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Woody Wood

Age: 56


Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Zaandam

Sailing Date: 2009-06-5

Itinerary: Alaska inside passage

We enjoyed a two week Mexican 'Riviera' cruise on Celebrity's Mercury three years ago. It sailed from and to San Diego and we met many passengers from there. As we reviewed vacation ideas for this year, we looked into cruises out of our local area, Seattle and decided to cruise to SE Alaska on HAL. We were very pleased by the entire experience. It was a fantastic value and the HAL crew and staff were very sincere, friendly and helpful. We had such a great time that we are already looking at cruises for next year - maybe a Mediterranian sailing. HAL will be at the top of our list. We liked the size of the Zaandam, not too big or too small - just right!

There were lots of food choices and we sometimes hit the casual buffet for breakfast or lunch and other times enjoyed a sit down breakfast with full service. The on deck barbecues were fun, too. We always went to dinner at the Rotterdam, except two nights at the Pinnacle, which was well worth the token $20 fee for gourmet dining. The food was all good, but the service was outstanding, wherever we dined. The formal dinners were special, as you might expect. I had no complaints.

We benefited from an upgrade from a low porthole to a high verandah and we loved it. Again, the service was great. We tipped our steward from Bali extra for his friendly attention and hard work. Most deluxe hotels and restaurants could learn from HAL's staff & crew. They had 'heart' and really cared about the passengers' comfort.

We saw a couple movies in the theater, played Bingo for the first time, won a trivia contest, enjoyed the shows, especially magician-comedian Jeff Peterson and the Zandaam's onboard song & dance troupe. There was always too much to do and the scenery deserved time too.

In Juneau, we avoided the tourist trap waterfront and walked to the state museum where they display priceless native carvings, parkas, boats, tools and historical artifacts (and keep another 35,000 items hidden away for researchers). We like to go our own way, so in Sitka, we rented bikes from Yellow Jacket (at $25/day) and got a good work out while we enjoyed the town and scenery. Ketchikan was interesting, but sunny (I thought it was guaranteed to rain there) and we took the Duck amphibious tour. It was OK, but Seattle's Duck tours are more fun. The best shopping was in Ketchikan. The stop in Victoria was only a short evening in port, so we stayed on board and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

We sailed up to blue glaciers and saw seals on the ice bergs, whales almost every day, and beautiful snow capped mountains. We walked the deck at three in the morning and used the excersize room, but still ate too much. Most of the people we met on the cruise were friendly and the service of thr staff and crew was outstanding. It's funny how some old folks from FL & AZ think 65 degrees is 'freezing'. The weather was beautiful. The ship was always so clean. I appreciate HAL and plan to sail with them again!

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