An Alaskan cruise did not sound appealing to me when I first heard that it would be my summer vacation before my senior year of high school. I had imagined a tropical cruise with clear blue waters, endless beaches, and a fabulous tan for my summer get-away. However, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity turned out to be the best travel experience I could have ever imagined. I traded my visions of tropical bliss for the incessant beauty of deep, green waters, countless, majestic mountains, and the amazing wildlife of Alaska.
To begin our trip, my mom, two sisters, and I flew from Richmond, Virginia to Seattle, Washington on long, anticipating flights. We were even able to explore the great city of Seattle before our ship left the next day. We stayed at the beautiful Sheraton hotel in Seattle, saw the famous Space Needle, and got to experience the local Farmer’s Market. The city of Seattle was an exciting experience by itself, but we had yet to embark on the real adventure that awaited us.
The following day, we were taken to the check-in site where we would embark. We would be cruising with the Holland America Line; however the cruise we were going on was affiliated with Templeton Tours Incorporation, a Christian organization that offeres cruises to several locations like Hawaii, the Bahamas, and Alaska. We went through security and we were assigned our room numbers and room cards. Finally, we were able to board our ship, the beautiful Zaandam. Our room, which was located on the verandah deck, was exceptional. My favorite part was an outdoor deck to take in all the scenery. We explored the ship, which was like a small town on the sea, and we were amazed. I decided that this cruise was not so bad after all.
During the course of our cruise we stopped at several ports where we explored some of Alaska’s finest cities. The first port, my favorite, was Juneau. The highlight of this port was our whale watching expedition. We saw a pod of humpback whales participating in bubble net feeding. We also saw two breaching whales, along with a curious sea lion that came right up to our boat. Also in Juneau, we rode a trolley up one of the mountains, where we got to see an injured bald eagle in captivity and walk some of the scenic mountain trails. The next port we came to was Skagway. Here we took a train ride through the mountains where we saw numerous waterfalls, rivers, and extraordinary mountain views. The third port was Ketchikan. There we went on a bus tour to see Alaskan wildlife. We saw many bald eagles, and, best of all, we saw a wild black bear up close. Next we were able to visit the Sawyer Glacier. We were able to come close to the glacier while observing the snow-covered mountains and icebergs in amazement. Our last port was Victoria, British Columbia, which was yet another gorgeous city. We saw the Empress Hotel and walked through the Queen’s garden. We then cruised our way back to our original port in Seattle. Alaska was an unexpectedly amazing summer get-away and I am thrilled that I was able to experience it.
There are not words to describe the wonderful experience of being able to see Alaska. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was the best travel experience I have had by far and it would be hard to surpass. Information about this cruise can be found at www.templetontours.com/ . Do not miss out on this amazing travel experience!
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