Today's topic was gonna be Your Worst Vacation Ever? but then I remembered my Worst Vacation Ever, and conveniently, I had already blogged about it.... Yes, this memorable sojourn (from hell) when I boarded a cruise ship with ... MY FAMILY. Destination? To hell, you ask? No, headed for Alaska, actually.
From the Archives: Toni Ryan Says... "So. The Boat Trip...."
Just want to get this out of the way before I begin to wax honest.
Overall on the trip... eh... let's just say it was no stunning glacier.
As you may/may not know, I travelled with the fam: my mom, dad, bro, my mom's three sisters, and all the affiliated brood, minus a few personae non gratae in the form of cheating ex husbands, and a newlywed son, and another nephew with a small child. All told, a dozen people on a cruise to the Inside Passage. Seattle, Alaska, and Canada, ay.
And as you may/may not know, I kinda have this high anxiety threshold for organization and near-communist affinity for simplistic tell-it-like-it-is blunt living. This put everyone else on high alert for me skipping social graces and shooting it straight. My family hates this. But I actually behaved.
However, I digress. Here are the highlights. They'd be divided into pros & cons, but I'm not exactly sure how to categorize. You decide:
- Relatively "small" cruise ship. More intimate, less harried atmosphere, smaller staff-to-passenger ratio.
- Older clientele. Or younger clientele, depending on how you look at it.
- Bigger staterooms with luxurious bedding & mattresses
- Renowned spa & salon
- Great entertainment & shopping selections!
- International destinations
- Authentic glimpses into the local culture of the "Great Northwest"
- Relaxing, upscale atmosphere. None of the gimmicky bells & whistles found on other ships, just total elegance.
- Exceptional cuisine, featuring seafood of the Pacific northwest
OK, so I just made up all that crap.
Not that it wasn't true, that just sounds like the garbage that comes out of a drippy travel brochure, right?
So, allow me to edit myself, and here's how it was:
- Small ship. Yes it was. It rocked and pitched more than any other boat I'd ever been on (and there have been a few). I actually got --- brace yourself --- somewhat seasick. I don't get motion sick, people. Way weird. And it may have been smaller, but damned if it wasn't long. Endless hallways of cabins. I dreaded walking back to my cabin because it was so boring.
- Few peeps? Intimate atmosphere yes, but it also meant... where the hell is everyone? Movie theater, empty. Pool, empty. Night Club... well, actually there really wasn't one. (See below)
- Grandparents. Lots of them. A half a dozen teenage delinquents. A dozen or so new parents (i.e. babies and small children). Oh boy, was I in my element. A single girl on the prowl? Yeah, I did real well, chattin' up the AARP at the jigsaw puzzle table.
- Which brings me to entertainment. One piano bar (he was eh, ok. He kept forgetting songs). One karaoke night. One string quartet (omg, someone get that 2nd violin a tuning fork for godssakes. Why oh why was she punishing me with her tonedeafness??). Oh, and one band. "Rachel & the Band", where the band was adequate, and Rachel was their punchline. Oh yeah, a casino. Frequented by all the funsters on the boat (see above). Ditto on shopping. I didn't have $24.99 for a tee-shirt with an embroidered anchor on the breast.
- Bigger staterooms. Sure, they were bigger than most inside staterooms. Which was great when you consider four people were in my cabin (thanks mom & dad. Really nice family bonding time). Two beds, and a bunk bed that folded down from the ceiling. Yes. A bunk bed. Not two bunk beds. See, their acclaimed luxurious mattresses that they brag about? They don't outfit the sofabed with said luxurious-mattress. Sofabed wasn't really that bad. Closer to the door. Closer to the lightswitch. Closer to the bathroom. Closer to the TV. (18 inches is "closer" in my book). The merit of all those advantages wore off quickly, when I woke up on day 4 with a crick in my neck. Well thank God for the salon & spa, right?
- Even on a boat in the middle of the ocean where everything costs a fortune, you can count on a spa being full of overpretentious snotty folk (exception to my friendly gals at Facelogic). For three days, the jerk at the front desk kept making me feel like Julia Roberts in the beginning of Pretty Woman. It wasn't until after I got over my spantimidation and finally booked a few massages and a pedicure that I realized he wasn't actually a jerk; he was Canadian. Oh silly me, those Canadians, hard to read sometimes.
- International destinations, yes! Victoria, British Columbia. The home of confusing spa employees. Well, when you consider that on our seven day adventure, this porting at Victoria lasted all of like a hot minute, I guess we can count that as "international".
It's like when your flight has a stopover in a city, and even though you never get out of the airport for the ten minutes you're there, you still count it was a place you've actually been.
- Authentic glimpses into the local culture of the "Great Northwest". Yeah, well Juneau depressed me actually. Got on a local bus hoping to experience something different, and the lack of teeth frightened me. Then every other local Alaska stop started to feel like Groundhog Day, fishing boats at the pier, trees, typical small mountainside town culture (I know, coz I've lived in a small mountainsde town).
- Relaxing atmosphere? Hell yeah. So relaxing in fact, that I slept 80% of the week away. I ate some. Slept mainly. Activities? Um, Scrapbooking 101. Making Marzipan Animals & Flowers. Beginning Fox Trot. Did I read? Yes. In fact, I was too bored to read, if you can believe that. I kept falling asleep. The most exciting moment was getting my PST Mobile Ebuzz one afternoon while sitting by the (heated) pool... I didn't know DJ AM had passed away. Thank God for PST Mobile, right?
I had to even stop into one of them there small mountainside town to them there general stores to buy a ball of yarn and a crochet needle... Believe it or not, crocheting brought some much needed stimuli.
- Exceptional cuisine, yes. Vichyssoise, coq au vin, ceviche, creme brulee, and all the fun stuff I actually enjoy eating as much as saying. Except... for a person who LOVES to eat salmon, I was kinda getting tired of the Pan-Asian, Pacific Northwest style of fusion cooking when it comes to salmon. Shaved ginger, orange glazes, carmelized onions. Like, yum. But c'mon, just grill up the damn fish and put it out with some veggies and maybe a decent potato, and you're all good with me! I was like, what is this pretentious crap all over my fish again?? And no freaking pizza bar! What is up with that?! Well, there was a tray of pizza always out on some bar-like structure. But the moment you put pineapple & ham on the only pie you have out, you cease to call this paltry display a "pizza bar".
So, my answer is yes. To the question Did you go on a vacation? I did.
Did I relax? I slept.
Did I eat? I had a lot of steak.
Did I drink? I pre-ordered a half-case of wine.
Did I see glaciers? Absolutely.
Did I get to hike the glacier? No.
Coz I spent all my money at the spa.