Here is, finally, a little description of each of the ports we visited in Alaska:
Our first 48 hours were all at sea, so by the time we reached Juneau on Monday afternoon I was excited to be back on land! We bought bus tickets out to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and did a short hike out to the glacier itself. It was an easy walk and views were beautiful.
On the way back to the port, our bus driver was nice enough to drop us off at the Alaska State History Museum, which was perfect because it had started to rain. We got our history fix while we waited for it to let up, and then we walked back toward the downtown area, where we did some postcard shopping and stopped in at a bar to hang out for a bit (read: use the Internet on our phones) before we had to be back on the ship.
The next day, we were at sea - but we spent the majority of it in Glacier Bay. The sun peeked out just a bit, and the views were breathtaking. I just don't think photos can do them justice.
This glacier is Marjorie Glacier. It was twice as tall as our ship! When it calved, you could hear all the people from different decks on the boat gasp, ooh, and ahh. It was amazing. Glacier Bay was my favorite part of the trip, for sure.
Our second port was Sitka, which was my favorite. That may be because we had the best weather there! We walked to a raptor rescue center on the edge of town and saw a ton of bald eagles up close, as well as a handful of other birds that were being rehabilitated. I'd seen bald eagles in the wild before, but it's not quite the same as seeing them just a few feet away! Then we took a walk through a nearby forest. We're so used to brown, dry Colorado that it was amazing how lush and green everything was.
Afterward, we walked around the village and bought a few souvenirs. Sitka was originally a Russian outpost, so the Russian Orthodox church there is a highlight of the town. Sitka's coastal area was also pretty, with a handful of small islands and a picturesque lighthouse.
Our final Alaskan stop was Ketchikan the next morning, so we caught the 8am Lumberjack Show. It was corny, but it was amazing to watch the lumberjacks show off their skills.
Afterward we went on a guided walk through Tongass National Forest. Again, we were in awe of the lush green-ness of everything, and the Native American totem poles and buildings were really interesting, especially since we were able to hear their stories.
Our last port before returning to Seattle was Victoria, British Columbia. We did a quick driving tour of the city's beautiful gardens and then went on a tour of Craigdarroch Castle. It's a huge home from the late 19th century, built by a wealthy mining family, and it was stunning! Since we only had about three hours due to some customs problems the ship had when we docked, after the tour we had to zip right back onto the ship to head back to Seattle for the end of the cruise.