At the start of summer, I was sitting on a lounge chair at the top deck of a major cruise liner, sipping an over-priced hot cocoa while writing in a journal on my iPad. Snow capped mountains and blue glaciers surrounds me. Its was a beautiful rare sunny day in what is usually a cloud covered part of the world. In the distance were sounds of laughter carried by the cool, crisp air. The whole scenario was like a dream, but I was awake. And I couldn’t help but wonder - what am I doing here?
Only weeks prior, my brother (my only sibling), who was a Black Hawk pilot was killed while deployed for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. My family suffered a sudden and great loss. And even though now time has passed, we still don’t know how to live on without him. In fact, my plans to travel the world has suddenly faltered as I continue to try and accept my new reality. The unrelenting pain of sorrow comes and goes, but it comes and goes everyday, with no end in sight. My focused world has changed to chaos.
So now I find myself here in the cold and narrow waterway passages of Alaska, on a luxury cruise, where surpringly I gained some peace. I am actually here with my parents for the purposes of trying to refocus our thoughts and appreciate the world once again. The irony is that this cruise was planned long before my brother died, but I think fate has planned it for us. It came just the right time when we needed it the most.
Cruises get a lot of bad raps, especially from long-term travelers like myself. And while I understand and sometimes agree the many reasons for disliking them, you must admit, without cruise liners visiting remote places like Alaska’s glaciers would otherwise be very difficult or extremely expensive.
Naysayers says that cruise liners ruin the natural beauty of a place by building terminals in remote areas. Also cruises provoke the wrong kind of tourism. And that hopping one port to another doesn’t allow you to really understand what you are visiting.
In spite of this, I have taken my first ever cruise and as a result I have come to appreciate the value in this kind of travel. Aside from transportation to unlikely places, there’s an abundance of great food on board, plus a selection of free entertainment, and the accommodations are included and packaged into one price. For my purposes here, I think its just perfect.
In the end, I got to see glaciers! This is especially significant because this is my first time seeing them in real life. And my photos, no matter how beautiful, will never truly give them any justice.
Though it was never my intention to be here, I’m happy to be lost in all this beauty. It has made me remember, that even with all the despair, the world is still a very beautiful place.
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”