I had trepidations about my cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl leaving on July 7th. A week on the water with four excursions felt redundant and claustrophobic. Something about ships and small windows. And no, I didn’t have room with a balcony. My roommate and I were on Deck 5, not the lower depths (that was Deck 4), but not above Deck 7 and certainly not Deck 11 where the hoi-poily hung out. For I was among the great unwashed, the rif-raff, steerage as in the “Titanic,” where Leonardo Di Caprio hung out before discovered there were banquets for the rich and famous many, many decks above him. Ah, those movies! If they were ever like real life, it would be so tantalizing to come back for another lifetime of shits and giggles.
I was on this cruise to be a part of a “Seminar At Sea.” I was giving 2 speeches and teaching yoga and meditation almost daily. Here was the original plan: If all four women involved in this seminar could gather up 15 people each for a total of 15 cabins, we could have a free cabin. Alas, after a year and after losing 2 women and 1 man in for the seminar, then after finding 2 more woman, bingo! none of us came up with the magic number 15.
“Oh, let’s just go anyway. Give the seminar at no cost and give those people already signed up (all 5 of my peeps, of course) and we’ll go on the cruise anyway, do the seminar and feel just jolly about ourselves.” I mean it’s Alaska and when are we ever going to commit to Alaska and the Inland Waterway in our lifetime? Glaciers! OMG! Exciting excursions! Zip Lining! Whale watching! Crab fishing! Biking around Victoria Island! OkayI I’m going. Why not pay full price for the trip and get no remuneration in return. I love doing things for free. It’s good karma. I’ll get that payback some day if I live long enough.
I boarded ship with trepidation. My throat was constricting as the shuttle pulled up. Thank God the night before one of my best buddies showed me around Seattle. It was magic. The night was magic. Did I say the night was magic? I smiled like a Cheshire cat as I walked up the gangplank thinking of beautiful, heavenly Seattle and discovered that my roommate and I were V.I.P.’s. Oh, my darling Germaine. Her husband, a VP with Norwegian Cruise lines, came through. We were ushered into a private room and Patrick, my main man with a face that should be in the movies, made our trip easy from that moment on. He never got sick of our calls to him.
Seminars at Sea are only really good if people actually pay for them because when people pay, they show up. My friends (all 5 of them) listened to me tap dance my way through my “mind/body/spirit connection/maximize your potential and life will be healthier and happier, less stressful and anxious and you don’t have to take anti-depressants anymore” speech. They showed up for yoga – in fact that was the best attended part of the seminar. If I had known that, I would have plied my trade with Norwegian. By the end of the week, the seminar and its energy had ebbed and wained so much over the last year of preparation, with false starts and intermittent fits that by the end of the seminar week, I was just about spent.
Cruising is about who you love, baby. If you have to take your mother on a cruise, or if you have to go with your mother on a cruise (that was me sometime back in the 90’s and I have know idea what year because I blanked it out, but I do know it was in the Mediterranean); or if you have children you are bringing on a cruise (seriously, the ratio of children and families to single adults was 90% to 10%); or too many people (over 2800) crowding into the Garden cafeteria for every meal (the elbows, the spilled drinks, the lack of seats); or if you have your maiden aunt with you think long and hard about cruisin’ because you may get a bruisin’. Your fate may be sitting at the bar at 8 in the morning sipping Baileys and taking to a bartender about the best way to maneuver a wheelchair around the outside decks.
Now for the good stuff: the amazing and awesome beauty of Alaska was all worth it; Glacier Bay brought tears to my eyes as I clicked photo after photo and ran around the upper decks like a mad woman trying to get the best shots; the rain forest on the island of Juneau and whale watching and seeing Killer Whales and Orcas (I still don’t know if they are one and the same); the adorable little town of Skagway and zip lining over the forest with two of the cutest guys on the planet – Bollywood and Hollywood; and catching crab on the island of Ketchikan (who knew it was an island) and eating a crab fest at 8:30n in the morning with native beer. But the last and most lovely and charming city of Victoria was surreal for its beauty and surrounding bay. We rode motorized bikes (take your eyes off your forehead – you still have to peddle to get the motor running) around the city for 3 hours as the sun finally set at 10 pm.
I’m aware that boomers love to cruise. It’s easy, comfortable, you can eat all you want any time you want and you can see and hear entertainment that is reminiscent of the 1950s and possibly the 60s for those who clammer to be current. The exception was the clever and funny Second City Troup from Chicago who were often brilliant in their ability to take anything thrown at them and create topical comedy.
Unfortunately, I’m not the most comfortable person when looking out a window at the rocking ocean and truly have no desire to share that experience again. My roommate and I kept coming up with exciting ideas for travel and none of them involved cruising. She’s a boomer, too, so I didn’t feel so bad. On the second to last day of the cruise, she finally looked at me in a moment of clarity and said, “When are we getting off this fricking boat!”