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Cruising the Inside Passage of Alaska

I’m taking a trip that is on everyone’s must-do list. One that is so good, with so many life-changing experiences, I couldn’t possibly do it alone! So I brought my extended family on a Holland America Line cruise as we planned to make up for the time that travel was put on hold. From taking in jaw-dropping views to learning more about local culture, join us as we explore the Inside Passage of Alaska. 

Note: Holland America Line is a proud sponsor of “Places to Love”

PLACES AND STORIES TO LOVE

Dog Sledding in Juneau

No Alaska adventure is more perfect than dog sledding. Locals have worked with four-legged friends for centuries, but dog sledding itself became an official sport in 1972. On our trip, we visited a musher’s camp to learn more about how mushers and veterinarians care for these energetic, lovable creatures. The best part was when we got to hang out with some very adorable puppies! After we learned all about this unique sport, we got to join a dog sledding ride for ourselves. Yes, in the summer!

DID YOU KNOW?

We got to experience dog sledding in the town of Juneau, which you can only reach via cruise, plane, or ferry.

CONTACT

AlaskaX
Sled Dog Discovery in Juneau
+1 907-983-4444

Sealaska Heritage

We were looking forward to visiting Alaska and learning more about the culture and heritage that has thrived here for centuries, so we spent time at the incredible Sealaska Heritage. Sealaska focuses on the Southeast Alaska Native people, who have a history going back 10,000 years. One of the coolest things to see is the replica of a Shuká Hut, which gives you an idea of what these clan houses would have looked like in the 1700s. Though if you ask my kids, they’ll tell you it was the workshop where they went to partake in creating one of the Tlingits’ shinier traditions.

DID YOU KNOW?

The oldest remains found were that of Shuká Kaa, a man who would have lived around 10,300 years ago. He was found in 1996, and later, using nuclear DNA, scientists were able to link him to the Tsimshian, Tlingit, Nsg’a, and Haida communities of today. Imagine putting that family tree together!

ADDRESS

Sealaska Heritage
105 S. Seward St.
Suite 201
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Salmon Bake

Nothing like a fresh salmon bake when in Alaska. It’s the state’s signature dish, after all. Wild salmon is cooked over an open alder wood fire, and the chef there can make up to 500 a day. Enjoy your meal with all sorts of delicious sides, and right near the creek these salmon swim in. The best part? It’s all you can eat!

DID YOU KNOW?

Not all salmon is the same! There are five types of Alaska salmon alone – the Chum, Sockeye, Coho, Chinook (King), and Pink.

CONTACT

Alaska Travel Adventures
info@bestofalaskatravel.com
1-800-323-5757

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Easily one of the most jaw-dropping sights in Alaska’s Inside Passage, Glacier Bay National Park will make you feel like you’ve been transported back to the Ice Ages. Believe it or not, this 3.3-million-acre park was under ice not even 250 years ago! Today, it’s one of the largest protected wilderness areas on the planet. A particular highlight was the 21-mile-long Margerie Glacier, one of the few glaciers advancing. We can’t tell you more than that because our lesson was interrupted by a truly amazing moment!

GOOD TO KNOW

Climate change means many glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate. In Alaska alone, 95% of glaciers are thinning rapidly. However, because of heavy snowfall from the nearby Fairweather Mountains, Glacier Bay is one of the few stable glaciers in the world.

CONTACT

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
PO Box 140
Gustavus , AK 99826
907 697-2230

Whale Watching

Another must while in Alaska? Whale watching. We took a smaller boat from Icy Strait to Point Adolphus and learned, from their onboard naturalist, all about these majestic creatures and the marine world they inhabit. During the summer, this area has become home to the largest population of humpback whales as they come here for food. They’re so plentiful, in fact, that every single tour has spotted a whale since 2004, and they guarantee a refund if you don’t see one!

DID YOU KNOW?

Icy Strait Point is located in the Tlingit village of Hoonah, and everything here is 100% Alaska-owned with classic Tlingit hospitality. Everything you buy here will benefit the local community.

Contact

Icy Strait Point
108 Cannery Road
Hoonah, Alaska 99829
907-789-8600

Sitka National Park

Also nicknamed Totem Park, Sitka National Park preserves the site of an 1804 battle between Russian traders and the indigenous Kiks.ádi Tlingit people. Follow the mile-long Totem Trail to see 18 different Tlingit and Haida totems and see if you can make out the story each of the mortuary poles tells. The stories on these poles go back well before the battle and show how the people of this land continue to stand and live today. Be sure to also check out how a master carver begins to create a totem pole from scratch.

FUN FACT

Sitka National Historical Park is Alaska’s oldest federally designated park. The president who designated it? President Howard Taft!

Contact

Sitka National Historical Park
103 Monastery St.
Sitka , AK 99835
907-747-0110

Sitka Sound Science Center

Located in buildings that were once part of the now-defunct Sheldon Jackson College campus, Sitka Sound Science Center aims to promote research and education for the surrounding Alaskan environment. While my kids honed their skills of observation at the Molly O. Ahlgren Aquarium and tidal flats, I learned more about the center’s salmon hatchery, the first of its kind permitted in Alaska. More importantly, I learned the important differences between hatcheries and salmon farming.

DID YOU KNOW?

Molly Ahlgren was a local marine ecologist and professor at Sheldon Jackson College. She was a dedicated environmentalist and passionate about showing people how to “encounter the mystery of nature.” I like to think she’d be proud of the center in its current form.

Contact

Sitka Sound Science Center
834 Lincoln Street
Sitka, AK 99835

Ketchikan

Welcome to Alaska’s very first city! Ketchikan has become famous thanks to Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” and to this day, seafood remains king here. We split up with the girls joining the Aleutian Ballad – the very crab fishing boat seen on the show – while the boys went fishing with Baranof Fishing Excursions to try and catch us some dinner. Aboard, we learned more about the world’s deadliest job and how the conditions these guys fish under often bring them close to death.

FUN FACT

The largest catch of the day went to my son, Ellis. Any guesses how big his salmon was?

Contact

Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour
P.O. Box 9619
Ketchikan, AK 99901
888-239-3816

Baranof Fishing Excursions
3 Salmon Landing,
Ketchikan, AK 99901
877-732-9453

Dinner – Caught by Ellis!

What better way to end a once-in-a-lifetime cruise than back aboard, all dressed up and eating the very salmon Ellis caught us? Holland America Line has some of the best, world-class chefs at their onboard restaurants and offers for some of their excursions to pick up your fish dockside and cook it for you. Even if you don’t catch your own salmon, HAL guarantees that all their Alaska seafood is certified-sustainable. They’re the only cruise line with this RFM Certification! We shared our favorite parts of the trip over delicious food. What do you think everyone said?

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Book Your Own Cruise

One of the things I love about HAL is that they have complimentary personal cruise consultants. This means you’ll always chat to a real person!

ADDRESS

SEASON 6 SPONSORS

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