Heading north to Alaska – Pt.2 (June ’19)

I left off my last post having just arrived in Anchorage. So I guess really, this post should’ve been titled heading south from Alaska back to Vancouver! But oh well!

The trip back to Vancouver was pretty much the same as over there. We stopped at the same places: Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, and scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park again. I think a lot of people would get bored going back to the same places on the same trip, but I like it because you have a chance to do things you didn’t get to do on the first trip. In saying that…I didn’t! Well to an extent. In Juneau, I went into the actual town. Not the part that’s showcased for the cruise tourists, but the actual part where people live. It’s completely different to the town right by the dock. I’m not quite sure where i ended up,but found myself up around where I’m assuming homeless people were living…bit unnerving, I definitely wasn’t in the tourist district anymore! I went bought myself some homemade Alaskan fudge to satisfy my sweet tooth (because that’s one thing I do miss when cruising, sweet confectionary!)

We were lucky on our second attempt at Glacier Bay National Park! It was perfect weather and got the full view of the glaciers from the get go. The people on this cruise didn’t know how lucky they were!

I purposely left Ketchikan until last, because I have the most to write about it. Well, the day/night before Ketchikan was eventful! When we arrived in Ketchikan, I headed to the old part of town again. Away from the tourist hustle and bustle. Because I was after McDonalds. When you’re hungover, nothing beats a Big Mac. And America has the best Big Macs. I walked for 30 minutes hungover to get that Big Mac! Now you’re probably wondering why I even mentioned the fact that was I hungover….I mean, it’s no secret that I enjoy the bars on a cruise!

Lets flashback to the afternoon before. Martini demonstration to be exact. I love the martini demonstrations! Anyway was super keen to try and get a free martini. That’s all my mind was set on. As well watching the talent of drink making too of course. First demo, and a new guy was performing. Next thing I know, a martini glass has been knocked off the table, breaking aaaaaaand there’s a piece of glass in my eye. Now what happened exactly after that, I’m not really sure. I went into the bathrooms to flush my eye out, thinking that was it. I came out to concerned passengers and staff. Off to the medical center I went, with me protesting that I was fine because I wanted to watch the martini demonstration. A couple of hours, eyeball anesthetic, lots of poking and prodding, eye drops and an incident report later (I just can’t escape them, it’s like being at work still!) my eye was fine, albeit very irritated and dry, but I wasn’t going to go blind! So, I was very disappointed I missed the rest of the martini demonstration. Priorities, I know. However I had a night filled of them so it certainly made up for it! And hence the hangover the next day in Ketchikan!

Let me say that I can’t fault the staff/cruise line at all for this. I’ve had plenty of people ask me why I wouldn’t complain about it, or even sue them! Why would I?! I’m not blind, I have no permanent damage…it was accident and it happens. I think people forget that sometimes, that accidents happen and it doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault…there’s literally no reason for me to hold a grudge. The staff were great, footed the medical bills, had flowers sent to my cabin and even became a running joke for the rest of the cruise between me and officers I had never met before. People definitely knew I was by the end of the cruise! A shitty incident doesn’t have to ruin a holiday or be turned into a bad experience. But I guess that’s just my outlook on life!

Luckily that happened in the last few days of the cruise so I only had to put up with a dry red eye, and putting eye drops in for a few days. The last few days were uneventful, other than the usual trying to get my weights worth of alcohol in at the bar and trivia’s and dancing!

To sum up Alaska, it was amazing. No photos, or stories I can tell will do Alaska justice. Going in June (which is the start of their summer months) was a great time. It was mostly nice weather (even in Vancouver, it was warmer than the winter back here in Australia), with the exception of some cold days, obviously. But being that winter wasn’t too far gone, there was still plenty of snow around on the tops of the mountains to appreciate it still looking ‘Alaskan’. I never thought I’d have the chance to sunbake by the pool surrounded by snowcapped mountains! The abundance of wildlife we saw without even having to go out of our way to see it; bald eagles, whales, orcas, sea otters, mountain goats…Also the scenery in Alaska is something of another world, and for someone who despises the cold, I loved it and would go again in a heartbeat.

On that note, stay tuned for the next post of my 2019 adventures! 😉


Heading north to Alaska – Pt. 1 (June ’19)

Caution: long read ahead!

June 2019, i embarked on my first major overseas cruise. This involved having to do a 14 hour flight to Vancouver. This was also my first long-haul international flight. This trip was going to be a bunch of firsts for me!

I arrived in Vancouver 14 hours after leaving Brisbane at 11am and going back in time, it was about 8am the same day. Pretty much the whole flight was at night, unfortunately i didn’t sleep much though! I can’t fault Air Canada, they were especially friendly when it came to me wanting bulk coca-cola for breakfast! Once i made my way out of the airport and onto Canada soil without finding myself on border security, i managed to get myself a cab (as they call it over there!) to my hotel. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t check in until 3pm. It was currently 8.30am at this point, so i stored my luggage and despite being incredibly tired as i’d been awake for over, i dont even know how long at this point, i went off on adventure. I wasn’t staying in the city, it was about a 15minute train ride to downtown vancouver, with an added 15minute walk to the train station from my hotel. So i set off…and realised i had no map, or wifi to connect to google maps, and i had no bloody idea where I was going. Oh well. Luckily for me, i came across a McDonalds not too far down the road. Hooray for a maccas breakfast and free wifi. I LOVE McDonalds. However i learned that as cheap as it is it over in Canada (roughly $2.50 for a sausage mcmuffin $1.00 for a large coke) it is absolutely disgusting. Perhaps that’s why it’s so cheap! Anyway the positive in this story since i threw out my breakfast, is that i could get wifi to find out where the hell I was going. 20 minutes later i set off towards the train station.

I love Canada’s transport system. It’s so easy to navigate. One way to the city, one way back. Unlike Australia where you can get lost on multiple lines. Jumped on the train for about $2 and 15 minutes later I was on the middle of Vancouver. If you’ve never been to Vancouver, you should go. I’m not one for history and architecture, but Vancouver is full of it. And it’s amazing. The weather was warmer than it was back home in Australia. I was in shorts and a t-shirt. Granted it was summer over there, but i honestly didn’t expect it to be so warm. There was still snow on the mountain peaks across the harbour. By about midday I was struggling with the jetlag and walking around the city so i headed back to the hotel about 1.30pm in hopes that I could check in early. Fortunately, I could. I made a rookie error of falling asleep almost straight away. I woke up about 10pm feeling like i’d been hit by a truck. Sore throat, headache, achy. So I wasn’t just jet-jagged, i was also sick. Great. And I couldn’t sleep because i’d slept all afternoon. I ended up falling asleep at about 3am. The next day I had planned on exploring the city and going to Stanley Park….but it didn’t happen because i slept until 1pm! Oops. I still wasn’t feeling great anyway, but i forced myself to make the 15minute walk to the train station, and the 15minute trip into the city so I could find a drug store to get some cold and flu tablets. I then encountered the problem of everything being written in french! Everything in Canada has english, with a french translation on it. You’d think my french would have improved, but i can still only say ‘yes’ in french!

I was embarking on the cruise the next day, so as well as the cold and flu tablets, i also found a juice bar. So i ordered the healthiest juice I could find on the menu in hopes that it would help. Carrot smoothies actually dont taste that bad! I went for a walk down to the harbour and watched all the sea planes take off, almost colliding with cruise ships leaving the port. I finally headed off back to my hotel, slightly disappointed that I didn’t get to do much exploring.

The next day I woke up at a normal time, still feeling under the weather but super excited. Cruise day! Let me tell you, Canadian taxi drivers are crazy. I mean, i didn’t die, but i felt a bit like I was in a grand theft auto video game. Regardless i made it to the ship in one piece and boarding was hassle free and quick. Given that we were going to America, i was expecting it to be a lot more crazy regarding customs, but I was onboard within about 30minutes of getting to the terminal.

I was cruising on the Coral Princess, which is a lot bigger than the Sun Princess and Sea Princess which is what i’m used to sailing on. So, I got lost. A lot! My cabin never seemed to be in the same place. Different bars. More bars. More restaurants. But i liked the ship. I definitely prefer the bigger ships over the smaller ones now! They’re more spacious, and even though they take a lot more passengers (she takes about 2,000 people) you wouldn’t know it!

For the first time in my cruising history, I had bought a drinks package for the first half of my cruise. An Alaskan cruise is only 7 days, and goes one way. Vancouver to Anchorage, and Anchorage to Vancouver. So because i had wanted to do a round trip back to Vancouver, i had to book 2 cruises. Because I had the drinks package, i wanted to make the most of it. So straight to the bar I went when i boarded. Unfortunately for me, I had developed a finger infection about 2 days before i left, and i was on antibiotics for that. I was still also taking cold and flu tablets so I was on a cocktail of meds for the first two days of the cruise. Just my luck when I also have a drinks package and want to make the most of drinking! The vibe of cruising going to somewhere other than a tropical destination is something completely different. Here I was thinking i’d still be listening to typical reggae music, but (unsurprisingly) they dont play that type of music when going somewhere cold and icy!

Two days later we reached our first destination of Ketchikan, Alaska. Ketchikan is the salmon capital of the world. And after tasting some authentic Alaskan salmon, i can see why! I’ve never been a huge salmon lover, but it’s actually amazingly tasty. the weather was unbelievable. It had been quite cold on the first sea day (before arriving in Ketchikan), but it was sunny skies all around and i was quite comfortable in jeans,t-shirt and thongs. I even got a bit of sun-baking by the pool in once i came back on-board the ship. I had gotten off and explored the town, which was very quaint. They also love popcorn there! Lots of salmon and Alaskan chocolate is pretty much the extent of what I ate on this day. I also got to see my first wild bald eagles, which i was way too excited to see! It wasn’t until i was back on the ship sun-baking when one flew over me so low i could see all the feather details. I was like a kid at Christmas and the American people next to me were definitely wondering why I was so excited. Ketchikan is the kind of place that you look at from a distance and it looks exactly what you think America ‘looks like’. All the pine trees, old houses…you just imagine bears running around in the forests.

The next day we arrived in Juneau. What a complete contrast to the day before. It was freezing! (well, about 13 degree’s celsius, but compared to the day before, it was COLD!) It was also rainy and grey and miserable, but it didn’t stop me from exploring. Juneau is home to Mt Roberts, which is known as bear territory. So naturally, this is what I wanted to do. Go find a bear! To get to the top of Mt Roberts which is where the trail starts, you have to take a cable car up to the top. And it’s a steep, almost vertical ride up. Over the tree tops on the side of the mountain.My fear of heights did not like this, however i must admit that the view is breathtaking. Even in all the rain, and we even spotted a bald eagle nest as we glided over the tree tops.

Once at the top I started my hike. It wasn’t until I read the information sign at the beginning of the trail, and it said what to do if you encountered a bear, that I realized I was in bear country. Walking along the trail….it was a very rugged, rocky, single person path surrounded by long grass, trees and bushes, or forestry trees. The higher up I went, closer to the top, there was a steep drop off. I wondered what I’d do if I ran into a bear at that point as there wasn’t really anywhere to go…but the thought didn’t last long as I kept getting taken aback by the scenery. It was cold and rainy still so the clouds were low, and there was still heaps of snow and ice over the mountain. Pictures or this blog won’t do it justice! A couple of hours later I was back at the beginning of the trail, and no bears were sighted unfortunately. But it was an amazing trek none the less!

I headed back down the mountain on the tramway for a bit of lunch, and I’d had a recommendation to visit a place called Tracey’s crab shack. So off I went, where I had the most expensive crab legs I’ve ever eaten! However, it was also the best, so I was happy. It was also super busy with lines out the door…if that’s any indication to go by of how good  of a place it is! Juneau is Alaska’s capital city, and what a cute little town it is! A small main street or two at the base of the huge mountains on the river that cruise ships dock at. Across the river are snowcapped mountains…actually everywhere you look you can see mountains. Given that it was June, so the beginning of their summer, there was still a fair bit of snow on all the mountains.

Skagway was the next days stop. Again, very cold and grey. And again, a completely different scene! Skagway is home to gold rush era type buildings, and the White Pass and Yukon route railroad. It was a bit of a walk from the ship into town, but it’s very scenic so it doesn’t take long. Skagway love their souvenir shops, so if you’re wanting souvenirs, Skagway is the place! There is one main street, so I wandered up and down until I was hungry for lunch. I ended up at Bonza Bar and Grill right in the middle of town. It had free wi-fi, and looked super cozy from the cold, wet grey day it was. The food…was amazing. Crab quesadillas and a cold Alaskan ale to wash it down, all with a view of the snowcapped mountains. I’m not typically a winter/cold type of person…but I was loving Alaska’s scenery by this point!

When I got back to the ship I was excited, because the Skagway port means one special event on the cruise ship. And that is Alaskan husky puppies. Dog mushing (or dog sledding) is the sport of dogs (huskys) pulling a sled. Dog musher Ryan Redington brings his puppies onboard for 45 minutes for people to meet. They are the cutest things ever, and they loved all the attention. Plenty of puppy kisses and cuddles for me, before heading off to get ready for the night ahead!

Next day was an early start!! We were scenic cruising through glaciers all day, and apparently those days have to start early! Now, if I thought Juneau and Skagway were cold, well Glacier Bay National Park was a whole new level of cold. It was about 8am when we started sailing up to them and getting a good spot on top deck and braving the cold was priority! Except for the little fact that there was nothing to see except cloud. And fog. After an hour or so it was starting to look like we would be unlucky with the weather. But, wearing 5 layers of clothing, gloves, a scarf and beanie I braved the cold and stayed up on deck. Fog and clouds aside, it was like being a different world. The water was insanely blue, and completely flat. Like glass. Bits of ice starting floating past us in the water, some with sea otters lying on them. And then, all of a sudden a weird pattern formed in the sky. Like bright white dots and speckles. It took us a while to realize that it was the fog parting in one specific area, and the sun (that we couldn’t see) was shining onto the glaciers that were hidden. It was a sight that I’ve never seen before, and absolutely incredible. As time went on, the fog started to part even more until we could see the glaciers on either side of the ship. As we got further into the National Park, the floating ice got bigger and started to resemble ice bergs, and we could see pieces of glacier breaking off and falling into the water. The sound was crazy. Think of rumbling thunder continuously. You would hear that thunder noise, and know more ice was about to fall somewhere. We saw more sea otters, a few whales, bald eagles, and even a mountain goat. By that time I had been up on deck in the freezing cold for a good 4 hours so decided it was time to go enjoy the warmth of inside the ship and get a drink from the bar.

3pm came around and I ventured back outside to see what the view was. We had sailed into another glacier area, and were surrounded 360 by tall, icy glaciers. I was surprised to discover that it was actually quite warm and sunny. So naturally, I decided it was a great time to grab a cocktail, my bikini and get some vitamin D by the pool. Never would I have ever thought I’d be getting a tan while surrounded by snow and ice!

We visited Mendenhall Glacier the next day as more scenic cruising, and while it was perfectly sunny outside, it was also freezing. So no sunbaking for me, but it was a very busy day at the bar as it was the last day of my drinks package! That night was a fun-filled, busy night as pretty much everyone else was getting off the next day when we arrived in Whittier. I finished up at the bar at about 12.30am and went out on deck before heading back to the cabin. I was shocked to discover that it wasn’t completely dark yet! For people who live in Queensland think about 7pm in summer. Almost dark, but there’s blue sky still. It was crazy. I didn’t get off the ship the next day (later that day?!) in Whitter. It was freezing, and there wasn’t a lot to do near the port…and I might have been a bit hungover. But it was nice having the ship literally to myself. Well until the next lot of passengers starting embarking!

Well, that was the first leg to my cruise to Alaska! 7 days from Vancouver to Whitter. This ended up being long enough, so I’ll put the next 7 days back to Vancouver in the next post! Stay tuned



My mind lately has been very occupied by the thoughts of travelling. I think it’s safe to say that the travel bug has well and truly taken over me. I want to travel the world and experience the different cultures of far away countries. And thinking back, it’s funny to see this part of my life playing out this way. It’s not something that i’ve always wanted to do, it’s literally something that has started in only the last 3 or so years. You look back to the type of kid that I was 10, 15 years ago and you would have never have thought it. I remember being on a passenger ferry as a young child and I refused to have my feet touching the ground. I hated being on that damn ferry! I also hated being away from home and my family overnight. I dont think I went on a school camp until I was in year 7! And here I am today. Lets face it, these days, I spend so much time on cruise ships, that i may as well be living on one. And I hope for rough seas. The bigger the seas, the more fun and better.  And I travel 95% of my trips solo, by myself and not knowing a single person. Complete contrast to child me!

But what changed? I had vacationed within Australia before and it never brought out the passion to want to travel. But then I got my passport and went on my first cruise out of the country (to the South Pacific back in 2015), and my inner cruise spirit got awakened. I loved it! I loved it so much that I booked another cruise with a friend only 5 months later. It was to the same place, but I loved it all the same. I could do the things that I missed on the first trip. And then I went on another one with another friend only 2 months later. That time, to Papua New Guinea. I found that each cruise that I did, i got off loving it even more and needing more. Now it’s the beginning of 2019 and I’ve just finished my 12th cruise, and number 13 & 14 are planned for June. One of the reasons that I liked cruising (amongst other reasons) is because I didn’t have to fly. I could travel to places without having to set foot on a plane. However, there’s only so many places  you can cruise to from Brisbane (meaning I didn’t have to fly anywhere), and if I wanted to start seeing all my bucket-list places overseas, I was going to have to fly to different countries. So I started with baby steps and booked cruises from Sydney, and taking the 1.5hour flight down to Sydney. I did that a few times before deciding I was ready to try something bigger and better, and cruised from New Zealand. Flying 3 hours to Auckland to board a ship, I was pretty much a nervous wreck and had no idea what I was doing. It was my first international flight, and i was by myself. But it was that flight and adventure that really opened up my desire to want to travel more, and to conquer my fear of flying and to go see the world. Because if I could do that, then I could do anything. And now because of that, I’ve got a 14hour flight to Vancouver, Canada to cruise around Alaska in June! I think i’ve come a long way!

I said that one of the reasons i loved cruising, was because I could travel without flying. Well, if I’m willing to fly places to cruise, then that can’t really be one of the main reasons anymore! But aside from that, I’ll always love cruising for many other reasons. One being the convenience of it. Once you’ve paid for a cruise, you only have to worry about how much you’re drinking, and whatever you want to do on land! One price and your accommodation is paid for, your meals are paid for, your entertainment is paid for, you dont have to worry about how you’re getting back to where you’re staying after a few drinks at dinner (…well, that’s not always easy as all the hallways look the same when you’re sober, so when you’ve had a few drinks, it can be a littleee bit confusing trying to find your cabin! I may be talking from experience here ;)).

But the second reason, and probably more bigger of a reason the the first one, is the experience of it all. It’s not just a mode of transport to get to a location. I love being on the ship. I love being out on the ocean surrounded by nothing but water. You haven’t seen an amazing sunset until you’ve seen one from the middle of the ocean! I love falling asleep to the rocking of the ship. Some people hate the sea days because they’re on it only to get from A to B. Which is what I thought I’d be like on my first cruise. But after so many, i’ve realized that the experience of cruising is more than just getting to your destination. Sitting out on a quiet deck watching the sun set over the ocean and the sound of the ship pushing through the waves is the definition of serenity.

It obviously has it’s downsides, as you dont get to spend more than one day in a destination. So you’ll never get to see everything a place has to offer. And you’ll be going to tourist destinations, as opposed to finding places that are off the beaten track that the locals know. But you get to go to many different places in one trip, so if I find somewhere that I really love and want to explore more, then i’ll make sure I visit again, not on a cruise and really see what the place has to offer. And my thoughts on this have changed a lot lately. Not too long ago, my focus was more towards purely travelling and seeing the world by cruising. And while that’s something that I still want to do, i’ve realized that the words ‘vacation’ and ‘travel’ have two different meanings. Vacation can always include travel and travelling, but travelling doesn’t always mean ‘vacation’.

My guilty pleasure? Travel doco’s on Netflix. I love watching them and the more I watch them, the more I antsy I get to want to go travel the world. At the moment, i guess you can say my inspiration to want to do this, is a series called ‘Departures’. It’s 2 guys from Toronto who packed up and travelled the world in year. And it shows everything they went through, the good and the bads. This is what made me think about the difference between a vacation, and travelling the world. To me, a vacation is a cruise. Or staying in a resort. You know, lying by the pool, drinking cocktails. Going out for dinner in a restaurant where the chances of you getting food poisoning are low. Not having to worrying about anything. However travelling and seeing the world is not necessarily that. It’s seeing places for what they really are. Going to third world countries where you have to watch what you eat and drink. Where it might be a bit dangerous, or you wouldn’t go walking outside at night. Where it’s a whole different culture that you have absolutely no idea about and you really ‘relax’ the entire time. To some people, that’s not appealing. And up until about a year or so ago, it wasn’t something that I ever wanted to do. But lately I have realized it is actually what I want to do. And watching these travel doco’s have certainly inspired me into realizing this. To have adventure and see the world for what it really is. Cruising so much, i’ve met and stayed friends with many people from all over the world who would happily help me out if I was to ever venture into their neck of the woods. And travelling by yourself, that’s always a good thing to have!

To all you travellers, adventurers, people who have been all over the world, what inspired you to want to travel and be adventurous? Was it something that you always wanted to do, or like me, watching other peoples experiences??

If anyone wants any inspiration or enjoys a good travel doco, here are a few that i highly recommend on Netflix!

  • Departures
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • The kindness diaries

But, first things first, and that’s my upcoming adventures to Vancouver and Alaska! Only 74 more days, and I still have a LOT to do before then!