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Trip Report Alaska - Trip Report - Homer, Seward, Princess Cruise

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We spent 14 days in Alaska and had a wonderful time. Thanks to all of the great information I got from the Fodor's website. If you have any questions you can post or email me at [email protected]

Alaska Trip report

Day 1:
Flew into Anchorage airport our flight arrived as scheduled. We utilized the Marriott airport shuttle bus taking us to the Marriott Springhill at University Lake. It is a nice hotel with a pretty view of the lake and a continental breakfast. They also have a nice sitting area overlooking the lake with a fire pit.

Day 2:
We used the Marriott shuttle bus to take us downtown to Avis Rental Car on B Street. The cost of the rental was $266 - full size car for 5 days. Renting the car from downtown Avis office saved us a lot of money then if we had rented the car from the Avis office at the Anchorage Airport. Stopped at the first Safeway grocery store we saw and picked up drinks/snacks for the ride down to Homer. If you do not already have a Safeway Club card get one they are free and it saved us $18 alone on the liquor we bought at the Oaken Keg attached to the grocery store.

The drive down south towards Homer is beautiful going thru Turnagain Arm. There are a lot of places to pull over like Beluga Point, Bird Point and Windy Corner where we took lots of pictures. There were not too many places to stop for lunch after you pass Girdwood. We ended up at the Sunshine Café they have good soup, buffalo burgers and homemade French fries. As we got closer to Homer we saw several moose feeding on the side of the road so keep your eyes open. We reached Homer and checked into the Alaska Beach House B & B staying in the Compass Rose quarters. This is a beautiful cottage right on the spit with a spectacular view of Kachemak Bay. We were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the waves lapping at the shore. Doug and Susan were great hosts and we really enjoyed our stay at their beautiful B&B. www.homerbnb.com
Dinner was at Lands End where by DH had the King Crab Legs they were delicious and a great view of the boats.

Day 3:
In Homer, we went to the Pratt Museum (www.prattmuseum.org/) using the BOGO coupon in the Northern Lights Coupon book. This is a wonderful museum which is very interactive where you can touch, feel and hear the history of Kachemak Bay and Alaska culture. We had lunch at the Mermaid Café on Main street which is connected to a really nice bookstore. We had an excellent lunch with really good soups and a couple of glasses of meade from the local meadery “Ring of Fire”.www.ringoffiremeadery.com/
( Meade is similar to wine.) We then drove up to End Road and took this road all the way until it turned into a gravel road. This gave us spectacular view of the mountains and 5 mile stretch of Kachemak Bay. We then drove up to Skyline Drive and took pictures from the lookout point. We did a little shopping stopping at Alaska Wild Berry Products store at 528 E. Pioneer they sell chocolate and wild berry jellies. For Happy Hour we stopped at The Salty Dawg for a couple of cold ones and of course T-shirts from the famous bar. For dinner we dined at Don Jose’s Mexican restaurant and used a bogo coupon out of the Northern Lights coupon book.

Day 4:
Had a nice breakfast at our B&B in Homer and then began our drive north to Seward. We had lunch at a small café in Seward can’t remember name. We checked into our hotel at Holiday Inn Express and had a great room with a balcony overlooking the marina in Seward. Off to the Sea Life Center where we used bogo coupon from Toursaver Coupon book. www.alaskasealife.org It was a nice afternoon exploring the center which has all kinds of sea life and information about the fish and sea life in Alaska. We had a wonderful dinner at Ray’s Waterfront. www.rayswaterfrontak.com .

Day 5:
Had a nice continental breakfast in our hotel and took advantage of the laundry facility in the hotel. We then boarded the Aialik Voyager thru the Kenai National Park tour using a bogo coupon thru the Northern Lights coupon book for a 6 hour National Park Tour. www.KenaiFjords.com/swdcc We saw abundant wildlife including whales breaching, sea lions and orca whales. We visited the Holgate tidewater glacier that was calving. They serve a nice lunch which was a Chicken Caesar wrap, carrots and granola bar. On the way back to the marina they serve us warm chocolate chip cookies. This was one of our favorite excursions and the crew was very nice. We had dinner at Apollo Greek Restaurant in downtown Seward which was also very good.

Day 6:
Breakfast again at Holiday Inn in Seward. We drove north to Anchorage and took our time enjoying the beautiful scenery of Turnagain Arm. We had lunch at a small burger place just down the street from Avis Rental Car. We met Howard Shanks from Aurora Limousine Service www.auroralimousines.com at the rental car office and transferred our luggage over to his vehicle. We proceeded south to Whittier to board Princess Cruise ship “Island Princess” Howard was a wealth of knowledge about the local area and we had a pleasant ride down to Whittier. We boarded the ship around 4:00PM and just spent the rest of the day exploring the ship. Hint: When you get out of the elevator on your floor look to the right and left and you will see one side of the carpet is blue in the halls and the other side is pink. This way when you get out of the elevators you will always know which side you are on (port or starboard). I told several people on board and they were very happy for this hint when you get out of the elevators.

We signed up for “Anytime Dining”.

Just like to comment on the food on Island Princess. The menu is laid out with the left side is appetizers, entrée, salads etc. that are available every day. One item that is available daily is the fettuccini alfredo is delicious. You can order as an appetizer or as an entrée. Then on the right side of the menu this changes daily. We asked the maître d for a copy of the dinner menus for the entire week. Delivered the next day to our stateroom were the actual menus so we could look ahead and see what was for dinner each night. I was surprised but is sure came in handy to look ahead. Food was very good and some of my favorites were the Caesar salad, soups and different fishes served like salmon and sea bass. My favorite dessert was the volcano dessert I ordered off of the children’s menu. This is a very large hot fudge sundae don’t know how a kid could finish it?? My DH like the French Onion Soup which you need to ask for the Meatloaf, Short Ribs and his favorite dessert was the chocolate pecan pie.

Horizon Café – This is the buffet and we ate from here a few mornings for breakfast. We also sampled different desserts and they were okay but the cookies are delicious so be sure to grab a few of them.

On the Lido Deck - Don’t forget to try the crispy pizza near the pool they had all kind of toppings which was very good as were the hamburgers.

Sabatini’s – We ate here one night and it was very good. I would recommend going hungry and they serve you a lot of food. They have you pick your entrée and then they serve you a sampling of appetizers, soup and salad. We were so full we could barely try dessert. The restaurant was not crowded and we had made reservations for the night they served Italian in the main dining room. This way we did not miss Italian night.

Day 7:
We had breakfast in the Horizon Café and purchased our coffee cards the night before. We received two very nice travel coffee mugs with our cards. I recommend you just buy one coffee card and share with your spouse unless you both drink a lot of the specialty type coffees.

Day 8: We are in Glacier Bay and the mountains and glaciers were beautiful. We ordered room service because we did not want to leave our balcony. We spent the day enjoying the scenery and periodically going up front to the bow of the ship utilizing the door on the Caribe level. The boat makes a slow 360 turn so we would catch a quick nap while the side of our ship was not facing the glacier. You will never forget the sound the glacier makes when it is calving truly spectacular.

Day 9: Skagway – http://www.dyeadavetours.com/ We were scheduled for the Dyea Dave tour and we met him in the parking lot where you disembark from the ship. He is easy to find as he wears a crazy kind of hat. We were among 16 other people who also booked the tour. The weather was kind of foggy and we were hesitant about going all the way up to Emerald Lake. Dyea Dave assured us we would have sunshine once we got up into the mountains. He was right by the time we crossed into Carcross the sun came out and we had a beautiful day. We stopped for lunch at a small café where we purchased homemade soup, sandwiches and the best deep dish apple pie. I can’t remember the name of the Café but it is owned by a Dutch Woman. Dyea Dave is very knowledgeable of the history of the area and is very funny. After lunch we were making our way back down to Skagway and we saw three different bears feeding on the side of the road. They were feasting on the dandelions that were growing near the road we got some great pictures. We also saw a large porcupine that was crossing the street.

Day 10: Juneau – In the Princess Patter they offered a laundry special for $20 everything you could stuff in the bag and leave in your cabin. We took advantage of the offer got our laundry back very neatly folded in two days. We booked ERA Helicopter Tours [email protected] utilizing our toursaver coupon and save $279. I suggest you contact them first to see if they have your date available before you purchase the coupon book. We met the ERA shuttle van in the Mt. Roberts tram parking lot where our driver Carla took us to the helicopter terminal. ERA does a brief safety checklist and then fits you with a life preserver and weather proof boots that fit over your shoes. There are lockers for your personal belongings and restrooms to utilize before your flight time. We were paired with another couple and Mike our pilot took us up and we landed on the glacier. It was absolutely beautiful the colors of the glacier. You can walk around and we took many pictures. This was by far one of our favorite excursions.

Day 11 – Ketchikan - We booked the Deadliest Catch from - 56degreesnorth.com/ Bering Sea Crab Fisherman aboard the Aleutian Ballard ship. We had a beautiful sunny day where we went out and they demonstrate how they bait the traps using circle hooks. They throw the lines over and then pulled in a large halibut, rat fish and some rock fish. They released the fish and then pulled up the crab pots. We were able to hold the different kind of crabs and got some great pictures. We saw eagles and learned the history of the Aleutin Ballard ship which was hit by a rogue wave in the Bering Sea. The crew is very nice and we enjoyed hearing real life stories about their experiences aboard the crab pot boats. We really enjoyed this excursion and recommend it.

Day 12: We were at sea and we took this day to relax and began packing. Princess gives you your disembarkation color luggage tags to put on your luggage. We had to put our luggage by our cabin by 10:00PM that evening. Note: If you are disembarking on your own as we did (no cruisetour or airline booked thru Princess) be sure to complete the form that arrives in your box next to your cabin. Somehow we missed this form which was delivered about the 2nd day of the cruise. You get to choose your time you wish to disembark. We had to go downstairs to change the time of our disembarkation and there was a huge line.

Day 13: Disembarked in Vancouver, BC. We took a taxi to Avis Rental Car in Richmond. We loaded our luggage into the rental car and began driving us to Whistler. This is a beautiful drive up into the mountains. Whistler was the host of the Winter Olympics so the roads were well maintained. My husband checked into Ziptrek Adventures at 1:15PM for his two hour zipline excursion called The Eagle Tour. www.ziptrek.com/whistler-canada
We drove back to Vancouver and checked into our hotel at the Marriott Airport Hotel in Richmond. We drove down to the water and had dinner at Stevenston Seafood restaurant where we both enjoyed a delicious king crab legs dinner. www.stevestonseafoodhouse.com/

Day 14: I guess our luck finally ran out as we woke up to a cloudy and rainy day in Vancouver. We slept in and had brunch at the restaurant in the hotel called The American Grille. We had a leisurely day and ended up having dinner that night called Shanghai River Restaurant (Richmond) which was very good and portions our huge. We went to bed early as we had a 6:30AM flight.

Day 15: Up at 4:30AM and took the Marriott shuttle to the Vancouver Airport. We got thru security and customs it took us about 45 minutes. We grabbed some breakfast and our flight departed on time taking us home to Florida.