SEPTEMBER 22-29, 2019
I’ve recently enjoyed a premium Alaska Cruise on Holland American Line’s Oosterdam. Having sailed on the Noordam before, the Oosterdam seemed familiar and comfortable right from the start, as they are both Vista Class ships with similar designs and sophisticated décor. They are elegant, without being too stuffy, comfortable without being too casual, and attractive and interesting without being gaudy. After a brief line up to check in at the terminal, our outside stateroom was ready and waiting for us.
We also felt right at home with the mostly older travellers onboard, the multi-generational groups, and the few families. The children really enjoyed the pools, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves in the meeting rooms while Club Hal was under renovations. The indoor pools and the many hot tubs on board were perfectly enjoyable on our cool, fall sailing.
Holland America’s customer service and numerous food options were as excellent as I’ve come to expect from them. They offer everything from hamburgers and fries in the Dive-In, to a bit of everything in the Lido buffet, to fine cuisine in the dining room and specialty restaurants. This is a great ship for customers looking for quality, variety, and service.
On the first day, we took a complimentary tour of the Greenhouse Spa and Gym that included a test of a heated tile lounge in the Thermal Suite. It was such a relaxing treat that I wanted to be one of the very limited numbers of guests to purchase a pass for the week.
We enjoyed the ship’s talented singers and dancers, a comedian, and a magician in several entertaining shows on the mainstage. We enjoyed the option of being able to see an early show, which was more popular, or a later one.
The Pinnacle Grill was transformed into Rudi’s Sel de Mer one evening where we enjoyed impeccable service and a delicious lobster dinner, followed by a tree of chocolates!
Explorations Central was one of our favourite places onboard. We attended many talks about the wildlife we saw on our cruise, especially whales and seabirds. The mainstage EXC talks, The Iditarod, Pacific Giants, Breaking the Ice Ceiling, and Ancestral Memories, were very interesting and informative. They really helped to bring the local wildlife, history, and culture to life.
We spent a drizzly day exploring Juneau on foot. A visit to the world-famous Red Dog Saloon was popular for many visitors that day. The Sealaska Heritage Museum, with its Native culture exhibits, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, which highlights the area’s gold mining history, and the Alaska State Museum were all a short stroll from the ship. A birds-eye view of the city and area were just 1,800 feet up from the center of town on the Mount Roberts Tramway.
We spent hours at Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier on earth. It was fascinating to watch huge chunks of it come crashing into the sea as it calved. I had no idea that glaciers thunder just like a lightning storm!
Sailing from Seattle allowed us to visit Sitka, rich with history and culture. Russia’s past can be seen in St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House, built in 1843 during the colonial era. The Sheldon Jackson Museum is a storehouse of Native history and artefacts. The Sitka History Museum tells of both, along with more recent history and natural history. An easy stroll along the sea walk takes you to the Sitka Sound Science Center and the Sheldon Jackson hatchery. For a small fee, you can see local sea life in the touch tanks, watch the octopus being fed, and tour the hatchery. Just a bit further is Sitka National Historical Park, where you can view the totem poles and natural history.
Despite being called the rain capital of America, the sun was shining bright in Ketchikan the day we visited. We could hear the crowds cheering on the logger sports at the Great Alaskan Lumberjack show next to the pier. Numerous salmon were returning home beneath Creek Street, and the harbour seals were having a feast!
Since we arrived in Victoria at 6 pm, we were able to enjoy the sunset over the West Shore hills and watch the city lights come on from the cruise ship. While other passengers explored our home island, we took the opportunity to enjoy the ship's amenities, such as the thermal suite and hot tubs.
A slow, overnight sail to Vancouver brought us full circle, enriched and refreshed after our Holland America cruise to Alaska.