Home Travel #TBT: Alaska ’09 – Part 9 of 9

Part 9 of 9: Going Home & Musings About The Trip

In August of 2009, I (Sharon) deserted my husband Joe and our puppy Dobby (at the time we had had her for about a month and a half) to go on a cruise to Alaska with the choir of which I was a member at the time (we were booked to sing on the ship). Some of my writing style has changed since 2009, some of my snark is exactly the same and heaven knows that cameras and photos have improved in the past 8 years, but here is the trip report I wrote about those adventures…the good, the bad and the ugly! To get up-to-date on the trip:

Part 1 – Arriving in Vancouver
Part 2 – On board and getting my bearings
Part 3 – Rehearsals and relaxing
Part 4 – Juneau – Nature Trails & Humpback Whales
Part 5 – Skagway – Walking on A Glacier and Taking A Train Ride to Canada
Part 6 – Day at Sea – Hangin’ Around the Ship, Enjoyin’ Doing’ Not much…
Part 7 – Ketchikan – Salmon Fishing!
Part 8 – Performing on the Cruise Ship!

Today was supposed to be a long but easy day. It certainly was long. Easy, not so much.

My first problem was my own fault – I had forgotten to hand in my “tell us what time you want to disembark” form for several days. So by the time I handed it in to say I wanted to leave at 8:00am, they had already scheduled me for 9:10am…which was exactly 5 minutes before my shuttle bus was leaving. Knowing that I wasn’t the first person in the world to hand the form in late, and with several hours before the end of the trip, I asked to be switched to 8:00am. The girl at the Zuiderdam office said it wouldn’t be a problem though, because all the luggage would be out early anyway.

She lied.

I had a quick breakfast at the buffet and disembarked at 8:00am…only to see that they were just bringing out the luggage that needed to be out at 8:00am. Ugh. So I sat there. And sat there. And sat there. Meanwhile, Carlene, Stewart and Celeste, who were all on the same shuttle bus as me (Esther had different plans and the Brits were flying out of Canada), had gotten their luggage long ago. At 8:50am, I asked one of the security ladies when the luggage with the green tags were scheduled to come out. She asked why and I explained my situation. She very nicely allowed me to stand right next to where the luggage carts come out so when I saw my 2 pieces, I could grab them and be on my way. It all worked out…I got to my shuttle bus with one (ONE!) minute to spare.

The ride to Seattle wasn’t noteworthy, especially since I slept through 90 minutes of the 4-hour ride. Our driver did manage to bypass the 5+ hour wait at Customs by stretching the truth a little, which was nice…and as it was, we were stuck there for an hour! But one hour is better than five.

We finally arrived at SEA a little before 3:00pm, bid goodbye to Celeste and tried to check our luggage…only to find out that we couldn’t check in until 4 hours before the plane. So not until 6:45pm. ARGH! With plenty (PLENTY!) of time to spare, we found a restaurant, had lunch, and essentially became squatters for the next 4 hours. We managed to figure out some ways to make the time go by faster but even so, it wasn’t the most pleasant or comfortable way to spend an afternoon.

They let us check our luggage in 5 whole minutes early (yee haw) and then sat at the gate for another 4 hours. Yeah, not exactly the most fun day in the world. But I got a good 4 hours of sleep on the plane going home, which was nice.

We landed about 15 minutes early on on Sunday morning and Joe picked me up, Dobby in tow. I managed to stay awake for the car ride home and even started to unpack a little. Lack of sleep finally caught up with me though and I napped from 9:30am to 3pm. And then from midnight to noon Monday.

Afterthoughts And Musings…

As much as I missed Joe and Dobby, I had a REALLY fantastic time. It was my first trip with this choir and it was wonderful to meet all of these people who I barely knew, or often didn’t know at all, yet we still had this “connection” in the form of the choir that allowed us to have full conversations. It was very neat!

The highlights of the trip were the salmon fishing, walking on the glacier and the concert. In that order.

Having to be at rehearsal at 8:00am SUCKED, hehehehe!

I thought Holland America was lovely. Not quite as good as the Disney Cruise line (the only other cruises I’ve gone on…yes, all to the Caribbean), but certainly high quality. Except for the food, which was just adequate to OK, as far as I was concerned. Nothing was bad (although that “chocolate pudding” was a bit questionable) but none of the meals, not even the “special” ones, stood out as being particularly wonderful, either.

There were only 5 of us Americans and everyone else was from the U.K. Learning 50-odd peoples’ names was HARD and I’m afraid I only eventually memorized about 2 dozen of them…some of which I only got right ‘some’ of the time (my apologies to the various Janes/Jeans/Paulas/Paulines). I wound up using mnemonics for some of them…I already mentioned that (Lord) James reminded me of Christopher Lloyd, who played “Reverend Jim” on Taxi (so I had the James/Jim thing going). And Bob looked like Reverend Alden from Little House on the Prairie, so I thought of him floating in the water, with his head “bobbing” (I didn’t get a decent picture of Bob so you’ll have to take my word for it).

Caroline and I bumped into each other a grand total of 11 times over the course of the week. It got to the point where it had happened so much early on in the trip (4 times on the first day) that I just started keeping track (and yeah, I am indeed OCD like that anyway, LOL!). There was no rhyme or reason to it, either – sometimes I would show up, sometimes her. That didn’t even count the times when we were supposed to be at the same place at the same time, like for a rehearsal or dinner. I mean “just walking along, minding my own business, when WHOOSH, there she was.” Good thing I liked her, huh?

I was admittedly not a cruise fan and really wasn’t thrilled with the idea of cruising but Alaska sounded intriguing, so I was willing to make the sacrifice. As it turned out, I finally figured out my issue…it’s not that I dislike cruising at all…I just dislike cruising to the Caribbean, LOL! As long as there are cool people to hang out with (because playing Bingo and learning how to carve a watermelon or cucumber into a flower are still LAME, no matter what ship you’re on), cruising can be great!


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