Bonjour from Louisiana's Cajun Country!!
Just returned from a spectacular cruise to Alaska! Many thanks to the guest services dept. of Holland for making this trip possible for us. Our original cruising date was May 26th, but due to family illness we were forced to cancel:( Holland America treated us like VIPs when we called about rescheduling. They helped us in so many ways to salvage our summer vacation. (GO, GARY!!!)
My hubby & I have cruised once before, but this was the first cruise for our 11-year-old daughter. She thoroughly enjoyed Club Hal. Emily and Ryan are wonderful club leaders. In Club Hal, the kids worked on their Jr. Ranger booklets & received their badges for Glacier Bay, along with doing many fun games and activities. On the last full day, the kids received personalized letters (delivered to their cabin "mailboxes") from the club leaders. Try to get your kids to participate. They will be hooked!
Daughter also thoroughly enjoyed our balcony! AHHHH!! She would wrap herself up in blankets, hat, & gloves and read her NOOK on the balcony. Great pictures of her in all those layers! LOL!
Second day of the cruise was 17th year anniversary for hubby & me. We went to Vista dining for formal night. Daughter & I wore dresses, wouldn't call them evening gowns, though. Hubby had to borrow a jacket. Yes, they DO require guys to wear jackets on formal nights. (They will not seat you without one.) We were granted a window seat. After entrees, the waiters brought us a cake & sang Happy Anniversary to us in Indonesian.
Very, very special memory! Thank you, HAL!!!
Our cabin was great! It was a tight squeeze for the three of us when the sofa bed was pulled out, but hey, we made it work. Cabin stewards Sam & Joe were the best! They were ALWAYS working. No problem getting extra towels, etc... They took great care of us! PLZ, treat them well.
We ordered room service for breakfast twice. Both times, breakfast was delivered within 5 minutes of our "time window." Presentation was fabulous & waiter reviewed the items with me before leaving the cabin. Daughter LOVED room service! We even asked for raspberries and mangoes-- items that were not choices on the room service breakfast menu--and they were delivered to us, as well! Lido buffet was always busy, but I'm sure that's the way it is for any cruise line buffet.
Can't comment on the nightly entertainment. We are the early-to-bed, early-to-rise sort. We did watch a magic show, guy with a dog. Good card tricks.
Relaxing to listen to Adagio's piano & violin duet in the Explorer's Lounge.
Crow's Nest was always busy. Big variety of folks. Kids playing board games, those reading, those socializing, those "trying" to sleep. Sometimes hard to get one of those comfy, red recliners.
Tips--Easy-Peasy to bring a lanyard & attach your room card, coke card, etc.. to it. Front desk clerks will punch holes for you. This will make things go faster b/c they scan your room card every time you leave/return to the ship. No holding up the line:) PLZ when you are in port, return to the ship at the designated time. UNBELIEVABLE that the captain had to wait on 160+ people who returned to the ship AFTER the posted time in Ketchikan. This port is the shortest stop. PLZ be aware of the time. Bring tape, ladies. You can tape the hairdryer's "on button" & you won't have to hold it down the whole time. (THX a million for whoever 1st posted this tip for me to see!) Don't buy your jewelry in Ketchikan!! Merchants are M-E-A-N!! WHOOOOOO!! The Alaskan "coupon book" that you will receive prior to embarkation has all sorts of "free" gifts from jewelers in Ketchikan, but "TRY" to redeem. They tell you to look around first, try something on first, take your time.... Don't know why any of them even put the coupon in the coupon book???
As for ports:
Juneau--Hike up to Nugget Falls was the BEST!! Even in the rain, it was fabulous & fun! PLZ bring rain gear.
Sitka--One of the reasons that we booked this cruise! LOVED the Russian dancers. Cute, short, narrated performance. Have dad/boys walk around the pier while ladies & girls sit back & enjoy. Great Raptor Center, too.
Ketchikan--Don't jewelry shop! NOOOOOOOO!! Lumberjack show was a must-see! Get kids to make noise, raise their hands, & participate. Loggers will bring them wood disks. If you miss your chance to see the salmon running (we did), go to the Salmon Hatchery. Great place!
Victoria--Ahhh! BEAUTIFUL, glorious, Victoria!! Walk around/in the Empress Hotel! Go to Craigdarroch Castle! Kids, bring your piano books & you can play piano in the castle! Great photo op!
I thank everyone who helped me with their comments & suggestions. I hope I've
helped others, as well:) God Bless & Safe Travels to all!
Merci Beaucoup to HOLLAND America for this once-in-a-lifetime trip!