Judy Shaw's Report from the Guy & Ralna Alaskan Cruise
I left my home on Saturday morning (out of Memphis, TN) and flew to
Detroit and then changed planes (remember my complaints on that
routing?). After I got to Seattle, I was missing one of my two checked
bags so that wasn't a very good welcoming. Also, the route for getting
my bags and myself to where the hotel shuttle van could pick me up was
not one for those weak of heart. I had such a load (even with one bag
missing) and had to go up an elevator, across a skywalk, down an
elevator, to the street, find the phone board and call my motel and
then wait - and I might add - that was in about 55 degree temps. After
I got to my hotel, I learned that several WelkNoters had already been
there looking for me so that was nice. Evelyn F., Carol D., Betty S.,
and Beth L. (who is a Seattle area WelkNoter) met up with me in the
Lobby. We decided to have a late lunch/early dinner in the hotel area
downstairs and it was really nice to have that time to visit.
Afterwards, they came up to my room and we visited some more but then
we had to start "dealing with" my lost piece of luggage (That's
another whole story). It was quite an ordeal but after a lot of
hassles, Beth took me back over to the airport to pick up my missing
piece, which had arrived by then - only to learn that an
airline courier had already picked it up for delivery to me. So we
had to wait for him to come back by before I could get it. By this
time, I was almost ready to forget the cruise and go back to the
airport and come home. I was tired, cold, cranky, and wondering what
was wrong with the world .
next morning (Sunday), I had to retrace my steps BACK to the airport -
through all of the mazes and unnecessary steps and then additonal steps
(miles) to the bus. Then, once the bus got to the dock, there was more
walking - through winding lanes of lines - to the next window - to the
next building - through that door - go out that way - and on and on.
THEN, it was up the ramp to the ship.....UPHILL all the way. Again, I
was thinking that maybe I should just turn around and run.
time I got to the inside of the ship, I think I was on about the 6th or
7th level (floor) - that was a lot of UPHILL in my book.
eventually got to my cabin, which was on the 9th level. Shortly, our
steward, named BOGDAN came in to introduce himself. He was from
Romania and was a really great guy and steward. He made up our beds
and cleaned/picked up each morning. In the evening, he came in (never
when we were there) and turned down our beds and put a chocolate on
an hour or so after I arrived in my assigned stateroom, my cabinmate,
Linda C. arrived to find that I had already selected the choice bed,
and hogged all (most) of the closet space and shelves in the
bathroom. Our room was nice and comfortable and we had a good sized
window to look through. Several of the pictures in my Album were taken
through the window. Now........ the bathroom was something else: to
change clothes in it, you had to leave the door open and stick
1-1/2 legs out the door. But it was adequate.
of the WelkNoters seemed to be in close proximity except for Evelyn and
Carol, who had been upgraded by the cruise line to a balcony room (at
no extra charge) on a different level. Besides the WelkNoters, Ralna
had the suite at the end of our floor and Guy and Sis had the suite
immediately next to Ralna. I did get to "check out" Ralna's suite -
and my word - it was nice. There was a marble entry hall, a kingsize
bed, a walk-in closet, a bar, a bathtub, a small livingroom area and a
very nice sized balcony that looked out the very back of the boat -
what a nice view.
family members' cabins were also down in our area so we frequently were
running in to all of them as we (or they) came and went. Personally
speaking, I was so thrilled to see and visit some with Jane and Sharon,
Ralna's sisters. If you recall "My History with Guy and Ralna" that I
wrote, those sisters were in my life many years ago and Jane, in
particular, played quite a part in helping me to meet Guy and Ralna the
elevators. Maybe I shouldn't even talk about them. They were
horrendous. That says it all. You could not go from 1 - 14. After
spending a week with them, I still can't tell you what you could do - I
just know that I was never on the correct elevator. Even if you goofed
and were trying to go to level 6 and you could only get down to level 7
- one would think that you could get off and walk down one flight.
NOT!!! There would be no stairway there. So..................I
just encouraged the other girls to pull me around on a rope all week -
wherever they led me, I went. In all fairness, I will add that someone
told me after I got home that they had heard that other ships have that
same crazy elevator system.
ship itself was very nice. It had an elegant feel to it. There were
two very nice theaters - one at each end of the ship and at night,
there was always something going on in each of them. There was also a
gambling Casino onboard (which could only operate in open waters). We
had at least two formal dining rooms and several smaller eating places
such as a pizza restaurant. On the top level (14th floor) was the
Horizon Court restaurant and it was buffet style and open 24-7. When
eating there, you could sit and look directly out at the water. That's
where I think I spotted the antenna for the ships web cam. All of the
food was wonderful - even if I wasn't always sure what I was going to
get. A lot of it was Italian as I guess they had an Italian kitchen
crew but not sure about that. We had 5 courses every meal and most of
the meals took about 1 3/4 to 2 hrs. to be served in high style and to
eat. We could also order from the room service menu around the clock
and yours truly kept them hopping with my constant requests for "a
large pot of coffee, please." Linda C. discovered the room service
late in the week but still got "hooked" on the caramel flans that they
would bring and was ordering them two at a time (and that was for JUST
her). Just to mention a few of the most favorite things I ate: Prime
Rib, Alaskan King Crab, Shrimp cocktail, crab quiche, fresh fruit
(especially the fresh pineapple and honeydew), sirloin steak(s),
salmon, and on and on.
was tons to do on the ship. There were movies, backstage tour,
kitchen tour, swimming, internet room (for a charge), a spa, champagne
party, Bingo, Casino, shopping on the ship, Karaoke, Games (i.e. Name
that Tune, Liar Liar, etc) and even country line dancing lessons.
There were about 50 times more things to do then I just mentioned -
suffice it to say, that there is no way you could be bored. The
production shows were mostly in the Princess Theater and they used the
same 17 dancers/entertainers and 20 band members nightly. I think they
did at least 4 different production numbers and I will never understand
how those young people could remember each show (music, dance movements
and costume changes) when they only did it once a week - they were
were stops at three ports - Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. There were
many shore excursions to select from (for a charge) in each port and
most of our group took great advantage of many of the tours and enjoyed
themselves immensely. As for myself, I only went on the White Pass
Rail Trip on Thursday. It lasted about 4 hrs. and afforded some of the
prettiest scenery you could imagine. The "train guide" told us a lot
of history as we went along about what we were seeing and it was all
very interesting. He also pointed out 3 bears (I only saw one and he
was sooooooooooo cute) and mountain goats. I did bring home a book
about the train ride if anyone has any questions - I can check my
little "cheat" book. I definitely enjoyed the scenery as we traveled
the Inside Passage. It seemed to me that the mountains and surrounding
land was so untouched by man. We are not used to seeing that (or at
least I'm not) here in the lower 48.
our 3 port stops, we came home a different way - out into the ocean
this time. I could then definitely feel a "roll" to the boat -
especially Friday morning. The water was beautiful and I could even
see a few fish in the water from my room's window. The weather
remained quite cool (maybe in the high 40's to high 50's) most of the
trip. It got dark very late - still being twilight at 1030pm at
to tell you about the GUY & RALNA show and Ralna's Birthday Bash on
Monday afternoon. Coming into the theater (the Vista Lounge), each
person was given a little "souvenier" from Ralna. The ladies received
a red tennis visor that says "Ralna's Birthday Bash" Alaska 2007. The
men received a pen that said the same thing. The show itself was
FANTABULOUS. Whenever I see Guy and Ralna perform, I seem to sit there
in some sort of "suspended in space" time warp - in awe - I think the
room could catch fire and I would still be sitting there with this
silly grin plastered on my face
. They seem to have a hypnotizing affect on me with their beautiful
voices and presence. This show was no different. I do think that
having family members and special friends in the audience seemed to
highten the quality of their performance, if you can imagine that.
the show, Guy and Ralna signed autographs and then the kitchen brought
out two gorgeous birthday cakes for Ralna (I put pictures of them in my
Cruise album). Everyone enjoyed the yummy cake and many enjoyed an
hour of open Bar. Ralna and all of her family as well as Guy and his
family were there to visit with everyone and for picture taking.
However, it all had to end after about an hour because most of them had
assigned early seating in their diningroom so they had to leave.
of the WelkNoters (but not all) had Open Dining which meant we could
eat the dinner meal any time between 5:30 and 10:00pm. And of course,
if you missed that, you had many other options, including the 24-7
Horizon Court Restaurant on the top level.
WelkNotes Get-together was on Saturday at noontime. Originally, this
was to be WelkNoters only and I had no idea that any of the performers
would be available to attend. As it turned out, Ralna came, Guy and
wife Sis came, Guy's sister Joye came, and Ralna's two sisters, Sharon
and Jane came. Additionally, Ken Delo honored us with his presence.
Now my goodness - what more could we ask for? The stars came after we
had spent about 20 mins. on a Trivia game and also door prizes. Martha
U. won the Trivia game. We had 11 door prizes of various Welk gifts.
I thought the most special ones were Ralna's CD of "From My Heart" as
well as the DVD of the same. The "biggie" door prize was the necklace
that was a pledge gift for the "Milestones and Memories" PBS Special
which was worn during that Special by the female performers. Ralna
donated her very own worn/used necklace as a Door Prize and it was won
by WelkNoter Joan Brown (I included a picture of Joan and her necklace
in my Cruise album). Additionally, Ralna gave "Ralna's Birthday Bash"
writing pens to everyone there. A WelkNotes souvenir was a
musical motif notepad. Also, WelkNoter Verda made lovely Guy and Ralna
bookmarks for everyone present.
of the performers started off at the Get-Together by allowing questions
to be asked of any of them. Interesting enough, I think Ralna's
sister, Jane, asked the most questions - hmmmmmmmmm. Then there was
picture taking and all of them were so gracious and patient with us.
THANKS TO YOU, THE STARS and your family members for honoring us with
your presence!! During the party, we did present Ralna with a birthday
card and "special gift" (donation to her favorite charity, CHILDHELP in
honor of her 65th birthday) and she was very appreciative.
asked about the cruise ship's daily newsletter, the Pitter Patter.
Sheryl also asked about names being on the cabin doors. The names of
the people in the cabin were to the right of our doors. Above that was
a clear plastic "mailbox." Usually in the evenings, when we would come
in from our nightly "excursions," our mailbox would be full of goodies
- always a Pitter Patter (the newsletter) and sometimes other useful
information, such as sales going on in the ship's stores or special
offers at the Spa (teeth whitening special, etc), or useful information
about disembarkation. The Pitter Patter was chuck full of great info
and usually would feature the next port of call. Each issue
contained a column titled: FROM THE NAVIGATOR which told the route of
the ship. Here is an example printed on Tuesday Jun 19th:
the early hours of this morning the vessel entered Alaskan waters and
proceeded on northerly courses towards Twin Island. As the vessel
neared Twin Island the ships speed was reduced and our Alaskan Pilot
was boarded. The Sun Princess was then navigated on course between
Bold Island and Annette Island through the Tongass Narrows towards our
port in Ketchikan. The Sun Princess will depart Alaska's first city of
Ketchikan this afternoon and set northerly courses towards Tracy Arm."
- I would never know that we picked up a "pinch-hitting" ship pilot if
I hadn't read it in the Pitter Patter. Whenever we were coming into a
port city, the previous night's Pitter Patter would also contain an
added section with that port's map and store listings and other useful
information. It was quite informative.
learned a lesson: which was to read the Pitter Patter the evening it
was delivered as I failed to do so one time and MISSED the Mexican
Buffet the next day .
our return to Seattle, there was quite an amazing disembarkation
process. Everyone was given color coded tags for their luggage and the
sound system announced which colors were next to disembark. It was
accomplished in a very orderly fashion. And it's a good thing it went
smoothly because the crew was already stripping linens and cleaning
rooms of those who were the first off the ship, readying the cabins for
the 'new' passengers. They were also changing the names on the doors
which made us feel very much displaced . To think that a brand new group of 2,000 passengers would be onboard in just a few hours was mind-boggling.
of the Cruising WelkNoters have mentioned, even though we all had fun -
we all came home extremely tired. I stayed tired for at least a
week (I also felt like I was still on the ship for about 4 days - I
kept 'bracing myself' standing in my home - but didn't need to be).
And believe it or not, although I can't speak for anyone else, I did not
gain any weight (even though I was eating 5 course meals at least twice
daily) on the cruise - because I walked MILES AND MILES trying to get
around the ship (specifically, to the dining halls to eat - go
figure). That sure says something about my usual lethargic lifestyle
at home, doesn't it?