Hillsdale’s Alaska on “Crystal Serenity”

Hillsdale’s Alaska on “Crystal Serenity”

North to Alaska

The 2016 Hills­dale Col­lege cruise of south­west Alas­ka aboard Crys­tal Seren­i­ty (27 July-3 August) pro­vid­ed an impres­sive vis­it to a spec­tac­u­lar state. Accom­pa­ny­ing the fine din­ing and enter­tain­ment was a crew which could not have done more. Crys­tal Cruis­es seems to own all the high­est rat­ings in the busi­ness, and it’s easy to see why. There’s no sep­a­rate bar bill, and they’ll deliv­er up to two bot­tles a day to your state­room. No one could drink this much! Tips are includ­ed, nobody duns you for hand­outs, and you’re not pre­sent­ed with a list of “esti­mat­ed gra­tu­ities” on your last day aboard.

Crys­tal Serenity

Crys­tal ships offer more than aver­age pub­lic space. We had only 1000 pas­sen­gers (much less than capac­i­ty), aboard an 820 foot, 69,000-ton ship), so it nev­er felt con­gest­ed. As they used to say at Brook­lands rac­ing cir­cuit: “the right crowd and no crowd­ing.” More pas­sen­gers are usu­al, how­ev­er. On 16 August Seren­i­ty set sail to Alas­ka again with 1700 cus­tomers on a 28-day cruise from Van­cou­ver to New York via the North­west Pas­sage. She is the largest ship ever to nav­i­gate that course.

Fun Afloat

Aside from the atten­tive staff and per­fect orga­ni­za­tion, there was night­ly enter­tain­ment at four or five dif­fer­ent venues. Bar room piano play­er Per­ry Grant kept us at the Avenue Saloon 9:30-12:30 every night, as he played, sang and inter­viewed guests. Per­ry has a touch: nev­er too bawdy, always fun. He seems to know hun­dreds of tunes, hard­ly ever repeats one. For those of “a cer­tain age,” it’s a mem­o­rable com­bi­na­tion. We under­stand he has a small army of fol­low­ers, who sign on wher­ev­er he goes. Here’s Perry’s ver­sion of “My Way.”

(We couldn’t get enough. This one’s for you, and you know who you are….)

The route began from Van­cou­ver to Juneau, Alaska’s cap­i­tal. There was a sea voy­age the Hub­bard Glac­i­er, then to the Alas­ka towns of Hoonah, Skag­way and Ketchikan. We reen­tered British Colum­bia via Nanaimo, and end­ed in Van­cou­ver. Well orga­nized excur­sions (extra cost) were avail­able, but you could eas­i­ly pass a day walk­ing around a town, or just relax­ing on the ship.

We aren’t cruise folk. Viking’s Danube Riv­er cruise, with 180 aboard, is more our style. We con­fess to han­ker­ing for a canal barge for twelve, a big ketch for six, or the Clay­more II, sup­ply ship for Pit­cairn Island, which takes three days to float six pas­sen­gers to the sto­ried hide­away of Fletch­er Chris­t­ian and a hand­ful of rebels after the Mutiny on the Boun­ty. That we enjoyed a “big” cruise speaks vol­umes of Crys­tal qual­i­ty and Hillsdale’s organizing.

Hillsdale Seminars

The College’s edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram is a great way to while away days at sea. Our speak­ers were an eclec­tic mix. Hills­dale Pres­i­dent Lar­ry Arnn always has worth­while things to say to thought­ful peo­ple. Wor­ri­some things these days, with so many uncer­tain­ties fac­ing Amer­i­ca and the world. Vic­tor Davis Han­son spoke about Athens and Spar­ta, elo­quent­ly and well, not with­out par­al­lels to mod­ern prob­lems. John Steele Gor­don, the his­to­ri­an and colum­nist, spoke about his illu­mi­nat­ing book on the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment and oth­er obelisks.

Screen­writer Michael Walsh said movies don’t real­ly start off to be lib­er­al or con­ser­v­a­tive. If you want to write one of those, you’re on the wrong track. What matters—despite Hollywood’s rep­u­ta­tion as a hotbed of wealthy left­ies who can bear any tax bur­den levied on the rest of us—is the sto­ry line: “The God­fa­ther could have been set a mil­lion years BC and would still have been a suc­cess because of the sto­ry line.”

Walsh inci­den­tal­ly wrote a great prequel/sequel to Casablan­ca called As Time Goes By, which all Casablan­ca fans should read. The pre­quel explains why Rick Blaine(who grew up in New York as Itzhak Baline) could not return to his home town. The sequel describes how Elsa, Vic­tor, Louie, Sam and Rick  helped to assas­si­nate Rein­hard Hey­drich, “the Butch­er of Prague.”  So now you know how that happened.

David Gold­man was so riv­et­ing on the demo­graph­ics of Islam and the Mid­dle East that I bought his book. Prompt­ed by a Turk­ish wait­er, I also asked him about Turkey, which is wor­thy of a sep­a­rate post.

For infor­ma­tion on future Hills­dale cruis­es, click here.

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