Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Skagway, Alaska

Hello from Skagway!
Downtown Skagway Alaska from Broadway cruise ship Dock
As expected we were at the Broadway Dock, the prime spot to get into town. Just walk straight off the ship and you're there!
Empty street in Skagway Alaska
Leaving early enough allowed me empty streets, one of my favorite things about going out early in Skagway. Later on one of my least favorite things in Skagway will happen when the streets and walkways are packed with thousands of cruise ship passengers.
Cruise ship docked at the end of Broadway in Skagway Alaska
Best time of the day
Ed and I have fond memories of Skagway. It always held a place in our hearts as our favorite Alaskan cruise port. We did the same things every time we visited and they are what kept us coming back again and again.
  • Walking around a near empty town with only one or two ships in port. Or early enough before the swarms of passengers descended. 
  • People watching from our window seat table at the Sweet Tooth Cafe. Ordering at just the right time - 10:45ish - so Ed can order from the breakfast menu (biscuits and gravy with extra gravy) and I can order from the lunch menu (still the best patty melts I ever had). 
  • Making runs to Starfire and getting Thai food to take back to the crew. Having a hard time not breaking into the containers right then and there because it smelled so good.
  • Buying new Alaska t-shirts and hats in the big blue building at Skagway's Alaska Shirt Company. 
  • Sitting on a wooden bench and eating chocolate covered gummy bears we bought at the Alaskan Fudge Company.
Unfortunately, very unfortunately, not one of those businesses in Skagway survived Covid. The places we loved coming back to year after year are now buildings just sitting empty. Sweet Tooth Cafe. Starfire. Alaska Shirt Company. Alaskan Fudge Company. All gone. Closed up with nothing new taking their places. Becoming even more overrun by jewelry stores (no surprise) and way too many cruise ship passengers arriving daily on ships larger than they ever used to be. 
Royal Princess and Celebrity Solstice docked at Railroad Dock in Skagway Alaska
Two of the four ships in port today
Throw in the slide area and ships having to use tenders to get their passengers on and off makes it even more undesirable. Just check out Royal Princess' tender lines by mid-afternoon. No, thank you.
Tender dock in Marina in Skagway Alaska

Alas, our favorite Alaskan port is no more. 

I've thought long and hard these last few days about why I'm on this ship, the Grand Princess. It's been a stressful time onboard for reasons I easily could go on about but won't. But maybe I needed to be here and needed it to not be relaxing. Maybe I needed to be reminded about the not fun side of cruising. About the rude and inconsiderate passengers. Lackadaisical crew who know they don't have to work as hard (or care) on these 7 day trips full of new cruisers who don't know any better. What a shock to the system after coming off the Island Princess where all the crew were working the World Cruise!

Maybe I needed to see what happened to Skagway for myself. Maybe I needed to be ready to say goodbye to Alaska. I wouldn't have seen the Northern Lights in Whittier if not having made this voyage. And my flight path from Southampton certainly wouldn't have crossed over Greenland if I was going straight home.

Knowing this might be my last visit to Skagway ever, I headed out of town and rolled my way to the Skagway Bridge. I had forgotten how far it was - almost two miles to get out there - but the views made it worth it. I even encountered a dinosaur along the way.
Skagway River in Skagway AlaskaSkagway River in Skagway AlaskaSkagway Bridge in Skagway Alaska
Green Dinosaur in yard
I took a little video just in case you need running water and mountains in your day.
I always knew at some point I'd have to close the page on cruising to Alaska and today's visit sealed the deal. After talking to Ed I went ahead and canceled our 14 cruises we planned for next summer. We're not done cruising by any means - we still have a couple dozen over the next year and a half - but Alaska won't be part of it. We'll leave Alaska for those who don't know how good it used to be.

Tomorrow we're in Juneau and if the rain holds off, I'm making a run to Juneau Drug to get some goodies. If it doesn't I'll have to come up with another plan. See you there!