Cache the Waves | John Bishop

What do you get when you combine twelve geocachers, two muggles, a gigantic cruise ship, and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest?  Why Cache the Waves: Alaska of course!  We had the pleasure of hosting the first annual Cache the Waves cruise from Seattle just a few weeks ago. Geocachers joined us from California, Alabama, Florida and Georgia to explore Seattle, two ports in Alaska and beautiful British Columbia.  It was the first time in the region for nearly all of us, and we were rewarded with several new Geocaching Souvenirs!  After the cruise, we stayed a day in Seattle to visit Geocaching’s most revered site- Geocaching HQ!  Passports in hand, we took to the streets of Fremont to complete the HQ Geotour.  

Our nautical chariot was the Explorer of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean’s Voyager class ships.  While onboard we enjoyed all the typical cruise excitement- great food, fantastic live shows and stellar views of the passing scenery.  Explorer of the Seas had a few atypical ways to entertain as well!  A Flowrider surf simulator, a rock climbing wall and an ice skating rink were available for us to enjoy. The ice skating show was a highlight of the cruise – with mind blowing aerial tricks straight out of the Olympics. When you consider these skating feats were accomplished while the ship was moving, they are even more impressive!  I don’t remember anyone in the Sochi winter Olympics having to compete against a pitching ship during their routine!

While the cruise entertainment was excellent, our guests knew as soon as they got onboard that this was not going to be any typical cruise!  A welcome aboard Scavenger Hunt sent them racing about the ship to film crazy antics and collect random items from around the ship.  After the hunt was scored and the videos enjoyed,  our guests were presented with the real challenge that made Cache the Waves a unique geocaching cruise experience – The Gold Rush “Puzzle Caches!”  Four teams competed to complete a series of seven encrypted puzzles and riddles.  Each was presented like a Cache Page, with hints, attributes and a difficulty rating.  For each puzzle they solved, they were rewarded with gold nuggets!  These were not simple puzzles – a special tool kit was needed to solve them.  In that kit were hidden decoder wheels, clues and even a functional model Enigma Machine!  Each day, the AMS Travel Sales staff made themselves available to offer hints (at a cost of gold nuggets) and showed everyone how to use the decoding tools.

In about two and a half days time, just the amount of time at sea we enjoyed, the teams had solved our packs of puzzles.  Our first round of geocaching was to begin on the third day – our arrival into Juneau.  We pulled into a grey and bleak port, but it was bustling with the activity of four ships worth of passengers.  Our Explorer of the Seas was docked along with the Silver Shadow, Coral Princess, and the Celebrity Millennium.  The day got off to a rocky start when I realized that my AMS Travel Team did not have mobile service in Alaska, thanks to T-Mobile.  I had made the mistake of assuming that I’d have service in Alaska! (We had planned ahead for Canada and purchased an international data plan.)  That meant no geocaching with the app. It also meant no communication between team members, which proved to be more of a headache.  We muddled through and started finding geocaches straight away.

Our first cache of the trip was GC10RDC, a TB Hotel in the Juneau visitor center.  After this cache, we made our way into the heart of Juneau and found several other caches along the way, including earthcaches, traditionals and more.  Some of our group opted to venture north to the Mendenhall Glacier and others still ventured out to sea on a whale watching excursion.  The beauty of our arrangement was that our guests were given the flexibility to cache as they wanted, and still had time to enjoy other aspects of Alaska.  We included a day pass to the port shuttle with everyone’s package, so they could come and go as they pleased.

The following day found us pulling early into the charming little town of Skagway – where you find all sorts of interesting history.  This was the home base for the famous Klondike Gold Rush.  Thousands of prospectors flocked here in the 1800s when gold was discovered across the treacherous White Pass in the Klondike.  The majority of our group was drawn to the White Pass as well, as they each decided to rent cars and jeeps and head north along the Klondike Highway to the Yukon. That gave them the added bonus of the Yukon Geocaching Souvenir and several geocaches in the town of Carcross.  The AMS Travel Sales team stayed in Skagway proper and soaked up the history on several National Park Service Walking Tours. We couldn’t resist the nearby hike to Yakutania Point which gave us splendid views of our cruise ship from across the bay.

The next day was breathtaking- as the captain piloted us through the narrow channel of the Endicott Arm on the way to Dawes Glacier.  This was a slight detour from our original itinerary-which called for the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord. This detour unfortunately cost us an Earthcache at Sawyer Glacier, but we were rewarded with spectacular views of the glacier and tons of wildlife around – seals and sea otters floated by as we cruised the fjord.

Our next stop was Victoria, BC…Canada!  For several of us, a shiny new country souvenir and a new Province as well, British Columbia.  We hopped on a local bus for a quick ride to Beacon Hill park where some of us opted to tackle a Wherigo maze and others of us went for traditionals and a webcam nearby.

One unexpected treat was stumbling upon a turtle nesting and laying eggs right by the sidewalk!  Victoria is a beautifully manicured town with flowers blooming everywhere.  Beacon Hill Park was absolutely gorgeous and well worth the exploration.  The webcam by the sea was a real treat as those are becoming more and more rare.  After a half day of geocaching, we split off to do our own thing.  For some, that meant more caching, for others shopping and for others – still more exploration!

That brought us to the end of the cruise, but not the end of the adventure!  We disembarked in Seattle and were transported to a hotel in Fremont.  From here, we took a moment to rest and gather our bearings, but then it was back on the shuttle to Geocaching HQ, just a mile away!  Our group was hosted by the Lackeys Sarah and Sven. They had reserved the visitor center just for Cache the Waves!  Our group posed for photos, logged the HQ Cache and explored the HQ center.  How exciting!

Everyone left with some sort of souvenir and of course a strip of photos from the photo booth!  After our private visit at HQ, we grabbed lunch at the burger place next door and went off to complete the HQ Geotour!  That meant two iconic geocaches in the mix: the Troll and the Chairy Tree.  We even met a few other geocachers along the way!

Our first Cache the Waves was such a success, we’ve decided to do it again.  We will be sailing on the Mariner of the Seas to the Bahamas on June 24, 2019.   This 4-night cruise will take us to Nassau, where we’ll find several geocaches as well as Coco Cay, a private island paradise.  The cruise line will have completed multi-million dollar renovations on both the ship and the island, making this one of the most exciting Bahamas cruises you can take.  The ship features a magnificent escape room that plays right into our plans!  You can bet escaping from that room will be key to Caching the Waves in 2019!  We’ve taken the feedback and experience from our Alaska cruise and applied it to the all new geocaching challenges for next year.  As great as our last cruise was, you can be sure 2019 will be even better!

If you’d like more information and pricing you can give AMS Travel Sales a call at 844-719-7802 or take a look at details on our website, www.cachethewaves.com.  As always, listeners of the Geocache Talk Podcast will receive a special 50% discount to the Cache the Waves Geocaching Add On.  Just mention you heard about it on Geocache Talk!

The Geocache Talk blog wants your geocaching-related stories and insights – and travel stories! Please contact me, Angie (aka @GeoJangie), to write a guest blog post or if you have any recommendations for subjects or authors. I can be reached via my email: JangieGoWest@gmail.com or through InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.