Two huge Holland America Line ships, with about 3,000 people on each, alternate weekly Wednesday dockings here until October, the Oosterdam and the Zaandam. (In Haines where we are challenged by Dutch names apparently, and have a sense of humor, they are called “The Dam Ships”). So last week I was on the Oosterdam, and this week met the Zaandam crew and guests.
It is a fancier ship, and this Alaska cruise has a music theme, so there are musicians playing in the lounges, and the entertainment director went to Julliard. The staff and guests were surprised Haines was so musical ( I have been very surprised that they don’t know more about us, but happy to fill them in on such things as how many people live here,what people do for a living, for fun, and what our children grow up to be.) I told them about the school music program, the local bands, the Arts Council– and our stellar schoolboy “Man Choir,” and read a piece about the women’s choir. Haines native Rich Cooper’s Emmy winning Alaska films are shown on board too, one just before my talk ( alas, there isn’t a Haines one yet), so I bragged that he is in the Alaska High School Hall of Fame for his trombone playing at Haines High.
There’s a window lined library high on the ship. I asked the librarian (they have one!) where the books all came from, and he told me they use a service called Marco Polo that chooses titles and culls and adds more throughout the cruise season. They even mail them in and out of ports on this ship’s annual world cruise. He said the only down side was that they were off Africa during the Ebola epidemic and could take nothing on board so they didn’t get their African books. The internet is expensive, he said, so the Haines library is popular for that, plus, the passengers like libraries and many had checked ours out.
This time I was on a stage, in a two story theater with some people up in the balcony even, with a head set mic and all that— and came through the curtain like Johnny Carson or something— I thought I might faint, but once I began I was okay. It helps talking about Haines and reading and answering questions. (What are your favorite authors? Does the paper do birth announcements or don ‘t you have many babies?)
The passengers I have met range from a retired mail carrier from Ohio to three generations of women in a family from Arizona on a “girls” cruise— A grandmother from England traveling with her granddaughter asked me to sign her book, “Thank you for visiting Haines, Alaska.” My books are going out into the world like carrier pigeons thanks to these folks.
But the best part is that I can do this and stay home. I left my house at 3:20 and was on the ship by 3: 30. I was off by 5:20 and at my radio station board meeting on time at 5:30. I love the whacky weirdness of cruise ship Wednesdays. It’s like time traveling.