Alaska! Days 1 – 3

Oh horrors, it’s already winter, albeit a very mild (only 3 days of snow so far) and warm one for Chicago standards. So before my memory fails, here’s what we did in Alaska!

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We’ve been cruise lovers since our honeymoon eons ago. So imagine our delight bumping into the ship that took us on our very first one, the Jewel of the Sea. Busied ourselves admiring it and snapping photos for cheap thrills. Seeing this ship really brought us back to wonderful memories of our 13 nights in Scandinavia and Russia. It was bar none the best trip we’ve ever been on and we always speak of it with great fondness.

I knew we had to do an Alaskan trip as we were already in the US and Summer 2015 was the perfect time for it. The husband had graduated and waiting to begin his full time job, I was having my long break between school terms, i.e. a perfect time where both of us had no worries on our minds and could fully concentrate on enjoying this long awaited vacation.

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It was our first time on a Celebrity ship, definitely swankier and newer than the Royal Caribbean ships that we have been on. We snagged a balcony room of course. *Pro-tip #1, if there is one cruise to splurge for a room with a balcony, the Alaskan one is THE one to do it. Spent many a day starring out at sea to spot humpback whales. Food quality was pretty good and we also spent many a day eating. 😀 *Pro-tip #2, skip the formal main dining hall food where you have to sit with strangers and have polite conversations, eat at the buffet because the food is mostly the same as the dining hall anyway! Besides, where else but at the buffet can you get Cantonese congee paired with whatever you want, like bacon! Have to say that Asian food was aplenty and yummy on this trip (no complaints there), probably thanks to the increase of rich Asian tourists from a certain country (insert complaints here).

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First stop – Ketchikan.

The port of calls we made in Alaska were nothing to shout about. In fact, pretty disappointing because most of them were tourist traps full of jewelry shops and kitschy souvenir shops. Btw, we saw this world map at a coffeeshop that tourists from different countries indicated where they were from and look at the exploding number of pins on Singapore! Of course I tried to squish just one more pin on it!

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Thankfully we had more interesting things to do than to explore the town because we went rainforest walking to look for wild bears and spawning salmon. Who knew parts of Alaska are considered temperate rainforests?! They get a lot of rain throughout the year.

We were lucky enough to spot some wild bears (thankfully from a distance), 2 adult bears and a cub. Learnt about their hibernation habits and how they eat this thing called skunk cabbage to help them poop after a long winter’s rest. Amusing! We also saw the bears hunting for salmon near a salmon hatchery (so smart if you ask me!). Apparently they only eat the female salmon because of all the delicious roe they have in their bellies – Ikura! Male salmon are most often promptly spat out.

The bald eagles we saw were so fascinating as well. They were not wild but live in a sanctuary that also houses other injured birds of prey. Our guide was however able to point out several eagles’ nests along the way to and from the sanctuary. Apparently each nest gets reused year after year by the same pair. They just lay a new layer of leaves, branches etc to make things clean and comfortable each year. Hence, some eagles’ nest can be several feet wide and humungous.

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The highlight of the day though was an All-You-Can-Eat Dungeness Crab feast. We had 90mins to eat all we could. The crabs were simply boiled and had accompanying melted butter for us to dip the flesh into. So so fresh! We were so crabby smelling after eating that the whole tour bus reeked of crab.

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