Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cruise Control ON

Learning a bollywood dance

Breakfast buffet
Imagine the following day. You wake up in a wonderful comfortable bed; the room the night before was total black with a gentle constant rocking motion (no you are not a baby still in the womb but I would imagine the effect is similar). You go to breakfast, a buffet with a huge range, from waffles to omelettes, from fruits to vegetables, and everything in between. Satiated you go for a wander around taking in the breathtaking Alaskan scenery passing by or you take the opportunity to check your email or facebook.

On the driving range

Lobby area
Once the food has settled you participate in a fun Cha Cha dance class. Feeling fit you decide to go to the fully stocked gym and do a workout followed by a spa and a sauna. Lunch is another buffet full of well cooked and varied options. After lunch you do a beginners' Spanish lesson and then go on the deck marvelling at the immense Hubbard Glacier for a few hours. Next is another dance class, Salsa this time, followed by dinner in a fancy restaurant with friendly helpful staff and world class food. You then go to an entertaining variety show and finish the night in a cosy lounge while a Madonna tribute is sung.

The windjammer bar

Our cruise director
Well this was day 1 on our 7 day cruise from Whittier in Alaska to Vancouver in Canada. All of the above included in the price and with a large range of other options. Prefer bingo or a casino, they have you covered. Movies, nightclubs, quiz nights, or even a game of 'deal or no deal' and much more. Full on Vegas productions every night including a comedian, hypnotist, singers and dancers, and the list goes on. This boat is a floating city but a city where everywhere is only a 15 minute walk or less. All included in the price, and the price was low. My recommendation: go for a room in the middle of the ship. It is dark and quiet and you only sleep in it anyway. Those with windows pay 5 times more and up and you get all the same extras anyway. Same food, shows, activities, pool, gym, scenery...everything.

The gym

Pool and spa
The final price ended up being $100 under our daily travelling budget. Value that surprised us, we always thought big ship cruises would be expensive. It was also one of the most relaxing times I have ever experienced. I am now hooked; I need another cruise, anywhere, the hunt is on. How long could we live on a cruise ship if we sold everything, was a conversation that did occur. This option has not been ruled out.

Hubbard Glacier

South Sawyer Glacier
The glacier adventure cruise on the Norwegian Sun did an awesome job of tracking down glaciers. We had marvellous weather and calm seas that allowed the ship to get closer to the Hubbard and South Sawyer glaciers than it had ever been (maybe they say that on every cruise). Being on such a large ship as it carefully, slowly traversed the narrow waterways to inch ever slower to these glaciers was exciting on its own; we kept wondering how much closer can it get. Finally the ship would reach that point and we would marvel at the huge blue chunks of antique ice spread out before us. Then slowly, imperceptibly the ship would swivel on the spot to turn around in the impossibly small area to find its way back out to the open sea.

Mendenhall Glacier

Disappearing Glacier
We also took a shore trip to the Mendenhall glacier at Juneau (Alaska's unbelievably small capital), but to be honest it was more exciting to see the ones the ship went to. As much as we love experiencing these massive natural phenomena, it is always tinged with some sadness. Nearly every glacier we have visited is receding (Hubbard is an exception), and losing ice at an accelerating rate. The Mendenhall glacier was 1.6km below the current visitor centre 100 years ago and this century has at some times been melting at 10 times its last century average and the North Sawyer glacier is completely gone. A stark and obvious reminder of the changes we are making to this planet. So glad we are filling our bucket list now while at the precipice of such uncertain times.

Competitor on the seas
As I write this we are already on our road trip in the US, and have found ourselves several times wishing we were back on this wonderful luxury ship. I have no doubt we will find ourselves on one again soon, maybe to get us back to Australia instead of those uncomfortable planes. Will need to start investigating...

Waiting for the comedian

One day soon...

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