Free at last, free at last! I was invited to join a silversea cruise from Seattle to Alaska on the Silver Muse in late August. It felt so right to be traveling again! Several of us went a day early to enjoy Seattle. We chose the Thompson Hotel just a block from Pikes Market and sporting great views from their roof top bar. With spectacularly sunny weather, we enjoyed walking from the first Starbucks and the always fun bustle of the Market, to Pioneer Square in one direction and to the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass in the other.
We boarded the Silver Muse in minutes and were in our suite with champagne and fruit with no hassles. The crew was ecstatic to be sailing again and could not have done one thing more to make our 10 day stay perfect. We chose to dine at the Grill poolside as we sailed away from Seattle and cooked our own steaks on Hot Rocks. Memorable! The Muse has a capacity of 596 but due to the last minute ability to have shortened Alaska season, we sailed with 150 passengers and over 400 crew. We had four days at sea, two in each direction and the time to relax and enjoy the ship and the open waters was healing and so enjoyable! With eight distinct dining venues, no one could get bored with the food or venues. Masks were required at all times indoors and on tenders unless seated and eating/drinking. Our butlers tracked us down each morning and took our temperature. Buffet areas were all mask required, NO self service. No one on the ship contracted COVID during our 10 days.
We experienced 2 small ports, Wrangell and Icy Straight Point. Both had great options for touring by land or by boat and an opportunity to feel Alaska as a living community. We arrived in Wrangell on Sunday and nothing opened early for the ship. We also sailed into Tracy Arm for a glacier viewing and visited Sitka and Juneau for great wildlife viewing excursions but also the chance to see a more modern vision of life in developing Alaska. Even in the larger ports where we did have big ships sharing time with us, nothing was crowded. No lines, no jostling. The stores and people in town were excited to see us and exchange stories about how we are all faring through the Pandemic. Many smaller stores and restaurants remained closed even with the ship activity. It has been a tough time for those dependent on tourism. Masks were required indoors in all of the ports. Much like us, they had fared pretty well until July but were having a new storm of Covid thanks to the Delta Variant.
All in all, the trip was a wonderful adventure. Some differences but we felt very safe on the planes, in the hotels and definitely onboard the Muse. I took a COVID test a few days after we returned just to be safe but it was negative.
Even in places where you have traveled before, ask the front desk or concierge where and when it is safe to explore on your own. It had been some years since I was last in Seattle and the whole area from Pikes Market to Pioneer Square has deteriorated and there are a lot of homeless and less savory characters. Definitely not a place to go at night.
Even in the States, requirements change fast. While Silversea requires all guests be vaccinated and was easing up on masks, just prior to leaving we were advised the mask policy onboard and ashore was now to require masks indoors and on tenders. While we were away, many airlines (mostly international carriers) announced no cloth masks. Do check before you fly what the mask policies are because many will not accept bandanas, ski masks, masks with exhaust valves etc.
Alaska is a great destination and will rebound quickly next year because it is exotic, great outdoors opportunities, yet easy on requirements so easy on nerves! But, book early because the pent up demand added to the ease of travel is creating ships filled to capacity early.
Several of us went a day early to enjoy Seattle. We chose the Thompson Hotel just a block from Pikes Market and sporting great views from their roof top bar.
The Pacific Northwest lifestyle gets an edgy upgrade at Thompson Seattle. Sunlight and Instagram-worthy views of Puget Sound flood through the floor-to-ceiling windows of this 150-room hotel, just steps from lively Pike Place Market. You’ll find a bevy of locals at The Nest, the rooftop lounge and terrace that serves handcrafted cocktails and hosts hip events, such as vinyasa flow classes and courtyard parties. Casual breakfast is offered each morning at the restaurant’s coffee bar, Small Talk. *The Nest offers full service seasonally, however is always available for hotel guests to enjoy the incredible views.