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Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Unfortunate Beginning of Our Trip to Alaska


Thank you all for your very kind comments and prayers on my last post. My husband is doing well and almost completed his cancer treatment.  We feel fortunate it was discovered in an early stage and he should have full remission. 

Visiting Alaska was on my husband and my bucket list for many years. We heard so much about going on both a land and sea cruise version of the trip from many friends that traveled that way, so that is the type of trip we planned. It was with great anticipation that we left our home at 6am on an early June morning to fly from Denver, Colorado to a connecting flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then on to Fairbanks, Alaska! As we approached Alaska and began to descend in altitude I took the photos above from our airplane window. Seeing so much green was a surprise!  It turns out we were going to have many surprises in Fairbanks.


When we landed in the Fairbanks International Airport we went through the usual picking up of luggage from the carousel and met the representatives from the cruise company who then took our luggage to be brought ahead to the lodge where we would be staying. We were then told to wait in an area for the buses that would be transporting us to the lodge. It seemed the wait was taking a long time and everyone in the group--there were about 30 fellow travelers gathered at that time-- we were all getting a little restless wondering why the buses were so late? We had arrived a day before the official beginning of the land portion of the trip as we had planned an excursion flight to visit the Arctic the next day.  Others in the group also had excursions planned, or just wanted to make sure they arrived safely before the official beginning of the trip.  Finally, a representative of the cruise company gathered us all to tell us the bad news. There had been a fire in the kitchen of the lodge, and the damage was so bad that the Fairbanks fire chief would not allow anyone back to occupy the lodge. Happily, no one was hurt, but now all the guests, including us as new arrivals, had no place to go at that point.


After about two hours, a bus finally came to take us to join all the other displaced guests to a large cafeteria that was part of the Riverboat Discovery tour we were all scheduled to take as part of our land tour. The Red Cross was there handing out blankets as some guests had evacuated the lodge in their pajamas or were shoeless, and in the late hour the temperature was in the chilly '50s, although the sun was still on the horizon as we were in the "land of the midnight sun."  It was a slightly chaotic scene to be sure, but everyone was in good humor at first.  We were offered a hot dog and water or beer while in the cafeteria,  Every now and then a cruise representative would stand up on a bench and announce by name a group of people and the hotel they were going to be bused to.  My husband and I waited and waited and waited. Finally, at around 4:30 in the morning we were in the last group to be told we were going to be transported a half-hour away to the town called the North Pole.  I wish I could have shown photos of what must have been a charming town, but by this point, I was too exhausted to care.  We all had to wait online another hour to check in on arrival to the hotel, and did not get to sleep until after 6:30 am--without our luggage or toiletries. We were also told that checkout was 11am, so we had to be awake by then.  Needless to say, this was not how we expected to begin our trip!



The next morning we gathered in the hotel lobby after check out (after no breakfast or even coffee) to be told we were going to be transported back to Fairbanks and dispursed to different hotels in the area. My husband and I were still exhausted, as we did not sleep well in the four hours we were allotted.  We bordered the buses again and eventually were left to check in to a riverside cottage-type hotel in Fairbanks, where we would be staying for the next two days. The accommodations were cozy and clean, but it took quite a while for the rooms to be made available before we could check-in and we did not receive our luggage until very late in the day.  We had to wait in the main lounge of the complex all day.  Because of all this confusion, still feeling exhausted, and because my husband's coat was in our luggage that had not yet arrived, we had to cancel our excursion flight to the Arctic, which was a big disappointment for us. That was going to be a special treat and splurge to celebrate my husband's 70th birthday.   Hopefully, one day in the future, we will be able to fulfill this dream, but for whatever reason, fate had it that it was not supposed to happen on this trip.


Although the temporary accommodations were comfortable, there wasn't much to do during our stay. This location was somewhat isolated and we had no means of transportation.  All we could do was take a walk along the nearby Chena River...



...and watch some of the river traffic going by. 

We also met many other travelers staying at the hotel who were from all around the lower 48 states, and by the end of the cruise, we felt like old friends!    


This may not have been the beginning of a long-awaited trip to Alaska that we had anticipated so long, but we were cognizant that anything can happen in life and we were healthy, safe and still going to enjoy the rest of the trip. 

I'm sure you are wondering were we compensated for all our inconveniences? Yes, but not as much as we hoped.  Our excursion fee was refunded, although that took many weeks to occur, and the cruise company gave all guests involved in this incident onboard credit to use on the cruise ship.  I'm sure the cruise company (who I am not naming on purpose) felt they did all possible to resolve a difficult and unexpected situation.  What do you think?

If you saw my prior post Postcards From Alaska you will see we did end up having a wonderful trip and I'll show more about it in my next post.  Thanks for reading this long post!

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39 comments:

  1. You made the most of what you had! Things happen and I’m so glad you went on and had a good time!!

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  2. My goodness, Pat. A flight attendant told us once that if you travel often, the odds of a disappointment happening would. I'm so sorry to hear the tiring beginning of your trip, but as you stated you were safe. I must check out your previous post about Alaska. we loved the beauty we experienced when we visited there.

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  3. That's a rough way to start a holiday. Sounds to me that you still managed to enjoy your time and make the best of a difficult time.

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  4. Yikes! That sounds quite harrowing for a destination in the U.S. I'd expect this kind of story in a 3rd world country.

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  5. What a terrible start you are having. Hopefully the rest of your trip goes well. We've been to Alaska twice, but in our small aircraft. We enjoyed getting to some out of the way places to visit and camp under the wing. - Margy

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  6. Pat - this is very unfortunate, but it does sound to me like the cruise company did what it could under unexpected circumstances. We have had airline debacles, and you quickly realize that they are not really set up to respond to 100s of people that are stranded; it takes time for it all to be sorted out … You are to be applauded for coping so well with change, exhaustion and the loss of one of your dreams (even if temporarily). Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!

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  7. Oh, what a nightmare start to your trip! But the shots are glorious! And so happy to hear the good news about hubby.

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  8. Oh that was really too bad Pat. I’m glad to know, from your previous post, that things improved. I just know that will do the part you missed eventually.

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  9. Great to read you had a great holiday! I visited Alaska by cruise ship in 2015 and it was a fabulous holiday!!

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  10. Hello, Patricia

    I am sorry your Alaska trip got off on such a bad start. Your photos are beautiful. Alaska is a beautiful state. But, I would have expected more from the cruise line. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week ahead!

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  11. It's impossible to plan for some things. I know you made the best of it but it was exhausting and I'm sure stressful too. You took beautiful photos! You must have been so glad to get back home after all of that! Hugs!

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  12. Despite the disappointments, you saw some awe-inspiring landscape and got some terrific photos.

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  13. What a difficult beginning to your trip! I have a cousin who lives in north pole. I'm glad the rest of your time was good.

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  14. So sorry for all the troubles you encounteres on your trip. Yes indeed, it seems that anything vcan happen! Good that you are well and safe.

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  15. ...life rarely plays out as planned! You saw some gorgeous scenery.

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  16. So sorry to hear of the rough beginning to your trip, but am delighted to hear that your husband has completed treatment and is feeling well enough to travel.
    Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/07/pine-tree-versus-windshield.html

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  17. What an awful beginning to what turned out to be a fabulous trip. I think that the company could have gone the extra way to make certain that their customers were thinking of them in the most friendly of ways. Would you ever work with them again? I would not.

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  18. Oh my goodness; that is not a good start to a trip at all. I would have been unbearable after so little sleep!

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  19. I'm glad that no one was near the lodge when the fire happened.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  20. It's a shame that things happened like they did, but, like you said, there's a reason--even if it is irritating at the time!
    Thanks for sharing your experience. you never know where those new friendships will take you :)



    My Corner of the World

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  21. Glad it all ended up wonderful. Have a good week

    Much❤🕊❤love

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  22. I hate things like this happening just messing up the best of plans. But, whatcha gonna do but try to make the best of it, right?

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  23. Wow, what a terrible start to your trip. We have had travel issues in the past, but not quite as bad as this.

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  24. What a terrible start to a trip. I admire you for continuing.

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  25. It sounds like you and your husband adapted to the circumstances, but that's a terrible way to start a trip! I'll look at your other Alaska photos too. Can't wait to see them.
    My post features flowers, berries, and more.

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  26. Your post rocks at 'My Corner of the World' this week!


    My Corner of the World

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  27. Wow what a terrible start to your trip. you sure do seem to have a positive attitude to help you through the disaster. It sounds like you eventually had a good time.

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  28. You're a better woman than I am! I would have gone ballistic with the handling of this. Accidents happen, but these are generally established tour companies who should have better contingency plans.
    You should have been over-compensated so that you went away happy.

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  29. What a dismal start to your wonderful vacation. I would have been very upset to give up the one day excursion but who would feel like going after the torture of waiting for a day in an uncomfortable situation. I'm glad your trip was a success and I'm sending warm thoughts for your husband's health.

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  30. Well, I think they did not do enough. There's more to it than just rearranging time and meals and places to stay. It's the whole sense of this is your vacation, something you've emotionally planned for and then had those plans really change in a big way. And yes, of course you were exhausted and that should be taken into account as well. Something is better than nothing but...

    ...but on the GOOD side, that's very good news about your husband's treatment. I'm sure you must be tremendously relieved and filled with gratitude. Much joy to you.

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  31. Alaska is also on my bucket list with a possible cruise up from Vancouver. I'm sorry your trip didn't go as hoped or planned. Also just reading about your husband and am happy to hear the cancer was caught early and remission is very likely. One just never knows about how life will go and best to savor every good things. All the very best!

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  32. I've been out of town myself so just now getting to read this post. What a tough experience and such a disappointment about the excursion to the Arctic. I enjoyed all the pictures you posted of the cruise itself but had missed out on the problems at the beginning.

    You still manage to keep a level head about yourself and that says so much about your character. Thank you for sharing your experience, trying as it was.

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  33. Oh dear, not a good way to start a holiday.
    Guess you did the right thing and made the most of it.
    I enjoyed your photographs.

    Sending my good wishes to your husband as he completes his cancer treatment.

    All the best Jan

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  34. I think your tour company is very lucky to have you as a passenger. As a frequent traveler, I never mind when things you wrong with plans, it happens, it is how they are dealt with that matters. I'm with some of the others hear, think they could have done more!
    For your own state of mind, it was great that you had your "we're happy, we're healthy (big yay for your husband on reading this!) attitude".
    Generally, I always like to leave something to come back for on a holiday, so I hope you do get back for your excursion flight to the Arctic.
    Can't wait to read some of your adventures!
    Wren x

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  35. That is such a shame. But I'm impressed with the way you are making the most of things and so glad to hear the good news about your husband.
    Amalia
    xo

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  36. I am so sorry to hear of your husband’s cancer, but happy that treatment will resolve it.... Not the best way to start a vacation..... Michelle

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Thank you for your comments! I always appreciate hearing from visitors to my blog.