This was the first cruise for both myself and my father and I have to say it lived up to and exceeded our expectations wonderfully!
We boarded smoothly in Vancouver on May 10th and after a lovely lunch in the Rotterdam dining room set off to explore the ship.
We found the Statendam to be a well cared for, but older ship for sure. She was clean, polished and comfortable - what more can you ask for? Our cabin was spacious and easily fit all our clothes and sundries and the two of us weren't stumbling over each other too much.
- Daily program was easy to understand and carry with you. - Announcements were not intrusive - Drinks were, in my opinion, reasonably priced and well made - Everything was clean
- The Thermal Spa was discounted (they said because it was the first Alaskan trip, but I am certain it was because the jets in the hydropool didn't work along with the aromatherapy in the steam rooms and the showers). I paid $89 as a singleton and it was well worth it to me. It was lovely to float in the softly bubbling pool, watching the mountains glide by, or recline with a book on the heated loungers. I actually found that the showers had better water pressure than the shower in our cabin, so I made use of the offered shampoo and washed my hair there!
- As You Wish dining. My father and I are not formal people. Only our first night eating was in the dining room, with the second night (formal) spent eating at the Pinacle Grill (more about that below). The rest of the time we ate in the Lido and were more than satisfied with the selections there. I liked being able to get the same mains, starters, etc. as the Dining room - but being able to choose my own sides. For someone like me who suffers with food allergies, this was fantastic!
- The Staff. Everyone, and I think my Dad talked to everyone on the ship, was friendly, helpful and obligeing. Special thanks go out to our room stewards (Dede and Tulus), the bartenders and servers at the Ocean Bar (my Dad's hangout), the Lido cooks, servers, clearers and tray guys (yes Virginia, there are still trays on the Statendam), and Lizabeth, DJ Greg and the entire entertainment team. What a fantastic job everyone did! I have never been treated so well.
- BINGO. I love bingo. I won a 7 day caribbean cruise playing bingo. I am the luckiest girl I know because I get to cruise on another DAM ship =)
- The Food. Whatever you wanted, whatever you craved - it was there, like magic and it tasted so VERY good (well, except the one day when they were serving this wierd bacon in the Lido at breakfast - it looked and tasted like cardboard that had been painted to look like bacon - I never saw it again thank Goddess!).
- The Pinacle Grill. This gets its own special bullet. The food was PERFECTION. From my Tomato Salad (and I am FUSSY about my tomatoes), to my steak to the understated dessert that topped the meal up perfectly. The staff were friendly and helpful, we never felt ignored or rushed. We even ate there for lunch during our visit to Glacier Bay. There is nothing like gazing out over the vista of 25 story high blue ice while enjoying a fantastic meal - I recomend everyone do this!
Ketichican - Mysty Fjords by Boat Truthfully, when we first started out toward the Fjords I thought it was going to be a big waste of money. It's a bit of a boring ride. Then the wildlife started coming out. We saw (up close) Humpbacks (2X), Dall's Porposes, a bald Eagle "swimming" (He had a fish that was a bit too big for him to totally fly out of the water with - he was doing well though) and Orcas. But the best was still to come as we entered the Mysty Fjords. MAGICAL. That's the only word that can describe it, just magical.
Juneau - Flight Seeing - Mendenhall Glacier My Dad did this one on his own (no way was I going up in a Chopper). He loved it, got great pictures of the flight to and from the glacier and of the half hour his group spent actually ON the glacier. A once in a lifetime experience he called it.
Juneau - Mt. Roberts Tramway Whilst Dad was stomping around in his glacier boots I was wishing for a pair up on Mt. Roberts. It was a glorious sunny day and I was hoping to get a short hike in. It was too bad that the trails were still under 5 feet of snow. This didn't entirely deter me however, I made my own trail and carefully hiked around until I grew tired of digging my legs out! It was fun though. At the centre I watched a movie about the local native tribes (very well done) and did some souvenier shopping. I will have to return someday to actually hike the trails!
Juneau - Underground Juneau Gold I am very glad that we chose this tour over one of the more gimmicky ones. This tour actually brought us into a former gold mine. We were lead by a current miner (Ernie - who works at a mine in Arizona in the winter) and learned of all the hardships the miners faced and the dangers and rewards of mining. We then did the obligatory gold panning - it was WAY harder than it looks and is WAY more fun! I highly recomend this tour if you're looking for something more educational than gimmicky.
Skagway - White Pass Railroad (Yukon, British Columbia, Alaska) This was an all day tour that was recommended to us by our travel agent. It certainly didn't dissapoint! We bussed it to CarCross, Yukon (with plenty of breaks and photo stops along the way) to the touristy and fun Caribou Crossing Park. They had a hot meal for our lunch, sled dogs and a museum. It was... interesting. After a quick stop in the town of CarCross and a visit to the local store (there was only one) we headed back down the trail to Fraser, BC to catch the White Pass Railroad southbound. What a ride THAT was. A narrow guage train, we rocked and rolled all the way down - the vistas were as breathtaking as the 500 ft drops that were what seemed like 4-5 inches from the rails. An experience I'll never forget, but one I would repeat!