Seattle Harbor and Shipoff – Alaska Day 1

Today is Saturday, May 31, and I am on my way to Alaska for a cruise with my dad, Jimbo. We have been talking about going on an Alaskan cruise for the past several years (since 2006 I believe) and this year we finally pulled the trigger and went through with it. Prior to this trip, my only real exposure to an Alaskan cruise was on that epic two-part episode of Baywatch where Mitch, Hobie and the gang took an Alaskan cruise. On that cruise, some murderous douchebag was on board the ship causing all sorts of ruckus, and Mitch had to come through and save the day. Of course, the Hoff did save the day, and continued his awesome performance record of delivering 10 times out of 10. Between me and my dad being on this boat, I think we have some serious Hasselhoff potential!

Leading up to this trip, I had told quite a few people about how I was going on Alaskan cruise with my dad. Their first reaction was “why isn’t your mom going?” I told them that it was because my mom, Franny, didn’t have any desire to go to Alaska and be cold all the time. This is quite true, and even though we reminded Franny that Alaska really isn’t much colder than Minnesota at this time of year, she wouldn’t budge.

The second reaction I received was for people to tell me to be prepared to see a TON of old people. They couldn’t have been more correct. More on this later, but let’s just say that on the demographics curve of this ship, I am an extreme outlier on the young axis.

Today started very early with a trip to the airport. Our ship was leaving from Seattle, so we first had to board the 8:30 AM flight from MSP to Seattle. Not a big deal, and I was actually pretty alert when I woke up, in spite of about 4 hours of sleep. We made it to the airport and everything pretty much went as planned. The flight took off without a hitch, and we were soon in the air on our way to Seattle.

Given my lack of sleep the night before, I had little trouble falling asleep the minute the pressurized cabin door was shut (I fall asleep at this point of a plane ride 80% of the time). I was asleep for a good 30-60 minutes or so when I heard the words that everyone fears when riding an airplane:

“Somebody help!”

I didn’t know whether I was dreaming, if it was my music, or reality. When I heard the voice again, I knew it was real:

“Please someone help! She’s having a seizure!” this time much louder than before.

I open my eyes and look around and notice that the person who is yelling is in my same row, just across the aisle. The husband was in the window seat, his toddler daughter in the middle, and his wife in the aisle seat having a seizure. I couldn’t see her (nor did I want to stare), but from my window seat I did look over at my dad, who was seated across the aisle from the woman having a seizure. He was actually sleeping too at first, and by the time that he awoke, there were already two flight attendants tending to her. Shortly after that, a doctor, seated a two rows up, came to her aide as well.

The doc tended to her closely and the flight attendants did a great job of crowd control and keeping everyone calm. They put the lady on Oxygen and she seemed to be doing alright for a while.

This was definitely a first for me, and all kinds of thoughts ran through my head during that 5-10 minutes of chaos in our row. At first I was disoriented and trying to figure out what was going on. Once I heard that she was having a seizure, I started trying to think of whether I knew anything about how to treat a seizure, or if there was anything I could do to be a ‘hero.’ After I learned that there was a doctor on board, I started to relax and I knew that she would be alright.

Then I started thinking about the show Lost, and how the doctor was like Jack, and I was definitely like Sawyer (think ruggedly handsome). Then I started thinking “man am I glad that I bought trip insurance,” because had the flight got diverted to another airport or had things delayed, we would have been able to receive our money back for our trip (did you know that in cruises, if your flight is delayed and they ship off without you, you are completely SOL if you don’t have trip insurance? That’s nuts! With the state of the airlines right now, we didn’t want to take that risk). Luckily none of this was necessary, as she began to stabilize.

After a while, things seemed to be back to normal. I drifted back asleep, and hoped that the flight would be over soon. At some point, they removed the oxygen mask from the mouth of the lady, and she passed out/had another seizure! This time, the doctor took her out of the seat and laid her on the floor to stabilize her condition. That must have worked, because I did not hear anything for the rest of the flight.

When we arrived, the flight attendants announced that everyone should remain seated, because there were paramedics meeting us at the gate. The paramedics boarded, and the doctor told them of her condition. He said that she just fainted and that if she indeed had a seizure, it was minimal. The paramedics picked her up and tried to see if she could walk under her own power. As soon as she stood up, her little toddler jumped out of her seat, smiled, and said “hi mommy!” It was seriously the cutest ending to a tense situation that I could imagine. The lady was able to walk off the plane under her own power, and the rest of us were able to go about our travel plans.

At the airport, we got our bags pretty easily and a representative from the cruise line told us exactly what we needed to do in order to get to the ship. We left our baggage in a designated area (tagged with our room number). The next time we’d see our baggage is when it was delivered directly to our ships cabin.

We boarded a bus that took us to the port/harbor, and about 20 minutes later, we were in Seattle Harbor. Across the street from us was the Starbucks world headquarters (the bus driver said it best “this is where the Starbucks folks plot for world domination.” I know the bus driver probably says that 20-30 times a day, but it was like he was speaking directly to me!)

QWest Field and Safeco Park

The other point of interest was that we were across the street from Safeco field (home of the Mariners), and right next door to that was Qwest field (home of the Seahawks). This continues my lucky streak of randomly seeing massive stadiums and ballparks during my various travels (my favorite was the time that I saw Wrigley field from 2 blocks away after turning a random corner in Chicago. Others include Soldier Field, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the formerly named Enron field in Houston, Miller park, Dodgers stadium from the Nestle tower in Glendale, the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, Mile High Stadium, the Pepsi Center, Candlestick Park – now called Monster – and a bunch of others that I can’t remember).

After arriving at the terminal, we waited in line for about an hour until we were finally able to board the ship at noon. Once we got on the ship, we were bombarded with ship employees trying to sell us unlimited Coca Cola for $39.95. That’s a shitload of Coca Cola. I declined.

Cruise Ship

Next, we toured the massive ship. This thing is friggin huge, with a 2600 passenger capacity and all kinds of amenities. We were on Princess cruise lines, and our ship was the Golden Princess, which was built in 2001. I’m not positive, but given the amount of turquoise on this ship, I think my mom must have been hired to decorate it way back in 1993. The interior seriously looks like it was decorated by a 75 year old woman who wears those sweaters that have all kinds of do-dads, mirrors, beads and other kitsch on them. Given the median age of the people on this cruise, I would say that they definitely hit their target market.

On board the ship was a casino (more on this later), several restaurants, a sports deck, a sweet bar called the “skwywalker lounge” at the top of the ship, 4 pools, hot tubs, lounges, a theater, and just about anything else you could imagine.

For lunch, we were told to go to the buffet on the Lido deck (floor 14). This marked the beginning of the fatness. I will have a lot to say about the food on cruise ships in future entries, but let’s just say this; you will not go hungry on a cruise ship, and you will not lose weight. You will gain weight and lots of it… and you will not ever skip a meal because the food is too good to pass up.

I was starving heading into the buffet, and I left on a stretcher. Figuratively. Not literally. We went back to our room, and I immediately fell asleep in a food coma.

Dad and I spent most of the afternoon napping and hanging out in the room. At 4PM or so, we went upstairs for the ships “send off” and watched the ship leave the pier in the rain. After that, we had happy hour in our stateroom and got ready for dinner.

We had dinner at one of the ships restaurants, and the 5 course meal was excellent! For those of you that have never been on a cruise before, dinner consists of 5 courses, and you are encouraged to order one or more items per course. On this night, I had an appetizer with lobster and crab in it, a pina colada soup (served in a drink glass), a green salad, prime rib dinner and a sugar free mousse for dessert. It was all very good! Eating on a cruise ship is like constantly eating at a wedding, but with twice as much food. It’s ridiculously indulgent.

Princess Theater

After dinner, dad wanted to check out a show at the theater. I went with too, but I wasn’t nearly as interested in watching it. I stayed for a while and watched introductions and part of a ventriloquist act that was moderately funny. Then I decided to bolt out of there and head to the casino and test my luck.

The casino wasn’t quite open yet (not far enough into international waters), so I walked around until it opened. Once it opened, I sat at the blackjack table and made $60! Not wanting to lose it back, and being really tired, I headed back to the cabin and went to sleep.

I’m loving cruising so far!

About Jeff Sauer

I started blogging in the year 2000, and go in spurts of inspiration followed by long dormancy. I love writing, and your comments keep me going, so comment!

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  1. Sounds awesome so far! (Other than the plane ride and the seizuring lady). Can’t wait to read more of the good stuff.

  2. OH MAN!!! i am so jealous!!! so i guess it would be safe to say you could find you a rich sugar mama if ya wanted huh? lmao