Our group of 6 had a wonderful cruise aboard the HAL Zuiderdam. We embarked Zuiderdam at Canada Place after a couple of pre-cruise nights in Seattle. We enjoyed the Amtrak ride up Puget Sound on embarkation day. There were 3 cruise ships at Canada Place and the line to get through security and customs was super long. It took almost 2 hours to finally make it to HAL check in, which took all of 5 minutes!
We had booked SB 8140 for this cruise, an Aft Wrap Neptune Suite. What a wonderful cabin! We enjoyed that huge balcony every day. The scenic cruising within the Inside Passage was incredible. Even with a light rain, the balcony overhang from the Lido allowed us to sit back against the bulkhead and enjoy the scenery. And, the day that we visited Glacier Bay NP, we enjoyed all the majesty and beauty of that national treasure from our balcony. Although it's a hike down to the Neptune Lounge from 8140, we'd book it again in a heartbeat.
Our shore excursion in Juneau was the Helicopter Landing on Mendenhall Glacier. Although there were some clouds, and the occasional light rain, the excursion was incredible. Grandson Jordan and I loved the short flight up to the glacier and the tour staff on Mendenhall did a great job showing us around, explaining all of the aspects of glaciers, and allowing us a drink from a glacier stream. We loved it and heartily recommend this tour from TEMSCO. In Skagway, we took the White Pass & Yukon Railway tour that was round trip to the White Pass Summit. While the scenery was incredible, a large group in our railcar totally diminished the enjoyment of the tour by allowing several small children to scream, cry, and yell during the entire 3 1/2 hour tour. Not our idea of what we came to enjoy. Our visit to Glacier Bay is always one of the highlights of our Alaska cruises and this one didn't disappoint. We witnessed several dozen seals, sea lions, humpbacks, and even a cinnamon brown grizzly during our comings and goings within Glacier Bay NP. We did not book any excursions for Ketchikan, just did some walking around, shopping, and visited Creek Street. It was one of those rare days in Ketchikan without a cloud in the sky and temps in the 60s.
The food on Zuiderdam was overall very good. Although our MDR steward was not up to HAL standards, we didn't let that take away from our enjoyment of our times spent there. We had a couple of burgers, dogs, and fries from the new Dive In. Overall, they were very good, however, the bun on the 'Canonball' burger was cold and hard. The fries are excellent, and the portabella mushroom burger was terrific. DW said that the Nathan's hotdog was really good, too. Our concierges in the Neptune Lounge spoiled us rotten and made sure that our stay aboard Zuiderdam was seamless. Cabin Stewards were attentive and very friendly. Every request was fulfilled with a smile and 'Can Do' attitude! Disembarkation was delayed slightly by some not presenting themselves as requested, but we were still off the ship just after 8am. We booked the HAL transfer to SeaTac. When we arrived at the border, the border guard boarded the bus, asked if we wanted to get off and stretch our legs, or simply hand him our passports and he would scan them for us. Of course, we all voted for the latter and 15 minutes later he was back, handed our passports back, and said 'Welcome home'! We were off the bus at SeaTac a little after 1:00 PM.