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Trip Journal - 7 day Alaskan Explorer on Westerdam

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We sailed on Holland America Line’s Westerdam on 9-1-12 on the 7 day Alaskan Explorer round trip out of Seattle with ports of call in Juneau, Glacier Bay cruising, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC. We had an absolutely amazing time! Alaska is breath takingly beautiful! I’m going to struggle to find the words to describe it because it’s not a place you just visit and look at. You feel it and experience it and photos, no matter how beautiful, just can’t convey that feeling. We’re already planning a trip to go back J

 

I’d like to thank everyone on CC, especially here on the Alaska board for all the great info and help. Our trip was greatly enhanced because of these boards. We were so much better prepared, particularly for weather and for general expectations.

 

This is going to be more of a travel journal with lots of photos then just a review. WalleyeLJ has inspired me as I got several weeks of enjoyment and anticipation from his review. Although my photos and writing probably can’t compare to his lol I’ll warn you in advance, I tend to be long winded and detailed so this is going to be long lol

 

I’m going to start with the week before our cruise, because it had a bit of drama lol

 

We sailed on Saturday Sept 1st and the Monday before, our credit card company sent us a fraud alert. Somebody was on an online shopping spree, and it wasn’t us. This was the cc we had registered with HAL for onboard spending and auto gratuities. Thankfully, they were able to sort through charges and remove the ones that weren’t ours. They cancelled the cards and because we were about to cruise, they expedited new ones. We were relieved to receive them on Wednesday afternoon.

 

Wednesday morning I woke up sicker than a dog. I couldn’t even keep small amounts of water down and was getting dehydrated. All I did all day was sleep and puke. Sorry for the impression but you can understand the fear days before we sailed. At one point DH wanted to take me to the ER. I refused because I didn’t think I could handle the drive and waiting in the waiting room for hours. It was looking like we were going to have to cancel our trip. It was small comfort that we had bought trip insurance. Thankfully, it was a 24 hour bug and I woke up the next morning feeling much better, a little weak but much better. I talked to my doctor and he cleared me to travel. He didn’t think it was Noro and DH never came down with it. Maybe it was something I ate.

 

So Friday, we loaded up and headed to the airport. We live about 3 hours from San Francisco and we usually take a little hopper flight from Modesto to SFO instead of driving. Modesto is very small and there’s never a line to check in and it only takes minutes to get through security so you don’t have to be there until 30 or 40 min pre-flight. It’s USUALLY a lot less stressful. Parking is very close to the terminal and free compared to SFO’s $18/day charge where you have to ride the shuttle from parking to the terminal, then deal with long check in and security lines.

 

We arrived at the airport to find the check in desk dark and empty and a little sign saying our flight to SFO was cancelled. No explanation. The only other flight to SFO was at 3:00 pm and our flight from SFO to SEA-TAC was at 1pm. Someone told us they’d be back at 9 so we waited. They still didn’t give an explanation for the cancellation, but she tried to find an alternative. This was the Friday of Labor Day weekend. The later flight to SFO was full. And all flights from SFO, Fresno, and Stockton to SEA-TAC were full. If we didn’t make our 1pm flight at SFO, we would miss our cruise. We knew it was going to be tight, but we had to try to get to SFO in time. We jumped in the car and DH drove like a madman. When we arrived at SFO, several of the long term parking lots were completely full so we were re-directed several times taking up about 20 minutes just to find a parking spot. Then you have to take the shuttle from parking to the terminal, which is another 20 minutes. We apparently had a new bus driver because he stalled the bus AT EVERY SINGLE STOP lol We were feeling like maybe our trip was jinxed or fate didn’t want us on it. Thankfully, DH is a platinum member with United and we were able to skip the long check in lines and TSA lines. We made it to our gate with about 15 minutes to spare….although they changed planes for the flight and gave us a smaller plane, so they were running late too, thank goodness lol

 

We had booked our flights so that we flew in to Seattle the day before embarkation. I can’t imagine the stress if we had flown the same day we cruised!

 

We used Go Shuttle Express for all of our transfers. We did not have reservations. We just walked up to their kiosk and booked everything. In the future, we will probably just take a cab. Their shuttles run every 30 minutes and we had to wait about 30 minutes before it arrived. Then when they picked us up to take us back to the airport they made half a dozen stops, several times waiting for passengers who weren’t waiting at the pickup. Once again, if DH hadn’t been platinum where we could skip ahead in lines, we may not have made our flight.

 

The rest of our trip was smooth as can be. We stayed the night at the Holiday Inn on Dexter. It was clean and comfortable and we had some great views of the city skyscrapers at night.

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We woke up to a beautiful sunny day! Seattle is going through a record breaking dry spell. Lucky for us because it was a beautiful day to set sail!

 

Go Shuttle Express picked us up at 11:30 am. There were already 2 other couples in the van so we were the last pick up. Both of the other couples were going to Pier 91, but boarding the Golden Princess. The terminal at pier 91 was great, very organized and we got through check in quickly. It took us 15 to 30 minutes from the time we got off the shuttle until we were in our cabin. Although we had a suite so we got to skip the main check in line. there was no one in the suite line so we walked right up and got our sign and sail cards and took care of changing the credit cards registered.

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We had a Deluxe Verandah Suite on the back corner of the ship. If you can ever afford it, it's a fantastic room. We booked for the balcony for Alaska. The balcony is to die for. The room stewards and service were also fantastic.

 

In all honesty, if we'd had a standard balcony on the side of the ship, I am not sure we would have used it much. Although we had great weather for most of the trip with several sunny days, there was always a very cold wind on the side. Too cold to spend all day there. With the aft wrap, the back side is protected from the wind. We were able to move around on the balcony to get more sun or more shade or no wind or more wind as needed for comfort. And it was simply spectacular for scenic cruising.

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We had several hours before sail away so we went and got drinks - here's the obligatory sail away drink photo ;) ahhh vacation has begun! We looked around the ship a little, then went back to our balcony to enjoy the views. I can't imagine a more beautiful day to sail out of Seattle!

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The Golden Princess was docked right next to us and set sail right after us. There was an NCL ship (I think the Jewel, but not sure) that was docked at pier 66, just left of the ferris wheel.

 

We played leap frog with both ships throughout the cruise. Sometimes we were the lead frog, sometimes we followed them.

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After we set sail, we spent most of the afternoon on our balcony enjoying the view. Such a gorgeous day!

 

Then we had an amazing moonrise that happened at the same time as sunset. The full moon was the night before, but I don't think it would have been any better then ours! These pictures don't do the moon justice. It looked like we could reach out and touch it. My camera is not the best for night shots, but you can get an idea.

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Day 2 was a sea day as we sailed from Seattle to Juneau. It started out foggy. We could see the Golden Princess following along behind us, but she was enshrouded with fog. It quickly burned off though for another beautiful sunny day! We spent most of the day on the balcony again, just enjoying the scenery. DH took a nice little nap lol I ended up with many pics of him napping on the balcony over the course of the cruise lol

 

Unfortunately, as we moved in to open sea, I ended up a little queasy sea sick :( I had taken care to get the patch before the trip and my doctor told me to start it the night before we flew, which I did. However, by the time we boarded, the whites of my eyes had turned blood red and they were burning badly with the worst dry eyes I'd ever had. They looked like something Hollywood might do for special effects in a vampire or werewolf movie lol This is listed as a rare but possible side effect. I normally have very dry eyes since I had LASIK surgery several years ago and I have to use eye drops several times a day anyway so I guess it's not surprising that my eyes would be affected. I took the patch off just after we set sail. I didn't start dramamine until the next day because I didn't want to double dose meds. This turned out to be a mistake.

 

We spent most of the day out on the balcony in the sunshine and fresh air. As long as I stayed outside, I was fine, but as soon as I went inside, I would get queasy. Trying to get ready for formal night in the enclosed bathroom and vanity area was a joy lol and trying to walk down the long long hallways to dinner in heels was very entertaining for my husband who patrolled Alaskan waters and the Bering Sea on a coast guard cutter for several years.

 

The seas weren't bad. A little confused, but not impressive. However, it was very windy so the ship was rocking a little. They had put out the paper bags in the hallways and at the elevators for anyone who was going to get sick. When we went to step into the elevator, there was a crew member talking on her radio saying they needed a clean up on deck 2. Someone had gotten sick in the hall way.

 

We had booked dinner in the specialty restaurant, the Pinnacle, which is a steak and seafood place. DH had the crab and fliet mignon and I had shrimp and prime rib. They had wonderful service, but I was feeling so hot and queasy that I didn't really enjoy it. Although I will say their crab cakes were AMAZING! We also stopped at Tracy's Crab Shack in Juneau and I have to say, the crab cakes in HAL's Pinnacle were better!

 

We headed back to our cabin after dinner to relax. Having a balcony to quickly access fresh air and a view of the horizon was very helpful with the queasiness, especially once I was in my pjs. I don't think I would sail in an inside or oceanview cabin because of that.

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We woke up Monday to calm calm seas. I was very impressed with how smooth the sailing was once we entered the Inside Passage. My queasiness disappeared! We woke to overcast skies and a wet deck, but not really any rain to speak of. We spent the morning on the balcony again, somewhat bundled up in a couple of layers.

 

Although the skies were overcast, we truly enjoyed the sailing. The low clouds and fog gave a kind of mysterious feel which we both enjoyed :) This is an area that this board was very helpful. I knew to expect the weather changes. I also knew this has been one of the wettest coldest summers in Alaska since the 70s. We started our trip expecting that we would have heavy rain every day. We figured if we set that as the expectation, then we would never be disappointed by the weather lol a light drizzle would be a good day lol We were determined to enjoy every moment of our trip, rain or shine, and not let rain stop us. We would be flexible and roll with whatever happened. This turned out to be an excellent attitude for our day in Juneau.

 

We also came prepared with appropriate clothing for every type of weather, rain or shine, cold or hot. And we used every bit of it from shorts to long johns and rain coats!

 

Here are pics as we sailed in to Juneau. You can see a ship following behind us. I don't remember if it was the Golden Princess or the Sapphire Princess or an NCL ship. It seems to me like it was a Princess ship.

 

Part way in, we slowed down and let the pilot board. Every port has a pilot that knows the channel very well that boards the ship and navigates the ship into port and docks it. This is safer and makes more sense then for one captain to have to sail the ship into many different ports that he may not be real familiar with. It was interesting to watch him board. Our ship slowed down a little, but kept sailing at a good clip, while the pilot boat pulled up close. The side of the ship has a door that opens so the pilot jumps right in while both ship and boat are still moving. Kind of scary if you ask me lol but I suppose he's used to it.

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Edited by NoobCruise

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We had booked the Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer for the day. We pulled into port at 1:00 and we were supposed to meet the tour guide on the dock at 1:15. It's a 7 hour excursion, so we were to be some of the first off the ship. The night before, HAL had sent us a note to meet in the Queens Lounge at 12:45 so we could head down the gangway as soon as we were cleared. This was the excursion I was most excited for! I was looking forward to getting up close and personal with a glacier from a small jet boat.

 

Since the weather was quite chilly outside and we knew it would only get colder on the jet boat ride and sitting in front of the glacier, we dressed warm. I had on long johns and thick thermal pants (same material as a north face or columbia fleece jacket) and a sweater. I had a back pack that I stuck my North Face triclimate jacket and rain pants, beenie and knit gloves in. I also wore waterproof shoes.

 

We grabbed our gear and met in the Queens Lounge. There were a couple of other groups meeting there as well. The first thing the organizer said to the crowd was that the Tracy Arm excursion had been cancelled due to bad weather :( However, she said we could book something else right there.

 

BTW the flightseeing tours and Taku Lodge were cancelled as well.

 

Once again, CC had me prepared. I'd done enough research that I had a backup plan. I knew exactly what other excursions were available and what I wanted to do instead. So my disappointment lasted all of a couple of seconds and I hopped up and booked the whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier tour. I think DHs head was spinning a little, expecting me to be disappointed and he wasn't sure what we would do.

 

Within minutes we were walking down the gangway to board a bus to Auke Bay. We then boarded an Allen Marine Tours whale watching boat. We had a blast! Allen Marine does a great job! The boat had 2 levels of seats with an open deck on top. We took a seat in the very back of the upper level so we were close to the door to the lower deck.

 

I have to comment on clothing. Most people were in tshirts and jeans with a rain jacket or sweatshirt. There were even a couple of guys in shorts. DH and I were dressed much warmer (having expected to chill in front of the Twin Sawyer Glaciers) and you could say I caught a couple of sly snickers tossed our way for being dressed so warm lol I laugh because we got the last laugh. The weather wasn't too bad when we first started out at a slow pace. Almost everyone came out on the deck to start the whale watching.

 

We went out into Stephens Passage and started spotting whales almost immediately. It was VERY exciting! One of DHs goals was to see Orcas. For all his years of sailing with the Coast Guard, he had spent most of his time in the bowels of the ship in the engine room. He had seen Humpbacks, but never an Orca. Well, we saw lots of both.

 

Allen Marine did a fantastic job spotting them, pointing them out to us, and then maneuvering in where we could see them. When we first started out, there were many whale watching boats around us following the whales, but we stayed out there longer and went further out then any of the other tours. I think we probably saw more whales because of that.

 

Now here's where we get the last laugh. The clouds moved in and it got very cold. Almost everyone went back inside to warm up and if you're inside, you just can't get the views you can get out on deck. I stood in the very back corner of the boat where I could see all around me and spotted many whales that others missed because they were inside. At one point, while the rain was pelting down, it was just me, DH, and another young girl out on deck and we loved every minute of it. When we looked inside the boat, there were a lot of very grumpy and cold looking people who did not seem to be enjoying themselves. We had a fantastic time because we were dressed appropriately. My suggestion is if your day starts out warm and you don't need to bundle, toss some warmer clothes and jacket in your backpack and take them with you. You never know when you might need them. We put on every layer we had while whale watching. This can be a major factor in whether you enjoy yourself when the weather changes or not.

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Edited by NoobCruise

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After whale watching, we hopped on our bus and drove to Mendenhall Glacier. We enjoyed the glacier very much, but we didn't have enough time there. If you're going to make the trip out there, try to arrange enough time so you can really hike around. We were given 1 hour from the time we got off the bus until we had to re-board and there was no leeway. The driver said that the Visitor Center keeps a tight control on the buses going in and out and they only have a 5 minute window between when they pull in, load people, and pull back out. There are so many buses pulling in and pulling out that if any lingered, they'd backlog the whole process. If you miss your bus, you can't just climb on another because they're all full and you have to stick with your bus #. They also do not have taxis milling around so if you miss the bus, you're most likely walking back to town.

 

Anyway, the Glacier is beautiful. Knowing we had so little time, we skipped the visitor center and walked out to the sand bar that is about half way out and got pictures. I would have LOVED to walk out to Nugget Falls or even all the way to the Glacier, but there was no time.

 

I am going to comment on the fact that several women had umbrellas. It wasn't even raining, just a little mist, and they kept their umbrellas open the entire time, which is dangerous to other people on a crowded trail. I actually saw one poke a woman in the eye as she walked by. PLEASE don't use umbrellas on trails or in town where there are lots of people passing by. If you don't want to get wet, use a rain jacket with a hood. They actually work better because umbrellas don't protect you from wind blowing the rain in under your umbrella and they sure won't poke someone's eye out like an umbrella!

 

OK, back to my day. We didn't see him, but apparently a bear walked by close to the visitor center. A number of people on our bus back were quite excited about seeing him.

 

We got back to town with some time to spare, so we went back on the ship to our cabin to drop our stuff off and lighten the load, then headed into town. We're not into shopping much but did look in some windows. DH spotted a bikini (or underwear) he thought I should get lol And we had some dinner at Tracy's Crab Shack. This was a little bonus. I'd heard such rave reviews about it, but with the timing of the Tracy Arm tour we had booked, we wouldn't have been able to eat there because she closes at 8 and we wouldn't have been back til after. We didn't get any of the crab though since DH had it in the Pinnacle and we had the Crab feed booked in Ketchikan. Instead DH ordered scallops, which he LOVES and rarely gets. We also ordered crab cakes and crab bisque. It was pouring down rain by this time and Tracy's only has a small area of tables covered with a tarp and every table was taken. So we stood in the rain for a few minutes waiting for our order. Once again, being dressed appropriately mattered and it wasn't a big deal, though we were a little concerned about trying to eat standing up in the rain lol We struck up a conversation with a guy that was sailing on a Celebrity ship and ended up sharing a table with him and enjoying some conversation. The food was really good, though as I stated earlier, HALs crab cakes were better. The crab bisque was sooo good and DH loved the scallops. Their bread rolls were really yummy too.

 

So although I didn't get to do the excursion I had really been looking forward to and our day turned out completely different then expected, we had an amazing time! The whale watching rocked and Mendenhall Glacier was lovely!

 

The great advice from CC to carry layers, have rain gear, have a backup plan, and be flexible when weather rains on your parade helped make our day fabulous!

 

Next up is Glacier Bay, which was amazing and we lucked out with a mostly sunny day and had some fantastic calving! but I have to re-size pics so hopefully I'll post again tomorrow.

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Edited by NoobCruise

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Can anyone explain to me how you get the large photos embedded in a post? My attachments look very plain and unimpressive so small. They look much better larger when they cover the screen, but I don't know how to embed them. I don't want my Glacier Bay photos to be so lame, especially when we got some terrific calving sequences.

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Loving your review, can't wait to read more.

 

One question for you: How did you like your North Face triclimate jacket? Did it keep you warm? Did you have lots of layers under it? I am in the market for a new jacket for Alaska. :)

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Your link will start with a [ followed by url= and then the http address.

 

[url=http://

 

When you figure it out I'll pull my pic out!

 

Are you hosting your pics?

Edited by Rebel54

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Loving your review, can't wait to read more.

 

One question for you: How did you like your North Face triclimate jacket? Did it keep you warm? Did you have lots of layers under it? I am in the market for a new jacket for Alaska. :)

 

Loved my jacket! Throughout the trip, I almost always had on some of it.

 

I'm not sure which part of CA you're in, but we're in the Central Valley, and temps here were running between 105 and 110 the 2 weeks before we sailed, so the 50F temps were a shock. People from cooler climates might not feel as cold as we did lol

 

I guess this is a good place to review my clothing for everyone lol I'll give links for the gear I have or similar gear. Let me clarify though that we spend a great deal of time outdoors in the mountains. We're avid hikers and snow skiers (usually have season passes) around Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. My family also lives in Colorado and we frequently visit in winter. My brother lives above 9000ft elevation there. So the gear I have invested in gets used frequently. I don't think I would spend so much $ if I lived in a warm climate like Florida or Hawaii where I'd never use it again.

 

This is the North Face Tri-climate "Boundary" jacket I have:

 

http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/womens-boundary-triclimate-jacket_2.html?parent_category_rn=&cm_vc=Search

 

I also have a similar Columbia jacket that would work well too.

 

For those who are not familiar with the tri-climate jackets, they are basically 2 different jackets designed to wear together. The inner fleece jacket is warm (NOT weather proof) and can be worn alone. The outer shell jacket is thin and light weight but weatherproof, similar to a rain jacket but breathable. When you wear them together, you have a very warm weatherproof jacket that you can wear in severe weather. I have been snow skiing in 12F blizzard conditions and was comfortable with a thermal layer and a sweater underneath it. However, they are comfortable in much warmer than 12F lol If you look to purchase one, I found mine online on close-out for $140, so shop around!

 

Long johns, I recommend a dry wick fabric. NOT cotton. They're breathable but also dry quickly if you get rained on or if you're physically active and perspire. I had top and bottoms. Again, shop around. I think I found mine at Big 5 or Sportsmart for about $20

 

http://www.rei.com/product/836820/rei-luxweight-zip-t-womens

 

And my polartec fleece pants. I wore these a lot when I bundled. I don't remember where I bought them or what I paid because I bought them a few years ago and always wear them under my ski pants when it's very cold. I had them on for whale watching, hiking Mendenhall and Sitka, and for spending the entire day out on our balcony in Glacier Bay. In Glacier Bay, most people on the ship would come outside for a little while when we were near the glaciers, then go back inside to warm up. We were on our balcony the entire day from about 7am to 5:30pm. I wore these pants in the morning, then removed them as it warmed up, then put them back on in the afternoon when it got cold again.

 

http://www.rei.com/product/801606/rei-polartec-100-teton-fleece-pants-womens-regular

 

and rain pants

 

http://www.columbia.com/Women%E2%80%99s-Storm-Surge%E2%84%A2-Pant/RL8032,default,pd.html

 

Regarding the jacket: I almost always had at least some of my North Face jacket on. At least until the day we sailed to Victoria. By then we were back in the sunshine and in shorts.

 

Walking around the ship - especially walking laps on the Promenade deck- walking around Mendenhall Glacier and often on the balcony, I usually wore the fleece jacket alone.

 

The morning we entered Juneau, when we were just hanging out on our balcony before getting ready, I had on a long sleeve shirt, and both the fleece and shell on and was comfortable.

 

In Sitka, it was overcast and misty while we walked out to the Raptor Center and around the Alaskan Historical Park, but it wasn't real cold, so I had on a very light thermal shirt (drywick fabric from REI) and the outer shell since it was damp, and I was very comfortable. I'll post a couple pics of us in Sitka. In one I only have on my thermal shirt (above) and in another, I had put on my shell because it was a little misty and I was a little cool.

 

Glacier Bay day we were constantly adding or subtracting layers. I started out with the long johns, polartec fleece pants and the rain pants. It wasn't raining, but they were great as a wind breaker. For top, I had on a long sleeve shirt, the longjohn top, a sweater, and both layers of the triclimate jacket. I also had on knit gloves and a beenie with my jacket hood on over it to block wind. As the day warmed up, I peeled off layers, usually starting with inner layer, then took off the jacket and put on inner layers, then eventually I was in just jeans and a short sleeved tshirt. But as we approached Johns Hopkins Bay and were surrounded by ice flows, it got cold and windy again. The wind coming off Johns Hopkins Glacier was icy cold and we started layering again until we were back in what we wore in the early morning.

 

Ketchikan we woke up to a beautiful day and I wore jeans with a tshirt and a long sleeved shirt. In the morning I had my fleece jacket on and the shell in my backpack, but during our flightseeing, peeled the fleece jacket off too. By the time we got back to the ship we were in tshirt and jeans.

 

Sailing to Victoria, we spent the day relaxing on the balcony in shorts! I put jeans on to go in to port, but was actually a little too warm, though by the time we walked back to the ship at 10pm I had pulled my fleece jacket back on.

 

Like I said, we went prepared for every kind of weather and we wore EVERYTHING at some point in the cruise.

 

Except all my dress clothes. I took a lot of "smart casual" clothes for dinner that I never wore, but we had an unlimited laundry package. If they hadn't taken my laundry every day, I would have worn that too.

 

BTW, just packing for myself, I checked one large suitcase (which actually had some of DHs clothes too and his tripod for his camera). Then I carried my backpack on which had my ipad, camera, phone, meds, purse stuff, and fleece jacket. Even with all my bundling clothes, I probably could have gotten by with a carry on if I absolutely had to, simply by wearing my formal outfit twice and getting rid of a couple of the smart casual outfits for dinner - but again, we had unlimited laundry.

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Your link will start with a [ followed by url= and then the http address.

 

[url=http://

 

I've been adding them as attachments straight from my computer. I have some posted on FB but didn't really want to link them here. I tried uploading to my webshots, but for some reason it wasn't seeing them, even though they're in the right format. Maybe I need to pay again lol

 

I'm trying to figure out how to do the calving photos. The pics I posted here were taken with my little Canon Powershot and re-sized from 55 inches to 8 inches. They don't look too good now lol DH has a Nikon D5100 with several fancy lenses and he took some fabulous photos. He has several sequences that were taken in such quick succession that if you can click through them fast it's like watching the video in slow motion and you can actually see the huge pieces break off and fall, then you see the splash spray out and the huge waves form and roll through. We had several building size chunks fall while we were there with waves big enough to rock the whole ship. His pics are huge poster size though so I'm not sure how they will look if I re-size them.

 

He says he may post them on Flicker and I can give you the link. They look better if you can go to the site and flicker through them yourself rather then embed them one at a time. Unfortunately he has to work full time (got to make some more money so we can do it again lol) and he's working on a 2nd masters degree so it may be a few days before I post them.

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Just a slight addendum to your wonderful post: There is no taxi stand at Mendenhall Glacier (not enough parking places for them to wait) but the ranger staff is happy to help arrange for a taxi to pick up visitors. The phone numbers of all taxicab companies with MGVC permits are posted on the Kiosk, and we can provide a landline if you don't have a mobile phone handy.

 

Glad you enjoyed your trip!

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Just a slight addendum to your wonderful post: There is no taxi stand at Mendenhall Glacier (not enough parking places for them to wait) but the ranger staff is happy to help arrange for a taxi to pick up visitors. The phone numbers of all taxicab companies with MGVC permits are posted on the Kiosk, and we can provide a landline if you don't have a mobile phone handy.

 

Glad you enjoyed your trip!

 

Aw, if I'd realized that we would have stayed longer and hiked out to the falls! Guess we should have gone into the visitor center lol

 

Well, DH is already starting to plan another trip. He's looking at a National Geographic cruise though. HAL was great, but we're really more about the destination, the ports and close up experiences in the outdoors then about the cruising experience, especially fancy dining and formal nights lol I think the excursions with National Geographic would be fantastic!

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Aw, if I'd realized that we would have stayed longer and hiked out to the falls! Guess we should have gone into the visitor center lol

 

Well, DH is already starting to plan another trip. He's looking at a National Geographic cruise though. HAL was great, but we're really more about the destination, the ports and close up experiences in the outdoors then about the cruising experience, especially fancy dining and formal nights lol I think the excursions with National Geographic would be fantastic!

 

I was reading about those. They have some great tours and cruises.

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We were on the Golden the same week. I really used my rain coat a lot. We were in Glacier Bay the day after you and it was foggy and rainy the entire day. Kind of disappointing but still pretty.

 

We were on an Orca whale watching excursion the same time as you. Did you see the orca attack the sea lion? It was right off the stern of our boat. I know there were some other boats around, but don't remember if the big Allen Marine boat was around.

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Thanks for the great input on your jacket usage. We live in Sacramento County where it has been very warm as well.

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Just a slight addendum to your wonderful post: There is no taxi stand at Mendenhall Glacier (not enough parking places for them to wait) but the ranger staff is happy to help arrange for a taxi to pick up visitors. The phone numbers of all taxicab companies with MGVC permits are posted on the Kiosk, and we can provide a landline if you don't have a mobile phone handy.

 

But you close at 7PM, right? Does it work well to call a taxi prior to closing and ask to be picked up at say 7:30 or 8? Are there certain cab lines that are very reliable?

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We were on the Golden the same week. I really used my rain coat a lot. We were in Glacier Bay the day after you and it was foggy and rainy the entire day. Kind of disappointing but still pretty.

 

We were on an Orca whale watching excursion the same time as you. Did you see the orca attack the sea lion? It was right off the stern of our boat. I know there were some other boats around, but don't remember if the big Allen Marine boat was around.

 

I have quite a few pics of the Golden over the course of the week, both sailing (sometimes ahead of us and sometimes behind us) and docked if you would like them since you were on her when the pics were snapped.

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I have quite a few pics of the Golden over the course of the week, both sailing (sometimes ahead of us and sometimes behind us) and docked if you would like them since you were on her when the pics were snapped.

 

Thanks so much. I probably have some you would like too. I'll message you.

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I could have sworn I've emailed someone here before after clicking their name. Anyway, noobcruiser, if you want to email me at cbrodnik @ gmail dot com whatever you think I would like I would appreciate it. I'm leaving town and haven't gotten to editing my photos yet, but it looks like I got the back of you whale watching boat in with some whale humps. I'll send you back what I may have of your ship or whale watching boat in a few weeks (need to get photos from a friend first too).

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I could have sworn I've emailed someone here before after clicking their name. Anyway, noobcruiser, if you want to email me at cbrodnik @ gmail dot com whatever you think I would like I would appreciate it. I'm leaving town and haven't gotten to editing my photos yet, but it looks like I got the back of you whale watching boat in with some whale humps. I'll send you back what I may have of your ship or whale watching boat in a few weeks (need to get photos from a friend first too).

 

That would be great! I'll email them to you after I dig them out of my 2000 photos lol Thanks! My email is user123 from a private .org server so hopefully it won't go in to spam.

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But you close at 7PM, right? Does it work well to call a taxi prior to closing and ask to be picked up at say 7:30 or 8? Are there certain cab lines that are very reliable?

 

The visitor center closes at 7:30 p.m. daily - and yes, you can call the cab dispatchers and schedule a pickup for any later time in the evening. The recreation area grounds are open until midnight.

 

There are six or seven different taxi companies that hold permits to operate to MGVC. As a government employee, I'm afraid I can't recommend any particular company over any other.

Edited by Mendenhall Ranger

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Just a quick update for anyone following my review. DH is getting a flicker account set up and will upload pics there, particularly the glacier calving. I'll post a link here when it's ready. I will also upload the full size of the pics I have posted here. They look really lame on here but are much better full size. On here, my fog on the shore line pics look very plain, just clouds and an average shoreline. Blown up, they look mysterious with lots of light reflecting off the water.

 

My review is on hold for a day or two so I can combine reviewing Glacier Bay with posted pics.

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Can't wait to see them. Did you guys do any videos?

 

No, I was afraid I'd use up my memory card with video. I should have anyway. I had a 16G memory card and didn't even use 1/4 of it with over 2000 pics. I had plenty of room for videos.

 

DH had just bought his camera, upgraded for the trip, with several types of lenses (wide angle, telescopic etc) and was too busy swapping them out lol He also worried about video using up his memory. He was right to be concerned. He had 2 16G cards and used up both of them with about 1600 pics. Obviously, his pics are much better quality lol

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I had a really hard time figuring out how to put the pictures up. You put them in Photobucket.com and then copy the IMG number then paste it onto your post. The picture shows up big after you hit the "Submit" button to post your message.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Also, I am really enjoying your review. Thank you.

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I had a really hard time figuring out how to put the pictures up. You put them in Photobucket.com and then copy the IMG number then paste it onto your post. The picture shows up big after you hit the "Submit" button to post your message.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Also, I am really enjoying your review. Thank you.

 

Thanks! DH has started a flicker account and is getting pics uploaded there. I'm about finished writing my Glacier Bay day. I'll post as soon as he has pics ready to go.

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No, I was afraid I'd use up my memory card with video. I should have anyway. I had a 16G memory card and didn't even use 1/4 of it with over 2000 pics. I had plenty of room for videos.

 

DH had just bought his camera, upgraded for the trip, with several types of lenses (wide angle, telescopic etc) and was too busy swapping them out lol He also worried about video using up his memory. He was right to be concerned. He had 2 16G cards and used up both of them with about 1600 pics. Obviously, his pics are much better quality lol

 

I know how you feel. I shoot RAW and my files are huge. i can get about 800 on a 16G card. I have 4. I swap them out. I have the lens swap fun too. I'm thinking about bringing my second camera body so I don't have to do so much switching. Not sure about that one.

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Thanks! DH has started a flicker account and is getting pics uploaded there. I'm about finished writing my Glacier Bay day. I'll post as soon as he has pics ready to go.

 

I generally use snapfish but I can't use that account to draw the pictures from to post on here. I still had to put them in photobucket.com and then on to the post.

 

I hope Flicker works for you. Please let us know if it did.

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I know how you feel. I shoot RAW and my files are huge. i can get about 800 on a 16G card. I have 4. I swap them out. I have the lens swap fun too. I'm thinking about bringing my second camera body so I don't have to do so much switching. Not sure about that one.

 

lol that's exactly what he's been doing all evening for me, converting the raw images to .jpg. He's actively uploading them to flicker right now and my internet is slooooow.

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We had booked our flights so that we flew in to Seattle the day before embarkation. I can’t imagine the stress if we had flown the same day we cruised!

 

 

Thanks so much for your report. The stayin in Seattle overnight I think is a great idea. At first I was trying to cut costs and fly into Seattle and get to the ship in four hrs, but thought it would be better off staying one night there for emergencies.

 

I am thinking of Westerdam and appreciated hearing more about it.

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Thanks so much for your report. The stayin in Seattle overnight I think is a great idea. At first I was trying to cut costs and fly into Seattle and get to the ship in four hrs, but thought it would be better off staying one night there for emergencies.

 

I am thinking of Westerdam and appreciated hearing more about it.

 

If you're interested, I did a review of the Westerdam on the HAL board.

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1704697

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OK, we've got Flikr working. I think it will be easier to post the links to the albums for our first few days that I tried to add as attachments instead of trying to go backwards and re-do it. I have an album for each day so you can quickly flick through them. On the top right it says "Full screen", click that and it will bring a large image up, then click the "next" button to click through them.

 

9-1-12 Set sail on the Westerdam

 

011 Almost to the gangway

 

9-2-12 Sea Day from Seattle to Juneau

 

083 We woke up to a cloudy overcast day

 

9-3-12 Juneau

 

116

 

Now some of my husbands photos. The above were taken by me with a little point and shoot, a Canon Powershot SX130IS and I am truly point and shoot. I don't have the patience for a fancy camera and multiple lenses lol

 

DH's photos were taken with a Nikon D5100 with various lenses:

a tokina 11-17mm f/2.8

a Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5

a Nikon 70-200mm f/3.5

and a Tokina 100mm f/2.8

 

He bought the camera just before our trip so was just learning it and was frequently fumbling swapping lenses.

 

Seattle, taken from our room at the Holiday Inn on Dexter Ave

 

7986443115_f417081e37_b.jpg

Alaska Cruise_20120831_203657 by Rescue-Diver, on Flickr

 

Our first night at sea, this is the same moon I have shown in the album of Set Sail, but obviously later at night.

 

7986442425_784a2cc9a6_b.jpg

Alaska Cruise_20120901_211634 by Rescue-Diver, on Flickr

 

7986442313_3903aec788_b.jpg

Alaska Cruise_20120901_211932 by Rescue-Diver, on Flickr

 

His whale watching shots, both humpbacks and Orcas. We didn't get very close to any of them:

 

Alaska Cruise_20120903_150843

 

My favorite

 

7986827359_d33f237bf3_b.jpg

Alaska Cruise_20120903_154549_02 by Rescue-Diver, on Flickr

 

Some of his Mendenhall glacier pics

 

7986434013_d5b7ddc4e5_b.jpg

Alaska Cruise_20120903_182607 by Rescue-Diver, on Flickr

 

7986743539_9f0bb15e48_b.jpg

Alaska Cruise_20120903_182650 by Rescue-Diver, on Flickr

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