A Daughter’s Love Leads to a Great Alaska Adventure

View of people on Holland America Line Alaska cruise with glacier and snowcapped mountains in background.

On April 22, 2022, Stephanie DerGarabedian was starting her day with her favorite morning personalities on The Today Show. As she sipped her morning brew and began plugging away at work, something caught her attention. The Today Show was hosting a Mother’s Day contest where viewers could nominate their moms to join them on The Plaza for brunch. Stephanie didn’t hesitate. Not knowing it at the time, her actions would result in a great Alaska adventure.

Delightfully surprised a couple weeks later, Stephanie and her mom were invited to join The Today Show hosts for a special Mother’s Day brunch.

“They highlighted some of the families that were invited on the show, and then Carson Daly and Al Roker walked out wearing sailor hats and carrying luggage. They said they were giving away an Alaska cruise on Holland America Line and the moms can bring a plus one. I thought the prize was just going there for breakfast, which was wonderful. My mother was like: ‘Wait! Did I just win a cruise to Alaska?!’

When Stephanie confirmed that’s exactly what just happened, they became overwhelmed with excitement. Her mom, Marineda Usera, said she was taking her daughter on their next big adventure.

Stephanie always wanted to take a mother/daughter trip, but life often got in the way. “My mom would come to visit and help with the kids, but that wasn’t a vacation. This was our first cruise together, and it was almost as if someone up there said, ‘You need to do this. It’s time to take your trip.”

Embarking in Seattle in late June 2022, Stephanie and Marineda were greeted with warmth and kindness. “The cruise line and the staff…they pamper you. The food was amazing. The entertainment was incredible. At night, they would have these dance shows, and it was Broadway-quality. We would never be able to see that amount of shows – every night was something. We thought: When would we ever do this for ourselves?”

View of people standing next to totem pole in Alaska.

During their Alaska cruise, they explored Glacier Bay and relished the moments where they saw whales breaching, eagles soaring and sea lions basking.

“I was thinking this is really special. My mom is 88, and to be able to spend time with her…it’s really important to create memories and experiences. We had a lot of fun in Alaska. Hanging out with my mom is a joy.”

Before they returned home, Stephanie was committed to having more adventures with her mom. She said this trip inspired her to make the most of every travel opportunity she has so she can bring her mom along and continue making memories.

“My mom is up for any adventure. She’s one of those people where you can say, ‘Let’s go and do this.’ She’s spontaneous and enjoys having fun.”

Though they live on opposite coasts, Stephanie flew her mom to New York to spend Mother’s Day together this year. And while they love reflecting on their wild adventure in Alaska, Stephanie is looking forward to their next one together.

“I would definitely cruise again,” she said. “Maybe next will be the Caribbean.”

Stephanie, thank you for sharing your story with us. To all the moms out there, we wish you a very happy Mother’s Day.


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