Alaska Cruise Vacation: Anchorage to Seward

It's officially day one of our Alaskan Cruise! We set sail about two hours ago, and I have to say that Alaska is just beautiful! It's both familiar and nothing I've ever seen before at the same time. And the mountains! (Warning: I can already tell that I'm developing a serious obsession with the mountains here. There will be lots and lots and lots of mountain photos. They're so majestic that I just can't stop looking at them. They're breathtaking. But I know they lose a little something when reduced to a picture on a computer screen, so I'll try to control myself with the picture posting).

Okay, maybe just one.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Our day actually started back in Anchorage, where we were supposed to meet a charter bus that would take us three hours south to the port city of Seward (you remember John Seward, as in Seward's Folly for buying Alaska in the first place? I bet he loved getting the last laugh on that one). The bus depot was only 1.25 miles from our hotel in Anchorage, and the weather was beautiful (sunny, blue skies, mid to upper 60s), so Tony suggested that we should just walk to it.

And off we went. The walk was easy, the scenery (read: mountains!) was engaging, and the air! Oh my gosh, people! The air! How can I describe the smell of the air in Alaska? I couldn't get over it. It smells like...lilacs and a crisp day in autumn and waterfalls. Sweet and floral and brisk and cold and moving water. And fresh. So very very fresh. I kept taking in big breaths of air through my nose trying to smell it all. So much so that I actually made myself a bit dizzy. It was intoxicating.

The bus was scheduled to leave at 2:30, but even with walking and me stopping to snap more pictures of the mountains and taking a tiny detour into a gas station to buy more batteries to put in the camera to support my previously mentioned mountain addiction and then getting a tiny bit lost (just a bit...thank goodness downtown Anchorage is laid out in a grid system), we still ended up at the bus depot 2 and a half hours early. The head guy was an old Russian fellow (lots of Russians in Alaska due to the fur trade routes) with a delightful "moose and squirrel" accent, who after checking us in, told us that we should head down the street to a local pizzeria called the Moose's Tooth to kill some time. (If you're ever there, I highly recommend it. Tony and I each had individual pizzas, and I swear they put 10 lbs of meat on mine. I couldn't even finish it all, and that's saying something).

Tony at the Moose's Tooth

After lunch, it was onto the bus for our ride down to Seward. We were one of maybe 5 couples on the bus, so lots of room to stretch out. We were about an hour into our trip and kinda getting sleepy from the motion of the bus and a tummy full of pizza when someone spotted the first moose. "Moose! Moose!", they yelled. "Moose! Moose!", we yelled. "Moose! Moose!", all the Lower 48 tourists yelled. The bus driver rolled his eyes. (I imagine it was the equivalent of someone coming here and yelling, "Look! A squirrel!" and everybody getting all excited about it). Sadly, the bus was going to fast for me to be able to get the camera out and get a good picture of it, so you'll just have to trust me on looked just like that moose on the opening credits of that old show, Northern Exposure. A celebrity moose sighting. There was no sleeping after that.

The tiny seaside village of Seward is known as "the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park" and is mostly known for for it's annual July 4th dash up the aptly named Mount Marathon in America's second oldest footrace. (Having seen this mountain, I think they've all got to be insane, but I'll pass the information on anyway in case any of you enjoy that kind of thing coughMelaniecough). The other 364 days of the year, it's a quaint fishing village of about 4,000 and the launching point of the ms Statendam, our Holland America Cruise ship and home away from home for the next 7 days.

Seward, home of Alaskan fishermen and crazy mountain marathoners

The lady Statendam (and me).

Tony and I have been cruising twice before, but never has check-in been so easy as what it was today. There were no lines, no endless forms, no waiting hours to get on the ship. We signed in, they took our picture, we were shown on board. Our bags arrived within minutes, and we were all set to go.

The room is actually pretty nice. This is just a standard room, (Tony's motto: why pay for more when you're just going to sleep there? Use the money for another excursion) but it's surprisingly spacious and well appointed. There's a king-sized bed (or two twins, depending on how you book it), a small couch, table, desk area with mirror, decent sized bathroom, 6 drawers and three closets. Plus the room stewards left us chocolates on the pillows, which is always a plus in my book.

Next we headed off for dinner in the main dining room, where every meal is a four course affair of heaven-sent deliciousness. It's my favorite part of cruising. And because it's all paid for already, try whatever you want. Ask for two of something. Or three. Try a bite of this and that and the other. It's all good. And seriously, it's all delicious. Tonight I started with a french onion soup (divine!), a mixed green salad, Alaskan King Crab legs (they really are better in Alaska...and probably pulled fresh from the ocean by one of the crabbing boats we passed on the way in this morning), and baked alaska for dessert. Oh the goodness. It's like my stomach has died and gone to heaven.

Tomorrow is a day at sea, so I'm not sure how much I'll post on here, if anything. If not, we'll definitely pick up again when we hit Glacier Bay. For now, we're heading up to the Promenade to keep an eye out for whales. Hope you'll join me.

Quirky out.