Alaskan cruise experience (Part 1)

This is the first of two installments of our recent Alaskan cruise on the Norwegian Pearl.

Our last-minute decision to go on an Alaskan cruise took us to the town of Cle Elum on the east side of the Cascade Range in Washington, about one and a half hours drive to Seattle. We stayed at Whispering Pines RV Park before and after the cruise and stored Stimpy there while we were away. Staying east of the Cascade means we didn’t have to back track when we head toward the Canadian Rockies.

Although David has taken Alaskan cruises before, this was my first time going to Alaska. If you’ve heard about the weather in Alaska, especially in May, you won’t picture Alaska cruises to be a sun-and-sand kind of experience. We certainly prepared for the worst, weather-wise. Our cruise itinerary with Norwegian Pearl began and ended in Seattle. Below was our 7-day cruise itinerary.

Day 1: Port of Seattle, Washington
Day 2: At sea
Day 3: Juneau, Alaska
Day 4: Skagway, Alaska
Day 5: Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Day 6: Ketchikan, Alaska
Day 7: Victoria, British Columbia

We arrived at the cruise terminal around 11 am. The check-in and boarding process was easy. By 1 pm, we boarded and started exploring the ship and its facilities. It was a beautiful sunny day in Seattle, a reminder of why I love the Pacific Northwest. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer weather.

Boarding time

Home for the next 7 days

Pool deck

Checking out the ship

Mt Rainier (a bit blurry from using too much digital zooming on my iPhone) could be seen in the background.

Seattle’s familiar landmark

View of the Olympic Peninsula as we sailed away

Our stateroom (or cabin) was an inside room. That means a tiny room with no window, basically just a place to sleep and clean up. We didn’t want to spend money for a balcony room. The extra cost didn’t seem to justify a private balcony. We’ve cruised before, so we knew what to expect from the inside stateroom. Nevertheless, when we entered our room for the first time, it felt different. Yes, it had two twin-beds, two small night-stands, a place to set a laptop computer, a mini-fridge, a closet, and some shelves, all fitted into a small space as usual. But the room didn’t seem THAT small. When we saw the bathroom, both of us commented that it was quite spacious. It was like you could have almost ballroom-danced in the bathroom. What happened?

Please don’t be mistaken. Our stateroom was actually small. David and I realized that our perception about living spaces have dramatically changed since we started living in our motorhome nearly a year ago. Although Stimpy, our motorhome, isn’t by any measure a small RV, he’s still very small when compared to a house. Not to mention Ren, our truck camper, which is even smaller than Stimpy. So when we were inside the ship’s stateroom, it felt like our “normal” size room. Now if only Stimpy’s shower stall is as roomy as our stateroom…..

Not all Alaskan cruise itineraries are the same

When deciding on which Alaskan cruise is right for you, pay close attention to the itinerary, when the ship arrives and departs each port. How long will you have at each place? We are not early risers, so the itinerary that have us at ports too early in the morning and leave the port in early afternoon means we may only have 2-3 hours for shore excursions unless we want to get up really early. More at-sea day means fewer days of actually being in Alaska and less opportunity to do shore excursions. Alaskan cruise isn’t about enjoying warm weather and relaxing in the sun. You will most likely encounter cold, windy, and rainy weather. So it’s good to know before you book that cruise.

Have you taken Alaskan cruises before? What’s your experience?

Next post: Part 2–Highlights from each day and a mind-blowing shore excursion

7 Comments

  1. I can’t wait until the second installment and the mind-blowing shore excursion–it all looks amazing from the videos, blogs, etc., I’ve seen. A friend of mine just returned from Alaska on another cruise line–she had a fantastic time and wants to do it again. Alaska is on our bucket list. We’ve talked about doing a cruise first to determine if/when we would attempt the visit with the RV–we’ve heard pros and cons either way. Looking forward to reading about your Alaskan experience. Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thank you Dawn. I say do both. The cruise experience will be different from RVing. Exploring Alaska via cruising is so frictionless and it’s great when you aren’t in the mood to figure out travel logistics. We have been wanting to explore Alaska in our RV at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

    1. Thanks Sheri. When the ship was in the bay, the captain turned off the main propellers and left only side thrusters on so that the ship was not moving forward, just slowly spin around. It was very quiet. With the fog and still water in the bay, it was quite peaceful.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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