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Old March 20th, 2007, 12:50 PM
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Default HAL for Alaska CruiseTour?

I'm planning a trip for myself (28 yr. old) and my parents (60+) as a last family vacation before I get married. My dad is a very casual person (he loves to wear shorts all the time). I had originally planned to book with HAL, but then came across the dress code information. My dad would be willing to wear slacks and sport coat to the more formal events, but I'm a little concerned the atmosphere will be too stuffy for him and impair his ability to relax and enjoy his vacation. I would be most appreciative if folks could share their impressions regarding HAL.

Also, we're specifically looking at the CruiseTour 6 itinerary - the 15 day cruise and land trip on the ms Zaandam. If anyone has taken this trip before and would be willing to share their experiences that would be very helpful.

Thanks in advance for your replies and advice!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old March 21st, 2007, 09:23 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 3,539

HAL does have formality at dinner. But there are alternative dining options to also consider. The do however, do an excellent job in Alaska and have outstanding itineraries.

I am no fan of cruisetours, they miss all the "little stuff" in Alaska and are on too fixed of a schedule. Having your own transportation is a big plus in Alaska.

You have chosen a good tour with the time necessary. Be certain you factor in all the transit times and determine if it is what you think it is.
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Old March 27th, 2007, 03:53 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 19

Bluewahoo, HAL is great for the cruise part. On the formal nights, you can eat at the Lido deck restaurant, where you all can wear anything you want. In fact, I prefer eating there anyway, buffet-style, for all 3 meals. I like being able to choose what I want and exactly how much I want, and they have a good selection. Also, you get your meal HOT.

Not a fan of the main dining room, . Went there ONCE the whole last cruise.

On the formal nights, your dad might want to wear slacks as opposed to shorts, whether eating or attending the floor show (and I highly recommend that you do--most of them are very entertaining). He'll be fine. The people I've met on HAL cruises aren't "stuffy" at all.

As to the landtour part, I went once with HAL and didn't like it. Too restrictive and the guide we had was hopeless. Better and cheaper to do your own thing. But if you're not sure what "your own thing" is, or prefer to have all the arrangements done for you, then by all means do the HAL landtour. Looks like a great itinerary.

One thing I would suggest--if you can fly up a day or 2 early, rent a car and explore Anchorage and environs. There is so much to see! If you're a glacier nut like me, you'll want to drive south to Whittier (can also go by train) and spend hours sitting beside glaciers listening to the crackling and gunshots as the glacier moves, and watch some fabulous calving! Also nearby is Portage glacier. You can look at the exibit and watch the movie, take the Ptarmigan boat to see the glacier, and hike for about an hour right up to Byron Glacier and see real live iceworms!

Have a great trip!
***Where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?***
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Old April 2nd, 2007, 07:02 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 16

My wife and I did the HAL cruise tour on the Zandaam a couple summers ago. Not only do we have no regrets, we are saving our pennies to go back. I read some of the other posters seemed a little nagative about the tour package thiing but we both felt it was the bestb fit for us. Our guide knew more than we caould ever have read and remembered, was entertaining during the longer travel times and as a plus she could point out little things we never would have seen otherwise. For example she spotted a moose and calf before anyone else saw it, she told us about the ice cream at this little dumpy store at one of the stops and she told us on one stop that if we went around back of one rattey little building we could see sled dogs and the owner came out and let us hold one while she explained the mushers life style a bit. We would have missed an awful lot had we not had the guide lady. It was structured but that was a big bonus for the 17 of us that were on the cuisetour and seeing Alaska for the first time.
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