Tag: norwegian bliss

Jaunty, Jovial Juneau, Alaska!

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Mt. Roberts Tramway, Juneau

Juneau, Alaska is one of the more “metropolitan” destinations in Alaska, yet maintains its Old West, quaint town feel. On this day, I was feeling even more than that… I was feeling drenched from the torrential downpours that happened upon the city on that densely overcast day! Unfortunately, a highlight of Juneau, the Mt. Roberts Tramway, was not on my agenda with visibility from the peak nearing zero! Many others made the trek in spite of cloudy skies.

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“Downtown” Juneau

I opted instead for a stroll, umbrella in tow, through the main streets. While a small handful of what could loosely be defined “skyscrapers” dot the downtown district, most of the architecture harks back to an earlier time. Some of the building fronts resemble an Old Western movie set, the shadowy fringes of treetops on the mountains peeking out from billowing clouds looming in the background. I imagined Bob Ross capturing these mountains in a painting…

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Old Western Style Building Fronts

If you wish to venture out further, there are glaciers available to visit on a day trip. If you choose to embark on such an adventure, or a tramway ride, I am hopeful your weather will be more cooperative!

For a short video tour of a rainy day in Juneau, you can watch my YouTube video here:!

 

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Ketchikan, Alaska: Quirky and Wild

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Clan House, Totem Bight State Park

Ketchikan is your typical first Alaskan stop on an Alaskan cruise itinerary, and it offers a tantalizing contrast in cultures to explore! The best place to start your adventure first is Totem Bight State Park, where you can discover and learn about Native American culture in Alaska, their totem poles, and enter one of their clan houses, brilliantly restored and preserved.

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Richly decorated totem pole

Totem poles served a variety of different purposes. In front of a clan house, it could serve as an “address” marker, much like our address number and street. Others convey local legends, or honor a local clan. And others serve as grave markers, much like cemetery stones.

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This one is akin to a cemetery stone

The totems are decorated in rich, bold colors and depict a wealth of different designs. Animals are abundant in totem design. At Totem Bight State Park there are many different types of totems to compare and contrast. And, if you’re lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of a whale from the waterfront!

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Welcome to Ketchikan sign near the port

The area around the port hosts many retail shops, and can be crowded when multiple cruise ships are docked. Perhaps the most interesting sight here at the port is “The Rock” statue.

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“The Rock”

According to the Ketchikan Story Project, “The Rock tells the story of how Alaska’s First City came to be. Six of the seven figures on the sculpture represents a prominent archetype in the city’s history – a fisherman, a miner, a logger, a bush pilot, a frontierswoman, a native drummer. The seventh represents an actual historic figure – Chief Johnson, a Tlingit who stands on top of ‘The Rock,’ symbolizing the fact that his people were the first to make their home in SE Alaska.” (www.ketchikanstories.com)

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Fishing culture

Fishing is a vital component of the Alaskan culture, and there is no shortage of evidence of this here in Ketchikan. Boats bob peacefully along the docks in a “skyline” of masts at the port, while beyond them brightly colored wooden houses dot the shoreline, and towering dark green mountains are nestled in puffs of mist and clouds behind them.

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Creek Street Boardwalk

Another not-to-be-missed attraction in Ketchikan is the historic Creek Street Boardwalk. It can be a challenge to navigate – attracting hoards of eager tourists – but it is well worth the effort. Here wooden houses in a rainbow of colors sit upon a lengthy boardwalk creek front, where miniature waterfalls provide a chance to witness leaping salmon. There is history here, including “Dolly’s House,” a brothel from 1919. Of course, retail shopping opportunities abound as well, given the crowds.

Ketchikan is quirky and wild, a place of great contrasts, and an excellent place to start your Alaskan journey!

You can view my tour of Ketchikan here:!

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Alaska’s Inside Passage: Mysterious Beauty and Pristine Wilderness!

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Some trees appear to float on air in the mist

During the Norwegian Bliss cruise ship’s Alaska itinerary, the trip through the Inside Passage’s wonderful wilderness is a breathtaking highlight. It is a surreal world of icebergs, weightlessly wafting puffy clouds of mist, placid green-hued waters (so tinted due to sediment from the glaciers), and endless armies of pine trees descending mountains alongside strings of waterfalls that lay like whimsical ribbons on the landscape.

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Waterfall “ribbons”

The journey is slow, as the ship greatly reduces speed through this area, both for safety (icebergs abound), and because this is not a path of travel or means to an end, it is a destination in and of itself. There was one time on the cruise it seemed like everyone else was on their balcony too (I know because I was out there all the time when not at port!) and this was it, the clicking of photos being snapped the only sound echoing in this peaceful paradise.

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Calm waters melt into the soft outlines of mist

With the waters so calm and the mist so surreal in its softness, at times the outline between the two is only a faint one. The icebergs peeking through the serene waters and hunter green humps of land peering through the billowy mists breach the illusion and tell you where the outline begins.

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Thick rows of fog striping the sky

The thickness of the fog completely obscures the land behind it at times, as if keeping the secret of a great surprise it could reveal at any moment… and does. It stripes the sky in rows… and dissipates rapidly only to form again, a playful shapeshifter.

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Where does the water begin?

The inside passage is like an alien world in its mysterious beauty and pristine wilderness. While the Bliss did not continue all the way to Sawyer Glacier as planned for safety’s sake (amid the thick fog and weather conditions), I was completely satiated after seeing the spectacular wonder of wilderness that is the Inside Passage, and would later see other glaciers in Skagway.

My video tours of Alaska’s Inside Passage and the Norwegian Bliss may be found here!:

Inside Passage:

Norwegian Bliss:

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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The Beautiful, Bold, and Breathtaking Brand New Norwegian Bliss Cruise Ship!

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The Norwegian Bliss

The Norwegian Bliss cruise ship sailed its maiden cruise this past spring, and I had the opportunity to sail on the Bliss in August on Norwegian’s Alaska itinerary out of Seattle, Washington. A spectacular experience on a spectacular ship!

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The Bliss docked in Victoria, B.C., Canada

The Bliss has 19 decks, and a 4,990 occupancy rate (double occupancy!) It holds a crew of 1,700. As impressive as the stats on this ship are, they cannot prepare you for the experience of witnessing this beautiful, breathtaking behemoth in person! The artwork on the hull is titled “Cruising with the Whales” and was created by renowned marine artist Wyland.

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Spectacular chandelier in one of the main lobbies

The interior design of the Bliss makes it as magnificent as the exterior! The decor is elegant, grandiose, and best of all, clever and creative. I felt spoiled on eye candy at every moment on the Bliss.

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Savor complimentary dining room

The Bliss is abundant with options for dining, including many complimentary and specialty choices. The decor in the dining rooms is upscale and trendy; I felt like a VIP no matter where I dined, whether there was a charge or not. Service was always prompt, courteous, and friendly, and the meals were a delight to my palate!

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Sugarcane Mojito Bar – my favorite hangout on the ship

In addition to dining outlets there are many bars on the Bliss, often tastefully themed. I was especially partial to the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, where the decor was classic Havana and there were a myriad of different flavors of Mojito, all delicious, to choose from. It was a great place to relax, enjoy the views of the ocean, and meet fellow passengers while enjoying some of the best drinks I’ve ever tasted!

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Balcony cabin on the Bliss

The balcony cabin was spacious, comfortable, and delightfully decorated. The mattress was dreamy, and I appreciated the many options for storage and abundance of electrical outlets. I never felt cramped in the bathroom, either. These were very pleasant surroundings for my stay on the sea!

The entertainment was outstanding on the Bliss, including the Tony-award-winning “Jersey Boys” show, “Havana!” a Cuban music and cultural extravaganza,  and the New Orleans speakeasy inspired “Happy Hour Prohibition” musical. I was enthralled and moved by all three shows. And of course, there is plenty more nightlife to come post-show in the exciting nightclubs!

The Bliss has ample amenities, even including a go-kart track on the top deck, laser tag, and the wildest water park slides I’ve ever witnessed on a cruise ship. And if all that wasn’t enough, the spectacular views of Alaska’s Inside Passage from up on deck or the privacy of your balcony – priceless!

I would recommend the Bliss cruise ship to anyone with absolutely zero hesitation. To this day, it is in my opinion the greatest cruise ship I have ever had the pleasure to sail on. I experienced no issues or problems whatsoever at any point during the cruise, either.

I have posted a full video tour of the Bliss, including a first-person view from inside the go karts, here!:

Donation

I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

$1.00