Accessible Alaska — Cruising the Wilderness

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Enroute to our seven-day Alaskan cruise, we flew from L.A. to Seattle a day early to enjoy a stay at the legendary Fairmont Hotel. It’s an historic, five-star affair where anybody who was anybody has bedded down at one time or another. We journalists had a great dinner, got to know each other and wandered through the streets of Seattle. The next morning, we boarded the ms Noordam cruise ship, part of Holland America’s fleet, blew the horn and eased out into the harbor with the Seattle skyline and its signature Space Needle at our back.

The ship was elegant, gleaming and quite accessible, from its wide-lane decks and halls, to its easy-to-navigate elevators, state rooms and dining areas. As all cruises do, they spoiled us with incredible food and gave us plenty of healthful seafood offerings, so we could feel a bit better about it all when we were pigging out at the midnight buffet. They also have a cooking school, an eco-conscious spa and a Walk for the Cure event, which allows you to do 12 laps around the ship to raise money for breast cancer research.

First stop: Glacier Bay National Park, where the panoramic sweep of mountainous ice encircled us. It seemed touchably close, and yet an hour later we were still moving towards it thinking, We’re almost there, we’re almost there. Then we looked across the bay and spied another cruise ship that was as small as a dot, and realized that our whole sense of size and proportion was completely distorted. The glacier was so much more vast and more imposing than we could imagine.

One of the most incredible things about watching a glacier is that it changes before your eyes. The locals call it calving when a big hunk of the whitish blue ice snaps off and crashes into the water. As the glacier slowly moves into the sea it emits an echo that they call “white thunder,” and gives you an even deeper respect for nature.

Next stop: Juneau, a woodsy-looking town that puts you in the mind of the western frontier. Because accessibility was never a problem, our group put a good deal of wear and tear on our credit cards at various stores and restaurants. We bought indigenous crafts, smoked salmon and bowls made out of a single piece wood. But for those who like adventure, Juneau’s also great for scenic bicycling and treks through its thick, lush rain forests.

From Juneau we flew in a small biplane to Sitka, where we got in a few... continued in ABILITY Magazine

ABILITY Magazine
Other articles in the Sandra Lee issue include Headlines — NY’s New Gov, Dancing with Marlee and more; Green Pages — Living With Ed, Fair Trade Goodies; Best Practices — Companies Doing It Right; Starbucks — A New Perspective on Diversity; Accessible Alaska — Cruising the Wilderness; DRLC — Removing Barriers to Education; Senator Harkin — Voting Access for All; Allen Rucker — Ahhh! A Trip to the Spa; Rohan Murphy — Paralympic Powerhouse; Walter Reed — Performing for the Troops; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences...subscribe

More excerpts from the Sandra Lee issue:

Sandra Lee — How to Cook with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Big Brain — Does Size Matter?

Accessible Alaska — Cruising the Wilderness

PepsiCo — Effervescent Corporate Culture

Ouch! — The First in a Series on Managing Pain

Allen Rucker — Ahhh! A Trip to the Spa

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