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rafinmd

Around the World on Amtrak, KLM, and HAL

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Thank you for your enjoyable report.

 

I love train travel. There is something magical about waking up on a train to look out the window and see a sky like you did, to start your day - enjoy!

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Enjoying your blog! Seems we will be in Astoria at the same time. We are southbound on Princess Emerald. Have a great cruise.

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Day O minus 3, Friday, September 22, 2017, Amtrak Empire Builder

 

Thank you all. LawDog61, I think unless your schedule has changed you'll be a day ahead of us in Astoria but we'll be together in Vancouver. We stop in Victoria first. It will be interesting to see how things work in Vancouver; I believe you go through US Immigration before boarding while we don't do that until Astoria.

 

I'm set in my hotel now. Went to McDonalds first for lunch and posted to the blog but couldn't get into Cruise Critic.

 

The Oosterdam is in Ketchikan. The Amsterdam is in Sitka. The Prinsendam is in Vlissingen.

 

When I rose just after 5 we were pretty much on schedule through Rugby, ND which bills itself as the Geographic Center of North America. I was pretty much planning on a 7:30 breakfast when the Conductor announced we would be early in Minot and I headed off to the diner post haste (scrambled eggs). The sun came up during breakfast but it was almost directly behind the train and in any case my camera memory card was still in my laptop.

 

Our scheduled service stop in Minot was 8:29 through 9:06. We actually arrived at 7:50, leaving time for a bit of exploring. While it had been 92 and sunny in Chicago the bank thermometer said 48 and it felt cooler as well as cloudy. When I got to Broadway I could see golden arches in the distance and headed in that direction. My third cup of coffee came with a side of wifi. I did make my stop there fairly brief; sometimes when you think you have a lot of time it’s easy to get distracted. Approaching the station I saw a sign for the library which would probably have had wifi. For this trip I was happy with McDonalds but that’s nice to know for the future. Before returning to the station I went part way across the Broadway bridge for a birds eye view of the agricultural although were some exceptions like a stretch in the Minot outskirts and a passage along Empire Builder.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/train7minot.jpg

 

When I was here 14 months ago we arrived right on schedule and I walked for 30 minutes back and forth beside the Empire Builder. My walk to McDonalds was about 20 minutes and I walked an additional 10 trackside. As I reboarded Connie was taking pictures and she took a traditional one but also suggested a funny one with me talking on the train PA system.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/funny.jpg

 

Most of the Empire Builder’s route through North Dakota and eastern Montana is flat and Lake Sakakawea and the Yellowstone River. At Williston there was a very nice clock, We spent most of the morning cruising about 80MPH (130km) and arriving early at most stops. We went to Mountain time around 11AM and Pacific time around bed time. We have a lounge car today; when we get to Spokane the last few cars (including the lounge) will split off and end their journey in Portland.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/lounge.jpg

 

I got lunch about 1, joining a couple from Virginia and a British lady headed for an NCL ship. My first choice of a pork slider was not available and I went instead for the macaroni and cheese. While dining we stopped about 30 miles past Malta, MT and the conductor said there would be a short wait for a freight train to pass.

 

The wait grew to over an hour and when a train finally passed it was the Eastbound Empire Builder, very delayed. Havre is an unusual service stop. We hold at a refueling yard for about 10 minutes and then are scheduled for a 25-minute stop at the station. We cut the stop very short, just 18 minutes from our arrival at the fuel pump and just 7 minutes at the station (leaving 66 minutes late). I did have time to jump out and get a photo of a very impressive steam locomotive.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/havre.jpg

 

My dinner was at 6:45, a steak with a couple returning from a friend’s anniversary and a lady making a quick round trip just to ride the train. We stopped at Glacier Park as dusk was approaching.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/dishes0922.jpg

 

I’ll take another parting shot from my email. One of my favorite places to visit in Florida is Bok Tower Gardens, a lovely garden retreat with an outstanding carillon. I went on their mailing list on my visit last year and learned that while the hurricane did not cause major damage it did cut off utilities for a while and required an extensive cleanup. It is re-opening today (September 22). Welcome back, Bok Tower Gardens.

 

Roy

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As always, loving every report. We are fans of Amtrak and cruising so your variety of transportation and the photos of small towns along the way is special with each of your new adventures.

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Loving your report .... I love train travel. Years ago I traveled from Hong Kong to London by train (with many stops along the way). I still judge all travel against that experience.

 

Susan

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Day O minus 2, Saturday, September 23, 2017, Arrive Seattle

 

The Oosterdam is in Victoria. The Amsterdam is at sea from Sitka to Victoria. The Prinsendam is in Antwerp.

 

I had a mis-communication with the train crew. I knew breakfast today would be early and I though they said at 5AM. I woke up about 4:30 and at 5 was told by the dining car staff to be back in a half hour. Breakfast was French Toast and sausage, joined by a couple preparing for the Emerald Princess and a lady who was just on the train for the experience , returning home on this afternoon’s train.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/frenchtoast.jpg

 

When I was on the Empire Builder 14 months ago I was surprised to get great views of the Columbia River which I had assumed followed the Oregon border (No, the upper Columbia heads North and the Snake forms much of the border). I did not see it today, in part because sunrise is a lot later in late September than in early August, and in part because last year’s train was very late.

 

Despite our 90-minute delay yesterday we were running on time this morning, and we were well past the Columbia when it became light enough to see anything. We were about 5 minutes late clearing Edmunds, our last intermediate stop but arrived at Seattle’s King Street station almost 40 minutes early.

 

As we approached Seattle we got a good view of the lock leading to Lake Union and a few minutes later passed the cruise terminal. I got a quick glimpse of the Eurodam but it was soon hidden behind the Ruby Princess.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/lkunion.jpg

 

I bought a transit day pass while the luggage was being delivered and then walked the 2 blocks to the light rail line. In about 5 minutes a train showed up.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/thelink.jpg

 

 

It’s about 30 minutes to Seatac airport. At the light rail stop a shuttle golf cart was there to give rides to the station. The guy dropped me off by the ground transportation area. After a long wait for the shuttle I finally gave up and headed for the cab stand. I was at the hotel about noon.

 

I am at the Sheraton Four Points hotel about 3 miles south of the airport.. At checkin I was given a very generic info sheet from HAL. The gist is I need to take a hotel shuttle to the airport Monday Morning, arriving before 9:30. After lunch I did a bit of shopping but mostly hung out at the hotel.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/4points651.jpg

 

My parting shot will be a bit of a story. It illustrates the necessity of following instructions. On the light rail there was another passenger from the Empire Builder. He talked about there not being a lot of opportunities for smokers and told me of his last trip on the Empire Builder. They were going through Glacier Park and stopped for a freight train. They were very clear that no one was permitted to open the doors but one guy decided he had to have that cigarettte. It was snowing and he opened the door and stepped out by the tracks. He had just a light shirt on and was still standing there when the signal turned green and started leaving. He was spotted by the train crew who called authorities to come for him. I’m sure that’s highly unusual but they do emphasize staying beside the train when the stop is brief and apparently people do get left at stations fairly frequently. Missing your train is just not worth it.

 

Roy

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Hi Roy!

Enjoyed the reading this am!

Love your pictures too!

Saw a tiny bit of The Eurodam.

Wow it is amazing how some people who need a cigarette will take a chance. Glad the crew saw him and he was safe!!!

Enjoy your hotel stay and your almost here in San Diego!

Denise:)

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Hi, Roy! You are probably on Oosterdam by now. Say hello to Copper for us! We had a great visit with him yesterday, and tour of the ship.

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I'm enjoying your report very much, Roy! Thank you for taking the time to share your trip with us.

 

My DH loves trains, and we have talked about doing a train trip at some point. However, with all the cruise trip reports I've read, I have never seen one like yours that included train travel! I am loving your first hand account of what train travel is really like. :D

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Roy, I will have to report on my wifi hot spot when I do this trip in reverse on the Empire Builder. It may not help me either if there is no 'local' service. I have never tried to use a restaurants wifi service, never seems to be enough time.

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Carole, I THINK you'll be ok. I'm not sure of what a network needs to support a hot spot but there did seem to be at least basic cell service over the entire route.

 

Roy

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Day O minus 1, Sunday, September 24, 2017, Seattle, WA

 

The Oosterdam is in Seattle. The Amsterdam is in Victoria. The Prinsendam is at sea from Antwerp to Brest.

 

I must still be feeling the effects of the time changes as I woke up about 3:30AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I rose about 5 and left the hotel about 7. Before the Amsterdam wet dock was announced I was supposed to be staying in central Seattle and boarding the Oosterdam this morning. I had picked out a church with an early Sunday service and decided to stick with that plan.

 

I took the hotel’s 7AM shuttle to the airport and started out by locating the Holland America kiosk where I would report Monday morning and then took the light rail into Seattle.

 

Plymouth Congregational Church is about 3 blocks from the second stop beyond the Amtrak station. I made a quick stop at Walgreens for supplies and was at the church about 8:50 for the 9AM service. With plans to get to the Oosterdam early I had not noticed there was also an 11AM service and they are apparently quite different. The early service was quite informal and I was especially impressed that the youth were very active participants in the service.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/plymouth.jpg

 

I don’t think I had ever seen the Oosterdam in person and decided to get an early look at her. There is bus service “sort of” to Pier 91 and I was soon on my way. While transit to the pier in theory exists it is not for the faint heart. The bus stop is on a bridge about 1/3 mile from the terminal. The walk is not that bad but I think the stairs would be a killer with heavy bags. The Oosterdam was stationed at the north berth and the Emerald Princess on the south berth.

 

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/odamseattle.jpg

 

I left the cruise terminal about 11 and headed for Panera, 2 light rail stations further north, for lunch. There was a farmers market across the street with some nice looking blueberries but there was also a long line to buy them. I returned to the light rail line on a street car I hadn’t ridden before and continued back to the hotel on the light rail and a bus connection. There was a nice view of Puget Sound at the terminal light rail station where I transferred to the bus. By the end of the evening I am pretty well packed for the transfer to Vancouver.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/puget.jpg

 

My parting shot today; I am not really a football fan but would have been interested to see a football game played in London but would not have wanted to see the carnage the Ravens suffered. A real disappointment after a promising start.

 

Roy

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I may still be home but my big bag is on the move, picked up this afternoon. It’s n it’s way to San Diego and the Amsterdam via Luggage Forward. I’ll start chasing it in the morning.

 

 

 

I’ve been doing crazy combinations of cruises (sometimes with trains and planes thrown in) since at least 2010 but up to now they’ve always included a mix of cruise lines. This time the ocean portions are all HAL.

 

 

 

The seed of this odyssey is a bit strange. At various times I have just about circled the world on various ships and cruise lines with just one gap, from Shanghai to Hong Kong, and I’ve been looking to fill in that gap. The Grand Asia fits that bill precisely with a segment from San Diego to Shanghai to Hong Kong. From there I‘ve sailed Zaandam between Hong Kong and Singapore, Crystal Serenity Singapore to Cape Town, and Amsterdam Cape Town to Ft. Lauderdale. I put in a “future cruise request” on the Prinsendam in 2015 and booked the cruise as soon as it was announced.

 

 

 

I’ve heard bad things about boarding in San Diego and wanted to avoid that, booking the coastal cruise starting in Vancouver September 26 so I would be a through passenger in San Diego. The Amsterdam was diverted to a wet dock and I was diverted to the Oosterdam with an overnight in San Diego.

 

 

 

I had been very enthusiastically looking forward to a fall transatlantic on the Crystal Serenity but the ship was redeployed to Alaska for the summer. It turned out that my favorite Non-Crystal ship had a transatlantic so I had a great fall back option.

 

 

 

Here’s my final very compact itinerary:

 

 

 

September 20 leave home

 

September 25 board Oosterdam

 

October 1 board Amsterdam

 

November 1 disembark Amsterdam and fly to Rome, arriving 11PM

 

November 2 board Prinsendam

 

November 18 arrive Ft. Lauderdale.

 

 

 

https://solocabinchallenge.wordpress.com/itinerary/

 

 

 

My bag on the way out:

 

 

 

https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/bag_away.jpg

 

 

 

Today the Oosterdam is in Juneau, the Amsterdam in Homer, and the Prinsendam in Hamburg.

 

 

 

Roy

 

 

 

Roy don’t know where you are staying the night before the cruise but some folks are meeting for dinner that have come in too the night before. If you are interested in joining us please email ASAP for details.

bettty45 @ Gmail.com

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Carole, I THINK you'll be ok. I'm not sure of what a network needs to support a hot spot but there did seem to be at least basic cell service over the entire route.

 

Roy

 

At least 3G, but 4G is best. If AT&T hasn't brought it to your city/area - you are out of luck - data-wise. I carry it with me anyway, so I will be trying it out when needed. Thanks

 

My last ship was Oostie, I like the size and amenities of the Vista Class - more balcony rooms, so not as expensive, That's why I'm trying the OV rooms on R&S and the interior on NA [i got a great early price - it has doubled since then].

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Betty45, I have a nephew in San Diego and my brother will be visiting next weekend; otherwise I would likely have joined you (I'm in the Hilton Marina),

 

 

A dreary Monday morning in Seattle. I've been blessed with 2 nice days.

 

Roy

Edited by rafinmd

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Betty45, I have a nephew in San Diego and my brother will be visiting next weekend; otherwise I would likely have joined you (I'm in the Hilton Marina),

 

 

A dreary Monday morning in Seattle. I've been blessed with 2 nice days.

 

Roy

 

 

 

How fun for you Roy!! See you on board!! Beth

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Have a great trip on board The Oosterdam!!!

We've done a couple of cruises on her!

Roy this week in San Diego our weather along the coast will be in the 80's.

Nice pictures too.

Denise:)

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Today is THE day! :D

 

Bon Voyage Roy :D

 

Have an absolutely WONDERFUL time:):D

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Thanks, everyone. Currently checked in with HAL waiting for the rest of the people to arrive. Just using the

IPAD; typing is slow with one finger. Oops, better fill out that Canadian entry form.

 

Roy

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Bonjour from Tim Hortons across the street from Canada Place. Bus left SeaTac at 10:15 and arrived just before 2; I think there's a bit of a line for checkin so lunch first.

 

Roy

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