How to Visit Spectacular Alaska for the Best 50th!

Cruise to Alaska

It was 18 years ago that my husband asked me:

“So what do you want to do for your 50th birthday? Have a party and stick around here OR go away (read: “run” away) on a trip?”

Well, that was an easy choice

And that’s how a travel plan was set in motion for a seven-day Alaska cruise followed by a 3-day train/land tour and a few days in Fairbanks.

We left Vancouver around 16th of May where the weather was cloudy and cold. But all that changed the further North we traveled.

I don’t have enough words to describe the feeling of sitting on the deck and just watch the incredible scenery go by as we slowly made our way to the Glacier Bay National Park.

The Captain of our cruise ship literally ‘parked’ the ship parallel to a glacier. The sun was shining and the wall of ice was blue. Everyone stayed on deck just ‘watching’ for the next big chunk of ice to separate from the glacier and fall into the water with a loud “Whoosh”.

Viewing A Glacier From A Cruise Ship
Viewing A Glacier From A Cruise Ship – source:

It was an incredible sight, and even the Park Ranger (who had boarded the ship earlier) told us to never come back because we would never again see such a thing so perfectly.

Our cruise ended in Anchorage where we then boarded the train that would take us to Fairbanks.

This was no ordinary train

Alaska Dome Train
Alaska Dome Train – source:

It was a luxurious domed rail car where you could relax, meet other passengers, but mostly watch the amazing landscape through large picture windows and the glassed ceiling.

I thought I would get bored. Boy, was I wrong. We were very lucky because the weather was great and we saw Alaska’s Mount McKinley very clearly for the whole train ride – which is unusual since it is the highest mountain in North America with its own weather system and is, most of the time, hidden in clouds and fog.

You do not sleep on this train. You get off at a specific hotel for the night and get back on later. So we booked a room at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge where we spent two days and enjoyed the spectacular views, and even got to see bears in the wild. We boarded the train again and ended up in Fairbanks for 2 days.

We crossed the Arctic Circle

Arctic Circle In Alaska
We made it! to the Arctic Circle In Alaska

Once there, we decided to book a day tour that would take us to the Arctic Circle. What a fantastic and wonderful excursion! There is no public road beyond Fairbanks but we were allowed to travel on a private one that was used when the 800-mile long Trans Alaska Pipeline was built.

Our guide was very informative and we stepped out of our little bus often so he could show us interesting stuff. There was no snow at that time of the year and it was warm. But at one stop, our guide game me a hammer and told me to bang on the ground with it. It was hard as a rock. That’s because it’s permafrost which never melts, yet I was in shorts in May when we stopped at the Arctic Circle!

We visited the Arctic Circle Trading Post and we discovered how they use the frozen ground as a fridge. We learned a lot about the landscapes and the people who live in this environment.

We even receive our official Arctic Circle Adventure Certificate!

We came back late at night but in May the sun doesn’t fully set so at 1AM it wasn’t dark, really weird when you’re not used to it.

All in all, I’d say it was the best decision to run away on my 50th birthday and I will remember it with joy and fond memories forever.

If you are over 50, what did you do to celebrate that day? If you’re not there yet, what do you think you will want to do?


  1. Oh my goodness this sounds wonderful. I have heard that Alaska is beautiful and I would love to visit some day. Travel is the best!!

    1. Alaska is very beautiful Julie and I agree with you that travel is the best. Maybe you’ll go there when you turn 50! 🙂

  2. Interesting experience! Mine was getting married 🙂 First, at the city hall and then a party at home with friends/family. Then 2 weeks later, a romantic wedding on a beach in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic. Our children, parents and a few friends – it was perfect!

  3. What an amazing experience and opportunity! The photos you shared are breathtaking…so beautiful they look fake. I can’t imagine being surrounded by that! When I turn 50 I would love to get away as well. My husband and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary this summer and celebrating with a cruise to Bermuda. I can’t wait!

    1. Yes getting away was the best decision, much better than a party! It’s a very nice way to celebrate a milestone. I have another one coming next year, yerk! so I’m starting to think about where I want to go this time 🙂 Congrats on your 20th anniversary. Hope you enjoy your cruise.

    1. Yes Lynn it was a very nice experience and I don’t think we’ll ever go back just in case it’s not as great 🙂

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