Sunday, 11 August 2013


7 day Cruise on Holland America


July 2013


Day one

A good flight on West Jet from Toronto to Vancouver and we pick up our luggage at Vancouver Airport. Here we are met by the Holland America greeter and directed to our shuttle.

Holland America Amsterdam is ready and waiting at the dock where we begin our 1833 NM (nautical miles) journey. Sun is shining brightly and the temp is mid 20’s C.

Boarding is quick and easy and we find our stateroom on the Promenade deck 3. How convenient for us, since we spend a great deal of time walking on the promenade deck, this will be very handy! We have a lovely view of Vancouver skyline from the ship and we pass Stanley Park as we leave the port.

                                                       Atrium on board ship

Ship departs on time and we travel out of Vancouver and through the Seymour Narrows. The Sail-away party is in the Crow’s nest and the featured drink is the Gold Diggers Punch. Small samplings of Salmon fingers and Venison herb crusted sausage add to the ambience.


Day two

Up early next morning and after a wonderful buffet breakfast on the Lido deck, we are back outside for a day at sea. Whale spouts could be seen in the distance.


 The location guide Benjamin gives a lecture on the trip and the days ashore as well as some of the wildlife. Most interesting and informative and then back outside to watch the beautiful scenery as we make our way north.

Weather is a sunny 23C

Tonight’s entertainment is Northern Lights and it is most enjoyable.


Day three

Juneau, our first port and we arrive at 12:45 p.m. Weather is sunny and a balmy 25C so we can’t wait to go ashore.  We are surprised to learn that Juneau, the capital of Alaska has no road access and is accessible only by sea or air. We are also surprised that the population is only 36,000.

Off the ship, we head straight for the cable car, Mount Roberts Tramway. We travel  an 1800 foot ascent in “Eagle” car to a point about three quarters of the way to the top and here we leave the cable car for the trails. The visitor center offers some spectacular views of Juneau below, Douglas Island and Gastineau Channel as well as the Chilkat mountains. We begin our hike in a sub alpine meadow and head up the trail toward the summit.


After our hike we relax with a bottle of Alaskan Amber beer in the Timberline Bar and then attend the Chilkat Theater for a Tlingit heritage and history docudrama, Seeing Daylight. Most informative and very entertaining and the price of the theater is included in the cost of the tram ride. For $30 it is a very good deal !  Satisfied, we head down the mountain to tour Juneau.


I am afraid Juneau was a little disappointing. Souvenir shops and jewellery stores and not much more,  so we wandered back to the dock and had dinner on the ship. After dinner, we disembarked and took a nice walk along the water and watched huge salmon swimming in the water below a bridge.


Day four

Next morning we arrive in Skagway and again the sky is clear, sunny and the temperature is 25C. After breakfast we disembark to meet our guide for a Chilkoot Trail hike and raft down the river. Derrick is funny and well informed and we know we will have a great time. The Chilkoot Trail was the main route to the riches of the Klondike and today is an invigorating rough terrain, hike through rainforest, alive with birds, animals, wild flowers and edible plants. The 40 minute raft ride took us past granite fjord walls, snow- capped peaks and hanging glaciers. Both the hike and the river rafting are great fun and we are very pleased that we chose this excursion.

Bald Eagle nest

Once back in Skagway, we walked the streets and enjoyed the original wooden boardwalk and historic store fronts.

Back on the ship,  tired but happy, we ate dinner and then spent the evening being entertained by comedian, Rod Long.


Day five

Cruising Tracy Arm, this was my favorite day!  The ship entered the fjord at 8 a.m. and we sailed past some of the most gorgeous scenery imaginable. Weather was cooler but the sun shone brightly.  Chucks of ice floated by and the water was a beautiful turquoise, making our view from our rail side vantage point, spectacular. Holland America has a tradition of serving Dutch Pea Soup out on the promenade deck and I must say;  it was delicious. At 11:11 a.m. we arrived at the Sawyer Glacier and we were truly impressed by both the size and the beautiful blue colour of the ice. The crowd oohed and aahed as a chunk of glacier calved and fell into the sea.

We departed Tracy Arm at 2 p.m, most impressed with all that we had seen.

The entertainment this evening was Rich Purpura, and he was very funny-A great ending to a wonderful day.


Day Six

Ketchikan, appeared in a mist of fog but before the ship docked, the sky was clear and the sun was shining. Historic downtown Ketchikan offers the Tongass Historical Museum, the Chief Johnson totem pole, Whale park and Chief Kyan totem and of course, the famous original Creek Street. After exploring for a few hours we walked to the Totem Heritage center just outside of town. On the way, we passed a stream overflowing with Salmon and we were fortunate enough to watch a Bald Eagle swoop down for a tasty snack.

Later in the day we went to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show and it was most entertaining. A real Alaskan treat and highly recommended, we thoroughly enjoyed it.


Day Seven

At sea, on our return to Vancouver under sunny skies and temps around 17 C, we spent many hours on the deck watching the scenery.  Several whales were spotted as we travelled through the Discovery Passage.  Great final entertainment show by the singers and dancers of the Amsterdam and we knew our cruise was coming to an end. As we prepared to retire, more than fifty Dall’s porpoise swam and cavorted beside the ship giving us a final farewell from Alaska.

Dock in Vancouver at 7:15 a.m. where we are met by our shuttle to the airport.


This was our second cruise with Holland America and we are looking forward to travelling with them again in the future. Food, accommodation, entertainment and service are all excellent and the ports of call are well thought out and convenient to the port.



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