Last night, before the formal dinner in the main dining room, my friends invited me up for a drink on the balcony of their Deck 7 suite. We’ll chat about room categories, food, and nightlife in more detail later, but I must say that having a balcony is a huge perk in my opinion – it really extends the room and gives you a little space to breathe – and we hung out and drank wine, the clean air cool on the lungs and the definition of refreshing.
The rooms on the Rhapsody are comfortable, however the reality of the cruise industry is that there’s only so much space to go around on a boat built to accommodate thousands of people (Rhapsody is 915 ft long and can host about 2,400 guests).
I was happy to be in a private setting yet enjoying the scenery, the Chianti warming my chest in the brisk conditions. Turns out luck was on our side: Gray whales breached the surface about fifty yards out, and we could see the water spraying from their spouts, their fins arching out of the water as they dove back under. It’s not at all uncommon to spot whales on cruises to Alaska – I heard other passengers report sightings throughout the day – yet it still felt like a blessing, a private showing, with the water and the wine and the whales.
My room is on the third deck – no balcony – so it was nice to get some perspective of the water and the horizon without entering a public space. I have two portholes and while we’re at sea all I can see is the water rushing by, the boat giving leeway to one side or the other. It was choppy all day yesterday on the open sea, giving fellow wine drinkers an excuse to miss a step here or there.
Things changed this morning when we entered the channel leading to Juneau – the water became like glass, clear and greenish and calm. Mountains of pine trees rose up on either side of the ship, and we could see the small, remote houses along the shoreline, all boasting personality and bright colors that stood out from the different shades of green in the surrounding wilderness.
It seems to be a completely different way of life up here – I can’t wait to take it in. We are about to disembark and head out on a seaplane and check out a glacier, hopefully see (and eat) some wildlife. Stay tuned.