Originally posted by Crew News
This first sea day started with bright sun and blue skies while closing under thick clouds.

Early breakfast on this sea day had no waiting lines at 7:15 AM yet almost every table was occupied with the exception of a large community table. I was joined by three women traveling with a private tour group to Denali. From them, I learned that my itinerary was not like theirs although going to the same place.

I noted that the large Belgian waffles were replaced by much smaller ones and new fruit compotes are available.

When one of the women mentioned Cruise Critic, I asked if they were members. They were not members but an hour-long conversation added them and they benefited from my Alaska experience knowledge base. They now know which side of the White Pass train to ride, the truth about Tracy's Crab Shack's king crab legs, souvenirs at Tongass Trading Co., dog sledding, Alaska Fudge Company, etc. They kept asking if was a travel agent but I assured them that most of what I know came from CC.

The kitchen tour started with a line forming at the bathrooms as each tour member stood in line to wash their hands with soap an water. With our hands freshly cleaned, we were led to the Deck 2 dining room where we all completed a Health Certificate. Unlike other tours, the groups were quite large which meant we in the back could hear nothing. There were no demonstrations of baking prowess, explanation of the plating photo guides, or promotion of the PG (everyone was offered a small crostini with a tapenade. Other ships' tours included presentations by the leader of each kitchen section. I got some good pictures but was otherwise disappointed with the presentation.

The America's Test Kitchen salmon cooking demo was very professional which upheld the high standards of the show on PBS. The handouts were excellent and included a page with photographs on how to filet salmon.

At the 1:00 PM Denali briefing, I learned that most of the ship was headed for subsequent land tours 14 of which were going to Denali. With so many variations, few specifics were given but all were assured that itineraries would be distributed on a daily basis and not in one collective package. There is another Denali luggage briefing on Friday.

When I purchased my Future Cruise Deposits form the FCD team, I asked about the new ship. The FCD folks were on the first few months of the Konigsdam and assured me that the lessons learned will make the Nieuw Statendam a better entry-level ship. OBC is doubled if you book a cruise while on board.

Tonight was Gala Night but also the night for my promo PG dinner. Being a 5:30 PM diner, I am usually one of the very few in the PG. Instead, the PG was packed as most of the free PG dinners were booked at that time tonight. Prepared Caesar salads were delivered, already dressed, to the table rather than prepared table side because they were so busy (so I was told when I asked). My king crab legs were excellent and cracked n a manner that made removal of the meat very easy. Dinner took nearly two hours even though I was a single diner.

With only a lone movie each day at 4:00 PM in the Queen's Lounge and the BB King group occupying all of the other evening hours, I am suffering movie popcorn withdrawal.

The new Navigator webpage is amazing for providing information and menus, but it is very difficult to copy the information for saving.

For the smokers, the aft Lido smoking area is nearly empty from my previous cruises observations.

Somebody told me that there were nearly 100 kids on board but I can remember seeing only 10 so far. Club HAL must be doing a great job providing fun for all of them.

Tomorrow is Ketchikan and a flightseeing crab feast for me. More tomorrow.

So you have peaked my curiosity.... what's the truth about the crab legs at Tracy's Crab Shack?

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