Well, I’m finally back from our adventure. I’ll do a roundup of all the “sky is falling” miles and points news on Friday, but today we talk actual travel. Because that’s why we do this crazy hobby, right? Right?
Remember how I said that my son was coughing his head off a week before the cruise? Well, he has decided to generously pass it on to the rest of the family, and we were all in various stages of misery while on vacation. But it was still fun.
So, let me do a short recap of our trip. I’ll have separate posts on Seattle stay, flights, ship overview and excursions later on. Oh, and the Centurion lounge, of course. This is more of a “movie trailer” write-up.
Before we even left on our cruise, there was a hiccup with my husband’s job. Yup, another IT disaster. Instead of resting the night before the flight, he was working away trying to fix it. In fact, before he went to the office, he said if he couldn’t take care of it, the trip was toast. Say what? I didn’t get insurance for that! Thankfully, things got stable enough that other guys could take over.
Out of all times, his work partner Jose was also on vacation, so that added to the overall stress. My husband texted him and said that it’s like IT systems know when they both take a day off at the same time. Jose’s response: “Those bastardos!!!” He loves to play on his Mexican heritage and often speaks with a fake heavy accent just to mess with vendors at work.
When we were in Alaska, my husband has sent Jose this photo and asked if this is an Alaskan version of a taco:
Washy washy, happy happy
Speaking of ethnic stereotypes… We were crusing on NCL’s Norwegian Pearl, and most of the service staff were from poor Asian countries like Philippines. Cruise lines take hygiene seriously because one sick passenger can literally ruin vacation for thousands due to closed-in environment of the ship. So, few staff members were instructed to stand at the entrance of the dining room with a hand sanitizer and encourage guests to use it.
But they didn’t stop there. Every one of them was told to say loudly to each passing cruise guest “Washy washy, happy happy!” We’ve heard it so much that it became a running joke. People were saying it in the elevators and my kids absolutely loved it. My husband? Not so much. He said it promoted ridiculous Asian stereotypes. I’m not sure if that’s really the case, but it was a bit silly to see grown, fluent-English speaking individuals talk in such a manner. But that’s what they are instructed to do. Or else.
I feel bad for the ones who have children because they leave them for up to 8 months at a time. At least, according to our room steward who has two kids and a wife back home. It honestly made me feel sick to my stomach knowing the type of sacrifices some make in order to support their families.
To my reader Cheapblackdad, I’m sure you are dying to know this one. Yes, there were black cruise passengers on our ship. I counted at least 20 out of 2,000, which is actually pretty diverse compared to The Hobby.
Having a balcony on Alaska cruise is VERY nice
No, it’s not essential, and if you can only afford the cheapest inside stateroom, don’t think twice. I absolutely don’t mean to suggest that you should go balcony or go home.
But I can honestly say that out of all the itineraries, this is the one to splurge on. Especially, if you are an introvert the way my spouse is. Not having to leave the stateroom in order to experience the wonders of Alaska really does enhance the overall experience. You can watch the sunset and not have to share the moment with other people on deck:
Occasionally, you may even spot whales:
You might see some otherworldly sights that almost don’t look real:
But where the balcony really pays off is Glacier Bay National Park. While standing on main deck, you will have to fight hundreds of people who will also be trying to get a good look at the star attraction of the Alaska cruise. But not in your own stateroom, unless you are fighting with your spouse that is.
Get off the ship!
And no, I’m not just talking about going shopping for trinkets and souvenirs. There are several ways to see the interiors of Alaska. If you are cruising with a family, taking a taxi or renting a car will almost always be more cost-efficient that taking tours. That’s what we did in Juneau when we rented an SUV that fit 7, at the price of $85 for the whole day. The goal was to see Mendenhall Glacier, and it didn’t disappoint.
My husband and his sister even got to hike to a waterfall:
NCL was charging $59 per person to essentially do the exact same thing. We did stick to doing ship excursions in other three ports, but this wasn’t my decision to make. With the exception of Yukon territory bus tour, I feel strongly that taxis would have been the way to go. But once again, for various reasons, it just wasn’t a fight worth fighting (I think). I will have a separate post dedicated to this topic, so will leave it alone for now.
I loved all the Gold Rush stories and learning the background of some of the famous writers and poets who drew their inspiration while digging for gold in Alaska. One of the most well-known, of course, is Robert W. Service and his poem called “Cremation of Sam McGee.” Here is an excerpt:
“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.”
I just love a feel-good story!
Some of my favorite memories of the trip have to do with watching my kids’ faces when they were making yet another discovery. Like picking a flower that doesn’t grow in Florida:
Or finding a tiny train in the middle of nowhere:
This truly was a cruise/vacation of a lifetime!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.