This was our first cruise, a 7 night Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver with Holland America Line aboard the msRyndam.
On the day of the cruise we travelled by train from Seattle to Vancouver. This was a great way to cross the border and a very scenic trip of around 4 hours. Clearing customs in Vancouver was quick and easy and a short taxi ride had us arriving at Canada Place around 1:00pm.
We were immediately greeted at the curb-side by HAL staff who arranged for our baggage to be taken directly to the ship. We were then directed to check-in where we had our ship-id photos taken and confirmed our booking. We had initially booked an inside Stateroom but to our delight had been allocated an outside room. We then passed through US customs and soon after had our "Welcome Aboard" photo taken as we boarded the ship. All in all the process was very efficient.
Once aboard, out came the map that we had been given at check-in and we found our way to our Stateroom and then to the Lido Deck for a buffet lunch. If you like to drink soft drinks and juices, take the opportunity at this time to buy one or more drink cards to reduce the cost of your drinks by more than half. After lunch we went back to our Stateroom to find our luggage had arrived safe and sound, even though our bags had originally been tagged with our originally booked Stateroom number.
Before sailing we spent some time exploring the ship before a mandatory life-boat drill. We also took the opportunity to change our dining option. This took a little while to do as quite a number of other travellers were also doing the same thing. The ship is huge and for the first day or so, we found ourselves constantly referring to the map and other on-board guides to find our way around. The ship departed on time.
Our Stateroom was much larger than we had expected with plenty of storage room for the bags under the bed, ample hanging and draw space, large bathroom and kept very clean. The bed was comfy, the shower good and having an uninterrupted view out the windows was a lovely bonus. Be aware that if you book an outside Stateroom on the Lower Promenade Deck, that there is a walkway that goes all the way around the ship, and you will have people walking past your window at all hours and in some cases sitting on the deck chairs outside your window.
Our cabin steward did a wonderful job throughout the cruise and each evening our bed was turned back and we were greeted with a different towel statue on the bed as well as a few chocolates.
Dining on the ship was excellent, you will not go hungry. Breakfast and lunch was on the Lido Deck and there was a good variety of foods to choose from. They did not vary greatly over the duration of the cruise however. We had early fixed seating Dining in the Dining Room. The menus were satisfactory and different on each evening of the cruise. The staff were excellent, and soon after the first night knew your name and what you liked to drink.
There are plenty of places on the ship, both inside and outside to relax and view the great scenery as it passes by. The Crows Nest at the front of the ship on the Sports Deck was our favorite, but be early to get the best seats.
The entertainment on the ship was excellent, with shows performed twice each night. There was also Bingo and Trivia as well as other activities to join in if desired. The Cruise Director "Travis" did a wonderful job and seemed to be everywhere.
After a days scenic cruising at sea, the first port of call was the Capital of Alaska, Juneau. It was American Independence Day, and that evening the cooks put on a special barbecue for dinner. Unfortunately it didn't work that well, as it was hard to keep the hot food hot. During our time in port we did some local shopping at the shops adjacent to the port and travelled the Mt Roberts Tramway. The view from the top of Mt Roberts was superb. We did a short walk and were fascinated with the Bald Eagle that they have in captivity. It had been rescued and cannot be returned to the wild. Weather was mild with a light shower developing later in the day.
The next day we were in Skagway. We had pre-booked 2 tours here. In the morning we did the Skagway Street-Car Tour, which took us around Skagway and the surrounding area showing us a lot of the history of the region. It was a good tour to choose as it was informative, relaxing and entertaining. Our guides did a fantastic job. That afternoon we did what was for us a highlight of our trip, a helicopter ride and dog-sledding. Cost was around $500 each but well worth the money spent. The views from the helicopter were breathtaking. The dog-sledding was great fun, and it was good to meet and learn about the dogs. If you love dogs/animals it's a must do opportunity.
The next day was scenic cruising in Glacier Bay. The weather was very overcast and foggy, but by the time we arrived at the Marjorie Glacier it had lifted enough to reveal the grandeur of the glacier. The Captain got the ship in very close and we spent quite a long while here and witnessed some spectacular calving. Later we sailed past other glaciers and spectacular scenery, en-counting whales and seals as we left Glacier Bay that evening.
The following day was spent in Ketchikan. Again the weather was partly drizzle. We went to the "Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show" which we enjoyed immensely. In the afternoon we took the tour to "Totem Bight Park" which was informative and relaxing.
Our last day was spent at sea, and again the scenery does not disappoint. Throughout the cruise the seas were calm and mostly smooth sailing.
We arrived back in Vancouver a little late, but the disembarkation process went smoothly and we soon found ourselves off the ship and heading off on the next part of our holiday.
In conclusion, we had an absolute ball. Whilst the weather was not the best, it didn't stop us from doing anything that we had planned. The ship and the staff were fantastic and I would not hesitate to go on the msRyndam again.