|Inside Passage - Alaska|
I had never taken a cruise before and the one along the Inside Passage of Alaska was considered by veteran travelers as a good "starter cruise" for a person wanting to get their feet wet, but not too wet. Celebrity Cruise Lines had a reputation as being solid if somewhat staid, premium but still affordable. If the cruise would keep me away from the "macarena, tequila swilling crowds" it would suit my immediate purposes. Some may balk at the tuxedo requirements or the set dinner times and seating arrangements but for me they added to the sense of attending a costume party and harkened back to a time when ocean travel was the only mode of transportation between the United States and Europe. This was the cruise experience that I was looking for.
The Southeast region of Alaska, the seat of Alaska's government and timber industry, is a 500-mile-long vacation paradise of forests, wildlife, rock and water long famous as the Inside Passage. About half of the tourists who come to Alaska arrive or depart on cruise ships that make their way through the islands of the Inside Passage to Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and other destinations.
Cities, towns and villages of the Inside Passage include:
Ketchikan (7,845) plays up its boisterous history of timber, gold and fishing but has gained recent notoriety as the site for the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" of Sarah Palin fame.
Sitka, (8,894) the only Southeast town facing the Gulf of Alaska, has Sitka National Historical Park to remember its Native and Russian background, and lots of whales near the shore.
Juneau (30,981) has a mountain tram, a salmon hatchery, the state museum and the governor's mansion.
Skagway (841) was the debarkation point for stampeders heading over Chilkoot Pass in the Klondike gold rush of 1897-98. A great deal of town is now part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
The Cruise was well worth the money spent. The food was excellent as was the entertainment. Being on a ship can seem a little claustrophobic but there was more than enough activities to keep one busy. I especially liked the photo shop classes as did my wife. The on shore excursions can add a lot to the price of the cruise and obviously was one of the main income generators. I really liked the tuxedo nights and I would recommend Celebrity Cruises to all of my friends. Our cabin was small but i can't really see spending a lot of money on a large cabin or one with a view of the water since the only time you would spend time in the cabin is when sleeping, changing clothes or recovering from seasickness which thankfully I was spared from.