Who would have thought that a cruise could be adventurous? But that is exactly what our trip to Alaska turned out to be. When Princess Cruises invited us to be a part of their Follow Me At Sea Press trip, we were very excited to take part in all the excursions that they had to offer.
Alaska has been a place that we have wanted to visit for some time, but the expense and timing was always a factor. So years have gone by and we never made it to our dream destination, until now.
Alaska is an adventure lover`s paradise. It is the Wild West of America, the fabled land of Great Gold Rush and home to some of the most rugged and beautiful landscape in North America.
We could tell you all about our on board dining or pampering in the spa, but what we will always remember are the adventures of a lifetime that we had in the land of the midnight sun.
Flight over Mount McKinley
Mount McKinley is the tallest mountain in North America with an elevation of 6,193 meters. (20,320 ft.) Known to the locals by its Native name Denali, we had an up close and personal view of this awe-inspiring mountain.
Its majestic glaciers harbor deep crevasses creating hauntingly beautiful patterns on the landscape. Its severe slope falling down from the summit is a challenge for even the best of mountaineers.
We flew so close to Denali, that it felt as if we could reach out and touch it. A thrill of a lifetime, the McKinley flight is something we will never forget.
An ATV Trip in Denali
Boarding the Midnight Express we enjoyed panoramic views from our glass domed train of the Alaskan terrain to the Princess Cruise lodge directly on the border of Denali National Park. One is truly in the middle of nowhere here and what better way to explore the region than on our own ATVs. Who doesn`t love to drive a powerful machine through wilderness trails? With Black Diamond Adventures, we followed our leader through the countryside taking in different views of not only the Alaskan Mountain Range, but also the beginning of the Rocky Mountain Range. Surrounded by Denali`s tri-valleys we not only enjoyed an afternoon ride, we learned about the history and landscape of the country.
Cruising Glacier Bay
Cruising isn`t usually thought of as adventurous, but to pull into Glacier Bay and be surrounded by spectacular glaciers is breathtaking. Humpback whales blow their spouts as they pass the ship and eagles scoop down to catch a fresh meal. The ship slowly rotates for two hours to allow the passengers to view the glacier from all sides. As we sat on deck and bask in the sun, bears were spotted on the shore. If you are lucky, you will witness calving, the moment when giant pieces of the glacier break off and fall into the water. Spectacular.
A Zodiac Ride in Ketchikan
By far the Zodiac excursion was our most exciting trip of the entire Princess Cruise. For anyone looking for a pure adrenaline rush, this is the trip for you. Get ready for an adventure. You will be suited up in full gear. Rain pants and coat, Rubber boots and wool hats will keep you dry as you head out to open water.
Drive your own zodiac and whizz through the water on the edge of the Tongass National Park. We sat in our small boats in the middle of the bay and watched a whale blow from its spout in the bay. We then zipped away towards the shoreline to witness bald eagles perched high in their nest dive and down to feed on their prey. Driving through the waters is a thrill and seeing these regal creatures in their natural habitat is a moving experience.
Heli, Hike and Rail
What we loved about our cruise was how we managed to see so many different locations in Alaska. We stopped at several towns with their own unique climates and landscapes. Today our excursion took us to Skagway.
What would an adventure vacation be without a helicopter flight? Our excursion here started with a gorgeous flight over the Juneau Ice Fields and the Sawtooth Mountains. Flying in a helicopter is an exciting way to fly. You have your headsets and strap yourself in as you fly so close to the mountains riding the waves of the air.
We were set down in the middle of the Tongass National Forest and began our nature hike. We spied some bear poop on the trail and checked out an old tree that had been scratched by a bear. It is exciting to know that you are hiking in the middle of bear country.
The day ended with a ride back to civilization on the historic White Pass Railway. It follows the Gold Rush route from Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory to the wild frontier of Skagway.
Experiencing Alaska by cruising is an excellent way to taste the highlights. While we are looking forward to going back to spend more time to really delve into the culture and to explore the landscape, our Princess Cruise was one very exciting whirlwind adventure.
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The World is one big adventure playground and Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are out there experiencing everything it has to offer. They aim to tell the truth about travel. The truth about travel as a couple and the truth about being on the road for extended periods of time. The good, the bad and the unexpected. Read more about their adventures at The Planet D or follow them on Twitter @theplanetd.