Well, I did it! Conquered seasickness and visited Alaska with my mother. You may recall I asked for ideas for shore excursions in my last newsletter. Thank you to those who acted upon that request. Our 7-day Holland America cruise was an unexpected pleasure. We discovered a most comfortable ship (“small” by modern standards, with “only” 2000 passengers and crew on board), a cozy cabin, the most solicitous crew, very good food, and interesting fellow passengers. My mother said my seasickness would evaporate with age. She was right! I was especially impressed with the culinary program held in a state-of-the art amphitheater as well as the way the staff handled everyone, from the wheelchair-bound, to families with toddlers. A very democratic cruise experience.
We gaped in awe at Mendenhall Glacier and the majestic setting of Glacier Bay. The day we visited, a female ranger from Glacier National Park climbed up a rope ladder to spend the day with us, along with her sidekick, a native Huna Tlingit from a Glacier Bay tribe (AlaskaNativeVoices.com). Excursions out of Juneau, Sitka (with its unusual Russian Orthodox Church with walls lined floor to ceiling with gold icons), and Ketchickan ranged from the mundane to exciting trips aboard kayaks or walks in the wilderness. We could have purchased excursions upon arrival, rather than aboard ship, where the choice was more limited. For us, the highlight came in Victoria B.C, where my mother was joined by her three grandchildren during a memorable evening ashore at Cafe Brio in Victoria. (see my review below.)
A Word to the wise: SEATAC airport was the worst experience of the trip. Its zoo like atmosphere is bad as Kennedy Airport’s. Avoid it if you can!
Past the intimate, flower-filled patio, you enter a lively venue filled with happy and chatty patrons. The plate of salumi (which we French speakers call assiette de charcuterie) was outstanding and imaginative (ras el hanout crusted prosciutto???) and those BC garden-grown tomatoes, sweet as sunshine, which actually was shining that day. The locally sourced lamb was exquisitely cooked, and when I complimented the owner, he gave me the provenance of his meat. The platter of Canadian cheeses looked tempting, as were the chocolate desserts. But for me, home grown tomatoes took precedence! This is a gem of a place. Café Brio, Victoria BC