We had a wonderful cruise on the Oosterdam. We did our best to enjoy everything we could as the days flew by.
We took full advantage of Seattle by arriving several days early. We toured through the city on our own. Some of the highlights were The Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square, the Smith Tower observation deck (better than the Space Needle and cheaper), and Canon (an amazing bar with a 44+ page list of spirits and exquisite cocktails)
Boarding went smoothly and we could go to our directly to our cabins then off to eat at the buffet on the Lido deck. Enjoyed eating by the pool as the weather was beautiful and sunny.
Spa - Our group had a excellent sampling of many spa services. We tried massages, pedicures, manicures, and hair styling. All got high marks and there was not a big sales pitch during the treatment. Many of us got the Thermolounge/Hydropool passes. That was wonderful and included a quiet serene indoor heated pool, aromotherapy saunas and heated stone loungers with a view.
Cabins and Room Stewards - We had a great idea to split our group up in such a way as to have balcony cabins on both sides of the ship. We also had cabins next to each other and the staff opened the dividers between them for us at our request. We could gather as a group on either side of the ship depending on the best view. Our stewards did a great job for us and we have no complaints.
Teenage programs - Our teenagers loved it and made friends quickly. Seemed to be a pack of about 20 some teenagers. They spent a lot of late nights with their group, but joined the family for port excursions and meals. I heard about scavenger hunts, dances, mocktail mixing class and their own prom on the last formal night. Most of their evening activities started at times more convienent to those with early dining times.
Main Dining Room - Service was slow as we often had a large group. May have been better to do fixed dining as reservations were difficult with a lot of people. Food was delicious which made the service a non issue for us. We needed plenty of time to catch up and the long dinner was perfect for us. Appetizers were always the highlight and many of us took to ordering several. Bread was consistently disappointing, not much flavor and typically hard rolls. Formal night was great as our group went all out and the men wore tuxes. We were in the minority, but it made for great pictures. My husband really enjoyed playing blackjack in his tux. Must of helped as he won over $700.
Le Cirque Night - On Thursday night, the Pinnacle Grill is "transformed" into NYC's Le Cirque restaurant. There is a $39 charge, but it was worth it for us. The tables were set with genuine Le Cirque china (has a cute monkey on it) and fine glassware. Menu was amazing and plentiful. The deconstructed caesar salad was terrific and I think all caesar salads should come with a poached egg. The beef for the Chateaubriand was outstanding and so was the lobster salad. We couldn't eat it all. It was a memorable night with terrific service.
Room Service - Excellent and plentiful. My kids took full advantage of it on a continual basis. Ordered milk and cookies, hot chocolate, cheese plates for everyone as we enjoyed our balconies while crusing through Tracy Arm. Hot breakfast was great too. Don't forget to call room service back when you're done so they can take the dishes back.
Nightlife - On the dull side which was fine for our group. Apparently, this cruise did not have many late night partiers so casino and nightclub wrapped up around 1 a.m. The crew said this was unusual. Cocktail specials of the day were good and happy hour (2 for 1) at the Oceans bar was great. Wine list was disappointing and expensive for what you got. Fortunately, we knew this ahead of time and brought bottles of our own choosing on board with us. One special treat was the Louis XII cognac. My husband used some of his winning to try a shot of this special spirit since it was only $89 as opposed to the $250 back home. The bar staff was wonderful and made a big deal over this special order.
Disembarkation was smooth and quick, however, we had not made prior arrangements for a taxi or van. Since we selected the last time slot for getting off the ship, the taxi van's were already gone with the first group of passengers, so the taxi wait was very long. Lesson learned.
This was definitely a trip of a lifetime for our family. We enjoyed every minute. My 17 year old boy summed it up best when he proclaimed it "the best vacation ever!"
8 of us booked together on "The Alaskan" with Captain Shawn of Harv and Marv. Since we were a large group, we had the 12 seat boat to ourselves. After a little confusion getting picked up from the cruise ship, we had a great time. The weather was clear and sunny. The boat was amazing. It had been specially designed and they chose to have hydraulic seats (just like 18 wheel truckers) for each person. My father has a bad back and typically has a lot of trouble in small boats on the ocean. These seats made all the difference for him. Binoculars were provided and were great. The naturalist and the captain were wonderful and we learned alot. Saw about 7 whales, seals and sea lions. Stopped at the Mendenhall Glacier on the return trip. The shuttle driver told us that the bears were active. We all got to watch a black bear fish a salmon out of the stream and feed it to her two cubs from the safety of the elevated boardwalk trail. Awesome!
Only had a couple of hours. Hiked the Rainbird Trail. Take a taxi to the University end of the trail. Only took about an hour. You can hike back to town from the end trailhead right to the ship dock area. Creek Street was fun and we rode the cable car up to the hotel for $2. Other family had a great time checking out the bars and eating a reindeer hotdog.
Booked a seakayaking tour after getting off the ship. Did it on impulse and had a great time with a small group. First time kayaking and the instruction was great. Shoulders got tired as we were quite out of shape, but the experience made it worth it. Awesome homemade cookie snack.
Very short time in port. Had some unique, well crafted cocktails at Clive's at Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites on 740 Burdett Avenue. Took pictures downtown and watched some street performers. Wanted to take a carriage ride, but they were very expensive ($100+) and booked until late in the evening.