We hit the jackpot on our 2-week Roundtrip Inside Passage cruise to Alaska from Vancouver to Seward and return. Our raincoats stayed packed and the sunscreen was used as we had a sunny time both ashore and on board the STATENDAM. We are hikers and active cruisers, so Alaska really delivered on this cruise. Using 'Quickshuttle Bus' from Marysville,WA to the Vancouver Pier was a very good idea on my part as it avoided parking and border crossing hassles and eliminated all that goes with dragging luggage around. Vancouver was perhaps the fastest/smoothest embarkation experience in memory. First-rate.
Alaska is all about the Outdoors, and oh-my it didn't disappoint. Up close with the Glaciers in Glacier Bay aboard STATENDAM and seeing the Mountain goats and seals and whales while cruising North were a knock-out. Great fellow cruisers and STATENDAM staff we have come to know over the years made this cruise so nice in many ways. Fellow HAL passengers tended to be quite sociable and a tad younger than on previous longer HAL cruises, and only a handful very well-mannered children were aboard. Were there any up-tight fellow cruisers aboard? Maybe 2 or 3. Dining and Bar/Lounge staff couldn't have been better. Dining Room food was first-rate in our estimation, and Lido Buffet offerings were popular for all the people we talked to. We did not dine in the Pinnacle this cruise, as we kept it rather informal for Alaska, but the Food, food, food. Uff-dah!! I gained only 'a little bit'.
Ketchikan found us 2 zipping off on our own Zodiac/Navy Seal boat as we followed the outfitter's Zodiac in search of Eagles, seals and drop-dead scenery at every turn. "Wow". Flying in to Taku Lodge from Juneau on a Float-plane to see bears ashore and heavenly-blue Glaciers from the air made this my wife's favorite day. Me?? I had 14 favorite days!! (but baby bears ARE so cute!)
Railroad Tour from Skagway aboard Yukon/WhitePassRR is on most Alaska cruisers must-see list and we agree. It was quite a day-trip as we climbed high into the mountains and returned. Then I hiked while wife snooped the shops.
Seward saw us heading out for a full day of Whale-watching and Sea-lion and Glacier watching and Salmon and crab feasting on Fox Island. How's THAT for a full day?!! KenaiFjiords Tours did a stupendous job of making it quite a day at sea amongst sensational animal life and scenery. (Did I mention the Mother and baby whale up close?!)...or the Glacier crashing into the water? Holy cow...
Return trip South was every bit as fun for us, as we independently 'winged it' when it came to our days ashore. I hiked and snooped amongst the deep woods and trails to waterfalls etc, while wife searched the Ports-o-Call shops for Alaska 'stuff'.
Our whole Alaska cruise wouldn't have been so top-notch without STATENDAMS great crew and staff...all smiles and good vibes, and we even got a surprise Capt's Cocktail time where we each were given a 'FrequentCruiser' Medallion. Nice. We swam in the ship's warm pools or Hot-tubbed it most days and lazed in the Library,Crow's Nest or Ocean Bar to yak with staff and fellow guests while taking in the scenery outside. Yes, it was a nice cruise for us.