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Daily Reports from the Westerdam to Alaska and Denali

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For the last several years, I have created "live" threads for my HAL cruises.  The goals for this Alaska thread are to solicit questions and obtain answers for those who follow on the Westerdam, verify changing HAL policies, identify ship's officers, provide my impressions of onboard facilities, identify exceptional menu items, and comment on hotel operations for starters.

 

Even though I will be on only one of the many Denali itineraries, I will do my best to get answers for all of the itineraries and I do encourage those onboard with different itineraries to lend their experiences to this thread.

 

On to Alaska.

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Looking forward to your reports! How long will you be in Denali? We are on the Westerdam in September after a 3 day Denali visit. Really enjoy your photo web site!😁 

 

Penny

 

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Looking forward to your reports.  I will have one question about performers on the ship.  Is James Celean the magician working the Westerdam this summer?

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We will be on the Noordam similar itinerary in July, so I am looking forward to your reports too.

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So my cruise experience begins on the 20th floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel the night before Embarkation Day.  On my visit to the underground mall across the street, I discovered two new restaurants (Arabic and Thai) and my favorite source for gyros closed for remodeling.

 

I arrived at the Vancouver airport where I spent nearly one hour to get to the Customs Declaration kiosk printers.  Another 20 minutes was spent in line to show the Canadian officials my passport and another ten minutes to find my luggage  that was mixed with three other incoming flights.  With luggage in tow, I joined another queue to exit the Immigration area only to find that at the end of the line I was required to surrender my previously printed Declaration Form.  Many of those that preceded my had to search their pockets and carry-on luggage to find the slip of paper.  This process was to prove that I picked up my luggage but nobody checked the luggage tags. 

 

A HAL representative was at the end of another hallway and verified my name on their transportation list.  Eight of us waited 20 more minutes for our van to arrive and 35 minutes later I was at the Pan Pacific Hotel (cruise terminal).  Three hours after my flight landed, my luggage and I were in a spacious suite on the 20th floor. 

 

I concluded that any flight arriving on Embarkation Day after 1:00 PM might be too risky for a 4:30 PM departure.

 

Prices for food in the hotel seemed quite high before I realized that they were in Canadian dollars (25% higher than the US dollar).

 

FWIW Delta airlines offered $1800 for one person to give up their seat and be put on another flight four hours later.  Somebody else beat me to the podium to accept the offer.  I made a note for my Vancouver-to-Alaska trip next year.

 

More tomorrow with

 

 

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8 hours ago, PSR said:

Looking forward to your reports! How long will you be in Denali? We are on the Westerdam in September after a 3 day Denali visit. Really enjoy your photo web site!😁 

 

Penny

 

I am on the triple Denali version D2C.

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3 hours ago, Himself said:

Looking forward to your reports.  I will have one question about performers on the ship.  Is James Celean the magician working the Westerdam this summer?

 

I shall inquire for you.

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We arrive at Vancouver airport at 11:30 on Embarkation day, so it might be tight getting to the ship from your experience. At least it is a non stop from Dallas fight.

 

Are you staying the night in Anchorage at the Weston Hotel?  I hope it has been repaired from the earthquake. We are staying there one night on our D5C cruise tour in July.

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2 hours ago, Crew News said:

 

I shall inquire for you.

 

Thank You!

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Sailing on the Westerdam on July 14th--NORTH, To Alaska--I'll be following your reports with much interest.  Thanks for making the effort to do so!

 

At Vancouver's airport, did the HAL representative find you or vice versa?  I have a HAL transfer to the Pan Pacific booked.

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6 hours ago, terrydtx said:

We arrive at Vancouver airport at 11:30 on Embarkation day, so it might be tight getting to the ship from your experience. At least it is a non stop from Dallas fight.

 

Are you staying the night in Anchorage at the Weston Hotel?  I hope it has been repaired from the earthquake. We are staying there one night on our D5C cruise tour in July.

 

I sure hope not. He's only been gone from home for 1 day and I miss him already.........

 

Joanie

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8 hours ago, Crew News said:

I am on the triple Denali version D2C.

 

We are on the reverse version: D2L, starting in Alaska first; so your trip will be in reverse. Wonder if the cruise menus are in reverse, also? Such as: your Day 1 is our Day 7, etc....I guess this is getting a little too detailed and not necessary🤔😀!

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We disembarked the Westerdam this morning, we had the D1L Triple Denali and cruised back to Vancouver.  The ship and crew were wonderful, as was the food IMO.  It couldn't have been better!  Enjoy Denali and cruise.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

We disembarked the Westerdam this morning, we had the D1L Triple Denali and cruised back to Vancouver.  The ship and crew were wonderful, as was the food IMO.  It couldn't have been better!  Enjoy Denali and cruise.

So happy to hear this!  We sail on the Westerdam Seward to Vancouver on July 21.  We are still trying to figure out what to do in Ketchikan and Haines.  Any recommendations?

Edited by Jeafl

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14 hours ago, Himself said:

Looking forward to your reports.  I will have one question about performers on the ship.  Is James Celean the magician working the Westerdam this summer?

 

The magician is James Cielen.

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3 hours ago, IRL_Joanie said:

 

I sure hope not. He's only been gone from home for 1 day and I miss him already.........

 

Joanie

It is so good to see you posting something.  I have missed you.

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10 hours ago, terrydtx said:

We arrive at Vancouver airport at 11:30 on Embarkation day, so it might be tight getting to the ship from your experience. At least it is a non stop from Dallas fight.

 

Are you staying the night in Anchorage at the Weston Hotel?  I hope it has been repaired from the earthquake. We are staying there one night on our D5C cruise tour in July.

 

It is the Westmark Hotel  in Anchorage that has been repaired after the earthquake.

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6 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

Sailing on the Westerdam on July 14th--NORTH, To Alaska--I'll be following your reports with much interest.  Thanks for making the effort to do so!

 

At Vancouver's airport, did the HAL representative find you or vice versa?  I have a HAL transfer to the Pan Pacific booked.

 

The HAL reps are standing in the hallway with signs so you find them.  The Princess folks are there, too.  If you go outside, you walked right past them and have gone too far.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jeafl said:

So happy to hear this!  We sail on the Westerdam Seward to Vancouver on July 21.  We are still trying to figure out what to do in Ketchikan and Haines.  Any recommendations?

 

Crab fishing on the Aleutian Ballad if you are amazed at eagle swooping down to grab the fish tossed into the water.  If you have ever watched "Deadliest Catch", it will be special.

 

Haines is a very small town with about 50 buildings so I would take an excursion to Skagway unless you want to float on a small river and see one eagles nest high in a tree.  Others may have other ideas.

Edited by Crew News

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A bright sunny day in Vancouiver made Embarkation Day memorable.  
Since I stayed at the Pan Pacific, I joined the escorted trek to the cruise.  Unlike any other cruise, our gaggle stopped first to check-in at the HAL counter and receive our stateroom keys before security inspections and immigration.  Room keys had a slot at the top for attaching to lanyards so I now leave my hole puncher at home.  Our gaggle departed the hotel at 10:30 and I was seated in the waiting area about 11:15 AM.  Boarding started promptly at 11:30 and passengers were aimed at the Lido Market as all staterooms were not yet ready.  The announcement of the rooms being ready happened at 11:45 AM.


Before lunch, I spoke with the Dining Room Manager about menus and did a quick tour of the ship.
The Westerdam has a Mariner-only lunch and were turning away those not eligible.  As is my norm, I had offered to conduct a private tour of the ship for our roll call members.  When I arrived at the designated location, I found nearly 20 roll call members ready to tour.  I did my best to provide unsolicited answers/cruising tips as well as answer questions on every conceivable cruise topic.  Those on the tour will have to comment on the success of the tour.  Upon returning to my stateroom after the drill, I found a gift plate from the Maitre'de on my coffee table and I cannot figure out why.  Tomorrow is our Meet & Greet for about 49 roll call members and some new CC recruits I met in the hotel and terminal.


The Passenger Safety Drill was uneventful with one exception.  Standing beside me at the back of our lifeboat queue was a guy at least 7-feet tall sipping his beer.  The top of my head came to his armpit. Sail away was slightly delayed and we passed under the Ironsgate Bridge about 5:25 PM.  


Dinner was the typical disorganized event on Embarlkation Day but I was finished in exactly one hour from my entrance time.  I was impressed.


Miscellaneous observations:

  • The Embarkation lunch was only for Mariner's and was not well-attended.
  • The MDR has put the waiter's tablets aside until they can work out the network bugs.
  • There will be a Kitchen Tour tomorrow at 10:30 AM.
  • I stopped to inquire about the new Canaletto menu and discovered the Lido Manager, Rick, remembered me as one of his customers in his former role of PG waiter.  Rick was on the same PG team as our beloved, Clifford, on the Nieuw Amsterdam.  I now have the new Canaletto menu that I will post soon.
  • Ship staff includes:  Captain Smit, Hotel Director Jacob Collins, MDR Manager Mahrub, Lido Manager Rick, Housekeeper Hobben, and Guest Services Manager Joanne.
  • The Magician is James Cielen.
  • Internet speed is abysmal so these reports are pasted on this thread but created on my laptop.
  • Tomorrow is our first Gala Night.
  • No word yet on a Behind the Scenes ship tour.
  • The abbreviated Explorations Cafe had two kinds of cookies for edible offerings.

Tomorrow's weather drops from high 60's today to a high of 50 as we enjoy a sea day.  As always, I will keep a keen eye open for differences from other ships and new changes.

 

More tomorrow

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2 hours ago, Jeafl said:

So happy to hear this!  We sail on the Westerdam Seward to Vancouver on July 21.  We are still trying to figure out what to do in Ketchikan and Haines.  Any recommendations?

In Haines we took the White Pass Railroad and free time in Skagway. We had a gorgeous sunny day with amazing views. I see why people rave about that tour. 

 

We took a 2 1/2 hour private tour for 5 out of the information center in Ketchikan and were all very pleased. We spent some time watching a black bear across a stream that our guide sees often. It was a rainy/drizzly day so it was a good choice and we stayed dry for the most part. 

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Sounds like the embarkation at Canada place went well.

 

Wonder why the Westerdam allowed only Mariners for the embarkation lunch in the dining room?

 

Is the plate a special one that you got from the maitre'd?

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