Winner Announced for ‘Love Letters to Alaska’ Contest

On Valentine’s Day we launched a “Love Letters to Alaska” contest in celebration of our upcoming 75th anniversary season in the Great Land. More than 40,000 hopefuls submitted a personal letter professing their love for Alaska or why they would like to visit.

After narrowing down the entries to the top 10, Deborah Thelwell from Phoenix, Arizona, was named the grand prize winner of a seven-day Holland America Line Alaska cruise for two in a Neptune Suite. In addition to Deborah, nine runners-up come from across the United States, including Arkansas, Georgia, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Washington state. Each submitted a poem, sonnet, letter or tribute professing their love and admiration for The Last Frontier. As a winner, they each will receive a seven-day Alaska cruise for two in a Vista or Signature Suite.

Deborah, love letter contest winner

The ‘Love Letters to Alaska’ winner Deborah and her late husband, Alan.

Here is Deborah’s winning entry:

I love the thought of traveling to Alaska because I live in Arizona! Such different and diverse weather and landscapes. My love letter is for my late husband. We had planned an Alaska cruise for our retirement, but alas, he died from complications of dementia at age 57. He had sailed all over the world in the British Merchant Navy but never made it to Alaska. This is for Alan.

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.

Perhaps a bear, a whale, a caribou
Will remind me of the strength of you,
In your youth and beyond,
You made me strong so I may weather the storms ahead.

Aurora Borealis – familiar to you, but
I yearn to gaze into its hues of emerald, azure and gold.
Truth be told,
I can imagine you gazing from between the moving, dancing waves,
Delighting in my delight,
Loving my awe.

I sail through life solo now.
The old, lofty dreams mine to dream alone.

Congratulations to Deborah! We can’t wait for her to cruise with us to Alaska this summer to celebrate our 75 years exploring the Last Frontier.

Stay tuned for another blog post with the entries for the nine runners-up.


Join the Discussion


  1. Stephen Court Wooster September 16, 2022 at 4:20 am - Reply

    Congratulations Debbie, a lovely poem and great tribute to Alan x

  2. Donna Moore April 20, 2022 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    The “Love Letters to Alaska” contest was a lot of fun, and even though my entry was not selected, I want to congratulate the winners, especially Deborah. Deborah, I could feel the passion in your writing, and as you move forward into this new season of your life, embrace your trip to Alaska with enough joy and excitement for both of you! May God bless you and keep you safe and give you His peace.

  3. Elaine April 15, 2022 at 2:18 am - Reply

    What a lovely remembrance of her husband and travel companion.
    So glad she has won your contest for a cruise to Alaska.

  4. Emily June April 14, 2022 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Wonderful poem! Enjoy your cruise.

  5. Joan Finley April 14, 2022 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    Beautiful poem. Sailed to Alaska a few times on the Westerdam with my mom. Fabulous! We even lucked out
    To get the owners suite! How lucky were We! Envious of your trip
    Lovely lady. You deserved to win.
    Best wishes for a fabulous trip to
    A Fantastic location.

  6. Ella Bly April 14, 2022 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    I am disappointed with the winning entry. There are grammatical errors in nearly every line of this entry. Furthermore, it does not rhyme or feel coherent. I am going to send a letter to the corporate office. I am so very disappointed with you Holland America Lines! Shame on you for not properly judging the entries!

  7. Jennifer April 14, 2022 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Congratulations, Deborah. That was beautiful!❤️

  8. Frank April 14, 2022 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Congratulations Deborah, I wish you fair winds and following seas on your journey,I’m sure you are excited I’m sure your husband would be as well, he will be with you on your journey and with a spirit as huge and indelible as the great land it self I wish you well on your next adventure and I hope you find what you are looking for.

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