Dorothy Rosby
Contributing columnist
My husband and I are staying in a place where the guests dress for dinner and the housekeeping staff leave chocolates on the pillows. There’s luxury everywhere you look and what are we doing? We’re in the lounge dancing a polka. They really do cater to your every whim on a cruise ship.
We decided to celebrate our 30th anniversary with our first cruise, a voyage down the Inside Passage. Our actual anniversary date is October 22, but an Alaskan cruise that late in the year didn’t seem prudent. And anyway, I’m still planning on being married by then, even though my spouse requested the polka.
We boarded the ship in Whittier, Alaska and I’ve been humming “North to Alaska” ever since—except right after the safety training, when I hummed the “Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald” for a few anxious hours. Of course, that’s been replaced with the “Beer Barrel Polka,” which is only slightly less disturbing.
There are a lot of things to do on board a cruise ship besides humming, watching the scenery and embarrassing yourself on the dance floor. Two of the main ones are eating and drinking.
I’m not much of a drinker, but I do eat. And there’s fabulous food available at all hours and a place where you can get soft serve ice cream anytime you want it. Turns out I want it fairly often. Honestly, I haven’t felt an actual hunger pang since I left home.
With some exceptions, food is included in the cost of our package. At first, it felt odd to walk out of the restaurant without paying, but it quickly became a habit. I hope I can break it when I get back on land.
We’ve gotten off the ship in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. A tour guide told us Alaska’s major industries are fishing and oil production, and I think selling jewelry might come in a close third. On every block, there are jewelry stores catering to the tourists who still have money left after paying for the cruise. We don’t, so our only souvenirs are caps to add to my husband’s collection. He already has more caps than the American League, but caps tend to be cheaper than diamonds.
We went on a whale watching excursion in Juneau, hiked in Skagway and spent a day swimming in Ketchikan. I’m kidding, but it did rain the entire time we were in the Salmon Capital of the World. Fortunately, we were smart enough to pack umbrellas. Unfortunately, we weren’t smart enough to bring them with us when we got off the ship. Lucky we had the caps.
And now we’re back on the ship, dried off and dancing.  When the band leader asked for requests, my husband suggested a polka. I thought he was joking. The band leader didn’t see it that way.
We’ve taken dance classes, though you can’t tell by watching us dance. Despite the classes, we like to wait until the dance floor is full before we get out there. But, either no one else here knows how to polka or they won’t admit it. I felt obligated since the request came from us, so I leaned over to my dance partner of 30 years and whispered in his ear, “Let’s dance. We’ll never see these people again.”
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of the humor book, I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest. Contact