TRAVEL Haunting and heartbreaking CRUISING ALASKA IS EVERYTHING YOU’D EXPECT AND MORE STORY AND PHOTOS BY JILL ELLIS-WORTHINGTON <strong>24</strong> • HURONPERTHBOOMERS.COM
y Jill Ellis-Worthington Breathtaking, unimaginably beautiful, aweinspiring, heart-wrenching – those are the words most frequently used to describe the beauty and majesty of scenery experienced during an Alaskan cruise. We took an Alaskan cruise in the summer of 2022 and, it turns out, so did several others of my acquaintance. If you haven’t taken the plunge into cruising yet, put one to Alaska at the top of your list – it is definitely bucket list worthy. Our cruise, initially scheduled for June 2020, was a casualty of the COVID travel cancellation wave, and I heard many on the boat say that this was a long-awaited bucket list item for them as well. My husband and I have a prioritized list of travel destinations and Alaska wasn’t at the top of it at the time, but as climate change wreaks havoc on natural wonders around the world, it moved up the list. We weren’t alone in this feeling (more on this later). Our cruise, on the Holland America ship Volendam, departed from Vancouver. We were travelling with another couple and we arrived two days early to get acclimatized to the time change, see some of Canada’s third largest city and, most importantly, ensure we arrived well ahead of the ship’s departure. Our friend, a travel agent, clued us in when we took our first post-pandemic trip to Europe in the TRAVEL summer of ’22, that many people were missing their tours, cruises and events because they booked flights to arrive the day of, not anticipating continued unreliability at airports. We’ll never fly day-of again because it’s much too stressful and potentially wasteful of our hard-earned travel funds. The Inside Passage route our ship took stopped in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Glacier Bay. While we enjoyed the ship’s amenities and sitting on the deck outside of the room, the real thrill of an Alaskan cruise was the scenery. Connie Delarge and Doug Jones (both 58) cruised on Holland America’s Koningsdam ship in July with another couple. The canny couples got balcony rooms opposite each other so that they had constant access to the views. “We just had to cross the hall to whichever balcony had the best view when the ship turned,” explained Delarge. She added that their stop at Glacier Bay to view the Johns Hopkins Glacier was, “Our favourite over everything. It’s just breathtakingly beautiful.” She couldn’t help being grateful and regretful at the same time. “No words can describe it, but it breaks my heart too. I feel so blessed to have seen it because I can’t believe what is happening to our world,” she added, referencing the diminishing size of the glacier due to Left: Glacier Bay is a favourite stop on many Alaskan cruises. Right: The crew of the Volendam opens the ship’s bow to passengers during the Glacier Bay stop.