Day 1 - Embarkation Day
Embark - Perfect. We were on about 10:45, met the Guest Relations Manager Marion who is a total dear and a delight (and on vacation for the next 3 months!). After this, we stopped by the room just long enough to drop off my mom's walker for IN THE ROOM navigation and did a bit of a walking tour of the ship, which is in AMAZING shape (it should be as it's only 4 years old and a year out of drydock, right?), noticed a lot of the changes from that drydock (Explorations Cafe sharing the space with the Crow's Nest, the new "Signature Cafe" just off the shops, the Erasmus Library which was briefly turned into the Russian nicknack shop and is BACK to a library with puzzles and crosswords and just big picture books and almanacs. (I would say AT MOST there were about 100 books in there. All big, off size, collection or special interest related)... the now HUGE aft pool deck which was great for Glacier Bay day, the brilliant new layout for the shops and addition of the luxury shops surrounding the entrance to Merabella...)
After the whirlwind tour it was off to lunch in the Lido and we found a spot, although it took a little bit of hunting. We had mom in the wheelchair so she "guarded" the table and we grabbed food for 3. Mainly just soup and salad at the time, then we killed a little more time before the rooms opened up.
And once they did, WOW were we spoiled. We had the following in our room: With the Suite Amenity Package- -2 Coffee Cards -Bouquet of 12 long stem red roses -Card indicating Pinnacle Grill dinner for 2 (and we just bought the third for $20 and the request we make a reservation at our earliest convenience. -The order form for our beverage set-up (We got Absolut Mandarin, which wasn't on the list, but Citron was and the ship had an extra bottle and allowed it and Bacardi White, then bottles of Twin Fin Shiraz and Mondavi Private Reserve Reisling) -2 HAL bathrobes that were monogrammed -Card allowing us access to the DVD library onboard at no cost -The final evening onboard (Victoria) we got our disembark tags which also included cards to get access to the Neptune Lounge (we never had a chance to go) and an invitation to the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast on disembark morning. Besides the suite amenity package, we also had: -1 cocktail card -1 bottle of Ruffino Pinot Grigio -A bottle of Champagne from the Hotel Manager and Captain -A plate of chocolate covered strawberries -A plate of various canapes (we also opted for them on one afternoon as part of the suite package) -And a couple hundred in shipboard credit
The room itself was J 1060, just forward of midship, an inside room but one of the big square ones. There was tons of room for 3, even once the couch was folded out for bedtime, 3 big closets which held everything the three of us needed, plenty of room under the beds for the EIGHT bags we brought onboard, a chair besides the curved couch, the ottoman and the adjustable height coffee table. My only VERY MINOR grievance with the room was: The tv when they switched to a flat panel was mounted to the shelf at a bit of a sideways angle, so when the beds are in twin configuration and the one is on the back wall of the room, the very left edge isn't totally easy to see. But no big deal... I just adjusted slightly if I cared about what was on.
Possible change to procedure I haven't seen mentioned before on here: The fridge in the room is empty, and there was a card with a VERY thorough list of items and prices of what could be brought to the room to stock the mini-bar with, and the extension to reach the beverage department. Due to the above obviously MASSIVE supply, we didn't take advantage of this other than a soda package (sodas are usually about 3.00 each after the service charge, but if you get three at once, same or different kinds, it was $4.25 plus the service charge. This worked great and the only thing the beverage staff did on disembark day was make sure nothing was left behind in the fridge and that the guests in the room either took it with them or trashed it.
Shower only room: This worked great and even with a shower stool that my mom used it was easy and a really good size. Note for those that need the shower stools, this is the kind with ONLY a seat and 4 legs. There is no back and there are no handles on it. There was no soaping of the walls and spinning around, and at 6'0" and in the 200-300lb category, I didn't feel squeezed or claustrophobic at all.
Medicine cabinet had plenty of space for the three of us with all of our various stuff, although my mom's make-up and most jewelry did stay in a separate toiletry bag (it was easier to keep it all together that way)
Sail Away party: We were promised sunshine and then a system of mild crap came back westbound and down from the mountains and kept the skies grey and cloudy with just a little rain and a somewhat chilly breeze. Charlie and the Hal Cats provided live entertainment at the lido pool and we were off before the Star Princess, but not before first engaging in about a 5-10 minute "horn war" This was great, and since it was the first "big cruise" I've done, it really gave me goosebumps. Lisa called to wish me a bon voyage right as we enjoyed a couple wang wangs and my mom had a "pina not colada" That's what they're called. Promise!
And then we were off. The lido cover being open was short lived but still great anyway. The Cruise Director Kerry Watkins was there to welcome everyone (VERY AWESOME GUY, along with DJ Jazzy who literally had me in stitches at each event, game show, name that tune, etc)
Dinner: If you have the pleasure of getting on the Westerdam in the near future, hope with everything you have that you get Kadek as your dining steward. He is seriously THE HIGHLIGHT of this cruise for us. Wonderful personality, amazingly friendly, takes part in the Indonesian Crew Show and is so obviously happy to be there. In Ketchikan he saw us coming down the gangway (we was ahead of us coming back from his own day in port, and came running up the ramp to help out even though we DID have it just fine in the grand scheme of things. We then chatted all the way down and back onboard) on the evening of the Dessert Extravaganza he grabbed one of the alligators made of bread that was carved by the chefs and gave it to my mom as a gift so that she'd always remember the cruise, then on her birthday (Victoria day) he and Ade the asst. dining steward gave her an origami frog that says "See you next time" and "Happy Birthday mom" on it with their names. The Dining Room Manager and Asst. Dining Room manager came over with Kadek and Ade to sing to her, and first joked around that they were going to do the spanish rap version of her birthday song before singing the normal way. They also presented her with a larger than usual cake that was a white cake with a frosting so light it was almost like a vanilla whipped mousse with chocolate shavings and a huge strawberry.
But I'm getting ahead of myself... that's what happened the final day which I'll get to eventually.
The show was a quick introduction to the singers and dancers called Up Front and then an introduction to the magician on the ship, Leo Ward, who positively has the best (yet sinister and twisted) sense of humor I've seen in a long time. More on him at a later point. We saw him 3 times total, not just the regular two... More on that later as well) The show was decent, but clearly a quick one.
About the time we made our way back to the room, we had a quick chance to meet our Room Steward Rudi, who over the course of the week gave us a swan, a stingray, a dog, an elephant... Incredibly friendly and again, so obviously happy to be there.
We went into our miniature chocolate coma and called it a night. We were up late the night prior getting everything packed in typical last minute fashion.
Day 2 - At Sea
Today was great. Woke up feeling well rested, had breakfast through room service. I love the fact that they have eggbeaters available as an omelet through room service! Started to wander around the ship, had a couple coffees through my coffee card at the Signature Cafe. Everything tasted great, was better than the coffee stands IN SEATTLE and cheaper too, regardless of the coffee card being there. Extra flavorings and extra shots ARE NOT an issue with the coffee card. It still just counts as one punch. Never tried, but I assume the card wouldn't work on the coffee cocktails offered.
We went to the kitchen tour which was great. I had been to one before and it was more of a private tour with an asst. manager from the Vista Dining Room. This time, it was more structured (and the line went from the doors in the forward port side of the dining room on deck 3 (where you entered) all the way to the entrance of the Pinnacle Bar. The line only took about 20-30 minutes though, so it wasn't too bad. The tour was more structured and there were demonstrations including napkin folding, fruit carving, marzipan sculpting, a chance to try some bratwursts and various cheeses throughout the tour and a photo op with Chef Andreas. Next was the culinary arts center presentation with Chef Philip of the Pinnacle Grill and Executive Chef Andreas. They made a Mediterranean Chicken dish with saffron, paprika (SPANISH paprika), olives, garlic, etc. Next was the apple strudel recipe which involved hand stretching the dough to the point you could read the provided recipe cards through it. The size he made was easily enough for 30-50 people. We were all given samples and it was great. A few things learned were: -strudel can be a main course in Austria, even if sweet. -Chef Andreas prefers to NOT cook with nuts because of allergies. He used Amaretto in the recipe and said it's just as good. -strudel NEEDS a tablecloth if you want easy assembly... you had to see it to believe it
After this demonstration we had lunch, again in the Lido. This time around the highlights were the leg of lamb, roasted potatoes and roasted squash. Some wandering eventually led us into the Pinnacle Bar for some drinks and a GREAT view and after a short nap it was time to go to dinner. The first formal night's menu was great as it was the Captain's Gala dinner. Ambience was great, Kadek and Ade, wine steward Joseph and the Yum Yum guy Oka were all FANTASTIC. Oka might even be the next Hunky Dory. He had our names EASY on the second day. (I'll have to review the menus KK posted to let you know what all was ordered throughout the week. I'll get to that eventually.) Overall throughout this cruise the food was even better than I remembered, and the service was superb as always.
This evening (and the cocktail card) managed to become a blur due to some excellent music by DJ Jazzy in the Northern Lights, and a bit of a hangover on the morning of Glacier Bay. Bed time was approximately 3am.
Day 3 - Glacier Bay This day started incredibly groggy and with my mom and my friend going up to the Lido, grabbing breakfast and bringing it back to the room. Bad idea though, because simply the SMELL of eggs, bacon and sausage does NOT go well with a hangover.
The captain also announced that the forecast for Glacier Bay was 100...
50 in the morning, and 50 in the evening
Around 11:00am we headed to the Lido Pool and grabbed some food from the Lido BBQ. The food was great, the potato salad was just how I like it (lots of potatoes, minimal "crap") and the ribs and chicken were both super moist and tender. The swordfish though was a bit dry and VERY fishy. (Glad I only got a small piece of it)
We worked our way to the Aft Pool and found a table by the Seaview Bar and had lunch, sat and hung out, did a little shopping at the deck sale and got 4 sea glass pieces for $15.00 since they were starting to put them away (Regular price I believe was 2 for $10) We got a blue polar bear, white polar bear, a moose and a dolphin.
Then we got to the glaciers and the narration from the Park Service started, which was great and VERY informative... Would have been nicer though if it didn't sound like it was read from a script... and if it WASN'T then she really needs to get out a little more often Nevertheless, it was appreciated to have that.
I was still focused on getting fresh air and LOTS of it, but my friend went down and got a few pictures off the bow and a great one of the Westerdam's bell and we guarded our table as though it was going to go somewhere if we didn't Today was lightly cloudy with lots of sunshine. Even from the ship I managed to get a VERY mild sunburn (probably doesn't help that I'm blonde/blue with German, English and Welsh in me <---me after the day on deck)
They did the Polar Bear Club onboard at 3pm which my friend took part in for a couple dam dollars but I didn't (got this phobia of drowning since I almost did my last day of SWIMMING LESSONS when I was younger, yet ships don't bother me...) He also got a certificate. The funny thing about this is that since they jump into the aft pool, the water is however warm they keep the pool. It was getting OUT of the aft pool and into the 50-something air that got most people...
We went back to the room for a little bit, then came back out to the aft pool about the time we got to Marjorie Glacier since we heard the narration begin on the tv. We got into the port side panoramic elevators and once we got to deck 3, BOOM! There it was! We got out on the Lido deck and started walking toward the aft pool and as we looked out the window we saw a major chunk of ice fall off...
...and then nothing but some cracking and some little tiny pebbles (that I'm sure were the size of VW's) after that. Marjorie still was amazing and inspiring to look at though and we got some GREAT photos.
The Pinnacle Grill 5:30 was dinner in the Pinnacle, so we made our way there after changing. Once inside (and at a window as we were on our way out of Glacier Bay I might add) we ordered a bottle of the Chateau Ste. Michele Eroica Riesling which was phenomenal (I've had it MANY times before... it's almost a cross between a traditional riesling and an ice wine, to me at least) We had the chef's appetizer (I always pass off the mushroom tart for my friend's salmon tartare) and then it was Crab Cakes all around. Great as always! My mom and I got the salad with the pears and pear vinaigrette and my friend got the clam chowder. The salads this time had a tableside presentation which didn't happen on the Oosterdam so it's either a new thing, or something that Chef Philip decided to do on the Westerdam. Very impressive as far as I was concerned, and the clam chowder was also enjoyed. Next was the filet mignons. 2 Pinnacle Cut and 1 Petite cut. All with sundried tomato steak sauce. And except for my friend getting one that was purple inside (textbook definition of blue rare) and then receiving a new one about 2 minutes later, everything was perfect. I enjoyed the potatoes and asparagus with bernaise, and they liked the mushrooms and potatoes. Dessert, I decided to try something different, along with my friend and we both got the creme brulee. My mom got the volcano cake. Although I like creme brulee, and LOVED it in the main dining room a couple days later, I wasn't a huge fan of this one. No particular reason I guess, I just wasn't. No big deal though, as my mom couldn't finish the volcano cake, so I gave her a hand with that one.
After dinner, we did the name that tune for TV theme songs and rocked it! More dam dollars for us! And a quick amendment to the show on the first night... Up Front and Leo Ward (the magician/comedian) was on the Sea Day, not the first night. Once the TV trivia was done, we wandered a bit more, did some shopping and called it a night because of the long day and wanting to have lots of energy for Juneau.
Day 4- Juneau
We woke up and there was Juneau. Had breakfast via room service now that I had my appetite FULLY back,then we geared up for a day in a little bit of drizzle. Forecast on the program said 39 and clear... If only. It was easily close to 50, but VERY dense clouds and light rain. (Even light by Seattle standards)
We stopped by Taku, which I believe Lisa recommended. VERY small shop, but they had some cool stuff. We got a small package of hot smoked salmon which was AMAZING!! We wandered through many of the shops in town, got a few gifts, got a pink knit hat for my mom that said ALASKA on the front and a couple Juneau pins, a gold flake pen for a coworker and some Alaska moose/polar bear socks for a friend of ours that wears all the crazy design socks...
Went to the Red Dog Saloon looking for a bathroom, they had one but it wasn't accessible to wheelchairs, so we went across the street to the Juneau library, which was at the top of the parking garage across the street. Due to a recent avalanche they had, they've been on power restrictions and both the express elevator (until further notice) and the whole library (on Tuesdays) is closed to help conserve energy. (We didn't learn about this until Ketchikan, where our driver told us this) The Volendam was docked right outside of the library, so I managed to get a great shot of the funnels, and the balcony of our first ever room on our first ever cruise... Ahh, the memories!
After a bit more wandering and shopping we made our way back to the ship for a short nap. Didn't do the afternoon tea as High Tea was on day 2 (whoops, did I forget to mention that?)
We had another great dinner (remember, food coming soon in another post once I review KK's postings again... I didn't grab copies of the menus) and then off to the show lounge.
Show tonight was the "Amazing 88's" Pros: They had energy, they both KNEW HOW to play the piano, and they had decent singing voices when doing the typical "dueling piano" songs and standards Cons: OH MY GOD, THEY WERE ANNOYING. You know the old SNL "Spartans" routine? I think it was modeled after these 2. For the most part we kept commenting back and forth with little jokes. But wait, there's more: Then they started doing a few songs from Little Shop of Horrors, Phantom of the Opera and Chicago... with only one of them on the piano... and THEY WERE AWESOME!! They are seriously not doing themselves a favor as a dueling piano show... Broadway hits would be a much better fit for them. THAT part of the show was enjoyable.
After that it was time for the Ultimate Game Show in the Queen's Lounge, and it was great. Teams of 3 and a couple teams alternated total domination of the board. CD Kerry and DJ Jazzy were awesome and hilarious all the way through.
We rushed back and went to the Indonesian Crew Show which was FANTASTIC to say the very least. Amazing talent, lots of humor and a great time overall. We got some of it captured in photos, other parts in video and had a really fun time. Our dining steward Kadek was one of the "monkey troop" There was also synchronized pieces, a solo singer with guitar, a traditional Balinese welcome dance and some traditional indonesian instruments made from bamboo. I AM VERY GLAD I WENT TO THIS SHOW!!
By this point it was getting quite late (Crew show started at 11:15pm), and my FIRST EVER TENDER experience was in store tomorrow. After a late night room service, off to dreamland we went.
Day 5 - Sitka Day 5 started with some breakfast in the Lido. Fresh fruits, some pastries and an AMAZING salmon eggs benedict. My mom had a florentine eggs benedict with spinach and my friend had the traditional recipe.
We were curious about how the waits with the tender tickets would work, so we were going to get a few last things from the room and head out, and then the announcement came. Tender procedures were going so smoothly that they weren't going to use tickets afterall. Just come on down when you want to go.
So here came the part I was looking forward to, but also the most clueless about. HOW the tender procedure worked. ESPECIALLY since my mom was in a wheelchair for this cruise. We were instructed to go to deck A, midship where there was a staircase that went down. There was ALSO a small elevator (about half the size of the sideways glass elevators) that took you from A deck, to B deck. So down he went to B deck. We rounded the corner, had our cards scanned, and the staff was right there to assist with listing the wheelchair over the very small gap between the platform and the tender, and then we were in, and going. Not even 15 minutes later, we were firmly on the ground in Sitka. Not only was the ride exceptionally fast, but the ride was exceptionally smooth.
Sitka is a cute little town that reminds me a lot of the city I grew up in, Kirkland WA. Small town charm, lots of public beach area, not overcrowded. There's a GREAT gallery/gift shop/jewelry store right across the street from the main marina area once you get out of the parking lot. We looked around there some and saw some amazing blown glass art pieces, made our way to a few more shops, got my mom the Sitka pins to match the Juneau pins for her hat, passed the Westmark Hotel in town which had a chowder place attached to it giving samples... and OH MY GOD it was amazing, saw a cart selling REINDEER HOT DOGS ... I couldn't convince myself to give it a try, and my mom was saying that she wanted to go back to the ship and take a nap. We took her back, got her situated, then went back again and walked around the city a bit. Found the Pioneer House and a HUGE totem pole, got some great views of Mt. Edgecombe, stopped at a place with AMAZING CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES called "Chocolate Moose" (also lots of great gifts and a flower shop... we got a stained glass piece with a HAL S-Class ship on it (no other possibility of what it was with THAT funnel ) and then made our way back after passing through a cool little store called Del Sol where everything is UV ray activated. tshirts, sunglasses, stuffed animals, jewelry and hair accessories, you name it. Really cool stuff and I've never seen anything like it.
Made a quick trip back to the ship a second time, spent a little time in the Casino (I doubled my money but ultimately ended up recycling it back to the Casino... oh well) and then we got ready for dinner. There was an option of the Chef's Table dinner this night where Chef Andreas and the Cellar Master would fix an amazing 5 course dinner right in front of you. I LOVED the idea, but $89/pp was a bit steep although seemed worth it, PLUS we loved our dining steward by this point anyway, so we went to the Vista.
Followed dinner with the third show of the cruise by Leo Ward (he was scheduled for one comedy show and one magic show, but the tech issues the first go around with Grand Tour had Leo doing a last minute show that was very entertaining. This was the full show with people cut in half, teleporting motorcycles... the whole bit. Great to watch, and Leo is seriously one of the funniest guys I've ever seen on stage. (The Amazing 88's could learn a thing or 12 from him if they want to keep doing their show as they presently are. They could at least improve their material )
After the show we made it to the Lido Pool which was covered (in other words, HUMID) and saw the amazing array laid out for the Dessert Extravaganza which completely blew my mind. More chocolate than you could ever imagine (Yes Ruth, even YOU), huge ice sculptures including an eagle, a husky, a salmon and a massive dragon, lots of fresh fruit and even some crepe stations. Took the opportunity to take a TON of photos, and then got in line for a gorgefest that probably quintupled the calories consumed to that point.
Riding the high of a LOVELY chocolate coma, we headed for bed around midnight or 12:30am.
Day 6 - Ketchikan This morning started a little rushed, with room service breakfast of omelets and fruit with hot chocolate and then we were out into town since the call was just from 7am-1pm. We were in the last berth and had a chance to walk the length of the Westerdam, Norwegian Pearl, Carnival Spirit AND the Silversea Silver Shadow before we decided to head back close to the ship for our meeting time of 10:45 for the Lumberjack Show.
Took the bus, LITERALLY right back to where we had worked our way to and rushed back to catch a ride to and got some GREAT seats for the show. We were on the US side, right in front. There was one last wheelchair spot for my mom and we grabbed seats alongside and the other right behind her. Now it was just a matter of would this be a good show...
Short answer: YES!!!! Long answer: OH MY GOD, YES!!!!
We had a blast, laughed a bunch, had a fantastic time, went a little hoarse and walked away with a souvenir from the show all before making it to the gift shop to get the next couple of pins for her hat. I'll have pictures up that best show the souvenirs and a couple snip-its from the show. My recommendation is that if you want something close and not TOO adventurous, or if you're limited by physical mobility in your group for what to do in town, THIS IS IT. And yes, they were able to run the show full length, end in time to do 15 minutes of souvenir shopping and race back down the length of FOUR cruise ships and still make it before the call for all aboard at 12:30.
We went up to the Lido, grabbed some nachos, pasta and some cookies and had a leisurely lunch with a couple we met and watched the sailaway from the port. Lots of options followed, but we decided to just relax a bit and watch a movie (Not sure of the name, but it had Ryan Reynolds and followed his life through working for the Clinton Campaign, etc. It was really good, then we took a little nap before getting ready for dinner.
As usual, dinner was phenomenal and this was also the second formal night. Surf and Turf with generous size filets and lobster tails, my mom tried (and confirmed she DOES NOT LIKE) escargot and the meal ended with a Baked Alaska Parade. While I personally find this presentation and cruise tradition to be VERY annoying, it somehow seemed less so in the dining room during this cruise. MAYBE, because it was an Alaska cruise. I also noticed this time that the meringue seemed more firm (as it ought to be) and a bit "burnt" for lack of a better word... like it was truly flambee'd and had more cake in the middle than I remember from the past (which was better.)
The show tonight was Stage and Screen, and is one that all us folks at the 9pm shows were looking forward to since the soundboard failure during Grand Tour happened the first show and we saw Leo Ward only on that evening, and we figured this was the only singer/dancer show we would see. It was great! Costumes were done by Bill Mackie, and a HUGE array of music was covered. The soundboard DID have a few problems though, which led to CD Kerry coming over the PA and letting us know they were doing everything they could to get it going again. Most everyone stayed, and about 15 minutes later it was all back and running, the curtains were back up and the lights were on. The rest of the show was a success and the crowd was really appreciative that we got to see the end!
My mom went to bed, and we wandered back out to see the Love and Marriage Game in the Queen's Lounge which was a hoot. (One guy, after being given a hint that bra sizes are a letter between A and Z and a number between 1-100 said if his wife asked him to by a bra for her but the phone died before she gave the size, he would guess her to be an 80 Q... That's right... EIGHTY... Q... You couldn't have hidden the woman far enough behind the stage if that was true!
We finished these evening off in the Northern Lights with a mix of older AND more modern music and called it a night around 1:00am.
Day 7 - Victoria If only we had woken up sooner and stretched...
We planned this morning early for a few reasons. -My mom's birthday -Last full day on the ship -On Deck for the Cure at 9:00am
Unfortunately, we woke up at 8:45 after waking up long enough to get room service of yogurt, fruit and eggs in the room. Didn't have a chance to grab a bite, OR stretch, raced to the Ocean Bar, and the walk had already started. We found the girl from the CD staff and everyone was already on lap 2. Trying to keep up with all of them for a couple laps cause a MAJOR leg cramp and after lap "5" (aka 3) we bowed out... But the IMPORTANT thing is that we donated to this phenomenal cause that helps so many! My mom didn't take part, only because heights freak her out, the ship in motion would have made it windy, and she was still pretty nervous even if we were on the "ship side" of the promenade.
HOWEVER, Marion the Guest Relations Manager and Gelo, another from the front desk had both been present when we signed up for the walk a couple days prior and got our shirts when they overheard us mentioning that my mom wouldn't be doing it because of her fear of heights, etc and they took back her shirt and told us they were going to work on a surprise for her. We didn't quite know what to think, but worked with it.
What we got back, after a phone message from Marion to come and see her please, was my mom's shirt, with multicolored writing all over both sides, full of birthday wishes to my mom from: The Captain, Hotel manager, Cruise Director, Medical Staff, Front Office Staff, Chief Housekeeper, Cellar Master, Chef Andreas, Leo Ward, the Onboard Cruise Consultant, Party Planner, DJ, Pinnacle Manager, Dining Room manager, Chief Engineer and so many more! WE WERE ABSOLUTELY FLOORED BY THIS AMAZING GESTURE AND THAT IN ITSELF IS A HIGHLIGHT OF THE CRUISE MY MOM WILL NOT SOON FORGET.
In the meantime, we had the Mariner Brunch in the Vista Dining Room and I thought it was fine. We ended up at a great table (still on the railing to the lower level, just the opposite side) and say Kadek across the way waving at us. We tried to get him to switch sections and come over.
The Captain spoke for about 10-15 minutes about the history of HAL and some new features about the Eurodam (the cabanas and spa staterooms among the discussion, and some vague info about the sistership in 2010 and that there were no plans after that, but to keep in mind that the goal was to keep a midsized fleet not much over 2000 guests per ship and that just since the early 90's the fleet has double in size by number of ships, and even more in berths.) and then we ate. We had already received our tiles and our Blue Pins that were awarded to us this cruise. Other than the menu seeming a bit limited (everything was still delicious), I didn't mind this format at all, and the gentleman playing piano live where it had been a "player" baby grand each night at dinner was a nice touch.
After this, it was time to go see a surprise matinee edition of Grand Tour, as the 7pm show saw only the first act, and the 9pm show saw only Leo Ward. It went off without a hitch and the show was just as great as I remembered from our coastal in late 2006. My mom enjoyed these shows a lot also.
Today was also focused primarily around drinking coffee. We still had a full coffee card and were going non-stop most of the afternoon trying to use them all. Sorry future folks in 1060, there's no drink cards in the bible
A bit later was the mixology class which was great. We had a South Seas Aviation and an Apricot Cosmopolitan which were both INCREDIBLE. The 3rd drink, a Tanqueray 0010 Martini was just a bit more "sophisticated" than my tongue could handle and I was able to trade with the party planner running the event and got her South Seas Aviation instead for my third drink. The small fee for the mixology class was well worth it as we easily got at least 2 full size drinks out of it.
Dinner was early due to the 6pm-midnight call in Victoria so we made our way there at 5pm, and the food was just as spectacular as ever. Especially the Beef Carpaccio and the Parmesan Crusted chicken. The cake for my mom's birthday could barely be contained on a full size dinner plate (Marion arranged that as well from what she told us) and our stewards Kadek and Ade, as well as one of the Asst. Dining Room Managers we got to know throughout the cruise all came to sing. They promised a spanish rap rendition but stuck to the classics Kadek and Ade gave my mom an origami frog with their names and the message "Happy birthday, mom. See you next time!" Kadek mentioned that us being with my mom made him think about his mom a lot this cruise and that he wanted to be sure to bring her on one soon as she had never been.
My mom had been so taken away b y the events of the day so far, plus the gifts, the cake, the shirt, the fact Grand Tour played afterall (with the way I hyped it up, there was no other option...lol) that she got a little emotional, especially watching some of the other couples and families in Kadek's session come racing over and giving them all bear hugs and thanking them so deeply for a wonderful week. Then the tears went around the table and I even started (and anyone that knows me, knows that I AM NOT a crier... It never happens. No particular reason, it just doesn't. I gave everyone a huge hug and thanked them all for making everything over the course of the week just so PERFECT, handed all of them our thank you cards (including an offer to put any of them up if they wanted to come to Seattle sometime ON VACATION and some contact info.)
I've heard the stories you guys have put on here about wanting to take the dining or room stewards home at the end of the cruise, and considering them like family... Some people mention they partially book their cruises based solely on if a certain (not necessarily even HIGH position) crewmember will be onboard and I always thought you guys were kind of silly. I never really understood it, but I had never done a "full" cruise before either. Not I "get it" and would be a happy man to see the ENTIRE CREW of the Westerdam on our next cruise, regardless of what ship it was and where it was going. Being early into my cruising life (26 yrs old and just getting my Blue Pin) I want to see all I possibly can between HAL's ships and destinations. However, I WOULD NOT HESITATE FOR A MOMENT TO DO THE SAME SHIP AND CRUISE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE IF THIS STAFF IS PRESENT!
The only other big thing that happened this day was arriving in Victoria. Being over a bit on what we wanted to spend ideally, AND as we live just across the sound in Seattle, all we did was make our way to the Beaver Gift Shop at the end of the cruise terminal, get a couple pins, a few postcards, a totem pole as my mom had been wanting one all cruise and make our way right back to the ship. It was partly cloudy and a beautiful day, but VERY windy outside. (NOTE: WE HAD ALSO SEEN A HUGE LINE A FEW HUNDRED PEOPLE DEEP FOR TAXIS AND HEARD RUMORS THAT FROM THE PIER TO THE PARLIAMENT BUILDING OR EMPRESS, WITH A VOUCHER TO GET THEM BACK WAS RUNNING $52.00.) For those unfamiliar with Victoria, this is about a 10 minute walk, and a complete exploitation of the cruise guests as far as I'm concerned. This would be a good opportunity to do a HAL excursion as the transportation was already included.
We stayed in our room most of the remainder of the evening to pack, relax, watch a movie and have some late night room service. Went to bed around 11:30pm. Disembark What can I say... nothing much really happened. We woke up, got dressed and left our bags in the room (we didn't put them out) while we had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. (Another Suite Amenity Pkg. benefit, disembark morning only)
Ate, got our bags, did a final once over of the room and made our way to the Front Desk for one final thank you to Marion for a lovely week to be remembered for a long time.
She was actually in the Ocean Bar filling in her replacement, Amber whom I've met before on a previous cruise and absolutely adore! So I can proudly state that while cruisers on the Westerdam quite soon won't be able to meet Marion as she is now on a 3 month vacation in Rotterdam with her husband Jack (Chief Engineer) that the ship is in the more than capable hands of Amber!
We got outside, waited for our ride and made it back home by 11:30am. The day concluded with a HUGE trip to the grocery store to restock the fridge and pantries and a MOUNTAIN of laundry.
What a trip!