The group at the border. Front row from left: Caitlin Tervo, Megan Tervo, Shannon Tervo and Jon Tervo. Back row from left: Laura Tervo, Bob Tervo and the author. (Courtesy of Betsy Tervo)

Our readers share tales of their ramblings around the world.

Who: Betsy Tervo (the author), her husband, Bob Tervo, and her daughter Laura Tervo, all of Laurel, Md.; and her son Jon Tervo, with his daughters Shannon, 12, Megan, 10, and Caitlin, 8, all of Columbia, Md.

Where, when, why: We took a small ship cruise from July 8-15 of this year to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. In May, my husband asked me, “Is there any trip you liked so much you would take it again?” My answer: “Yes, our Alaska cruise — but this time with our kids and grandkids.”

Whales surface near Prince Frederick Sound, Alaska. (Betsy Tervo)

Highlights and high points: The first day after dinner, six whales appeared out of nowhere within 25 feet of the ship. They announced themselves by spouting water high in the air and began a long session of bubble-net feeding, a group effort in which the whales dive under the water and create bubbles that confuse the fish and krill that are their main diet. After 30 minutes, they breached one by one and fell back in a big splash, announcing, “Show’s over, folks!” The members of the crew said they had never seen anything like it before.

Near Haines, Alaska, in the “Valley of the Eagles,” our group was walking toward a river to photograph some of the birds. A brown bear came from behind a bush 10 feet away, closer to the river. Our guide knew she was a mother of two cubs, which were not in sight. Her name was Speedy. I thought, “If I’m going to meet a mother bear this close, I don’t want her to have cubs and be named Speedy.” We watched as she swam across the river, checking the for fish. No tourists or salmon were harmed.

Cultural connection or disconnect: In Glacier Bay, a native Tlingit woman, Nellie, came on board to give a presentation on the tribe’s history, language and culture. She also led a tour of the Huna Tribal House, which was built by the National Park Service and the Tlingit people in Glacier Bay National Park in recognition of the fact that the area is the tribe’s homeland.

Biggest laugh or cry: Bob and I were surprised and very sad to see how much the Mendenhall and Sawyer glaciers had changed since we saw them seven years ago. We know the glaciers are shrinking, but we didn’t think it would be so obvious, or drastic, after such a short time.

On the joyful side, we were amazed when our granddaughters hosted a “cookie party” and invited the entire ship to their cabin for sweet treats. With a lot of help from their aunt Laura, the ship’s cruise director and the bakery chef, they served a surprising number of passengers.

How unexpected: Our son is not a big nature buff, so I couldn’t believe his awe at the view from the dining room in Glacier Bay. “The water, mountains and glaciers just go on and on,” he marveled.

Our granddaughters were the only kids on the ship, surprising us and them, but it was great. We couldn’t believe how much the crew enjoyed them. They developed a special bond with our waitress, Alex, who gave them her contact information upon departing.

Favorite memento or memory: The best part was eating three meals a day with our kids and grandkids, surrounded by breathtaking mountains, glaciers, wildlife and water, and sharing what we saw and did every day. It was priceless.

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