People come to Alaska for its natural wonders and wild frontiers, and because the state’s key destinations are not completely accessible via road, many discover Alaska through vacation cruises. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the flourishing cruise and hospitality industries in Alaska, fueled by their two million annual visitors, came to a halt. Fortunately, this year, as case counts decrease and vaccination rates rise, tourism experts have seen a "trickling of intrepid" visitors throughout the seasons. Despite that, they still continue to advertise the open areas and secure health protocols that their places have to offer, which satisfy most travelers' concerns for safety.
But while cruise ships are not absolutely immune from COVID transmissions, cruise lines, including the Royal Caribbean International, are constantly monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This ensures the safety of anyone on board and encourages more travelers to join.
Aside from that, the cruise line also offers interesting activities and amenities. Since 2019, Royal Caribbean International, in partnership with Card Player Cruises, has organized an annual 7-night poker cruise from Seattle, Washington to Alaska. Onboard the Quantum of the Seas, a 4,100-capacity cruise ship, guests are treated to a one-of-a-kind tour of Alaska’s cities, seaways, and natural beauty.
In between enjoying these destinations, guests can join the onboard poker tournament in the ship’s dedicated poker room. This year, the tournament room will be tentatively located at the ship’s 13th deck, which means awesome views for poker players.
Itinerary and Destinations
On August 29, 2022, the Quantum of the Seas will embark on its Alaskan journey from the city of Seattle. After the ship departs in the afternoon, the poker room opens at night.
While the ship is at sea, the poker room opens in the morning. This includes a beginners’ lesson on the game by ‘The First Lady of Poker,’ Linda Johnson. If you’re an amateur player, it might be wise to take this chance to brush up on the basic poker rules, too. After all, poker has different variants, from classics like Texas Hold'em to newer versions such as Omaha. Each has its own set of rules you need to be aware of. You can even join the Low-limit Hold'em game available to beginners on deck before you mingle with seasoned poker players who are used to playing in tournaments.
Wild whales and orcas, lush forest islands, glaciers, and gorgeous bays are just some sights to see as the ship goes through the Inside Passage. At 8:00am, the ship will be docking at the city of Ketchikan. With the poker room taking a break, even the cruise’s dedicated poker players can experience Ketchikan's different attractions. This includes whale watching and wildlife viewing, a floatplane tour in Misty Fjords, and rainforest walks. The ship will depart the city in the afternoon, at which point the poker room will reopen.
By the next morning, the ship will arrive at Sitka, a city and borough notorious for its Russian heritage. You can drop by St. Michael's Cathedral, the earliest Orthodox cathedral in America, and the Baranof Castle Hill, where the 49-star United States flag was first flown after Alaska became a state in 1959. Sitka also boasts various parks and museums, like the Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka Historical Museum, and Sheldon Jackson Museum.
The next stop is Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier. Filled with mountain scenery and wildlife, this might be the most beautiful part of the cruise. So, enjoy your short stay here and soak in the breathtaking view! With the poker room open in the morning, players can enjoy the scenery while at the tables.
In the afternoon, the ship will pass through the Inside Passage and dock at the city of Juneau, the only US capital completely inaccessible by road. Surrounded by mountain terrains and glaciers, the city offers many interesting activities like whale watching, visiting glacier gardens, and helicopter rides. And don't forget to stop by Tracy's for the best king crab in the world, too.
While the ship is at sea, the poker room will be open all day, and so will the rest of the ship’s attractions. This includes its casino room, several pools, rock climbing, bars, a theater, an arcade, and even live entertainment.
The last stop on the way back to Seattle will be Victoria, British Columbia. Apart from Victorian architecture, guests can also kayak or hike the city’s beautiful gardens. The poker room will be open all day long, and the cruise ends in Seattle the next day.
It’s important to note that given the current climate, all aforementioned details are subject to change. That being said, the Alaskan cruise industry is very much intent on bouncing back from last year’s losses. The Royal Caribbean International featured here is even one of the first cruise lines to return to the state, making them one of the main reasons for the resurfacing cruise economy in the area. And if everything goes according to plan, those who have signed up can look forward to a truly memorable experience.