My name is Abby. I am from Gaylord, MN and was searching on-line for cruise ship jobs when I noticed job opportunities in Alaska with Princess Tours. I enjoyed hiking and camping while growing up in Minnesota and have a keen interest in the outdoors. I thought it would be a great adventure – working in Alaska for the summer; especially at Denali Princess with easy access to Denali National Park – six million acres of unspoiled beauty and wildlife. I had few preconceived ideas regarding working at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge – other than it would be a lot of work. Having previously worked in state government jobs, I had never worked for a large corporation and had no reason to think it would be any different than just being considered another number in the system.
Upon arrival at Denali Princess, I quickly struck up a friendship with Erica of Las Vegas, NV, a fellow housekeeping employee. We began hiking in Denali Park during evenings after work, taking advantage of the long summer daylight hours in Alaska, and also going into the park on our days off. The beauty and the solitude of the area is breath-taking, but the hiking is a challenge – there are very few actual “trails,” it is almost entirely natural. Erica and I obtained a permit from the National Park Service on June 12th to hike into the Park in the Savage River area and camp for one night. We were to hike back out Friday in order to report for work Saturday morning; however, we lost our bearings and were not able to find our way out. We kept our wits about us and continued to hike over terrain which was much tougher than anticipated. By the third day and into the fourth, we were getting a bit anxious and in the back of my head was a fear which I would not consciously acknowledge. We agreed to stay calm, stay together and just keep going until eventually we could find our way out. We saw some animal tracks – but, fortunately, never fresh ones. At one point we could see helicopters and planes far off in the distance. We tried waving to them but were too far away to be seen. Continuing with our hiking we thought we would be able to get to the road which would lead us to the employee housing for Denali Princess in Healy. We had a map and compass; but, unfortunately, being disoriented we were considerably north of our destination and getting further away with each step.
Finally, after six nights, Erica was able to get cell service on her phone and called her mom who unbeknownst to us was at park headquarters with search and rescue coordinators. Park personnel talked to us in an attempt to determine our whereabouts. However, our position was quite a bit north of where we thought. After several hours of waiting for the rescue team, Erica made another call. We could not see nor hear any of the search planes. The search area was altered to a more northerly area and we were spotted, picked up and reunited with our families.
Erica and I had no idea of the extent and size of the search and rescue teams looking for us. We were incredibly amazed upon discovering how concerned everyone was – not just our families, but all the rescue teams and Princess. My family and I were exceedingly impressed and will be eternally grateful for the way we were treated by Princess throughout the entire ordeal. I definitely do not feel like just another number in a computer; but rather a part of an organization which actually cares about the safety and wellbeing of its employees. The experience has truly had an impact on my views in relation to the treatment and care of others; it provided me with a wholly new perspective on values.
To any and all those who are considering job opportunities in Alaska for the summer, I decidedly recommend the experience in general, and definitely advocate Princess in particular as a first class employer.
THE ALASKA EXPERIENCE: