Never Say Never

posted in: Family and Friends | 7

“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” ORAnything 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.

The 14-day Great Alaskan Explorer Voyage, from Vancouver to Anchorage and back to Vancouver.

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:

The Nieuw Amsterdam was remodeled in 2018. At 936 feet it is over 23 times longer than Kindred Spirit.

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.

Our guest bedroom has no room for guests at the moment. Packing for three weeks for all kinds of weather with gear e.g. hiking boots, binoculars, etc. is overwhelming. Al’s things are on the far side of the bed. He better hurry up and claim some real estate. (I know I have to eliminate some of this. 🙄)

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.

Holland America has a “Have It All” package that includes the above (drinks, wifi, plus $200 each towards excursions, two nights at a specialty dining room.) At over $1600 (18% gratuity is added to everything) it still worked out to be more costly than we are likely to use. Trust me, I did a spreadsheet (You can stop laughing now.)

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.

Bottom painting and uncovering.
Here is the proof that I work on the spring tasks, too. Every inch of wood was cleaned and polished. Every surface.
That cleaning included the &%#! lovers in every door on the boat. I know louvers are there for ventilation in closets and cupboards, but there are 716 louvers!!!!!!!
Work days included a dinghy chap consultation with Marcia and Dan.
When you reach your 70’s, you make different decisions. We simply can’t do it all physically anymore, so we choose which tasks will be done with hired assistance. Waxing is the task that usually gets farmed out. Sergei does a great job and it is worth it. Kindred Spirit is all shiny now.

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!

7 Responses

  1. Susie

    Have a wonderful time. I look forward to reading all about it when you come home. We are back in Ithaca, but spring didn’t come with us. Hahahahaha

  2. Robert Dyer

    Have a Great Cruse and enjoy the PNW & Alaska. We havent been boating from WA to Glacier Bay in a vary long time but have lots of great memories & stories. This is Krogen countrey for sure.

    Bob & Kyra on Lady Grace

  3. Sarah/Deanna

    We loved our Alaska cruise but it was just a week. First cruise for Sarah. Loved being on board and meeting new people. Hope, I know you will, have a wonderful time and have many tales to tell when you return.

    Deanna and Sarah

  4. Ellen R Seltzer

    well have a great time. it will be a totally different experience for you but i am sure you will enjoy it. alaska is beautiful and the glaciers are disappearing so i’m glad you are going. the boat looks wonderful (yours) and i know you will have lots of tales to tell your boating friends and family when you return. you made the right choice with not taking the “drink package” – we didn’t take it either for our upcoming (in a year) trip. you can always buy a bottle off ship and bring it back! don’t fret about the world being disconnected…just keep a journal so you can tell us all about it when you return. Enjoy! xo

  5. Robert Lentz

    I’m looking forward to hearing your impressions of the cruise. Anita has cruised in a past life. I have not. We’re hoping to Rendezvous with you this summer.

    • watsons

      We have to make a plan to get together on the water. we want to hear about your Great Loop adventure in person.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *