Posted by: ritagone | May 26, 2010

Cruising in Alaska

As I write this, I’m sitting in the Observation Deck of the Zuiderdam of Holland America Lines cruise ships.  I’m looking out over the Alaskan town of Skagway (who thought up that name?), which is a tiny, tiny town nestled at the foot of some pretty majestic, snow-capped mountains.  Michael and I are on an Alaskan Inland Passage cruise, starting last Saturday in Vancouver and going on up to Ketchikan, then turning around and going back to Vancouver for disembarkation this coming Saturday.

This has been a dream of mine for many years, this Alaskan inland passage cruise.  I have spoken to so many people who cruise a lot, and many of them have said this was their favorite.  Now, considering these people cruised all over the world, including, say, the Greek Islands, that’s saying something and is a high recommendation as far as I’m concerned.  So for years I’ve tried to talk Michael into this particular trip, and this year he finally relented, because in October we will celebrate our 40th anniversary.  It’s his present to me for staying married all these years.

Have you ever looked forward to something and built it up in your mind, dreamed about it, relished the thought of it, planned for it, savored it and then…found it to be extremely disappointing?  That’s how I’m feeling now.  I’m not disappointed in my husband, for sure.  He planned this whole excursion with our travel agent, and he wanted to make it a memorable cruise to remember the many years we’ve been married to one another.

However, the ship isn’t what I remember cruise ships to be like.  We were shocked to find out that this particular ship is only 8 years old.  Like some people I could mention but won’t, it’s looking all the worse for wear.  When Michael asked me, “Guess how old this ship is?” I quickly answered, “30 years.”  Imagine my shock when he said eight years.  It’s a bit worn and frazzled and tired looking, as if the passengers have not taken good care of her.  The staff is agreeable but not outstanding.  And the food….the food.

When you ask most people about cruising in past decades, the thing that they remember most is the food, the abundance of it, the presentation of it, the sheer overwhelming plethora of it.  Not so aboard the Zuiderdam!  It’s more like Hometown Buffet.  Mediocre food, and not a lot of it.  (Which is probably not a bad thing for the svelte figure I’m trying to maintain.)

And the cost!  Everything is extra.  In the “old days,” you paid one fare and it got you almost everything on board the ship.  Not so here.  Anything you drink – unless you are willing to hang over the side of the ship and scoop up a glass of water – is extra.  Diet Coke?  Extra.  Bottled water?  Way extra.  That barista bar on the Observation Deck – the one where you might stand in line for 20 minutes waiting for your badly fixed chai tea latte? – overpriced.  Internet?  It’s $100 for 250 minutes, but the problem is that at sea, the satellite connection is so slow that you might spend 50 of your 250 minutes waiting for a particular page to load up on your computer screen.  Waiting…waiting….

But the scenery is spectacular, and we’re resting and relaxing like professionals.  I could get used to this reading and napping and vegging out way of life, for at least a few more days.

Lesson learned: sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expected them to.  The build-up was just too much for the reality.

Not so, however, for the 2010 Christian Associates CONNECT outside of Frankfurt, Germany.  Now there’s an event that promises to be even better than whatever you’ve heard!  So if you’re hesitating about coming to the conference, please pray about it some more.  Please do everything in your power to be there, as I truly believe it will be a conference talked about for years and years to come.  And be sure to fill out the attached questionnaire so that the planning committee will know how best to use you and your individual talents and giftings.

I’ll be there!  Ask me to show you my photographs of the Alaska Inland Passage cruise.  I’ll be happy to accommodate you.

Regards, Rita

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