Inspire Me

Alaska Adventure

Ruth O’Mahony, our Product Executive’s Seattle visit marked the start of an extraordinary Alaskan cruise aboard the majestic Ovation of the Seas. This Alaskan adventure left Ruth with cherished memories of stunning landscapes, warm hospitality, and an insatiable desire for more unforgettable journeys.


Flight to Seattle

After over a year of anticipation the day finally arrived to head to Dublin Airport for our bucket list cruise. Flying direct from Dublin to Seattle with Aer Lingus was our preferred option and check in was very quick and easy in Terminal 2. Having purchased Fast Pass tickets we breezed through Security and subsequently US Customs and soon found ourselves in the 51st & Green Lounge. The lounge is very spacious and airy with lots of comfy seating and a good selection of food and drinks on offer, not to mention some great views of the airport apron for plane enthusiasts like me!

When our flight began to board, we only had a few steps to walk from the lounge to our gate and before we knew it, we were settled into our seats and on our way. The flight was very relaxed and comfortable and we landed in Seattle a little earlier than scheduled which is always a bonus! We took an Uber to our city centre home for 3 nights, Hotel Andra, which couldn’t be more centrally located to see all the sights. For ease, we decided to eat at a little Italian restaurant next door and got to bed early after such a long yet enjoyable travel day.


Our first full day in Seattle started at Cafe Lola which is connected to the hotel and breakfast was so enjoyable that we ate there every morning! Our first stop today was of course the Space Needle. We had bought our tickets in advance so we didn’t have to wait in line which is always great. The super fast elevator whisked us to the top where we could see every corner of the city and beyond. We were very lucky with the weather in Seattle, 24oC in May is not the norm but it definitely made the visit to the top of the Space Needle even better as we could see for miles with clear skies and warm sunshine. The top of the Space Needle itself was originally created as a rotating restaurant but it now serves as a rotating Observation Deck instead and is not to be missed. We grabbed a coffee from the Coffee Dock and simply sat to take in the views as the Observation Deck rotated to show off the city.

From here we walked to the Waterfront and meandered our way to the Pike Place Market, another must see while in Seattle. While here we took the opportunity to visit the very first Starbucks outlet which as coffee enthusiasts we just had to visit! We spent the afternoon eating lunch and doing some souvenir shopping in the Pike Place area before returning to the hotel to get ready for our evening adventure… Baseball!!!

Every time we visit a US city and there is a Baseball game on, we go! The atmosphere is always fantastic and each stadium has its own unique features and ambience, not to mention unique food and beverage options from the local area. To sit amongst the local supporters and hear the banter is wonderful but the singing of the National Anthem and the shooting off of fireworks is always a highlight for us. After the game, in which the local team won, we enjoyed a relaxing walk back to the hotel for a nightcap before bed.

Whale Watching from Edmonds

We had an early start this morning as we made our way to the Amtrak Station and took a train to Edmonds, about 30 minutes north of Seattle. From here we took the Puget Sound Express Whale Watching tour. The boat was only half full given the time of year we visited and was spacious and comfortable with windows all around which was perfect for wildlife spotting from the warm interior. There was plenty of ‘out on deck’ viewing space also and we spent most of our time outside keeping our eyes peeled for any signs of whales. It didn’t take us long to have our first encounter, a Grey Whale feeding in the relatively shallow waters off of one of the harbours many islands. We stayed in the area for a good amount of time just watching this peaceful giant diving to feed and then resurfacing, it was amazing to see! I can’t explain the excitement and anticipation every time he went to dive, as the whole boat wished to see the full tail come out of the water. He did not disappoint us!

We did finally drag ourselves away from the Grey Whale to go in search of more and spent close to an hour weaving in and out the channels between the islands until finally we spotted the Holy Grail of Whales Watching in the area…. Orca’s (or Killer Whales as they are better known). It is not every day that these magnificent creatures show up and we had hoped dearly that they would! The sight of 2 Orca mothers and their 4 calves swimming along, playing and feeding brought tears to my eyes, it was a beautiful sight. Again we had plenty of time to watch them (without getting too close of course) before our time was up and we headed back towards Edmonds, stopping briefly enroute to view some Sealions who had perched themselves on a large Buoy in the middle of the harbour to sunbathe. I would do this tour again in a heartbeat, it was simply wonderful.

Our journey back to Seattle was by bus this time which allowed us to see different sights along the way. Our last evening in Seattle was a quiet one after such an early start, we simply had a delicious dinner in a local restaurant and returned to our hotel to pack before boarding our Alaska cruise the following morning.

Embarkation Day (Ovation of the Seas)

Today was finally the day! We had breakfast again at Cafe Lola before taking an Uber to the Port. We had secured the first possible boarding time which was 10:30am and after dropping our luggage with the porters and clearing security we were on the ship and exploring. Ovation of the Seas is a Quantum class ship and these ships have unique venues and activities that we were eager to see and experience. Our cabin was ready before 1:30pm so we were able to drop our hand luggage off and head out again to familiarise ourselves with our new home for the next 7 nights.

After the Sail Away party on the top deck, we enjoyed a drink at the stunning 270 Lounge before getting ready for dinner in the Main Dining Room. To finish off the evening, we enjoyed a Solo Singer with Acoustic Guitar performance in the pub before calling it a day.

Day at Sea

Today was all about exploring the ship and simply relaxing. On Sea days there are seemingly endless activities going on from Trivia and Dance Classes to Ice Skating and Bumper Cars! If all of that sounded too much, we could simply sit in a hot tub and enjoy the ever changing views outside the window as we cruised northwards. Sea Days for us are also eating days! With options such as the Marketplace Buffet, Main Dining Room, Sorrento’s Pizza and Promenade Cafe on offer, there was never a chance that we would go hungry.

After a full day of relaxing, it was time for dinner in one of the ship’s Speciality Restaurants, Chops Grill. We had bought a 2 night Speciality Dining Package before our cruise and had chosen Chops Grill and Jamie’s Italian Kitchen for our speciality dining experiences. Having dined in both of these restaurants on different ships we knew we were in for a treat and Chops Grill did not disappoint. I love the ambience of Royal Caribbean’s signature Steakhouse with its high quality meats (not just beef!), delectable side dishes such as Gruyere Cheese Tater Tots, Grilled Jumbo Asparagus and Truffled French Fries and of course the array of delicious Desserts.

Following such a magnificent meal, we opted to take a stroll on the outside decks to take in the fresh Alaskan air before heading back to our cabin to watch a movie and drifting off into a restful sleep.


Juneau, the Capital of Alaska, was our first Port Day of this cruise and we had already decided what we wanted to do, regardless of the weather forecast. Our main aim today was to see Mendenhall Glacier! After a hearty breakfast in the Main Dining Room to start us off right, we disembarked the ship and headed to the area where the local tour vendors were located. Not wanting a full guided tour experience but instead just wanting local transportation, we had pre-booked seats on “The Blue Bus” Glacier Express Shuttle through M&M Tours. Our Driver gave us lots of local knowledge and insights as we made our way to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Centre. The Shuttle Bus runs every 20-30 mins in each direction which helped us keep a very free schedule for the day – we weren’t restricted to specific departure times as would have been the case if we had booked a Shore Excursion Tour. We were free to spend as much time there as we wanted and then just hop on the next bus that was departing when we wanted to leave.

After taking in the magnificent view of the Glacier from the area around the Visitors Centre, we decided to take the Walking Path to Nugget Falls, a stunning Waterfall adjacent to the glacier. Seemingly small in stature from a distance, Nugget Falls proved itself to be very powerful and beautiful, offering the only noise in this Glacial Paradise. Although this morning was the only time in our trip that the heavens opened and simply bucketed down on us the entire visit, it took nothing away from our enjoyment of being there, in fact I would say it added to it as it felt like we were experiencing ‘Real’ Alaska!

There are multiple Walking Trails out at Mendenhall Visitors Centre and having explored a few more in the hopes of spotting a Bear (which unfortunately we didn’t!), we took the Shuttle Bus back to Juneau. With the ship docked right in the centre of town, we chose to get back onboard to change into dry clothes and for lunch grabbed some Sorrento’s Pizza on the Royal Promenade before hopping off the ship again to explore the town itself.

In Juneau, you can spend some or all of your time viewing wildlife or taking a once in a lifetime fishing trip or exploring glaciers. We chose to see the Glacier for the first part of our day and then enjoyed the city’s shops, restaurants and unique artistic flair for the afternoon.
I had done a lot of research before this trip so I knew exactly what I wanted to see and experience. We had considered taking a ride on the Mount Roberts Tramway which would have given epic views of Juneau and the surrounding area but instead we decided to meander in and out of the little shops throughout the town before grabbing some authentic Alaskan Fish Tacos from “Deckhand Dave’s Food Truck”. We enjoyed them in the heated courtyard area and washed it down with a local brew! Fantastic!

From here we walked along the seafront to “The Whale Project” which is a magnificent Whale Sculpture/Fountain just on the outskirts of town. While we were there, we were lucky enough to see it in its Water Fountain mode which is supposed to reflect the Whale breaching from the water; it really is a sight to behold. It only happens intermittently during the day so we got out timing just right!

On our return to town, we decided to make one final stop – The Red Dog Saloon complete with its Red Swinging Doors. This Old World Saloon originates from the heyday of Juneau’s glorious mining era, complete with sawdust on the floor. On walking in those swinging doors, we were welcomed by the sound of live country music and yelled responses from the staff and customers alike to the musicians’ hilarious questions between songs. The signature drink is the “Duck Fart” and is known far and wide. It is a layered drink with Kahlua at the bottom, Bailey’s in the middle and Whiskey on top and of course I had to try it! Although I am not a Whiskey fan, it was delicious but I limited myself to just the one! After joining in on numerous singalong tunes, we returned to the ship with big smiles on our faces after a truly varied and enjoyable day.

This evening’s dinner was enjoyed in the Main Dining Room before we headed to the theatre and enjoyed one of the ships Broadway style shows. The costumes and choreography were stunning and at the end of it all, a standing ovation was offered from the audience after such a fantastic performance.


Our next Port of Call was Skagway, a traditional Gold Rush town that still looks the same as it did back then. This tiny town is in fact Alaska’s top visitor destination: It has wide-ranging appeal, including a compelling Gold Rush history, unique and historic architecture, a scenic railway and a National Park. It’s such a picturesque town, I just fell in love with it straight away.

To start our day, we simply took our time and strolled along the boardwalks, touring the National Historic Park buildings and ducking in and out of the quaint little gift shops along the way. We visited the Historic Moore Family Homestead which is the remaining land from William and Ben Moore’s original 160 acre homestead claim in Skagway. The Moore Cabin is the oldest structure in town, built in 1887 and visitors can peek into the structure when a ranger is present, which of course we did. This free Museum is staffed by a Park Ranger and is a quiet, less visited park location but not to be missed.

Before our main activity for the day, we headed for the “Alaskan Fry Bread & Gifts” store to sample the local speciality, a Doughboy! This is a doughnut mixture that is flattened out and deep fried. When cooked it is then covered in Cinnamon Sugar and handed to you hot! Even now, I can almost taste it! It was absolutely delicious and plenty big enough for us to share. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Skagway. Other areas in Alaska and Canada have their own version of a Doughboy but this was far and away the best of the 2 we tried.

Now it was time for the main event in Skagway, The WhitePass Railway! We booked this excursion directly and well in advance of our trip to ensure we could experience this unique railroad which symbolises accomplishment in pioneering and adventure! Our tour began beside our ship and we enjoyed a tour of all corners of the town with a very entertaining Driver/Guide who was full of information about the history of the area as well as insights into living in such an isolated part of the state.

This tour was not the usual ‘40 mile Return Journey’, up and down the mountain by Train. Instead we had opted for a more unique experience – we took the Train up the mountain, crossed over the Canadian Border and then boarded a Coach for the return trip so that we could see more of the magnificent scenery from a different aspect instead of just doing the same journey by train in reverse and we were delighted with our decision. The Coach part of the trip allowed us to get out and take some amazing photographs as well as the much sought after “Welcome to Alaska” Sign photo that can only be obtained by the road journey.

Our Train journey began in the outskirts of Skagway where we boarded the vintage passenger carriages with great excitement and the whole train was abuzz as soon as we started moving. Our journey retraced the original route to the White Pass Summit with its breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels and historic sights. It was amazing to think that thousands of souls passed that way in search of fortune over 100 years before and had a much more treacherous journey than we were enjoying.

Each carriage boasted an open Observation Platform at each end which allowed everyone the chance to go outside and feel the chill as we climbed higher in the snowy mountains as well as capture some stunning views. Going through the tunnels was the prime time to be out on those open platforms! If the air got too chilly, we just popped back inside the toasty carriage again and enjoyed the spectacular climb through the large windows.

Once we reached the Summit we had some time to snap a few more photos in what seemed like a winter wonderland before boarding the Coach. Again we were blessed with a fantastic Drive/Guide for this portion of the trip who entertained us with local stories all the way back down into Skagway. We did stop off and get the much sought after “Welcome to Alaska” sign photo where it actually started snowing!! An exciting bonus for everyone! Snow in Alaska!!!

We were dropped back at the ship which was very convenient and the rest of our evening simply entailed dinner followed by a couple of drinks in the Ship’s Pub before hitting the hay after a truly memorable day.

Glacier Bay (Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier)

Today was a Seaday like no other! We made sure to get up early so that we could be out on our balcony as soon as we entered the Endicott Arm. We ordered breakfast to our cabin and enjoyed it on our balcony (bundled up warm of course!). No sooner had we poured our first cup of coffee when we saw our first whale of the day and there were many many more over the next several hours as we travelled the 30 mile-long, narrow, steep-sided fjord. This magnificent waterway is the southern portion of a fjord with Tracy Arm to the north. The further up the fjord we travelled and the nearer we got to the Glacier, the more icebergs we saw. There were hundreds of them ranging from very small in size to icebergs the size of a large car/suv. After several hours of careful navigation by the Captain, we finally reached our destination, Dawes Glacier. On a good day (a day with low iceberg numbers) the ship can get very close to the glacier but today there were too many in the area close to the Glacier so we had to stay quite a bit back. I had invested in a decent camera with exceptional Zoom for this trip and it was here that my investment paid off. While we could see the Glacier just by looking at it, the camera gave us a much more detailed view of the craggy face of this magnificent ice structure. Unfortunately the Glacier itself has retreated several miles in the last few decades due to Global Warming so we were happy to see it before it retreats any further.

There was lots of ice floating in the fjord, all of which had come from Dawes Glacier itself, and we saw numerous harbour seals resting on some of the larger icebergs or Growlers as they are known. We were amazed to see the glacial blue-coloured icebergs at our closest point to the Glacier itself.
Besides the stunningly beautiful Glacial water we cruised through today, there were also countless waterfalls, large and small, along the rock walls of Endicott Arm which took our breath away as we travelled towards the Glacier as well as away from it. It is a day that we will never forget!

Day at Sea

Our second Sea Day was a more relaxed affair as we spent most of our time in the Solarium where we could sit in a Hot Tub and enjoy the magnificent views of Alaska as we cruised along. We enjoyed lunch in the Marketplace Buffet which offers such a wide array of food options, you could never get bored and fail to find something you wanted to eat.

In the afternoon, we headed for the SportsPlex purely out of curiosity as there was an Irish Dancing Class being held by the Dublin born Assistant Cruise Director. We wondered how many would turn up for the class and couldn’t believe it when well over 50 people took to the sports court to learn our native dances! Not wanting to steal anyone’s thunder with our natural skill of Irish Dancing (lol, not really…) we settled back in a comfy chair as spectators and enjoyed every minute as the attendees did their very best to learn and participate. There was such an amount of laughter and cheers when different moves worked out, it was half an hour that was pure joy for everyone in that Sportsplex! Great fun all around!

That evening we enjoyed our second Speciality Dining Experience, this time at Jamie’s Italian Kitchen. Seated at a table by the window we enjoyed beautiful sea views as we dined on delectable dishes including freshly made Arancini and Tomato Bruschetta followed by Truffle Risotto and Casarecce Carbonara. We had just enough space left to enjoy the magnificent desserts. I opted for the Raspberry Rippled Pavlova with Smashed Honeycomb while my husband chose the Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake, both of which were devine!. After such a lovely relaxed meal, we simply enjoyed a stroll along the Ships Royal Promenade with its Gift Shops and Duty Free Store before having a nightcap in Boleros Bar and heading off to bed.

Victoria, BC

Our last Port of Call on this cruise was Victoria, British Columbia. It was a first time for both of us to visit Canada and had been eagerly anticipating this shore stop. The ship docked a little outside of the city but it was only a very pleasant 20 minute walk to Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf area with its floating shops and dining venues all painted in bright cheerful colours. The weather was absolutely stunning with temperatures easily reaching an unseasonable 25oC in the height of the day. We ambled through the pristine streets at an easy pace as we had not booked any shore excursions. We simply wanted to explore at our leisure and stop wherever and whenever it took our fancy. While strolling along the Marina area with its cute little water taxis we stumbled across a Canadian food option that I had hoped to find, Poutine! This traditional Canadian dish is made up of French Fries, Cheese Curds and Brown Gravy. It might not be my usual choice when I want fast food but I just had to try it and I wasn’t disappointed!

Later in the day before walking back to the ship, we stopped off at another Food Vendor we had on our list, this time to sample the Canadian Version of the Doughboy which we had loved in Skagway. Here they call it a Beavertail and while it was tasty, it still couldn’t beat the beloved Doughboy!

Our last dinner of the cruise was enjoyed in the Main Dining Room before we headed to the 270 Lounge to enjoy the ‘Spectra’s Cabaret’ show which we had made reservations for earlier in the week. This was a Royal Caribbean original production which immersed us in a Multimedia show like nothing we had experienced before. There were live performances from very talented dancers, multiple moving screens held on robotic arms and music from different genres. It really does allow the audience to be transported to another world which was what the show was all about.

To round off the night (and the Cruise) we did something we had never done before… we went to a Silent Disco! This had been on my list of must-do’s while on this cruise and it was so much fun! As we entered the venue, we were given a pair of Over-Ear Headphones through which 2 different music channels were fed. One channel was 80’s music and the other channel was a mix from the 90’s up to the present day. Depending on our mood, we could choose which channel we wanted to listen to and could interchange as often as we liked. It was strange to begin with as we walked into a room with no music playing but the dance floor was full of people dancing to music coming through their headphones but it was also very entertaining as people were singing away to the songs they were listening to but others were singing a different song on the opposite channel. On my next cruise, I will definitely be going to the Silent Disco again!

Eventually we called it as night as we still had some packing to do before getting off the ship for good the next morning.



We had an early start this morning and enjoyed breakfast one last time in the Main Dining Room before we disembarked the ship and headed for the Airport. The cruise had been everything we had hoped it would be and we spent the journey back to Ireland chatting about our next Alaska cruise and when it would be!

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