Ships ahoy!

Kristine Gill

My mom’s side of the family is going on vacation this year. But instead of hitting the beach in South Carolina like we’ve done almost every year since my glorious birth, we’re taking a cruise.

That’s right. All 24 members of the family are going to board planes to California and then get on a boat together. My grandparents are paying, which is insane, and we’re going to travel around the Hawaiian Islands for 10 whole days.

Did I say Hawaii? I meant Alaska. Yes. We’re headed to Alaska and my bikini is headed back to the closet. Instead I’ve invested in a parka and a bat with which I plan to bludgeon baby seals for their fur. I’ve also purchased a harpoon to defend myself against the whales and a few tubes of lip balm because I hear it gets cold and windy up there.

I’m kidding. Not about our destination, but about my now apparent displeasure about the whole thing. I’m actually very excited and the only thing I’ve invested in is a sense of optimism. That part wasn’t hard though. Any time someone tells you that you’re getting on a boat where the food supply is free and endless, you know you’re in for a good time.

What I’m worried about is hitting an iceberg or getting lost during one of the side trips. I’m learning a lot about cruises and that they aren’t so simple. I thought you (or in this case, your grandparents) bought some tickets and hopped on the boat. What I’m finding is that you have to do about a bazillion other things before you get on that boat.

You have to get a passport, tell them when you plan on eating dinner each night and with whom and where you want to go when the boat docks. You have to book flights to the docking location and reschedule your life for the two weeks you will be gone. I hear once you get on the boat, it’s a good ol’ time and totally worth it.

But if anyone has seen “Into the Wild,” you know why I’m scared. What if the allure of the Alaskan wilderness is overpowering and I can’t fight the irresistible urge to explore it? What if the intoxicating Alaskan air persuades me to burn my cash, cut my credit cards and destroy my ID? What if I decide to rough it in Alaska and what if I die eating wild vegetation in the process? Will Princess Cruise refund my ticket?

I’m not really worried about that. Somehow I think I’ll be able to resist trekking out into the unknown after seeing that movie. I’m not worried about wanting to put distance between myself and civilization. I’m worried about keeping in touch.

When was the last time you checked your cell phone? Ten seconds ago? I thought so. Try going for 10 days without a text message or a voicemail. I recently learned we will not get reception via Verizon while in Alaska. How do the seals do it? Do they use Cingular? Does Sprint have towers set up on icebergs? These are things I need to find out before June 26 because I have a feeling 10 days without my phone is going to be physically painful.

I’m very, very excited for our cruise and so thankful to my grandparents who are funding our travels. I know I’m going to have tons of great stories when we come back and tons of text messages to check. I know I’m going to have something else to write about in this column of mine, too. I know these things.

What I don’t know is how my sister is going to react to the fact that we won’t have cellular reception. If you hear about a recent high school graduate found dead in the Alaskan wilderness, she probably killed herself out of grief.

Kristine Gill is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her before she boards the boat at [email protected].