Puget Sound Cruise:
Even though I live in Washington state, I've never really explored the Puget Sound area... since I live on the eastern side of the state, not the more heavily populated western coastal area. When American Cruise Lines invited me to do a 7-day Puget Sound cruise (at their expense), I jumped at the chance to get to know the west side of Washington better. They had invited me aboard because I am a professional photographer and a licensed commercial drone pilot. They wanted me to shoot some aerial photos and videos of the ship. Hopefully, someday, some of the photos that I'm showing you here on this page will appear in brochures and other promotional material for American Cruise Lines.
This was my 57th cruise overall, and my third with American Cruise Lines. A cruise on a small ship like this (there were only 100 passengers aboard the week I sailed) is very different than a cruise on a big cruise ship with thousands of other passengers. You get to know your fellow passengers much better, since there are only a small number of them. Once you find someone you enjoy chatting with, you tend to share a table with them at meal times and get to know them much better than you typically do with passengers on the mega cruise ships. It's a more social cruise than my big-ship cruises have been.
The other huge difference with a cruise like this is that it's not about the ship... it's about the places the ship takes you to, and which you get to explore. This cruise took me to several different small towns in the Puget Sound area that I'm sure I never would have visited if not for the ship taking me there.
An aerial shot I took of American Constellation as we approached Poulsbo, Washington.
You can see the Olympic Mountains in the distance.
The cruise began in Seattle, Washington. American Cruise Lines flew me in to Seattle the day before the cruise began, and put me up in a nice high-rise hotel for the night. This gave me a few hours to head down to Seattle's waterfront and get some aerial video and photos of the Seattle skyline from my drone.
There are very strict rules for drone pilots about where you can and cannot fly your drone. The city of Seattle has specific rules that forbid launching a drone from any public property, including parks, walkways, streets, etc. That means that you really have to launch from private property. The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates airplane and drone pilots, forbids flying drones over people. So, to stay legal, I launched my drone from the end of pier 56, and flew it over the water to get this next shot of the Seattle Great Wheel, the skyline, and (in the distance, on the left) the Space Needle.
There were about 50 of us who were staying in the hotel the night before the cruise. This is part of what ACL calls the pre-cruise package, which includes a nice breakfast in the hotel the morning of the cruise, and a bus tour of Seattle as we made our way from the hotel to where the ship was docked. During the bus tour, the bus stopped at Dr. Jose Rizal Park, which sits on a hillside with a fantastic view of Seattle. This was one of several photo opportunities during the bus ride on the way to the ship. I was able to get this photo:
Just to be clear, that was not a shot from my drone. I shot that with my Canon camera from a viewing location in the park, overlooking the city. Another stop during our bus tour was Seattle Center, the home of the Space Needle. Because this entire area is city property, I could not launch the drone from here for an aerial shot of the Space Needle... not to mention the fact that the area is crawling with people, and you can't legally fly a drone over people. So, I had to settle for a shot of the Space Needle from the ground, looking up.
Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time during our bus tour for us to actually go up to the top of the Space Needle... but that was okay, since I actually have visited Seattle before and been up to the top of the Space Needle. If you've got a lot of time to kill and would like to watch a 33-minute long travelogue I made about that previous trip, click here.
At the conclusion of our bus tour of Seattle, we were dropped off at the ship... at the marina in Ballard, on the north side of Seattle.
Once everyone was aboard, the
ship sailed north to our first destination of Anacortes, Washington.
There were a lot of interesting views along the way, and my favorite of all was this lighthouse...
Here's an aerial photo I shot of American Constellation once she was docked in Anacortes...
The next day, with the ship docked in Anacortes, I went on a boat excursion exploring the area near the north side of Whidbey Island.
This is the Deception Pass Bridge that links Whidbey Island to the mainland of Washington.
I like the photo because it really captures how beautiful the scenery was in this area.
Another very scenic place the ship visited was Port Angeles, Washington.
You can see the Olympic Mountains in the distance of this shot.
With a big telephoto lens mounted on my Canon DSLR camera, I got this more detailed view of the mountains...
The highlight of the entire cruise was a day trip in to British Columbia, Canada, to visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens...
The most famous scene at Butchart Gardens is this view of "the sunken garden" as seen from an overlook above it.
Almost everyone that visits Butchart Gardens comes home with a shot that looks a lot like this!
This is just one of many beautiful water features at Butchart Gardens...
On the way to our next port of call, Port Townsend, I saw another beautiful lighthouse...
While in Port Townsend, I had a burger, fries, and a shake at this 50s-style diner...
Our final port of call was Poulsbo, Washington.
From my drone, I was able to get this shot of the ship anchored just off Poulsbo...
An unexpected benefit of this trip was getting to know the man in this next photo.
His name is Jim Walker, and he is a historian that was traveling with the ship
to inform the guests about the history of the places we visited.
He was one of the most interesting and charming guys I've ever met.
Hotel Manager, Rick Di Censo, was also a real pleasure to sail with.
He was very cooperative with my mission of shooting photos and videos of the ship.
The Excursions Director was
Very organized, she comes prepared for everything!
I also snapped pictures of a few of the deck hands , and thought I would include them here
in case someday any of them (or their parents) do a Google search for American Constellation.
I think it will be a nice surprise for them to find these pictures...
Still photos are great, but to really get the full impact of all the beautiful things I saw on this cruise, you need to watch the YouTube video I made about it. This is a 19-minute video that tells the full story of all the places our ship visited during the week. I like to say that if I had a show on the travel channel, this is the kind of show I would make:
To start the video playing, click the triangle in the middle of the video screen
To make the video fill the screen (recommended) click the little symbol in the lower right corner of the video player
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I made several mistakes in the voiceover of the video. In the video, I claim that this was my 56th cruise. Nope! It was my 57th. I claim that my ferry ride to British Columbia was the first time I had ever been on a ferry, but I later remembered that I did once ride a ferry in Mexico between Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen. I also mention seals at two different points in the video, when I should have said sea lions. Argh! That's what I get for being in a rush when I wrote the script for the voiceover.
Luckily, there was no script or voiceover for me to screw up in my second video from this cruise! It's just beautiful scenery, some nice background music, and no talking at all. It's a video full of all the beautiful things I got to see at Butchart Gardens. Here it is:
Need A Travel Agent?
Booking a cruise can be confusing, especially if you haven't been on many cruises before. There are lots of first-time cruiser mistakes that a travel agent can keep you from making. Also, the call centers of some of the big cruise lines are severely understaffed these days... creating extremely long wait times to talk to a customer service representative. When you book a cruise through a travel agent, you'll never have to get stuck on hold with the cruise line... your travel agent does all that kind of stuff for you.
If you're interested in booking a cruise with any cruise line... please feel free to use the services of my travel agent, Caitlin Gallagher. She's extremely pleasant to deal with, easy to talk to since she lives in the United States and speaks without any kind of an accent, and quite experienced and knowledgeable about different types of cruising. Caitlin is the owner of Ambren Travel. Visit her web site, check out the Ambren Travel Facebook page, or contact her using the information below.
Other Cruise Ships I've Been On
If you've enjoyed this page, you would probably also enjoy reading my web pages about:
My first river cruise: American Harmony
My second river cruise: American Melody
Viking's new Expedition Ship: Viking Octantis
July 2021 Iceland Cruise on Viking Sky
January 2020 Carnival Panorama
December 2019 cruise in The Haven on Norwegian Joy
May 2019 Carnival Horizon cruise
April 2019 Norwegian Breakaway cruise
January 2019 Caribbean cruise on the Viking Sea
December 2018 country music cruise on the Norwegian Getaway
May 2018 Panama Canal cruise on the Norwegian Bliss
January 2018 cruise on MSC Seaside in a suite with a private Jacuzzi
September 2017 Carnival Vista cruise in a Havana Suite
October 2017 Norwegian Sky cruise in the owner's suite
The $1600 per night owners suite: January 2017 Norwegian Pearl
An Un-crowded Small Ship Experience: Viking Star
One Of The Best Waterslides At Sea: Liberty Of The Seas
Quite Possibly The Best Cruise Ship In The World: Anthem Of The Seas
January 2017 Allure Of The Seas
One of the best cruise ships we've ever experienced: The Norwegian Escape
2015 Carnival Breeze back-to-back cruises
Back-to-back cruises on Independence Of The Seas
World's largest cruise ship: Allure Of The Seas
2015 Carnival Freedom repositioning cruise
Our first VIP cruise in The Haven: The Norwegian Getaway
Our June 2014 Alaska cruisetour with Princess
Our first cruise with Princess! January 2014 Sapphire Princess
2014 back-to-back eastern/western Caribbean cruises on the Carnival Glory
The completely refurbished Carnival Sunshine
One of Carnival's best ships, the Carnival Breeze
A sister ship to the Breeze, the Carnival Magic
Our 2013 cruise on the Carnival Conquest
One of the oldest ships in the fleet, the Carnival Inspiration
Our first Caribbean cruise: the Carnival Glory
Our many cruises on the Carnival Spirit
Our February 2010 cruise on the Carnival Splendor
Our January 2008 cruise on the Carnival Elation
Our April 2008 cruise on the Norwegian Star
Our first cruise! 1996 on Carnival Cruise Line's MS Holiday
Click here to see the complete chronology of all the cruises we've ever taken.
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