such an easy process and great service offered by the Pan Pacific!), and went across the street again to get Tim Horton's. After breakfast, it was close to check in time for the cruise, so we headed over to the check in area after having to ask for directions a few times. We only had to wait about 15 minutes to check in and were some of the first ones to do so. We were told to exit the check in area to the left, but then someone else came over and redirected us to the right, which then involved going outside the building to then re-enter the building to go down through security and U.S. customs. Once we did that, we were brought to another waiting area for about 20 minutes. And then we were taken in groups to yet another waiting area before being allowed to board the ship. One of the staff members in the first waiting area gave us incorrect directions again, and then also was confused when we said we went outside the building and back in again. It was then that she mentioned that they were switching things up for this embarkation and the staff weren't all informed of how this one was being handled, which is why they kept giving us incorrect directions. A little frustrating to say the least, but no one seemed to let it ruin the fact that we were going on vacation! 

 

They finally let us board, and we were a few of the first people on the ship. We were given mimosas and went to the mid ship elevator to go drop our luggage off and pick up our Sea Pass cards from the room. An elevator appeared and a crew member stopped me and a few other guests from getting on the elevator with the mimosa (we were never given a reason; just told we couldn't get on the elevator with the drink). I finished my drink and placed it on his tray as we waited for another elevator. We got to our room, dropped off our luggage, grabbed our Sea Pass cards, and went to explore the ship a little while we waited for lunch. 

 

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We met up with a fun group of people we were sitting across from in the waiting area and joking with earlier, and they invited us to have drinks with them at the Mast Bar. We had a blast sitting up there hanging out on an almost empty ship. We hung out for over an hour, and then all decided to get lunch, with them heading to the buffet and us heading to the MDR for our Concierge Class lunch that was ending soon. The Concierge MDR lunch was minimal, with either a soup or salad choice, a few entrees, and a few desserts to pick from. I forgot to snap a picture, but I did get a picture of our entrees. I got a pasta dish with red sauce and leeks which was not a combination that was to my liking, and DH got a chicken dish I believe. I think I got a corn soup for an appetizer which was delicious, and an apple pie for dessert. I loved the appetizer and dessert and was plenty full even though I didn't eat much of my entree. DH cleaned his plate of the chicken and loved it...I clearly should have ordered that. 

 

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During lunch they announced that our rooms were ready, so we went back to our room immediately. I booked us into room 6143, which as I mentioned was a Concierge Class room, but this particular room is located in between suites in a quiet area of the ship, and has an oversized balcony. Our room steward was fantastic as he was also the one responsible for taking care of the suites (my balcony picture on embarkation day didn't come out well, so I found a good picture I took near ISP that shows the balcony size). 

 

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We started organizing our room and reading the daily. At this point we decided to just relax for a few minutes and take it all in before muster. Around 3:30 pm we headed to our muster location in Rendezvous Lounge (muster was at 3:45 pm) and it was already almost full, and more people kept coming in. At one point the crew member directing everyone mentioned that 600 people would be cramming in here for muster, which seemed outrageous for a space that size. Much of it was standing room only and hard to see crew members at points. We listened to the announcements, heard the alarms, watched the crew demonstrate the operation of a life jacket, and then we were free to go once the crew made sure everyone's Sea Pass had been scanned to take attendance. DH and I booked it to Deck 10 Aft at the Sunset Bar for Sail Away, and luckily we snagged some of the comfy chairs. We had drinks, listened to the live music coming from the rooftop terrace on deck 11 above us, and enjoyed the views of sailing away from Vancouver and under the Lion's Gate Bridge.  

 

 

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By the time we were out of the harbor, we were getting hungry again. We decided to eat dinner in the buffet since we were right next to it already, and then went to the 7 pm comedian show. Cruise Director Steve opened by introducing the onboard naturalist Celia, who gave a 10 minute presentation or so about wildlife in Alaska, and how we had a great chance to see orcas the next morning while cruising the inside passage. The comedian was entertaining enough but seemed to cater more to the kids. DH and I were pretty tired after the show, so we decided to go back to our room, place an order for room service breakfast at 6 am, and look for orcas early the next morning. 

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Saturday, August 3rd: Sailing the Inside Passage

 

As I mentioned earlier in this trip report (see post #15), we woke up at 6 am to look for Orcas only to find heavy fog outside. We stayed awake long enough to eat breakfast and went back to sleep until we felt like waking up again. We got up around 10 am and made our way to Cafe Al Bacio for some macchiatos. The fog was still ridiculously heavy. We walked through Cellar Master's to get to Cafe Al Bacio, and I noticed a sign for a private event going on with some coffee and pastries provided and officers answering questions to a small group of people. I remembered that that was around the time and day (morning on a day at sea...) that Celebrity would usually do a Cruise Critic connections party if enough members of a roll call signed up for it, and we had signed up for it and had just over the required number of participants signed up right before we left. We grabbed our macchiatos and I decided to ask a crew member if they knew what the private event was. I'm glad I did, because it turns out that it was indeed the Cruise Critic connections party! We never received an invitation to it (I looked again through all the paperwork when I got back to our room; it wasn't there). 

 

They walked us up to where they had the name tags and were ready to write our names on blank ones, when one of the other officers decided to look at the sheet that had printed names and ask us what our names were. Our names were already printed on the name tags, and about half of the name tags were still on the sheet with the printed names. One other couple showed up after we did, but we probably only had 10-12 people there, when 27 had signed up. I have a feeling many others didn't get their invitations either and DH and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Anyways, it was a lovely get together, and we got to talk to Cruise Director Steve and a few of the other officers. We also met some couples who gave us great tips on things to do both on the ship and off the ship in ports, and we continued to see some of our new friends around the ship as the week went on. 

 

After the Cruise Critic Connections party, DH and I were hungry again, and the only place open was the Pool Grill, so we went and ate burgers for lunch. The weather started to clear up and the day turned out to be bright, sunny, and warm, so we decided to go back to our stateroom, change, and go enjoy the pools onboard. We spent all afternoon in the Solarium chatting and socializing, and I had a few frozen drinks from the pool bar. Around 5 pm we started getting hungry again, and decided we wanted to try the MDR for dinner, so we went back to the room, got changed into nicer clothes, and headed to dinner.

 

This was the first Evening Chic night of the cruise. I put on a nice sundress that I could wear to a summer wedding, and DH wore a button up shirt and khakis. I feared they might not let us into the MDR because our outfits could still fall under Smart Casual (but were a step up for us from the jeans and polo shirts/nice blouses worn on other nights). There were only 1-2 other couples we saw who were dressed fancier than that, and many who didn't seem to dress up at all. I didn't see anyone get turned away from the MDR though, so my fears were for nothing. We had a lovely dinner, and decided to go to the Martini Bar for after dinner drinks. The bartenders were hilarious and we spent a few hours there while trying to kill time before Silent Disco at 10 pm. DH spotted humpback whales from the windows in the Martini Bar, and we watched their tails come up out of the water and the water spouts they created for a while. It was our first and only wildlife sighting from the ship. 

 

10 pm came around, so we headed up to Cosmos lounge for Silent Disco. We had an absolute blast. I think we left around 11:30 and the party showed no signs of slowing down. We went to bed after we left as we had an early morning the next day in Ketchikan, our first port of call. I didn't take too many pictures on our second day (I was too busy taking it all in!) but we did take one during the Silent Disco, still dressed in our Evening Chic attire.IMG_20190803_222835197.thumb.jpg.e733758c80f4114faabacf77167729ef.jpg

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Sunday, August 4th: Ketchikan, AK

 

Our first port, and our first time setting foot in Alaska! DH really wanted to see the Lumberjack Show, so I booked our tickets in advance on their website (much cheaper than the cruise line who only offered it in conjunction with a town tour). I also booked an Axe Throwing Challenge for after the show. We booked the earliest show time possible at 8 am. The show was so much fun and seemed like a perfect length even though it was only an hour long, and we did the axe throwing from 9-9:30. Overall this was an excellent experience and I highly recommend it! We were the only ones who booked the axe throwing at that time, so we got to try throwing them more times than usual. Neither of us hit the target, but we got pretty close! I didn't take any pictures of axe throwing, but I did get one of the show. IMG_20190804_081757957_HDR.thumb.jpg.146e6fe45694ce79733d829e8dad6d59.jpg

 

After axe throwing, we walked over to explore Creek Street. We walked into some of the gift shops, but nothing stood out to us as anything we had to buy. We were much more interested in reading the signs designating historic buildings along the creek. At one point we looked down in the creek and saw tons of salmon trying to swim upstream! We didn't see any jumping but we stood there for about 30 minutes watching them try to get to the waterfalls. 

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We made our way back to town and stopped into some art galleries. While we loved some of what we saw, we couldn't justify spending thousands of dollars on it. We made our way back to the ship around 11:30 am and decided to eat lunch at the buffet and enjoy the views of Ketchikan from the ship. The day again turned out to be gorgeous; sunny and in the 70's! We decided to go take advantage of the pools on an empty ship for the afternoon, and watch the sea planes take off and land.

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We went back to our stateroom to change a few hours later and decided to go up to Cosmos lounge for a view of Sail Away. We got some incredible views pulling out of port, including seeing the Solstice in front of us in port and watching an eagle carrying a fish fly a few feet over the windows of Cosmos lounge. It happened so fast that we didn't get a picture, but that was a really cool experience! 

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After enjoying the views from Cosmos for a few hours we went to dinner again in the MDR. Then we rushed to see Alan and Yulia (aerialists) perform at 7 pm; they were incredible! We also decided to go see the American Ballet Theatre performance at 9 pm that night since we had a long day in port the next day and didn't want to rush to see a show that day. The ballet was also very good, and I could only imagine how hard that must have been for the dancers as the ship moved and rolled a little. They pulled it off excellently though. We went to bed after the ballet.

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Monday, August 5th: Icy Strait Point/Hoonah

 

We didn't set any alarms since we were pulling into port at 10 am, and our only shore excursion was scheduled at 2 pm. We awoke around 9:15 as we were pulling in, and enjoyed the views from our balcony watching the crew tie the ship up to the pier. The weather was cloudy and a little chilly in the low to mid 60's, but still comfortable. We ate a leisurely breakfast in the buffet before getting off the ship. We walked around the shops a little, exploring town, but didn't see too much of interest. The old canning equipment caught our eyes, but we didn't like how it was peppered into the gift shops. I was under the impression that the museum would be its own thing; not walking in between racks of t-shirts to view individual exhibits.

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We decided to hop on the shuttle into town, paying the $5 for a round trip ticket each since we wanted to make the most of our time before our excursion. We walked around the tents set up nearby the shuttle stop in town selling wares of different kinds. Yarn, knives, herbs, beads, etc. were all being sold. Again, nothing really caught our eye too much. We wandered aimlessly around town exploring and seeing what was there, and honestly there really wasn't much. We stopped into the Icy Strait Brewing company to try some local beer, and they had a Reindeer pizza on the menu. We couldn't get that on the ship, so we decided to order it for lunch. Much to our dismay, the cook went to Juneau that day so the brewery wasn't serving any food. I got a pint of Icy Strait IPA (DH doesn't drink so he just had water), we finished the drinks, and made our way back to the shuttle. By this time it was 1, and we had to be back to the Adventure Center near the ship by 1:45.

 

We got on the shuttle and got back to check in for our shore excursion: a flightseeing tour of Glacier Bay National Park. By this time the weather had cleared again and it warmed up to the mid 70's. The tour lasted for a little over an hour, and the views we got were incredible. Overall this was a great experience, and I'm counting it as visiting another national park on this tour. I'm so glad we did this tour, as the ship didn't get to visit Glacier Bay, so this was a great way to see it still. 

 

We went back to the ship and ate a leisurely dinner in the MDR. I can't remember what we did that night after that, but I don't think we did too much. 

 

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I've shared all about Storm Crow with DH and DS and we all agree that we would enjoy that restaurant! Totally want to get a group of 6 together to do the Infinity Shots! Nice idea for a themed restaurant. DS shared that he thinks it's in Tokyo that there is a restaurant that is themed after Final Fantasy. I don't recall which one...

 

Views from Tap & Barrel are simply lovely. Nice that you had such good weather. I love eating outside. Interesting about the 9pm cannon...hadn't heard about that before. I'm trying to think about where I was at 9 pm on the two nights we were there...pretty sure we were finishing a city tour and/or in our hotel room...and then we were at Bard on the Beach, so not around the harbor at all. I bet it was a startle.

 

We were at the Sunset bar for sail away in Vancouver!

 

A big wow on the Glacier National Park air tour. Very nice. That is the disappointment with Celebrity Itineraries...and why we're trying another line in 2021.

 

Hoping you are having a good day in Seward and continuing on with your land trip...enjoying your report so much...hope your weather continues to hold on land!

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@Anita Latte The Infinity Shots only require a group of 3! I'm happy to hear that you are getting ideas for your next trip from my report; yours was so helpful for planning our trip. I'm pretty sure I knew subconsciously to go to the Sunset bar for sail away because of your report last year. 

 

I booked the Glacier Bay tour for exactly the reason you mentioned; Celebrity didn't go to GB and I kept doubting my decision to book this cruise because of it. When I saw that tour, I couldn't resist. We actually decided to forgo kayaking with our friends today in Seward to afford that tour to Glacier Bay instead. No regrets, as we needed a day to unwind and do laundry before another big adventure.  

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Tuesday, August 6th: Juneau

 

We arrived pretty early in the morning in Juneau. The weather again was fantastic, in the mid to upper 70's and sunny. We booked our helicopter glacier landing excursion for this morning privately; not through Celebrity. We had our excursion today booked for 9:15 am, and were told via email to meet our shuttle in front of the Red Dog Saloon at 9 am. We waited and waited, and the shuttle never arrived. I called the company we booked the excursion with at 9:10 am, wondering if something had changed. The receptionist assured me the driver was on the way, and that she would call the driver to tell them we were there. As I hung up the phone, a couple approached us asking if we were from the Millennium and waiting on that company's shuttle. They told us someone was at the ship calling our names loudly into the crowd looking for us. Apparently the driver went straight to the ship instead of meeting us at the Red Dog Saloon, and just exclaimed that they know the instructions say to meet at the Red Dog Saloon but they usually meet at the ship "for convenience" and we must have gotten off the ship before they got to the ship. Why they didn't come over to check where they told us to meet in the first place when they couldn't find us is beyond me, but it was water under the bridge at that point as we were heading off to an exciting excursion. Fortunately that ended up being the only bump in the road for this excursion, and the rest of it was one of the highlights of our trip!

 

The shuttle drove us to the airport, where we went into a small building. The building had check in desks with scales to weigh passengers (extra fee applies if over a certain weight...250 lbs I think is the limit before a fee applies? And it helps to balance out the helicopter; we were under said weight). We checked in and then proceeded over to a cubby area where staff helped us find boots that went over our shoes in our sizes and helped us put them on. We then sat through a safety video, locked our belongings up in locking wooden benches (the same ones we sat one when getting fitted for boots), and headed out to the runway to meet our helicopter and pilot. 

 

The flight itself was only about 15 minutes, and we landed on a gorgeous part of Herbert Glacier. DH and I brought cups/water bottles, and the pilot pointed out areas where we could drink the water from the glacier. The water was ice cold (I think the pilot said it was about 34 degrees) and was the purest water we had ever tasted. It was a lot cooler on the glacier, but we still felt it was pretty comfortable...I would say it was in the low 50's. We were just amazed that we were there. I still almost don't believe it happened looking back at the pictures and thinking about it. Booking it privately was the way to go; while the shuttle issue was annoying, it was worth dealing with that minor hassle in the grand scheme of things to save $400 compared to what the cruise line charged for this same tour. 

 

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The ride back down was also about 15 minutes or so. After this we decided to walk around town a little, exploring the shops. When we got hungry, we decided to go check out Tracy's Crab Shack. I'm not a fan of most shellfish, but I still always try it, and DH absolutely loves it. I got a large order of crab cakes (one of the few shellfish dishes I do like), and DH ordered a leg and a claw. The leg and claw were huge! The crab cakes were made in house and probably the best ones I have ever had, and DH was thoroughly impressed with his. I did try a piece of the claw, and while I could tell it was high quality and probably the best piece of crab I had ever eaten, it still wasn't quite to my liking. But if you like crab, you have to try this place if you are in town according to my DH. He is still raving about it days later!

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After lunch, we decided to go up Mount Robert's Tramway. We got some great views of the Millennium and the other ships in port that day from the top of the mountain.

 

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We also enjoyed looking at some of the exhibits and gift shops up there, but only spent probably 30 minutes up there before we got bored. Neither of us were feeling well by that point either (DH was having a lot of back pain, and my sinuses were acting up and not relieving pressure from the helicopter and tram rides which resulted in pain in my inner ears and even some temporary loss of hearing). I really wanted to make it out to Mendenhall Glacier as well today, but we just were feeling so horrible that all we both wanted to do was go back to the ship and lay down. We did also get some pretty great views of Mendenhall from the helicopter that morning, and could even see Nugget Falls. I think we napped most of the afternoon away, waking up right around dinner time and both feeling better. We went to dinner in the MDR again (we just loved being served, and we preordered our meals each night for the next night to ensure that they were prepared in a mushroom free environment to accommodate my mushroom allergy, so we kept going there throughout the cruise in the interest of me not having an allergic reaction. Side note: they were phenomenal about this, and I never had a reaction. I felt extremely comfortable and loved that they had strict protocol for dealing with allergies).

 

We went to the comedian that night, who had his funny moments, but we felt he was limited in content and had to hold himself back because he was trying to make it a family friendly show. He actually even explained to the audience that he would yell "Over the head!" and pat his head when he made an inappropriate joke that adults would get but kids wouldn't during his show. Others we talked to later on that night and the next day felt similarly; so much so that a late night adults only show was scheduled for the next night and we agreed that we had to go see that. 

Edited by AuroraRose
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  • 3 weeks later...

I am so sorry for the delay; our land portion for the rest of the trip had limited wifi and cell service, and we were quite busy. DH and I were also exhausted after coming home and slept most of the weekend we got back, and then work has been crazy for me since then! We are also going on a short trip out of town again this upcoming long weekend so I don't think I will be able to finish the report until at least late next week. But we made it home safely, and have fantastic memories of Alaska. 

 

Wednesday, August 7th: Skagway, Alaska 

We docked at 7 am, and DH and I were some of the first ones of the ship to catch our excursion that morning. We booked a Celebrity excursion today to Kroschel Wildlife Reserve in Haines. This excursion involved catching a bus at 8 am to the ferry dock (~10-15 minute ride), boarding a ferry for a 45 minute ride to Haines, and boarding another bus in Haines for 45-60 minutes to take us to the reserve. We spent a few hours at the reserve, and then had to do all of that in reverse. Given the transfers involved and the shorter day in port, we booked through Celebrity for peace of mind. With all of that said, this was by far one of the highlights of our trip and probably is tied for best excursion with landing on the glacier the day before. 

 

Kroschel Wildlife Reserve is an interesting place, but they rescue many different native Alaskan animals and you can get up close and personal with many of them. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but let me know if you have any questions and I am happy to answer them. This was an excellent way to guarantee we saw wildlife that we don't have at home, and where else can you say you took a selfie with a porcupine, pet an arctic fox pup, and kissed a moose?! 

 

The ferry to Haines was surprisingly enjoyable. They had a naturalist on board that told us all about the fjords we were sailing through, free coffee, tea, and water available, and bathrooms on board. Here is a picture of the naturalist talking about the area. On our way back, we learned about how the Sitka Spruce is a good source of Vitamin C and beer was brewed in the area with the pine needles to prevent sailors from getting scurvy. They mentioned that a few breweries in town still brewed it and I made a mental note to try to find a pint of it when we got back to Skagway before we got back on the ship. 

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Haines:

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The road to Kroschel Wildife Reserve was very scenic, and we even saw eagles in the trees on the way there (yes, there was road construction):

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And now, Kroschel: 

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Skagway Part 2: I forgot to mention the weather. It started out as a cloudy but relatively comfortable day in the mid to upper 60's, and warmed up as the day went on. I think it hit 81 degrees that day and was sunny. 

 

We took the bus back to the ship, and were given a small snack of chips, a granola bar, and water for the ride back. The construction delayed us more on the way back, but they held the ferry for us. We got back to Skagway around 1:45 pm, and I was on a mission to find some Sitka Spruce Ale. DH and I walked around town a bit until we found the Klondike Brewing Company, which sure enough had the Sitka Spruce Ale. Here was my shot of Vitamin C for the day:

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We made our way back to the ship after that, as we had been invited to a Helipad Sailaway that day, and wanted to change outfits out of sweaty clothing and be out on the helicopter pad before 4 pm. Sailaway was fantastic from the helipad, and mimosas were served. I think we went to dinner immediately after Sailaway and ate tons of food since we barely ate anything all day. We went to the adults only comedy show that night, and left pretty disappointed honestly. I'm sorry to say I don't remember why, but he still fell flat despite us feeling like he would be able to let loose, and others we talked to felt the same. We went to sleep pretty early after that as we knew we would be getting up early again for Hubbard Glacier. 

 

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  • 2 months later...

Oh man, I only just remembered I never finished this! Sorry, but a crazy job (with lots of overtime) and part time grad school doesn't leave me too much free time! 

 

Anyways, Thursday, August 8th, 2019: Hubbard Glacier Day. We woke up relatively early and decided to go grab coffee and pastries at Cafe Al Bacio. We started to see some icebergs as we were sailing into Yakutat Bay while drinking our coffee. Celebrity opened the bow to everyone on the ship to view the glacier, so we initially made our way up there. It was already pretty crowded and we were still pretty far away from the glacier, so we quickly decided to go find somewhere else a little less crowded to enjoy the view from.

 

View from the Bow:

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We started exploring around the ship and eventually settled on the Deck 12 rooftop terrace. While it was located aft, I feel like we got some great views, and it wasn't too crowded. The weather was beautiful again. Sunny and relatively warm, though the wind coming off the glacier was still chilly enough for us to need coats. 

 

Deck 12 Rooftop Terrace on approach:

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You could easily cross to the other side of the ship if needed too. We spent the rest of the approach up here, and even got to see some calving! We were surprised at first, because everyone had referred to the noise as "White Thunder", but what we initially heard sounded more like gunshots. Only when we actually saw the calving and the naturalist announced the white thunder noises did we realize that was actually the sound of the ice prior to calving! We were told that the ship was able to get as close as it possibly can without risking damage to the ship from the ice underwater, and multiple crew members mentioned this was one of if not the best day they had had at Hubbard all season! 

 

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We started to get hungry and remembered we had ordered room service breakfast for the latest time slot, thinking we would already be sailing away from Hubbard Glacier at that time. Well to our surprise and delight, we were still at the glacier when our breakfast had been delivered, so we went back to our room and ate breakfast on our balcony in front of the glacier!

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The ship started pulling away as we were about halfway through our breakfast, and we got ready for our Inside Access Ship Tour. 

 

P.S.....if there is a picture showing up underneath this text, it is CruiseCritic's site randomly adding it to this post a second time. I keep editing to delete and it keeps showing up. Please ignore it, as I already have it earlier in this post. 

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Edited by AuroraRose
trying to delete repeat picture showing up at end of post
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Thursday, August 8th, 2019 continued: We booked an Inside Access tour of the ship for later that morning once we had sailed away from Hubbard and were en-route to Seward. The tour started with the galley, and then we went up to the bridge, then down to the laundry room, back up one level to the "I-95" corridor, toured the crew bar and mess halls, and finished in engineering. The pictures below are in order. It was really fascinating to see so many parts of the ship that are usually off limits. 

 

After the tour, we just relaxed on the ship and packed up in preparation for our arrival in Seward the next morning. We stopped by the Martini Bar for the Farewell Balloon Drop/Party, and then decided to head to dinner after the balloon drop. We again had dinner in the MDR and just took our time relaxing and socializing. It wasn't very crowded since most people probably chose to eat before the Balloon Drop. The waiters and sommeliers in the MDR put on a little farewell dance/show toward the end of the service, and we ended up high-fiving our waiter as he passed by our table during the dance/show. It was a really bittersweet moment. All in all, it was a fantastic last day aboard the Millennium. 

 

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Friday, August 9th, 2019: Disembarkation Day

 

It was much cooler in Seward than it had been in the other ports, but we were farther North at this point. It was still in the upper 50's/low 60's and sunny.

 

We took one last picture from our balcony and then waited out our time to debark in Cosmos Lounge, where pastries, orange juice, and coffee awaited us. Milk was the only thing available to put into coffee, which was rather disappointing to me, as I prefer half and half in my coffee and had no problem finding it any other time on the cruise. I did politely ask if half and half was available and to my dismay it was not, but the concierge seemed to take it as feedback to improve the service for guests on future cruises. I settled with the milk just to get some caffeine in me. We had only just finished our coffee, juice, and pastries when our group was called to debark. Debarkation was pretty painless, and our luggage was easy to find. We used a luggage storage service since check in for our AirBNB wasn't until 3 pm, and went to eat a real breakfast at the Smoke Shack, a restaurant located in an old train car near the cruise port. The restaurant had a bit of a wait, but there was a coffee shop (13 Ravens) in the same plaza of old train cars (there's 4 or 5 of them in a circle with a deck in the middle, and each car has a business in it). We put our names down to wait and I made a bee line for the coffee shop. It was delicious coffee, but I definitely had a bit of sticker shock at the prices. But coffee was more important to me in that moment so I happily paid and went back to wait for a table. Our table was ready about 5 minutes after I got back, and we were seated inside the train car (they have a few tables outside on the deck too). I brought my coffee in with me and was very happy they didn't give me a hard time about it since it was still about half full. I also ordered more coffee at the restaurant too (I drank a lot of coffee that morning...). The food was delicious, the service was quick, and the prices weren't awful for Alaska. 

 

Seward from our balcony and inside the Smoke Shack (with my coffee from 13 Ravens on the table):

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We finished breakfast with time to kill, as our friends weren't coming in on the train until lunchtime roughly. We walked around the downtown area of Seward and went into a few shops to browse and talk about what we wanted to do the next day since we wouldn't be joining our friends on their glacier kayaking trip. It seemed very expensive for what you got, and certain questions of mine went unanswered. I'm going to foreshadow a bit here, but our friends ended up having some complaints about the experience afterwards, and I'm glad overall that we didn't partake after all. 

 

We walked back up to the train station and waited for the train to come in. It came in on time, and we met up with our friends, helped them collect their luggage, boarded the free downtown shuttle, and headed to find another restaurant for lunch downtown. DH and I weren't terribly hungry after our large, late breakfast, but we had time to kill before check in and wanted to catch up with our friends. Our AirBNB host graciously offered to let us store our luggage there prior to check in, so we stopped at the AirBNB first to drop off luggage and then went to the Seward Brewing Company. I had a few beers and DH and I split an order of fries while our friends ate lunch (they had barely eaten that day; the train didn't have many options for those in Adventure Class that morning apparently). 

 

After lunch, we decided to go check out the Sea Life Center to kill some time before check in. DH and I had the TourSaver book, so we had a buy one get one free admission coupon. The center was smaller than most aquariums I have been to, but I still had an absolute blast there. There were some interesting marine creatures native to Alaska that we had never seen before, and the bird exhibit was great. You could get pretty close to the birds without having to pay extra for an "experience" with them. There is also an outdoor deck with a fantastic view of the bay. 

 

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After the Sea Life Center, we went and checked into our Air BNB, unwinded a little (I think I actually updated this trip report since I had a stable wifi connection again!), showered/changed, and decided to go eat dinner at the Cookery.  It is a fantastic restaurant in Seward, and our AirBNB host had nothing but excellent things to say about it. Clearly it isn't much of a secret though, as when we got there the restaurant had a wait over an hour long. None of us were incredibly hungry yet, so we decided to put our names down since they offered to call us when our table was ready, and we decided to go find a bar to hang out in while we waited. We ended up in Tony's Bar and Liquor Store, since it also had comfy booths and pool tables. Our friends and I got the special of the night, which were alcoholic popsicles, and then we all played a round of pool. We had one or two more drinks after popsicles, and played two rounds of pool before DH's cell phone rang telling us our table was ready at the Cookery. We paid our tabs at Tony's and made our way to the Cookery. 

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I honestly think I had some of the best food in my life at the Cookery. I see why it was so popular, and so highly recommended! Unfortunately I can't remember everything that we ordered, but I know I had an amazing soup of some kind, and the four of us ordered all 3 desserts on the menu to share because none of us could pick just one! The pictures I have are of DH's salmon entree and our friend's oysters, and the three desserts. I found a menu of the desserts, which is easier to show you rather than me typing it all out. 

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Desserts:

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Saturday, August 10th, 2019: Our friends woke up very early to go on their kayaking tour of Aialik glacier. They were gone before DH and I got up. DH's back had been bothering him, and both of us were desperately in need of laundry, so we just decided to spend a leisurely day at the AirBNB and not book a tour for today. The AirBNB had a washer and dryer included so we made good use of that :). 

 

We decided to forgo the kayaking when I found the Glacier Bay flightseeing tour from Icy Strait Point, as they were the same price, but the flightseeing allowed us to see another National Park on our trip. I also had reservations about the kayaking trip to begin with, as they talk about specific types of clothing to wear ("not cotton", and all I own pretty much is cotton...), "snack provided" on an 8+ hour tour, can't bring much with you either, and only about an hour or so of actual kayaking, with the rest of the trip on a small boat to and from the glacier. And I knew in advance we would need time to do laundry after the cruise, so not joining our friends for the kayaking trip seemed like the best option for us. 

 

When our friends got back later that evening, while overall they really enjoyed the part where they got to kayak near a glacier, they basically were only given a granola bar to eat all day and were starving. They did get to see a pod of orcas and listen to their calls, but apart from the time spent chasing the orcas, they said the boat rides were boring as well.  They both showered, took naps while we finished up our laundry, and we decided to go out to dinner again.

 

We went to dinner at another local restaurant that wasn't as good as the Cookery, and the food wasn't really memorable to me. We then walked around the park near the bay and ended up playing horseshoes. It started to get chilly so we walked back to the AirBNB and called it a night, as we had a busy day ahead of us on Sunday. 

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  • 3 months later...

Oh my gosh I'm so sorry that I forgot to update; grad school and other life events got in the way and time got away from me! I'm determined to finish this trip report today though to help others who are planning similar trips for this upcoming summer.

 

Sunday, August 11th, 2019: Our one friend woke up really early to catch the shuttle to Exit Glacier and go on a hike to the edge of the glacier (The Harding Icefield Trail). That hike was too advanced for the rest of us, so we slept in and took a later shuttle. The shuttle in question is $15 round trip from downtown Seward, and we took the free town shuttle from our AirBNB to the shuttle depot. We went on a ranger led hike to the Glacier Overlook where we made frequent stops to talk about the history of the area, the geology, how much the glacier had receded and how much that receding had accelerated in recent decades, etc. The hike took about 1.5 hours to hike about 1.5-2 miles one way. The trail for most of it is wheelchair accessible with great views of the glacier, but the last 0.6 of a mile to the overlook is not and is quite steep and rocky in some parts. Bring good walking/hiking shoes (I would not recommend sandals if you want to get to the overlook; someone stopped us on our way down to ask if her platform sandals were sufficient footwear and the answer was a resounding no from all 3 of us). The hike ended at the Glacier Overlook and we were able to spend as much time as we wanted there before heading back to the main area where the shuttle would pick us up.

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DH took a picture of me and my friend standing at the Glacier Overlook after the ranger left. The interesting thing about this picture is that 2019 was our 10 year high school reunion (we all missed the reunion because of this trip to Alaska). The glacier was approximately where we are standing in this picture when we were in high school. There were markers along the trail telling you where the edge of the glacier used to be, and it was both awe-inspiring and chilling that the glacier had receded that much in such a short time frame. It is now on my bucket list to go back in a few decades to see just how much farther it recedes compared to this picture. I'm grateful that I was able to see it now at least though. 

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We hiked back to the main area in roughly 25-30 minutes since we weren't making frequent stops with the ranger this time. We waited at the ranger station for a few minutes for our friend to meet us, as there was no cell phone service in the park. She got back from her long hike about 20 minutes after we did, and we caught the 2 pm shuttle back to town. The Exit Glacier shuttle depot had stored our luggage for us since we were leaving Seward that day and had checked out of our AirBNB before we left that morning. We got back to the shuttle depot, picked up our luggage, hopped on a free town shuttle over to the train station, and checked in our luggage for the evening train to Anchorage. At this point we still had almost 4 hours to kill before the train left, and we were all starving, so we decided to take the free shuttle again back into downtown and find somewhere to eat lunch and do a little last minute souvenir shopping. We settled on eating at Zudy's cafe, which had salads and sandwiches that were delicious. The view from their patio was excellent as well (as long as you ignored the parking lot between the patio and the bay). 

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After a late lunch, we walked around town a little and went into some gift shops to buy souvenirs. DH bought salt water taffy for his brother (a tradition in their family), one friend was buying postcards in every town she visited, and the other was looking for local art. Nothing really stood out to me as something that I had to have so I didn't buy any souvenirs. 

 

It was finally time to head back to the train station and board the train. Our friends came into Seward on the train to meet us, and they took Adventure Class on the way since Gold Star was sold out for their trip by the time they booked it. However, Gold Star was available for our trip from Seward to Anchorage and you only live once right? Upon check in, the railroad gave us blue and gold pins to designate that we were Gold Star passengers. I actually still have it, so there's a souvenir that I do have!  I forgot to take a picture of it that day but I just went and grabbed it and snapped a picture of it on my kitchen counter this morning. You are expected to wear the pin the entire time you are on the train so that the crew can instantly identify that you are authorized to be in GS cars. We boarded directly onto the second deck of the GS car, which is the dome car. It had excellent viewing opportunities, and an open air platform that you could go out and stand on. The upstairs area also had a bar. Gold Star service includes 2 free alcoholic beverages per passenger, so my friends and I went and got some Alaskan craft beers that were available on board and enjoyed the open air platform. I was very surprised how few people actually were out there enjoying it, but they sat half the car for dinner pretty quickly after we left Seward, and we had the later seating with fewer people in our half of the car, so maybe it was busier while we were eating dinner. After about an hour and a half-2 hours, it was our turn for dinner. We were called to the downstairs half of the train where there was booth seating. I had a reindeer chili, fish tacos, and chocolate mousse for dessert. Everything was delicious! And we ran into a couple that we shared dinner with on the Millennium a few nights earlier that were enjoying their dinner in the GS car too. I'm not sure how we didn't see them on the second floor but it was a nice surprise running into people from our cruise! On the Millennium, we had all discussed that we were all doing a land tour on our own post cruise and that they were also taking the train from Seward to Anchorage, but they didn't remember what day they were taking it when we asked. 

 

After dinner, we went back up to the dome car, grabbed our second free drink (we all tried different craft beers and ciders again), and enjoyed the sunset views as the train pulled into Anchorage around 10 pm. We called an Uber to pick us up and bring us to the hotel. I booked the Crowne Plaza midtown on points for all of us, so it was free for us to stay there that night. We got to the hotel and pretty much all called it a night, knowing we had a long drive ahead of us the next morning. 

 

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Edited by AuroraRose
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Monday, August 12th, 2019: We were picking up the rental car at 9 am, so we all agreed to meet for breakfast at 7:30 to give us time to eat and catch the free airport shuttle from the hotel. Breakfast was included in our stay, and was one of the nicer breakfast buffets I have seen at a hotel. The food was good but just normal breakfast staples of bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, french toast, etc. Still, it was filling enough for the long trip we had ahead of us. We checked out of our hotel rooms and caught the shuttle to the Anchorage airport, where the Alaska 4x4 rental desk is. I made a mistake by not reading the confirmation email closely enough and assumed that the Alaska 4x4 rental desk would be where "Car Rentals" are located at the airport. Unfortunately, I was very wrong. After not seeing the Alaska 4x4 rental desk in the area where all the other car rental company desks are located, I pulled up the email on my phone and realized we had to go to the International Terminal. So we dragged our luggage on sidewalks and roads on the airport property to get to the International Terminal since we couldn't find an airport bus that would take us there. A bus driver took pity on us and stopped to ask where we were going right as the International Terminal came into view for us. He still offered to drive us but he said he would have to loop around the entire airport to do so and it would take about a half hour. At that point we only needed to walk another 1000 feet or so so we declined and toughed it out. 

 

Fortunately once we got inside the International Terminal the desk was very easy to find. We were the only people pretty much in the terminal, but two women walked by with airport therapy dogs and we all needed some canine cuddles at that point so we gladly accepted petting them when the women asked if we wanted to. I think they could tell we were all stressed and frustrated. After we found the desk, the check in process was very easy, and Alaska 4x4 gave us a free upgrade to a larger SUV. Given how much luggage we had between the four of us, I'm glad we got the upgrade, as I'm not sure everything would have fit in the smaller one. We picked up the SUV and found a grocery store nearby to load up on snacks, beer, and some items we wanted to bring to Denali since we had heard through research that grocery stores were limited in Denali and to buy stuff in Anchorage. DH and I had packed a soft cooler bag that we put to good use for cold items. We spent about an hour shopping and then hit the road to Denali. The drive was not really too bad; the roads are paved and there is really only one road there so it's pretty straight forward. DH saw a moose on the side of the road but it had gone into the thick brush by the time he pointed it out so we didn't see it. We detoured to Talkeetna to stop for lunch. 

 

In Talkeetna, we decided that pizza sounded good, so we stopped to eat at Mountain High Pizza Pie. We ordered the "Game On" (Reindeer gyro, Italian reindeer sausage, basil and onion, mozzarella) and "Papa Georgio" (Soppressata, tomato, basil, fresh garlic and Provolone) specialty pizzas, and both were delicious! The Game On is in the foreground and DH is taking a slice of the Papa Georgio. We packed up the leftovers and hit the road back to the main road to head up to Denali. 

 

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On the road back, we passed a parking area where a lot of people had stopped and were taking pictures. We decided to investigate and realized that it was such a clear day that you could see Denali mountain from this overlook! Our pictures didn't really come out well because it was a bit hazy surrounding the mountain. The peak looks like clouds in the picture below (like I said, the picture didn't come out well compared to what we could actually see from this overlook). 

 

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As we continued on, our one friend who booked the white water rafting trip for Tuesday got a phone call that not enough people booked on Tuesday and they had to cancel our trip, but would we consider going on Wednesday instead? We were staying in our cabin until Wednesday, but we talked it through and decided we could make it work by checking out of the cabin in the morning before we went white water rafting and leaving our luggage in the car. However, this threw another wrench into the plans, as our friend also really wanted to do a ranger led hike in the Denali National Park, and you have to sign up for the hike before 6pm the night before the hike. So she asked if we could stop at the ranger station in the park before we checked into our cabin that night. We obliged and headed directly to the park so that she could check in. 

 

We got her there at about 5:45, and she just made the cut off to check in for the next day's hike. Then we decided to drive down the road in the park a little since most visitors were eating dinner and we were there anyways! 

 

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We decided to go check in to our cabin in Healy, and realized we were almost across the street from the 49th State brewing company, so we decided to go there for dinner and beer before turning in for the night. We also discussed what the other 3 of us were going to do tomorrow since our plans shifted around. Our other friend decided she wanted to take the bus into the park and would buy a bus pass and ride that around all day. DH and I decided we really wanted to go see the Husky demonstration in the park, and would figure out what to do after that. We all made a plan to meet at the spot that our friend signed up for her hike in the evening. 

Edited by AuroraRose
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Tuesday, August 13th, 2019: DH woke up early to drive our one friend to her whole day bushwhacking hike in the park and drive back. Then the other 3 of us took our time getting up and heading to the park. It was the first day in our trip so far that we had rain, and DH and I had to put our new raincoats to use. We dropped our friend off to get her bus pass to go deeper into the park, and reiterated to her what time we were all planning to meet back up in the main area. DH and I got in line for the bus to the Husky Kennels for the husky demonstration. They showed us to the stands where DH and I were fortunate enough to get under an awning and out of the rain. Others weren't so lucky. The demonstration is relatively quick. The ranger talks about why they have sled dogs, the role the dogs play in the park, and exercise routines, while others are preparing the dogs and harnessing them to the training cart. The audience is asked to help get the dogs excited to run by howling with the ranger, and the ranger hops on the sled and goes for a run around a track in front of the audience. Once the demo stops, the audience is released to the kennels where you can pet the sled dogs. IMG_20190813_140754560.thumb.jpg.9f5c8d5800d1173fa6f6ec837a8afd2d.jpg

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After taking the bus back to the main parking area, DH and I decided to drive to the end of the public road in Denali, just to see what was there. The area is called Savage River, and seemed to have some interesting, relatively easy hiking trails. We didn't end up hiking on them due to the weather, but had it been a nicer day I would have suggested we do so. 

 

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DH and I decided to make our way back to the main area, and go grocery shopping as the cabin was out of coffee even though it was supposed to be provided. We figured buying coffee wasn't a big deal though and didn't want to bother our hosts who lived off property when we could easily buy a bag ourselves. The car also needed gas so we figured we would go run some errands. Driving back toward the main entrance of the park, we spotted a moose in the woods. This was the first wild moose I had seen. We pulled over when we realized it was walking closer and closer to the road and looking like it wanted to cross. As it got closer, we realized this was a mama moose that had two babies with her. All 3 ended up crossing the road in front of us! 

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We continued on and went up to 3 bears grocery store in Healy, which conveniently also had a gas station right there. We found some interesting Alaskan coffees and decided to buy a few bags as souvenirs, including "Alaska Outhouse Blend" and "Skookum", which DH found funny because of his favorite Youtube video series by AvE. 

 

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At this point it was getting to be the time we were supposed to meet our friends, so we dropped groceries off at the cabin and headed back to the park. They ended up catching a bus together coincidentally and got back together. They were both exhausted from their days and just wanted a quiet night in. DH and I still wanted to explore some more of town so we dropped them off at the cabin and walked around the gift shops just outside of the park. We decided to eat at Prospector's Pizza, which was not memorable to me for the food (it wasn't bad, but not something I would go out of my way for), but the pictures inside hanging on all of the walls showing different parts of Alaskan history were really cool to look at. We brought a pizza back to our friends as well so they had something for dinner too. We turned in early that night. 

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Wednesday, August 14th, 2019: we got up, made coffee, ate breakfast, packed up our luggage, and checked out of the cabin. We headed to the rafting company where we donned dry suits and were shuttled to the river entry point with the rafts. Overall this was a fun activity, but I would only book a half day trip next time (hindsight being 20/20). The majority of the full day raft trip was calm water and honestly a bit boring; probably better for someone not as active who just wants to float down the river and look at nature and scenery. I personally want to get knocked around and have a thrill ride when I go white water rafting. Our tour included lunch which was a sandwich, a bag of chips, water bottle, and a brownie. We stopped on a beach for lunch, which was nice. There were bathrooms there which everyone really appreciated, but getting in and out of the dry suit was a hassle to be able to go to the bathroom. After lunch, the rapids picked up more and we hit some class 3 rapids that had their fun moments. For less than half the price and a much shorter trip, we could have just done that portion of the river (the "Canyon Run" route for anyone who looks at the website) and still had a great time. I don't have any pictures as we were told that a photographer would be taking pictures for us. While that ended up being true, what we didn't know is that you had to pay $50 for a cd of the pictures at the end, and none of us liked our pictures that much to pay that amount for them. 

 

After the white water rafting trip, we went to dinner at the Denali Park Salmon Bake since we were starving. I didn't realize it would be a full service restaurant and bar and had visions of a more casual fish and chips stand that served salmon. The food was good though and it was a nice break before hitting the road to Fairbanks that evening. The drive to Fairbanks was pretty uneventful, and we arrived to the house we rented around 10 pm and all crashed early. 

Edited by AuroraRose
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Thursday, August 15th, 2019: This was our last full day in Alaska, and as a result, we decided we would go to Chena Hot Springs today. We were all pretty tired from the past few days and got a bit of a late start to the day, but got to the Hot Springs a little bit after 11 am. We signed up for the 2 pm energy tour (free) and the 3 pm ice musuem tour ($15 per person). My friends and I all decided to do the Ice Appletini for an additional $15. While that's not cheap, where else can you drink an appletini out of a hand carved ice martini glass? It was an experience more than anything. 

 

We signed up for the tours, and then decided to go grab lunch in the cafe since we had time to kill. Most of us had soups if I remember correctly that were made with veggies grown on site. After a quick lunch, we headed to the pool house to buy tickets for the hot springs and kill some time there. We thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor hot spring. A little after 1, we decided to dry off, get dressed, and go back to the activities lodge to wait for the energy tour to begin. 

 

The energy tour started out with a tour of the greenhouse on-site where they grow vegetables year round. We also got to see the outdoor vegetable garden, the chicken coop, and the highlight of the tour for me was the geothermal electric power plant that produces all of the resort's electricity. It was awe-inspiring seeing how much of the resort was self sufficient. Going on this tour actually inspired me to do my grad school capstone project on geothermal electricity (which I passed, and my advisors loved; I completed that this past fall, which is why this trip report is so late!). 

 

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After the energy tour, we returned to the activities lodge just in time for the ice museum tour. Chena keeps the ice museum at 20F year round, but they hand you parkas as you walk in. They talked about the resident ice carvers on site and the different things they have done there. There were two hotel rooms inside the ice museum that you can try to sleep in; no one has made it through an entire night yet! Chena gives you a regular room as well if you book the ice room so that you can warm up and aren't out of luck if you can't make it all the way through. We enjoyed looking at the sculptures, peeking inside the unoccupied hotel rooms, and just taking it all in. At the end of the presentation, the presenter went behind the bar and called anyone over who ordered an appletini and started making them for us. He laid the ice glasses out on the bar with paper towels so you could hold onto them and just poured vodka and apple liqueur directly into the glasses. They were strong but I powered through and finished it! Once everyone was done with their drinks, he told us to hang onto our ice glasses, because they had a tradition that once you left the museum to whisper a secret into your glass and then smash it in the parking lot.  We left the museum, hanging up our parkas and holding onto our ice glasses. My friends and I whispered our wishes into our glasses once we got outside and smashed them immediately afterward.  My wish came true so there might be something to the legend after all!

 

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Me with my Appletini:

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This is one of the two hotel rooms inside the ice museum, and that's the bed in the middle: 

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After the ice museum tour, we decided to have dinner in the full service restaurant on site at the resort. I had had a tomato soup made with tomatoes grown in the greenhouse on property for lunch, and the restaurant served that as well so I decided to get a big bowl of that and a grilled cheese. I think it might have been one of the best tomato soups I have ever had. I don't remember what everyone else ordered but I do remember that everyone seemed very pleased with their meals. 

 

After dinner we headed back to the house in Fairbanks to start packing up our luggage and get ready for the next day. We had a lot of beer still that we had bought in Anchorage so we all a few that night when we got back since we couldn't easily take them on the plane.

 

And my pictures are all out of order again and Cruise Critic doesn't want to let me move or delete this one, so here's a bonus picture of the bartender pouring vodka and apple liqueur directly into my ice glass.

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Edited by AuroraRose
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Friday, August 16th: Time to fly back to NY! 

 

As I mentioned earlier, this trip was supposed to be a bunch of couples going together. One couple backed out early before anything was booked since they found out they were expecting (and now have a healthy, happy son!). The other couple still wanted to do this trip but was not interested in the cruise with us, so instead their plan was to fly further North from Fairbanks on Thursday, August 15th and see/hike Gates of the Arctic National Park. Well they ended up getting a divorce after DH and I had booked all of our flights and cruise, but she still wanted to do this trip as she had done a lot of the planning for it. Our other friend (who is first friend's roommate post divorce) came at the last minute instead of the ex-husband. She hadn't booked flights yet before the divorce happened, so they were able to book flights together, and they flew in together at the beginning of the trip. However, the second friend/roommate wanted to extend her trip by visiting her family in Seattle, so they booked separate flights on the way back from Fairbanks. They both decided to book their flights the same day that our flight left, but coordination with our flights was not great, so all of our flights were spread out throughout the day. 

 

Friend/roommate who was visiting family in Seattle booked a very early morning flight, so I woke up at 3 am to drive her to the airport in Fairbanks. I got back to the rental house and slept as long as I could, but still was awake by around 9. The remaining 3 of us decided to pack up and check out of the house by 10 am. We decided to go get breakfast at The Crepery, which served fantastic crepes. They have won national awards for their crepes, so I highly recommend stopping here if you are in Fairbanks. The rental car didn't have to be returned until 1 pm, so we explored the shops around the Crepery and stumbled upon an indoor mall with an Alaskan history museum inside. We walked around the exhibits a bit before we needed to get the rental car returned. 

 

Alaska 4x4 rentals operates out of Pike's Lodge in Fairbanks, which is close to the airport but not quite walking distance to the terminal. We returned the vehicle, dropping the keys off at the front desk of the hotel as instructed, and boarded the hotel's free shuttle to the airport with our luggage. I remember getting through security very quickly at the airport, and having a lot of time to kill before our 3 pm flight. Our friend's flight wasn't until 8 pm that night, but she assured us she would be happy to just sit there and read her book to kill time. She had a deck of cards and we all played a few rounds of Hearts in the airport before our flight started boarding. We said our goodbyes, DH and I boarded our flight, and we were off. We had also booked these flights on points and were flying first class again, but this was your standard domestic first class. Nothing fancy, but still more comfortable than economy. 

 

Flying out of Fairbanks the views were spectacular. The mountain ranges were beautiful to look at. Our first flight was from Fairbanks to Seattle. We landed in Seattle around 7 pm and our flight to JFK wasn't until 11 pm, so we went to a lounge that we had free access to because of my American Express Platinum card and ate dinner in the lounge. We hung out there until it was almost time to board, then went to our gate, boarded and found our seats, and settled in to try to fall asleep for our flight to NY. We had a 3 hour drive once we landed in NY so we needed all the rest we could get. Again, just a standard domestic first class...man how I wish I had those lay flat seats for this leg of the trip. DH and I both didn't sleep great and were exhausted when we landed in NY, but we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts close to the long term parking lot on our way home and grabbed large coffees and bagels to help us get home. The drive home was uneventful and after we picked up our dog from our friend's house, we went back to our house and crashed all afternoon. Fortunately we left some buffer time and had all afternoon Saturday and all day Sunday to recover before having to go back to work on Monday. 

 

Edit: Both of our friends made it back to NY without any issues as well. All of our return flights were uneventful, which is always a good thing in my mind. Uneventful means they went exactly as they should of and were stress free, which is what vacations should be.

 

So that's the end of my report. We certainly enjoyed our bucket list trip to Alaska and have fond memories. This trip was also our first introduction to cruising and I am working on planning more for the future because we loved it so much! I hope you enjoyed my report, and let me know if you have any questions! 

Edited by AuroraRose
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  • 10 months later...
1 hour ago, scoobydrewby said:

Thank you so much for this report! We have been looking at different options at Denali and would love more info on the Air B&B where y'all stayed.

Of course! Happy to answer any questions too! This is the one we stayed at in Healy, but it was about a 10 minute drive to the park entrance and very close to the supermarket/gas station. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15904609?source_impression_id=p3_1609561007_lUWcW3XUTgfgREz4

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