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RedHeadTexan

D3T Alaskan Cruise Tour on the Statendam 8/28-9/8/2013

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I guess I will start this off with a brief introduction of us. I am Lisa, aka RedHeadTexan, and traveling on this adventure with me was my DH, Walt. We are DINK's in our 40's and 50's. We booked the D3T cruise tour back in February. Walt has always wanted to go to Alaska, so we decided this is the year. As the months have flown by and I did a ton of research, I also became extremely excited about this trip.

 

This is our 2nd HAL cruise and our 8th cruise overall. You can see in my signature that we have sailed NCL, Royal, and HAL. I am not loyal to a cruise line, and book for the itineraries. We are not concerned about the smallness of the Statendam since we have sailed on the old Norwegian Majesty.

 

Explanation of my screen name: Ok, I had red hair up until August 23rd and then I went blonde (as you will see in the pictures). When I joined CC we lived in Texas, but now I guess I am BlondeTennessean. LOL.

 

This review will be written on my iPad each day of the trip. I did this on our last cruise and it worked out soooo much better. I was able to write in greater detail by doing it this way. Feel free to ask questions as we go, and I am happy to answer them. I am reserving my overall impression/opinion to the very end. Enjoy!

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The day began at 4am Eastern. We had uneventful flights to Anchorage and arrived a 1:30pm Alaska time. We were staying at the Westmark on 5th since that is the hotel for the cruise tour. The room was adequate and I would compare it to staying at a Hampton Inn level hotel. Nice furniture, bed, balcony, and there was a coffee maker and hair dryer. Nothing fancy, but it didn’t suck either.

 

 

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By 2:30pm we decided to go explore the downtown area. I had written up a walking tour for us, so we just picked a couple of things to do from that list. We walked to the visitor's center and caught the free trolley to the ULU Factory. I bought two ulu knives and bowl sets, and a cute pocket knife with Walt’s name on it. Since we all know how HAL's security confiscates all knives for the duration of your cruise, I paid the flat rate fee of $12.50 to ship all of the knives to our house.

 

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After the ULU Factory we went back to the visitor's center area and grabbed a snack of reindeer dogs with onions. I was pleasantly surprised that they did not taste gamey. After that it was onto the Federal Building to check out the National Park Service's museum and information center. We did have to show ID and go through a metal detector to enter the building, but it was worth it. The exhibit was great and the documentaries in their theater are incredible. I highly recommend the earthquake film which was 25 minutes long.

 

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For dinner we went to Crush, a lovely wine bar and restaurant at D and 6th (across from Nordstrom's). Since Walt is not into wine like I am, he opted for Alaskan microbrews. If you are looking for an intimate dinner that the locals go to, then I would suggest Crush. Oh, and did I mention that they have a wine store upstairs??? Easy peasy to get your wine for the ship.

 

After dinner we decided to call it a night. DH was sound asleep by 8pm (or midnight Eastern). I,on the other hand, was determined to make it until 10pm...goodness that's 22 hours of being awake! Yikes!

Edited by RedHeadTexan

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This morning I woke up at 4am...ugh. My body decided it was 8am and there was no getting back to sleep. So I sat in the dark reading my Kindle Fire until 6am. At that point I decided it was time for Walt to get up too. After we got ready we walked to 4th and L to the Snow City Cafe for breakfast. I was warned ahead of time that there would probably be a wait since it's a local favorite. We waited 15 minutes, but this ok since you can pour a cup of coffee while you wait. The food was really good and the service is great considering how busy they are in the mornings.

 

After breakfast we walked to the Log Cabin Visitor Center for some pictures, and then it was off to the Alaska Mint. Walt found a commemorative airplane coin and since he is a private pilot, he had to buy it. I found a gorgeous birch handle ulu knife, so I bought another one and shipped it home.

 

 

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Next we went to the 4th Avenue Marketplace Plaques to read the history of Anchorage. After that we checked out the stairs at the marketplace that show where 3rd dropped 11 feet in the 1964 earthquake. Across the street is the Sled Dog Memorial, so we checked that out as well.

 

At 11am we went on the complimentary National Park Walking Tour. The tour is 45 minutes long and starts outside the Federal Building on 4th. Tours run Memorial Day through Labor Day, so we caught on of the last tours of the season. I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity. The tour ended at the Captain Cook Statue, so we walked 2 blocks to the Sandwich Deck (another local diner) and grabbed lunch.

 

 

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We wandered back to the Westmark to get our HAL cruisetour packets. The tour office is on the 1st floor in the back of the hotel. Since we did not book guided tour that was all we needed to do. We also made a side trip (walked) to the grocery at 13th and I to pick up some snacks for the tour.

 

Since it was getting rainier we decided to go to the Anchorage Museum. For $8 per person I think it was a good deal. We turned in little kids in the Discovery section. The experiments were a blast...especially with the giant bubbles. The 2nd level has a fantastic Alaskan history wing.

 

 

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I was really in the mood for a cheap and quick dinner. Uncle Joe's Pizzeria was perfect! 3 slices of pizza and 2 Alaska Ambers for under $20 was a great deal in Anchorage. After dinner we went back to our hotel room, scheduled a wakeup call and went to bed.

 

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5am our phone rings...DH answers it...it rings again...ugh. Our wakeup call was scheduled for 6am, but for some reason it was made an hour early. Since we now had an extra hour, we wandered down the street to Starbucks for coffee.

 

At 7:20 our group number was called and we boarded the bus to go to the train station. For the next 8 hours we road the Chena car up to Denali. Apparently, I am the crazy person that hung out in the cold wind for most of the day to take photos. The open air deck was fantastic! DH stayed in the train car most of the day and enjoyed the guide's talk. We ate breakfast and lunch on the train and it was very good.

 

 

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We got into our room at the McKinley Chalet Resort around 4pm. We are in building J and our room was very nice. The only odd thing is that the bedroom has a twin and a full size bed. Since Walt is 6'6" I decided to take the twin and give him the bigger bed. I feel like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo by having separate beds. LOL.

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After we settled in we went to the gift shop to buy a magnet and look for thick socks. I accidentally packed my wool socks in the"to the ship" luggage and tomorrow's high at the park will be 48 degrees. I managed to find some socks, gloves, and winter hats. My gloves and hat were soaked from all the rain. I came prepared, or so I thought, with layers and rain gear. But the forecast for this weekend was 60 degrees and sunny, not 48 and rainy.

 

Before dinner we walked the nature trail around the property and then walked a half mile to the Salmon Bake. Walt had Yakadillas (yes, made with Yak meat) and I had Elk Sliders. For dessert it was their delicious blueberry pie. Yum! After that we called it a night.

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I am taking a similar tour next year so I'm reading with great interest. Love the pictures.

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I'm enjoying your review and all the pic's. I'll be waiting for more.

Enjoy your trip and cruise.

Helen

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Oh, and did I mention that they have a wine store upstairs??? Easy peasy to get your wine for the ship.

 

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You were able to take wine onboard the ship with you? I thought that wasn't permitted. Seems I've a lot to learn still about the ins and outs of cruising.

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You were able to take wine onboard the ship with you? I thought that wasn't permitted. Seems I've a lot to learn still about the ins and outs of cruising.

The HAL policy allowing unlimited wine to be brought aboard ends January 31, 2014.

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You were able to take wine onboard the ship with you? I thought that wasn't permitted. Seems I've a lot to learn still about the ins and outs of cruising.

 

We only brought 2 bottles of wine onboard with us due to lack of room in our carry-on's to Denali. I believe it's unlimited until January 31st...security did not ask us to open the backpack with the wine in it.

 

Lisa

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5am our phone rings...DH answers it...it rings again...ugh. Our wakeup call was scheduled for 6am, but for some reason it was made an hour early. Since we now had an extra hour, we wandered down the street to Starbucks for coffee.

 

At 7:20 our group number was called and we boarded the bus to go to the train station. For the next 8 hours we road the Chena car up to Denali. Apparently, I am the crazy person that hung out in the cold wind for most of the day to take photos. The open air deck was fantastic! DH stayed in the train car most of the day and enjoyed the guide's talk. We ate breakfast and lunch on the train and it was very good.

 

 

DSC05239_zpsbed70ffc.jpg

 

We got into our room at the McKinley Chalet Resort around 4pm. We are in building J and our room was very nice. The only odd thing is that the bedroom has a twin and a full size bed. Since Walt is 6'6" I decided to take the twin and give him the bigger bed. I feel like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo by having separate beds. LOL.

DSC05321_zpse1b8b1a2.jpg

 

After we settled in we went to the gift shop to buy a magnet and look for thick socks. I accidentally packed my wool socks in the"to the ship" luggage and tomorrow's high at the park will be 48 degrees. I managed to find some socks, gloves, and winter hats. My gloves and hat were soaked from all the rain. I came prepared, or so I thought, with layers and rain gear. But the forecast for this weekend was 60 degrees and sunny, not 48 and rainy.

 

Before dinner we walked the nature trail around the property and then walked a half mile to the Salmon Bake. Walt had Yakadillas (yes, made with Yak meat) and I had Elk Sliders. For dessert it was their delicious blueberry pie. Yum! After that we called it a night.

 

We only brought 2 bottles of wine onboard with us due to lack of room in our carry-on's to Denali. I believe it's unlimited until January 31st...security did not ask us to open the backpack with the wine in it.

 

Lisa

where's the rest of your trip was interested since we r going for r 50th

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Loving your review. What a great way to journal your experience. I think I'll try this on our cruise in November!

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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We woke up at 6:15am and since the Tundra Wilderness Tour was leaving at 6:20, we skipped the tour. Instead we went to the park to go hiking on the Ranger led Horse Shoe Lake botany type walk. Our ranger was fantastic and we saw a moose from the trail overlook of the lake. It was extremely frigid on the hike since it was 35 degrees and raining (what happened to 48 degrees???). By 11:45 we were back to the Morino Grill and it was packed.

 

 

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We decided to head back to the lodge and have lunch at Prospector's Pizzeria instead. We both went with the Silver Gulch Copper Creek Amber for round 1 and switched to Kassik's Beavertail Blonde for the 2nd round. Obviously, we had pizza for lunch. Pizza and beer warmed us back up and we decided to go for a 2 mile round trip walk out to the Nenema River overlook.

 

 

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We did talk to our fellow tour guests about the TWT and while other buses saw animals in the distance, our group saw zip, zero, nada. It also snowed on them while they were in the park. I do not regret missing the tour since we had a fun time and saw the moose.

 

I want to cover the HAL desk at the lodge now. They are clueless to say the least. I just had a simple question about how to handle my rolling carry on for the trip to the ship. If I did not want it checked onto the ship, but wanted to carry it on myself, so what did I need to do? They told me to put it outside our door in the morning with the other luggage for the crew to pick up. I asked if there was an area to pick up those bags when we arrived in Seward. Their answer was yes. This did not seem right to me, so after convincing them that I really did not have another luggage tag, they gave me one and I slapped it on. BTW, everything they said was WRONG. If you want to carry your rolling carry on with you, just bring it to the bus you are riding to Seward and the driver will put in it the cargo space.

 

 

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For dinner we went back to the Salmon Bake for more great Alaskan Beer. We did a pitcher of Alaskan Summer Ale. I had the awesome Crabby Grilled Cheese and Walt went with the Baked Cedar Plank Salmon. That was the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever had and I plan on making it at home this winter. They made it with cream cheese, swiss cheese, and king crab, and it was ooey gooey. Both the Buffalo Chili and the Seafood Chowder are really good too...recommend dipping the grilled cheese into the chowder.

 

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Walt and I were one of the last couples to get on the bus at 7am, so of course only the back of the bus is available. The good news was that there were 8 empty seats back there, so we both took 2 seats to ourselves. You see, DH is 6'6" and I am 5'11" so having extra leg room was far more important than sitting side by side. Surprisingly, we were the only ones that did this.

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The drive to Seward was incredible to say the least. The mountains that were bare two days ago, now had snow covered peaks. Near Willow we saw a dog sled team practicing along a trail next to the road. We stopped in Wasilla for lunch at a "lodge" on the side of a lake, and the view was beautiful. The stop was for an hour and the food was a make your own sandwich type buffet with different salads. Oh, Todd our bus driver stopped every 2 hours for breaks. So, if you are not keen on using the bus restroom, then you could use regular facilities at the restaurant or the modern outhouses at the stops.

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We made our way through Anchorage and then on to Turnagain Arm. This part of the journey is number 7 for scenic drives in the United States. Todd was wonderful and did an unscheduled stop for all of us to take pictures. I don't think the people on the other HAL buses were happy when they drove past of photo opportunity. Oh well, Todd was the best!

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We arrived at the ship at 4pm and were on the ship in about 15 minutes. We were able to go straight to our cabin (312 on Lower Promenade; obstructed HH category) and all of our luggage arrived by 5:30. All of our liquor and wine purchases were in the cabin, but we did not have a wine bucket or wine glasses. Since I knew our cabin steward, Gaga, was really busy, we went to the Ocean Bar I got everything from Ed and Raul. After reading all of the wine threads I would like to clarify something. The wine glasses in our cabin were the exact same ones we got from the Ocean Bar. We brought 2 additional bottles of wine onboard and were provided with clean wine glasses daily. I do not want this to turn into an alcohol thread, but simply wanted to share our experience which may differ from yours.

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Muster was at 7:30pm, so we went to Open Seating after that. We were given a table for 2 and had no issues with the bar service. I had heard that bar service in the dining room could be very slow, but we received our Alaskan Beers within 5 minutes both times.

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I thought now would be a good time to post some pictures of our cabin. We originally booked an inside cabin on Deck 5, but switch to a category HH (obstructed ocean view) when the price dropped to less than what we paid for our original cabin. I also got some OBC by doing this.

 

The cabin was great for us with plenty of room, but why don't you see for yourself:

 

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Technically 312 is an obstructed view, but in reality this cabin does have a nice view. Unfortunately, I took the pictures on a really foggy day so there is no scenery to view in these.

 

Looking straight out the window

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Angled Views

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Basically, you get daylight in the room and you can see what the weather is doing.

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Loving your review - thank you! Just have to tell you that I agree 100% about the crabby grilled cheese sandwich - OMG! It is to die for, isn't it? We were in Denali for three nights in early June of this year, and we happened to stop for dinner there one night - BEST. SANDWICH. EVER.

 

Keep up the good work on the review - can't wait for more!

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Today was our first sea day and we finally slept in. We got a quick workout at the gym at 9am and wandered off to the Lido buffet for breakfast. The gym is small, but adequate with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, weight machines, and a yoga/stretch area.

 

I love to cook, so we went to two of Chef Ragu's demonstrations: Halibut and LeCirque demos. We tried lunch in the Rotterdam dining room and it was quite nice. 3pm we wandered over to the Dutch High Tea, our first, and it was amazing. We liked it so much that we did the teas two more times.

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Since tonight was formal night, I made a reservation at Canaletto so we would not have to dress up. I did have formal gowns and DH planned on bringing his tux, but I have lost 60 pounds this year and my formals were too big. I had bought gowns in smaller sizes for this trip, but the weight came off faster than I expected...what a terrible problem...JK... So instead of spending money on more gowns, we decided to skip it. Canaletto was fantastic! I had the Veal Osso Bucco and Lemoncello dessert. YUM!

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Your review is making me seriously rethink the Alaska cruise that we canceled for next year!

Hope you feel better soon :)

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Fantastic! I love it! Thank you. I cannot wait to read more. I am doing exactly the same trip as your except reverse.

 

M

 

PS. Take care of your cold.

Edited by Porthopper101

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When we did the Denali trip in 2011 I loved the Salmon Bake. I had the cedar plank baked Salmon and loved it. The portion was huge as I remember.

 

Your picture of the train car really captured that experience. My grandson spent all his time on the back platform also. However it was quite a bit warmer in early August.

 

Hope you feel better soon. That change of climate plus the time breathing airplane air really can encourage any lurking cold germs.

 

Looking forward to the continuation of your saga. BTW, have you read Captain Albert's blog of your Seward-Vancouver journey?

http://www.hollandamericablog.com/albert/?p=7881

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When we did the Denali trip in 2011 I loved the Salmon Bake. I had the cedar plank baked Salmon and loved it. The portion was huge as I remember.

 

Your picture of the train car really captured that experience. My grandson spent all his time on the back platform also. However it was quite a bit warmer in early August.

 

Hope you feel better soon. That change of climate plus the time breathing airplane air really can encourage any lurking cold germs.

 

Looking forward to the continuation of your saga. BTW, have you read Captain Albert's blog of your Seward-Vancouver journey?

http://www.hollandamericablog.com/albert/?p=7881

 

I have not read it yet, but my parent's followed along during our journey. I plan on reading it when I get a chance.

 

Lisa

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Wow, thank you for sharing this with us Lisa. Brings back memories. When we did our Alaska Cruise it did not include the Denali tour, but we too were on the Statendam and your cabin looks exactly like ours only we were one deck below the promenade deck. I remember looking out our window to see what that horrendous noise was we just heard, just to see we were scrapping along one of the icebergs (not sure if that's what they are but what else are they?) as we went past. Can't wait to continue on your journey with you via your review.

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