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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Southbound Alaska on Holland America

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DH and I (mid-50s) took a long-planned Alaska cruise to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We cruised mid-May, 2015. We were continually told the weather was unseasonably lovely during the week we were in Alaska! And there were virtually no bugs. :) It was a wonderful trip.

Thursday 5/14/15

Flew to Anchorage and checked in at Westmark. Dinner at Orso: delicious and pricey. Walked around Anchorage for about an hour. Stays light until about 10:30 p.m! Encountered several locals who seemed to have had too much too drink. DH walked to a nearby park to smoke a cigar.

Friday 5/15/15

Left hotel, breakfast at Harley’s Old Thyme café: family run, very good food.
Drove south on the Seward Hwy. along the inlet, got out at Beluga Point for pics. Very windy and cold. Gray and cloudy this morning. But the drive is still beautiful.

Stopped at Girdwood and walked around the resort hotel…stopped in Portage at the Alaska Conservation Center, where they rescue and treat sick and wounded wildlife. Lovely drive along creeks, rivers, and Kenai Lake, through the Chugach National Forest. No lunch as we were filled up from our late breakfast.

Mostly cloudy but partial sun along the drive. Started raining just before we arrived in Seward. Checked in to Best Western with no problem, very pleasant stay and nice ambience and breakfast. Friendly and helpful staff (they printed out a few confirmation pages for our cruise excursions I had forgotten to print at home). The room was a bit small, but clean.

Saturday
Drove to Kenai Fjords National Park, where we walked a couple of the trails and stopped at Exit Glacier. It was a peaceful and beautiful walk. When we got back to town we ate lunch at The Smoke Stack, a restored train car. Only six tables inside! And the food was scrumptious. (I had pulled pork—yummy!)

Enjoyed walking around in Seward and along the beach as our hotel was across the street from the water. The weather was very pleasant: partly sunny and 60ish F. I saw otters playing in the water on my walk.

Sunday
Dropped off rental car at Hertz and they gave us a ride to the dock. We boarded the Oosterdam around 12:15 and there were no lines! It was a smooth and quick process. Ate lunch at the Lido café. Our room (8043) is wonderful: spacious (as ship cabins go) with a roomy deck, which has a teak table, chairs, and 2 lounges. There was a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries in our room, a gift from our travel agent.

Mandatory emergency drill at 7:30. Set sail around 8p.m. Saw porpoises (dolphins?) playing and swimming alongside the ship soon after we set sail. Dinner in the dining room; we then sat in the Crow’s Nest and enjoyed the view as we passed into the open sea. DH had a margarita.

The ship is rocking…fun! Still light at 10:30 p.m….

Monday

Room service breakfast at 8:30. Weather today: cloudy and gray but not too cold (60ish?). Lunch in Lido Café. We both attended a cooking demonstration by the ship’s head chefs; DH attended a kitchen tour and beer tasting, I had a facial in the spa. We also attended a talk on acupuncture—inspiring. I made an appointment with the onboard acupuncture doctor for a free consult tomorrow morning (arthritis pain in back). We have reservations at the Pinnacle Grill in about an hour—looking forward to a lovely dinner.

Dinner was wonderful. We caught a rockabilly musical revue in the lounge at 10:00 that was fun. It’s 11:00 p.m. and I’m wide awake. Guess I’ll go out on our balcony for a few minutes before turning in for the night. Tomorrow—Glacier Bay.

Tuesday

Glacier Bay was spectacular. The captain stopped the ship and slowly turned it 360 degrees so everyone got a view of everything. We saw Margerie Glacier and one or two others. Lots of large chunks of sea ice floating on the water. The weather was beautiful—sunny and 50ish. I think I saw three puffins flying over the water.

Dinner in the dining room with two other couples, whom we enjoyed very much. One from North Dakota and one from Nashville. We then caught the show in the lounge: comedian Johnny Cardinale. He was really funny, and clean.

Wednesday
Haines/Skagway

A very full and tiring day! Docked in Haines, found the ferry and took that over to Skagway, where we met up with our guide and rode the White Pass Rail up to Fraser, B.C. Rode in a small bus back to Skagway where we had a couple of hours to kill. We shopped a bit and had a yummy late lunch at the Alaska Brewing Co. restaurant, then we took the ferry back to Haines. We were gone from 9a.m. to 7p.m. I am so tired! But it was a great trip—the weather was beautiful and the scenery spectacular! Took a bath, put on my jammies, and called Room Service for a green salad and hot tea.

Thursday
Juneau

Another gorgeous day (sunny and 70ish)—the locals tell us this weather is unusual for May in this area. Took a bus out to Mendenhall Glacier (Alaska’s most accessible), which was fascinating, as was the rushing waterfall nearby. It was refreshing to see all this fresh water, as we are in the middle of a severe drought back in California. Walked a trail about two miles roundtrip. Got back to the ship for lunch on the Lido Patio (Dive In)—I had a portabello sandwich that was very good. Went back off the ship to walk around town a bit—lots of shops for tourists. Stopped in a chocolate shop for a treat. Peeked in the Red Dog Saloon…

Dinner in the dining room where we shared a table and conversation with a nice couple from South Carolina then we sat out on our deck for an hour or so to watch the sunset (we got some beautiful photos). I saw a whale! Also saw several dolphins or sea lions cavorting in the water. It was a lovely evening. We then went to a Port Tasting that was actually interesting, although I don’t care for the stuff. I was only there to keep DH company. I learned about Ruby Port and Tawny Port. And that Port is from Portugal. ☺

Friday
Ketchikan

We chose to have breakfast in the dining room for a change (waitstaff instead of self-serve as in the Lido café). Met our guide outside the ship—he put us on a bus to our float plane. Had a lovely fly over Misty Fjords—lush forests and pristine lakes, snow-capped mountains. It was sunny and 70ish today; we got some great photos. DH and I went back on the ship for lunch at Dive In (hot dogs and hamburgers outside), then walked around town for a bit. Neither of us thought much of this town. The main tourist draw seems to be Creek Street, a row of wooden buildings from the early 20th century that used to be bordellos… I have a feeling we must have missed something. DH walked back to ship and I stayed out for a few more minutes. Rested in the room for a bit…then sat in one of the public lounges for a few minutes and watched the water out the big windows. The ship is beautiful, but then it’s the only one I’ve ever been on…

Dinner at the Lido Café (it was formal night in the dining room and we were in the mood for casual), then we went to the Vista Lounge to see tonight’s show. The Oosterdam Singers put on a variety show about Alaska that was quite good. We sat in the Crow’s Nest for a while and DH had a blue drink. I wanted a coffee drink but their decaf machine wasn’t working.

We set sail about 7:00 p.m. and sailed away from the sunlight right into some weather. I did see a couple of bald eagles from our deck—yay! It turned misty and windy….DH saw lightening in the distance. The ship is really rocking tonight. I’m glad I gave my MotionEaze to a woman we met at dinner the other night as she probably needs it more than I do. I virtually never have motion sickness, although I have felt slightly dizzy a couple of times.

Saturday
Inside Passage (no port)

Slept really well, as I have this whole cruise. Gray and cloudy today but visibility is good and the scenery is lovely (forested hills). Breakfast in the Lido Café. I had my second appointment with the acupuncture doctor and I am inspired to look into continuing with someone local. I certainly feel better after these treatments. We then attended the Mariner’s Luncheon hosted by the captain in the Dining Room. It was very nice and the food was good (shrimp/crab cocktail, braised short ribs, berry rhubarb tart).

At 2:00 we attended a wine tasting led by Cecilia, Cellar Master. She’s from Argentina. We tried several Rieslings and several Pinot Noirs, all very different. Rested a bit in the afternoon (and the sun came out). Sitting out on the balcony I saw several dolphins and an orca! We had dinner reservations at Canaletto, the specialty Italian restaurant. We had a perfect table right by the window, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Inside Passage. This is our last night on the ship! After dinner we walked around the ship outside (Deck 3)—a lovely evening watching the sunset.

In our cabin, DH settled into his usual spot on our balcony with his cigar and I ordered my usual decaf tea (Room Service). This time I had them add a plate of cookies. ☺

This cruise was fabulous, and a much-needed break from responsibilities back home. It was a perfect balance of relaxation and activity. I look forward to cruising again some day, maybe the Mediterranean? DH is thinking Caribbean…

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