My First Cruise!
| September 11, 2012
In Travel Scoop
Even though I have traveled my entire life, I’ve never been on a cruise until last month. Finally, the chance to take that ultra romantic Alaskan Cruise became a reality. And it was everything I ever dreamed it could be.
We selected Holland-America Cruise Line and booked the MS Westerdam 7-day Inner Passage Cruise for the last week in August. Surprisingly, by adjusting our travel schedule by one week, we save about $150 per person for the same exact room. As both of us were first-time Alaskan cruisers, we just dove in and started reading the reviews and checking out the ports to determine which cruise line to book and where to go. It all began with wanted to go somewhere cool since it was tipping 100 degrees at home.
We chose our ship for the size – 2000 guest capacity which we thought was more reasonable than the 4000 to 5000 guest larger ships; the affordable “Verandah Room” – which meant we had our own private balcony; and for the port stops and excursions offered – more in separate blog posts on each of our excursions – Snorkeling in Alaska and Whales, Rainforests and Glaciers.
In a biased (because I had an amazing cruise partner) but completely truthful review – here’s what I think about Alaska Cruises – if it’s not on your bucket list – add it. If you’ve ever thought you wanted to see a glacier – do it, soon. If you thought you’ve seen beauty and never been to Alaska- you gotta’ go!
I took over 1000 photos in one week between my three cameras, each one surely more beautiful than the last. Selecting one or two photos to represent the trip is impossible as the scenery changed from moment to moment as we made our way from Seattle, WA to Juneau, Alaska; through Glacier Bay, to Sitka, Alaska; Ketchikan, Alaska and finally to Victoria, British Columbia before returning to Seattle. Because we were flying from the East Coast, we flew in a day early to enjoy beautiful Seattle and flew out a day later so we could drive to Mount Rainier.
As we have reflected on our experience several things are apparent to us:
Holland-America Cruise Lines are dedicated to providing top-notch, 5-star service and it is clear in everything they do. Or mainly Phillipino and Indonesian cruise staff went above and beyond everyday for us. The Westerdam is proud to be one of only a few cruise ships in the world that have not had a major outbreak of any illness.
Holland-America’s policy of bringing wine aboard-for consumption in our stateroom- was crucial. This is not well advertised, but as wine drinkers, we loved having this opportunity. A quick taxi ride to Trader Joes in Seattle and my carry-on was filled with our week’s supply of our favorite wines. They do have wine packages, but the selection is limited and it is still pricy.
Glacier Bay is a destination we would not had wanted to miss. There was a Park Ranger who boarded the ship at the beginning of the park and gave a thoughtful, instructional,, but never annoying account of everything we were seeing as we cruised the length of the bay. Several fellow-cruisers told us they had taken this same cruise previously and were repeating it because of Glacier Bay. It really is that amazing and beautiful.
As a matter of full disclosure, I paid for my entire trip. I don’t want anyone to think I beam about the trip because it was one of those “travel writers freebies.” (Which this writer has never been a part of to date!) Or that I am being paid to write this review! I am sharing this great experience because I want you, my readers to know about this opportunity.
Also whom (i.e. your party) you cruise with is vitally important. If you don’t really like that person, or those people, you will not have a good experience. Even thought the ship is large, it is hard to avoid anyone for any length of time, especially if you are sharing a room.
Perhaps it was the size of ship or time of year or just the destinations, but there were less than 100 children on our cruise. For someone who has already lived through vacationing with children (and does not wish to repeat that experience), this was a huge bonus.
We booked our cruise directly with the cruise line and were especially pleased with the service. Here’s to hoping you get to go, too!
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