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Old September 30th, 2012, 10:57 AM
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Default Alaska Cruise Adventure - part 1

The Great Alaska Adventure
Cruise/Tour Review
MS Statendam 9.9.2012

Just The Facts:
Ship: Holland American Line: MS Statendam
Cruise & Tour dates: 7 September - 19 September, 2012
Captain: Frans K Consen
Cruise Director: Anthony Choice
Ports: Vancouver BC; Ketchikan, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; Skagway, Alaska; Seward, Alaska; Denali, Alaska; Anchorage. Alaska.

This is my 2nd cruise on Holland America, my 2nd cruise to Alaska, and my 75th cruise overall. We are traveling with a group of 20 regular and new cruising friends.

Travel--Vancouver, Canada
Capilano Suspension Bridge We had a direct flight from DFW airport to Vancouver and actually met several of our group at the airport for the flight. We arrived in Vancouver and took a limo for six to the Hyatt Regency downtown to stay two nights pre-cruise. All of our group are staying there and it is a great hotel and in a good location. We had an impromptu gathering at the hotel bar and then a wonderful dinner the first night at the Black + Blue steakhouse. The following day we had a group day trip to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It was very convenient as they had a shuttle from the hotel and the park was interesting with the suspension bridge, treetops walk, and cliff walk. In the afternoon we visited the Gastown area shops and had a wonderful meal at Vancouver’s most popular Pub: The Lamplighter. We decided to walk back to the downtown and hotel area stopping at Mahony & Sons Public House on the waterfront and enjoyed a cocktail and the wonderful views of the Harbor, Canada Place, and the mountains beyond. Everyone seemed to really like our pre-cruise stay in Vancouver and the weather was wonderful. It was a very nice start to a cruise vacation.

Day One--Sunday--Embarkation
ms Statendam at Canada Place, Vancouver Canada We took a taxi from the hotel for the short trip to the Canada Place Cruise Terminal about 11:30. We dropped our bags and went to the security and U.S. immigration area and soon were in the Holland America check in terminal. It was not busy anywhere and embarkation was a simple process. You can go direct to your cabin on Holland America Lines so that was our first stop to drop off our carry on bags. The MDR (main dining room) is open for Mariner members (past guests), but we chose to eat at the lido buffet. I like that the name of the area is actually The Lido, since that is generally what every cruise line calls their buffet area by default even though they usually have a specific name. It was set up very well too and they serve your food to you so that you are not handling the utensils or food on the buffet. I had roast beef with some extras and their wonderful bread pudding (they also had a banana bread pudding) for dessert. After lunch everyone explored the ship and settled into their cabins until time for muster drill. The boat deck was on our deck so attending was very easy for us, just walk directly out the passageway across from our cabin and down to our assigned life boat. We sailed immediately as the drill ended and we stayed on boat deck until we passed under the Lions Gate bridge, then it was inside to get away from the open decks and cool weather. Everyone in the group had Champagne, Chocolate strawberries and Beverage Cards in the cabin as a nice welcome. Many met in the Crows Nest that will become our regular spot for the week. I did have a “Grizzly Bear” the drink of the day. The DW & I went to the lounge to hear some very good Jazz music before dinner. As a group we have four tables together in the Rotterdam dining room along the aft windows. Unfortunately, they sat some people from Anytime dining at one of our tables so there was confusion and problems from that. The Maitre D later sent an apology and chocolates to the group. Although I didn’t sit at my table, dinner was good, my entree was the Prime Rib, but it was not an completely enjoyable dinner due to the confusion of their error in seating arrangements. The production show, Nothings Going to Stop Us Now, started long before we had completed dinner service so we retired after leaving the MDR.

Day Two--Monday--at Sea
Lido Deck - MS Statendam I had a good nights sleep was up early to watch us drop off the pilot at 7:45 am and leave the inside passage and into the open waters. I went to the MDR for my usual first morning on a cruise breakfast of Eggs Benedict that were very well prepared. Off to a better start in the dining room. The seas were really rolling today. It was much more than I expected it to be for sure. The group spent the day doing various activities including the Casino, a Kitchen Tour, a Culinary presentation, Seminars, and more. I had a very light lunch, but did have to have the wonderful bread pudding. They have the standard raisin everyday on lido plus a flavored variety as well. Today was Alaskan Berry (blueberries & rhubarb primarily) and bother were great. The rolling seas continued throughout the day. In the afternoon many of the group attended the High Tea and they say they had wonderful scones. I attended the Alaskan Beer Seminar in the Mix bar area. Four varieties of beer for $12.50. At 4:00 pm we all met as prearranged in the Crows Nest for Happy Hour. We had one complete area to ourselves and it was wonderful with the view and cocktail service. There is one thing our group is known for and that is ‘the one-hour cocktail party’ so this Happy Hour arrangement was perfect for us. I had mojitos and then some Duck Farts to get in the Alaska mood. We extended our time there well beyond an hour. There is a group trivia contest at 6:30 that many used as motivation to leave the Crows Nest. This was formal night and dinner this evening went much better. The Matre’d came by to check that all was well. My entree, the Beef Wellington was very good and they also had sourdough bread pudding that was excellent. After dinner we attended the Captains Toast and Welcome in the Theater followed by the production show: Bob Mackie’s Broadway featuring music and costumes from Broadway.

Day Three--Tuesday—Ketchikan, Alaska
Ketchikan, Alaska The weather is indeed rainy for the rainiest city in Alaska. We are docked downtown and I enjoyed watching the early debarking passengers leave the ship before going to the MDR for breakfast. We soon left the ship and went to Creek Street the location of the old bordellos and red light district that are now craft shops built along the creek. We did visit Dolly’s, the intact bordello now a museum and it was interesting. We saw friends that had just attended the Lumberjack Show and joined them for lunch at Annabelle’s in The Gilmore Hotel. I had my first Alaskan Halibut of the trip and it as very good. As a foodie though I was envious of the Snoozemates that took the Crab fishing/dinner excursion. They got to eat the catch and the Dungeness Crab feast sounded wonderful. In the afternoon we visited the Tongass Historical Museum and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center operated by the U.S. National Park Service. We returned to the ship as we had a 2:30 sail away and we were also scheduled for the 3:00 pm Cocktail Mixology Class. It was a lot of fun and the drinks we prepared were: Champagne Dreams, Tropical Cable Car, and a Pool Side Car. I especially liked the later. At 4:00 pm it was time for Happy Hour in the Crow’s Nest. Not only is this a regular thing for the group but we have other passengers wanting to join the fun and we do have a FUN time. Following Happy Hour it was some R&R time in the cabin before dinner. Dinner was good this evening, my entree was the Pork Chop. The productions shows this evening were The Marriage Game and the Filipino Crew Show. We also set our clocks back one hour to the Alaska Time Zone before retiring.

Day Four--Wednesday—Juneau, Alaska
Mendenhall Glacier - Juneau Alaska It is a rainy day in Juneau, not enough to limit a fun day though. I had a very nice breakfast in the MDR and we took our time leaving the ship. The Statendam is docked at the prime pier located closed to central downtown. We booked a local tour of the city and Mendenhall Glacier ($50 for both) that left from our pier area at noon. We really enjoyed the Glacier and the Mendenhall Visitors Center, it was unique and I had not visited on my previous trip to Juneau. As we left the park area we stopped for a mother black bear and her two cubs that crossed the road in front of us. First bear sighting of the trip. We also saw three Eagles on the mud flats. After returning to town we visited the shops and stopped at the old (1913) Alaska Hotel and Bar. It was very nice and more original than the more famous Red Dog. We had a very nice cheese crepe and fudge from local vendors (buy Alaskan) before meeting friends at the Red Dog Saloon. We enjoyed the Duck Farts and Alaskan beer from 4:00ish until close about 9:30 pm. The entertainers were fun and our folks could come and go as they pleased as we had several tables. We did have 17 of our group plus some extra fans there at one time. It was an easy one block walk back to the ship. We briefly considered the 10:00 pm ship happy hour, but everyone split up to finish the evening doing various activities.
Ray McDonald / Snoozeman

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