Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: July 27th, 2002
We did the fly/cruise plan that Holland America had to offer with a guaranteed outside room with no obstruction to the view. I don’t think it cost that much more to have them take care of your flight and the assistance we received when we arrived in Vancouver was well worth it! We did not lay eyes on our bags until we boarded the ship. They completely guided us through everything.
The weather was cloudy when we arrived but after leaving Vancouver the skies cleared and the temps were between 58 and 68 degrees. Our first stop was Juneau where we took two excursions. Gold panning and the evening whale watch. The gold panning was just okay and only lasted 1 ½ hour. The Evening Whale Watch well that was a sight that we will always remember. A pod of 9 whales were bubbling? I think that is what they called it and as they all came out of the water in a circle at one time we were so close we could see the inside of there mouths. This is an excursion to spend your bucks. They also served a wonderful meal. It lasted for 3 ½ hours.
Skagway was the second stop. We took the rail to White Pass Summit. We did the trip up and back on the rail. If you do this excursion, my advise is to sit toward the middle cars as we were in the second car back and got a lot of fumes from the train engines. It was also a little too long of a trip and we were ready to be done when we reached the top and we came down the same way so there was nothing new to see.
Ketchikan was raining when we arrived but the sun was shinning while it was raining. The next excursion we did was Neets Bear Watch. We took a float plane to watch the bears feeding on salmon. I never thought I would be brave enough to fly in a small float plane but am very glad I did. It was great and we took two different routes to and back with great views including beautiful lakes and goats on the very tops of the mountains. When we got to the bear viewing we were not disappointed. There were at least 8 bears feeding at once and only 20 to 30 yards from us (sometimes closer). This is another one with a thumbs up.
One note on the excursions, lock them in ahead of time on the Holland American home page as if you wait till you get the ship to book, you can probably forget it as the whale watch and bear watch takes only limited number of people. Also our excursion tickets were waiting in our stateroom when we arrived.
The ship was beautiful, clean and we could find absolutely nothing to complain about. The crew was wonderful, food was wonderful, staterooms were setup very well and the bathrooms were a pleasant surprise with lots of room. Our room was the Lower Promenade #3394 with access out to the deck right around the corner Alaska truly is a wonder. We never dreamed of such beauty. Holland America is the way to go. First Class Ship for sure. Middle age to older. This is not a party/hardy ship. You can still have a wonderful time. It’s just not for kids, teens or 20 something ages.