We toured the upper decks on our own but could not enter the spa until 2pm. Since it was nearing 1:30 we went to the stateroom – a beautiful suite with a welcome bottle of champagne compliments of Captain Mercer and the hotel Manager, Mr. Pells. There was a small fruit basket, an Alaska-themed coffee/hot chocolate/tea gift from Beci, an invitation to Suite reception in the Neptune lounge, and, on the desk, another gift from Beci (photo credit).
The suite is beautiful. There is a large verandah with two rattan chaises longues and a table with 4 rattan chairs. The suite is bordered by a see-through railing. Apparently the stateroom we were normally assigned (4155) had a solid railing. I need to remember to ask about then in future verandah bookings because it’s so much pleasant when you can see the ocean while sitting down. Inside there was a large sitting area with long sofa and coffee table, a wonderful desk, plush beds with deluxe linens and duvet. The coffee table had a lovely little flower arrangement on it. The bathroom had a vestibule\makeup table, and a separate shower & bath. There were several closets and lots of drawer space.
At 2pm we toured the spa, beautiful facilities, of course, but expensive treatments – much more than on the Disney Magic two years ago. I volunteered for the float bed, presented by Simon, with seaweed wrap, float & massage. There is a spacious forward-looking gym with Cybex workout equipment, bikes, treadmill, elliptical trainers, stair climbers, free weights and so forth. I usually work out at 3:30 or 4 every day, a time at which, an attendant informed me, the spa is fortunately uncrowded. We’ll be able to work out 4 or 5 days on the cruise, I think.
Darmawqn is our steward (You can call me Darma). Since we don’t drink, we offered him the champagne. Unfortunately, kidney stones prevent him from indulging.
We went to the crow’s nest at 3 to meet for a tour of the ship. A young man from Portaland, OR was giving the tour – his first. He wasn’t very good – didn’t speak loud enough and gave no interesting information. “This is the pool”, “This is the buffet”, “These are the elevators”, etc. We went by the adults only pool and there were several kids were in it. There was a sign or two informing users that this was not allowed but I understand Disney is the only one doing a good job of enforcing these rules. We dropped out of the tour halfway through after talking with a German man and his wife from San Diego – San Diego has gone downhill apparently. It’s very hot here today (upper 90’s) and I think they brought the heat with them. We went back down to the room, then to the concierge lounge to get the list of suite amenities, back to the room, where I read. Darma came by and introduced himself. I asked him to separate the beds, ensure there were more grapes in the daily fruit bowl and that there should be ice morning and evening. It wasn’t necessary for him to bring any from 1:30 to 5, when he’s off, even though he asked if he should , and the grapes could start tomorrow, today wasn’t necessary. Very nice and pleasant, in addition to the automatic tip, I slipped him 4 or 5 dollars to start and gave him a 5 to 10 dollars every time I saw him. This in addition to the automatic tip. We called room service to see if they had any grapes, but they were unable to oblige.
The luggage was all delivered by 3:45.
We prepared for the life boat drill at 4:15. By now the sun was shining onto the promenade at station B10 and it felt more like a drill in Florida than in Seattle (did I mention that is was record heat today?), sail away party at 4:30, sailaway at 5pm. We went to the top deck on the starboard side for the sail away. The Diamond Princess, our companion vessel for much of the cruise, had already slipped away. Nevertheless, by next morning we had passed her. The same thing happened on the race from Ketchikan to Victoria. Captain Mercer informed us that he liked to beat her to port, even when she left before us, so that we could get our 1900 passengers of the ship before Diamond’s 3200 created a lot of long lines. The breeze was nice as we started northward until we passed Seattle and got in the middle of Puget Sound where the temperature seemed to suddenly drop by 20 degrees. We stayed out just a little more, visiting with other passengers and then decided it was time to go inside.
I forgot my walking shoes and Alaska guidebook. We went to the shops – very nice, with a large selection of high quality items of all kinds, including all kinds of clothing for those who forgot stuff for formal night. No shoes for men, though, but I did buy a guidebook to replace the one I left at home. I went back to cabin to shower and shave. We then went to the Captain’s reception at the Neptune lounge, had some tasty appetizers and met the hotel manager and Captain Mercer
Went to dinner through the photo studio – found our boarding picture already , and entered the lovely dining room where we soon met our tablemates - two couples from New York, one of them very opinionated about France. He started talking politics right away, a dangerous thing to do if you don’t know who you’re with and started ragging on France and the French, how he would never visit there or buy any French products, etc. My wife informed him that she was French (from Marseille) and his wife started telling him to shut up, kicking him in the legs, etc. Still, the rest of the meal went pleasantly. Every night there were so-called lo-carb options on the menu – I Ate Cilantro cured salmon with avocado and Pico de gallo salsa, baby spinach with white mushrooms, oven-roasted tomato, crisp bacon bits & blue cheese crumbles, Chicken Cordon bleu with arugula, red radish and broccoli salad. All very tasty and reasonable portions. However, I don’t know what HAL’s definition of lo-carb was because on several evenings there were decidedly non-lo-carb stuff in those options, including rice, carrots, beets, etc.
We went back to the cabin to relax before going to the Welcome Aboard show. Neither of the boys decided to go to the Club HAL introduction. We went to the Vista Lounge where Jason, the assistant cruise director, introduced the staff. The Oosterdam dancers put on a lively and well performed show on a very sophisticated stage. Sam Powers, an illusionist/magician, performed a few effective tricks but had a hard time getting the audience aroused. I met him in the gym on the last day or two of the cruise where I told him the crowd didn’t seem to appreciate his efforts. He said “You were at the late show, weren’t you. It’s always that way after second seating.” We were sleepy by this time and went to bed after.
- Bryan Walton
Disney Magic - Oct 2000 Eastern Caribbean (rt Port Canaveral 7N)
Disney Magic - Jun 2002 Western Caribbean (rt Port Canaveral 7N)
HAL Oosterdam - Jul 2004 Alaska (rt Seattle 7N)
Celebrity Mercury - Feb 2005 Mexican Riviera (rt San Diego 10N)
Celebrity Millennium - Apr 2009 Hawaii (Honolulu-Vancouver 12N)
Diamond Princess - Apr 2010 Asia (Bangkok-Beijing 16N)
Celebrity Solstice - Sep 2013 Hawaii (Ensenada-Honolulu 11N)