Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Cruise Ship that was on Fire

Last week I went on an Alaskan cruise with my mom that was on FIRE...Literally, and figuratively.  

You possibly heard of the cruise ship that caught on fire through different news sources, such as ABC News.  According to a few of my friends and other outside sources, our ship made national news!


After an hour or two of leaving Seattle, our captain of the Westerdam ship (Holland America cruise line) came on over the ship's speakers and told us there had been a fire in the boiler room.  Actually, by the end of it, there were two fires.  This caused us to make a return to Seattle so that inspections and any needed repairs could be made.  We didn't leave port again until Sunday afternoon.


Due to the delay of our second attempt of leaving Seattle, there was no way we'd make all of our stops in Alaska.  The leaders of our ship decided to cut out our stop in Sitka, Alaska, and to continue on to all the other ports.  To make up for the delay and issues that came up, the ship offered a $250 room credit (not per person, just per room).  In addition, they also have given us all 25% off of what we spent on this last cruise towards the next cruise that we may take on their cruise line.   (I'd really like to take their cruise to Antarctica   But sadly, that one will probably be out of my budget for a very long time.)

On the bright side, had we not had
the fire and had to return to
Seattle, we would have missed this
beautiful view of the city.  

Although many were disappointed about not being able to go to Sitka (as that's why many people chose this specific cruise), everyone was really patient.  Other than voicing some of our disappointment, there really wasn't any complaining.  Everyone stayed impressively calm, kind, friendly, and chill about the whole situation.  We were all grateful that the captain decided to return to Seattle.  We all were in agreement that it was better to return and miss a port to potentially avoid any future problems during the trip.  In the end, I even think that Holland America has become one of my top cruise lines to travel with.


Ironically, before the cruise took off the first time - I made a post on my Facebook:


"Here is to a cruise where I won't...
  • get sick.
  • be hospitalized in a foreign country.
  • have an Indonesian stalker.
  • get stuck in a turn style.
  • have a toilet attempt to strangle me.
  • have a family member in the hospital.
  • do a random gravity check, followed by getting covered in mud by a glacier.
  • or get pooped on by a dolphin.

Haha...My cruising experiences are never dull. I'm fascinated to see what adventures will come my way for this one."


I'm thinking that next time I should add hypothetical situations too, since a fire wasn't originally on the list. ;-)  


And just in case anyone is wondering - I've been able to compile the list above throughout 7 different cruises, not just one or two.


I've had many people in the past tell me that they don't want to cruise - they're too afraid.  They're afraid of situations like this, where there is a fire...or situations like the Titanic.  Some just don't like the idea of being confined on a cruise ship, afraid they may feel too claustrophobic.  


Once the fire took place on the cruise I had well-travelled friends tell me, "This is the perfect example as to why I will never ever go on a cruise."


With this cruise being my 7th, I obviously enjoy cruising...But why??


I like to refer to cruising as the appetizer of traveling.  While cruising, you get a little taste of each port...Of each city, state, and/or country.  You get an idea on if you want to make a return visit, or if you're satisfied with the 5 hours your spent there while on a ship.  More often than not, I find myself thinking, "After this cruise I want to hop on the next plane to return here - and I want to stay for a month!"


Another reason I love cruising?  Usually when I travel, it's to do things to help other people - to do work, and not to rest.  I've been to Japan, but to do disaster relief work after their tsunami and to hold carnivals for children in hopes of getting the Good News in their hands.  I've travelled to Mexico, but to help build a house for those who own land - yet sleep on dirt floors and who have no locks to protect the little they have within their tarp walls.


Traveling to do things for others is fantastic.  I love being able to go and to become 
immersed in a local culture, tasting what they taste, seeing what they see, hearing their stories.  I wouldn't trade my years and miles of experiences for anything in this world - and I really hope I can continue to do trips like that.  They are some of the best experiences I've had in my life!! But with cruising?  It's one of the few ways in which I can see the world in a relaxed setting where I don't have to work, I don't have an obligations.  It's one of the few times when I travel where I get to focus on myself and rest.

People say they don't want to cruise because the ship may sink, have a fire, or get stuck in an ocean.  Yet, those same people fly on planes that can have engine problems, have fires, or crash.  They drive in cars that can have the same problems - driving on roads where often their fate are ultimately in the hands of other drivers, in the hands of strangers.  No matter where we go, how we get there, there are always going to be risks in whatever we do - whether we stay home, go for a drive, plane ride, or go cruising.  (Granted, I say all this, but I  have always refused to get on the back of a motorcycle - and my own father has one!)


This last cruise was fantastic and one of my favorites - even with the fire.


I saw Alaska.  I got out of California's blazing heat.  I went to a mushing camp where they keep beautiful husky puppies and train them.  I even went mushing on dry land and got to cuddle with a 6-week-old puppy.  We sailed through glacier bay, I tried a reindeer sandwich, chilled pear soup (YUM!), hung out on the ship's spa, ate fantastic food (which included the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had), toured the ship's brilliant kitchen, went to a towel folding and origami class, and saw some really cool shows presented by the talent living onboard.  We even watched dolphins, whales, and otters while sitting on our balcony (and when eating dinner in the dining room!).  


Glacier Bay.
Funny story: While looking out for whales on our balcony during the first few days, we had no luck...so what did I do?? I spoke whale. My mom thought I was being ridiculous, but within about 5 minutes we had orcas swimming right outside our room. Thank you Dori, from Finding Nemo, for that educational influence and inspiration in my life. I've always wanted to be trilingual, and I look forward to adding this to my resume! ;-)

It's also pretty cool to meet all the people that are on the ship.  One of the fun things about cruising  especially in a smaller group, they often ask you if you'd rather dine alone - or with another group.  When you do this, you never know who you're going to sit with.  I enjoyed my time with everyone we shared a meal with while learning about their lives, hearing their stories, dreams, and cruising adventures.

I met people who sold all that they own so they can live their retirement out of their RV while seeing all of America.  A few neighbors from a gated community near Malibu came cruising together, as one mentioned that they feel more like family than just neighbors.  Some honored their friend's dream of taking the Alaskan cruise - just a month after their friend's death.  I even met a guy from San Francisco who wants to start a show about Cosplays.  
I really wanted to take this
pup home!

The majority of the people I met were also Christian.  I can't even tell you how much encouragement I received from a few of them that I got to know throughout the week.  While trying to make a decision about my future, it felt as though I got the confirmation from a new friend of mine about the decision I've been struggling to make during a very in-depth conversation we had...all while relaxing in the hyropool.

While cruising, I met a man who has lived quite a life.  I loved hearing his stories.  While talking, I had the chance to tell him some of my life goals - especially about wanting to do a TED Talk from my experiences with my birthmark.  He told me something like, "Oh, I've done a TED Talk before.  I'm good friends with the people who started the TED Talk company."  After giving him one of my recently-made business cards, he told me he'd email me soon.  Once he emails me, he wants me to email him part of my story so he can forward it to his TED Talk friends, telling me, "You've already accomplished some of the key things when it comes to doing a TED Talk.  You seem to have a lot of confidence in yourself, and the strong passion to make a positive different out of everything you've gone through."  Maybe through this random connection I'll be able to do a TED Talk one day, maybe not.  Either way - I was inspired and encouraged by the man and my few conversations I held with him, and I think that's equally as important.


Other people I met?  I met some people who have taken 15 cruises (although, I heard of a couple on board who have taken 64 cruises).  I met a lady who recently became a step-grandmother to a beautiful young girl from Madagascar.  The grandmother told me, "My granddaughter is from Madagascar.  She's 15-years-old and just finished her first school year in America.  I wanted her to see more of the world, so I brought just her and I on this trip together."   One of the officers of the ship even ate at our dinner table with us as she encouraged me, "Keep traveling the world!"
This is the eagle one of the waiters
made me.  Cool, huh??

A few times I even used my origami skills that often go unused.  I was able to get to know a few of the ship's staff members as they watched me fold a paper tulip, and one man from Indonesia (one of the waiters) even made me an origami eagle in trade.  Oh!!...and as I was doodling in my journal one evening, an artist even took the time to show me a few tricks on how to draw better with a technic that was new to me.

By the end of the trip, I didn't want to leave the ship.  I felt like I made a lot of new, good friends and was enjoying their company.  I was enjoying the sights of Alaska and the tasty food on the ship.  I was feeling nice, relaxed, and had a great time.


Cruising isn't for everyone, and I know that.  However, I recommend that you try it at least once to find out if it's for you or not...You may be surprised!!  And if you need help with tips, advice, information, or with anything else - let me know!  I'd be happy to tell you all that I know from all my times of sailing the wide, open, sea!


Thanks for the great trip, Holland America!


The Travelin' Chick,

Crystal

PS: Isn't it nice that I've FINALLY written a blog about traveling again?  The first time in what seems like FOREVER.  Haha.  And side note...All these photos are either from my phone, or a basic camera, except the one of Seattle and this one:







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