Cruise to Alaska

In early September, I embarked on an Alaskan Cruise with some of my closest friends, and we had one heck of a time. From the minute I stepped onto the boat I thought I was on the Titanic. This was going to be an epic 7 days.

Our Cruise Line

View of our ship in Glacier Bay

We chose to travel with Princess Cruises to Alaska. The coordinators of our group chose to book through Costco. We had a group of 9, and I was the sole cruise newbie. But to be fair, a few hadn’t been on a cruise since they were like 10 or something. The ship’s decor was incredible. It was very elegant, everything looked fairly new, and the staff was very friendly. My favorite room was the Piazza. It had two spiral marble staircases, a piano where they would play music daily, a cafe and a wine bar. All the employees were foreign which I thought was interesting. They all spoke English well but did carry thick accents. Your key card also served as your credit card. It was nice because I didn’t have to carry my purse or cash around the boat, but dangerous at the same time. Anything that wasn’t included in your cruise package you could just charge it to your room. WiFi on the ship is very expensive, and there is no cell service in international waters. Princess offers a messenger service. I’m not going to lie, the app needs some work, but it gets the job done. So it works similar to Facebook messenger and uses the ship’s WiFi (for free) so you can message other people on the boat. The negatives are, the app doesn’t alert you that you have a message, and it’s quite slow and cumbersome to use. They need someone to make a few adjustments to their coding, and it will be a great feature for cruise passengers.

The Food

The full group in Juneau

Let me tell you about the food. You could eat at the buffet for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They also had 2 dining halls that were available for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They had a pizza and ice cream bar, a burger bar, and a cafe that served various salads, soups or paninis. Room service was included in your food package, and they had 3 restaurants that you had to pay extra to eat at. One was a bistro, there was an Italian joint, and a steakhouse. We mostly ate breakfast at the buffet, lunch was kind of all over the place, and dinner was at the dining hall. Dinner was at least four courses. Some items would rotate daily, others were on the menu every night, and they usually had a theme. There were a few dishes no one cared for, but overall the food was amazing. It is impossible to go hungry while on a cruise. There is so much food available to you 24/7. However, drinks are not included in your package. And not just alcoholic drinks. You had to pay extra for anything that wasn’t water, black coffee, tea, or juice at breakfast. Outside of the extra money for basic drinks, I thought the dining experience on our Princess Alaskan Cruise was outstanding.

On the Boat Activities

Rare sunny day in Ketchikan

One of my companions who was on his 3rd cruise I believe said he never spent too much time in his room because there was so much to do. He was right. If I was in my room it was because I didn’t feel good (probably a combination of too much liquor the night before and the swaying boat), or I was exhausted. I mentioned the live music in the Piazza, and they would also have live dancing performances and magic shows. Each evening there was something to see from musicals, comedy shows, and even “The Voice of the Ocean.” I was surprised how popular karaoke was on the cruise ship. They had a late night club that would feature a DJ some nights. There were bars around every corner. The boat had a workout facility, a spa, at least 3 pools, and like 8 hot tubs. There was definitely quite a bit to keep you busy. Plus, the scenery on the Alaskan Cruise is so gorgeous you can just walk around the ship and sightsee.

On Shore

Hiking around Dewey Lake in Skagway

The cruise I was on was round trip from Seattle. Our port calls were in Juneau, Skagway, sightseeing in Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Victoria. You were given ample time in Juneau and Skagway and only a few hours in Ketchikan and Victoria. I was on a 7-day cruise, and I felt like I spent a lot of time on the boat. However, what I did see of Southeast Alaska was absolutely amazing. I visited the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. My friends then took a tour to the Alaskan Brewery, but I chose to stay behind and check out downtown a bit more. In Skagway, we each sort of did our own thing. I found a few hikes I wanted to do, one friend went rock climbing, another went biking, a few went zip lining, and some took the train ride. I thoroughly enjoyed my hikes, but it sounds like the zip lining was pretty amazing. I was trying to limit myself on excursions because they are excruciatingly expensive, and I had been living on a non-working travelers budget for a while now. Skagway was by far my favorite port. I like the terrain, the town, and the people. I could have easily spent multiple days there. We bar hopped a bit in Skagway to get to know the community and it was great. I recommend the Spruce Tip Ale at Skagway Brewery, the habanero infused tequila, and of course a duck fart. It’s simple Alaskan tradition. In Ketchikan, a majority of our group decided to go kayaking and that ate up all our time there. It was a beautiful bay, and it did get us out of the main tourist town which was nice. And in Victoria we didn’t arrive til 6pm and only had a few hours, so we bar hopped mostly, visited a Tim Horton’s and tried to get a feel of Canadian after dark.


John Hopkins Inlet Glacier Bay

I think we were fairly lucky with the weather. It poured almost the whole time we were in Juneau, but we made do. Otherwise, there were periods of cloud cover and periods of sun. It was definitely cooler so dress appropriately. Where we lucked out the most was in Ketchikan. This place receives about 300 days of rain which equates to about 13 feet of rainfall. It was sunny when we arrived. Incredible.

Bottom line

Glacier Bay, Alaska

I’m definitely going back to Alaska. I want to go on a fishing expedition and explore around Denali National Park. The cruise is nice because you get to explore a part of Alaska really only accessible by boat. I am very thankful I was invited to join this cruise because I had a blast. If you are looking for less boat time, and to hit the larger mainland part of Alaska, I would recommend a one-way cruise. I know Princess has a 7-day cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage. It’s incredible how big Alaska is because even Anchorage is only a small piece of it. If you get the opportunity to go on an Alaskan Cruise take it. It’ll get you hooked on Alaska and you’ll want to go back for more.

An Awkward Rome


When I awoke in Florence it was pouring rain. I thought I would go to a museum I had a ticket for, but the queue looked a little long for me, so I grabbed some chocolate, my bags and headed for the train station. I was going to spend three nights in Rome. Not the same place as last time, but the same area. I was hoping the weather in Rome would be better than in Florence. It had been raining a lot. And when it rains in Italy you need an umbrella. It floods and absolutely pours, and I’m always drenched by the time I get back to my room. I lugged my suitcase to the train station in the rain and waited. I would get to Rome about 1/2 hour before the start of the Scotland vs Italy rugby match. I had thought I may buy a ticket to the match, but when figuring out logistics there just wasn’t enough time. Had I known before I booked my train, I would have scheduled a much earlier train. After making my way once more through the streets of Rome with my suitcase, it was finally time to explore. I did watch the match until about 1/2 time and then ventured on. Besides, I think the All Blacks might be more exciting to watch. I had a list of things to do in Rome suggested to me by a blogger I follow. I could post their name, but that would make them more popular. They are popular enough, and don’t need me to heighten that. I was told to eat ice cream on the Spanish Steps. After walking around a bit, dodging selfie sticks, and reading maps I finally found the Spanish Steps. Only a small portion of them were available because 90% of the area was blocked off for construction. And way to many people around to sit on them and have some gelato. I probably would have been trampled. I walked around a bit more, and saw a cafe that Mary Shelley used to sit at. It was similar to the Elephant House, and way too crowded to go inside. So I observed from a far. I looked at the map and decided to check out the Trevi Fountain. I wanted to avoid always pulling out my cell phone. Practice for South America. So I pulled out the map and tried to locate where I was at. I’m not sure which is worse. Pulling my cell phone out to see where I am at and risk it getting swipped, or pulling out a map and looking like a tourist. No way around looking like a tourist when I have a giant map and looked lost. A man came over and asked if he could help. I said no thank you, I got it. So he stood there in my peripheral vision.  Then after a few minutes he came up to me and started pointing in the direction of popular tourist attractions in Rome. I said thank you, but I’m looking for the Trevi Fountain. His eyes lit up, and pointed in the direction of the fountain. I said thank you and began to move that direction when he followed me. “I’ll take you there.” After a small eye roll, I shrugged sure. He did lead me right to the fountain which was nice. But then didn’t want to leave. It was kind of difficult to sit and admire the fountain when I had this strange Italian man hoovering over me. I was trying to be polite about the situation, by slightly ignoring him. The fountain was unbelievably crowded. There had to be 300 people crowded around it. It was beautiful though. I made my way through the crowd, my new “friend” following me, and better yet, telling me where to sit and which to direction to go. I don’t really like being told what to do. I decided to throw my coin into the fountain and make a wish. He poked fun at me saying I threw a penny in the fountain. This guy. I threw in like 50 cents. I didn’t realize the more money you threw in the more likely your wish was to come true. Geez. I finally decided it was time to ditch my new attachment. I told him I needed to go home, and thank you for taking me to the fountain. He started to follow me again. Wanted to know why I was going home so early. I have been traveling for a while now, and I had started to notice a pattern in guys and when they are trying to pick you up. Number one they always ask if you are married and look for a ring. After talking for a bit more, and usually at a random time, they ask you where your boyfriend is. I like how they say where and not do you have one. The conversation can go a few ways from here. More times then none you are talking to a creep who doesn’t care if you have someone back home and still tries to pursue you. In their mind, if the boy isn’t here then you must not really care too much and are off traveling alone looking for adventures. So my new follower asked me what sort of adventures I was interested in, and what I usually did with people I met on my travels. Let’s just say he was confused when I said I like to eat ice cream and go hiking with my new friends. He told me most tourists he meets are into other other types of adventures. The conversation was a little more awkward because of some comments he had made earlier, but you get the jist of it. He then tried to make a time we could meet up tomorrow. There was no way I ever wanted to see this fool again. I made up some bogus itinerary. He said he was going back to the fountain and I was finally free. I walked back to my room checking over my shoulder a few times. I did not see that man again thank goodness. And for the rest of my time in Rome I was a bit more rude to people, and tried to hide my map a bit more. Unfortunately my awkward first night in Rome was not over. Reception recommended me a nearby place to get good food. I looked at the menu and wanted everything. If there was ever time my eyes were bigger than my stomach this was it. People in the restaurant kept looking at me for a few reasons I think. I was a single female, I think the blonde hair is off putting, and I didn’t speak any Italian. One couple asked me how I could order from the menu. I can get by, and I understand enough Spanish that I can get by. By the time my third course came around I couldn’t eat one more bit. The other patrons thought the meat was bad, and I said no, but I am absolutely stuffed. I would like it take away. After a while, a waiter finally came over and asked if I was done. I asked for a box, or take away. And so the waiter took my meat away and never returned. I finally got the bill, and took out my card when the manager in a stern voice said no card! Cash only! This man is lucky I brought cash. Because I don’t remember seeing a cash only sign. It wasn’t like I went to eat at the Nugget, this was a nice establishment in Rome. And lucky for me I had enough cash that I didn’t need to ask for change. I paid my bill and got the heck out of there. I was over Rome for the day. Ready for sleep and to start over tomorrow morning.