Cunard Line, which returned to Alaska this year after a two-decade absence, is hosting destinations editor Eric Moya for a 10-day "Last Frontier" sailing.
I first went to Alaska four years ago, and when the opportunity arose to revisit one of my favorite destinations, I was beyond excited. I was far less enthusiastic, however, about these words on the itinerary: "Day at Sea."
As a first-time cruiser, I envisioned staring blankly out of a porthole in desperate hope of a whale sighting, feeling constricted by a rigid dining schedule and lame activities lineup and just generally being overwhelmed by a sense of claustrophobia (maybe some seasickness, too).
But under the door this morning of my balcony cabin aboard the Queen Elizabeth (porthole fears quashed!) was a long list of potential activities. And I'll be damned, but I had some decisions to make.
Would I like an introduction to fencing? My Zorro-loving inner child was tempted and will likely get his wish if the class is offered again. Perhaps a watercolor class? My inner Bob Ross wondered if he'd get to paint a happy little iceberg. (Yes, I realize Ross painted primarily in oils.)
As I write this, the evening's schedule is even more packed with possibilities. There is the Black and White Ball, which I'm almost definitely attending because, otherwise, why'd I pack the tux? Actor and comedian Rondell Sheridan is doing two shows in the Royal Court Theatre, a higher-profile standup comic than I might have expected on a cruise ship, even one as prestigious as the Queen Elizabeth. Perhaps karaoke afterward. Definitely karaoke afterward.
Rachel Cartwright, onboard naturalist, talks with Cunard Queen Elizabeth passengers about the wildlife they'll encounter on their Alaska cruise. Photo Credit: TW photo by Eric Moya
No seasickness so far, and this afternoon I enjoyed a chicken tikka masala and Alaskan Amber beer in the ship's Golden Lion Pub.
I've spent much of the day in the Royal Court Theatre for a series of lectures. There was Kari Herbert, whose father, Wally Herbert, led a trek to the North Pole 50 years ago. Later, William Loky shared the stories of the colorful figures at the center of 1896's Klondike Gold Rush, including investor John W. Nordstrom, who went on to cofound the department store chain that bears his name.
Before that, Rachel Cartwright, our onboard naturalist, offered a sneak peek at the wildlife we're likely to encounter: orcas and bears and bald eagles, oh my. The theater was nearly full of passengers, who were likely seeking a little guidance for last-minute shore excursion bookings.
Most of my excursions have been booked, though after Cartwright's talk, I might adjust my schedule here and there to maximize my wildlife-viewing time.
I am excited for our first stop, which is Ketchikan. But for now, I'm just enjoying the ride.