From The Boathouse: More stories from the Last Frontier


I have returned after cruising for a week aboard the Princess Cruises' Star Princess on my radio station's Alaskan cruise this week. As I mentioned last week, CRN Digital Talk Radio, which syndicates my "Boathouse Radio Show," hosted a murder mystery cruise produced by Don and Marky Fenwick who owns CruiseWorks Inc.

Don and Marky are known for writing and bringing to life countless murder mystery cruises around the nation on numerous voyages. As a matter of fact, they had to copyright their material as others were stealing their programs.

During the captain's reception, Capt. Todd McBain recognized the pair for having taken 29 cruises aboard the Princess fleet, making them the third most cruising couple aboard. I think they have taken at least 100 cruises when you add in the other lines.

I would be remiss if I did not mention professional actor and voiceover artist Terrence Stone, who played the detective. He did a great job with his attire, knowledge of the script and sense of humor, but I will always remember him for when he exited the room one afternoon.

Dressed like Sherlock Holmes, and while talking to the group, he approached double glass doors to leave the room. However, he grabbed the handle of the locked door and pretended to smash his head into the door with a loud bang, thus falling down knocking himself out cold.

The group laughed hysterically, and no one got up to help him. Outside of the doors, a few people heard the loud bang and saw him lying on the ground. The concerned passengers ran over to help the injured man dressed in a detective outfit, but saw it was just good a performance.

The murder mystery participants dined nightly together at two or three tables with entertainment from Stone and Lytle Bob Terrell. The way these two gentlemen played off each other made me think I was in a comedy club.

However, I digress from where I left you in my last week's column, while cruising the Tracy Arm fjord. Afterward, we docked Wednesday at Alaska's capital, Juneau, where it was raining most of the day with the town just a short tram ride away. The helicopter and float plane tours were canceled due to the weather. Unfortunate news for us as we were to take a chopper onto the glacier. Instead we opted for a bus to view the glacier and visitor center. A mile from the visitor center is a trail to a small beach that ends at the base of a water fall and just beyond is the face of the glacier. The huge glacier started receding in the late 1700s. We learned that the ice takes 200 years to flow from the top of the glacier to the face.

While aboard the ship, we met many travelers at Crooners Bar, our favorite martini bar crewed by bartenders Ariel and Arnold, both from the Philippines. These two guys have a remarkable skill of remembering faces and names and what someone likes to drink. The "Mike-tini," which Terrell named after me, is a martini stirred not shaken with Stoli Elite vodka, a splash of vermouth and garlic stuffed olives.

The next day we docked at Skagway, with an easy walk to the town with a populace of about 900. Three cruise ships were in port with about 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew each, growing the town to potentially 12,000 people in one day.

We found the jolly Christmas Store owned by a very friendly husband and wife team who lives two blocks away. The owners are originally from Orange County. The town has numerous jewelry stores, small restaurants, bars and gift stores lining the main street with a few shops on the side streets branching off. Shop owners were posting end of season discounts because the cruise ships will now head to warmer ports of call as winter weather is approaching fast in this latitude.

This town is known for its railroad system built during the Klondike gold rush. Skagway has a small boat harbor with one launch ramp next to a RV park.

The week went quick and Sept. 14 found us heading south, cruising about 18.5 knots for Vancouver with following seas just under 10 feet and strong winds. The ship rocked slightly and a few passengers looked green. However, the seas calmed down in the late afternoon, just in time for the captain's reception at 1900 hours

We had a nice tour of the ship's bridge, and I really liked the openness of the bridge to the wing stations.

Afterward, we learned we were the winners of free adult drinks for the voyage. This was the icing on the cake of this wonderful voyage.

I also enjoyed chatting the Cruise Director Martyn Moss, formerly an English policeman who now has more than 12 years of service on Princess Cruises. He mentioned that the crew consists of 45 nationalities, and 26 different nationalities of passengers.

Sadly, it was time to disembark through the ship's VIP lounge for the shuttle to SeaTac to catch our flight to John Wayne Airport. I hope to see you on our next cruise aboard a luxury liner.

And don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead's "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replayed at 10 a.m. Sundays.

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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