Alaska voyage makes for a unique honeymoon

Travel Weekly business travel editor Jerry Limone and his wife, Christa, chose to spend their honeymoon in Alaska. His report follows:

SEATTLE -- Lots of Internet sites list their top 10 honeymoon destinations. Alaska is never on that list. Not enough fun in the sun, I guess.

But the combination of majestic scenery, plentiful wildlife, a refreshing chill in the air and the comforts of a cruise ship is as romantic a vacation as any.

My wife and I considered some traditional honeymoon destinations -- the Caribbean, Hawaii, Florida -- but we're not big fans of beaches or the hot sun.

Plus, we had scheduled our honeymoon for the summer -- not the best time to head for the equator.

So Alaska it was. We selected Norwegian Cruise Line and opted for the Glacier Bay itinerary on the Norwegian Sky, which departed from Seattle.

Christa and I made sure we took advantage of some added amenities to make the vacation extra special.

First, our balcony stateroom turned out to be a great asset, especially when we cruised through Glacier Bay.

As passengers stood shoulder-to-shoulder along the railing of the top deck to ogle the glaciers, hoping to see a chunk of ice break off and splash into the bay, we sat on our balcony and took in the scenery without jostling and obstruction.

And, yes, we did witness -- and hear -- a wedge of ice crackle and fall off the face of a glacier. Awe-inspiring stuff.

Another advantage of the balcony was the ability to nap in the afternoon with the door open. The sound and smell of the sea is a natural sedative and provides a great environment for relaxing after a busy day of touring.

Christa and I also bought NCL's honeymoon package, which cost $79 and included a bottle of champagne and canapes on embarkation day; a 5-by-7 photograph; and dinner for two at Le Bistro, the ship's French restaurant, with a complimentary bottle of wine.

The champagne was a perfect way to start our honeymoon, as we clinked glasses on our balcony, with the Port of Seattle and the Space Needle in the background.

Dinner at Le Bistro was a great experience. The food and service there was better than in the vessel's main dining rooms. We both ordered filet mignon. I also ordered escargots. I tried to convince my wife to taste one, but I should have known better. She's a picky eater and there was no way she would eat a snail.

Although we don't share the same tastes in food, Christa and I do share a love of wildlife and scenery, and Alaska didn't disappoint.

At Juneau, we boarded a two-level, waterjet-propelled boat in search of the variety of wildlife populating Alaska's Inside Passage.

While cruising through the Lynn Canal surrounded by the Chilkat Mountain Range, we stopped near a buoy where five Steller sea lions were lounging and one determined sea lion was trying, in vain, to leap onto the crowded buoy.

As the boat sped through the water, Dall's porpoises -- which have the same black-and-white coloration as orcas -- crisscrossed through the boat's wake, occasionally jumping out of the water.

Clouds of mist on the water's surface -- air exhaled through a whale's blowhole -- preceded the appearance of majestic humpback whales, which arched their backs through the water, then displayed their tails before diving.

Truthfully, after the first three or four whale sightings the novelty wore off, but then a humpback calf surprised sightseers by leaping five feet out of the water.

The salmon were jumping, too. As we cruised into the harbor at the end of the wildlife quest, several salmon wiggled out of the water and plopped back in with a splash.

In Haines, we boarded an open-air pontoon boat and cruised Chilkoot Lake in search of more wildlife. We spotted many eagles, including one that swooped across the water's surface and grasped a salmon. We also saw the eagle transport its catch to the bank and enjoy its supper.

Unfortunately, we saw no black or grizzly bears, although the guides told stories of harrowing close encounters between bears and local fishermen on the shores of the lake.

Christa and I powered a two-person kayak near Ketchikan in our tour of the Tatoosh Islands. My wife wasn't too fond of navigating through choppy water and was glad when we reached shore, but spotting harbor seals sunning themselves on a rocky island made the excursion memorable and worthwhile.

The best was saved for last, as we boarded a vessel in Victoria, British Columbia, in search of orcas on the final day of our cruise. The crew knew exactly where to locate them.

The orcas leapt, bobbed and dove through the waters off Vancouver Island, providing a tremendous photo opportunity for passengers on board.

After the orcas passed the boat, the captain raced ahead of them, giving the passengers another chance to see the playful whales pass by. The orcas were unpredictable, floating on their backs one moment, then thwacking their fins on the water's surface the next.

By the time we returned to Seattle, Christa and I had seven rolls of film to develop and memories of an unforgettable, romantic honeymoon.

And no sunburn.

For more information, call (800) 327-7030 or visit www.ncl.com.

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