Skagway's crew friends

Maria Nievas of Argentina found the day cool enough for gloves as she handed out phones at Alaska Cruiseship Services. DL

By ROBERT WARREN
Milton Haughton from Kingston, Jamaica is one of 900 crew members who call the Norwegian Sun home for up to seven months at a time. He is a cabin steward, and says he has a good job. It is he who puts the chocolates on the turned-down beds nightly.
Haughton is one of 15 members of a soccer team that plays weekly. Like the rest of the men who gather at the school field, he takes a big risk to play the game he loves.
“If you are playing and you get hurt, you go home,” said Haughton.
Actually, Haughton and his teammate Elwin Colomer of Nicaragua were the only two on their team to show up that day. Colomer blamed the truancies on the wind, stressing the importance of staying healthy. Crew members do not have health insurance.
“It is very dangerous for us here. If you get sick, you go home,” said Colomer. “Home” means being with your family, but it also means being unable to send your family money.

Milton Haughton and Elwin Colomer watch a soccer match amongst crew members. DL

With the number of crew members on the average ship exceeding the number of year-round Skagwayans, one tends to wonder what all of these people do in our fair town.
Haughton said that Skagway is his favorite port of call because he, and most of the other crew members from the 34 ships that visit Skagway 440 times during the 2003 season, find that they have more time off from work than in other ports of call.
“I really like Alaska,” said Haughton in his thick Jamaican accent, “And I really like Skagway.”
Ship officers even like our community. During a July 22 reception aboard the Island Princess, Captain Andrea Poggi of Italy said that his crews especially enjoy Skagway.
“They have time to go into town and relax here,” said Poggi.
Maria Nievas works the gift shop on the Norwegian Sky, and she likes Skagway, too. As a native of Argentina, the typical summer weather here is a little on the cold side for her.
Despite the balmy 62-degree weather, Nievas wore thick gloves and a heavy jacket as she spoke fondly of Skagway.
“It’s completely different, one of a kind,” said Nievas, “like it’s stuck in time.”
Nievas appreciates the abundance of amenities at some of the other bigger ports, but prefers the uniqueness here.
“It’s not common, that’s why it’s different and nice and why people like it,” said Nievas.
Skagway’s general lack of services is getting better due to people like Mary Giuliani. She worked on cruise ships for 15 years, most recently on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, and determined that Skagway needed an establishment that caters to crew members.
With that in mind, she opened Alaska Cruiseship Services on Second Avenue with its signature blue lighthouse on the roof.
Inside, the walls of the shop are filled with every item Giuliani imagines crew members might want. From Greek grape leaves to Asian hot sauce, it’s all there. Exotic chocolates, pastas and juices allow crew members like Nievas feel at home.
“This place is great,” said Nievas.
Apart from foreign groceries, Giuliani provides Internet and telephone access. International phone cards are also available to use on the establishment’s many comfortable couches, and if you need the time, clocks circle the ceiling displaying local times from Skagway to Perth.
Skagway has long been accommodating to the multitude of tourists who visit each year, now the people who care for the tourists are accommodated as well.
Capt. Poggi added that when you have a crew that’s happy to come to your town, you’ll have happy passengers, too.

Web surfing at Alaska Cruiseship Services. DL

Fancy foreign foods DL

Connecting with far away loved ones. DL