Out There: Alaskan Beauty

Alaska has proven to be an extremely popular and exciting destination in recent years. It’s no wonder why. 

With a nickname like “The Last Frontier”, Alaska’s jaw-dropping mountains, stunning coasts, and unique wildlife give travelers the exhilarating sense of discovery. 

One of the best ways to get the most out of a trip to Alaska is to see it from shore to shore on a cruise. Specialized Alaska cruises can bring you from mountains to island, up close and personal with humpback whales, and to lush forests like few other vacations can. 

Recently, AAA Travel advisor Caroline Haylett ventured to the newest state on a cruise with Holland American Cruise lines. She shared her adventure with us. Follow along to see what Alaska has in store! 

Tell us a little about yourself! Please provide your name, position at AAA, talk about your hobbies, interests, and anything else you would like us to know about yourself!  

My name is Caroline Haylett. I am a AAA Travel advisor at our Narragansett, RI branch. I love cooking and painting! 

To learn more about Caroline, click here to visit her advisor profile. 

What is your background in travel? How much experience do you have? What sorts of places have you been to?  

I have over 6 years of travel experience. I have been to Egypt, California, Tennessee,  Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Seattle, Las Vegas, Orlando, Ireland, Peru, Iceland, Alaska, Germany, France, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Bahamas  

 What kinds of trips – cruises, guided tours, self-guided, etc.  

I have been on all sorts of trips, notably cruises with Holland America, Viking River, Royal Caribbean, as well as guided tours with Brendan vacations, AAA Vacations, and Club Adventures.  

What type of traveler are you? Are you an adventure seeker or do you prefer to travel for relaxation? Are you a backpacker or theme park and resort-goer? Think about your past travel experiences, preferences, and habits. 

I like all three. I’m really up for anything – any kind of travel I can find the time to do, I enjoy! 

You recently went on a cruise with Holland America Line – please summarize the itinerary for us. What were the destinations? How long was the cruise? What kind of room did you stay in? 

I’m excited to share our first experience of Alaska. My husband and I flew into Seattle a day early to explore the city and to make sure we arrived in time to board the ship the next day. We had half a day to explore. We went to the original Starbucks and the iconic Space Needle! 

We found that our 7-day Alaskan cruise aboard Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam was the perfect way to experience Alaska’s beauty and wildlife, explore a few of its cities and get a taste of the state’s history. We spent a couple of days sailing through the inside passage and made our first stop in Juneau. We took the Mount Roberts Tramway up the mountainside where we enjoyed the incredible scenery and Alaska’s rainforest! 

After shopping around Juneau, we went on another adventure. We successfully collected a few flakes of gold during our gold-panning excursion at Gold Creek in Juneau, Alaska. Then we went to Gold Creek Salmon Bake for supper. We got to see Salmon spawning, a beautiful waterfall, and warmed up the bonfire.  

From Juneau, we sailed overnight to Glacier Bay National Park. We woke up to the most amazing views. We learned from a Park ranger that the Glacier Bay National park covers 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, rainforest, and deep fjords. We had so much fun sitting on our balcony watching, in aw as we floated by several glaciers. We saw bald eagles, otters, seals, and whales (in the distance).  

Later that afternoon we booked a Spasski River Valley Wildlife and Bear Search excursion in the Icy Strait Point. We saw a Grizzly Bear, Black-Tailed Deer, Alaskan Husky Puppies, Bald Eagles, and Salmon. 

The next morning, we arrived in Sitka where we booked a city tour. The tour consisted of the Alaskan rapture center, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Totem pole National Park and Historical Russian Orthodox church.  

Our final stop was a full day in Ketchikan, where we boarded a cruise ship to view the misty fjords. The ship served a yummy chowder for lunch and narrated the entire time. Learning about the wildlife and the history of the area was an added bonus and made for an unforgettable day. We then went shopping in Ketchikan & stopped at the Famous Fish House for lunch. We ordered a pound of Alaskan crab legs – they were worth every penny. Our Alaskan adventure was everything we could have asked for and much more.  

What was it like to cruise with Holland America Line? Please tell us more about… 

  • The amenities onboard and in your room – We had a Veranda Spa room  
  • The activities available on the ship – Bingo, Casino, Lectures, Magic show, Comedy, Ballet, Billboard music, BB King music, Pools   

Compared to other cruises and vacation experiences you have been on, what would you say makes Holland America Lines different? While we had a great time exploring Alaska, I wish we had more variety and more entertainment onboard. 

How was your experience traveling during COVID? Thankfully, we felt safe traveling on this cruise during COVID. The only sort of restrictions we experienced were things like wearing masks on buses, so it was not an enormous difference from what we experienced back home! 

What was your favorite part of your cruise? What was your least favorite?  My favorite part was Alaska as a destination. There were so many beautiful views and exciting things to do! As for least favorite, I still wish there were more entertainment options on board.  

What was your favorite food, meal, dining experience, etc.? We went to Rudi’s Sel de Mer and Pinnacle grill. Both were amazing! 

Are you ready to embark on your own Alaskan experience? Click here to learn more about Alaska cruisetours with Holland America Cruise Lines.

Click here to check out the wide variety of Alaskan vacations AAA has to offer.