I remember planning this trip, I wanted to experience an Alaska cruise and Mom had been before with Dad before he died. So I asked Mom to join Larry and I for a second time. I thought she might enjoy reliving the experience. She loves to travel and experience new things, but Dad not so much. He enjoyed the comforts of home.
On an early Sunday morning in August we caught a flight to Seattle. At the Seattle airport we stopped long enough to enjoy a steamy bowl of thick oatmeal before boarding the bus that would deliver us to the port.
It has been quite some time since our last cruise on our honeymoon to the Mexican Riviera. And boarding a ship has changed as much as boarding an airplane. So after long lines in security and check-in at the port we arrived at another long meandering line up the gangplank to the ship. My Mom is 81 and suffers from orthostatic tremors. She can walk and still tends her garden, but standing is very difficult. That is when the tremors start. She brought her walker along, but doesn’t like anyone to fuss over her. So we started up the gangplank using the walker, which allows her to stop and sit when she needs to. But it eventually proved to be too much for her. As we saw the porters bringing wheel chairs back down we flagged one and asked for a ride. Wheeling Mom up proved to be a much better option and even allowed us to move ahead of the line. Once on board she returned to her walker. We found our way to our staterooms with the help of a little map given to us at check-in. Our luggage, which had gone ahead of us from the airport was waiting in our rooms. We checked out our accommodations and then headed out to explore our ship. We wandered the floors and poked our heads in the various venues on board. The Horizon Court was open for dining and it was past lunchtime, we were hungry. We soon found ourselves at the buffet. Here I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful service that Mom received. As soon as she entered the buffet an attendant came over and offered to help with her plate. With her personal assistant, Mom was off to make her own selections without us. We each made our own choices of fresh salads, fruit, cheeses and deli meats, soups, pasta, chicken beef and fish entrees, an assortment of desserts… the options were endless. I now know why many people gain weight while on a cruise. Larry and I made sensible selections and were cautious as we had both completed several months of dieting, which had proved to be quite successful. We didn’t want to lose ground now! Mom on the other hand surprised us when her assistant brought her generous plate and she ate every bit of it. She is a little woman.
After lunch it was time to leave the port and the “Sail Away” party began. We headed to the Sun Deck for the festivities. Lots of people were on deck, but it didn’t feel crowded. We watched as our Captain backed the ship out of port and steered her around to head out on our journey. Just as a small boat would maneuver, this massive ship backed out and turned around with ease. We headed out to sea via the Puget Sound. The party started; music, Alaskan photos on the “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor theater, smiling waiters and waitresses handing out Mango Rum drinks.
Enjoying the moment I snapped a few shots of the photographers taking photos of guests enjoying the send off. All shapes and sizes of sailboats were navigating the Sound and colorful barges headed in to Port on this unusually pleasant Seattle day.
After all of the festivities, we decided to head back to our rooms and unpack. This would give Mom some time to rest before dinner. We settled in to our rooms and later had Mom join us in ours for the view off the balcony. We opened the door and enjoyed the fresh air as we contemplated our evening plans. We decided on a dining room, as we had the option to choose anytime and anywhere to dine.
We arrived at the dining room to another long line. We hadn’t called ahead for a dining time, so we were prepared. We were given a buzzer and waited in the lounge for about 15 minutes. While there we were entertained by an instrumental quartet. Larry wandered while I sat with Mom. We saw many familiar faces from our time boarding the ship. I love to people-watch, it is my favorite pastime. Here were people we met during the day; the cute little twins, the couple who boarded with us on the handicap side because they too had a mother in a wheelchair and the couple who talked to us the whole time from check-in to the gangway.
Our buzzer went off and soon we were seated at an intimate table. Our waiter was from Mexico and his assistant was from Peru. The staff is from all over the world and their nametags tell from what country they hail. We enjoyed chatting with the restaurant manager from Italy at lunchtime and now we had moved on to South America. A cruise ship has a very diverse population of both staff and vacationers. For dinner we chose the grilled Salmon and Larry chose a pork medallion with and apricot chutney. We each had a different appetizer, soup or salad, which of course we all tasted from each other’s plates. And since it was our first night on board we allowed ourselves to be tempted by the desserts; rich carrot cake and a chocolate mousse topped brownie!
After dinner we retired to our room to talk over our day and share the Princess Patter newsletter that gave us a glimpse of what tomorrow holds. Sweet dreams.