A Kid’s View Of The Great Land: Seeing Alaska through the eyes of my 10-year-old son.
[Story was originally published in 2007.]
‘Dude! Alaska is soooooooo awesome!’
These were the words uttered by my 10-year-old son on our first morning in that most majestic of American states, Alaska. We had sailed from Seattle two days before, and on this morning, I awoke early, peeked out the curtains and nudged Alex awake.
I told him that we had arrived in Alaska and waited for him to wipe the sleep from his eyes and pull back the still-drawn curtains. I positioned myself so that I could see his face when he peered out the window at the rocky shoreline and snow-capped peaks we were passing.
His response made worthwhile all of the planning, the long flight across the country and the expense of this trip. Eyes wide and bright, he exclaimed with gusto, ‘Dude! Alaska is soooooooo awesome!’
In Awe Of Alaska
We dressed and went for breakfast, taking a seat at a table outside so that we could admire the sights and breathe the fresh, crisp Alaskan air. Without asking, an older woman plopped down with us, as if she had not seen us sitting there. She looked up somewhat surprised and said with some effort: ‘I don’t know how to describe the feeling. I’m just in awe.’
We were all in awe. Holland America Line’s Amsterdam was sailing toward Juneau, and on this bright morning, colorful fishing boats were motoring in the opposite direction out of the Gastineau Channel to the open sea. The busy channel, the blue sky, the mountains on both sides of the ship, the snow-capped peaks — it was indeed beautiful and moving.
The older woman told us that she was from Gloucester, Virginia. This was her first trip to Alaska, and she said that walking out on the open deck and seeing the wide expanse of beauty had made her feel queasy. She was so overwhelmed that she had to sit down.
That day was the first of several days of inspiring landscapes. Alaska’s natural beauty was stunning. When, at the end of our trip, I asked Alex to recount the images of Alaska that were in his mind, he said: ‘Whales, eagles and glaciers.’ We had seen lots of whales during a boat excursion in Sitka. Whales were so abundant, in fact, that we even saw three fluke their tails in succession. Eagles were perched on rocks and on tree limbs. We saw eagle nests and one eagle with a salmon in its talons. It was all so wonderful and wild.
In Juneau, we visited Mendenhall Glacier (paying $6 each way for the 20minute transfer on a Juneau Tours converted schoolbus). In the streams fed by the glacier, salmon were spawning.
Cruising With Kids
The great thing about cruising with kids is that as a parent, you can give the little ones a long leash. Cruise ships are relatively safe environments for kids, and it’s not likely they will get lost. I allowed Alex to hang out with other boys he met on the cruise.
He and Seth (pictured, Seth, left, Alex, right), 9 years old, from Santa Barbara, became best friends. I gave strict orders for Alex to rendezvous with me at certain times on the ship, and he was always there.
One night, I let him stay up until midnight with Seth, and the next morning he slept late. When I finally woke him, I thought he would be upset that he had missed the morning. ‘Alex, you’ve slept until 11:30,’ I said. ‘Really?’ he responded. I waited for some regret. ‘Great!’ he says. ‘That means I can stay up later tonight!’
Alaska is a place where you want to stay up late. The sun sets late, and the sunsets can be stunning. Occasionally, I would see Alex and Seth on the outer decks. Once, they were peering out to sea. ‘What’s going on guys?’ I asked. ‘We’re looking for whales.’Alex had learned to look not for the body of a whale but for the blow, just before the whale expels air, fully surfaces and dives again.
The real pleasure of this trip for me was the gift that I was giving Alex. He would return home with a few souvenirs, material possessions, some of which would be tossed aside and forgotten within a few weeks. These, of course, were trite and mostly meaningless. The real gifts were the indelible images that would stay with my son, forever — at least that is my hope.When we set out on our journey to the Great Land, Alex kept looking up at me and saying, ‘I’m so happy dad.’ I was too.
The day before he flew home to his mom, he was still happy. ‘It was my favorite trip ever,’ he said to me as I loaded him on the plane. To my ears those words were ‘soooooooo awesome.’
Departing Seattle, our Alaskan Explorer cruise on Holland America Line’s Amsterdam took us to Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, plus Victoria, British Columbia. We also cruised scenic Tracy Arm and Frederick Sound.
More Articles, Photos And Videos Featuring Alaska on Avid Cruiser:
- UnCruise Adventures’ Adds New Ship to Alaska Fleet
- Oceania Cruises Offers Experiences in Alaska
- Alaska By Small Ship
- Princess Cruises Gears Up For Great Alaska Season
- Vancouver – Canada’s Pacific Gem
- Everyone’s Sailing to Alaska in 2018
- Princess Cruises: Largest Alaska Deployment Ever in 2018
- Previewing The 2017 Alaska Cruise Season
- Explorer of the Seas Begins Her First Alaska Season
- Port Profile: Juneau
- Port Profile: Skagway
- What Will Seabourn Do Differently In Alaska?
- Small Ship Alaska: Do You Want To Share Alaska With Thousands? Or A Few Hundred?
- Total Immersion: Alaska Cruise Tours
- Five Great Alaska Ports That You’ve Never Been To
- Five North American Cruises For Beginners
- Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 10: Ketchikan
- Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 9: Juneau
- Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 8: Skagway
- North to Alaska! Postcards from Star Princess
- Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 6: Hubbard Glacier
- Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 5: Boarding the Star Princess
- Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 4: Double Denali
- Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 3: Denali National Park
- Star Princess Denali Explorer, Day 1-2: Anchorage & Mt. McKinley
- Sitka – Alaska’s Gem
- Skagway, Alaska and the White Pass Railroad
- Juneau, Alaska – America’s Most Isolated State Capital
- Summing Up Silver Discoverer: Memories From Russia’s Far East
- A Love Letter To Alaska: Wrapping Up A Live Voyage Report Aboard Star Princess
- Dispatches From Abroad: Sublime Sweden, An Expedition In Australasia & Pondering Alaska Through Poetry
- On Live Voyage Reports: Star Princess – Alaska’s Inside Passage
- From Australia To Athens To Alaska, Three Live Voyage Reports In May From Silver Discoverer, Europa 2 & Star Princess
- Your Alaska Questions Answered, Plus Our 2014 Alaska Guide
- Simply Presented: Royal Princess In 15 Slides
- Avid Cruiser Voyages: The Transpacific Crossing
- Avid Cruiser Voyages: Pacific Coast Cruises
- Is Norway’s Coast More Beautiful Than Alaska’s? Judge For Yourself On Hurtigruten
- Epicurean Adventure: Final Day Aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam
- Into the Wild—Ketchikan: Day 6 Aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam
- Thrills and Chills in Sitka: Day 5 Aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam
- Whale of a Tale: Day 4 Aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam
- State of Wonder: Day 3 Aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam
- Splendor of the Sea: Day 2 Aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam
- Summer Of Fun: Running Through Airports, The London Olympics, River Cruising In France, Traveling With Teens
- Aboard National Geographic (Lindblad) Expeditions in Alaska
- Avid Cruiser Voyages: Alaska’s Glaciers
- Going Native with Alaskan Dream
- Avid Cruiser Voyages: Alaska’s Inside Passage
- Longer Stays In Port: Cruising Into The Heart Of Anchorage, Alaska
- Three Choices For Cruising The Great Land: Alaska In 2012
- Going to the Dogs in Alaska
- 2011 Family Cruise Vacation Shopping Guide
- Alluring Alaska
- Remembering Cruise West: On An Alaska Cruisetour – Wildlife Sightings in Denali
- Kids On Cruises: Assessing Holland America Line For All Ages
- From My Balcony… Admiring The Beauty of Alaska In A Bathrobe
- Four Favorite Cruises: The USA’s Best Cruise Itineraries
- On Cruises From Seattle Before Setting Sail To Alaska: Six Seattle Sleeps
- Expert Advice On Choosing An Alaska Cruisetour
- Alaska Cruises: Shoulder Season Can Be Sweet, Top Reasons To Cruise Alaska Off-Peak
- ‘Awesome’ Alaska: The Great Land Through The Eyes Of A Kid
- Magical Moments On Alaska Cruises
- Alaska Cruisetour: Total Immersion
- Cruise Value: Off-Peak Alaska Cruises
- Alaska Cruisetour: Deep in Denali at Kantishna Road House
- In-Depth Alaska: Cruise + Tour = Cruisetour
- Alaska Cruisetour: John Martin, One Of The Last Tlingit Speakers
- Alaska Cruisetour: Haines Brewing Company
- Vintage Video: Tom Choate on the virtue of Small Groups
- Vintage Video: Exploration Leader Tom Choate On Seeing Denali
- Vintage Video: Tom Choate, Exploration Leader and Climber
- Big Ship, Small Ship: Envy En Route To Fairbanks
- Alaska Shore Excursion: Fly By Denali
- When Is The Best Time To Book Your Cruise?
- Fairbanks, Alaska Shore Excursion: Howling With The Huskies
- Fairbanks, Alaska: Mary Shields Personal Tours
- Alaska Shore Excursion: Meeting Mary Shields, First To Finish Iditarod Sled Dog Race
- Cruise West: Bering Sea Voyage
- NCL’s Top Ten Shore Excursions Worldwide
- Alaska’s golden anniversary of statehood deserves special Princess treatment
- Airfare included with Inside Passage itineraries from Holland America
- Top Seven Scenic Cruises
- Overnights In Glacier Bay
- Cruise West: On An Alaska Cruisetour