Veendam
Alaska 14 Day Gulf of Alaska
July 11 2008 - July 25 2008
By Philatsea

Veendan in Hains 

 

My father had passed away earlier this year and with some of the money from his estate I decided to take my 3 girls on a cruise. While they would have rather liked to go to the Caribbean, cruises are limited in the summer to the Caribbean. I had taken the younger ones to Alaska last year on a southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver with a stay in Anchorage. After some discussion with them and pricing it was decided that the two younger ones would agree to a 14 day cruise from Vancouver to Seward and return.

It also didn’t hurt that Holland America was offering $199.00 for the 3rd and 4th in a cabin for this cruise. We would not have to fly either.

We didn’t have much choice on cabin so we had to take an inside cabin. The cabin configuration is two twins and one upper and a couch that makes into a bed.

    This cruise was booked about 2 months out from date of departure for myself and my 3 girls 23, 17, 15 in an inside cabin as there wasn‘t much choice this close to departure. During the booking process we were told that the 2nd seating fixed dinning was closed for reservations. My travel agent while on the phone with reservations was told that he could contact ship services and they could say more on the subject. A quick transfer to that department placed us on the waiting list and likely we would receive notice of a confirmed table of 4. Within 1 hour I had an email from Ship Services saying my table was confirmed. Now this is service!
    Also confirmed was our twin beds configuration.
When our tickets arrived about 4 weeks prior to the cruise the tickets said we were wait listed for 2nd seating. A quick call back to my travel agent and ship services sorted this out. I asked that our bed configuration also be checked again. This was confirmed as we requested

I elected to stay at the Fairmont Waterfront across the street from Canada Place the night before the cruise as my ride was going away for the weekend. This was made real easy as the Fairmont had a 50% off sale. I had missed the 50% off sale at the Pan Pacific the day before and I was not going to miss this one. The rate was fantastic at $168.00 per night.

Arrival at the Fairmont was quick and painless for me but the Bell Captain had to bring 9 suit cases from my girls upstairs. It was a good thing we were not flying.
    The room was well put together and I was able to have free internet as I was a Presidents Club member. The charge without being a member is $14.00 per day plus tax.

The staff at the Fairmont was very helpful and polite. The room offered everything we needed.

The nice thing was when we checked out in the morning was they would transfer out bags to the ship for us. This would mean we would not have to haul them across the street and underground to Canada Place. Mind you it might have been a good lesson to the girls on how to pack and why.

We left the Fairmont and headed for Canada Place. From the time we walked into Canada Place till we boarded was a whopping 12 minutes. This has to be a record for Canada Place. Since we did do the pre-registration before we left and printed our boarding passes we were able to bypass a line-up of passengers who did not do this prior to arrival at Canada Place.
    I know there are many older folks who still don’t have computers but I would suggest where you can you try and find someone who does have a computer and complete these forums online as it will speed things up boarding the ship.

14 Day cruise
The Cruise

We boarded the ship and were not allowed into our cabin till 1:30 PM. This was not a problem as we went to explore the differences between the Veendam and Statendam we sailed on last summer. We also went and had lunch in Lido restaurant.
    We were able to sit outside on the lido as the weather in Vancouver for the day was 25C and sunny. Today Vancouver was at its best.

When the announcement was made that we could go to our cabin we did so. We opened the door to find all but one bag in our cabin. The real surprise came to find that the twin beds we asked for were in fact made into a king size.
    A quick visit to the front office sorted that out but no answer on whose fault it was. L:ittle did I know this would not be my last visit as you will soon see.

A visit to the Ocean Bar was in order to get Soda cards for the kids and a Wine card (20 glasses), Cocktail card for myself.
    I have found that the price of wine on board has risen dramatically and the wine card is good value if you don’t mind drinking house wine. More on this at the end.

Lions Gate BridgeThe sail away from Vancouver was about 15 minutes early and we departed at about 4:45 PM and headed out under Lions Gate Bridge for the trip north to Seward.

The weather was warm enough to be on the bow in short sleeves as we headed west.

We had a slow trip north to Seymour Narrows as the tides would not allow us a transit before midnight.

Arrival at the dinning room brought us to table 24 on upper deck of the Rotterdam Dinning Room. This was a very nice table for 4 on the starboard side rear.

Our table Steward was Yoga and our Assistant Table Steward was Sofian (Ian) They proved they were up to the task with dealing with my 3 girls.

We soon met Glenn the Head Steward for the dinning room.

At Sea

Alert Bay Totem ParkThis morning brought us up the inside passage and we had to be on deck early if we wanted to see the largest Totem Pole in the world at Alert Bay. AS we arrived just after 7:00 AM the weather was high overcast with no rain.

This did not disappoint.

We soon departed the pilot at Pine Island and headed for open ocean for the rest of the day.

Tonight was the first formal night and I can say this, things have changed even more since last summer. It is almost as if the “Formal” in Formal Night has all but gone. Tonight brought people in Jeans and a Jacket and tie wearing a baseball cap in the dinning room. The lower dinning room was pretty anything goes.

The Lido almost has no dress code as I saw people in shorts and a t-shirt.

While the menu appears to have enough variety my kids noticed that mushrooms appear to play a key role in most dishes on board.

I noticed for some reason they cook the living daylights out of almost all fish. I am not sure if this is because there are warnings on all menus about eating under cooked fish etc. from the FDA in the USA. I tried the Salmon and was very disappointed with it. It had been cooked beyond recognition.
    I tried some fish the following lunch and it was suppose to be cod but it was also cooked beyond taste.

I managed to talk to the Chef about cooking fish and was told that the US Government has warnings on all the menu’s saying under cooked fish and meat can be harm full to your health.
    I said yes that may be true but one doesn’t have to cook it so you have no idea what it is your eating. I further said you can cook Tuna rare but you can’t properly cook other fish?
    I attended the Mariners luncheon two days later and saw a Mahi Mahi on the menu and decided to try it. This was a great surprise because it was cooked perfect and lots of flavor.
    A further try of fish the following week showed the fish to be much better.

The evening show was before dinner at 7:00 PM with our dinner seating at 8:00 PM

First we had the Captains Welcome on Board toast at 6:45 then the show. The day of the Captain welcoming you board has pretty much gone.

Ketchikan

Ketchikan Alaska

We were going to be in this port twice and thus we would try and do as much as we could the first time weather permitting then.

Ketchikan it self is an easy city to walk around from the ship. Within a short distance one can walk to Creek Street or the Lumberjack show or just plain shop.

Outside of the pier area offers Saxman Village which is a Native Village.

There is also flight seeing to Misty Fjord but on both days we were there I talked to many people who said this was a total waste of money. Both times we were there flights went out when weather was not at its best.

While the weather may have been at minimum limits companies run the risk of cancelling flights and disappointing those interested in the flights. They also run the risk of leaving planes on the water and not flying and not making any money.
So while the trip may be a great one on a good weather day it has proved not to be a poor choice on a bad weather day.

This trip we choose to visit Creek Street again as it always has something different to offer from year to year. We also visited many of the Native stores in the pier area. The one thing I did notice was most of the Art Work on display in these stores was made in Canada. I wondered if the local Native’s didn’t do Art like they do back home in BC or if they don’t have the ability to produce it in the quantities needed.
The sale of the Art held true for most ports in Alaska.

I also wonder exactly what Diamonds International has to do with Alaska? This brings up something that most Alaskans ask and that is you buy and shop at stores owned and run by Alaskans. We did notice many signs in windows in all ports saying owned and run by local Alaskan Families.

Haines

Haines Alaska
Fort Seward on the hill the City of Haines is to the right

This port is a great little port and while many wonder why we would be there from 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM which is a long time to be in a port this size. The reason is this, Skagway is only a short distance up Lynn Canal and on the days we are in Haines there are 4-5 ships docked in Skagway making no room for the Veendam. The way around this is to dock in Haines and offer tours to Skagway for those that want to go to Skagway. This requires a short 45 minute fast ferry to Skagway included in your shore excursion. Most people opt for the White Pass Railway tour. After the train trip there is a period of time for those on this tour to shop in Skagway before having to catch the ferry back to Haines.

I am told the must do thing in Haines is the Hammer Museum. I passed on this this year as I was more interested in walking around Fort Seward (later changed in 1922 to Chilkoot Barracks to avoid confusion with Seward Alaska).

Haines itself is divided into the City of Haines and old Fort Seward. There are walking tours of the old Fort Seward for a small charge done by locals.

Both are an easy walk from the ship.

The old  Doctors House in HainesI decided to walk old Fort Seward and while doing so kept bumping into those on the walking tour. I was able to hear much of what was said during the time I was stopped. Along the route there are many signs of historic value placed explaining about the Hospital and the Doctors house as well as the Officers Quarters. There is the play ground across from Officers Row which was used for the Parade Square as well as calisthenics, rifle drill and many other things.

There was the Fire house and then the old jail. There was 2 buildings housing Enlisted but one burned down several years back and the one left there is in much needed repair and is in private hands.

 

I did walk to town and passed the Hammer Museum but decided to look at many shops in town instead.

Juneau

I have been to Juneau a few times before and knew exactly where I wanted to go with my girls. I would take the MGT bus to Mendenhall Glacier and tour that for most of the day.

The weather was overcast and showers in the area so we dressed for it and headed out to the bus loop to buy our tickets and board the bus.

As we arrived by the bus loop we were hit by all the tour operators in booths trying to sell us tours. I was looking down the row of booths and could see the MGT booth but a guy from Juneau Tours quickly started in on us and I told him what I wanted and where I was going (MGT). He said look I will give you a deal by selling us tickets for $50 for the 4 of us saving us $6.00 off MGT’s price.

Juneau Tours offers the same service and almost the same buses at the same times so why not try someone new. So we took the tickets.

We boarded the bus and driver was a Native who lived locally and was born in Juneau. This was a plus because we got to hear what it was like from a local, not someone who came here to work for the summer. We learned about the two native tribes in the area and which one he was from.
    I have to say he was proud to talk about Juneau and what life was like and what Juneau had to offer.
We arrived at Mendenhall Glacier and first stop was the washrooms then to the Visitors Center to pay the $3.00 PP admission fee. When we paid we were given wrist bands to wear while we hiked around the park.
    I took my kids out to a lookout of the Glacier and then I took them on a hike out to the bottom of the waterfall on the right side of the Glacier. The information Center provides a video and displays but when many tour buses are there it is VERY crowded as it was today.

Mendenhal Glacier from the visitors centre
Mendenhall Glacier

The walk/hike is about 20 minutes but requires one to cross several streams and then a huge pile of rocks in the end. The rocks are the stopping point for many.
    We managed to make it all the way and spent about 30 minutes there.

On out return we were half way across the rocks when someone decided that they needed to be across the stream quicker than the line was allowing. He figured a good jump to a rock in the middle of the stream and then a short jump to the pile of rocks would do it.
    I watched him take the first jump while waiting for the girls to catch up to me. Doing so there was a splash as his foot didn’t grip the rock as he had hoped and he landed on his back in the stream. That water he landed in is ice cold (no kidding being a Glacier feed stream) and as soon as he landed in it on his back he was standing upright in it.
He was worried about his cell phone and camera in his pocket, both appeared to be okay while he was wet. Amazing how cold water like that doesn’t allow you stay down very long.
    He soon passed us and disappeared into the distance cold and wet.

When we arrived back at the visitors center the plan was to do some GEC aching (www.geocaching.com for complete details) and while we managed to get one we could not get any further into the park and trails due to Bears in the area. We did find one and while walking back to the next one we came across piles of fresh bear droppings. That was it for the day. We headed back to catch the bus back to the ship and venture farther into the downtown core than we had in the past.

Sitka

PIONEERS HOME
Pioneers Home

This was my first time to this port and one of the reasons I wanted to do this cruise.

I had no formal shore excursion planned and just wanted to walk to the different areas and see as much as I could. Since we had no shore excursion planned we had to wait to go ashore because Sitka is a tender port and shore excursions get priority.
    We headed down to catch the tender as it became open tender and no more tickets required.
There are 2 docks in which the tender could dock at; there is the Westside of town at the O’Connell Bridge dock or the east side of town at the Crescent Harbor.
 We tendered to the O’Connell Bridge dock the first time with the Oosterdam. The second time we tendered to the small boat harbor.
    There were shuttles to town but they only carried 25 passengers at a time. We soon figured out that the walk to town was a short one. We quickly left along Harbour Way to Lincoln Street. We passed Totem Square and Pioneer’s Home and could see St. Michael’s Cathedral at the end of the street.
    During the second stop in Sitka Amy and I walked around Sitka making a stop at Castle Hill where the turn over of Alaska from the Russians to to the US was made. Also when Alaska entered Statehood this was the place where the first flag with the 49th Star was flown.

St. Micheal's CatherdralSt. Michael’s Cathedral was built between 1844 - 1848 and went basically unchanged till it burned down in 1966. The Cathedral was soon rebuilt to drawings with modern building materials because it was on the National Historic Places Register in 1962.

For a small charge of $2.00 per person one can view the inside of the Cathedral.

There are many shops in town that sell Russian made items such as Birch Bark Baskets and Bowls.

I found the people here in Sitka friendlier than other ports. I suspect that since they don’t see as many cruise ships they are not fed up with the daily on slot of ships that I have seen in some ports.

If one continues down Lincoln Street you can walk through Sitka National Historic Park to the Raptor Center where a $12.00 admission fee will allow you in.

There is also the Russian Bishops House you can visit for a small fee and down the block there is the St. Peter by the Sea Episcopal Church which has the first Bishop of Alaska buried in the yard. While they don’t do tours of the church it is a neat old building with stained glass and behind it stands the original Bishops House that has undergone renovation recently.

The ship has a shore excursion that walks most of this area and visit’s the places I have mentioned, but I see no reason why you can’t do this on your own. It also allows you to visit at your leisure. There is a nice walking map one should look at before visiting Sitka.

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier the 2nd time
Hubbard Glacier the 2nd time

I had never been to Hubbard Glacier before and I was told this was a must see because of Hubbard’s size.

We arrived early to take on the pilot and the Native Interrupters as we were due to cruise Hubbard Glacier from 7:00 -11:00 AM. Today was low cloud and fog with light rain, making for a cool wet day.

Standing out on the bow was wet and cool as we approached Hubbard. The Celebrity Millennium was ahead of us by about 30 minutes and as she left it was very hard to see her.

There was a large amount of ice in the water around the ship for about 30 minutes before we arrived in front of Hubbard but the water in front of her was clear due to the calving of the Glacier and the waves the chunks made as they fell into the ocean.

It was a surreal experience because of the low cloud and fog because we could hear what sounded like thunder and then see chunks of ice calve off and hit the ocean. They say the front of the Glacier is 12 stories high and to see chunks 6-8 stories high calve off is impressive.

We did two complete 360 degree turns so everyone on the ship could view Hubbard Glacier before we left the bay.

Hubbard Glacier is one of the few advancing Glacier’s left.

The Native Interrupters told us stories how important the glacier is to them and the area around it. We heard stories of the Tlinglet and earthquakes and how a small village near Hubbard Glacier fell into Disenchantment Bay with no sign of survivors.

While the weather was not great we still managed to have a great view to some great calving of Hubbard.

Seward

We arrived early here to disembark all but 220 passengers.

I had planned before I left to take a 5 hour boat tour of Resurrection Bay with Major Marine Tours.

Star of the Northwest
Star of the Northwest of Major Marine Tours

Holland America was not offering much to those that were on the ship for 14 days. I had talked to the Cruise Director at the end of the cruise and he was saying for some reason the Veendam had a large amount of people every cruise (200+) doing the 14 day cruise while other ships only had 20-30 people doing it. This was why not much was being offered on prior to leaving.

I have to say that the Shore Excursion Office did add several excursions on Day 2 of our cruise and sent them to our cabin to look at. While one of them did interest me I had already made arrangements prior to the cruise.

The great news was Holland America was providing a free shuttle bus to Seward for us all day. We chose to leave the ship around 10:30 AM and walk to Seward and Major Marine as we had to check in 1 hour prior to the cruise at their office. The walk is about 20 minute walk from the ship and along the shoreline and very pleasant to do.
    We checked in on time and were told we could board the Star of the Northwest at 12:00 for our scheduled 12:30 departure.
    We boarded the vessel after we had our photos taken on the dock prior to boarding.

The Northwest left on time and we headed up the east side of the bay in and out little coves where we saw Mountain Goats, Stellar Sea Lions, Sea Otters and a variety of birds including Eagles, Puffins, Kittiwakes nesting and Cormorants.
    During the trip we saw several hanging glaciers along the way.
We were taken very close to the nesting area of the Kittiwakes and Puffins and in doing so we saw many Sea Lions resting on the rocks below the nesting area.
    As we crossed the south end of the bay to go see some Humpback Whales the swell picked up and some people didn’t feel well. I hate to report that yes we did have a few people sick. I was not one of them.
    We did see a few whales but nothing like I had hoped for. Killer Whales had been reported in the area in days prior but no sightings today.
    We headed back west across the bay to the front of Bear Glacier which provided us some great views of it.
    Along the west side of the bay as we headed back we saw more Mountain Goats.
    I was able to talk to many locals from Alaska on this tour and them all told me this is by far the best tour to do and one can not beat the cost.
    I must say the price of this tour surprised me as well as the quality of this tour. I was able to book this tour on the Major Marine website with a 10% reduction in cost. The cost was $58.50 plus tax per person. This by far was the best deal of any shore excursion I saw.
    After we returned back to Seward we didn’t have much time left as the last bus back to the ship was at 6:00 PM. We had to be back onboard by 7:30 PM as the ship departed at 8:00 PM.

The good news was we received a note from the Chief Officer saying we would be excused from the life boat drill for those boarding in Seward as we had done it in Vancouver.
    The departure from Seward was at 8:00 PM and we sailed on time.
    The cruise south out of Resurrection Bay was fantastic while there was a slight overcast but this did not affect the great views we had along the way.
    The view of Bear Glacier was as good as we saw on the Star of the Northwest.

Hubbard Glacier -  2nd time

This afternoon brought a return to Hubbard Glacier.
    The weather was very different than 2 days ago. It was cooler and a higher overcast and light rain. The interesting part was the fact that there was very little ice in the water as we approached Hubbard Glacier. The light rain also appeared to have an effect on calving as there hardly any calving at all today. This was a remarkable change from just 2 days ago.
    The Millennium was much easier to see today on her exit out.
    I must say I did not think there could be as much difference in just 2 days in visiting a glacier as there was with Hubbard. I am not sure if the weather played a role in the amount she calved the first time and the amount of ice or should I say lack of ice in the water the second time was a real surprise. We got a better view of the sheer size of Hubbard Glacier today but I think Glacier Bay is still at the top of my list.
    What I am saying is you spend about 30 minutes at the glacier but in Glacier Bay you visit several glaciers in a much longer time.
    The amount of calving the first day we were at Hubbard was the most I have ever seen before, so this was a real plus. I have never seen much calving in Glacier Bay. I have been in Glacier Bay in August as well.

Skagway

Skagway from the trail
Skagway from the look out on the trail while hiking

Since we visited Haines on the trip north today brought us to Skagway.

Skagway is a town of about 850 year round residents ballooning up over 2000 in the summer.

I wanted to spend the day visiting the Cemetery where Soap Smith was buried but plans changed when my girls failed to rise and be off the ship before noon. None of them had been to Skagway before and thus I thought it would be easy to have them up and off the ship early.
    I was dressed and off the ship when it was apparent that they would not be ready by 9:00 AM. I started off doing a little Geocaching by stopping at the rocks along the pier and looking for the name of the Captain of one of the Love Boats.

If one visits Skagway one should stop and look at the cliff faces and all the painted rocks of the ships and their Captains that have visited over the years.

The painting of the cliffs go’s back 80+ years, but I am told it is really further than that as some rocks have either not been maintained or painted over.

Rock Wall Paintings in SkagwayThe oldest one I could find was 1924.
The tradition is the ships crew paint the rock with the name of the ship date of visit and the Captains name. This is still done today on a first visit.

I decided to head up a trail to the east of the ship and after hiking for a short period of time I came across view of Skagway.

After hiking and also Geocaching (no finds) in the area I headed back into town. I had been to Skagway twice before and both times had taken the train up to Fraser Lake.

I walked around the outer part of the downtown area looking at older houses and what else there is in Skagway.

I managed to do a Geocache in town then head back to the ship to see if the girls were now ready.

Geocache is on the steel support at the top.I arrived back about 11:30 to find the girls dressed but still not ready to leave. I leave once again this time to head up to the bridge out of town to get a Geocache. I was successful on this one but it required some climbing to get it.

I came back down a back road to see houses and Bed and Breakfasts along the way. Many of the houses had well looked after yards and this was good to see.

I noticed that people here live a simpler life to us in the city. Cars are left open and items in plain view, bikes left unlocked.

Some of the buildings in the downtown core go back to the Gold Rush and have dates on them 0f 1898.

There is so much to do in Skagway including a bus trip to the Yukon, trip out to Liarsville or the While Pass railroad.

 

 

The Trip South

Whale in Snow PassageI will not comment on what we did in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan southbound as I have commented on things on the way north.
I can add though we had some great whale watching as we passed through Snow Passage heading towards Ketchikan.

I will how ever comment on the day at sea prior to arriving back in Vancouver.

The weather was near perfect. It was in the mid 20’s Celsius and the sea was dead calm.

 



 

Guy in boatWe had a great day for wildlife viewing and we got to see a few whales, dolphins and lots of birds. Then there was the trip past Alert Bay again. This time was a little different as we were met by a local guy in boat flying the Canadian flag and a sign on his boat with a web address on it. The story is every 2 weeks he meets the Veendam and plays for them.
   
He followed the Veendam and then would stop and play songs like Oh Canada, When the Saints go marching in and last but not least God Save the Queen. Let’s say it wasn’t pretty and I have no idea if the web address on the sign on the boat is for him because a quick visit to there tells a totally different story. Maybe he studied with this guy but who knows. The story is every 2 weeks he meets the Veendam and plays for them.
    The ship sounds the horn once he is done and people clap for him when done.
    There could be worse things he could be doing and I think it was a nice break.

We passed Robson Bite the home of Killer Whales and we did not see any of the year round residents on this trip. What we did get to see was a barge being towed covered in Sea Gulls.

The Ship and the Cruise

This was a good cruise in many ways.

As I said at the start we had fixed dining second seating at 8:00 PM.

Ian on the left and Yoga on the right
Ian - Sara - Yoga
Amy - Heather

We could not ask for a better Waiter (Yoga) and Assistant Waiter (Ian). They were fun and always met very request we had.
    When one travels with 3 girls who don’t like sauce on their food or are afraid to try something new the Waiters always said come on try it and if you don’t like it I will get you something else.
    One night my youngest daughter had a chilled soup that she liked very much. The funny thing there was 3 soups on the menu this night and in the end she tried them all and liked them.

The food for the most part was good. The best meal on the cruise was the Prime Rib.

My Birthday Cake for my non birthdayI have to say my girls had GREAT service from all the Staff on board. Ingo Jagow the Cellar Master would check on the girls several times a day. Then there was Glenn Jack the Assistant Dinning Room Manager who looked after the girls as well with their special requests including changing one of their birthday’s we were celebrating to mine to get me back.

There was the Yum Yum Boy who would talk to them every night upon leaving and would greet them in the Lido at Breakfast.

I had to say I had a small problem the first week which required me to visit the Front Office twice in a 3 day period because I lost my key card.

The problem was I same person both times and then was known by name after that.

The first week was weird because on the Wednesday I got a request for my disembarkation information for Seward. I ignored it because I thought a mistake had been made.

The next day I received another request because I failed to respond to the first request. The problem was it was only addressed to me and not my girls. Was this a hint after me loosing two key cards?

A short visit to the Front Office and the same clerk again. I was told yes it was a mistake and to ignore it.

On the Friday morning I received a letter from the Front Office thanking me for cruising with Holland America and wishing me happy travels.
    I thought oh well they just don’t get it.

On the way off the ship I decided to drop off our on board survey for the first week and the same Clerk again (the one who signed the letter) called me over and said she was sorry and she tried to stop the letter but it was to late.

When I returned to the ship after our tour in Seward there was a bottle of wine in the cabin and a note from her.

There have been many changes on Holland America since 1983 when I first sailed with them.

I discussed many of them with long time employees of Holland America. Many of them are sad to see them gone as well and no one is sure if this is the start on the same product across all lines under Carnival.

Gone are all theme nights including Dutch Night.

Gone are Flambé. They were done at your table way back then at the front of the dinning room up to last summer and now pushed to being done in the kitchen.

Gone is the Hotel Staff being Dutch. I suspect though this is mostly because they can not find enough Dutch people to fill the positions on all the ships.

The nicest change I found was the Mariner Party is now a Mariner Lunch in the Dinning Room. There is a special menu for the event and drinks are included. You receive your Delftware Tile at this lunch.

I am glad that 2 items that still remain are the Indonesian and Filipino Crew shows.

The days of Formal night are getting less and less. While we had 4 Formal Nights on board the dress really varied. While there is also anytime dinning in the Lido and it is pretty much wear what you want to dinner there.
The lower level of the Rotterdam Dinning Room has anytime dinning which has people dressing up but many did not.

There was fixed dinning and the table next to us had a good ole boy from Tennessee turn up in a Jacket and open neck shirt and jeans and wearing a baseball cap. Yes he was allowed to eat with baseball cap and all.
   
The following Formal Night he was dressed in a suit minus the baseball cap.

I did see a Gentleman get refused admission to dinner because he didn’t have a Jacket or a tie on and was told he could eat in the Lido.
    I would say the rules are really hit or miss and depends on who is at the door.

While the Lido served up breakfast and lunch my girls noticed that things in the Lido for lunch didn’t change much in what they served.
    The only thing that appeared to change was the Asian section.
    Yes the fresh meat changed but it was either beef one day and pork the next.

We did run into a small problem one night in the dinning room. The Chefs thought the main course most people would eat would be the short ribs. That was not the case and the other choices I guess didn’t attract much interest either. The problem is over half the dinning room decided to eat the New York Steak that is always on the menu. The problem with that there was not enough of that meat thawed in the kitchen.
    I had to wait over 30 minutes for my meat to be thawed and cooked. I was advised of this about 20 minutes after I was waiting for my main course.
    The plus to all this was that the meal was HOT, so it was worth the wait.

Holland America offers a wine card for either 10/20 Glasses of wine. I chose the 20 glasses for the 2 weeks. This is of good value for the most part if you don’t mind drinking house wine.
    I am at the point where I am getting fed up with a $15.00 bottle of wine being sold for $45-$50 on board the ship plus 15% to the wine steward.
    I also purchased a 10 drink cocktail card which saves you about $1.00 a drink doing it this way.
    There was also Happy Hour almost daily in one of the bars where they had 2-1 drinks.
    I learned a late towards the end of the cruise that one can order a bucket of beer for $15.00 for 5 bottles and they would store it for you behind the bar for future use. On the Veendam this could be the next day or 2 days away… It did not have to be drunk that day. It is a nice savings over single bottle costs.

I had decided that we would try the Pinnacle Restaurant while on board with my girls to replace one of the Master Chefs dinners. We would get to have the Master Chef Dinner the first week and then pass on it the second week.
    I had done some research on this prior to boarding the cruise. The Holland America web page says this:
For this exquisite 5-star dining experience, guests pay a modest surcharge. Adults may dine for $20.00 per person or lunch for $10.00. Children under 12 dine free of charge. A rate of 50% applies for children between 13 years and under 18 years of age.

So we attended the Pinnacle and had a great dinner.
    The problem came when the bill came and I was charged full rate for all the girls even though one was 15 and the other 17.
    I asked about this at the time and was told by Andrew that this policy has never existed.
The following night I was back in the dinning room and the Dinning Room Manger Tom asked me how things went and I told him great. I asked about the policy of the 50% and he said as long as he has been working for HAL that he has not seen it. I explained that I saw it on the HAL website and he said if I could get the link then he would deal with it.
    I provided the link the following day to Glenn and he took it to the Hotel manager at the meeting the following day. They were all rather surprised to see this and said they would be contacting Head Office on this because this policy has not filtered down to the ships.
    I was further told to go to the Front Office and ask for a credit.
I did this and was told that Andrew would have to deal with it. The problem with this is Andrew was not at the meeting and still knew nothing about it. I went back to Glenn who then talked to Andrew and on the final morning a credit appeared on my bill.
     think what bothered me the most was the fact that HAL makes changes in Head Office and it is slow to filter down to the ships.

I must say I was rather surprised to see some prices have come down in the onboard shops. I have found that they figure they have you over a barrel so you will pay it if you want it.
    I went to the Duty Free store to take home my Duty Free Liquor and was surprised to find that the price had dropped by $5.00 a bottle from last year.
    I further found one day the shops selling HAL Logo t-shirts for 4 - $20.00. Most logo wear at one time or another was on sale for a good price.
    The cost of Photos taken on board still puzzles me. We have seen the change to digital cameras and thus cutting out the need for film. The cost has only gone up it appears. If one wanted the Bon Voyage it was going to cost you $19.95 per photo. The good news (if it can be called this) is that if you buy 2 photos then you get the 3rd free.
    I watched as I was buying a few photos as a gentlemen came in who was holding a 60th Anniversary cruise on board. There was the Formal Dinning photo of their group of 20 and he noticed that there were 20 photos on the wall. He tried to cut some sort of bulk deal for all 20 photos and the photo clerk would have nothing to do with it. The Gentlemen said you know that you stand to make nothing on those 20 photos and the clerk said if he cut a deal then he would have to do it with others. The Gentlemen walked away not buying any.
    Some cruise lines provide a release if you ask so you can get the photo copied back home. HAL Photo Clerks look at you like they have never heard of this.
There is a book on Alaska that includes a map of the voyage that has detailed information on the places you pass along the way. There are also mileage markers along the way as well that the Captain uses in his daily update and what time we should be there.
    The cost of the book with the map is $20 and I think worth it if you want to learn about the area you are cruising in. I bought the book a few years ago and still take it along as the information is still valid.

I have a bone to pick with the Naturalist that was on board this cruise. I hate it when they come across like they are an expert on the area and yet they live in a totally different part of the world.
    We were heading down the inside passage on the last day when he was talking on the public address saying how people should be out on deck if they had not seen any Bald Eagles or had not got a photo of one as we soon be to far south to see any more of them. I could not believe what I was hearing. I live just outside of Vancouver and I see Bald Eagles daily in my travels. In the fall and winter we have thousands of Eagles that feast on Salmon in the rivers within 1 hour’s drive of Vancouver.
    I further listened to him talk about fishing in BC and the fishing communities and how good it was. I guess he missed the news that the fishery in BC is pretty much dead and the only fishery that is occurring is a Native only fishery this year. Fish stocks are at an all time low and as many fish that can make it back to the rivers to spawn is a must this year we are told in local BC news.
    He also talked about the forests and the paper mills on Vancouver Island. The mention of some mills had me wondering because some of these mills have been closed recently and as far back as last summer if not before that.
    I think a Naturalist is a great idea but the information they give has to be correct.

If you are going to talk about fish farming then don’t say it is a great idea and it is good for the area. I know here in BC it is a hotly contested that it isn’t good and the State of Alaska has banned it all together.

I also came across something on board the cruise that has me wondering about the future of Holland America. I was reading a newspaper on board from Anchorage that was saying at the start of this season Carnival has decided to join together land based Westours and Princess Tours into one company called Discover Alaska Tours. The idea all buses will be painted into new colours and housed together at some point down the road. The article talked about how the tours will all be the same for the 3 brands (Carnival, Westours and Princess Tours). It further talked about how if a tour on being sold on a Holland America ship was way undersold and would normally be cancelled because of lack of interest that the tour could go ahead because they could no have passengers from a Princess cruise that are interested thus making it a go now.
    What this article didn’t say if further joining of brands would include Westmark Hotels, Princess Lodges, and the dome trains from both brands and other tour company’s in the Yukon.

I made mention earlier of the disappearance of things like Dutch Night and other Theme nights and now we see the joining of land based things if this is the start of more or less just one brand.

We have seen reservation offices being joined under Carnival.
    We have seen the same hulls of ships being ordered and then spread out over the different brands. One just has to look at the Vista Class ships for this and compare them to the Spirit Class in Carnival and then there is the Queen Victoria with Cunard and then the Costa brand.

I almost get the feeling one won’t be able to tell in a few years which cruise line they are with because of the little things that are slowly being lost. Holland America has things that other lines don’t have and set it apart from others. Princess has the same thing but if they try and cut costs and make things more uniformed then what is the point of staying loyal to just one brand. Maybe this is what Carnival is hoping for. If you want to do an Eastern Caribbean cruise and the first ship is booked solid then they will say well we can put you on this ship (different brand) for the same price.

The plus were the staff on board as there was no one who didn’t want to make our cruise enjoyable.

I have to say Thank you Ingo, Glynn, and Yoga for a job well done.

Girls with Glynn
Girls with Glynn

The following photos are just some of the hundreds of Photos I took on this cruise. Hold the mouse over the photo for a description of the photo (only works in Internet Explorer) Click on Thumbnail Photo for larger version.

Sailing Under Lions Gate BridgeLions Gate Bridge and Vancouver in the distanceSunset off Comox BC heading North to AlaskaAnother view of Sunset off Comox BC heading North to AlaskaClose-up of Alert Bay Totem ParkAlert Bay Totem ParkAlert Bay tallest Totem PollAlert Bay tallest Totem PollLeaving the northern tip of Vancouver Island headed northThe Nieuw Amsterdam II on Deck 5 Model. I last saw this in the Nieuw Amsterdam III Officers Ward RoomPool under glassMillennium being passedMillennium behind usWhale in the distanceSea Lions having a restDahl PorposesHains Alaska - Fort seward Mendenhall GlacierMendenhall GlacierMendenhall Glacier close-upMendenhall Glacier as we walk clsoer to it and are on the lft of the water fall.Wild Life as we tried to hike after the glacierPhilatSea in Juneau with the VeendamOosterdam in SitkaVeendam on Left and Oosterdam on right in SitkaBald Eagle flying byGlacier High School in SitkaRussian Bishops HouseLeaving SitkaOosterdam as we leave looking backEntering Hubbard GlacierEntering Hubbard GlacierView of Hubbard GlacierIce by Hubbard GlacierMillenium leaving Hubbard Glacier Hubbard GlacierPool should not be filled with Ocean water when in Hubbard GlacierHanging Glacier while on tour with Major Tours - Sewardabout 3 feet away from rock wallKitty Wakes nestingup closeSea Lionsmore Sea LionsPuffinsnesting pairMore nesting Kitti WakesBear GlacierBear Glacierclose-upGoat on the hill sideSun Set as we leave SewardBear Glacier from the Veendam as we leave SewardEntering Hubbdard Glacier the 2nd timeMillennium in Hubbdard Glacier the 2nd timeHubbard Glacier the 2nd timeHubbard Glacier the 2nd time - Clearer dayHubbard Glacier the 2nd timeHubbard Glacier the 2nd time -much  less ice in the waterIce from Hubbard Glacier the 2nd timeRock Wall Painting in SkagwayRock Wall Painting in SkagwayRock Wall Painting in SkagwayRock Wall Painting in SkagwaySnow Blower for White Pass railroadShip in SkagwayOur Cabin Shrimp CocktailChocolate BuffetKetchikan the 2nd time. Note the tents where passengers sleep.My Birthday CakeSea Gulls hitch hiking on a barge south Alert Bat Totem Park heading southYum Yum Man with the GirlsIndonesian Crew ShowFilipino Crew showTowel AnimalTowel AnimalArriving back in Vancouverdamage still visable to Stanley Park from storm in Novemeber 2006Lions Gate BridgeGoing back under the Lions GateBrockton Point in Stanley ParkThe Millie following us inTowel Animal MonkeyTowel AnimalSt. Michael’s Cathedral St. Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal ChurchSkagway CliffsGeocache of steel support pole at the top

Panorama Photos
Click on Photo for larger version
when the new window opens click on photo for even larger version

Alert Bay on the way North

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier Day 1

Ketchikan

Mendenhall Glacier

Seward Alaska from the Northwest

Departing Vancouver

Vancouver Harbour from the Veendam - Stanly Park in the center

Vancouver Harbour