brian m. carlson brian m. carlson Personal Life version 2 of the GNU General Public License the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

So my parents decided that they wanted to go on a cruise, and they wanted to take my brother Nathan and his girlfriend Mandy, and my boyfriend Danny and I. So we got up early on Sunday the 16th, and headed to the airport. We had a taxi pick us up, since it was cheaper to do that than spend the money on parking the car. The taxi that came had difficulty fitting the six of us and all of our luggage in the car, but we got it to work. We decided to eat breakfast at McDonald’s, since that was really the only choice we had (and, I would like to point out, my car did not stop there).

We got on the plane to Minneapolis/St. Paul, and the flight was mostly uneventful. The MSP airport is huge; it has only one terminal, but at least seven concourses, each with a large number of gates. The size of the place is so great that there are trams to take you between different concourses. We had a short amount of time before our next leg, from MSP to Anchorage, but we managed to find lunch anyway. We boarded the plane, which was supposed to depart at 11:50a (CST; 16:50 UTC), and as it was pulling away from the gate, it experienced a hydraulics problem.

The pilot said that we wouldn’t be able to continue with this problem; it would be unsafe, so we pulled up back to the gate, whilst they did repairs. When they did a test, they found that the problem was not fixed, so Northwest decided to put us on a different plane; we had to go from gate C6 to gate F14, which is a fairly significant distance, maybe .75km. Our plane left significantly later; we did not get off the ground until 19:45 UTC.

The concern that we had (along with several other passengers, we found out) was that the ship might leave without us. When we arrived in Anchorage, which is in the Alaska Time Zone, three hours earlier than Central, the passengers for the ship were supposed to disembark first. That really didn’t happen, but we quickly got routed to the baggage claim, where they picked up our luggage and got it loaded onto the motorcoach.

We all got on the motorcoach for the drive from Anchorage to Seward. Since the Port of Anchorage must be dredged every year, it has not yet been dredged deep enough to permit cruise ships to dock there. The drive was quite scenic.

The first thing I noticed about Alaska was that all the trees looked very similar and had very much the same shape. Almost all the trees had a conical shape, and even though they may have been different species, it was difficult to tell them apart from any distance. Also, the mountains were huge and very beautiful. It was possible to see mountainside homes that were covered in clouds.

We arrived in Seward and boarded the ship. The cruise terminal was, very simply, a large warehouse-like building that had a metal detector at one end. We checked in at the front desk, got our keycards for our door, and went to our rooms.

The rooms are fairly small: there is a king-sized bed, a two-person couch, a chair, a TV and DVD player, and a bathroom. It’s a little smaller than your average hotel room. Nevertheless, we have a one-way window that opens up to the side of the ship, so we can see out.

The food on board is quite good. At dinner, we went to the dining room, which is like a nice restaurant, except with no prices. We can each choose whatever we’d like from the menu. The only things that cost money are alcohol and soda. The food was good, but we decided that we’d only really want to eat in the dining room for dinner; otherwise, we’d eat in a more informal setting. The ship also has a restaurant called the Lido Restaurant.

The Lido Restaurant serves food all day, and it is basically like a combination cafeteria and buffet. Certain food items are self-serve: for breakfast, that includes fruit and dessert. Otherwise, you can go to one of several different stations, where you can get a variety of things prepared for you. For lunch, there were several different entrees and sides, as well as Asian, Italian, and sandwiches. It’s all unlimited; you can go back as much as you want.

The Lido does have one drawback: there isn’t a great deal of seating, so it’s necessary to share tables with other people. Also, if you have multiple people in your party, you really can’t all get up at once, lest your table be bussed and then other people in your place.

Overall, the experience is good. Right now we’re out on the open ocean, so it’s somewhat rough. It got bad enough that I had to take some Dramamine, and until that kicked in, I almost felt like throwing up. Still, we’ve passed by some truly beautiful sites, and I’m taking lots of pictures. Desktop backgrounds, anyone?