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Vicki Woolman

Age: 46

Occupation:Insurance Underwriter

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Amsterdam

Sailing Date: 2009-07-11

Itinerary: I Can Do It at Sea

The service, food and accomodations were excellent! I felt like we were eating at a 5 star restaurant every day. It was beautiful and delicious. I was happy that the portions were small (like most fine dining), so I never felt stuffed and enjoyed savoring every bite. They even made a simple chicken breast juicy and delicious.

The stateroom was surprisingly roomy enough for four people. We stayed in the 197 square foot room. My two sons and husband are all over 6' tall and no one complained once. The window was a must! The best part about the room was the exceptional service provided. The staff greated us with genuine, happy smiles every day and night. They attended to our room quickly and beautifully. I wonder if they ever get a break...I hope so. It was the same two guys every day and night.

We were on a chartered lecture cruise and were blessed with workshops with Wayne Dyer, Carolyn Myss, Sonya Choquette, Gregg Braden, Iyanla Vanzant, John Holland, Brian Weiss, Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson. However, my teenage sons were bored some of the time (and did not attend the workshops). They said that the video game room only had "demos" and didn't spend much time there. My husband and I enjoyed playing cards at one of the lounges and looked out the window at all of the beauty. We went to the Crow's Nest one night when they had a band playing. We were disappointed by the crowd. It was mostly older and somewhat eccentric folks there. But, we had some fun, as did they (it seemed).

In Juneau, you must take the Mt. Robert's Tram! The views were spectacular and there were fantastic trails, if you like to hike. My son had to have a meal in Alaska, so we ate at the restaurant at the top. The food was good, but the ship is better. I would suggest eating as many meals onboard as you can.

In Sitka, a wonderful jewelry artist at a shop there, told us to go to the Totem Park and walk the trails. It was gorgeous. We picked wild berries (the park attendant told us we could) and ate them. They looked like yellow and orange raspberrys, but we were told they are called salmon berries. The trails had totem poles and a beautiful rain forest feel.

I didn't care for Ketchikan, but my boys thoroughly enjoyed the salmon fishing excursion. They said it was the highlight of the trip (I should have joined them). I walked around town and looked in the shops. It was just a herd of people looking at the same touristy souvenirs at every shop. There was nothing unique. It was the same thing in every store and it mostly looked like mass manufactured junk to me.

Victoria is beautiful and I would suggest walking to town (a bit over 1 mile) instead of taking a taxi. It was nice to see the houses, inns and community as we walked. It was also nice to stretch our legs and get some exercise.

Overall, this was on of my most favorite vacations. The boys bonded more than they fought. I think the fact that all of the technology was not operational at sea really helped. I would suggest not paying for the internet for the week and just relax. You can check your Blackberry and phones when the ship docks at the ports. The scenery was spectacular and you can watch whales in certain areas. For me, a 5 day cruise would have been ideal. I was getting tired of living on a boat by the 5th day.

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