I’ve heard of Alaska.
I mean everyone has … but I never really expected to find myself here.
Yet here I am. Deep, deep in the wilderness of Alaska – America’s final frontier.
Alaska is a part of America, of course. But then you knew that.
Just to be clear I also knew that.
Still forgot to get myself a visa to enter the States, however.
Can I just say this?
Those Homeland Security dudes are not playing and no amount of charm is going to get you through customs if you find yourself without a visa when the time comes.
That said – you can hop online and sort this, and quickly, too.
An ESTA, the visa you need to get into the US costs about $20 and generally comes through pretty quickly – in my case, just a couple of hours.
I know this because I held my breath till it was approved. Well, not really but damn – almost.
Why the insane focus? Because that visa meant I could board the cruise ship Celebrity Eclipse and sail off into the sunset.
The Alaskan sunset to be exact.
You see I flew from Sydney to Vancouver so that I could board a cruise to Alaska.
I snaffled myself a visa for Canada before I left Australia, of course – I’m not a complete idiot.
But I am close to it … because as per above I completely forgot to sort the one for the US.
Anyway, thankfully this small snafu was sorted and speedily. But back to the topic at hand …
I am pleased to share that right this second the Celebrity Eclipse is slicing through the seas of Alaska and I am safely on board.
But more importantly … Alaska. Woah!
I have travelled a lot in my time. I have been to the obvious countries, the popular tourism destinations such as New York, London and Paris, of course.
But thanks to my work I have been significantly further afield, too.
I have entered the slums of Kenya under machine gun guard, clinked glasses with mafia members in southern Italy, strolled the sandy beaches of islands so private they don’t even have names – at least not names I am allowed to share here.
Heck – I’ve been to Broken Hill.
I have been amazed at the sheer beauty of every single one of those locations, the romance, the history, traditions … the locals.
But I am not sure any of them have touched my heart quite like Alaska.
This is a land that takes your breath away – and it does so over and over again. And then once more.
The scale of the landscape is the thing that hits you first.
Those incredible rainforests you’ve seen online and in TV nature documentaries are even more astonishing when you’re strolling through them. The leaves shimmer and shake and whisper sweet nothings as you wander.
There are red cedar trees so tall you cannot see their crowns, wild berries everywhere you turn. Bald eagles soaring through the sky – their seven- to eight-foot wing spans allowing them to glide and glide and glide.
There are black bears. A LOT of them.
In some areas there are roughly three black bears to every human being and while you don’t necessarily see them it’s as though you can feel them tucked into the greenery back there, breathing heavy and watching you with their incredible liquid brown eyes … you can feel in your bones that they might crash through the undergrowth and stumble onto the trail at any moment and that’s terrifying and awesome all at the same time.
There’s also a vast variety of whales in Alaska. They cruise and crest and flip their astonishing tails into the air and when they do so it’s as though your heart actually stops. At least momentarily.
These creatures are utterly magical when up close. It’s hard to even wrap your head around the fact they’re real and not just a character in some kind of children’s fantasy story.
The sky here is bigger than anywhere else in the world. Or it feels it anyway.
The air is so fresh, so perfect I wish I could bring it home with me, let it fill my inner-city world.
So like I say, Alaska … a special place.
And if you want to see this special place then a cruise is a terrific option.
This one glides through the cities of Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan. They are all mind-boggling must-sees. And the ship itself is equally special. The Celebrity Eclipse has everything you need and then some.
The cabins are generously sized and come with private balconies.
The restaurants are five-star and there is literally something for everyone. There are bars, a casino, an excellent fitness centre. There’s indoor pools and spas and outdoor versions too.
I was lounging in one of the outdoor spas watching the astonishing site that is the Hubbard Glacier slip by, a glass of Champagne in my hand when I messaged a friend.
“Oh my god,” he says when I tell him where I am, what I am doing.
“You’re the very definition of glamour right now … You’re like the women Drake sings about.”
Normally I would scoff at this, of course. But on this occasion I can do nothing but agree. Because he is right of course.
Being a passenger on board this ship, slicing its way through the seas of Alaska, is perhaps as rock star as it’s ever going to get. At least for me. And I highly recommend everyone give it a whirl if the opportunity is there.
I’ll tell you this for free – you will not regret it, not for a moment.
It will be a life-changing trip, a memory you will return to over and over.
Just one last thing – get a visa before you go.
You’ll be glad you did.
Fancy a trip?
If you’d like to learn more about Celebrity Eclipse, visit celebritycruises.com. You can check out all of the luxurious facilities on board (of which there are many) and even see a deck plan so you can choose a suite.
Or, if you’d rather, wait until the ship homeports in Melbourne during the 2020/2021 summer season. The 2850-guest, 120,000 tonne Celebrity Eclipse will arrive in Melbourne fresh from a multi-million dollar modernisation on 23 December 2020 for her inaugural season, which runs until April 2021.