In February 2016, Sandy and I found out that we were going to be parents. We were excited, nervous, happy, and anxious. Many times all at once! Prior to this, we had been planning on traveling to Mexico in the summer for a week. Now we needed to change those plans due to the harmful effects associated with Zika the further south towards the equator you go.
After doing some searching, an Alaskan cruise presented the best options. We could still get away for a relaxing trip, but we wouldn't have to worry about Zika.
Below you'll see a review of the trip that we took, along with some highlights about taking a Babymoon.
Selecting Our Cruise
When we decided on an Alaskan Cruise, there were a few big decisions we had to make. For those that don't know, there are a few main ports to sail in and out of: Seattle, Vancouver, Seward, or Whittier. You also need to decide if you want to do just a cruise, or a cruise with an optional land tour before or after it.
For us, the decision was easy. We didn't have the time to do the optional land tour. We only had one week to be away. Most land tours require you to be there for 10-14 days. On top of that, it would make the most sense to fly in and out of Seattle with direct flights from Milwaukee.
It came down to Norwegian or Princess. We decided to try Princess because the ship looked newer, and we hadn't sailed them before.
Checking with the Doctor
Something that many people don't know about is that cruise lines have specific rules regarding pregnant women and sailing. For Princess, you weren't allowed to cruise after 24 weeks pregnant. Sandy would actually be hitting the 24 week mark on Thursday of our cruise.
We spoke with the cruise line, and they requested that we ask our doctor for a note to clear us to be able to travel. At one of our monthly checkups we asked our doctor, and he provided a letter saying everything would be fine by him for us to travel. It was faxed to the corporate team at Princess Cruises, and they said it was fine to sail.
Flight and Seattle
We flew to Seattle on a Friday night and stayed at the Four Points Seattle Airport. It is important to always try and fly in a day early before a cruise. Even if you get in late at night. The reason is because if there are ever any delays, you will have an extra day to sort them out. If you schedule to fly into a city the day of your cruise, and there are problems with your flight, you won't have the extra day to try and make it.
We arrived in Seattle past 12am West Coast time, which was 2pm Central time that we were used to. The hotel still provided a shuttle which was great. As soon as we got to our room, we washed up, crawled into bed, and fell right to sleep.
Waking up the next day, the sun was out and when I pulled back the shade there was a spectacular view. We took our time and searched on Yelp for things to do in Seattle for a few hours before we needed to be at the port for embarkation. It looked like the port was right near the downtown area, which was great for finding stuff to do. We settled on seeing the Chihuly Garden and Glass. After catching a Lyft, we made it to the downtown area by about noon.
Seattle was right on the water, and had a great vibe and feeling walking around. It is hard to describe, but I could definitely see why so many people would want to live here. There was a great fountain shaped like a whale that we passed. We made it to the Chihuly museum, and were able to drop off our bags and purchase tickets for admission.
The museum was incredible. There were a ton of glass sculptures with incredibles colors and designs. I would highly recommend it. When we were done, we got in another Lyft, and made it to the port in under 10 minutes.
Embarkation was a breeze, and within a half hour we were sitting in one of the buffets eating prime rib for a late lunch! Debarkation after the cruise was easy. Again, it only took us about 30 minutes to get off the boat and we found a Lyft ride right away to the airport.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Ship Impressions and Princess Cruises as a Whole
The ship we sailed on the was the Crown Princess. It actually celebrated it's ten year anniversary when we were sailing, and there was a champagne toast one evening. Princess Cruises tends to caters to an older crowd, but we definitely saw families with children and teenagers aboard. There was a nice mix of events for everyone. If you are interested in the hairy chest competition, stick with Carnival Cruises. We did get to check out some good magic shows and even took a tour of the galley one afternoon
10 Year Anniversary Party
We had an inside cabin that was a good size. The bed was comfortable and the bathroom was big enough. There was a desk, small television, and mini-fridge for us to use. A nice size closet to hang our clothes. Our steward was named Anthony, and he took care of us always getting us what we needed.
There were a number of pools, that weren't in use a lot. I don't quite remember the exact air temperatures, but it was probably only between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit most days. I jumped in a pool one day but that was it. The fitness center was nice with modern equipment. I made the mistake I always do of trying to work out on the first morning of the cruise, when the fitness center is jam packed with people. I only had to wait 5 minutes for a treadmill, so I'd consider it a success.
In terms of the layout of the ship, it was typical to other ships where there is a central piazza which ends of being the center of activities. Whether it was musicians playing, Alaskan Iditarod puppies being shown off, or a melon carving contest, you could typically find something going on.
The food was very good throughout. Lots of options to choose from: buffets, sit-down restaurants, snack food. There was a great pizza station by one of the pools. Because we booked through my travel agency, we were able to have a complimentary dinner one night at Sabitini's, the specialty Italian restaurant onboard. Typically these incur a $25-40 charge per person. Sandy still describes it as one of the best meals of her life.
Even though it was a small part of the day, we loved having tea time each afternoon. Every day we went and sat at the same table. The waiters knew us by name at the end of the week. I think I maybe had 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks all week, and Sandy had some virgin pina coladas, so we can't comment on the alcohol, but it appeared to be priced on par with most other cruises.
With Sandy being pregnant, we found that this was a low keyed vacation for us. We enjoyed that with Princess, you could sit back and enjoy plenty of relaxing options.
Team Rootberry kept us entertained
Fruit Carving Showcase
There were four ports that the ship stopped in throughout our 7 night sailing. Because Sandy was pregnant we weren't able to do some of the more "traditional" Alaskan adventures. All of our trips were booked through Shore Trips. As both an travel agent and a past guest, I can't recommend them highly enough.
A side note - unlike Caribbean cruises, if you don't want to do an excursion when you are in port, don't plan on just laying out on the pool deck. With the weather much cooler, it just isn't as viable an option.
Port #1 - Juneau, Alaska
Juneau is the capitol of Alaska and was bustling when we pulled in. Upon arrival, we walked around for a bit, then caught our tour to Mendenhall Glacier. This is a famous glacier that was quick ride. There are some nice hiking trails (easy enough for a pregnant women to do), but the main attraction was the incredible glacier that had formed. One thing to note is that there were a lot of people visiting. So be prepared to have a lot of people around.
Mendenhall Glacier from the visitors center
Port #2 - Skagway, Alaska
Skagway was a great place to visit and one of the highlights of the trip for us. We took a bus tour (with an awesome guide!) that mimicked where the railroad went over the White Pass Summit and into Canada. We were told that there were better views by bus. I think she may have been right judging by all the great pictures we got! Another nice feature was that while driving, we passed by a bear right by the road. Being on a bus, we were able to stop and get pictures. On the train you wouldn't have that option. We also saw a great waterfall and a famous cemetery. The town of Skagway itself is very small, with under 1000 residents. Just hearing about local life was fascinating.
Bear we saw in Skagway
Port #3 - Ketchikan, Alaska
For this port, we decided to do our most physically active excursion of the trip. A hike through the Tongass Rainforest. Our tour guide picked us up at the port, and we spend the morning going on a beautiful hike. It wasn't physically too strenuous, and Sandy was able to complete it no problem at all. It was great to be outside and in nature. Our guide was a lifelong resident, and she provided tons of information about the area and rainforest.
Port #4 - Victoria, British Columbia
Our cruise was scheduled to stop here on our last night from 7pm - 12am. None of the excursions appealed to us, so we didn't plan anything. We are happy we made that choice. The cruise didn't get the clear to let passengers off until closer to 8pm. It was also raining hard. We got off the boat, and walked around for 5 minutes, then got right back on board.
Glacier Bay National Park
Although not an official port, this was one noted on the itinerary, and a highlight of the trip. This is national park that only a few ships are allowed in during the day. Beautiful glaciers surround you, and there are park rangers that come aboard and describe different features of the ecosystem. Everyone was out on the deck taking pictures. We had at least 20 different whales either breaching or just next to the ship.
Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park
Taking a cruise is a great way to see Alaska. It is also an option you should definitely consider if you want to take a babymoon, but can't go anywhere Zika has been reported. Flying into and out of Seattle is a breeze, and the cruise is relaxing and enjoyable.
Disclaimer - Blue Sea Vacations staff are travel agents, and can only help you with the travel aspect of your trip. It is always good to check with your doctor prior to traveling while pregnant.
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