Alaskan Cruise 2023: Top 5 Moments

Alaskan Cruise

Happy Monday, everyone…the last day of one of my favorite months, July.  So, join me to re-visit my Alaskan Cruise 2023: Top 5 Moments.

Selecting just five top moments from our Alaskan cruise is incredibly difficult for me….each step of this journey was memorable and amazing.

I forced myself to select top five moments that sometimes made me tear up and sometimes took my breath away.

Of course, I will share throughout these posts the scenery…the weather…the best places we ate (and ate, and ate)…but for now…

Join me to preview my Alaskan Cruise 2023: Top 5 Moments….


Alaskan Cruise

For one week, we joined with Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas staff for our Alaskan Cruise.

And it was spending time with these special people that made the entire week a top special moment.

Men and women from all over the world who are well trained…and happy…and fun…and there to be of service constantly.

I have never met a more impressive team of individuals.   And, of course, I love any staff that sings and dances at breakfast.

I also have a new friend from Zimbabwe, Africa.  I beautiful woman who is employed in the spa.

We really hit it off with so much in common, and spent at least four hours together over the course of the cruise….we also plan to email one another.

On the last night, as we ate our final meal on board, the staff entertained us by all singing and dancing to, “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” 

As if it were planned,  near the end of that song, a whale came up to share a spout and tail flip in a window near us.  Everyone gasped and squealed.

Thanks to this amazing crew for making our Alaskan cruise a moment to always remember.


Alaskan cruise

According to our guides, the whale event we were blessed to see on our Alaskan cruise is a rare one and we watched it over and over again, eleven times, for two hours as they popped up nearby all around us.

The event is called Bubble Net Feeding with humpback whales.

According to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, bubble net feeding is: “Bubble-net feeding is a cooperative hunting strategy that occurs within a group of whales. It is a complex, highly synchronized set of behaviors that involve communication and cooperation, demonstrating signs of high social intelligence.”

Alaskan cruise

Sorry about the picture quality…it is so hard to get these pictures when you do not know where they are going to pop up.

But, here you can see the very large mouth of these whales opening to swallow the fish.

“To bubble-net feed, whales dive deep below schools of fish and use bubbles blown from their blowholes to stun and trap fish closer to the surface. One whale generally leads the effort followed by the rest of the group. The leader will usually be responsible for blowing the bubbles and the other members will surround the fish, following them to the surface by swimming in spiral patterns to keep the fish trapped.

Humpback whales are known as “gulpers”, which means they feed by leaving their mouths open, swallowing everything in their paths before closing their mouths, pushing water out through their baleen plates and swallowing the critters (usually fish and small crustaceans) they caught. During bubble net feeding, the whales swimming toward the surface will have their mouths open and gulp fish from the school they have corralled.”  – National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

The guides were like little children seeing something for the first time…giddy with excitement.  Apparently, they have waited years to see this event in the Shelter Island State Marine Park region.

When we went whale watching in Cabo, it was nothing like this…though enjoyable.

This was for sure a special moment.


Alaskan cruise

Connie was right….the rose from yesterday is in the Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia.

This is one of the top eight gardens in the world and it literally took my breath away with the beauty.  I wish we could have been there longer.

I also was captivated by this young lady.  She was dressed very feminine down to the lace gloves and a floral parasol.   She was a visiting tourist as we were.

So lovely.

Alaskan cruise

These gardens as so incredible that I am going to devote an entire post to them later in the week.

Actually, I was amazed at the gorgeous flowers throughout the Alaskan cruise and I took floral pictures everywhere.

But, I have never been to a garden that blessed me as much as this one.  If I lived nearby, I would be there often.

Yesterday’s red rose is the All My Loving rose…from the Beatles’ song.  Love the flower and the inspiration.

Watch for more from Butchart Gardens soon.  It is worth planning a trip to see next year for their 100th Anniversary...they say there will be many special plans.


Alaskan cruise

Stagway, Alaska reminded me so much of my favorite small town in Texas….Fredericksburg.

It is quaint and cozy.

The retailers are predominantly small business owners and artists…I loved shopping there and sitting in an eclectic coffee shop.

I also loved talking with the owners of the shops and hearing their stories and stories behind a couple of items I purchased.

Alaskan Cruise

This building is completely made of driftwood…so it fascinated me.

As first time cruisers, we do have a few regrets about our schedule that we would have chosen differently.

We did not ride the train out of Skagway and heard from many that is was worth it.  Just know, if you plan an Alaskan cruise like ours…you may want to include the train ride.


Alaskan cruise

The reason we went on this particular cruise was to join a group of over 700 in a special event sponsored by Lifeway and featuring singer, Stephen Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth.

I am going to share more next Sunday about the spiritual blessings from this Alaskan cruise.

But for today, I could not leave Stephen ‘s music and the overall joy of each event out of the special moments.

His music has been a part of our family for over 30 years.  Mr. B and I both cried through many of the performances.

For those who want to know more, please join me next Sunday.  

Now, of course, this week, I will share what I wore and the challenges and decisions behind the outfits…I learned many things I did not know in the beginning about dressing for this cruise.

I will also share the successful travel products that have seen me through two big trips this year.

I so hope you will enjoy these different posts for many reasons…to help you with your own travels and to inspire you for this amazing life now over 70!

Of course, join in with comments or questions…..and alway….


By Pamela Lutrell


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Alaskan cruise


  1. Breathtaking! So happy the cruise was everything you expected and more. The driftwood house caught my fancy along with the whales. Welcome home.

  2. Your humpback whale adventure was truly a gift of a lifetime. I can only imagine how exciting it was. Many years ago 3 humpback whales swam close alongside a small dive boat as we came back from a wreck dive in the British Virgin Islands. They were so close we could almost touch them. Something I have never forgotten. Looking forward to more about your fabulous trip.

  3. One of the most beautiful place I have been is Muir wood in San Francisco. I felt like this is what heaven must feel like. We are planning a trip to Ireland. I want to see my Grandmother’s birthplace.

  4. Those gardens look worth the trip. Amazingly lovely even in photos. ,,, And the whales – wow!

  5. Glad to hear you had a memorable cruise. Your pictures are lovely and it looks like you had good weather. Your picture of the whales is epic. I gave up trying to take any on our whale sightings as I felt I was just missing the experience trying to anticipate when they would breach. Anxiously await your further reviews.

  6. They are amazing and just captivating in many ways. I can see how that pleased you on your journey, Kathie.

  7. The whole trip was a wow…but I have never experienced anything like the beauty of the gardens…apart from the beauty of my children and grandchildren.

  8. I did put the phone down at one point just to enjoy the experience. This whale venture had scouts…the birds were the ones who signaled when the whales were coming up.

  9. On our own Alaskan cruise last week, we saw bubble net feeding too! Apparently, for some reason, the whales are doing this more this summer than the guides have ever seen, and they too told us it was rare. We did take the train ride, and it was interesting to see a bit more of the interior. Worth it, but not something you should regret too much. We also were wowed by the vast stretches of glacial shoreline mud outside Anchorage, which looks passable but is deadly quicksand. My very favorite, however, was the small boat we took to Hubbard glacier, to see calving from this (thankfully advancing) glacier right up close. It was the most interesting shade of electric blue. I can imagine how you felt, listening to your favorite singers praise God surrounded by this kind of majesty … unforgettable. Unfortunately, we got home Monday from our cruise feeling sick, and found out we had Covid. We are doing better now, but it’s been a rough week. Here’s to your health! And I hope these trips have given you a travel bug!

  10. It sounds like a perfect trip, and I am so pleased you enjoyed the gardens. I had been as a child, but revisited on a trip to Victoria for my 50th, ten years ago. It felt magical stepping down through the various layers of the garden. Thank you for the prayers yesterday, for me, and my husband. He may be moved to a step-down unit today, which indicates progress!

  11. Well…true confessions…my husband has returned with a strong case of COVID. I just hope I do not get it as well. He has been pretty sick. We have the travel bug…just not the budget to do something like this often. It was amazing. So glad you also saw the whale event, Linda.

  12. Wow! An Alaskan cruise and Steven Curtis Chapman? What could be better?! So happy you had a fabulous time and looking forward to your next blog entry!

  13. Oh my that whale watch feeding event captured my interest! Never witnessed that before ever and we’ve been on several whale watch trips. How great for you! And the guides!
    The driftwood building you captured so nicely was also something I’d like to see – and Skagway! All of it!

  14. So glad to hear there is some improvement, Connie! Praise God! Magical is such a great way to describe the gardens…I will have more for everyone to see very soon.

  15. You obviously had a wonderful trip to Alaska. I am very happy for you! How fortunate you were to see the whales bubble hunting. I’m envious. My husband and I were lucky to see whales when we visited Alaska 5 years ago, but nothing like what you got to experience.

    I am looking forward to your post about the Alaskan flowers. I have to say that the flowers we saw in Anchorage and the surrounding area came as a shock. I live in Kentucky and I never see flowers as large as those in Alaska here. It has to do with the latitude. As I am sure you know, Alaska gets far more hours of sunshine in the summer than any of the lower 48 states. The plants literally eat it up! The flowers in Alaska are simply stunning. Anchorage is trying to become known as the flower capital of the United States. The city spends a huge amount of money each summer (sorry, I have forgotten how much) on planters and hanging baskets to beautify the city. And, boy are they beautiful! The flowers came as a very unexpected delight to me.

  16. So glad you enjoyed your trip, Pam! You are right: Butchart Gardens is phenomenal throughout the year. (And the city of Victoria is wonderful.)

    Pro tip to anyone going to Skagway: instead of going to the top of the pass via train (expensive!), rent a car and drive! We did this — drove to the top of the pass and beyond, all the way to Whitehorse and the Yukon River.

    Enjoy being home again, Pam!

  17. Connie, I didn’t realize you were dealing with a health crisis. My husband too had a heart attack many years ago, so I understand. Prayers for both your families and Pam’s husband.

  18. Every place we went, the flowers were breathtaking. They were also an unexpected delight for me. Thanks for sharing all this info.

  19. Thanks for sharing your idea, Heidi. Mr. B did a hiking excursion out of Skagway which also included river rafting…so much to do, and so little time!

  20. Welcome back! So many beautiful memories were made on this trip, and I know seeing SCC perform in person made it even more special. Thank you for sharing this beauty with those of us stuck in this brutal Texas summer. I loved seeing all the jackets in the slide show and they have me dreaming of fall clothes. I was amazed to see that hoodie is from Old Navy – it looked so “Nordstrom” to me! I can’t wait to see the rest of your travel posts, especially what you wore. Here’s to a great first week home.

  21. The reason I put that Old Navy hoodie in the slideshow…was that I thought the exact same thing. I am sure the fabric quality differs, but if you are going for that style at a more affordable price, this appears to work.
    Thanks for pointing it out. Join me for the first clothing post tomorrow.

  22. I’m sorry to hear that Mr. B has Covid. Praying for him. Covid is endemic now not gone like many believe. It is good that you were both able to enjoy your once in a lifetime experience with the whales and get to see so many beautiful flowers. My stepson and daughter-in-law just got back from an Alaskan cruise on Saturday. It would be funny if it was on your ship! Looking forward to all of your pictures. I travel vicariously by looking at your pictures.

  23. I am happy to share the pictures, Sydney! That would be funny if we were on the same trip however, we saw several different cruise lines on the same journey.

  24. Hi Pam,

    What great news to hear what a wonderful time you had in Alaska. We did an Alaska cruise many years ago. Also did the whale event. It was a memorable time on our cruise. Alaska has a beauty all of their own.

    We have been to Butchart Gardens several times. The grounds are spectacular. The magnificent colors and intricate shapes of all the different flowers are breathtaking. I see such artistry in all of them. I can imagine their 100th Anniversary will be special. The young lady in the garden looked like a “garden goddess,” down to the lace gloves.

    I’m so very sorry that Mr. B has returned with a strong case of COVID. I hope he gets a little better each day. I hope and pray you do not get it.

  25. Thank you, Katherine. Me too…I cannot decide if I am just fatigued or going that direction…I hope not. I am sleeping upstairs as a precaution. You are right that lovely young lady is a garden goddess…she just captured me as the flowers did. So happy that some of you have seen this as well.

  26. No cruise for us because of the Covid possibility but we have been to Alaska many times (business for my husband & entertaining for me) and we love it — so many great people & king crab legs! My one time at Butchart Gardens was in August and it was so crowded we were in a line of people no matter what part of the gardens we went to. It was so disappointing we finally just left! So glad you had a better experience. I would love to spend time exploring those beautiful gardens without being in a queue.

  27. While you were in Alaska learning about the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, I was on a Great Lakes cruise which visited Alpena, Michigan, and the National Marine Sanctuary Museun there. It was fascinating learning about the important work they do.

  28. What a wonderful trip! I have to say that we got to meet Steven Curtis Chapman at a concert once and it was so special because we received a grant through Show Hope to bring home our son! (that was 11 years ago and Sam is now 15!). I’m so glad you enjoyed the beauty of Alaska. I live just across the border from Canada in WA, but have not made the trek to Alaska yet, we would love to.

  29. Wow! Kristi that is so wonderful…congratulations to your family. We met many families on this cruise who adopted children and support Show Hope. Such a powerful work the Chapmans are doing. Thank you for telling us about Sam.

  30. That’s fun! I learned more about whales on this trip than I ever knew. Thanks Mary Frances1

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