I never expected to find myself learning the “thriller dance” for a flash mob performance somewhere in the Pacific Ocean with a crowd of retirees and Chinese nationals, yet there I was. It was Day 3 of the 15-night cruise we had been planning for months, years even, to get to Asia. And Taylor the Activities Host was teaching Fiercely and me how to dance like a zombie.
How to explain the cruise? It was everything we had expected – a floating hotel, karaoke, silver-haired couples in formal wear, endless buffets. It was a massive boat with 11 floors, many elevators, a 1200-seat theater, bars and restaurants, a spa, pools, a gym. We were an oddity on board with our backpacks and four homeschooled children catching a ride West from Vancouver on our Trip Around the World. Incidentally, our children made up 1/3 of the total number of children on the ship, with its population of approximately 3,000 people. Folks onboard were friendly and curious, but also absorbed with excursion itineraries, drink specials and an onboard art auction, where, by the way, Cleverly saw a painting being sold for an amount equal to roughly six months of our travel budget. We figured we were on the low end of the financial picture of most passengers, and we had the wardrobe to match. I tried not to dwell on our relative shabbiness and just enjoy the ride. We were pleased that no one would try to steal our stuff, theirs being better stuff than ours, and to relax knowing that our room and board were covered for a fortnight.
Above: A lady, possibly German, who didn’t speak English posed us and took the above pic after we’d asked for her to take one with the hills in the background as we left Vancouver. She preferred this angle LOL!
Vancouver was gorgeous, clear and lovely as we pulled out of the port on a Friday. Then we were at sea about four days until we reached Dutch Harbor on Alaska’s Aleutian islands. During those days, we settled in and the kids became adept at getting to and from our rooms, the restaurants, and the kid’s area where they spent most of their time. The kid’s area was staffed by various crew members, the first of whom assured me that there were no educational activities because “we just want the kids to have fun”. My kids argued a little about that, pointing out that they liked learning cooking, for example, but I just let it go. I’m not sure exactly what they did there but they did get a tour of the ship, watch movies, play video games, and do some crafts. About once a day, they joined us at a talk in the ship’s theater, which we encouraged because a lot of the topics were interesting and we wanted to take advantage of the presentations.
One of the first days, we learned that Dutch Harbor, on Amaknak Island in Unalaska, AK is the site of a reality show about fishing, The Deadliest Catch. A speaker on board gave several talks about his experiences fishing there, in the very deep, productive waters of the Bering Sea. The day we spent at Dutch Harbor was really beautiful. We had a lot of cold, damp weather on the ocean, which is what I expected, given our route in the North Pacific and the time of year. The sun shone through some clouds that day, and we took the free shuttle to the town center to look around. We spent a little time on a rocky beach and found jellyfish and some flowers.
We did some errands and I went alone to the Aleutian History Museum, since no one wanted to go with me. Maybe I should have made them come, but I didn’t insist, and I really did enjoy checking it out on my own. The original inhabitants of the island were astute when it came to fishing and protecting themselves against the harsh weather.
Analaska island is also known for its part in World War II and in the 1980’s for lucrative King Crab hauls. And then, more recently, The Deadliest Catch I suppose. I liked the museum and the views were jaw-dropping. The town was not accustomed to large cruise ships like ours; there was a craft fair of sorts, also locals volunteered to help us to the tourist attractions.
At the appointed time, we got back on the ship and moved slowly out of the port. As we did, I could hardly believe my cynical, East Coast eyes but we saw whales spouting and even breaching in the sea! That was a major highlight. Fiercely got this photo of the whale tale: