We Loved this
Sail Date: August 01, 2006
Reviewed: 6 years ago
Traveled As: Family w/older children
Room Type: Suite
We toured Alaska via the Inside Passage with stops at Hubbard Glacier and in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC.
First, the ONLY negative of the trip - just to get it out of the way:
We checked 10 pieces of luggage on to our 5 1/2 hour Continental flight from Newark, NJ. (It was our first cruise - so we basically emptied our closets into as many suitcases as we could find.) After charging me $25 for an overweight bag, Continental (which is actually usually pretty good in this department) failed to get the bag to the plane on time (the other 9 made it in plenty of time!). I will probably never forget the look on the Seattle baggage claim agent's face after he asked me where I would like the bag, which was to arrive on the next flight a few hours later, delivered and I said, "To the Westerdam in Juneau, Alaska! ". To their credit, Continental had the bag waiting at the dock in Juneau Wednesday morning and HAL made sure my son had it within minutes of our arrival. Kudos to my wife, who, under intense time pressure, calling upon years of honed shopping skills, managed to replace the bag and 3 days worth of clothing within the 2 hours we had before the Westerdam left Seattle!
Holland America lived up to its "Tradition of Excellence" even before we left the Airport. A red jacketed HAL rep saw our Westerdam Luggage tags and looks of frustration in the baggage claim area and literally, in less than 1 minute, took on the role of liason between us and the Continental Agent, arranging the Juneau delivery and making sure we had all the paperwork we needed to file a lost baggage claim. On the morning we finally got the bag, there was a typed letter in our cabin mailbin from the HAL Front Desk addressed, 'To Whom it may Concern" to be used as documemtation to assist us in that claim as well. The HAL airport Rep was quite helpful in expediting our luggage transfer to the ship and giving my wife shopping advice in a strange city.
Embarkation was a breeze given HAL's highly organized system. I highly recommend completing all the documentation online/in advance. The whole process, including digital pics/ID cards for 7, could not have taken more than 15 minutes.
Hubbard Glacier was breathtaking, with lots of calving activity. We started out on the observation deck, but the view was just as good (if not better) from our Veranda, with a glass of wine in hand.
We enjoyed the Fly Out Fishing adventure. Shore excursions in general are quite pricey, particularly for a party of 7. This precluded any helicopter, glacier, or Luxury Hummer tours for our group. The float plane fishing excursion, although also expensive, was easier on my wallet. Despite the cost, I do recommend at least one excursion to get closer to nature. This one worked for us ( we all caught one or more fish) - but I recommend taking even a short inexpensive hike to truly appeciate Alaska's natural beauty. The Raptor Center in Sitka is a MUST and can be done quite inexpensively.
We would definately cruise with HAL again.
Pros: The Alaskan Scenery
Cons: The Flight to Seattle