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Trip Report: Back from HAL Amsterdam Alaska

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Jun 28th, 2003, 02:25 PM
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Trip Report: Back from HAL Amsterdam Alaska

We made it! We had a wonderful time on our week long Alaska cruise on the HAL ship, "Amsterdam," Seattle to Seattle, with visits to Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka and Ketchican, plus Victoria.

My husband and I went with our two children, ages 13 and 17. We traded in our United frequent flier miles for this cruise. We had two inside staterooms on the lowest passenger deck.

The ship was wonderful. Friendly crew, lovely art throughout, fun entertainment, lots to do, way too much good food to eat.

Kids made friends and had a blast. Initially, they met kids through the HAL sponsored teen club. They participated in group activities as well as finding lots to do on their own.

My husband and I had a grand time, as well. Thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment shows; health club; nature and other Alaska talks; variety of music at night; and dining experience. Best of all, though, was Alaska itself!

We went glacier viewing by helicopter in Juneau and met an old friend who showed us around; sea kayaking in Sitka; to Saxman village in Ketchikan (We booked all excursions indendently. Less expensive, but discovered independent tour operators are locked out of some activities by the cruise lines) Daughter went with friends on ghost tour in Victoria as a ship excursion.

Overall impressions. SE Alaska is rugged and beautiful. Still the last frontier. Towns are isolated and picturesque. Lots of native influence on the feel. And way more rain than Seattle!

Feel free to ask any questions.
gocats2002 is offline  
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Jun 28th, 2003, 02:55 PM
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Glad you had a good time.
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Jun 29th, 2003, 07:57 AM
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Hi- glad to hear you had a great time and thanks.

We are really anxious for our HAL cruises in Sept.!

We are thinking of reserving our tours from portpromotions.com and was wondering what activities the independants are locked out of. We are going to Juneau, Ketchican and Skagway. Thanks.
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Jun 29th, 2003, 01:12 PM
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Maryann,

I don't know the answer to that. I'd call the cruise line and ask or send an email. Also, there are some activities only available to people in more expensive cabins, I believe, and you might want to check on that. There's also a club you can join as a HAL passenger and that provides access to some things. I'm not sure how it all breaks down.

There was a reception early on that we weren't a part of, but I'm not sure who went. My kids told me they accompanied their new friends, who were in much more expensive cabins, to one of the lounges that had a big screen tv that we did not have access to. Apparently, it was a nice lounge and the kids spent a lot of time hanging out in there. Also, I think the upper cabins had vcr's in the rooms and we did not.

My husband and I didn't feel like we missed anything, as there was so much else to do. We did wish, however, that we had had a window, and would definitely pay the extra bucks for one next time. Also, a balcony would have been nice. Nevertheless, the lower level inside staterooms were fine and the air exhange/control system was quite good.

One of the people who sat at our dinner table told us they got as good a rate through their travel agent as was available through the internet...You might want to look into this, also. Again, not sure of the perks, except their agent sent them a gift of a bottle of wine at the first dinner seating.

Good luck! You'll love the trip, no matter what. Alaska is a unique and exciting experience.



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Jul 1st, 2003, 06:27 AM
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For information only, Port Promotions is a booking agent only , they don't operate any tours. Especially in Alaska, it is extremely easy to deal direct with the vender. This elimates any miscommunication, phone tag, etc. There are many ship contractors- ERA usually will not direct book cruise passengers, Promech out of Ketchikan, the "dancers" at Saxman village- is ship passengers only, Allen Marine won't direct book. Plus several others- but there are usually alternative venders that are just as good or superior.
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Jul 1st, 2003, 07:50 AM
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Budget Queen. This is what we discovered, as well. We followed some of the ideas you and others gave us and booked independently. We saved over $300 on our helicopter ride going with Coastal. We were sorry we'd missed the dancing and listening to the carver at Saxman, reserved for cruise tour people, but we had a good and less expensive tour with Sourdough. We found also that we couldn't book with organizations that had already contracted with the cruise lines. We checked on one fishing trip which would have been $100 less per person, but they couldn't take us as they were contracting with the cruise line. For the prices the cruise line was charging we had to pass on the fishing. There were so many other great things to do, anyway, it was okay.
Thanks to all of you who helped us with our tour ideas.
So much to see, so little time!
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