By Freida Marie Crump
Greetings from the Ridge.
Herb always says, “Freida, nobody wants to hear about our vacations.”
“People always ask about the trip, Herb.”
“They’re just being polite. It’s like saying, ‘How’s your health?’ It’s polite to ask, but no one wants to know.”
As usual, I don’t agree with him. I may not want to listen to all the details of your last knee replacement, but if you’ve had an adventure I’m all ears.
Herb and I took off with a group of daring folks on an Alaskan cruise this summer, and once you get me started on the wonders of our 50th state I’m hard to shut up.
In 2010 the State of Alaska slapped a tax on each cruiser saying they needed the money to improve their ports, but there’s been some doubt as to how the money was actually spent, so several cruise lines dropped Alaska from their itinerary. However, saner heads have prevailed and both the state and the cruise lines have decided to make nice. As a result, the number of folks traveling to see the whales and glaciers will approach one million this year.
There are those who pooh-pooh the idea of cruising, citing the large crowds on the megaships and the crowded ports, but if you take a look at the map of Alaska you’ll find that the only way to see some of state’s most beautiful sights is from the sea. If you’d like to spend two weeks driving to see a single Alaskan fishing village, have at it.
It had been some years since Herbie and I sailed Alaska’s Inside Passage and I noticed a few changes in the cruising industry. For one thing, most ships have done away with that silly midnight buffet. Good Lord, you spend your entire day eating. Who wants to bust your gut right before bedtime? And most Alaskan tours have cut back on their bingo games, finally discovering that when you have glaciers glowing on the starboard mountains and whales breaching on the port side, the cry of “Under the B! 29!” loses its thrill.
This summer I came to the conclusion that in addition to the Carnival, Princess, Disney and Celebrity cruise lines, someone should start up Purell Cruises. The cruising industry is so afraid of the norovirus that’s shut down many cruises that the typical ship today virtually floats on a sea of antibacterial gook. Herb and I never entered or left a buffet, dining hall, or theatre without being offered a squirt of the stuff by a crewmember in a fuzzy grizzly bear hat shouting, “Washy! Washy!” at us. In fact, the funniest sight on the ship occurred the night we went to the captain’s reception and were offered a germ-killing squirt as we came in the door, followed by the offer only three steps later of a glass of Champaign. It was hilarious watching folks trying to hang on to their slim-stemmed flutes of bubbly with Purell on their fingers.
There’s still no sight and experience in the world to match a cruise to Alaska, a place God made on the Thursday afternoon of Creation when He was in an especially good mood, but there are still a few improvements I’d like to pass along to the entire cruise industry. . . like the weight of their doors. I’m sure it’s some sort of safety feature but the heft of the average door on a cruise ship requires a heck of a lot more umph than the average geriatric cruiser can muster. More than once I came across some poor soul with her 90-pound frame frantically pushing against a door when someone shouted, “Whale!” And if you truly want me to get off the ship and see the town where we’ve docked, then make it easier to get back on without going through the infuriating strip search routine. Would a terrorist really choose the Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan, Alaska, to jump on the boat? Perhaps he’d use a chainsaw. And, if it’s not too much trouble, could you hold the ship still when I’m trying to climb out of the shower?
As I grow older my addictions grow fewer, but I doubt I’ll ever find a cure for my craving for one more shot of Alaska. When God made Ireland he was having a good day and when He created Hawaii the guy was hitting on all cylinders. But Alaska….well, the Almighty was just showing off.
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door, but you’ll enjoy the trip.