Destination: Alaska

Destination: Alaska
A Cruise to Alaska is Breathtaking

 

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The trip that is unanimously called the most breathtaking of all the journeys taken by frequent cruisers is Alaska. So we thought we’d see for ourselves.

Our Alaskan adventure started with a trip to our neighborhood Flight Centre office, just to pick up some brochures. Then the friendly travel experts suggested some great last minute deals. So we quickly signed up for a seven-night excursion on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas that went to the Alaska fjord and inside passage. Last minute deals are wonderful if your schedule is flexible. May and June are ideal times to go, with bargain fares being offered.

Sailing out of Vancouver, the first day we discovered a wonderful variety of onboard activities that were planned for the cruise. The entertainment presented in the various showrooms, lounges, the disco and poolside stage was non-stop and excellent thanks to the cruise director John Blair. The high-energy fellow who hosts all the shows and games designed to show the cruisers a good time, said his main goal is to help folks make friends on board. “Everything is more fun when you have friends around sharing stories and laughs.” The multi-talented Blair is a big part of why so many people enjoyed the cruise. His talented wife (and backup singer) Katrina also deserves kudos for turning every jackpot bingo session into a party.

There were games and shows of all types every day. Comics Don Barnhart, Tim Jones and Wilde & Hanes played the main showroom, along with Kyle Knight’s Magic Show, and singer Julie Grace. There was a Temptations tribute with everyone singing the classic Motown tunes, and the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers putting on a Vegas-styled “Boogie Wonderland” extravaganza. Jackpot bingo, game shows, a Karaoke Superstar contest, plus several destination lectures by a professor who had fascinating stories about his travels throughout Alaska.

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The Alaska we came to see lived up to all the praise we heard. Our ship went into port in Juneau and Skagway, and we learned about those wild towns that were formed during the gold rush of the late 1800s.

There are still saloons that recreate the raucous atmosphere from the early days, in Juneau it’s the Red Dog Saloon. In Skagway it’s the Red Onion Saloon, a former brothel with gals conducting very humorous tours of the museum facility, noting it only costs “$5 for 15 minutes, just like in 1898.”

There was a stop in the fishing village of Prince Rupert, B.C., and shore excursions that included whale watching, sled dogs, salmon fishing, panning for gold, kayaking and a scenic railway journey.

But the highlight of the trip was the spectacular scenery that simply took your breath away as the ship floated into the Tracy Arm Fjord for a chilly up-close view of the glaciers in crystal clear waters. The awesome beauty has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

Captain Kjetil and his crew provided smooth sailing, even during one rough day at sea. No wonder so many of our fellow passengers were repeat Crown & Anchor Society cruisers.

We made new friends as we enjoyed bountiful feasts, and all the activities that had us traversing the ship like kids wondering what we could get into next. The fun never stopped, but our journey came to an end eight days later. We disembarked in Seattle with great memories of breathtaking Alaska.


Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.

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