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Places to go and how to plan!
Whenever I want to have an adventure, one of the first places I go is Atlas Obscura. So of course I put together a list for this trip! We didn’t make it everywhere, but if you’re taking an Inside Passage cruise, you can check it out for stuff to do in Seattle before you leave, or things to see in your ports.
I also made a list of Google Maps of the places we went and ate, as well as places we wanted to go and eat but didn’t make it to. So that’s here.
There are probably things you like. I like libraries and I like gardens and I like hot dogs. Seek the stuff you like out! I have used Garden Destinations quite a bit for seeking out interesting botanical gardens. Libraries have signs and almost every decent sized town has them. Trip Advisor and Yelp are invaluable when I’m googling “best hot dogs in [fill in the blank]”.
We used Hotel Tonight to book both our Seattle hotels (Kimpton Hotel Vintage downtown, kitty-corner from the Central Public Library, and the Graduate aseatttle, up by UW). We’ve used it for several trips now and I highly recommend it. You can use my code ADONKAR to get $25 off your first HotelTonight booking (if you spend $135 USD+). Get the app: https://txt.htltn.com/4ySVS2sn6X
Trav’s parents gave us the DK Eyewitness Top 10 Seattle and it was perfect. They also gifted us Fodor’s Alaska and Vancouver/Victoria, which aren’t great for a cruise but which we’ll put to good use on later trips. The DK Eyewitness series are hands down my favorite travel books.
Stuff to buy!
I read so many blog posts about what to take to Alaska. And then? Our three days off the boat were unseasonably warm. Like climate change warm. Like sunny and above 80 warm. Like Ketchikan is the rainiest town in the US and it was sunny and perfect and warm.
So the fleece lined leggings and thin long sleeved layering t-shirts weren’t much help. I ran through my short sleeved / tank top arsenal way faster than I had planned for because of the unusual weather. But if it had been normal? Or normal for how it used to be in Alaska in summer?
I would recommend both the long sleeved tees and the fleece lined leggings. These tees in a whole bunch of colors (I sized up and bought XXL, which I recommend) and these leggings in black and navy blue (I’m chubby and the all sizes works for me). Frankly I lived in the leggings even before we left and I plan to live in them as soon as the NC is not a pit of humid lemon jello again.
I swear by my LL Bean duck boots and three-in-one jacket in Alaska or not in Alaska. I will wear them with those leggings under jeans when I take back my solemn vow to never go to Minnesota between November and May and make Trav go to the start of the Beargrease in Duluth some year.
I carried this foldable day pack everywhere and it was sturdy and light.
The face of a man who would please just like his wife to stop taking his picture.
I’ve been shooting with a Nikon D7000 since 2014, and I swear by it. It’s my choice of Nikon because I have long fingers but smaller hands, and I can easily manage the D7000 with one hand. Nikon’s current iteration of this camera is the D7500. But either you already have a camera, or you have probably done your own research on bodies, so that’s just a statement for where I’m starting from.
What makes a difference, of course, is lenses. My day to day walking around lens is a Tamron 28-70mm f2.8, and I would not trade it for much. I love this lens. It’s clean, it’s detailed, it is fantastic beyond what I would expect from 2.8 in low low light. The zoom is good, and I rarely want something wider than 28mm. I would 150% recommend this lens for non-wildlife in Alaska.
I also took my Sigma 70-300mm f4.0-5.6. I use this at home for baseball, softball, and basketball, and for day time outdoor concerts. It’s a cheap lens, and it does what you paid for it. It was fine for wildlife in Alaska, but if I could do it over – and when we go back – I would probably rent a heavier duty zoom. I didn’t research it before I went, but now, I think my pick would be the Sigma 150-600mm.
I used a JOBY Gorillapod tripod from our ship balcony for wider shots, and I’d carry it with me more next time around. (This was a birthday present from shep, and honestly I use it most on our porch for macro shots. It’s great for that. And honestly, the macro setting on my Sigma zoom is fabulous. Not perfect, but very very good.)
I read a ton of photography sites about shooting in Alaska but the collection at Points In Focus was my favorite resource pre-trip.
Would I cruise again, after this as my first? Yeah, probably, especially depending on the location. Would I do a different cruise to Alaska? Probably not. I enjoyed it, but I think I could probably plan something for us that would be cheaper and have a little more flexibility. Am I going back to Alaska? Oh hell yes. Alaska was magic. Alaska was the best kind of magic, and I still have to see a moose.