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Wow, summer is flying by! And it's been a good one. I can now cross Alaska off my bucket list. My two daughters and I took a seven-night Princess Alaskan Cruise through the Inside Passage. It was even more beautiful than I expected. First, the cruise itself was fabulous. We've cruised numerous times but this was our first experience with Princess and I definitely recommend this cruise line. We booked the Golden Princess, which sails round-trip from Seattle, WA.
We had a spacious mini-suite with balcony,which made getting ready for dinner a breeze (three girls in one room and it worked!). Our cabin steward, Andre (from Romania) was super attentive and always around the corner when we needed him. In fact, each crew member we met was very friendly. Votman (a handsome Serbian server) entertained us with dance moves and smiles.
The ship's onboard naturalist (Michael Modzelewski) provided excellent instruction about when and where to see wildlife and gave fascinating presentations in the Explorers Lounge. We saw more than 20 whales from the ship. I even saw an orca from my balcony! It was amazing. During our cruise we also saw bald eagles and sea otters.
Port days were a lot of fun. We hiked on trails to and around Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, hiked and rafted in Skagway, sailed through stunning Glacier Bay, learned about the importance of totems in Ketchikan, and went pub crawling in Victoria, British Columbia (where the legal drinking age is 19). Live music and tasting local brew was a fun way to spend a few hours in the beautiful port city of Victoria. I can't wait to return to Alaska. There's so much more of this state I would love to explore. We didn't see any Grizzlies on this trip like we had hoped, so maybe next time.
We were so lucky to not only hear glacier calving (which sounded like gunshots) but we saw numerous chunks of ice splash into the water in Glacier Bay. I took this photo of a huge section of ice sliding down the glacier and making a huge splash in the bay.
With its location near popular Broadway and honky tonk bars, the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, TN, is an ideal place to stay. Elegant and comfortable, it's suitable for couples or families.
Borrego Springs, CA
Atlantis Resort, Nassau, Bahamas
There's nothing "lazy" about this one-mile long river that swishes around the resort. Rapids and waves make this an exciting tube ride around Atlantis. There are enough relaxing moments to catch your breath before the next set of rapids. It's a sure way to stay cool!
Built around a 141-acre waterpark and home to the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, Atlantis is a top family-friendly Caribbean resort.
While at the Atlantis we stayed in the Reef Hotel, a spacious and comfortable (the beds are awesome) hotel with ocean views. The Reef is perfect for families because the rooms have kitchens.
Kayak Adventures - Channel Islands, Ventura, CA
Kayaking through the sea caves at Channel Islands in Ventura was thrilling! I was on a guided tour with Island Packers. We kayaked through several caves, some smaller and others large.
Channel Islands Kayak (company) led us through a serene cruise through the harbor. This is great for families with young children.
Year-Round Family Fun in Hawaii
We love the diversity Oahu offers families. One of our favorite things to do is relaxing on a secluded beach. Shown here: Lanikai Beach.
My daughter Christina and I had exciting adventures in Kona (below).
From Hilo to Kona
Glow from Halema'ma'u crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Shot this pic from Jagger Museum. Notice the reddish glow inside of the rim.
While in Kona, someone we met referred to Hilo as "the dark side." We laughed but understood what he meant. Black sand beaches and frequent (albeit short) rain showers are in contrast to Kona's white sand beaches and sunshine.
However, Hilo is also lush and flush with waterfalls and streams. And, of course, is situated on the outskirts of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a must-see region. We spent an entire day at the park hiking to the bottom of the crater and staying for the amazing glow from Halemamau crater. As the sun begins setting, the glow starts out as a faded pink and intensifies as the sky darkens. It gets very cold there! Be prepared and wear a jacket. Read more about it on my blog.