Alaska and the Westerdam Our families trip to Alaska, 14 of us all together, my mother, mother- in- law, three children in their 20's, with their SO's, my six yr old grandson, sister and two sons (18&20) my husband and me. We left home on Saturday one day before our cruise, we were all up on time, did some last minute packing, weighing luggage and repacking, these weight restrictions make packing really hard. We ended up with thirteen bags for 10 people, not bad. Had a little fright when an SUV instead of the stretch hummer we had reserved arrived at our door AT 7AM but thankfully this was just for the luggage. Once in the Limo we opened the champagne and drank mimosas and read the funny itinerary my husband had wrote. We are off to a good start; arrive at Ft Lauderdale airport without incident check in, pay for the luggage (crazy) and head to the gate with plenty of time for coffee and such. The flight to Dallas goes fine until we arrive and wait on the runway to get to the gate, and wait, and wait. The delay is due to thunderstorms and we are told all flights are delayed; I quickly go on line and check and guess what? our flight is on time. We finally get off the plane with minutes to spare and go running to the tram to take us to the correct terminal; did I know they go two ways? , so we ride all around the airport as our departure time comes and goes. We finally arrive and go running to the gate. All ten of us running through the airport, I now wish I had a video of it. We arrive at the gate to be told the doors are closed and we are too late, we are asked to please stand to the side and they will sort us out, great , so we wait and after a few minutes they come over to us and start calling us by name we are told they are putting us on a plane, ok great, although we are confused as to where and when, finally she tells us we are going on the same flight it hasn't left yet but we all need new boarding passes as we now have new seat assignments, at this point I do not care where we sit as long as we get on the plane, we are meeting my sister, nephews and MIL in Seattle for pre arranged transfers to our hotels. The seats I chose 10 months ago are gone and we are now scattered all over, this doesn't bother me for awhile but after 2 hours I start to wonder why these other people got our seats? Oh well, the flight is uneventful except my mother has sat in a seat where apparently someone before her has spilled coffee or soda her white pants are now soaked with brown liquid and as you can imagine she is not a happy camper, when she reports this to the stewardess they try to blame it on her, only wait, they haven't given out any beverages on this flight yet and there is no evidence she has brought anything on board. OK quick backtrack, "we are sorry.....we will pay for your cleaning bill", ok great, but that doesn't help my mother who is wet and uncomfortable, my daughter realizes she has a terry cloth jogging suit in her carry on which she gives to my mom and she is able to get changed, crisis averted. Thankfully we arrive in Seattle hook up with the rest of the family arriving from NY and head to our hotels, transfers for some of us with HAL are good and the rest have taking Seattle Express which were also without incident. Seattle- warm and sunny, we check into our hotels and head out, we walk around a little and head to the space needle, the view is fantastic and the weather so clear we can see Mt Rainer, beautiful, after looking around a little we grab something to eat and head back to our hotels, the long day is catching up. The next morning we went to the Pike market, the original Starbucks and walk around buying some beautiful flowers to take on the cruise. We head back to our hotel for the transfer to the ship. Some of us are again transferred by HAL who ends up taking us on an hour bus tour of Seattle before heading to the ship, nice touch. We arrive at pier 91 and are on board very quickly, wow the suite life is for me....no waiting in long lines. The Room, what can I say, I have never stayed in a suite before, walking in that room was really exciting, the room is huge and the balcony is everything I dreamed of, we were in cabin 5190 corner aft and it is awesome. I quickly unpack and get ready for the sail away party we are going to have in our room with our family. We have a great time on that huge balcony, the weather is gorgeous and despite a call from the front desk about one of our neighbors already complaining all is well.
Monday - at sea, spent most of the day wondering the ship playing in the casino and just relaxing. Despite the fact that barely any one is in our room today we again get a call from the front desk, our neighbors have again complained, something about our room door being propped open, smoke in the hallway? Well the only time the door is propped open is when the steward is cleaning our room, No one is smoking in our room and no one has been on our balcony, after I explain this I think they get it, the complainer is just crazy and needs to be ignored. This is our first formal night and everyone looks beautiful. Tuesday -Glacier Bay- the weather is again fantastic, sunny and only a little foggy which clears up for the most part, we spend all day on our balcony, the kids play cards in between taking pictures and we all have a really great day, the glaciers are beautiful, a little bit of calving and the best part before entering Glacier bay we spot whales from our balcony, totally awesome. Room service delivers hot chocolate for all of us and hot hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon. We couldn't have asked for a better day, the reason I splurged on this room is so we can all spend time together on the balcony and I have to say the memories of that day made it worth every penny.
Wednesday-Juneau- this was the highlight of our trip, whale watching in the morning with ORCA followed by helicopter/dogsled with coastal. We saw orcas and humpback whales; we saw bubbling it was great, sunny and mild weather. After whale watching we are transferred to Coastal for the glacier, clear blue skies, temps in the high 60's low 70; s, the guides on the glacier are in short sleeve shirts, dog sledding is fun, the dogs are so sweet and I am very happy to learn that the guides spend the night up there with them so they are not alone, My six yr old grandson who has never seen real snow had so much fun and really enjoyed the snowball fight that ensued. The helicopter ride and the scenery were breathtaking.
Thursday -Sitka- according to the locals we are a day late for seeing bears which were spotted all over the previous day, closing trails and even seen at the eagle hatchery, we still had a great day walked all over Sitka went on a hike through the forest and really enjoyed this quaint little town .I swear I saw the house from The Proposal from my balcony. (no one else agreed)
Friday -Ketchikan- did a morning tour with sourdough which was pretty good, went to a waterfall, Heron Bay, Saxman village and Dolly's' house. We saw tons of salmon but no bears; although at Heron Bay my eldest son wandered away a bit and saw a huge bear crossing the street a little up the block from where we were standing.
Saturday-Victoria- really pretty, we went on a short tour via limo that we picked up at the dock (not previously arranged) he took us to the governor's house. The gardens are beautiful with the sweetest roses you have ever smelled. We next went to the Craigdarroch Castle and then were dropped off downtown. The city is beautiful; the lights on the buildings, the flowers everywhere,would have loved to have spent more time there.
This was my first HAL cruise and I have to say it was great, the ship is beautiful and easy to get around, the staff were so kind and friendly especially our room steward Marty who made towel animals for my grandson every night and even came by one day to teach him how to do it. Our waiter Heru and his assistants were so kind and efficient, the dinners were good, always hot and presented well. Heru made sure I had a menu every night for the next day so I could choose food for my grandson who has a lot of allergies. My kids and nephews went to the Elton John show and loved it, the comedian Julie was great My grandson did not go to the kids zone at all as he just wanted to hang out with his family and we were all happy to oblige him, from what I saw, they did a good job with the kids and sent a schedule every night for the next day. Bread pudding was as good as everyone said, great ice cream and the burgers were terrific. Room service was outstanding, we ate breakfast in our room almost every day, my grandson who stayed in our suite with us loved this. We did receive an invitation to a suite luncheon but did not attend, used the Neptune lounge a few times but really the Lido was closer. Overall a great experience and to top it off I won the slot tournament...........