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Alaska: the Last Frontier

Hey everyone. It's been a while! During the last week in May, my family and I decided to go on a cruise to celebrate my graduating medical school as well as entering residency. I figured this would be a great family trip since we haven't taken a vacation since I graduated high school (which was in 2010!). We originally had wanted to go to Greece and the Mediterranean but we didn't know we needed to FLY over to Europe first (which was SO expensive)! Also, the cheapest dates were going to Alaska, which is what ended up picking. When I first booked it with a cruise line, I set it for end of June until I realized that's when residency started! Long story short, we made it to Alaska, and it was AMAZING!

Day 1: Arrival to Seward, Alaska

Our flight was at 9am from Newark to Seattle and then transferred from Seattle to Anchorage. I was so worried we wouldn't get there on time so we all ended up taking 1 personal and 1 carry on bag. I ordered a Lyft from Anchorage to Seward (about 2 hours away) which was where the cruise ship was docked. Throughout the drive, our Lyft driver, Flor, gave us a quick tour of Alaska. We talked about everything from our families to him fishing and making his own jerky. He even told us his kids (11 and 16) are going away to work as fishermen. Anchorage was so beautiful with its snow-capped mountains and glistening blue water.

We made it to our ship at around 7:30pm. We checked in to our rooms (my parents had their own and I shared one with my brother and sister), unpacked, and got ready for an important safety meeting before heading to dinner. Dinner was alright but the good news was that there were about 4-5 places that were complimentary!

Day 2: Travel/Hubbard Glacier

This entire day was dedicated to pretty much traveling from Seward Alaska to Icy Strait Point. We also explored most of the ship and went to a few activities (like trivia) as well as the spa. My sister and I ended up purchasing unlimited thermal suite passes where we could use the spas, jacuzzis, saunas and steam baths for the entire trip.

The entire day we experienced some rain, as we were nearing towards the Hubbard Glacier. The ship only went so far to the glacier before turning back. I had never seen a glacier before so it was such a breathtaking sight!

Day 3: Icy Strait Point (Hoonah, Alaska)

Our first port was at Icy Strait Point. We needed small boats to bring us from the ship to the port which was only a 10 minute trip. When we docked at Icy Strait Point, we walked a few nature trails and took photos. This was home to the longest zipline in the world (5,495 feet long)! Every port had excursions you could book prior to arriving. Our family had booked two: one for Juneau and another for Ketchikan. Aside from the excursions which included driving through forests, the zipline, and experiencing native tribal dances, we also toured some of the canneries were salmon were canned. There was a cannery museum as well as small shops where we could purchase salmon products (dip, jerky, canned salmon, etc) as well as souvenirs.

I had found out today that participating in cruise activities would get you signatures. You collect as many signatures as you can by going to activities such as trivia, origami, word games, and dance classes and you get a prize at the end of the trip.

Day 4: Juneau, Alaska

Juneau is the capital of Alaska. It was such a beautiful day when we arrived. Our excursion was called the Mendenhall Glacier Explorer. We were taken, by bus, to the site of the glacier along with 6 hiking trails which varied by length. We definitely took photos by the glacier as well as the waterfall, "Nugget Falls". Along the way, we walked most of the trails except for a long 5-6 mile trail which would approximately last 2.5 hours, exceeding our time. As per our bus driver, we had a maximum time of 2.5 hours before he brought us back to the port. It was a great time to walk around (lots of exercise) as well as take photos and just spend time as a family. On the way back, we also visited some shops by the ports for more souvenirs.

We ended up going back to the ship to relax, eat dinner, watch a show, and participate in activities so I could get my prize.

Day 5: Skagway, Alaska

Skagway is one of the most popular places to visit in the Inside Passage of Alaska. Fun fact: its most famous resident is Soapy Smith (a villain and criminal during the Klondike Gold Rush). This town had a lot of excursions which included visiting the sled dogs, a train ride through the mountains, whale watching and hiking. The town had a lot of old buildings and cute shops to buy souvenirs. They even had brothel tours (played by actresses, although my dad thought they were real haha).

After our excursion, we went back to the ship for dinner and more activities which was trivia, a show, and dance classes.

Day 6: Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan is known as the Salmon Capital of the World. Most of the rivers and water sources in Ketchikan are salmon hatcheries. My family and I took the Ketchikan Duck Tour where we toured most of the entire town. We even went into the water and saw some bald eagles!

Day 7: Vancouver, BC

Vancouver was our last stop. The ship had docked around 7:30am and so we brought our bags with us and took a cab back to the airport. We found out our flight got cancelled (luckily we were 4 hours early) and Air Canada was able to put us on another flight and even gave us $100 food vouchers. It was such a long trip back home!

Despite the flight problem, I thought this family vacation was amazing, and I cannot wait to go on my next cruise. Alaska, you are so beautiful. I cannot wait to go back!

Until next time,


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Kandria Ledesma, MD

Emergency Medicine resident

NJ      Antigua      NY       CA

Medicine, Running, Birds, Plants, Food, Dinos 


Dino of the Month: Carnotaurus

Plant of the Month: Nepenthes Attenboroughii

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