“You’re going to go somewhere cold?”
“You’re trading your sunshine, warm waters and flip flops for snow and a winter coat?”
These were the typical responses we received when we began exploring the possibility of Alaska as our honeymoon destination.
Being Floridians, the cold Alaskan waters seemed like a weird honeymoon destination to most of our family and friends; but, we wanted something completely different, we wanted someplace we had never been, and we wanted the experience of a lifetime.
When we begin planning our Alaskan honeymoon we decided that we wanted to explore and see multiples different places but we didn’t want the hassle that typically comes with traveling to unknown locations. Therefore, we decided to book an Alaskan cruise. With this option we had the means to explore a variety of cities and sites without worrying about where we would stay and where our next meal would come from. The first decision we had to make was which cruise line? We settled on Celebrity Cruise Lines because of their more luxurious offerings and travel incentives…it was our honeymoon after all.
Next, we had to decide which cruise we would take and more importantly what we would do in the ever changing Alaskan weather…after all, we don’t own winter gear or coats. After doing some research and exploring the various excursions and cities that Celebrity Cruise Lines had to offer we decided on a 7 night round-trip cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This cruise would take us round-trip from Seattle Washington to a variety of Alaska ports and was the best decision we could have ever made!
After the perfect wedding we had about a week of downtime before our honeymoon adventure. This allowed us extra time to prepare, pack and get everything in order (yes that included finishing up a few last minute things at work). Early in the morning on June 26th we hopped on board a flight from Orlando to Seattle, Washington. Our cruise was set to leave the following afternoon from the port of Seattle. We had decided to book our flights a day earlier to allow for extra time in case anything went wrong and also we wanted the chance to spend a day exploring one of the coolest cities in America.
After a day of traveling we landed in Seattle, Washington and went straight to our hotel to drop our bags and begin exploring. We visited Seattle’s most famous landmark the space needle and then wandered into Pike Place Market. This was one of the craziest but neatest farmer’s markets we had ever been too. We saw the most beautiful and reasonable priced flowers we had ever seen, had a delicious meal of grilled cheese with a side of macaroni and cheese (what can we say we love savory foods and this was some of the best we have every had!) and watched as workers tossed whole fish across the market in a circus-like spectacle.
The next morning we awoke and could not wait to board our cruise ship that would take us to cities all along the Alaskan coast. After a quick bite to eat and a stop at the Seattle Aquarium we took a quick cab ride to the port. When we arrived our hearts were beating and we instantly knew we had made the perfect choice for our honeymoon. The Celebrity Solstice was a beautiful ship and we could tell there were going to be tons of things to do and see around the ship. As our ship pulled away from the port of Seattle we could see snow-capped mountains, birds and smooth calm waters ahead of us. We could not wait to see what the next 7 days had in store for us.
As our cruise adventure began we spent two days at sea. This allowed us the opportunity to try out some of the ships restaurants, bars and café’s. It also gave us a chance to spend some time on deck where we played lawn sports, enjoyed the ships green space (it was like a large park on board the ship) and watched glass blowers as they created masterpieces. As our two days of relaxation were coming to a close we begin to think about the next adventure. Before climbing on board the ship we had spent some time researching the land excursions. We had planned ahead and knew exactly what we were going to do… our first adventure included a helicopter tour and glacier hike.
As the sun began to rise over the enormous Alaskan mountains we climbed out of bed to realize that we were in the middle of a glacier park. We were so excited for our helicopter tour later in the afternoon but first we had to marvel in the quiet, pristine Alaskan wilderness. As we sat on our balcony and ordered room service we kept commenting on how this place was like no other place on earth. The waters were the prettiest color blue, the glaciers were bigger than our household car and the wildlife was feet away from our cruise ship window. This was truly an amazing place but then things began to change.
The clouds began to roll in and the rain begin to fall. Our cruise ship director quickly came over the loud speaker and announced that we were headed out of the glacier park due to the weather and that many of the shore excursions for the day were going to need to be canceled. We were devastated, the one thing we were looking forward to the most may not get to happen. As our ship pulled into the city of Juneau Alaska, the shore excursion personnel suggested that we get off the ship and meet our local tour expert. They stated the weather in Alaska changes quickly and you just never know, maybe we would get lucky.
As we walked to meet our guide the rain began to subside and the sun begin to shine. She stated that we had gotten lucky and we would be the first passengers up the glacier today. We were ecstatic. We prepared our gear, layered ourselves in winter coats and pants (all provided by the tour company. Thank goodness because our Florida winter gear would not have cut it) and boarded our helicopter with one other couple.
Our pilot flew us over the tops of mountains, helped us to spot wild mountain goats and after about half an hour flight landed us safely on the top of the glacier. We then explored the mountain side, drank the freshest water we had ever had, and walked around using our ice sticks and cling-ons. The pilot then returned to the mountain and delivered us safety to our cruise port. This was definitely one of the most exciting things we had ever done.
As we looked back on the day’s adventure and stated that this adventure was “the coolest thing we had ever done and would do it again in a heartbeat” we begin to prepare for the next day’s journeys. This day of our cruise had us stopping in the port of Skagway Alaska, a very tiny Alaskan town that comes alive in the summers when the cruise ships are in town. We had booked a mountain bike tour through Canada and the U.S. As we climbed off the ship that morning we prepared ourselves for the dare-devilish day that awaited. We met our local biking expert who outfitted us once again with appropriate Alaskan attire. We were given helmets, bikes, and a quick riding lesson before boarding a train that would take us up a mountain side into Canada. After about an hour’s ride we hopped off the train and began our biking adventure. We rode about 15 miles downhill back into the United States. While riding we pulled off the road every few miles for water and to marvel in the lands amazing scenery. After riding, we stopped in the city of Skagway to meet the locals and grab a delicious bite to eat of fish and chips before climbing back on board our cruise ship.
Our final stop along our Alaskan adventure had us stopping in Victoria, British Columbia. A city known for its beautiful night lights and architecture. While in this city we decided to take it a little easier and opted to rent bikes and explore the city on our own. As we begin to ride throughout town we stopped to explore a totem pole park, rode to an old castle and discussed how beautiful everything was. As this stop was the only stop taking place at night we decided to opt out of the cruise provided dinner and instead stopped to ask some locals where to eat. Boy was this a great idea! The locals pointed our bikes in the direction of a local fish restaurant right on the water were we parked out bikes outside and enjoyed some of the best local seafood around. By this time the sun was beginning to set so we rode through the sunset and watched the beautiful city lights come alive before returning to port.
Our honeymoon had come to a close but we were left with the best set of memories any honeymooner could have asked for. We had spent 7 days exploring the Alaskan wilderness at a reasonable cost. We had explored cities in the wilderness that are often untraveled, had dare-devilish adventures and enjoyed some relaxing travel time with no hassles or worries. With flights, cruise and excursions included the total cost of our honeymoon came to about $6,000. This cost was made totally reasonable due to Traveler’s Joy. It was because of their untraditional wedding registry and our family and friend’s generosity that we were able to make this once in a lifetime trip happen.
Thank you Traveler’s Joy for understanding that it’s not all about tradition; sometimes it’s about the places you go, the memories you make, and the people you are with that make life so exciting.