Arrived at Canada Place. Had no problems whatsoever. The porter was there to take our luggages from the van. Crown Princess was also sailing away that day so the place was quite busy. But the lines to immigration moved quickly. That is, if you are holding a US or Canadian passport. My cousin is not, so she had to queue at a different line which took longer. We then filled out the medical questionnaire and proceeded to check in at Holland America. Since I already did the check in online, this process was a breeze. I was surprised when the lady told me “your stateroom is ready”. This was around 12:45 PM. I asked her if we can get on the mariner’s lunch and she checked and said sure I can. It’s my first time with HAL, but I have previously sailed with Princess so I got 1 star in my id card (yey!)
Went to drop off our things in our room then proceeded to find the MDR. The MDR was not busy at all which is really nice. I’ve More
been to buffets at other ships on embarkation day and it’s a zoo in there. So we really appreciated the nice, relaxing lunch away from the crowd. No need to find tables. ïŠ
I noticed that for our 2 groups, our ID’s show an early seating and a late seating. This was despite requesting my TA to link our bookings together so we can have the same table. So I went to the Queen’s Lounge in Deck 2 to have this sorted out. Good thing it was taken cared of immediately.
We then went to explore the ship. We went to the aft side to take pictures of Canada Place. Weather was lovely. Don’t miss the sail away from Vancouver. It was really beautiful and don’t miss the Lion’s Gate Bridge.
Day 2 – Sea Day
It started raining, but it’s okay. It’s sea day today. We joined the galley tour. It’s also the first formal night. For the production show, it was Recycled Percussions (group that performs in Vegas). Entering the Vista Lounge, they have champagne and orange juice for the minors. They give you drum sticks and all sorts of pots and pans for you to make noise. Don’t forget to get ear plugs as it gets really loud in there. I don’t know if this is always this group performing or not. Enjoyed the show.
Day 3 – Juneau, Alaska
We are scheduled to arrive in Juneau at 1 PM, but we got there at 12 ish. However, we had to tender. This process took longer. This is the only day when I felt we are a bit short on time. We took our numbers for the tender and waited for them to call our number. Although the process went fairly smoothly, I wish we were actually docked since I planned to go to Mendenhall Glacier.
So when we got to the port, which was already 2:20 PM, I immediately headed to the area where there were lots of booths with signs to Mendenhall Glacier. I told the guy to give me the best price for roundtrip shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier for 7 people. He says, “I’ll give it to you for $70”. I say, that’s the same price as your sign. He says the sign shows $10 one way. I took his offer since I heard that they charge $15 per person round trip. He says bus (Glacier Express – white bus) is due to arrive at 2:30 PM. They only have 2 buses and set to travel every half hour. When they give you the receipt, make sure you keep it as the driver will look at this going to and back. We waited, and waited and waited. Saw the bus pass by but did not stop where we were waiting. Talked to fellow passengers waiting for the bus and they said they’ve been waiting since 2:10PM. By now, it was already 3 PM. The white bus finally arrived.
The bus took us to Mendenhall Glacier. It was beautiful. Weather was so nice and clear. We walked to the first view point and took pictures. We were debating if we should go to the waterfall, but the last bus says 6 PM and we didn’t want to wait for the last bus as there could be a lot of people. So I asked a fellow traveler and he says it’s easy walk to go to the waterfall. He suggested to us to take the left trail – he says it will not get us exactly to the waterfall but will take us close enough. So we did this. I think it was worth it but next time, I would do the proper trail to actually get close to the waterfall.
Also, for those people climbing the rocks, I don’t suggest you do this if you are not fit. It’s pretty steep and rocky. One misstep and you could be regretting your decision. Just follow the trail and you can still get those wonderful pictures.
So we got back to the bus meeting place at 5:30 PM. As expected, the bus was full! So we had to wait again. When the bus came, the sign now says last bus at 7 PM.
We got off at downtown and went to some stores. The kids wanted to collect the charms. By the time we were ready to go back, it was already 7:45 PM so we decided that we’d just miss the MDR tonight as we still have to tender and we didn’t want to go there late.
Overall, Mendenhall Glacier was great but wish there were more buses as there were a lot of ships that day. Maybe 4.
Day 4 – Skagway, Alaska
We arrived at Skagway early and all aboard is not until 9 PM. So we just slept in and took our time. We did not do any excursions, just walked the street. Just walked the street one side heading away from the ship, crossed the street, then walked the other side heading back to the ship. It was really windy today but at least it’s not raining.
Had king crab legs for dinner! So yummy. This is one of the two highlights of my cruise. The other one is Glacier Bay.
Day 5 – Glacier Bay
Woke up early to see the rangers get on the boat. Stayed at Crow’s Nest early – the place was packed as the day went on. Then went outside and also to Deck 4 – Bow to enjoy the majestic glaciers. No pea soup served though, or I missed it. Saw the ice calving. Everything was just so awesome and so beautiful. I would not hesitate to go back to Alaska to see Glacier Bay. Again, we had the most beautiful weather. It was cold, but clear. I was wearing a thermal undershirt, fleece, jacket and gloves. Zuidy has some blankets as well so you can use these to keep you warm.
This is the 2nd formal night where surf and turf (lobster and filet mignon) is on the menu.
Guys had on their jacket with tie. Ladies were dressed nicely. But I would say it wasn’t uber formal.
Day 6 – Ketchikan
Sorry to be making you jealous, but again, weather was super nice. We just strolled around Ketchikan, bought some souvenir items and smoked salmon and went back to the ship. For those looking for smoked salmon, try the salmon in Sockeye Sam’s. This is right near the port. There’s also another place selling salmon in Ketchikan downtown, but my relatives said they liked this one better.
Production show as Dancing with the Stars at Sea. The venue was full. As others have noted, the way it is set up is not very good. Lots of poles and spots where you cannot see the full stage. The contestants who joined were all very good.
Day 7 – Inside Passage
We had breakfast at MDR. I noticed that their breakfast items are a lot more varied compared to other cruise lines. We also tried the Indonesian Tea. There’s not a lot of things to choose from. The menu at MDR for dinner was International. You can order whatever you want in the menu, but I find this a bit confusing. There were 4 (I think) different sections – Asian, North American, South American… I forgot the other one. ïŠ Just goes to show I’m really confused.
Day 8 – Vancouver
My cousin had to go to the Hudson’s since they held her passport. This part was a bit disorganized. A lot of passengers who don’t speak/understand English were being very disruptive with the entire process. The staff should’ve just pulled those disruptive passengers aside so that they can get on with the rest of the process instead of a couple of people affecting everyone.
We had our final breakfast at MDR and waited for them to call our number. Got off the ship and immediately found our luggages. I talked to one of the people in Canada Place to ask where we can wait if someone is picking us up (no tours or transfers). She says either the street or we can go to P1, where the drive can get in, load our luggage and leave. There’s no charge if you get out within 15 minutes. If you’re over 15 minutes, then it’s $4.
For the balcony, no problems with flushing. AC was really working . We had to turn it down as it was too cold for us. We did not leave any instructions to the cabin attendants. So we were pleasantly surprised that they folded the sofa bed and took it out each day (except for 1 day when we were in Juneau). As one reviewer pointed out, it’s quite hard to go to the balcony when the sofa bed is out as there really is no more room. So we appreciated this gesture from our cabin attendants and left extra tips for them.