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Noordam Northbound to Alaska + Denali Almost Live

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As is my custom, I am starting a live thread to help others who will follow. My collection of questions is growing but I have room for many more to be posed here on this thread. I will do my best to get answers. My cameras shoot in RAW format so don't expect pictures during this thread. If anyone would like a specific photograph, I will try to take it and will post it when I return.

 

This will not be the funniest "live" thread but rather one filled with information, answers, impressions, gastronomic reviews, and tips.

 

For reference, I booked my airfare through my HAL PCC as well as the Pan Pacific Hotel here in Vancouver. My excursions are Crab Feast and Flightseeing in Ketchikan, Tracy Arm in Juneau, Lake Bennett train ride in Skagway, Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali, and a Flightseeing excursion also in Denali. My hotel in Anchorage is the Captain Cook Hotel. I did purchase the Land Portion Meal Plan. While I am about, I can also gather information about other excursions/schedules, if requested.

 

I have cruised to Alaska with HAL many times with thousands of photographs taken but there remains much that I have yet to experience.

 

Tomorrow starts a new Alaska adventure.

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Looking forward hearing about your adventures! DW and I are taking our first Alaskan cruise this summer, so we'll be reading every word of your posts. Hope you have a great time.

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Joanie is not with me on this cruise because of the change In the HAL smoking policy but she continues to push me to keep cruising.

 

For the record, I was offered a $99 upsell to a SS category but I would have to move from my aft VB, losing my great view for a few square feet of space. I declined.

 

The turboprop Alaska Air plane was new and landed with nary a bump when it touched the landing strip. Since we had to walk out on the tarmac to the plane and back to the arrival terminal, I accomplished my walking goal for the day.

 

While waiting in the Seattle Terminal to board, I met a lady from Albuquerque who is working on the same project that had been before I retired. Such a coincidence so far from home. She is now armed with my Embarkation Day, excursion, and dining tips. She and her traveling companion are also going on to Denali as well. Two new CC members, I hope.

 

The Vancouver Airport Arrival was interesting to say the least. All passengers from all arriving aircraft enter a serpentine of stanchions/tape with about 30 passengers in each of the 20+ 50-foot lanes. All lines were in constant movement at a walking pace. When I arrived at the final lane, I looked back and saw the sea of passenger flowing like streams of water moving in different directions. A video was in order but not permitted in the Security Area.

 

The Customs process is entirely automated, once you reach the end of the serpentine line, with touch screens that asked lots of questions, each requiring a press of the "Continue" button at the bottom of the screen. The latter had many stumped so the 30 terminals were occupied for several minutes by each passenger. A final stop to speak to a Customs Officer involved answering the same questions that I just answered at the input terminals. Total Customs time was nearly one hour.

 

Another 20 minutes was spent with the HAL reps who were in panic mode trying to get arriving passengers to the Nieuw Amsterdam departing in less than two hours.

 

I photographed all of the shops in the Food Court across the street from the Hotel/Cruise Terminal in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel to be better able to describe what was available to those not wanting to pay the very high prices for hotel meals. Many businesses, fast food, shoe repair, dentist, luggage, snacks, clothing, and even an H&R Block for late tax filing were present. The aroma of Greek food beckoned and I could not resist stopping for an early dinner. The quantity of lamb skewers, Greek salad, rice, and pita was more than I could finish.

 

The Pan Pacific hotel is definitely 5-Star in quality and the HAL price that included transportation and porter fees was much better than I could find anywhere else. Luggage is still left in the room and the hotel gets it to the ship for you. The last time I stayed here, our luggage arrived only a few minutes after we entered our stateroom at 11:40 AM.

 

Being collocated with the Convention Center there are always events happening. Tonight was a formal affair with evening gowns, tuxedos, and a plethora of stretch-limousines dropping off attendees. From the height of some of the ladies, the event must have had a basketball/volleyball connection.

 

The last time that I stayed at the Pan Pacific, the Canadian version of "America's Got Talent" was holding auditions on Embarkation Day and we were awakened at first sunlight by screams as contestants were trying to get the attention of the many network TV camera people.

 

I received an email from HAL this morning advising a 9:30 AM arrival time to avoid a large number of tour buses arriving and two ships being in port at the same time. What happens when three ships are in port at the same time??

 

Tomorrow, I will be conducting a ship's tour at 1:30 PM for members of our roll call who are new to HAL as well as to familiarize myself with any new changes to the Noordam. All have been advised to bring cameras as it will be the only chance to see all of the spa facilities open for viewing. With any luck, I will run into some HAL crew members that Joanie and I have met in the past.

 

I will be observant of the check-in process and report back on this thread. Like many passengers, there is always hope of a "free" Neptune Suite upgrade tomorrow. :D

 

More tomorrow.

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Looking forward hearing about your adventures! DW and I are taking our first Alaskan cruise this summer, so we'll be reading every word of your posts. Hope you have a great time.

 

Feel free to ask questions. What may seem trivial or common knowledge to me, could be important questions for you that might make your cruise a better experience.

 

Be informed before you board and you will not find yourself wandering and asking questions your first few days aboard the ship.

 

I did tell the passengers I met in Seattle about the "forgotten" glass elevator just over their right shoulder after Security scans your stateroom card. Instead of waiting in the elevator queue with a large group, they will be in their room while others are still waiting for their elevators.

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Looking forward to following along. Sounds like some great excursions you have booked.

 

Enjoy your cruise.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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We're doing a couple of the same excursions you are. Looking forward to following along on your cruise. Bon Voyage.

Allan

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I will be looking forward to your impressions. We will be returning to Alaska again next spring on the Westerdam following the Hawaii cruise so I will be reading about your excursions for ideas.

 

You mentioned that you will be photographing the food court at the Fairmont. There is a tunnel from the street level of the Pan Pacific to the food court so one doesn't have to cross the busy street. It is a little difficult to spot if you don't know it is there but it is very useful. There are stairs down and an escalator back up. However when we were there in April of this year the up escalator was out of service.

 

The first thing we do after a check in at the Pan Pacific is to visit the Tim Hortons in the food court. After 30 days without our daily fix this year it was such a treat. For Timmie's fans it is sort of tucked away around a corner but it is there.

 

For those who want something other than a fast food fix but want to avoid high prices at the hotel, I recommend Mahoney's, which is located at the end of the pier to the left of Canada Place. Great food and just a short walk. You can eat inside or out and watch harbour activity.

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Bon Voyage, Roger! :D

(Joanie, I know you are following so "Hi there!" Shoot me an email sometime. ;))

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Bon Voyage, Roger! :D

(Joanie, I know you are following so "Hi there!" Shoot me an email sometime. ;))

 

LOL, you know me so well:)

 

Yep, I is following from my staycation site....at home....No more suffering at 35-36 thousand feet with trying to breath (due to hypoxia, high altitude sickness.) No more having to worry because of scents........Hubby gets a break with beautiful scenery and best of all for him....He does not have to cook for the next 2+ weeks:) AND I get to order pizza as much as I want!!:)

 

To my wonderful hubby....I is following you me darlin!! I will be recording you tomorrow as you cruise by the Orca Cams.

 

Joanie

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A couple of snap shots from the Inside Passage. the 2nd one is the Nieuw Amsterdam passing by the Orca Lab Base off Hanson Island at approximately 5:30am PDT

 

OLB_Nieuw_Amsterdam_6-4-2017_530am.jpg.c4434413525338fa685e1110039de756.jpg

 

Joanie

Orca_Lab_Base_6-4-2017_6am.jpg.3c126bc5e34fb25f3e7438c70c4b4f1b.jpg

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We are doing the South Bound in a couple of weeks, wondering if you could post copies of the daily planners so we have an idea of activities on board ahead of time.

 

Have a great cruise.

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We are doing the South Bound in a couple of weeks, wondering if you could post copies of the daily planners so we have an idea of activities on board ahead of time.

 

Have a great cruise.

 

I am scanning all of my On Locations and will post them.

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Just a note that the Noordam is running very late. When I went to breakfast at the Food Court this morning, just before 7:00 AM, I saw the Noordam moving slowly in the harbor.

 

For those with early flights, they will need some real luck today with a one hour late start getting to the airport..

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Just a note that the Noordam is running very late. When I went to breakfast at the Food Court this morning, just before 7:00 AM, I saw the Noordam moving slowly in the harbor.

 

For those with early flights, they will need some real luck today with a one hour late start getting to the airport..

We don't like to depend on luck so we always check into the Pan Pacific for a night following a Vancouver arrival. It guarantees a stress free disembarkation.

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First question: Why was the Noordam late coming into Vancouver today? Did it have to do with the tides?

 

We'll be on this ship in a few weeks and will be embarking in Anchorage and flying out of Vancouver so I hope this is an unusual situation!

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Have a wonderful cruise. Looking forward to hearing about it. I'm also looking forward to the new information you'll be adding to your wonderful website. It's the best cruise reference for cruisers I know of :).

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As noted in an earlier post, the Noordam arrived late and so far I have found nobody that knows why. I will keep working on it.

 

The check-in process was quite smooth compared to all of the other check-ins that I have experienced. The only downside was walking from the HAL check-in location to the Security checkpoint right into the wave of disembarking passengers. I had to wait only a few minutes before the Security folks as me step forward. My carryon bag was opened and some of my A/C adapters were confiscated although all met the HAL adapter requirements. Identical adapters also in the bag were not confiscated. It was not worth arguing with a contractor. I will go to Security and attempt to get them back. No adapters or extension cords were confiscated from my check luggage as they were in San Diego. That latter is why I pack adapters and extension cords in both luggage categories.

 

I took my seat in the Suite Guest/4-Star Mariner row of seats a few yards from several hundred passengers facing me a few minutes after 10:00 AM. A member of our roll call stopped by to talk about my ship's tour scheduled for this afternoon and soon four other Suites guests joined the discussion. Boarding was at the stroke of 11:30 AM and I was the first passenger to board the ship. I was in my stateroom at 11:37. My luggage was on the bed when I returned from an Asian lunch in the Lido Market at 1:00 PM.

 

The walking tour with my roll call members grew to nearly 20 with other first-time HAL cruisers joining us. We got the full infomercial from the Spa folks to include a pitch by the Dermatologist who vowed that we could be ten years younger in just a few minutes. With the exception of the Private Party Crow's Nest, Retreat Cabanas, and the closed Deck 3 Vista Show Room doors, the tour hit all of the public areas of the ship.

 

The Crew Safety Drill was almost painless and quick with the stateroom cards being scanned for all arriving passengers. I did see a good number of walkers, wheel chairs, and scooters which indicated no active process to allow them to attend an alternative drill elsewhere on the ship.

 

In spite of the late arrival, the ship managed to depart on time.

 

Changes that I noticed today: New elevator interiors, glassware in the Lido Market are now plastic, "On Locations" are now "Where & When" with a new format, MDR tables have new table number markers that include the name of the waiters serving each table, Lido Market tables now have the name of the server responsible for each table, stateroom cards are now scanned as part of the Passenger Safety Drill, all electrical adapters/cords in carry-on luggage are confiscated and sent to ship's Security (I will plead my case tomorrow), new folders on your bed during evening turn down (Where & When, Breakfast Card, and promotions), invitations and dining reservations now in very small envelopes, lots of USB ports around the staterooms (bedsides, desk, new literature in staterooms (Room Service menus, DVD list, welcome booklets, etc,), HAL Security is now located before entering the gangway, and new Alaska shopping bag.

 

Internet prices are $250 for 1000 minutes, $175 for 500 minutes, $100 for 250 minutes, or 75 cents per minute.

 

The weather is wonderful with blue skies, bright sunshine, and puffy clouds at 9:00 PM.

 

More later.

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......................<Snip>............More later.

 

Good night my darling, Smooth Seas and Blue Skies, I Love you.

Have you asked if Walter, my #1 Son is aboard?

Me

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By AC adapters, are you talking about the little adapters that you put into the European style receptacles in your cabin so you can plug the North American style plugs in?

If so, that just doesn't make sense to confiscate them.

All the phone, iPad and camera chargers today run on either current and all the adapter does is give you an extra plug to allow more devices to be charged at the same time.

I'll be interested to hear how you make out when you plead your case.

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Just a note that the Noordam is running very late. When I went to breakfast at the Food Court this morning, just before 7:00 AM, I saw the Noordam moving slowly in the harbor.

 

For those with early flights, they will need some real luck today with a one hour late start getting to the airport..

 

 

Just one more reason why we stay over an extra day at the end of the cruise.

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Deleted because Upload of image would not work. See next post.

 

 

Joanie

Edited by IRL_Joanie
deleted by poster

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Try this again............

 

A snap shot of Noordam as she heads north through the Inside Passage about 2 hours ago.

 

I recorded about 5 minutes of her off 2 of the web cams (2 were not on yet) and have it saved if any of your fellow passengers want it.

 

Noordam Northward Bound June 5 2017 approximately 6:42am PDT

 

Noordam_1_2017-06-05_0642-48.jpg.576e5c15a11c59819b78fd5d622f8f3b.jpg

Joanie

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.................

 

,,,,,,,,,,Changes that I noticed today: New elevator interiors, glassware in the Lido Market are now plastic, "On Locations" are now "Where & When" with a new format, MDR tables have new table number markers that include the name of the waiters serving each table, Lido Market tables now have the name of the server responsible for each table, stateroom cards are now scanned as part of the Passenger Safety Drill, all electrical adapters/cords in carry-on luggage are confiscated and sent to ship's Security (I will plead my case tomorrow), new folders on your bed during evening turn down (Where & When, Breakfast Card, and promotions), invitations and dining reservations now in very small envelopes, lots of USB ports around the staterooms (bedsides, desk, new literature in staterooms (Room Service menus, DVD list, welcome booklets, etc,), HAL Security is now located before entering the gangway, and new Alaska shopping bag...............

 

More later.

 

Thanks for the wealth of information, and for taking the time to post here! I bolded your sentence above, because I find it interesting. We always bring a power strip and extension cord on every HAL cruise, and we've never had a problem. We bring them onboard via hand luggage or checked luggage, either way, no problem. The power strip we use is an older one that does not have a surge protector. Don't know why they're picking on you. Hope they give you back your adaptors and cords.

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Roger, I am really enjoying traveling along with you. We're doing the Noordam's southbound cruise next year, so it's great to gather information about a ship new to us.

 

I am especially looking forward to your Denali photos as we are headed up there this August (via Alaska Railroad).

 

Hi, Joanie! :D

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A heads-up on entertainment for Crews News and any others who may be sailing the Noordam this season:

 

Don't miss Jeremy Oren in the Piano Bar!

 

We were on the Noordam May 21-28 and went to part of his show almost every night. (He plays 8:30 - late). On only the first night (before passengers heard how incredible he was), were we able at find seating at 8:30 pm. You better get there about 30-45 minutes early if you want to sit or wait until 10:30 pm when many of the early arrivals have finally left. While all of his shows were fabulous (only rock and roll--no Broadway or musicals tunes), the best for me was "Beatles and Brits".

 

I think he said he'd be on board for just a couple of months before moving to NYC, so those sailing after July might not see him. He was the best entertainer PERIOD I have ever seen on a cruise ship.

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A heads-up on entertainment for Crews News and any others who may be sailing the Noordam this season:

 

Don't miss Jeremy Oren in the Piano Bar!

 

We were on the Noordam May 21-28 and went to part of his show almost every night. (He plays 8:30 - late). On only the first night (before passengers heard how incredible he was), were we able at find seating at 8:30 pm. You better get there about 30-45 minutes early if you want to sit or wait until 10:30 pm when many of the early arrivals have finally left. While all of his shows were fabulous (only rock and roll--no Broadway or musicals tunes), the best for me was "Beatles and Brits".

 

I think he said he'd be on board for just a couple of months before moving to NYC, so those sailing after July might not see him. He was the best entertainer PERIOD I have ever seen on a cruise ship.

 

I just got off the Noordam and must 2nd this. He was amazing.

Also regarding the ship being late, there was an announcement made early Saturday morning talking about the various checkpoints we would be passing and there was mention of us being late gettin to them but I don't remember the reason. I believe it was either tide or weather related.

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Great review so far. What is your itinerary? Is it just to Denali, or are you also going into the Yukon?

 

I'm doing the 14-day triple Denali and Yukon at the end of August on the Volendam, so I'm interested in any information I can find on these cruise tours, since there are not a lot of reviews for them.

 

Looking forward to reading the rest of your review! :)

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Looking forward to seeing the MDR Menus...we'll be sailing on her June 25th!

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Great review so far. What is your itinerary? Is it just to Denali, or are you also going into the Yukon?

 

I'm doing the 14-day triple Denali and Yukon at the end of August on the Volendam, so I'm interested in any information I can find on these cruise tours, since there are not a lot of reviews for them.

Looking forward to reading the rest of your review!

 

I am going to Denali for three days and then flying home. There are 14 different Land Itineraries on this ship so I would need more info about yours to ask the Land Tours lady the right questions for you.

 

There was a briefing letter in my stateroom with booking codes that are needed. DO NOT overlook or discard the letter.

 

At today's briefing for the HAL Land Tours (there is a private tour group aboard that is also going to Denali with a different briefing) we learned some passengers are traveling by bus and some by domed-train to/from Denali in assigned seats. Some train seats face backward. Box lunches are provided but there is also a menu for more food if you pay by credit card. Buses and train have bathrooms with buses making stops every 90 minutes for bathroom breaks. Medical equipment can be carried in the luggage compartment of both buses and trains. There is another briefing Friday for luggage issues.

 

Daily itineraries and hotel room keys will be distributed only the night before each arrival and are not available in one package. Luggage is limited to one bag and a small carry-on. There is no access to your luggage until it is delivered to your hotel room each night so meds need to be in your small carry-on. With my Scott E Vest, I can wear more stuff in addition to the camera bag I will carry. As of today, the letter mentioned above is the only literature I have received but will get my first daily itinerary the day before we disembark. If I can convince the Land Tours person, I will try to get some more info for you for your specific itinerary. I will at least share what info is applicable to my itinerary. FWIW I will try to collect as much info as possible and scan as many menus that I can.

 

Denali buses are modified school buses that will be making numerous stop as well as immediate stops for wildlife. Only the first 17 road miles are open this week with more opening next week.

With most of the passengers on board doing 14 different Land Tours, it is difficult to discuss specific details with others without getting very confused. I discovered the latter very quickly this morning at breakfast.

 

I will be posting an in-depth review of my specific itinerary but will be glad to seek answers for other itineraries if you pose the questions on this thread. Answers will be posted as soon as I obtain them. If I discover any relevant web URLs, I will post them here.

 

My fingers are crossed that I will have internet access in Denali.

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SO sad to read only 17 miles into Denali on the TWT. That was to be a highlight. It is normally 50 or so I think? Our tour is Thursday. It will be much shorter than I had hoped.

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Thanks for the wealth of information, and for taking the time to post here! I bolded your sentence above, because I find it interesting. We always bring a power strip and extension cord on every HAL cruise, and we've never had a problem. We bring them onboard via hand luggage or checked luggage, either way, no problem. The power strip we use is an older one that does not have a surge protector. Don't know why they're picking on you. Hope they give you back your adaptors and cords.

 

It is not HAL but rather the Security contractors in Vancouver confiscating. I did see a safety video on board that stated personal multi-connector cords are not permitted with a picture of the type of adapter cord that was confiscated from me. Only "cords" were declared "not allowed" and not the adapters without cords. They took both types from me but only from my carry-on bag.

Since I have other adapters, I am not in panic mode.

 

FWIW There are four USB ports, one on each side of the bed and two at the desk.

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SO sad to read only 17 miles into Denali on the TWT. That was to be a highlight. It is normally 50 or so I think?

On a good day you can go 89 miles. I was fortunate and was there on a good day. :)

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SO sad to read only 17 miles into Denali on the TWT. That was to be a highlight. It is normally 50 or so I think? Our tour is Thursday. It will be much shorter than I had hoped.

 

The entire park roads don't officially open until Jun 8 even if they are not blocked by snow. You might be just fine.

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Looking forward to seeing the MDR Menus...we'll be sailing on her June 25th!

 

The menus are posted on the free Navigator web page and are very hard to copy/save/print but I have not yet given up. I will be pasting individual screen shots and stitching them back together to reassemble them. Wish I had a bigger monitor than this laptop to get a larger capture.

 

Only the menu of the day is available.

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The entire park roads don't officially open until Jun 8 even if they are not blocked by snow. You might be just fine.

Our trip is 6/8. I will hope.

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