How does one start to tell a tale of a trip of a lifetime? Maybe I should just say that this was the 2nd trip of a lifetime for me. The first was The Big Island of Hawaii.
Now I can add a cruise tour to Alaska as my 2nd “Trip of a lifetime”.
This didn’t just happen overnight. This trip was in the planning and discussion and saving stages for over 2 years. We finally said lets just do it before the glacier’s melt!
A big part of it was the saving part.
This was, without a doubt, the most expensive venture I/we have undertaken yet but Alaska is so big the task of putting together a vacation there seemed overwhelming. So after my sister and I hammered out the basics of what we wanted to do and see I turned the problem over to the professionals at AAA.
The trip I am about to describe to you is the result.
The first decision was do we cruise to Alaska or fly in and vacation like we usually do on our own. Since this was my sister’s Dream Vacation I let her choose. She had only 2 requests; to see the glaciers and to spend 3 days in Denali National Park. A cruise tour would accomplish both goals.
We settled on a “shoulder season” because it’s less expensive and money was certainly a factor. In May the animals are just coming down out of their wintering grounds and having babies. In September they have the northern lights (aurora borealis). We chose to go for the animals. We also chose to go south to north to give the northern locations a chance to warm up a bit more. In Alaska a couple of days can make all the difference. As it turned out spring was about 2 weeks late this year so we had a lot more snow and cold weather than is usual for this time of the year.
I think by far the hardest decision was which cruise line to use. They all cruise to Alaska these days, even Disney, and they all offer some combination of land and sea. I was leaning toward Royal Caribbean but Sandy liked Holland America. In the end we went with the travel agent’s recommendation of Princess Cruise Lines.
I drove from my home in Massachusetts to my sister’s in New York on Saturday May 11. I left my 3 cats in the capable hands of my long time pet sitter, still this is the longest I have ever been away before. My fingers were crossed that there’d be no complications for Diane to deal with.
That Saturday night we took our mother out for Mother’s Day dinner and then headed back to my sisters for an early night. We had an early cross-country flight from Albany Airport into Vancouver in the morning. By arriving a day early we sacrificed the airport transfer but got a day in Vancouver before we had to board the ship on Monday.
Our flight was uneventful and we spotted a rainbow as we flew into a misty, wet Vancouver. Our hotel , The Best Western Sands, was a block from the waterfront and very nice.
I had been to Vancouver once before many years ago and I remember the residents being very friendly, warm and helpful. That hasn’t changed at all. I still think it is one of the most friendly cities I have ever been in. What I do think has changed is the fabric of the city. We saw a great melting pot of people of many different nationalities and ethnicities. This only serves to make an already lovely city more cosmopolitan. Vancouver has really come into its own.