Alaskan Cruise 2023, Part 1

I’m on day three of my Alaska cruise, and I couldn’t be happier. The greatest vacations are the ones on which you truly lose track of time, and I can successfully declare that I barely know what day it is. I can report back a little bit about the journey thus far.

In my last post, I described a series of “Detective Toby” geocaches in which you solve puzzles to find cache locations. I solved a few but saw that the locations looked just a bit too far away and decided I wouldn’t be finding any. The next morning, Christina and I decided we had enough time to go search for two of them. We walked over a mile to the coordinates, but unfortunately we were unsuccessful in finding either cache. Both locations had other people hanging out, and it made it tough to do a thorough search of the area.

Before leaving Anchorage, we went to a local mall. We had accidentally picked up tiny socks for me for this trip, so we went to Foot Locker and grabbed enough larger socks to tide me over. While at the mall, I spotted a place called Ian’s Game Paradise, and we visited. I was extremely impressed by the selection of vintage Nintendo games and content, including rarities like the Miracle Piano (full-sized keyboard used with a Nintendo game that teaches you to play the piano) and U-Force (hand motion controls for the NES). I didn’t buy anything, and at this point I’m regretting a little bit that I didn’t pick up at least one game there.

On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at Kaladi Brothers Coffee- an Anchorage-based coffee chain that currently only operates in Alaska. We grabbed coffee and sandwiches and prepared for the next leg of the journey- the shuttle to the cruise terminal.

Our shuttle ride included a stop at the Alaska Wildlife Reserve- a facility designed for the rehabilitation of large Alaskan animals including grizzly bears, wolves, and caribou. We reached the facility in a heavy downpour, but it was worth it exploring on foot and getting soaked. My favorite part was the boardwalk over the bear enclosure- though the habitat was sprawling, three large bears were all gathered near our viewing area.

We arrived at the cruise ship, the Norwegian Jewel, in the early evening on Monday. I had been keeping a secret from Christina- I had upgraded our room to a balcony and she still thought we were staying in an interior room. The check-in process didn’t blow my cover, and Christina didn’t find out we were in a balcony room until she noticed the light peeking in from under the curtain at the end of our room. It was a lot of fun springing the surprise!

The first full day aboard the Norwegian Jewel was a sea day. We attended trivia in the morning and a shopping seminar in the afternoon. The seminar was a bit painful- it was supposed to be forty five minutes, and I was ready to leave after twenty five, but we stayed for over an hour ten minutes.

At the end of the event, there was a raffle, and I was shocked to be announced the winner of a luxury pair of bamboo socks. I needed socks! I mentioned before that we picked up some extra socks in Anchorage, and I was looking forward to the special pair. I picked up the socks… Men’s size 3-6! Are there guys with feet that small???

The rest of the day was what you’d expect from a cruise- good food and musical entertainment. I’ve been a bit disappointed in the lack of prizes for the competitions aboard the ship- Carnival’s ship-on-a-stick trophies are a must-win for me at least once per trip, and I still treasure my Celebrity coffee mug. On the other hand, it’s nice not to feel pressured to compete and every single event. It gives me the chance to prioritize relaxing.

On the second full day, we visited Icy Strait Point. This was my most anticipated stop on our journey, since the last time I was here, we saw many whales, a sea lion, and countless bald eagles on our walk from the port to town. No such luck this time- we saw many leaping silver salmon and a few eagles, but not much else. Others had spotted whales and even a family of bears, but our timing just wasn’t right.

Still, this remains a favorite port of mine. A quiet walk into a calm town is a nice change of pace from many cruise ports. We got coffee at a local shop, and my dad fished on the seaside. We got some neat souvenirs like some locally-made balms, and we picked up one virtual geocache in the port. All-in-all, a successful day.

For our next ports, I plan to geocache quite a bit. Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan have all had escape rooms, but they’ve all closed in the past two years. I’m disappointed I wont have a chance to try the games in these places!

I’m extremely thankful for how relaxing this trip has been and look forward to using my renewed energy to dive into some awesome projects!

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