Monday, August 11, 2008

The ferry boat Columbia

During the trip to Alaska we spent alot of time on the boat. There weren't alot of stops, and the stops we did have were extremely shortlived. This fact made it necessary to employ all of the boat's "amenities" in order to keep oneself entertained. Let's keep in mind that this is a ferry boat, not a cruise ship, or party pontoon with a live steel-drum band (I took one of those once in the Bahamas, so why not list it here). Ferry boats are a mode of transportation, not a method of entertainment, but they do their best to try and accomodate folks who have to be on board for days at a time (i.e. - folks travelling with kids and our convention goers).

As previously mentioned, I purchased a room for my travels, which I shared with 3 other gals. Our room wasn't huge, but it was a place to go and relax in peace and quiet, and you could sit and work at the table if need be. Not everyone opts for this "luxury," and so many folks slept in chairs in the recliner lounge or in booths in one of the forward lounges. The alternative to this arrangement was to bring your camping gear on board and pitch a tent on one of the aft decks or sleep in a lounge chair in the solarium (which did have handy dandy heaters that came on at night and, from what I hear, made it quite cozy). My committee member, Mary, and her adventurous friend Lauree decided to take the "camping" route. Many other convention goers decided to take the recliner route. From what I understand, nobody from our group nested in a booth in the forward lounge.
Aside from odd and assorted sleeping arrangements, the Columbia also boasted a small arcade for the kiddies, twice daily movies (somewhat recent releases) shown in the recliner lounge, a cafeteria style cafe, a more formal restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, a bar, a gift shop, and odd and assorted sitting lounges. Once or twice a day a park ranger would give talks on wildlife or forestry that we would see during our passage. From there you are pretty much on your own for entertainment, but the scenery generally does a good job of holding your attention.
I spent the majority of my time either in the bar (cause that's where we held most of our sessions), the restaurant (cause that's where the food was and we held our workshop there), or on deck (cause that's where the entertainment was as far as I could tell). I perused the gift shop once or twice, but didn't see anything I couldn't live without (except this nice antique map of Alaska, but I theorized I could get it elsewhere - note: I could not get it elsewhere). I did pop in the bar several times a day (aside from our sessions), but only had a few beers in there over the course of the 3 day trek.

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