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mlgb Sep 7th, 2015 02:22 PM

Just returned, the weather was amazing from 8/30 to 9/4. Left from Anchorage, and Glacier Bay was the highlight. We had perfect weather, plus a dusting of "termination snow"> We were permitted to go up to Johns Hopkins glacier as well as watch quite a bit of calving at Margerie Glacier. Compared to all my friend's photos of overcast gloom, I felt extremely lucky.

Also liked Haines and Ketchikan.

Inside Passage day was gloomy, but Zaandam has the advantage of a covered walking deck. That was the day I saw a humpback whale flipper so no losses.

There was no need to take an excursion anywhere. Haines had a free shuttle if you didn't want to walk. Ketchican has free downtown shuttle as well as a $2 all day pass to go a bit farther out (eg to Totem Bight and adjacent Potlach Park). At Haines, there were bald eagles waiting for us at the harbor in the early am. Also had one circle over head at Totem Bight SP.

Talked to a guy who rented a car at Haines and asked around town where to go to watch bears. He saw 5 (tagged mother and two cubs (one is collared). Also on the other side, a male and another young bear catching salmon. So no need to go on that tour. I think car rentals were coming in around $100.

Re Juneau, after Glacier Bay I probably didn't need to go to Mendenhall Glacier but was a bit under the weather so just as happy to sit on the $20 bus and take a short walk to the viewpoint. BTW they now charge a few $$ to enter the visitor center.

I would say try not to miss Glacier Bay or some equivalent, not just Inside Passage viewing of mostly trees and water which looks the same as a lot of the Pacific NW.

Re "formal" nights on Zaandam, they weren't all that formal. Jackets supposedly but I saw two gals in jeans who weren't turned away, and their dad didn't wear a jacket. You could also order off the menu (I think before 6) and have room service. I did that my last night and food was better than waiting for dining room service.

For the most part the Lido buffet was gross, much worse than Royal Caribbean's Windjammer buffet on our Panama Canal cruise. I might rather eat at Hometown Buffet or the Sizzler than Lido (other than the desserts).

Although the food was better in the MDR, service could be slow if you got stuck at a table of 8. So try to reserve your own small table in advance (at least for dinner not sure if it's possible for B/L).

The afternoon teas were nothing special. Just go up to Lido and grab a cuppa tea and a bunch of desserts.

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