Alaskan Cruise: 7 Days on the Holland America Oosterdam

Seattle > Juneau > Hubbard Glacier > Sitka > Ketchikan > Victoria, B.C.

We just had the opportunity this summer to go on an Alaskan cruise! My husband is a musician and the artist he works with was part of the entertainment for a radio station sponsored cruise, so I got to tag along with all the other families of the musicians! We had a blast hanging out with our “band fam” on the open seas.

Of course, I thoroughly documented the experience and I can’t wait to share it with you! Scroll down for lots of scenic photos, shameless selfies, and recommendations from each destination/ports of call!

I’m a huge TripAdvisor fan, so I’ve added each of the locations listed in this blog post into a featured trip for you to easily save locations, check reviews, and add them to your own trip itinerary!

Juneau, AK

Alaska’s capital city did not disappoint. We were blessed with a beautiful day to walk around shopping and exploring, and it turned out to be one of our only sunny days all week!

Franklin Food Court

Franklin Food Court was my favorite place in Juneau! Our entire gang of about 20 ended up hanging out at this place right off the ship and started our day out right – with fish tacos and Alaskan beer! For the full experience, eat lunch at Deckhand Dave’s followed by an afternoon snack at Alaskan Crêpe Escape.

Amalga Distillery

If you’re into visiting craft distilleries then this gin joint is a must. Their locally made gin and craft cocktails are worth stopping in for an afternoon vacation treat for those who don’t mind a little day drinking. They named their gin “Juneauper” – so cute and clever.

Shopping & Sightseeing

Juneau has so many great shops! There’s a few that you’ll probably want to avoid, which are the typical cruise port shops trying to get you to buy cheap diamonds and stuff. But, there are also some really amazing local shops that have beautiful cultural art and some souvenirs that you’ll actually want! I got the cutest tank top at Treetop Tees!

Hubbard Glacier/Scenic Cruising

This was our day of “scenic cruising” and they sure weren’t joking. I’d never been that far north in the world, so it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. The icebergs and mountains were breathtaking and exactly how I had imagined Alaska to be. Our morning was spent cruising through Stephen’s Passage and we made it to the glacier in the afternoon.

On the far right in the distance is the just edge of Hubbard Glacier.

As we approached the glacier, we sat outside on the observation deck with treats and cups of hot coffee as it started to rain. Upon our arrival, the ship stopped and slowly did a 360 turn (and by slowly I mean it took more than half an hour) for an amazing panoramic view. It had started raining heavily, so I decided to get in out of the cold and went for a run in the gym. Their workout room is at the bow of the ship, so I got to gaze at that view while I ran a few miles – best treadmill run ever!!

Hubbard Glacier Fun Facts:

  • North America’s largest tidewater glacier
  • 600 ft tall with 350 ft exposed above water
  • 76 miles long and 7 miles wide

Sitka, AK

Sitka’s claim to Hollywood fame is it’s star role in the film “The Proposal” as Andrew Paxton’s (Ryan Reynolds) home town. Although the movie mostly takes place in Sitka, it was actually filmed in Rockport, Massachusetts. I was a little disappointed learning that, especially when I saw how beautiful Sitka actually is! It’s true though, that Sitka is only accessible by air and sea, there are no bridges connecting it to the mainland. So, I can imagine that filming there would have been pretty difficult and expensive!

To get from the cruise port to the town, you have to hop on a free shuttle that will take you to the downtown area.

Our shuttle guide was very entertaining and he gave us some really interesting facts about Sitka along the way. He said that fresh ingredients are so hard to come by because of how inaccessible the town is, that anything imported flies off the shelves immediately and is often expired even before purchased. It’s very common to go to a restaurant and hear from the waitstaff what they are currently out of before you are even seated.

Sitka National Historical Park

We got off the shuttle and started walking toward Sitka Historical National Park, which was just a 10-15 minute walk along a marked paved path. The views along the walk are gorgeous and you can watch the small fishing boats and yachts come into the harbor and hundreds of salmon jumping at the mouth of the river. We walked along the forest trails in the National Park that are right alongside the coast and the temperate rain forest climate is unlike anything I’ve seen before! There’s also dozens of totem poles here along the trails in the park and inside the museum. It’s a wonderful preservation of Native American history.

Ashmo’s Food Truck

Our lunch that day was fresh Alaskan rockfish tacos and salmon mac and cheese (currently drooling as I type). I’m forever ruined for all other freshwater fish experiences – nothing will ever beat this!

On the trail to Sitka National Historical Park.

Ketchikan, AK

Ketchikan is known as “Alaska’s First City” not because it was the first city settled in Alaska, but rather the first city you reach when taking the inside passage north. It’s also considered the salmon capital of the world!

Creek Street

Once you’ve satisfied your souvenir needs in the shops on the docks, head straight for Creek Street. It’s only a couple of blocks inland and it was my favorite part of town. We watched some sea lions frolic in the river and walked along the “street” which is actually a historic boardwalk with shops and restaurants.

Bawden Street Brewing

After Creek Street, we walked a few blocks down to this local brewery. We chatted with some of our friends over a couple of cold ones and took a break from the rain. This a great spot with amazing beer!

Victoria, B.C

I wish we would have had more time to spend in Victoria. We arrived at the dock around 6pm and had to be back on board by 11pm. Even though that’s 5 hours, it still felt a little rushed at the end of the day. We did as much as we could with our time and we really enjoyed what we saw of Victoria!

The Churchill

So really, all we had time for was to track down a postcard and to visit a pub and a cocktail bar. I know, I know. We visit a lot of bars… That’s just what we like to do when we travel – we love to find great coffee shops, breweries, and craft cocktail bars! The Churchill was great Canadian pub with dozens of local draft selections. If you need a little snack, I recommend the fried pickles!

Little Jumbo

This cozy cocktail bar should not be missed. The speakeasy vibes were on point and I enjoyed one of my favorite cocktails I’ve ever had. I can’t remember what it was called and it’s no longer on their menu (sorry…)! But, I’m pretty confident that anything you order here will be amazing!

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings.

Seattle, WA

Seattle was our port of embarkation and debarkation and we arrived a day early so that we could spend an afternoon and evening there. I was so excited about this because the only other time I’ve been to Seattle was when I was 15 on a church choir trip (yes, really). I fell completely in love with the Pacific Northwest on that trip and I had actually considered moving to Seattle after college, but decided on Nashville instead (thankfully!). But I’ve still always wanted to go back to Seattle! It was just as wonderful as I’d remembered.

I accidentally left my camera battery charging on the wall in our hotel room, so all I had was my iPhone to take photos that day and I didn’t get any good ones to share. I was obviously pretty disappointed, but we still had a great time!

Pike Place Market

We wandered around Pike Place Market and a few other downtown areas and found an incredible place to eat a late lunch called Rub With Love Shack. Their breakfast sandwiches are heavenly. Our friends got salmon burgers and said they were fantastic, so check this place out if you get a chance!

Rachel’s Ginger Beer

After some more wandering we found ourselves in Post Alley and enjoyed some cocktails at Rachel’s Ginger Beer. They have several flavors of house made ginger beers and you can get cocktails or non-alcoholic! I had a mule cocktail with peach flavored ginger beer and whiskey — so good!

Storyville Coffee

Starbucks isn’t the only popular coffee chain in town! Since the line to the Pike Place Starbucks was infinitely long and I’d already been there before, we decided to try a different local coffee shop. Storyville was exactly what we hoped for in a local Seattle coffee joint. The menu was small and basic, and that’s often a good sign when you’re looking for great coffee.

Our Band Fam!

At the end of the week, we were all exhausted (especially our friends with kiddos!) but we had an amazing time. Not only did we get to see the beauty of Southeast Alaska, but we got to experience it with some of our absolute favorite people. Our photo is missing a few friends because it was impossible to track everyone down at the same time, but we got as many of us as we could!

All in all, I can highly recommend taking an Alaskan Cruise! Don’t forget to check out my TripAdvisor itinerary so you can easily save locations and plan your own trip!

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