Alaska Pre-Cruise

I am not a cruise person.  Joe enjoys cruising, but in the 16 years we’ve been together, we’ve only gone on one cruise – the Greek isles with mom, dad, sister & BIL.  At the time when we booked the cruise, it was mostly out of concern for mom.  Mom being sedentary in nature – and even more so after her stroke 20 years ago, we decided to take an easy family vacation.

Vicky always took mom and dad on vacations that were jammed packed with walking tours, museums, and sight seeing.  By the end of the trip, mom was always complaining about how tiring it was.  I, on the other hand, was always a  bit more accommodating with her wishes – all-inclusive beach resort vacations, which is not always appreciated by the more ‘cultured’ in the group.  So a Greek cruise was a compromise – see Athens, and then relax on a cruise to go island hopping.

That was 8 years ago.  In the last 8 years, I have never contemplated booking another cruise, as I prefer land touring and spending more than a few hours in one location – usually a week in one city, town, or locale to really get a feel of the place.  Plus, that Greek cruise ship we were on was “70’s” old, small, and claustrophobic that I couldn’t wait to get off.

Greece 2009 101
Mom in the foreground of the Aquamarine @ Mykonos.

With that said, cruises are a good way to visit several different cities/towns in different countries in a short span of time.  It gives you a taste of everything – kind of like ordering tapas as opposed to sitting down for a 5-course meal.

Cruising also means crowds. I don’t like crowds.

After returning from my CME in Maui last year, Joe wondered if we could go on an Alaskan cruise for CME meetings since he wanted to check out Alaska.  I wasn’t too keen on either Alaska or cruising so I gave him a non-committal answer, “sure if you can find one” thinking those surely don’t exist as CME meetings are usually on land.  Oh, how wrong I was.  There are tons of CME conferences held on cruise ships, and they go anywhere in the world – Caribbean, Mediterranean, Baltic, Japan, Australia, Cuba, and of course Alaska.

I wouldn’t necessarily consider cruising for a regular vacation, but a CME cruise would be acceptable, as I would be in conference for 8 hours a day during sea days- this will guarantee that I’ll never get bored while on the ship, and I can explore on port days.

To hold up my end of the promise, I started looking for Alaska CME cruises.  Most important criteria are the CME topic and timing.  The earliest we can go is late August/early September as we had just returned from Africa in May, and Joe had just started his new job the beginning of the year – it would be poor form to go on 2 vacations within 6 months of starting work.  There was one great topic on dermatology, but that set sail in June.  I found 2 for late summer – WH which sails later, and ID earlier.  At first I opted for the later sail date, but when Joe got the OK for ‘any time’ I decided to go with the ID sail date since it’s a better topic.  The WH conference is on Royal Caribbean (RCI), and the ID on Celebrity Solstice (X).  Not knowing anything about alphabet cruises I realized that we lucked out with Celebrity Solstice as it was actually a better ship for us.  After some researching, I found out that RCI is geared more toward family with children, whereas X has a more mature demographic.  I don’t have anything against children, I just place a higher premium on tranquility.

After more research into shore excursions I am finally getting excited about Alaska (notice how I said ‘getting excited about Alaska’, not the cruise).


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