Noordam Cruise Review by Camden lady
- Sail Date: July 2016
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Signature Superior Verandah Suite
The captain of the Noordam is the most communicative of any captain we have ever had prior, either on HAL or the other cruise lines we have sailed. He pointed out special points of interest, informed us of where we were, where we were going and where to look for wild life. He always ended his dialogue with "Wash your hands", which became humorous but was much appreciated as there did not appear to be any illness on the ship. The food in the dining room was very good and they even made certain that my peanut allergy was noted and that I did not get any items which might contain any peanuts. (THANKS for that). The ports we visited, Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan, were interesting with new things to see and do even though we had been there before. The excursions were very interesting, some of my favorites this time were the animal rescue and rehab, the Cristal gardens (a do not miss excursion) and the Totem Village. Disembarkation in Vancouver was the quickest and easiest I have ever experienced.
We did the land portion of this cruise and land package first and I would highly recommend this as getting onto the cruise ship after the land portion allows some time to rest from all the land portion activities. We were booked into the Hilton in Anchorage (an absolutely gorgeous city) and actually arrived a day early as it is a long flight from Nashville to Anchorage. This gave us a free day in Anchorage and we took in the sights there. We did the trolley trip (1 hr) in the morning and I would highly recommend it as an oversight of Anchorage. The Hilton is basically one block from the trolley stop and an easy walk. We had a very knowledgeable tour guide and learned a lot about Anchorage. We saw Earthquake park and even saw some moose along the highway. Very interesting. That afternoon we did the Seward Highway Turnagin tour with Salmon Berry tours. This tour is OUTSTANDING and John H. was an exceptional guide. We traveled one of the most scenic highways in America, saw Dall sheep and the high tides, we rode a tram to the top of Aleska (?) mountain, which afforded gorgeous views. Lunch was provided and consisted of delicious tomato basil soup, homemade sourdough bread and the yummiest cinnamon rolls ever. John even served our lunch and cleared our tables. Next we went to an animal rescue area and saw moose, bears, caribou, wolves, foxes and even Peggy the porcupine. It was very informative and entertaining. All in all a wonderful tour. Thanks John, you made our day in Anchorage.
The next morning we were taken to the train for our trip to Denali. I so enjoyed the train trip with the domed cars which afforded great views and the seats were very comfortable for the long train trip. HAL owns the cars and they are first class. Lunch in the dining car was very good also. Upon arrival in Denali we were checked into the McKinley Resort which is absolutely beautiful. Comfort is first rate and the suites are spacious and inviting. The entire resort is outstanding. The only bad experience in our entire 11 day trip was that night when we went to the Theater and Dinner Show at the resort. Ok I realize the actors are amateurs and it shows painfully. That I could have tolerated but the food was terrible. The salmon was served basically as a whole fish with the skin on it (yuck) and the bar b que was some dried out baked chicken with some bar b que sauce thrown on it. I would skip this one by all means. It quite definitely is NOT worth the price and you will get a better meal in the dining room of the resort.
The next day we did the Tundra trip to Denali, which is amazing. We saw so much wildlife, including grizzly bears, caribou, moose, ground squirrels, foxes and even a red eagle. Our tour guide was great and she definitely knew her stuff. It was a beautiful day and we could see Denali which we were told only happens about 30% of the time. One thing to note, it is a full day excursion and they only provide snacks so order a box lunch at the resort the night before and take with you. You will be glad you did. At one point on the excursion, we could not get off the bus due to the fact that a grizzly was very near. Very exciting to see one so close. This is a must do (don't take the short trip as it does not go very far into the park) . That evening we did the Husky Homestead tour and it by far was one of my favorites. YOU GET TO HOLD A HUSKY PUPPY. Just a little ball of fur and so adorable. Jeff King is very knowledgeable and entertaining and gives insight of the huskies, how they are trained and the Iditarod race experience. Very enjoyable.
The following morning we boarded a motor coach for the long trip to Seward to join the ship. If you have a good coach driver who knows when to talk and when to be quiet this could be fairly pleasant. We did not.....I can tell you this guy's whole life story, his wife's life story and he even got into politics. Not what I wanted to listen to for about 8 hours. We did have a nice lunch provide along the way and finally made it to Seward. Our driver kept telling us how he is always the first one there (there were several coaches) however we were the LAST coach to arrive at the ship. Glad that part was over and ready to board the ship. All in all this was a once in a life time experience and I am so glad I did it and would recommend going through HAL for the Land and Sea Alaska adventure to all my friends.
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