Call us crazy, but for us the ideal honeymoon wouldn’t be on a beach in Cancun, it would be exploring in the wilderness of Alaska! We were lucky enough to take a cruise along the Inside Passage a few years ago, and it was an experience we’ll never forget. Although we didn’t go to Alaska for our own honeymoon (we went to San Diego) this was still one of our favorite trips that we’ve been on and we’d highly recommend it for a honeymoon. Was it jacket weather most of the time? Yes. Was it sometimes a bit rainy? Yeah. Is there a really good reason that cruises only run in the summer? For sure. Was it incredibly breathtaking and a total blast? Absolutely!!! This blog post is all about the stops that we made on our cruise and our favorite things that we did in those ports. Every cruise mixes up the ports, but this will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect on an Alaska honeymoon!
#1 tip: bring a good jacket, and binoculars! An Alaska honeymoon can be a bit chilly if you spend a lot of time out on deck. We would totally recommend it though and tell you that it is worth every second. With Dallin’s binoculars and my big zoom lens on my camera we were able to see some of the coolest sights. We saw whales everywhere! We’d see them shooting water up through their blowholes, and we’d see them breech from time to time. The most amazing was one time at the beginning of our cruise when we saw a whale breech and come up out of the water right next to the side of our ship! Sadly, I wasn’t fast enough with my camera, but we’ll never forget that memory! It was SOO close!
The other animals that you will see a lot if you spend some time on deck looking out through your binoculars are otters and seals. I named Dallin the “Otter Spotter” on our cruise, because he saw otters all over the place and WAY before I would see them. They are so stinkin’ cute too!
As we were planning this trip, and doing a lot of research, we saw on a lot of places that people recommend reserving a room on the cruise ship with a balcony. That way, you don’t even have to leave your room to see all of these animals! However, we decided that we needed to save money, so we booked an inside cabin. That way, we would have more money for excursions and souvenirs. Really we didn’t miss out on anything that we could see on our cruise by having an inside cabin. We pretty much stayed out on the deck with our binoculars and camera the entire time to watch for animals. If we were to do this again, we would be totally fine reserving an inside cabin again instead of one with a balcony.
First of all, one of the craziest things we learned about Juneau is that it is only accessible by water or air. There aren’t any roads that drive into the city, which is pretty incredible since it is the state capital.
Because this was a big trip for both of us, and since it was our first ever cruise, we decided to splurge on one of our offshore excursions. We got tickets to go on a helicopter ride that would take us up and drop us off on top of Mendenhall Glacier. While we were on top of the glacier, we had the chance to go dog sledding with professional mushers. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience! The helicopter ride was exhilarating, especially since they packed four of us into one small helicopter. The views from above were incredible and then just being on top of a glacier was pretty crazy. After our dog sledding experience, we even got to go hold husky puppies that they were raising to be the next sled dogs. The only negative about the experience was that we both wished it lasted a bit longer!
Also in Juneau we did some fishing. If you get the chance to go fishing in Alaska, take it. It was Jessie’s first ever experience fishing, so Dallin enjoyed watching her squirm when she had to take a picture holding her giant Salmon that she had caught. While we were fishing Dallin also caught a huge King Salmon, but he had to wrestle it to get it brought up! Our guide grabbed onto the fishing line to help him, and got his finger stuck wrapped around the fishing line. Thankfully Dallin thought quickly and was able to free our guide’s finger before he lost it. When they finally pulled the fish up, it was MASSIVE! If you get the chance to go fly fishing or fishing off of a boat during your Alaska honeymoon, definitely do it.
Before we took our cruise we knew where we would be stopping, so we put in a bunch of research to find out what the best things to do were in each port. In Skagway, we learned that almost everyone took the White Pass and Yukon Railroad train from Skagway to the Yukon. It was a pretty expensive excursion and it had mixed reviews. After digging a bit more Jessie found out that there was another, less popular, and more scenic way to get to the Yukon. We rented a car in Skagway, and used “Murray’s Guide to the South Klondike Highway” book that we purchased online. Murray Lundberg who wrote the guide and updates it yearly, is native to the area and knows the best routes and best places to stop along the highway. By doing the trip this way we were able to stop, get out, and take pictures all along the route up to the Yukon! If you were on the train, you’d be stuck and unable to get out. It was SO worth it, and it was cheaper! It would be a perfect option for an Alaska honeymoon trip!
The town of Skagway has a rich history, and played a huge role in the Klondike gold rush. There is an awesome tour from the National Park service that takes you around town and gives you the story of the role that Skagway played. We loved it! If you are a hiker, you can even hike the Chilkoot Trail, which is the same one that the gold rush prospectors walked. That would probably take more time though than you are allotted on a one-day stop.
Our cruise ship was lucky enough to be able to float around Glacier Bay National Park. Words wouldn’t even do this place justice. We saw glaciers calving, ice floating all around the ship, and some of the most gorgeous landscapes. There were so many different shades of green and blue coming from the ice, grasses, and mountains. It was breathtaking. We wish we would have been able to spend more time here. We did see a bunch of people kayaking in the water, as well as camping on the shore that were not part of our cruise. It looked like it would be amazing to do, and it would get you even more time around the glacier. We didn’t do that because we were on a cruise, but if it’s something you’re interested in, look it up!
The last port on our journey was Ketchikan. It was also the shortest stop out of all the port visits. It ended up being okay though because there wasn’t quite as much to do in Ketchikan as the other two locations. First of all, the halibut sandwich here at the Alaska Fish House was to die for. Jessie didn’t like any fish or seafood before our cruise, and this sandwich changed her mind completely. It’s that good!
Our favorite thing to see in Ketchikan was in Totem Bight State Historical Park. Before WWII, natives were moving out of their villages seeking work in the cities. This caused villages and totem poles to be left behind to erode. During the time of the New Deal, the CCC and the National Forest Service decided that they needed to try to save the totem poles from rotting away in the forest, so they either restored the poles or re-created replicas of them to save all of the stories and history that they contain. Totem Bight State Historical Park is the place that holds those totem poles. They have a ton that you can see and read about. It’s pretty cool to see actual totem poles and to see how they work on restoring them.
If you are on the fence about where to go on your honeymoon, or if you want to go on a cruise, but aren’t sure where to, we’d HIGHLY recommend looking into an Alaska honeymoon. We both are ready to go back again on another cruise because we feel like there is so much more to do than we were able to. It’s one of those trips and experiences that always sticks with you and calls you to return. Just don’t forget your binoculars, jacket and lots of layers of clothing! You won’t regret it!