Holland America Line has chosen the winner of its “Love Letters to Alaska” contest, which was open for entries from Valentine’s Day through March 15. More than 40,000 entries were received in that time, and the grand prize winner will receive a seven-day Holland America Line Alaska cruise for two in a luxurious Neptune Suite.
The winning entry of the “Love Letters to Alaska” contest was chosen from all eligible entries, with more than 40,000 hopefuls having submitted poems, sonnets, essays, or letters. Entries were to have expressed love for Alaska or the hope to visit this bucket-list destination.
“The number of entries we received was overwhelming in the most incredible way, with thousands of people professing their love for Alaska with creative, beautiful, and heartfelt notes,” said Beth Bodensteiner, senior vice president and chief commercial officer, Holland America Line.
Deborah Thelwell from Phoenix, Arizona, was named the grand prize winner. Thelwell’s passionate and heart-wrenching entry was a poem honoring her husband, Alan, who passed before they were able to take their dream cruise to Alaska.
“We had planned an Alaska cruise for our retirement, but alas, he died from complications of dementia at age 57,” Thelwell explained.
Thelwell’s husband had sailed all over the world in the British Merchant Navy but never made it to Alaska.
“Your love of the sea, your love of me/ My love of you, so strong and true/ Our dreams once dreamed, but now, it seems, I must sail on alone/ To see the glaciers caress the land/ The rivers, entwined, like lovers’ arms as they make their way to the sea/ The mountains, bursting onto the horizon/ Joyfully stretching to the sky, as we once reached for each other,” read an excerpt from Thelwell’s winning entry.
All entries were evaluated by a panel of judges with connections to Alaska, Washington state, or Holland America Line.
Finalists From Around the United States
In addition to Thelwell’s outstanding entry, nine other finalists were also selected from the overwhelming pool of contest submissions. The runners-up came from across the United States, including Arkansas, Georgia, Ohio, South Dakota, Michigan, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington state.
Two of the finalist entries were from Washington state, one tongue-in-cheek “let’s take the next step” love letter, and one “until our paths cross” longing letter.
Other finalists included both poems and letters in different styles, some very romantic, others light-hearted and fun, but all showing just how meaningful and amazing Alaska can be. All finalists will receive a seven-day Alaska cruise in a Vista or Signature Suite.
All entries were judged on sincerity, originality, Alaska inspiration, and writing quality.
“Choosing the 10 winners was difficult because so many were worthy, but in the end, Deborah’s poem captured the essence of the contest with an entry that was beautifully written as a tribute to both her late husband and Alaska,” said Bodensteiner.
Holland America Line in Alaska for 2022
All winners must take their cruises during the 2022 Alaska season, and Holland America Line has plenty of amazing options for them to choose from this summer. This year marks the cruise line’s 75th anniversary of sailing in the Last Frontier, and six Holland America ships will be offering Alaska itineraries.
Koningsdam and Zuiderdam will be sailing 7-night roundtrip sailings from Vancouver.
Both Nieuw Amsterdam and Noordam are offering 7-night one-way sailings, both northbound and southbound, between Whittier and Vancouver, with a special 14-night roundtrip “Great Alaska Explorer” voyages from Vancouver, departing in mid-September.
Eurodam and Westerdam are both sailing 7-night roundtrip itineraries from Seattle.
All ships are calling on iconic Alaskan ports, such as Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka, Victoria, and more. In addition, every Holland America Line Alaska cruise includes a visit to one or more of the state’s iconic glacier destinations: Glacier Bay National Park, College Fjord, Hubbard Glacier, or Tracy Arm.
No matter which cruise Thelwell or the other finalists choose, they’re sure to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will inspire their love for Alaska even more.