Our “Love Letters to Alaska” contest had an incredible response, with more than 40,000 entries received from people hoping to win a cruise to Alaska. Deborah Thelwell was named the grand prize winner of a seven-day Holland America Line Alaska cruise for two in a Neptune Suite. But we also have nine runners-up who will each receive a seven-day Alaska cruise for two in a Vista or Signature Suite.
Here are the nine winning entries in no particular order:
Lisa D., Harrison, Arkansas:
“The Last Frontier, they say
And then one day I found my way.
I didn’t want to go; I was skeptical enough;
I never thought I’d find there a diamond in the rough.
Alaska, she grabbed my heart
And from there it is hard to part.
When I’m not there on her shore,
I am left longing and longing for more.
From the gorgeous glaciers in the bay
To the top of the mountains I find my way.
From Skagway to Juneau to Ketchikan
I love to go there as often as I can.
Alaska sings her siren song,
And my soul pulls at me to go along.
Wild and free, that’s what they say;
Wild and free, it’s the Alaskan way.
To go again, to see that land;
It’s better than when my lover takes my hand.
So please pick me to go on the cruise
For with Holland America & Alaska, one can never lose!”
Darren C, Rapid City, South Dakota:
I hear your calls; I’m sorry I haven’t answered. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to speak or visit but my day-to-day life has gotten in the way. I still yearn for your beauty and your touch; the way you smell in the morning, the way my hair stands on end when you blow a cool breeze across my neck. We’ve walked together only once before but I remember your presence and the warmth of your soul like it was yesterday. It was June: do you recall? The long days. There was so much sunshine. We spent hours visiting and hiking … and fishing. Deshka! The fresh salmon we caught‚ you allowed me to catch‚ and ate on the banks of the Susitna. The rich taste still lingers on my tongue like autumn dew on scarlet mats of bearberry. We sat together and watched the apricot sunset turn into darkness when pinholes of light emerged along with a thin crescent Moon. It was dark‚ not too dark‚ and I could still see your silhouette against the reflecting river in front of us. You sang to me. That moment was ours and I still hear your song when I close my eyes. Would you have me back? It doesn’t have to be for long. I promised I would return, and I’ve left that promise unfulfilled. But this is our chance to be together again. I want to be by your side. I love you (and always have).
Paula M., Grandville, Michigan:
To my one true love,
You are undoubtedly the most beautiful, unspoiled wilderness in the United States.
I never knew how exhilarating life could be until I explored your vast wonderland. My heart leaps in my chest when I gaze upon your natural beauty.
It is you that inspires my uncontainable joy.
I cannot hide my smile when you display your breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. It’s as if your entire sky dances with light.
I clearly remember the first moment that I laid eyes on you. I was, and continue to be, awestruck by your majestic mountains and pristine glaciers.
I truly believe that you are the most beautiful state in the world.
Your magnificent, untouched land has a way to lift my spirits on even my worst days. From your hot springs to your vast rivers and lakes. You never cease to stun.
Looking forward to our next adventure with bated breath.
You are an absolute outdoor paradise. My love for your will never end.
Jodi O., Mt. Juliet, Tennessee:
I want to see you through the eyes of my aunt who raised her children within your borders.
I want to experience your wildlife through the eyes of my uncle who made a living working on your pipelines.
I want to stand on your shores and see what my father must have seen as he fished for your salmon every summer.
I want to pick your beautiful flowers like my mother who assured me your beauty was not only found in your piles of snow.
Alaska, I want to see you the way they did.
I want to finally make the time to allow you captivate me the way you did those who left bits of their hearts in me and scattered them across your land while they still could.
Kyle H., Seattle, Washington:
Although we’ve never met in person, I’ve dreamt about your timeless beauty for many years. From your rugged mountain peaks to desolate coastlines, I’ve never been able to erase you from my mind. I have spent countless hours thinking about what watching the night sky with you would be like. I could only imagine losing myself in the infinite vastness of the universe while being enveloped in your wild arms. There have been many times where I have gotten lost in thought about coexisting in the same space as the wild creatures who call you home. The world has so much natural beauty but there is not a single place I can think of that rivals the natural beauty of you, my wild Alaska.
I know one day we are destined to cross paths and I can only hope that day comes sooner than later. I long for the day we finally get to meet and I can trade these longing dreams for the real thing. Whenever that day comes, I know you’ll welcome me with open arms and although I can never reciprocate your wild embrace, I can only hope that once we meet you’ll always keep a small part of me with you. Regardless, you’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I’ll always think about you no matter what.
Until our paths cross my dear wild Alaska,
Susan D., Atlanta, Georgia:
Alaska, the Majestic
The cyan glaciers call to me,
Those icy lands of majesty.
Eagles soar; Dall sheep graze.
Salmon leap in summer days.
Lupine carpets gently sigh.
Denali’s peak delights the eye.
Neon skies in winter glow.
Grizzly bears, their cubs in tow.
The moose, they browse in boggy loam.
Among the landscape that’s their home.
Humpbacks breach and aspens quake,
Prompting wonder in their wake.
Abounding nature there to see
Throughout this land of majesty.
Melissa A., Tooele, Utah:
Written with love for The Last Frontier in true Shakespearean form.
Oh, Dear Alaska, majestic great land,
You are magnificent without dispute:
Inuit life steeped in tradition and,
Ancient arctic customs of Aleut:
Through the heart of your frozen paradise,
Man and dog race from Anchorage to Nome;
Across rugged terrain of snow and ice,
This is the place Iditarod calls home:
Enchanting Northern Lights dance overhead,
With wolf, fox, and grizzly at home below;
Vast glacial castles, icebergs ahead,
Soaring eagles and the Orca’s great blow:
From 30 dark days to The Midnight Sun,
I’ll explore it all, not stop till I’m done!
Brenda A., Akron, Ohio:
Hi, Alaska. It’s me, Brenda!
Can you believe that it’s been over 25 years since I last saw you? I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write. No excuses. Just life. But believe me when I say – you have been in my thoughts, my dreams, my heart ever since we parted that glorious August afternoon. What a week we had! Rafting the white water. Fishing the deep sea. Hiking the blue glaciers. Exploring the rugged wilderness‚ together. You were the most amazing and gracious host. Thank you.
I so wish to see you again! Not just to relive the experience through my husband’s eyes, but to regain a sense of self I have only ever found with you. Your majesty and power made me feel small, yet somehow invincible. Centered, yet wildly adventurous. Calm, yet dizzy with excitement. You cast your spell perfectly.
In a heartbeat. My response every time I’m asked if I’d like to see you again. Alaska, you’ll always be in my heart. Here’s hoping our next meeting is only a heartbeat away.
Currie C., Spokane, Washington:
This long distance relationship isn’t working out for me. I can no longer tolerate seeing daily photographs on social media of you flaunting your beauty for everyone else to see when it’s been 44 years and we still haven’t met in person!
Are you nervous about meeting my family? Don’t be, you’ve already met them. My grandmother talked about seeing Denali for the first time in 1984. It was a guardian of the sacred land, never standing down. My mother witnessed hundreds of eagles perched in trees waiting to swoop down for their meal during her visit to Ketchikan in 2002. You enchanted them.
Are you worried we don’t have much in common? We both have adventurous souls! I dabble in the arts. I’m told that you could teach me wood carving, something I’ve struggled with. I know my way around the kitchen. I’d love to learn how to perfect my salmon or prepare fresh oysters from your charming markets. I’ve climbed to the tops of many peaks but none as glorious as the Alaska Range. Lastly, we’re both animal lovers! I hear you have whales, seals, wolves and even bears. I’ve longed to see them in their natural habitat.
Alaska, the past two years have been a challenging period of self-reflection. It has brought me to a crossroad of how and with whom I want to spend my time and energy going forward. Can we, or better yet, will we take that next step and meet face-to-face?
Did you enter the contest? Feel free to share your entry in the comments!