50th Anniversary Alaskan Cruise

Written by Melissa Wesner.

We wanted to do something spectacular for my parents’ 50th anniversary, after all this is a HUGE milestone. When the idea of a family cruise to Alaska came up, we were all “on board” so to speak! Even my mom’s sisters from Southern California met us for a “mini” reunion to celebrate this special occasion. We departed out of Seattle and headed to our first port which was Juneau. Juneau seemed fairly small for being the capital of Alaska. It was a very charming town. It was easy to get off the ship and walk to nice shops, or to get an excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier or whale watching or both! We were able to check another state capital off our list and learned that Juneau is only accessible by air or sea. Next was the Hubbard Glacier. We were sailing through some pretty large ice flows, even breaking some larger ones apart as we were hitting them. It seemed unreal as we sailed into the bay to see the huge 40 story high wall of ice.

My 7-year-old daughter met some friends while in the kid’s corner on the ship and had fun going swimming with them. Can you imagine, swimming in Alaska? One of the formal nights on the ship, the waiters brought a small cake, and sang a song to my parents for their anniversary. All the waiters were from Indonesia, and the song was a native song also used for Happy Birthday. In Ketchikan, my uncle and cousin went deep sea fishing, however only one fish was hooked and wasn’t large enough to keep. I asked my parents to write a few words about their Alaskan Cruise, and this is what they wrote:

To be limited to a “few words” about our Alaska cruise is nearly impossible, but here goes… Preparations began five years ago when our son-in-law asked Billie where she would like to go on her fiftieth wedding anniversary. The answer came back quickly, an Alaska cruise. I have to admit from then until June 10th of this year I was not very enthused. I was not even packed yet the evening before we were to begin our trip. On Friday, June 10th, Billie, myself, our daughter Melissa, her husband Marty and their daughter Mariah flew to Seattle, Washington from Detroit where we met up with Billie’s sisters and family: Pam and her grandson Jacob, Edy and her husband Paul (owners of Palumbo’s Restaurant in Old Town Temecula, CA). Saturday, June 11th we went aboard the MS Westerdam for Alaska, and I was beginning to become a little more enthusiastic over our trip. We sailed the inside passage to Juneau, docked and went ashore, purchased sweatshirts and took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier, taking family pictures and enjoying the wonder of Alaska.

Back aboard we set off for the Hubbard Glacier and then started back south to Sitka. Once again at sea, we spent many hours on the Lido Deck in fellowship, swimming, sightseeing, relaxing and eating many of our meals at the Lido Buffet, where there were six different cuisines offered. There were too many activities to mention going on each day for travelers to attend. While cruising, we watched whales, porpoises, seals, bears, and majestic scenery. There were two formal nights in the dining rooms and of course picture taking. On the sixth day, Friday, we docked at Victoria, B.C. for the evening, continued back to Seattle, and disembarked on the 18th. Here we said goodbye to our CA family and returned to Michigan. Now one month later, Billie went to put on her walking shoes, discovered mud and exclaimed, “Alaska mud! I must be going back!” It didn’t take but a second for me to say “Yeah, me too!” I completely enjoyed the trip and look forward to returning.

Gary & Billie Bird

Here is part of an email from my aunt she sent me after the cruise:

Melissa, I can’t express enough how much we enjoyed the cruise and family. Thank you again for making the arrangements, etc. and to Marty for overseeing onboard activities.

Love to All,

Pam Schwank

Even my daughter was so excited she emailed her teacher about her trip:

I had a lot of fun on my trip. We got to see lots of whales and dolphins. Me and my grandma saw Killer Whales. They were not far from the ship. In Juneau I got a pillow for my lion. We climbed the mountain by the glacier. The day we were at Sitka, we got two fur flower pins with bling…

Your friend,

Mariah Rochelle Wesner

I think it goes without saying, we all had a great time. We saw all kinds of wildlife, glaciers, and the views were incredible. It was a very relaxing escape that we will be sharing memories of for years to come.

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