“Never say never.” is used to say that a person “should not say that he or she will never do something because people change their minds” OR “Anything can happen; meaning a certain option should not be totally dismissed.” I have always said that I would NEVER go on a cruise ship, ever. They are too big, too crowded, and just too, too much of everything. More recently, I would qualify that statement with, “except maybe a cruise in Alaska.” Note that I said a cruise IN Alaska, not TO Alaska. Our little Kindred Spirit is not cruising to Alaska, but we will be cruising in Alaska. “Never say never.”
After New Year’s, we were making plans to visit Al’s son Tim and his wife, Amanda, in Oregon. They have finished their RV travels (Watsons Wander) and live in Bend, Oregon. I decided that if we are flying across the country we might as well go all in and do that bucket list trip of a cruise in Alaska. (Was it really on our bucket list or did it just get added?)
We are not experienced travelers when it comes to flying or taking typical vacations. We just travel on our own boat. Yes, we have traveled for 9 months at a time on our boat, all the way to the Bahamas and back, but that is different than this trip. I have spent the last 4 months learning about big ship cruising and making the arrangements. It seems so much more complicated than cruising on our own boat.
So, what’s the plan? After a week with Tim and Amanda (we are very excited to see them and Bend, Oregon) we will fly to Vancouver and hop on Holland America’s Niew Amsterdam for the 14-day Great Alaskan Explorer Voyage. We jumped in with both feet – FOURTEEN days on a cruise ship.
We chose Holland America because it seems like a cruise line more geared to “mature” people (read that as synonym for senior citizens, which we are, although we try to deny it to ourselves.) I don’t want to be on a ship with rock climbing walls, zip lines, race cars, a water park, arcades, carousels, mini-golf course, rope courses, and, well, you get it. We are going to see Alaska, not an amusement park.
The Nieuw Amsterdam will seem enormous to us, but it is not as large as some of those crazy-big ones we have seen in ports in the Caribbean. The largest cruise ship in the world is Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, carrying up to 6,988 passengers plus 2,300 crew members.
Nieuw Amsterdams’ statistics:
Cruising in Alaska in not like a Caribbean cruise. The packing alone is making me crazy. With potential temperatures in May ranging from the 30’s to 70’s, you need to be prepared for everything including frequent rain.
The temperatures in Alaska in May and the predicted frequent rains, almost make me wonder, why, why would we choose to go on this trip when everyone else seems to be heading for warmer and sunnier places???? I can answer that. Alaska is a unique destination, still wild and open to endless adventure. “The Last Frontier.” The reasons to go — and go now — quickly outweighed any thoughts of not going. The glaciers may not be there forever and we won’t be here forever either.
Choosing excursions has been another exercise in research and decision making. We aren’t young any more, but we are also not ready to just sit on deck chairs and watch the scenery go by. I tried to select excursions that would offer the best fit for our interests and abilities in each port (and ignored the $ signs attached.) We have a harbor walk to learn about the fishing industry (and see boats, of course), biking along a coastal trial, a catamaran trip to see glaciers up close, a visit to an indigenous peoples clan house and native totem poles, a day of wildlife exploration from marine to land to air (read that as on the water, then bears & otters and raptors & eagles), an historical cannery, and one day where we will explore on our own. It was really difficult to choose excursions. In some ports there were a dozen things we wanted to try and in others not many of interest, to us. Fingers crossed that I chose well! 🤞
There are two other big ship cruise decisions that required research and a decision. Drink package or not?? After a few brief calculations it was easy to determine that a drink package for us would be a waste of money. $742 EACH for 14 days of beverages that includes 15 drinks per day. That does include fancy coffees, sodas, and waters as well as alcohol. There is no way either Al or I can drink enough to make that a good deal. Now, if there was an ice cream package………😉 🍨 (I do believe ice cream is included.)
The harder decision was around the wifi. The “Premium Internet Plan” is over $200 for the cruise and can be shared by both of us if we take turns, using only one device at a time. BUT, it sounds as though it does not always work well and, if we are off on excursions most days, we won’t be using it. We decided to go airplane mode and only connect to our own cell phone provider when we are on shore and can get a signal. Worst case scenario, we will purchase a small amount of minutes at some point. It is kind of amusing to note how anxiety producing it is to think about being “unconnected.” We are the generation that never experienced the internet and vast communication capabilities until we were middle-aged.
It is also time to get Kindred Spirit ready for the season. Because of the Oregon/Alaska trip, Kindred Spirit will be launched a few weeks later than usual.
Here we are, 2 days before departing on our big adventure. We are excited about our trip to Oregon and the Great Alaskan Explorer Adventure and we are eager to begin our summer cruising on Kindred Spirit!