Since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and had recently cruised Princess to Hawaii, I was looking for a last minute deal out of San Francisco because there would be no airfare involved. After looking and evaluating that it was a 11 day cruise with only four port stops and one day in glacier bay, I decided that was too many sea days after doing the 15 day R/T to Hawaii recently.
I started looking at the Holland America Oeosterdamn from Vancouver to Seward and the return from Seward to Vancouver. The Airfare was expensive so that didn't work. I then noticed that the 14 day R/T sailing on the Amsterdam had gone down in price to where this might be doable if airfare was decent. Found a great deal on Alaska Air going into Seattle and was able to get a good fare coming home from Seattle.
Found a great basic hotel called the sleep inn with great reviews. I went to cruise critic to see if anyone had stayed there and got great remarks back. This is where I found out about the Seattle Express, a shuttle Service that serves some hotels in the Seatac Area. The shuttle will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the pier and pick you up at the pier and either take you to the airport or back to the hotel after your cruise for $12.00 each way. A reservation is required but you don't pay til you actually use the service.
Sleep Inn is very basic. Our room had two beds and included a microwave. There is an IHOP on the property. I would definately stay there again.
The morning of our cruise, Seattle Express came to pick us up. We got to the cruise terminal and got checked in pretty fast and than got on our ship to find our Stateroom. The luggage arrived about 30 minutes after we did. We went to the Lido to have lunch and came back to unpack.
We had an HH obstructed view cabin on the Lower Promenade deck. Allot of storage. Our cabin Stewarts pretty much kept the place up. Place was always clean.
This ship did not seem to be full. We had anytime dinning and we never once got a pager the whole trip.
Service was slow in the dinning Room. We would go at 6:30 and would get out til 9:00. The food was good to very good. Remember food is very subjective. We would eat either breakfast or lunch in the Lido. The food in the Lido was good. We were always able to find a place to sit.
The crew was constantly working on the ship to keep it in shape. This is a very hard working and most professional crew of all the HAL ships I have been on.
In Ketchikan it rained in the morning and this was the only rain we had during the trip. Since I had sprained my leg three weeks before, I was just getting around to sorta normal so we walked through town up to creek street, went to a museum to get out of the rain and back to the ship.
Tracy Arm glacier Sun was shinning and we had a great day of glacier and waterfall viewing.
In Juneau the morning was overcast and I did a whale watching tour. The water was very calm and we saw lots of whales and sea lions. By afternoon the sun was shinning so we took the tram up to Mt Roberts. Awesome view. I have been to Juneau once before where it was cloudy and rainy and would not be able to see anything if I went up Mt Roberts.
Icy Strait Point we have been here before so We stayed on the ship. I took advantage of doing laundry. The laundry was$2.00 to wash and dry each load.
Anchorage - we took a ships tour to Portage Glacier and the wild life refuge park where we saw bear, caribou, mouse etc. followed by the glacier tour.
Homer - Took the ships tour Homer highlights - We went to the Pratt museaum, an art gallery that is located on the artist's property. Some really fantastic art work of Alaska landscape. We also went to the Ocean Center and than finally the spit. I was so glad did this tour because I saw so much more than taking the ships shuttle buses to the spit. We were there memorial weekend and saw lots of people camping on the beach. We were greeted in Homer by hundreds of seagulls.
Kodiak - Neither one Of us felt good so we did not get off the ship.
Sitka I found a sort of hop on hop off bus at the pier at he information center by tribal tours. The shuttle took you around to several places in Sitka for $10.00. I went to the raptor center and to totem pole forest.
Still recovering from the sprained leg so could not do allot of hiking. I walked a little in the downtown area.
Victoria - I have never been to Buchart Gardens I booked a tour with the ship. I was very careful because my elderly father was with me so I made sure this was a one man walking tour. I had booked this before I sprained my leg online at home. There were many slopes in the gardens and my father could not walk some of them. When we got back to the bus we found there were allot of the older folks that were having a hard time with it too.
Disembarkation went like clockwork, we did the walk off met the seattle express and were at the airport by 8:30 and ended to wait an hour before we could check our luggage for our 1:25 flight.
This trip was blessed with real great weather. I have been to Alaska before when it rained the whole time and it it's still fun. It sure is allot more fun with some sun and no rain.
The evening shows were hit and miss. Although I will say that the dancers and singers were better than I have heard before.
I did miss " Love in any language song"'they sing at the end do the cruise.