Shannen O

Shannen O

Shannen's always on-the-go, whether it's to concerts, sporting events or just literally running around the city. She'll keep you up-to-date on the...Full Bio


Shan's Trip to ALASKA!

Nine days. Five cities (4 ports plus Seattle). One incredible experience!

I don't know that I'll be able to put into words the magic that we experienced, so I'll tell you what we did, and what I'd change if I went back.

We got to spend half a day in Seattle, and I wasn't really prepared for it. I had never been to the city and knew I wanted to visit the market. I convinced everyone in our group to go to Old Stove Brewing because I had heard it was incredible (and easily accessed on the opposite side of the market). It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't make a point to see it. I got a Key Lime Gose and didn't taste much of a Key Lime flavor.

We walked around the market, and that's really just the best thing to do. I wish I would have bought one of the incredible bouquets that they were selling because you could take them on the ship, but I hesitated. How much would I be in my room anyway? Well, I could've pressed those bad boys, and made something really cool out of them!

I tried my first oyster shot. I wasn't a fan - but I'd try it again to say my first oyster was in Seattle! I'm not huge on seafood, but I wanted to at least try something new!

Adam and I visited the Starbucks Roastery later that day. We went to the bar section and had a flight of espresso martinis while chatting with some of the bartenders. I thought that it was a really cool experience, but Adam thought it was lackluster. If you're a Starbucks or coffee addict, I'd recommend it - and it's not too far of a walk.

I had heard wonderful things about Smith Tower, but because it was about $30 just to go up to the bar for spectacular views of the city plus $16 drinks... Adam and I passed. My parents went and said it was cool - and that it would've been fun for us to do. I'm not sure that I regret NOT going, but I don't think I'd be disappointed going either!

Something I wish I would've done? Gone to Purple Cafe for dinner. Adam and I took a night stroll over to this wine bar after we already had a full day of adventure. By the time we got to the bar, I had already had enough alcohol for the day and really was along for the ride to check out the spot. Adam had a Cabernet, and we split a dessert plate. It was such a cool spot that I wish I would've waited to have a drink there rather than having a few beverage during the day (I can't take much alcohol without feeling crummy).

I'd highly recommend staying at the Kimpton - Monaco in Seattle. We were within walking distance to EVERYTHING. Don't walk alone, and bring your tennies! The homeless population is very high, and the hills are all over the city.

The day to leave for the cruise came, and we had a few hours in the morning to experience our last taste of Seattle. Adam and I decided to do the big ferris wheel - similar to Navy Pier's. Was it worth the $20 a person? No. But, it was fun to do and didn't take much time! I'd probably visit the Seattle Space Needle instead if we had more time.

Onto the Celebrity Solstice! First of all - the cruiseline Travel Leaders Discovery World chose for us was fantastic. The crew, food, nightlife and rooms were all great! There was so much energy every day. Everything was clean and stocked. The rooms were also larger than I thought they'd be!

To do on the cruise: Get a window room! We spent many days on our deck just to start the morning off right or kill time in between activities. I also highly recommend getting magnetic hooks that you can hang extra things! Those were life savers! In addition - there weren't outlets by the bed, and I sleep with my phone within arms reach while charging each night (mostly for medical reasons). I would charge my portable charger each day while I wasn't using it, and I'd use that during the night to plug my phone in closer to me. It came in VERY handy during our port stops, as well!

Ketchikan was our first stop, and BOY was it raining! One thing that Adam regrets is getting a water-resistant jacket rather than a water PROOF jacket. My jacket was a thicker, waterproof coat from Eddie Bauer that I absolutely LOVE! In addition, hiking boots came in very handy for this port because we went for a hike! We're pretty good at finding our way around, so instead of booking an excursion, we had our GPS take us (walking directions from the port) to Rainbird Trail. This was probably one of my favorite things we did all trip! It was muddy, wet, but it was one of the most beautiful hikes I've done. After the hike, we went down to Creek Street to see the salmon (this was cool, but because of the rain - it wasn't as impressive as I'd thought. More shops were by the port).

We also visited the Totem Heritage Center which was a five dollar entry. I thought it was worth it - and within walking distance. If you wanted to learn more about totem poles, Native Americans in Alaska, weaving, etc... It's a great, quick stop!

Onto Juneau! Adam and I didn't book an excursion here either. Instead, we booked a local photographer who picked us up at the port and took us around for an hour. I'll make another post about Sydney (our photographer) once we get our pictures back; however, I think we got more out of our hour with her, driving us around spots in Juneau that we wouldn't have even known about. It was raining, and we tried to use our time with her for extra recommendations on what to do. She recommended we eat at Hangar on the Wharf - which was a fantastic choice! You can watch the floatplanes take off from this restaurant, and there's an awesome local shop across the hall with cool sweatshirts and tshirts that you wouldn't be able to get elsewhere. I got the coconut shrimp at the restaurant which was fabulous!

Juneau brought shopping, Alaskan Brewing Company (Adam and I shared a flight - our favorite was the island ale!!) and Red Onion - my parents thought that place was a hoot! It was fun to just grab a drink. Although, I didn't do the famous "duckfart shots."

Our third and final stop in Alaska was Skagway. We did the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway - which I thought was awesome. Most of our time in Alaska was rainy and foggy - so take that with a grain of salt when booking this excursion. I found that the people who took the train and went outside during the ride enjoyed the train much more than those who just sat indoors, admiring the scenery. I'd book this excursion again - HOWEVER - I'd book it with the suspension bridge because the pictures some of our group came back with for that were insane!!

From there, we ate at Skagway Brewing Company. The place was cool, but the beer cheese soup was nothing close to a Wisconsin soup! I found that the best shops in Skagway were down side streets, off the main drag. There were a few fabric stores with local prints that I thought were really neat!!

Finally, Victoria, B.C. was our final port. I didn't know what to expect from this stop because it was the night before we'd be back in Seattle, and it was our port with the least amount of time. We had to walk to Tim Hortons right away because Adam insisted he get Tim Bits! From there, we went to Whistle Buoy Brewing (which was alright - I'd say stop for funsies), stopped for some shopping and pictures along the main street, visited the wharf and ended at the Empress Hotel for drinks and dinner. Victoria is absolutely stunning with incredible flowers and landscape. It seems to be a young city and very clean! The Empress Hotel was recommended to us, and I'd still visit it, but it wasn't anything amazing for dinner. If I went back - I'd sit inside the main bar (not on the veranda or in the lobby) and have a cocktail. It had such a cool vibe!

After that, Adam and I walked up to another bar - which I WISH I remembered the name of. There were probably 25+ beers on tap with one of the friendliest bartenders I've met. Overall, Adam and I adored Victoria and hope to go back for an extended weekend trip. There were such neat restaurants and bars with a cool personality that we didn't get to experience!

Believe it or not - that is an extremely brief overview of everything we accomplished on our cruise. If you have questions about the actual cruising experience - let me have them! We went to just about every show there was, played musical bingo, ate at some of the specialty restaurants, etc... One thing I will say - don't expect much from the wifi. This is not a cruise you can go on and "get work done," unless you plan on upgrading your wifi package. We hardly could keep in touch with one another on the ship with our phones - but it was kind of nice that way, too.

Enjoy some (ok, a lot) of the pictures below!

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