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  #1  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 04:06 PM
BeachBum1007 BeachBum1007 is offline
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Talking Alaskan Review with PICS!

I have wanted to do this review now for a year, but I am just now capable of putting it all together. Our Alaskan cruise was one of the best trips we have ever taken and is highly recommended to anyone who is considering it. I am doing this as a thank you to Cruise Critic and all of you who helped us plan it so perfectly!

Our family is the “lets squeeze every little thing we possibly can into a trip” so that we can get our money’s worth, even if it means we come home needing another (more relaxing) vacation afterwards. We also do whatever we can to save money, but still do everything we feel like we need to do for the experience. Therefore, we are DIY-ers.

This specific itinerary is not for everyone; especially if you’re not the go go go! type, but it’s us and I hope you enjoy the review. I’ll be posting by sections of the trip. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have, and I’ll be happy to help ☺

Ship Information: Holland America, Volderdam, 7-day in the middle of July. We always get inside rooms and make it a priority to find a great outdoor location on the ship for the necessary views. A balcony is a waste of money to us, but that's just us.

Me: I’m Amber, a 22 year old MBA student who loves to travel, including with my parents (and my aunt and uncle on this trip).

Us in Tracy Arm
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  #2  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 04:15 PM
BeachBum1007 BeachBum1007 is offline
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Default Day One: Travel & Vancouver

We had a very early flight from Houston to Seattle. We then rented a car to drive into Vancouver where our ship was located. This takes about 4-6 hours, depending on your stops, traffic around the border (which took forever!!), and how long it takes you to find your hotel!

We stayed for one night in Vancouver so that we could see the town and make this one of our ports.

After we checked into our hotel we drove through Stanley Park, Chinatown, and Gastown, while stopping to take a few pictures along the way.

Chinatown


View of the city from Stanley Park


Sunset from Stanley Park


Unfortunately, it was too dark to take some good images in Gastown. We were also falling asleep from the day, so we wanted to get back to the hotel.
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  #3  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 04:38 PM
DragonOfTheSeas DragonOfTheSeas is offline
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Thank you. I am enjoying it already--keep it coming.
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  #4  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 04:44 PM
BeachBum1007 BeachBum1007 is offline
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Default Day Two: Capilano

We wanted to spend another half day in Vancouver before we boarded our ship, so we got up super early (again). We were the first to arrive at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, they opened at 8:30 a.m. and I definitely recommend getting there early.

I’m one of those people who very much dislike random people in my photos, so I wanted to be there before the crowd, I’m photo OCD, I know. But this place was so amazing, well worth the money. It has a great little history and is really a once in a lifetime experience. It got pretty rainy (welcome to the Pacific North West!) so we were glad we had our rain jackets (can’t go to Alaska without one, IMO).

Capilano Bridge, 200 ft. up! Don't be scared, it's worth it.


Totem poles are part of the history


Me & my Mom


One little, two little, three little Indians!


My parents on the bridge


You only really spend 2-3 hours here, so all we had left to do was drop our rental car off at the airport. This process was NOT fun. The airport was a mess and it was quite difficult to figure out where to drop the car off, so I recommend figuring this out before you go. We then took their Metro rail (they built this for the Olympics!) back to the heart of Vancouver. We walked a few blocks through town and back to the hotel where we took the complimentary shuttle to the ship.

The rest of the day was the usual: board ship, scarf down buffet lunch, mustard (spelling?) drill, and dinner.

Great views as the ship sails away.
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  #5  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 08:20 PM
BeachBum1007 BeachBum1007 is offline
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Default Day Three: Inside Passage

This was a day at sea where the ship sailed through the Inside Passage. I don’t recall seeing too much this day, as far as scenery goes. We did, however, see a lot of the amazing library on board the ship. They have a yummy coffee bar and comfy leather recliners that look out to sea. You have to FIGHT for these seats. Relaxing day spent inside.

One of the downsides of an Alaskan cruise (that is unusual for us) is that we had to spend a lot of time INSIDE the ship rather than lying out on the deck. We did a lot of onboard activities, board games, reading, and napping. Trust me, you need these lazy sea days, because this is an intensive port itinerary. Unfortunately, I don’t have hardly any pictures of the ship. We’ve been on so many cruises, they all start looking the same, and so I apologize.

Alaskan selection on the ship
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 08:41 PM
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Enjoying your review, looking forward to reading more.
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  #7  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 08:47 PM
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Thanks for the review! Glad you enjoyed Vancouver and all its beauty also.
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  #8  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 09:29 PM
BeachBum1007 BeachBum1007 is offline
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Default Day Four: Part One- Tracy Arm

This was probably one of the best (yet extremely busy) days on this trip and in my lifetime. The ship was scheduled to sail through Tracy Arm in the morning and dock in Juneau in the afternoon.

Like I said before, we are the let’s see everything we can see type of people. So, we decided to book the excursion that allows you to get off of the ship (in the middle of the ocean) and take a smaller boat through the glaciers of Tracy Arm. This was booked through the ship (gasp!), because it was literally the only option for us.

The scenery on the way to our loading location is beautiful; so even though you may think you have a morning at sea, find a great spot (in the library!) to see the views on the way in.

Only about 50 people can book this excursion, so book it QUICK because it fills up super quick. We did this before we even left Texas. You board your boat, nice size, and it sails you through the nooks and crannies of Tracy Arm. This is absolutely AMAZING and I highly highly recommend doing this if you can afford the money (around $129 p/p I think).

Getting off of the ship


After the ship drops these passengers off, they make their way into Juneau and our boat meets them at the dock. We saw lots of wildlife: harbor seals, whales from a distance, and lots of seabirds. As far as scenery goes, up close glaciers (closer than you’ll see in Glacier Bay), icebergs, waterfalls, and beautiful mountains. I can’t say what the ship sees, but this was definitely up close and personal.

Harbor Seal








My group and other members on the boat had different opinions about the tour. After viewing Glacier Bay, they said that would have been enough without the Tracy Arm excursion, but personally they were pretty different. It’s just about preference, but I was very happy with the decision.

Sailing into Juneau


Weather report: Bundle up! The boat goes fast and it can be extremely cold. I wore a thermal under armour shirt, a fleece pull over, and a medium thick coat with a hood (used the hood, my ears froze), GLOVES, jeans, and my sturdy rain boots. We were in and out of the interior of the boat for free hot chocolate to warm us up. You’ll be amazed at the difference of the temperature on the outside of the ship than when you’re near the glaciers.
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  #9  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 09:47 PM
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Beautiful pictures!
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 10:04 PM
Pittypatbr Pittypatbr is offline
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Nice! I'm enjoying your review and looking forward to more. The pictures are great - especially love that harbor seal!
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 10:11 PM
vbmom87 vbmom87 is offline
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Great review and I will look forward to your upcoming posts.

I am shocked you said you did not see much on your first full day of sailing in the inside passage. I know the Volendam is supposed to sail to the east of Vancouver Island, so I am assuming that is what you did. We spent this entire day, except to eat, out on deck to view what we thought was magnificent scenery. Hard to believe you did not see much.
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  #12  
Old June 22nd, 2012, 10:28 PM
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Beautiful pictures - thank you for taking the time to post the review.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 10:53 PM
BeachBum1007 BeachBum1007 is offline
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I'm glad everyone is enjoying the review, it's fun recalling all of those great memories. Thank you for the picture compliments as well, I was still trying out my new camera at the time so I was a little nervous about the results!

vbmom87: I thought I remember not really seeing much until we got closer to Tracy Arm that morning, but I could be completely wrong. I saw so much from the ship that I can't remember exactly where all I saw it! But you definitely see a lot of beautiful scenery without ever leaving the boat.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 11:12 PM
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Nice pictures, you got close to Tracy Arm, good for you!!!
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  #15  
Old June 23rd, 2012, 12:03 AM
AKBound2012 AKBound2012 is offline
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Gorgeous Pix! WOW
Especially nice of you to post the Alaskan beer selection Thanks...
Will be on the Volendam in less than 7 weeks.
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  #16  
Old June 23rd, 2012, 12:10 PM
BeachBum1007 BeachBum1007 is offline
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Default Day Four: Part Two- The Town of Juneau

After the boat dropped us off in Juneau, we jumped back on the ship for a very quick lunch so that we could enjoy the town before our next excursion.

We strolled through the town near the port, small but adorable. There are TONS of souvenir type shops that we got tired of going into and seeing the same thing, so we headed over to the Red Dog Saloon to grab some frosty ones ☺ If you or someone with you is a beer fan (or even if you’re not, you should at least take a peek inside) you MUST MUST try the Alaskan Amber (this is my name so I was obligated to try it) ;D. Delicious beer and fun place to hang out for a bit.

Meeting the locals


Drinking our Ambers
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  #17  
Old June 23rd, 2012, 02:03 PM
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You're cracking me up...my husband took the same Sarah Palin picture. LOL!!
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 02:20 PM
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Lovin' your review, Texas gal. We're leaving tomorow from Houston for Vancouver on the Coral Princess. Weather is for rainy days in port, so it might not be the best photo op's.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 02:47 PM
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Enjoy reading your review. Photos are great. What a shame it would have been if you didn't get to share your experience. Keep the posts coming.
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  #20  
Old June 23rd, 2012, 02:49 PM
BeachBum1007 BeachBum1007 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Springchicken View Post
Lovin' your review, Texas gal. We're leaving tomorow from Houston for Vancouver on the Coral Princess. Weather is for rainy days in port, so it might not be the best photo op's.
Springchicken, Alaska almost always shows rainy days! We were worried about this as well. The report showed 60% every day and we only got misted/sprinkled on in Vancouver and Ketchikan! Perfect weather otherwise! Juneau was even having a "hot" day, low 80's, and they were dying of the heat. hehe

So, even if it says you're going to be rained out, come prepared and hope for the best anyways!
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