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Melinda Brasher

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About Melinda Brasher

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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  • Interests
    Hiking, Writing, Travel, Nature, Reading, European-Style Board Games, Line-Dancing
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America, Princess
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  1. I haven't known many Melindas in my life. Pretty cool. My opinion of the Rainbird trail: it's nice and green but doesn't really have views and feels like it's in town (which it pretty much is). I enjoyed it, but I like Deer Mountain a lot more. As you can see from my post.
  2. Do your own thing in at least some ports, instead of taking excursions. I'm a budget cruiser, and Alaska's well set up for DIY. The hiking is fantastic and free (or inexpensive, if you take a bus to a more isolated trailhead). There are quite a few free or cheap historic and cultural sights too. Check out my post on some of my favorite DIY shore activities: https://cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/10-inexpensive-things-to-do-in-alaskan-ports/
  3. Bears are around in June, but you're less likely to see them. They're not very predictable until the salmon open their buffets. If you don't find an excursion you love, Ketchikan's a lovely place to stroll around town. There's also nice hiking, or a trip out to Totem Bight on the local bus. A few pics of Ketchikan: https://www.melindabrasher.com/2014/09/ketchikan-alaska.html An a totem at Totem Bight: https://cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/totem-bight-park-ketchikan/
  4. I always think it's polite to use the local currency if you pay cash--and not everyone takes cards. It's also an added layer of safety...just in case something unexpected happens. That said, you'll probably be fine without. I withdrew cash the first time and then just kept my leftover Canadian dollars for the next time I went back to Alaska. And trust me, you'll want to go back to Alaska. 🙂
  5. Layers, layers...and rain gear. Here's a more complete list: https://www.melindabrasher.com/2019/03/packing-for-alaska-cruise.html
  6. Skagway is very walkable...and very cute. Also consider the free historical tours from the national park service (sign up at the Klondike Gold Rush NP visitor center right downtown). There are also great hikes from Skagway. Some of the best--and easiest to get to: Easy: Yakutania Point or Lower Reid Falls (especially if you take the bus halfway to the cemetery) Moderate: Lower Dewey Lake Hard: Upper Dewey Lake (one of my favorite hikes ever...if you catch Skagway on a blue-sky day) Pics of Yakutania Point: https://cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/yakutania-point-skagway/ Pics of Upper Dewey Lake: https://www.melindabrasher.com/2014/09/skagway-alaska-upper-dewey-lake.html
  7. I agree with others about layers. Here's my advice: https://www.melindabrasher.com/2019/03/packing-for-alaska-cruise.html
  8. Most of the ports are quite accessible on foot. I'm mostly a DIY person, and Alaska is a great place to do it. You can also find some very inexpensive but amazing options. Here are some of my favorite DIY activities: https://cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/10-inexpensive-things-to-do-in-port/
  9. I get inside rooms and then spend a lot of time on deck watching the water. You have just as good a view from public spaces. Plus you save a lot of money. And I know you're not looking for budget advice, but consider taking a hike in one port. You get into Alaska's beautiful nature at your own pace without the crowds. It's free. And some trails are GORGEOUS. Just one example: https://www.melindabrasher.com/2014/09/skagway-alaska-upper-dewey-lake.html
  10. I get inside rooms and then spend a lot of time on deck watching the water. You have just as good a view from public spaces. Plus you save a lot of money.
  11. In Sitka you also might want to consider the Russian Cemetery. It's green and historic and creepy/beautiful. Pic: https://cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/russian-cemetery-sitka/
  12. From the decks of cruise ships I've seen lots of whales spouts and flukes from a distance. If you spend time watching, you'll likely see some. I've seen a fair number of whale backs and flukes and spouts from a moderate distance. I've seen a few backs just cresting the water quite close to the ship. And on one amazing day I saw a humpback breach three times all down the length of the ship, right off the side. It was amazing. But that sort of display is very unusual. Just spend a lot of time watching...and hope.
  13. Yay for hiking!!! Alaska's a great place for it. All of the ports you mentioned are great for hiking, but one of the best hikes I've ever been on was to Upper Dewey Lake in Skagway (of course, it was a perfect, blue-sky day, so that helped). It might be too much for the kids, as it gains about 3000 feet, but since your kids are seasoned...maybe they'd love it as much as I did. There are also easier options in Skagway: Yakutania Point and Smugglers Cove, Lower Dewey Lake, Lower Reid Falls, etc. All beautiful. Upper Dewey Lake pics and details here: https://www.melindabrasher.com/2014/09/skagway-alaska-upper-dewey-lake.html Ketchikan has the Deer Mountain Trail--also very steep but pretty awesome--and the Rainbird Trail, plus some trails you can get to on the bus. Deer Mountain pics: https://www.melindabrasher.com/2017/02/deer-mountain-trail-ketchikan-alaska.html Juneau has great trails too, but not quite as accessible. I loved the Perseverance Trail, but it's a bit of a walk to the trailhead. And of course there are great trails at Mendenhall Glacier (pricey to get to, but very cool). A little video of Ebner Falls on the Perseverance Trail: https://cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/ebner-falls/
  14. Depends on how much you want to do later in the day. I would play it by ear. It's not very big, but we took it easy, read some about totem poles, and sat a bit and watched the water. I think we spent more than an hour. And taking the bus there is easy and worry-free (and economical).
  15. HAL tends to have smaller ships, so there's less walking. I think that might be the most important factor--I know it is for my mom. Norwegian and Carnival also go to Glacier Bay.
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