Sorry I have been gone so long! I’ve been incredibly busy for the last two months. But school is finally out, and I am currently on vacation. HOORAY!
Ready to go!
In order to celebrate my 40th birthday, my mom offered to take me on an Alaskan Cruise. I, of course, jumped at the chance, and am currently sitting in a lounge on the m/s Westerdam of the Holland America Line. I have NO idea what the m/s stands for. At first I thought the ship was being feminist and it was Ms. But, no. Anyway, it costs big bucks to go online on the ship, so I am just popping in a few times this week to update you all on my trip. I thought it was free (HA!) and planned to blog each day, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case.
Yesterday was our first day on the boat. We had an eventful time getting to the pier because we took Hwy. 509 to get there and for those of you unfamiliar with the area, this road includes the First Avenue South Bridge. It’s a drawbridge, so when a tall ship passes through, they stop traffic and raise it up. No big deal, as it usually only adds a few minutes to the trip. Yesterday, however, the bridge decided to get stuck on its way back down. Traffic was completely halted. We weren’t too far into the back up, but we were sitting there for much longer than we would have liked. Some cars were turning around and driving the wrong way down the onramp. We decided not to risk it, and waited to see what would happen. In my head, I was planning how we could possibly get to Juneau to meet the ship on the third day. Mom had decided that if necessary, we could walk across the bridge and catch a cab. (It was only stuck a little bit up...we could have jumped it...maybe!) Anyway, it finally got fixed and we all breathed a sigh of relief. I had really been worried that we’d miss the boat. But the rest of our boarding was uneventful, except for me having to lug around my extremely heavy carry on. I had to bring my computer so I could communicate with you all!
Waiting to board.
The view from our room, looking at Elliot Bay Marina at Smith Cove.
After we got to our room and settled in a little bit, we ate lunch at the huge-amongous buffet. Everyone else was also chowing down, so it was a bit crowded, but okay. Then we had to assemble for our lifeboat drill. We got to don our ever so attractive life vests and gather in a specific place on the deck. They took roll for every room and called out the room number of everyone who hadn’t checked in.
This was the very efficient man who was organizing for our lifeboat (in the vest). He seemed very concerned that the people from room number 1072 didn’t check in. We knew this because he kept calling the number over and over and over. They never did show up. Oh well, I hope we don’t hit an iceberg because they will have no clue what to do. We also found out that, despite the women’s movement, there are still some perks to being a woman on a ship. All the men got forced to the back and the women (and children) went to the front so we could be saved first. Even a guy in a wheelchair had to move to the back. They weren’t kidding around with the rules!
One of the first things I noticed on the ship is that most of the service men and women are people of color. There are a ton of people (about 900 to be exact) who make up the crew, and the majority of them come from either Indonesia or The Philippines, and a few are from India. Everyone is very kind and patient and helpful, especially with all of us clueless people who didn’t read the directions and tied our life vests wrong.
In the evening we went to dinner at our assigned table. On the ship, you often share a table with strangers. Our dinner mates were Neil and his wife Colette. Neil is from Hawaii by way of the Bronx, and Colette is originally from Arizona. Neil was quite the talker (and still has the Bronx accent) and my mom kept pace with him, which really surprised me. I tend to clam up around people I don’t know well, but she was right in there keeping pace with the story telling. Colette and I did more listening than talking. It was interesting to see my mom in a chatty mode. She usually is a bit more reserved at parties and other social events. I think because it was just the four of us she felt more comfortable, and partly because her husband’s social nature has had an influence on her. (Hi Brian!) Apparently, she also felt comfortable enough to share some of my private information as well. Gee, thanks Mom!
For dinner, I didn’t take any pictures. I will try and do a better job tonight at our first formal meal. I had a scallop appetizer in a coconut cream sauce, chilled berry soup, a salmon entree and apple strudel for dessert. Mom had melon with prosciutto, an arugula salad, prime rib, and copied my apple strudel order. It all was very good, but nothing was an “Oh. My. God.” moment. Hopefully I will have one of those along the way. During dinner, we really started to notice that the ship was moving and grooving. We were out of Puget Sound and into deeper waters. Because our ship is smaller than some cruise ships, we could really feel it rolling. Sitting down made it the most noticeable. But as we walked around to explore the ship, we were weaving back and forth across the hallway as the ship tilted back and forth. I was a little worried about getting seasick, but as long as I don’t get too hungry, I’ve been okay so far. I’m just glad the weather has been calm, otherwise things might not look so good.
At 9:30 we went to the Vista Lounge to watch a show. Here I am, all dolled up and looking hot! Mom wanted to include the stage in the picture because...she is my mom.
We were thinking it was a broadway style deal, but mostly it was an introduction to the ship employees and introduced things to do on board. There were some silly game show style activities that included people from the audience, then a comedian did a short stand up session. And the one production number they did was pretty lame and extremely cheesy. I could have done without attending it. Hopefully their other productions will be better.
I am really looking forward to getting in to a port. Day 2 and 3 are spent at sea, so we’ll have to find ways to entertain ourselves until then. Stay tuned for more from Alaskan and Canadian waters...