Setting the stage for Part 3 of Coffee While Cruising is easy – chilly Alaskan weather, event-filled days, and the lax diet of vacation. Perfect conditions for an absolute coffee fest!
On the Disney Wonder
Did I mention that brewed coffee onboard the Disney Wonder is free and always available. Let’s repeat that, free and always available. Whoa.But now, let me inject a moment of sobriety. The free coffee ain’t that good. As imagined, it’s an instant mix pumped out of an industrial-sized coffee urn. The coffee is hot and caffeinated, but the taste is blah. Luckily, the hot cocoa maker is right next to the coffee, so it’s easy to make your own “Sweet Wonder Mocha.” Luckily, there are other coffee options onboard, but there’s a premium involved. Every dining facility serves espresso-based drinks for an additional fee (but this fee is included with the cost of dining at Palo). Then there is the Cove Cafe.
This espresso bar is happening. From the outside, it appears deceptively simple. Step inside and let the luxury enfold you.
The baristas can make all kinds of drinks, but again, for a price. Be prepared to wait since some days are slammed with caffeine addicts. There’s plush outdoor seating or you can go upstairs to the posh Outlook Cafe. I opted for outside whale watching while drinking my mocha.
So staying caffeinated at sea is easy to do, but what about in Alaska. Now that’s a different story. First port of Skagway, Alaska with a population of 800 locals. Four cruise ships in dock, each transporting at least 2000 passengers and 900 crew members. So roughly 12,000 visitors crushing into this “city.” Could the coffee keep up? If you’re a business entrepreneur like the Excelsior Coffee Cafe, you see a definite opportunity.
Located inside of a jewelry store (and what is with all the jewelry spots in Alaska?!?), this cafe serves Starbucks but is NOT a Starbucks. But really, when you see that green mermaid logo in the window, do you really care? The menu is, not surprisingly, more expensive, and due to the constant flow of visitors, they ran out of cup sleeves, but it’s all good when the coffee enters your bloodstream. Walking around the blocks of Skagway and checking out the shopping spots is just a little more fun holding a cup of coffee.
Our cruise’s second port was the capital of Alaska, Juneau. Of course I’d find coffee places in the capital, right? Yup, but with our activities and limited transportation, squeezing in a coffee pit stop was too tough. But after visiting the sights of the Mendenhall Glacier, we had enough time to check out the area around the dock. That’s when we came across Tracy’s Crab Shack. Featured in a Top Chef Quick Fire Challenge, this place is really a shack, a very, very crowded shack that serves the hugest crab legs you’ll ever see.
But wait, we’re talking coffee, not crabs. Luckily for me, a few shacks down from Tracy’s is the Crepe Escape. Where there’s crepes, there’s coffee, and sure enough, their full menu offered coffee options.
Did I have a mocha? I forget already, but that is my “safe” drink. If you screw up a mocha, you don’t belong in the espresso game. A mocha with king crab, crab cakes, and crab bisque? Sure, why not?
A private fishing tour with Captain Jerry for four hours will make you thirsty as well. Or maybe it was from reeling in 40 salmon? Maybe it was just the salt of the Pacific Ocean, but after some great fishing, I needed a pick me up. At 3:45pm, that shouldn’t be a problem right? Hold up there, visitor of Ketchikan. Things work differently here. The Yelp app helpfully listed many coffee spots. I headed to the closest one – open but no longer brewing for the day. Headed to another location. Closed. Did more shopping and came across another closed cafe. What’s with that?
The Disney Wonder was in port for several more hours and other cruise ships were also docked so people were aplenty. But why all the early closures? I guess that’s the way Ketchikan rolls?? Did more shopping and spied this garage-looking space with people in it. And they were drinking coffee! I hurried on over and yes, the Good Coffee Company was open, even after their posted closing time. The workers said they go with the flow so if there’s business, they stay open. I had another “safe” mocha but should’ve gotten a larger size since it was so good.