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lovely_serenity

"Live from" ms Volendam to Alaska! My First HAL Experience

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Hi guys! Sarah here!

 

This'll be my first "Live from" except with one minor change. This will be a Not-So-Live-from since it will include the same amount of detail as a "Live from", but I've already arrived back on land. (I didn't purchase an Internet package onboard)

 

So let's get started!

 

My cruise started on May 1, 2013 and would go on until May 8, 2013. We would board the ship in Vancouver (where I'm actually from) and sail up to Alaska.

 

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The night before, I spent hours packing, repacking and making sure that I hadn't forgotten anything. You know, the usual.

 

This was to be my third cruise to Alaska. The first was on the Celebrity Mercury and the second was on the Disney Wonder. This trip actually wasn't our first choice. The first choice was to actually do a Mexican Riviera cruise on a Carnival ship, but wound up doing this instead after realizing how much hassle it would ensue. Had we gone with Plan A, it would have resulted in a schedule that looked something like this:

 

1. Wake up at 4am

2. Drive 3 hours to Seattle

3. Take a flight from there to L.A.

4. Arrive in L.A. and take a 30 min. shuttle to Long Island

5. Do the 7 day cruise

6. Finish the cruise and repeat the process backwards.

 

OR

 

1. Wake up whenever (maybe 9am ish?)

2. Drive our car and park at YVR (Dad works at Air Canada so he has a pass to a parking lot, it'll allow us to park there for free for as long as we want)

3. Catch the Skytrain and take it all the way to Station Waterfront, which is a ~12 minute walk to Canada Place (and that's carrying luggage) where we will meet our ship: ms Volendam!

 

When taking our laziness into account, we decided on the latter.

 

Introduction:

 

Traveling on this cruise would be me (16 at the time) (oh by the way, did I mention I'm still a minor? :p ) , Bro (20), Sis (14), Dad (51) and Mom (49). As I have mentioned earlier, my Dad works at Air Canada, which means we travel a lot. With 2 working parents, us kids were spoiled with trips at a very young age. My first cruise was in 1997. Yeah. I was literally 1. I've travelled my share of the world and could go on forever if I were to try and list them all. I mostly travel to Asia, around Canada, to the USA (mostly west coast) and on occasion, Europe. So as you can see, we're no rookies to traveling.

 

About Me:

 

The Volendam was to be my 7th cruise. So I've had my fair share of experience. Oh yeah, and another thing, I'm a foodie. When I cruise, food is a big deal to me. For me, quality counts, but I'm also a little bit weird in the way I judge. For some reason, at times, I could be completely satisfied with cold pizza, but complain about the fashion in which my filet mignon was cooked. :rolleyes: I don't know, maybe it's just me being weird like that.

 

About the ship:

 

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A week before our cruise started, we received an email dictating that our embarkation would be delayed for 2 hours due to cases of gastrointestinal disease on board. This was a little worrisome since the ship would be coming directly from Japan & Shanghai where the animal flu is going around :eek:. We received this email ahead of time:

 

"Please be advised that we have recently been experiencing a heightened level of gastrointestinal (GI) illness on the ms Volendam. Therefore, the ship will follow a special cleaning and sanitizing protocol developed in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prior to our May 1, 2013 departure from Vancouver.

To enable us to complete a thorough cleaning in Vancouver, embarkation will not begin until approximately 2:00pm on May 1. We encourage our guests to delat their arrival at the pier until this time, as there is limited seating at this facility."

 

Okay, now that that's done, let us embark on our journey to the Great White North!

 

 

~By the way, please give a shout out if you're following :)

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Hi Sarah; I'm following. We did this cruise a number of years ago on the Volendam and had a great time. I really liked that Dam" ship as it isn't too big. I hope you enjoyed your cruise and it wasn't to cold.

Helen

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MS Volendam was our first "Dam" cruise on the Inside Passage. Hope you enjoy yours as much as we did.

 

Thanks for sharing your cruise experience.

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Hi Sarah.

 

Just exactly what I was hoping for. We sail the Volendam to Alaska in June. So, keep it coming. Will probably have lots of questions (unless you are very detailed!).

 

Ellen

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Hi Sarah.

 

Just exactly what I was hoping for. We sail the Volendam to Alaska in June. So, keep it coming. Will probably have lots of questions (unless you are very detailed!).

 

Ellen

Note:

 

If I saw it, ate it or touched it, I took a picture of it (:

 

My camera: Canon EOS 60D

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OK, I need my Alaska fix and I am not sailing there this year so please keep the "live from" coming. Looking forward to your take on a DAM ship.

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**If I saw it, ate it or touched it, I have a photo of it!

My camera: Canon EOS 60D

 

Upon arrival into the Canada Place cruise terminal (at around 12pm), I was told that one of my carry-on bags were too big, so it had to be checked in. I quickly pulled my camera bag out of the suitcase and had Dad make the run.

 

After breezing through security and customs, we lined up to speak to the HAL representatives. While standing in line (about 3 families away from the front), we were given a slip (per cabin) that we had to fill out before we arrived at the front. It was just to make sure that everyone getting on board was healthy. I quickly filled it out and handed it tot my father.

 

After we all finished taking out pictures and receiving our keycards & daily activities sheet, we were directed to an area that held rows upon rows of fold-up chairs. I saw that the other half of the room was already filled with a couple hundred people who were waiting to board. The nice lady handed out chocolate granola bars to every passenger to ensure the nobody starved to death.

 

We settled down with all the luggage and waited. This was when I looked around to gauge what type of cruisers were going to be on board with me for the next week. People seriously aren't kidding when they say that HAL only caters to the older generation! The majority of the passengers were retired, travelled as a couple, or were middle aged adults vacationing with their parents. I actually did see a chinese family who had 3 little kids with them. There was also a couple with a baby. But aside from us, that was as far as the child population went.

 

Anyways, we saw everyone start moving so we knew that they had started loading people on board. Eager and excited, we all patiently followed the crew's directions.

 

We scanned our cards and started heading toward the ship. We noticed the photographers taking embarkation photos, but decided not to since we never buy them anyways :p.

 

Everyone was directed to the Lido to eat lunch while the crew finished cleaning and disinfecting the staterooms.

 

This was my first photo taken on board. I was waiting for my siblings to bring me food :D.

 

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After lunch, my parents went to go take a Spa tour, so my sister and I went on our own! (: They were waiting for the Spa to finish the raffle draw (and it was stuffy :/ ) so we left out of the other exit. It turns out that it lead even deeper into the spa before you could get out!

 

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It all looks so serene! Even though we were alone, I felt like it'd be a crime to be noisy there! As we ventured deeper into the spa, I started to feel uneasy that there might not be an exit at the end of the tunnel o_o

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Hi Sarah.

 

Just exactly what I was hoping for. We sail the Volendam to Alaska in June. So, keep it coming. Will probably have lots of questions (unless you are very detailed!).

 

Ellen

I also hope that you enjoy my report! :)

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Hi Sarah, I am definitely following - and enjoying:) The Volendam is my favourite ship, and we did our first ever Alaska cruise on her, quite a few cruises ago! I was actually at Canada Place the day your boarded, watching all the activity and listening to the announcements onboard - and wishing I was sailing with you. I love your style of reporting, by the way.

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Hi Sarah, I am definitely following - and enjoying:) The Volendam is my favourite ship, and we did our first ever Alaska cruise on her, quite a few cruises ago! I was actually at Canada Place the day your boarded, watching all the activity and listening to the announcements onboard - and wishing I was sailing with you. I love your style of reporting, by the way.

Oh really! I never would have known haha (:

 

and thank you! I appreciate it!

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After we found our way out of the Spa (Their products are "Elemis" brand), Sis and I went up to Deck 9 outside to watch us pass under the Lion's Gate Bridge.

 

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Actually, while we were passing under it, my camera decided to be a total jerk to me! When I tried to take a video of us passing under the bridge, the light adjustment settings decided to be in manual mode, thus, not changing itself to adjust to the sunlight which meant, my entire screen became white. Gave me a heart attack! This is the first time out of 2 times that my camera gives me problems...

 

Vancouver city skyline

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This is also one of my favorite parts! When leaving Vancouver, the weather is almost always beautiful. It's one of my favorite scenery photo spots!

 

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After taking about 100 pictures (lol), we went back inside to Deck 8 to the Lido Buffet for a snack.

 

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I was trying to take a picture out of the window when I saw this:

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There were actually a lot of fresh flowers displayed all around the ship throughout the whole trip! It was nice, set a mellow atmosphere.

 

We then continued to eat some snacks from the Welcome Aboard Alaskan Buffet. Basically grills next to the Lido pool cooking Salmon and Steaks. Sorry about the shot, it was too close ...

 

8721271433_3b238ec0d2_b.jpg

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Note: For the first 48 hours, drinks, desserts, starters (ex. bread, sushi, salad) and fruit had to be served by the crew. This was to make sure that everyone on board didn't get sick.

 

As we were starting to feel thirsty, Mom went to the drink station to get us some "Iced Tea". Let me just say, it was literally iced...tea. As in, tea, with ice dumped into it. On board, there really weren't a lot of good cold drinks that were complimentary. All the juices were only available during breakfast and they all tasted diluted. :( Even during the Captain's Toast, the free Coke given to us minors, tasted diluted. It was either because they were cutting costs, or because every single cola got watered down due to the ice. (but that doesn't explain the juice being diluted & not sweet enough ...)

 

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After we were nice and full of food, Mom & Dad went to watch Silver Linings Playbook in the Wajang Theatre (an Indonesian word pronounced wa-yang). Bro, Sis & I went up to Deck 9, Sports Deck to play some basketball (them)

 

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and take some pictures (me).

 

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After they played for about an hour, we moved on to shuffle board. They tried to play for a little bit, but then wound up pretending to sword fight with the sticks ^^'

 

Anyways, the scenery was nice so I took some pics.

 

This was off the starboard side:

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and this was off port side:

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While being out there a while, Bro & Sis were keeping themselves warm by running around. I on the other hand, was starting to get a runny nose. I put on Bro's hoodie and took a few more before we all went back inside.

 

We hung out poolside in the Lido (they have a clever motor powered glass covering so you can still swim when in Alaska) where they played giant chess

 

8722473414_f124d64e47_b.jpg

 

and ping pong.

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Note:

 

Tracy Arm Fjord was not really a part of the itinerary. Apparently, even though it says it's part of it, they only go there if some passengers that have excursions booked there. Our cruise did not, so we didn't even go there. :( Apparently, it was quickly and quietly cut from the itinerary.

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Thank you for posting your cruise reports.

 

Our first HAL cruise was on the Volendam, ("Inside Passage"), so reading your reports brings back many memories.

 

Looking forward to the next instalment.

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Thank you for posting your cruise reports.

 

Our first HAL cruise was on the Volendam, ("Inside Passage"), so reading your reports brings back many memories.

 

Looking forward to the next instalment.

I'm glad I have the pleasure of doing that for you! :)

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I look forward to reading more, we cruise Volendam on May 29...so excited.

 

 

Lynn

You'll love it! I go into a LOT of detail haha :D so hopefully, I'll be able to provide you with a lot of info!

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Hi Sarah; I'm following. We did this cruise a number of years ago on the Volendam and had a great time. I really liked that Dam" ship as it isn't too big. I hope you enjoyed your cruise and it wasn't to cold.

Helen

i did enjoy my trip! packed on quite a few pounds though (: Haha. And no, it wasn't too cold. Just glacier day, wow, was it cold!

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MS Volendam was our first "Dam" cruise on the Inside Passage. Hope you enjoy yours as much as we did.

 

Thanks for sharing your cruise experience.

We did! & No problem! what a coincidence that we shared our first DAM experiences on the same ship! (:

Thanks for following!

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OK, I need my Alaska fix and I am not sailing there this year so please keep the "live from" coming. Looking forward to your take on a DAM ship.

I'm glad I can be of service to your Alaskan craving (: I'll be sure to keep posting! Thanks for following!

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While Bro & Sis played games, I moved ~10 feet away from them to the Welcome Aboard Alaskan Buffet. Even though we already ate it, I wanted to get some shots of it.

 

Some things to note food wise: the pasta station; it was really salty that day :/, kind of off putting. They don't stir fry like you hope unless you specifically ask for it.

 

Another thing: the bread pudding. I heard SO much about this wonderful bread pudding that HAL serves, so I just had to try it. My verdict: pretty good. This was actually

my first time trying bread pudding, so I don't really have anything else to compare it to. Speaking from a newbies point of view, not bad. But not as good as other people built it up to be.

 

BTW, because the ship had to be disinfected & EVERYONE was sent to the lido, the lines for food were RIDICULOUS. It looked like a snake whipping around the room a couple of times.

We were lucky enough to find a table for our family of 5! Our trick was to send a couple of us (kids) to the buffet while the parents settle at the table. As one person orders food from

the staff at the buffet and accumulate many small plates of random things, the other kid relays them back to the table. :) At that point, my parents were thinking that it was a pretty

good idea to have so many kids.

 

Oh yeah! Back on track, Haha :D Here is what the lido poolside looked like during the barbecue:

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The food was served in this sort of fashion aside from grill. (The lines here were crazy too!) And notice the belts that separate cruisers from food for sanitary purposes for the first 48 hrs?

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Here's the grill, as well as a shot of the main chef in the Lido. He proved to be one of the most friendliest staff on board. Since we were easy to recognize (asian kid (LOL) in a mainly

Caucasian cruise w/ a huge camera), he greeted us often with "Hello Darling! :D" and with my Bro "Hello my friend!" , he was one of our favorite crew members!

 

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I was actually disappointed with the lack of friendliness from the staff from around the rest of the ship, but more on that later.

Edited by lovely_serenity

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