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Alaskan Cruise Part 4: Epic whale sightings and Ketchikan

Alaskan Cruise Part 4: Epic whale sightings and Ketchikan
Alaskan Cruise Part 4: Epic whale sightings and Ketchikan

In case you missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our Alaskan cruise adventures.

In May 2016, my family and I embarked on a cruise from Vancouver through the inside passage of Alaska. Days 1-3 were spent at sea and in the port of Sitka. Day 4 was spent cruising through the spectacular Glacier Bay National Park. On Day 5, we explored Alaska’s capital city Juneau, and almost fell off Mount Roberts.

Whale sightings galore!

We left Juneau in the early evening and headed up to the ship’s 14th floor deck for dinner. We grabbed a seat by the window, and over the course of 2 hours we saw close to 50 whales and dolphins. If we have met, you have probably heard me say my life goal is to see a whale in Vancouver! Despite having spent hours on Vancouver’s seawall and in Stanley Park, any time a whale is spotted in the city and at those locations, I always miss it. It’s become both hilarious and very sad.

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Needless to say, this evening on the cruise is one I will never forget! The whales were at times, mere feet from the boat. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, spotting the whales and dolphins swimming on by, blowing water, and even jumping out of the water.

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Ketchikan: Deer Mountain & Red Light District

Our final port of the cruise was in Ketchikan, named after Ketchikan Creek which flows through the town. The area near the mouth of Ketchikan Creek later earned the city “a measure of infamy” during the early 20th century: the red-light district known as Creek Street had brothels aligned on either side of the creek. It’s also been dubbed the Salmon Capital of the World. Talk about variety!

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While my parents headed off to the famous Lumberjack Show, my sister and I embarked on another hike! We decided to do the popular Deer Mountain Trail, offering panoramic views of the city below. When we were researching directions, many, many reviews said the climb up to the trailhead from downtown was very steep, and not worth doing. Most people took a taxi! But my sister and I thought that was just ridiculous, and surely an over-exaggeration. Well, no. Those people were right and we should have taken a cab to the trailhead!

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30 minutes later, we arrived sweaty, and ready to hike. It took us an hour to reach the viewpoint and it is some of the most fun I have had on a hike! Immediately, we knew we were in a rainforest: wet and mossy grass, mini waterfalls, slippery rocks, birds chirping, the smells. It felt magical! The slippery, steep, and changing terrain kept it interesting as we hopped over rocks and streams and climbed up logs.

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We turned around just past the first viewpoint, however if you have 4-5 hours you can hike to the summit. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the streets of Ketchikan, picking up nut butter flavours you can’t get in Canada at the local grocery store, and slurping down homemade chilli at Sweet Mermaids Cafe. That evening, we were treated to another incredible sunset from the boat, one of my favourite parts of the cruise!

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The journey home

Our final day at sea was lovely! I began the day with a TRX class in the ship gym. I was the only one who signed up, so it ended up being a personal training session. TRX on a moving boat? Even harder to balance! The rest of the day was spent lazing on the deck in the hot, hot sun! We really lucked out with the weather and sunshine.

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That evening, my sister and I found a secret spot at the very back of the boat to enjoy one last sunset. We arrived in Vancouver early the next morning and disembarked. A few short hours later, my family flew home and I was back in my apartment. While I am not sure if I would go on another cruise, the scenery we saw and experiences in nature we had were truly amazing. Alaska, you are a special place.

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Have you been on a cruise before? What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?

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