King Crabs, Glitter Toes, and Lumberjack Shows: The Diary of an Alaska Nail Cruise

Nail Those Profits At Sea (NTP), an educational cruise for nail techs, has been sailing the waters of the Caribbean and Mexico for more than 17 years. This year we ventured into new territory and took to the northern seas of Alaska. Nail education, networking, and plenty of fun were in order as we set sail in August on the Carnival Spirit.

DAY 4: Juneau, Alaska

I was interested in exploring Juneau because my favorite uncle Russ used to live there years ago raising dogs. We docked close to town and I ventured out early with Renae Martin from Edmond, Okla., Tonya Hibdon, owner of Ship To Shore (my cruise partner), and Jorge. We shopped for souvenirs and had a drink at an old haunted hotel bar from back in the gold rush days before hitting a local vender for freshly caught Alaska King Crab — yum. Renae and I ventured farther up Main Street in search of a nail salon. We spotted Nail Jazz and peaked in. We were intrigued with the decor and saw a tech sitting at her station without a client so we went in. Salon owner Bernadine Peterson recognized me immediately, and the next thing we knew we were having tea with Bernadine and her husband Brian, also a tech. Renae and I spent over an hour with them chatting, comparing stories, and sharing information. Bernadine is a Tlingit Indian who spent more than 10 years working in New York before returning to her home in Juneau and opening a salon. She lost everything in a fire and had to start all over again, taking almost a year to find a new location and rebuild her business. Specializing in natural nails, she also does facials and Brian specializes in pedicures in a dedicated pedicure room. Decorated by her sister, the walls are red and the mood is soft. Everything was thoughtfully done and the presentation was very feminine and comfortable. It was nice to compare notes with her and see that even though she’s in a distant locale she shares the same challenges and has the same goals as techs who live in the lower 48. I made plans with Bernadine to meet up at the nail show in Sacramento. 

DAY 5: Skagway, Alaska

Skagway is a tiny town of only 800 and most of the cruisers went on helicopter rides to see glaciers. I sat on my deck and soaked up the incredible sun.

DAY 6: Ketchikan, Alaska

Ms. Alaska, as we affectionately call Blanche Dillashaw, a frequent NTP cruiser, was waiting on the dock for us to sail down the passage right by her salon so she could take us for a visit. Ketchikan is a busy port with lots of great shopping and it’s actually a rain forest. We all piled into her truck and a van and headed toward her salon. Blanche did her first full set at 14 and knew she was destined to be a nail tech. Fifteen years later she owns Tips & Toes, has a tanning business inside, and shares the space with a hairstylist. Ketchikan’s population is 14,000 at the height of the summer season and they put in longer hours to accommodate everyone. During the winter 10% of her clients leave for warmer weather. One of five nail techs in town, she specializes in sculptured pink-and-white nails and attributes her skill to attending shows. She told me she’s happy to go anywhere it’s warm! With no discount salons in the area, she says her competition is behind the times, which helps keep her on her toes. Blanche arranged for all of us to attend the Lumberjack Show (the one you see on ESPN) and we had a blast! Blanche will be sailing with us to Mexico in 2009.

DAY 7: Sailing the Inside Passage to Vancouver, Canada

Today was eyebrow tattoo demonstration day! Renae, a frequent NTP cruiser, recently trained on permanent tattooing and she brought all her equipment to do eyebrows. Tonya went first. We all gathered as Renae explained the training and licensing involved in her state and the sanitation issues that are critical in producing a safe tattoo. She explained her equipment and the process of correctly designing an eyebrow arch and penciling it out before she actually began the tattooing.  Renae educated us on the procedures as she worked and the follow-up care that Tonya would need for her new eyebrows. I was up next — ouch! That night we docked in Vancouver for repairs because we damaged a rudder. It was quite interesting as we watched from our balcony as the divers replaced it underwater.

DAY 8: Home Again

After spending a week at sea it’s always sad to leave old friends and the new ones who sailed for the first time. The thousands who have networked and learned while sailing on NTP over the past 17 years have cultivated long-lasting friendships, which makes it even harder to say goodbye. Until next year, goodbye!


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