Preparing to cruise

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

In four days, my husband and I and our friends Amy and David Melendy will take off for the Pacific West Coast. After a quick sleep in Seattle, we will board a Royal Caribbean ship and set sail for Alaska!

This adventure is a multi-purpose trip for me. It began with my younger son and his wife asking if I would like to come and stay with my grandchildren while they were both out-of-town. Brett calls it a “favor,” but it is, most definitely, a pleasure. I love Seattle, especially in August, and getting to spend a few days with Cohen and Gardner is heaven.

As plans began to firm up for the trip, other ideas began to take form. As I have shared with you in a couple of columns, my journey in launching – soft launch, so far – my own travel company, SGH Go Travel, has taken a nontraditional road, thanks to both Covid and my own cautious way of doing things. I am certainly not quitting any of my “day jobs” just yet, but I am sliding into the deep-end, albeit slowly.

Part of that slide includes planning and now selling my first group cruise: A June 24, 2022, cruise from Seattle to Alaska. I have done almost all of the nuts-and-bolts work putting the cruise package together and have pricing and amenities and even my first “sold” cabin. At the back of my mind, however, I kept wishing I had an Alaska cruise already under my belt so I would be able to better answer any questions clients might have. While you can never know everything about a destination or specifics of a trip, I do prefer to be able to speak with experience.

Ask me about Prague – got it. Quiz me about Barcelona – ready. Caribbean? I can wisely advise. Amsterdam? Here’s a suggested itinerary!

Alaska? Yikes. I have read a lot of articles, talked to neighbors and friends, perused travelogues and viewed comments from fellow agents, but I have never set foot in Alaska.

The third component that led to this expanded babysitting trip is a longing to get back to cruising. Neville and I – and our friends the Melendys – finished a Caribbean cruise on Jan. 12, 2020, and had plans for a dream cruise later in the year and another one in 2021. The “travel folders” I do for each cruise I book is so thick with cancellations and rebookings for those cruises that dropping them on your foot would cause great pain. One is still up-in-the-air because it involves New Zealand. The other now has an August 2022 date.

In the meantime, the longing to cruise was intensifying. “We’re flying to Seattle anyway,” my husband said. “Is there a cruise that lines up with our babysitting dates?”

Dawes Glacier and Endicott Arm will be our destination on Day 3 of the cruise.

There was. Our partners in crime were willing and excited. Next thing I knew, I was booking an Alaska cruise for four to precede our time in Seattle.

We are beyond ready. We appreciate and agree with the cautionary road the cruise industry has taken, and we will not be stupid on- or off-board. But the gangway is calling us, Windjammer omelets have been missed, and I will not even complain if one night’s entertainment includes a juggler (but only one night, please).

If you will indulge me, I’ll share our experiences onboard and from our extra days after the cruise as we show-off Seattle to our friends. I know this cruise will feel different. From a business point-of-view, that’s something I need to experience as well.

I’m just really hoping it will also feel “the same.”

Now, exactly HOW does a woman pack for summer in Seattle and August in Alaska? Should be interesting…

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at [email protected]

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