Deborah Thelwell WINs Love Letters to Alaska Contest: Read All 10 Finalists Lovely Entries

Romancing Alaska in Words of Emotion A Black & White Affair is really wonderful for the wonderland of earth
Check TOP 10 in 40,000 Love Letters to Alaska

  1. Deborah Thelwell, Phoenix, Arizona
  2. Lisa Davis, Harrison, Arkansas
  3. Darren Clabo, Rapid City, South Dakota
  4. Paula McCarty, Grandville, Michigan
  5. Jodi Ogle, Cookeville, Tennessee 
  6. Kyle Hancock, Seattle, Washington
  7. Susan Dugas, Atlanta, Georgia
  8. Melissa Adams, Tooele, Utah
  9. Brenda Alten, Akron, Ohio
  10. Currie Corbin, Spokane, Washington

Deborah Thelwell from Phoenix, Arizona Winner Grand Prize and her Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

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.

Lisa Davis from Harrison, Arkansas and her Finalist Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

The Last Frontier, they say 
And then one day I found my way. 
I didn't want to go; I was skeptical enough; 
I never thought I'd find there a diamond in the rough. 
Alaska, she grabbed my heart 
And from there it is hard to part. 
When I'm not there on her shore, 
I am left longing and longing for more. 
From the gorgeous glaciers in the bay 
To the top of the mountains I find my way. 
From Skagway to Juneau to Ketchikan 
I love to go there as often as I can. 
Alaska sings her siren song, 
And my soul pulls at me to go along. 
Wild and free, that's what they say; 
Wild and free, it's the Alaskan way. 
To go again, to see that land; 
It's better than when my lover takes my hand. 
So please pick me to go on the cruise 
For with Holland America & Alaska, one can never lose!

Darren Clabo from Rapid City, South Dakota & The Finalist Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

Dear Alaska,  
I hear your calls; I’m sorry I haven’t answered. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to speak or visit but my day-to-day life has gotten in the way. I still yearn for your beauty and your touch; the way you smell in the morning, the way my hair stands on end when you blow a cool breeze across my neck. We’ve walked together only once before but I remember your presence and the warmth of your soul like it was yesterday. It was June: do you recall? The long days. There was so much sunshine. We spent hours visiting and hiking... and fishing. Deshka! The fresh salmon we caught—you allowed me to catch—and ate on the banks of the Susitna. The rich taste still lingers on my tongue like autumn dew on scarlet mats of bearberry. We sat together and watched the apricot sunset turn into darkness when pinholes of light emerged along with a thin crescent Moon. It was dark—not too dark—and I could still see your silhouette against the reflecting river in front of us. You sang to me. That moment was ours and I still hear your song when I close my eyes. Would you have me back? It doesn’t have to be for long. I promised I would return, and I’ve left that promise unfulfilled. But this is our chance to be together again. I want to be by your side. I love you (and always have).

Paula McCarty from Grandville, Michigan writes and her Finalist Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

To my one true love,  
  
You are undoubtedly the most beautiful, unspoiled wilderness in the United States.  
  
I never knew how exhilarating life could be until I explored your vast wonderland.  My heart leaps in my chest when I gaze upon your natural beauty.   
  
It is you that inspires my uncontainable joy.  
  
I cannot hide my smile when you display your breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. It’s as if your entire sky dances with light.  
  
I clearly remember the first moment that I laid eyes on you. I was, and continue to be, awestruck by your majestic mountains and pristine glaciers.  
  
I truly believe that you are the most beautiful state in the world.  
  
Your magnificent, untouched land has a way to lift my spirits on even my worst days.   
  
From your hot springs to your vast rivers and lakes. You never cease to stun.  
  
Looking forward to our next adventure with bated breath.  
  
You are an absolute outdoor paradise. My love for your will never end.

Jodi Ogle from Cookeville, Tennessee & her Soulful Finalist Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

Alaska  
  
I want to see you through the eyes of my aunt who raised her children within your borders.  
  
I want to experience your wildlife through the eyes of my uncle who made a living working on your pipelines.  
  
I want to stand on your shores and see what my father must have seen as he fished for your salmon every summer.  
  
I want to pick your beautiful flowers like my mother who assured me your beauty was not only found in your piles of snow.  
  
Alaska, I want to see you the way they did.  
  
I want to finally make the time to allow you to captivate me the way you did those who left bits of their hearts in me and scattered them across your land while they still could.

Kyle Hancock from Seattle, Washington and the Touchy Finalist Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

To Alaska,  
  
Although we've never met in person, I've dreamt about your timeless beauty for many years. From your rugged mountain peaks to desolate coastlines, I've never been able to erase you from my mind. I have spent countless hours thinking about what watching the night sky with you would be like. I could only imagine losing myself in the infinite vastness of the universe while being enveloped in your wild arms. There have been many times where I have gotten lost in thought about coexisting in the same space as the wild creatures who call you home. The world has so much natural beauty but there is not a single place I can think of that rivals the natural beauty of you, my wild Alaska.  
  
I know one day we are destined to cross paths and I can only hope that day comes sooner than later. I long for the day we finally get to meet and I can trade these longing dreams for the real thing. Whenever that day comes, I know you'll welcome me with open arms and although I can never reciprocate your wild embrace, I can only hope that once we meet you'll always keep a small part of me with you. Regardless, you'll always hold a special place in my heart. I'll always think about you no matter what.  
  
Until our paths cross my dear wild Alaska,  
  
Kyle

Susan Dugas from Atlanta, Georgia and her majestic touch in Finalist Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

Alaska, the Majestic  
  
The cyan glaciers call to me,  
Those icy lands of majesty.  
  
Eagles soar; Dall sheep graze.  
Salmon leap in summer days.  
  
Lupine carpets gently sigh.  
Denali’s peak delights the eye.  
  
Neon skies in winter glow.   
Grizzly bears, their cubs in tow.  
  
The moose, they browse in boggy loam.  
Among the landscape that’s their home.  
  
Humpbacks breach and aspens quake,  
Prompting wonder in their wake.  
  
Abounding nature there to see  
Throughout this land of majesty.

Melissa Adams from Tooele, Utah writes musical feel in Finalist Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

Sonnet 49  
Written with love for The Last Frontier in true Shakespearean form.  
  
Oh, Dear Alaska, majestic great land,  
You are magnificent without dispute:  
Inuit life steeped in tradition and,  
Ancient arctic customs of Aleut:  
  
Through the heart of your frozen paradise,  
Man and dog race from Anchorage to Nome;  
Across rugged terrain of snow and ice,  
This is the place Iditarod calls home:  
  
Enchanting Northern Lights dance overhead,  
With wolf, fox, and grizzly at home below;  
Vast glacial castles, icebergs ahead,  
Soaring eagles and the Orca's great blow:  
  
From 30 dark days to The Midnight Sun,  
I'll explore it all, not stop till I'm done!

Brenda Alten from Akron, Ohio down memory lane in the Finalist Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

Hi, Alaska. It’s me, Brenda!  
 
Can you believe that it’s been over 25 years since I last saw you? I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write. No excuses. Just life. But believe me when I say - you have been in my thoughts, my dreams, my heart ever since we parted that glorious August afternoon. What a week we had! Rafting the white water. Fishing the deep sea. Hiking the blue glaciers. Exploring the rugged wilderness…together. You were the most amazing and gracious host. Thank you.  
  
I so wish to see you again! Not just to relive the experience through my husband’s eyes, but to regain a sense of self I have only ever found with you. Your majesty and power made me feel small, yet somehow invincible. Centered, yet wildly adventurous. Calm, yet dizzy with excitement. You cast your spell perfectly.    
  
“In a heartbeat.” My response every time I’m asked if I’d like to see you again. Alaska, you’ll always be in my heart. Here’s hoping our next meeting is only a heartbeat away.  
  
With love,  
Brenda

Currie Corbin from Spokane, Washington writes magic of long distance affair in the Entry for Love Letters to Alaska

Dear Alaska,  
This long distance relationship isn’t working out for me. I can no longer tolerate seeing daily photographs on social media of you flaunting your beauty for everyone else to see when it’s been 44 years and we still haven’t met in person!  
  
Are you nervous about meeting my family? Don’t be, you’ve already met them. My grandmother talked about seeing Denali for the first time in 1984. It was a guardian of the sacred land, never standing down. My mother witnessed hundreds of eagles perched in trees waiting to swoop down for their meal during her visit to Ketchikan in 2002. You enchanted them.  
  
Are you worried we don’t have much in common? We both have adventurous souls! I dabble in the arts. I’m told that you could teach me wood carving, something I’ve struggled with. I know my way around the kitchen. I’d love to learn how to perfect my salmon or prepare fresh oysters from your charming markets. I’ve climbed to the tops of many peaks but none as glorious as the Alaska Range. Lastly, we're both animal lovers! I hear you have whales, seals, wolves and even bears. I’ve longed to see them in their natural habitat.  
  
Alaska, the past two years have been a challenging period of self-reflection. It has brought me to a crossroad of how and with whom I want to spend my time and energy going forward. Can we, or better yet, will we take that next step and meet face-to-face?

Here is the official Love Letters to Alaska news:

Deborah Thelwell from Phoenix, Arizona, named the grand prize winner of an Alaska cruise, along with nine runners-up from across the United States
Holland America Line Selects Winner of 'Love Letters to Alaska' Contest from More Than 40,000 Entries

SEATTLE, April 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- On Valentine's Day 2022 Holland America Line launched a "Love Letters to Alaska" contest in celebration of its 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.

"The number of entries we received was overwhelming in the most incredible way, with thousands of people professing their love for Alaska with creative, beautiful and heartfelt notes," said Beth Bodensteiner, senior vice president and chief commercial officer, Holland America Line. "Choosing the 10 winners was difficult because so many were worthy, but in the end, Deborah's poem captured the essence of the contest with an entry that was beautifully written as a tribute to both her late husband and Alaska."

Selected as the best of the best by a panel of judges who have a connection to Alaska, Washington state or the cruise line, Deborah's entry was penned to honor her husband Alan who passed before they were able to take their dream cruise to Alaska.  

"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," wrote Deborah to introduce her heartfelt poem:

"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," reads an excerpt from Deborah's entry.

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.

The judging panel who selected the grand prize winner included Jim Dever, an Emmy Award–winning host and reporter on Seattle's "KING 5 Evening" show; Dr. Pepper Schwartz, an acclaimed professor, author, researcher and television personality furthering the field of intimacy; Tekla Butcher-Monson, daughter of acclaimed Alaskan musher Susan Butcher and a musher in her own right, as well as the owner of Trail Breaker Kennel; Russell Dick, president and CEO of Huna Totem Corp.; and Danny Genung, chief executive officer of Harr Travel, a California-based boutique agency.

Experience Alaska with the Experts
In 2022 six Holland America Line ships will explore Alaska, either roundtrip from Seattle, Washington; roundtrip from Vancouver, Canada; or between Whittier, Alaska, and Vancouver. The ships deliver a premium experience designed for immersive cruising with wraparound decks and an abundance of verandah staterooms that bring guests closer to Alaska's natural wonders.

Every Alaska cruise includes a visit to one or more of Alaska's iconic glacier destinations: Glacier Bay National Park, College Fjord, Hubbard Glacier and Twin Sawyer Glaciers of Tracy Arm. Alaska ports of call include Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Skagway. Cruises that feature Glacier Bay take on a National Park ranger and local Huna Tlingit guide.

For explorers who want to travel farther, 16 different Cruisetours combine an Alaska cruise with an inland exploration of Denali National Park or to the unspoiled reaches of Canada's Yukon Territory. Holland America Line owns its motorcoaches, railcars and hotels, so schedules are preferential. Each Cruisetour gets a scenic ride on the luxury-domed McKinley Explorer, including select itineraries that offer Direct-to-Denali service, taking guests from their ship to their Denali hotel room on the same day.

Holland America Line Immerses Guests in Alaska with 'Alaska Up Close'
Through authentic experiences on board and ashore that focus on culture, cuisine and immersive adventures, "Alaska Up Close" enables guests to discover, taste and experience the real Alaska in a way that only Holland America Line can deliver. Alaska Up Close features local experts and personalities leading workshops and lectures, Explorations Central (EXC) Talks revealing the stories of real Alaskans, tours highlighting the best of each destination, Port to Table culinary immersion and local cuisine served at dining venues throughout the ship.

Alaska cruise pricing starts at a "Have it All" premium package rate of $749 per person, double occupancy for a seven-day sailing, which includes one shore excursion, a Signature Beverage Package, one night specialty dining and Wi-Fi. Cruise-only standard fares start at $499 per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional. Many Alaska departures through 2022 also feature free or reduced fares for kids when sailing as a third or fourth guest in the same stateroom.

For more information about Holland America Line, consult a travel advisor, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.

Find Holland America Line on TwitterFacebook and the Holland America Blog.  Access all social media outlets via the home page at hollandamerica.com.

About Holland America Line [a division of Carnival Corporation and plc (NYSE: CCL) and (NYSE: CUK)]
Holland America Line has been exploring the world since 1873 and was the first cruise line to offer adventures to Alaska and the Yukon nearly 75 years ago. Its fleet of premium ships visits nearly 400 ports in 114 countries around the world, offering an ideal mid-sized ship experience. A third Pinnacle-class ship, Rotterdam, joined the fleet in July 2021.

The leader in premium cruising, Holland America Line's ships feature innovative initiatives and a diverse range of enriching experiences focused on destination exploration and personalized travel. The best live music at sea fills each evening at Music Walk, and dining venues feature exclusive selections from Holland America Line's esteemed Culinary Council of world-famous chefs.