Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Legendary Trip North to Alaska- Skagway. AK

10 Year Anniversary Cruise 2016- Carnival Legend

What Goes Up, Must Come Down
Skagway, AK
Friday, June 24, 2016

As if climbing high into the mountains aboard a magnificent train to see the glorious snow-capped mountains, luscious waterfalls and rugged Alaskan landscape wasn't enough, we were able to RIDE down this nearly 4,000ft elevation mountain on bikes. This was the northern most point of our journey and this turned out to be the most amazing and adventurous thing I have ever done and will never forget. 


The sun was shining bright through our balcony as we pulled in Skagway along the beautiful rugged mountain side. Since our ship was in port at Skagway from 7AM to 9PM we knew that both the Main Dining Room (MDR) and the Lido buffet would be very busy so we waited a little while to get to breakfast. The past 2 mornings the MDR breakfasts have been nearly unbearable in the amount of time spent ordering and getting the food so we decided to try out the Lido buffet since both of us just order omelets anyway. This turned out to be a good decision and the made-to-order omelet station was just as good if not better than the MDR SeaDay Brunch and breakfasts

I am ready to tackle these mountains! 

Before we got off the ship we decided to cancel our previously booked Whale-Watching tour in Juneau (the next day). After talking with the captain of the "Glacier Explorer" tour we decided that we were so lucky in seeing the 37 whales from our balcony and then getting so close to those on the glacier tour we thought we could cancel  this whale tour and choose a new one and get even more from Alaska. At $125/ per person this was a  real savings. We decided to go through Carnival and do the Sled Dog and Musher discovery camp! More on that later. 

Our excursion was not until 12PM so we decided to go ahead and get off the ship and explore Skagway and get all of our souvenirs beforehand. We got off the ship right before 9AM and there was hardly a line, however; Chris did not bring his ID (my fault) so he had to rush back to the room to get it. Be sure to always have a photo ID with you while on this itinerary. Even still, we were off the ship and exploring Skagway around 9AM. The lines to get off the ship around 7:30AM were very long so keep this in mind when planning to get off. 

We explored the streets of Skagway, looked at the steam train and even purchased our 1st Alaskan souvenirs during our morning outing. This town is such a unique and quaint village-like atmosphere with some of the kindest people we have ever met. Be sure to walk down the streets of Skagway when your ship docks! 

Welcome to ALASKA! 

Be sure to go to Klothes Rush in Skagway!
They have the funniest shirts I have ever seen!
We got one that had Alaska outline with Texas in the middle that read "Isn't Texas Cute"!
It is in the main town area right beside a HUGE Ice Cream shop! 

Downtown Skagway! 

The Steam Train museum in Skagway!

The cruise ship pier in Skagway! 

We got back on the ship around 11AM to put away our recently purchased souvenirs and get some lunch before we went to our excursion. Since our bike ride was going into Canada we needed our passports so we made sure we had those before we left the room. We ate lunch at "Off the Grill" and it left much to be desired. My burger was burnt and the fries were limp and old. Unfortunately since eating Guys Burgers (Carnival Funship 2.0 upgrades) I have a really high standard on burgers on a ship and this just did not satisfy. We got off the ship just before noon and the lines were short as well. 


Once off the ship we made our way to the end of the pier to meet our excursion. We got checked in and then they took us to Skagway's 2nd train station just about 1 mile away. There were only 13 people on our tour so we were able to get a train car all to ourselves. The Carnival shore excursion manager told us to sit on the port (left) side of the train when going up the mountain for the best views and that was great advise as 80% of the highlights on the train ride were on the port side. As we made our way up 27.7 miles we saw several highlights including the "trail of 98'" where 33 workers lost their lives in building this amazing railroad. The railroad was built in 2 year, 2 months and 2 days! It was an awesome ride and very unique to Skagway Alaska. Be sure to look into riding the train when in this port. Be advised it is pricey at minimum of $169/ per person but I feel it is worth it as this is truly unique to Skagway.  

The Skagway river... there are sections of these rapids that have never been traversed. 

Rocky Point- Mile 14.4 of the train ride. 

The pure beauty of Alaska is mind blowing to me!

Our train climbing up the mountain! 

The US/Canada border crossing from the train! This the same border we would cross by bike in less than an hour! 

Welcome to CANADA... our 2nd entrance in less than 1 week. 

Once we got to Frasier, B.C. our tour got off the train after Canadian customs came through our rail car. We were able to get our passports stamped a local train house before getting into the bus to take us back to the White Summit where our bike decent would begin. Once we got to our starting point we put on our protective gear and got fitted for our bikes before we began going downhill... FAST! 

We made several stops along the 15+ mile descent back into Skagway but the most memorable stop was at the US/Canadian border. Once the US customs approved all of us we passed right through the border and crossed back into the US via BIKE! It was a moment I never expected or planned to have but it was an incredible feeling. Once we got back into Skagway we biked through the lower portions of the town including the school, which houses less than 50 students K-12. 

We are all geared up and ready to go! 

Our 1st Stop at Rocky Point mountain! At this point we had rode down about 1 mile. 

"I've got this" he says! 

We stopped at a massive waterfall about 6 miles down! It was breathtaking! 

We turned in our bikes and then started walking back to our home away from home. We stopped at a local ice cream shop and met a few of the high school students in Skagway. It is crazy to think that they were seniors and only 2 in their graduating class. Chris and I loved this town and area so much that we had pondered getting our resumes ready... with that few students, we BOTH couldn't get a job! 

We strolled through town casually before making our way back to the pier where we saw several otters on a dock and then we heard a screech and saw them lunge into the water. A large bald eagle and osprey were in aerial combat. Another bucket-list moment for us! 

This was so cool to see! 



We made our way back on board around 6PM and once again, there was not a line at all. We called the kids and then went to an odd-time dinner in the MDR. This turned out to be our quickest and best meal of the trip. Even with Your Time Dining people tend to go at certain times and this 6:30-6:45PM arrival time proved to be perfect. The waitstaff did not have to wait until multiple tables arrived to turn in your order or bring you your food. We were in and out of dinner with 1 hour! That is practically unheard of in the cruising world. We will be using this trick in the near future! 

We returned to our balcony to enjoy the beautiful temperatures but we were so tired we fell asleep for a quick evening nap (only on a cruise... right?). We woke up just in time to go to one of our favorite activities on Carnival ships which is the "Love and Marriage" game show. We made a brief pit-stop at Cherry on Top candy store before getting to the show so we were not picked to play in the game due to our tardiness. Once again, this show did not disappoint and I would recommend it for adults traveling on Carnival ships. Look for it in your sailing's FunTimes. Despite the sugar high, we were unable to stay up late and returned to the room before midnight! 

More cruise ships passing as we left Skagway!
Right- Holland American Maasdam Left- Crown Princess 

This day turned out to be one of the best days of our cruise and we fell in love with Skagway and it's generous townspeople. Biking 15 miles down a mountain in less than 50* was so exhilarating and one of the coolest things we have ever done! This cruise just kept getting better and better! 

Next up... Juneau. 

God is good... ALL the time! 


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