Couple celebrating 35th wedding anniversary make the best of Alaska visit after cruise cancellation

Mark and Becky Buhler decided to make the best of their stay in Alaska after their cruise was cancelled. (SOURCE: KTUU)
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 1:35 PM EDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - Over 2,000 Alaska visitors’ plans were quickly upended after a seven-day cruise out of Seward over the holiday weekend never got off the ground.

Mark and Becky Buhler were among the roughly 2,200 passengers on the Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas that received the disappointing news on Friday that the cruise was canceled.

The Buhlers, who were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary, hopped on the cruise ship early that morning and were playing a game of Putt-Putt golf when they heard an alarming announcement.

“While we were playing Putt-Putt, they announced that the propulsion system had failed and that we would be canceling the cruise,” Mark Buhler said. “So us, along with the crew, were all shocked and then we had to figure out what to do next.”

Mark Buhler says it was almost entertaining seeing how different people were dealing with the news.

“At first, I think everyone was shocked and in disbelief that this cruise was actually canceled and not just leaving the next day or whatnot, but it was interesting,” he said. “And then I think people got to the reality of, ‘Oh crud, now we’re going to have to figure out how to get home.’”

Still, even in the moment of uncertainty and confusion, the couple decided to just go with the flow and make the best of it.

Royal Caribbean cruise line allowed guests to stay on the docked ship through Sunday around noon and those on board were provided free food, drinks, and entertainment with only having to pay for the gratuities.

“They tried to keep it as normal as possible,” Mark Buhler said.

The cruise line refunded the cost of the cruise and gave everyone on board a free cruise in the next 12 months and up to $600 to get back home. The Buhler’s short stay on the ship allowed them to see the northern lights.

“We ran out to the top deck to get to see the northern lights so that was a huge experience for us,” Mark Buhler said.

The Buhlers say they explored Seward, went to Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords, traveled to Girdwood and up Alyeska Resort and eventually chose to stay in Anchorage for the last couple of days.

Mark Buhler says he has learned a lot through their experience.

“You know the older you get, you realize life is short, take advantage of what you get, [there’s] no reason to get upset, it was really nobody’s fault,” he said. “So we just took it in stride and said, ‘Let’s make the best of it.’ You know, it’s the 35th anniversary but hopefully we’ll have the 36th and we can have a party again, and maybe it’ll be on a cruise.”

Along with seeing the aurora borealis, they got to see beluga whales, the Cook Inlet’s bore tide and climb up Flattop Mountain.

“You just really have to step back a second and say, ‘You know, we could be angry, we could be upset, but let’s just figure it out’ ... so I think we’ve done the best we could so far,” he said.