Alaska - Getting There

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Visiting Alaska has been on the top of my bucket list of travel destinations for years.  Recently we were able to take my dream vacation to Alaska!  My blog post this week will tell you how we visited Alaska. Keep reading to learn more about our trip of a lifetime. 
If you have an interest in visiting Alaska you probably already know - it is expensive! For several years I researched different vacation options for an Alaskan vacation. 
  • First, I had an idea I could fly into Seattle or Anchorage and rent a car and drive to destinations within the state.  However, after doing research I learned Alaska is HUGE (663,000 sq miles), there are very few paved roads in Alaska, and rental car fees are expensive.  Then there is the cost of food and lodging.  The numbers just did not add up.  
  • Next, I looked into the Alaska Marine Highway System, (the ferry) from Bellingham, Washington to Juneau, Alaska.  The cost was far more than I was willing to pay for less than luxurious accommodations. 
My first two plans did not come to fruition.  I just could not make the plans work within our budget. I then started researching Alaskan cruises.  I had never been on a cruise and always said if I were to go on a cruise it would be an Alaskan cruise.  
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I learned most round trip Alaskan cruises leave from one of two ports: Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. There are advantages and disadvantages to each port.  
  • Seattle, Washington - The advantages of departing from Seattle include: airfare and cruise fares are less expensive, no need for currency exchange, and hotel accommodations are less expensive than Vancouver. The disadvantages of departing from Seattle include: greater distance to travel to Alaskan ports and most cruises that depart from Seattle spend 1.5 days on the Pacific Ocean. I know on our cruise the first 1.5 days were the most difficult for our seasickness because we were in the Pacific instead of the inside passage. 
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - The advantages of departing from Vancouver include: more time on the inside passage instead of out in the Pacific Ocean and closer to Alaskan ports.  The disadvantages of departing from Vancouver include: airfare and cruise fares are more expensive if you are visiting from the continental U.S. and hotels are more expensive than Seattle (as of the time of this blog).
We chose to cruise from Seattle for several reasons but as you can probably guess, money was the driving factor.  It would be wonderful if we had unlimited funds for our travelling whims, but we do not.  Seattle fit our budget, so Seattle would be our port of choice. After all, we are going to Alaska!  We had visited Seattle previously and loved the area so we would not mind visiting once more on our way to Alaska. 
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Next we needed to choose a cruise line. Cruising from Seattle you can choose from Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, & Royal Caribbean. When selecting a cruise line, you can choose huge ships with accommodations for 4,000+ people, choose small cruises with less than 100 people, or choose somewhere in between.  We chose somewhere in between with Holland America Cruise Lines. Specifically, we cruised Holland America Oosterdam.  The Oosterdam has accommodations for 1,964 people.  The size of the Oosterdam was great! Not too big and not too small.  Although the small cruise ships have luxurious accommodations and cruise itineraries, unfortunately they do not meet our budget requirements. 
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In the coming weeks, I will post about our cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam as well as our days at port in Juneau, AK, Sitka, AK, Hubbard Glacier, AK, Ketchikan, AK, and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  

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Wherever the wind may lead you, may God bless your journey.