We left Seattle on a 14-day Alaskan cruise courtesy of Walnut Grove Travel. Since we had cruised with them in the past our name was entered, and we were very surprised and excited to win a free cruise! I’d always wanted to visit Bridal Veil Falls in Valdez, Alaska, but as it’s not easy to access I thought I might never see it. Then we won this free cruise and planned to see it on this trip.

Our ship was the MS Amsterdam, which had an interesting sculpture in their atrium called Planeto Astrolabium, which shows the constellations, planets, world time and ship time. We could see where we were at any moment on Earth as well as in the cosmos.

On the cruise there were many dining options, from fine dining to fancier restaurants. One night aboard we went to The Pinnacle Grill, a romantic, intimate and luxurious restaurant where we celebrated winning the cruise in style with champagne and Belgian chocolates. Most of the time, we ate in the main dining room, enjoyed breakfast in the Lido restaurant or dined off-ship in each port. We also enjoyed using the fitness center, pools and the wonderful Jacuzzi in the evenings.

In Juneau, which is Alaska’s state capital, a relatively small town compared to Seattle but big for Alaska, we went on a day hike in the beautiful mountains. In the evening we went with a small group to a Native Inuit salmon fry and enjoyed the people, food and culture.

I love the beautiful and rugged scenery of Alaska

When we arrived in Anchorage, we boarded a flight to Valdez, which was a short trip away. I hadn’t realized that we would be on a ‘little’ propeller plane. The ride was bumpy but we arrived safely. Our tour guide drove us to Keystone Canyon, explaining about the history of Valdez. He told us how an earthquake that measured a 9.2 on the Richter scale hit on Good Friday in 1964 causing a tsunami that washed away the town. Just like that in minutes. They relocated a few miles away to their current location. We already had heard of Valdez from the oil tanker disaster decades ago and it was nice to see that the waters and wildlife had recovered so well. It was a busy day traveling, and we arrived back to our cruise ship exhausted. I was happy that I got to see one of the top ten waterfalls in the U.S.

Keystone Canyon

Horsetail Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

In Kodiak we had arranged to take a tour to see Kodiak bears, which are the largest type of bear usually called grizzlies, in their natural habitat (and not in a zoo). It was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. We watched as the mothers and cubs played, roamed the coast and inland, relaxed and ate fish they caught. The cubs were cute but our guide warned us not to get too close to them as they are very dangerous.

Fishing boats in Sitka

In Sitka we hired a charter boat to go salmon fishing. The seas were a little rough but we had fun. After waiting most of the day, my husband finally caught a salmon. Then I caught an even bigger salmon! The crew members were great and helped us reel the fish into the ship. We had them freeze our salmon and ship it to our friends’ home in Seattle, since we wouldn’t be returning home for a few more days.

When we reached our second to last port, Victoria on Vancouver Island, my husband and I enjoyed a wonderfully British high tea at the Fairmont Empress, a truly beautiful hotel. When we pulled into the Seattle cruise ship terminal, we had a lot of great stories to share, beautiful photos to show and two huge salmon to cook and enjoy with friends and family. Thank you Walnut Grove Travel for selecting us for this amazing Alaskan cruise!