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NCL Alaskan Adventures Even Better The Second Time Around

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NCL Alaskan Adventures
Kristin and Marlon prepare to be the lead Kodiak during our first excursion into the coastal waters off Alaska. Yes, we were bundled up more heavily than Eskimos as we are photographed by a tour guide before heading "out to sea."

Summertime Excursions In Alaska

My first trip to Alaska was in May of 2013. I found the vistas and the atmosphere of the entire trip completely invigorating. Activities on the Norwegian Pearl and the many shore excursions offered kept me busy the entire time. But there was still so much to see and do, I knew I had to return for more Alaskan adventures.

With the addition of an avid photographer, talented writer and digital expert to Focus Daily News, I was ready to explore more of the Land of the Midnight Sun.

NCL Alaskan Adventures
In Juneau, Alaska photo by Kristin Barclay

From Seattle to Skagway, NCL Alaskan Adventures

NCL provided an opportunity to head “North to Alaska” one more time on its renovated Norwegian Jewell this past June. Kristin Barclay, the aforementioned addition to Focus’ staff, agreed she would make herself available for the trip so long as family obligations concerning her children could be satisfactorily arranged. Fate smiled on her and Focus as the trip was scheduled.

On June 18, we departed Seattle on board the NCL Jewel. Our expeditions would include a Zodiac adventure along Ketchikan’s coast, a whale watching expedition, and a Jeep trek into the Klondike. Of course along the way, we’d enjoy a lot of great food and entertainment on the ship, giving us time to recover from our calorie burning adventures.

Whale Thar You Go!

NCL promised we would see a lot of whales and other sea life on a special trip through the Stephens Passage on a small glass-windowed boat with open areas at the front and rear for photo opportunities. Promises fulfilled! We encountered dozens of whales on our excursion, “Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching Photo Safari.”

While we didn’t think to yell “Thar She Blows,” we saw dozens of whales surface during our whale watching excursion off the NCL Jewel. Photo by Marlon Hanson

Not only did we get to see dozens of whales, but sea lions, otters, seals, and other sea life on our half day cruising through the passage. The remainder of the day we hiked through a rain-forest and witnessed how time shaped the topography in the forming of the Mendenhall Glacier.

Small Boats Equal Big Adventures

I had never seen large sea-life “up close and personal” before. Who knew I was about to experience an exciting adventure on the coast in a small zodiac? This fun and intimate expedition (only 6 total in our group) booked with Shorex was my favorite expedition. On June 20, Kristin and I cruised the coastline in a two-person inflated Zodiac from Ketchikan, Alaska.

Alaskan adventures with NCL
Sea lions hanging out

I sat in front of our small “pontoon”, bundled up, hoping I wouldn’t fall out and be devoured by one of the large whales we had seen in the seas of Juneau earlier. Fortunately, Kristin was an expert driver and kept us both safe as we zoomed across the water. During frequent stops near the shorelines we learned about other types of sea life that were abundant in the area. We even saw numerous bald eagles and their nests. Our guide tossed out a fish, and we had a “close encounter” with one lucky bird.

A photo posted by Kristin Barclay (@indeeph2o) on

Kristin takes a lookout position from atop the bumper of our lead Jeep while Michelle looks on before we begin our descent from the top of the mountain. David safely drove us to the apex and Kristin ably guided our Jeep down the steep decline back to the valley. Photo by Marlon Hanson

Off-Road Adventures In A Jeep

Alaskan adventures must include a trip into the Klondike in the only type of vehicles specifically made to master such off-road adventures, a Jeep. During our stop at Skagway, we spent nearly the entire day driving deep into the Klondike in a four-person Jeep.

Deep canyon walls provided a constant threat with narrow roads. We worried about others in our Jeep caravan who did not have the off-road driving expertise of David Hanson and Kristin. Both carefully negotiated their way along trails that no vehicle other than a Jeep would dare tackle.

Jeep Excursion in Skagway-Photo by Kristin BarclayOnce back safely on-board the NCL Jewel, we had many opportunities to enjoy Cagney’s Steak House, Teppanyaki, LaCucina and many other fine offerings aboard. And in between meals, we explored the ships Shopping Center at sea.

Will there be a third expedition with more Alaskan adventures? That is very likely – Especially since Norwegian just announced another new mega-ship, the Norwegian Bliss will be taking over their Alaskan cruises in 2018. It will be hard to wait that long!

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