No matter where we cruised, nothing got guests as excited as the brunch buffet. Ok, maybe the Mayan ruins or watching humpbacks rocket out of Alaskan waters. But those events didn’t come with a side of hash browns and the most perfectly runny eggs benedict this side of Denny’s.
Brunch was reserved on days when the ship required time at sea to get to our next destination. Along with lectures from our naturalists, we’d use gluttonous amounts of potatoes, eggs, fruit, waffles, and anything else we could possibly fit in the dining room to capture the guest’s attention. For a small adventure ship, this was the closest we ever got to behaving like the floating hotels.
The morning began with pre-brunch mimosas and smoked salmon in the upstairs lounge as the crew prepared the dining room for the carnage that would ensue. I’d keep the guests entertained in the lounge the best way I knew how — by rocking out.
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(This post comes in from Donny and I love it. So true of the job and the sudden shocks that come when you least expect them. Thanks for contributing!)
When my boss asked me if I would fill in as cruise director for a few trips, I was hesitant to say yes. At the time, I had been working on cruise ships for over four years and had moved up to the role of purser. If you’re not sure what the purser does, suffice to say it’s the best job onboard the ship. You don’t really report to anyone other than the captain, and no one reports to you, at least on the small ships I worked on. You can spend as much time with the passengers as you want, but when you’ve had enough, it’s easy to say that you have some paperwork to attend to and retreat to your office, where you can kick back and turn on some music. I loved my job, but the cruise director gig had some advantages. The pay was higher, as was the prestige, and it could lead to more opportunities to work on other ships around the world. I said yes.
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My plane touched down in Juneau, surrounded by endless water to the west and soaring snow-capped peaks to the north, south and east. I have to say, it felt like I should have embarked on a climbing expedition rather than a cruise. And, something about the mountains called to me, saying, “wouldn’t everything look so much cooler from up here? Forget about that dark, flat water. This is what Alaska is all about!”
A captain friend would later say that Alaska is like “God flooded the Rockies,” and I’ve yet to come up with a better description. It was the first week in September and the weather was high forties and overcast. Cold and overcast seems to be the norm in Alaska except for the height of the summer season, which lasts from the second Thursday in July until about 2 o’clock the next day.
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My friend likes to tell a story of a 103 year-old man she traveled with aboard a riverboat on the Danube. She was helping the passengers pick out bicycles to ride along the river’s winding banks when the man, Mr. Graham, got up on two squeaky wheels and peddled along the water, leaving his fellow passengers in the European dust. With each turn of the wheels, Mr. Graham shattered everyone’s preconceived notions of what it meant to be elderly.
When he returned, the group asked Mr. Graham when he felt a person was “old.” At first, he didn’t have an answer. He scratched his head and stared at his dusty shoes, thinking. His fellow travelers probably expected a number like 80 or 90, or even 100 (100 is the new 90, by the way) but Mr. Graham thought otherwise. Eventually, he raised his head to the group.
“I guess when you can’t ride a bike anymore,” he said, with a boyish grin running from hearing aid to hearing aid.