Anchorage was fun, but after a couple of days we were ready to get on board the ship and do some cruising. Too bad cruise ships didn’t dock at Anchorage. No problem; the cruise people had arranged for a bus to take us and a couple thousand other people to Whittier, where the ship could dock.
You began to get an idea of how big this ship was by the size of the staging area for the bus trip to Whittier; they used a local convention center for collecting our luggage and assigning us to a bus. We were staying just a few blocks from the convention center, so we checked out that morning and walked down the street to see if we could get in early. It was already busy when we got there (apparently lots of people were ready to get started), but we didn’t have to wait long before they took our luggage and gave us a number for the bus.
Alaska is so scenic that even the bus trip to Whittier was amazing. It was only a couple of hours, but we stopped on the way to gawk at a glacier (the first of many) and wait our turn through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, a 2.5 mile tunnel shared with railroad traffic so it’s a single lane road with a railroad track converted from a World War II train tunnel (http://www.dot.state.ak.us/creg/whittiertunnel/index.shtml). Whittier is a tiny town with a deep harbor; not nearly big enough to justify a 2.5 mile tunnel, but apparently it was considered strategically important to the war, so it got a tunnel.
We were encouraged to board the ship directly from the bus, so I’m not sure what the local bar in Whittier is like. There was a line forming to get through the security check point before being allowed to board, so we were passing the time and Janie mentioned a chance meeting we had with a fellow passenger on this cruise we ran into after visiting friends in Minnesota. We had stopped in a small town on our way back to Iowa to get some breakfast and Janie had mentioned the pending cruise to our waitress. Turns out the pastry chef at the restaurant was also leaving for an Alaskan cruise around the time we were going. So we ended up talking to the pastry chef and it was the same cruise. No sooner had Janie reminded me of it, than I looked up and there she was, just in front of us in line waiting with her husband to go through security. We ended up running into each other a few times during the cruise; small world.
We made it through security and were welcomed on board the ship. We had a sweet room with a balcony and a great view. It was five flights of stairs to the main deck, and we quickly learned it wasn’t worth waiting for the elevators. No problem, the calories were already paid for. The first order of business was getting our cruise credit card for all the things we would need during the cruise that weren’t already paid for, including all our drinks. Great, just what I needed: a drink. Lots of bars, or if you sat still long enough, someone would come by and offer to get a drink for you. This was going to be a great trip.


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