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Trip Report w/Pics HAL Alaska June 19-26, 2022 Seattle Roundtrip Westerdam


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4 hours ago, Euby said:

Thanks for posting about the small boat excursion at the glacier.  I booked it for my cruise

 

Thanks for detailing your experience and the layout of the small boat itself. Having been to Glacier NP in 2008, I could envision the calving but not the feeling one gets close-up and personal. Will look for the rhubarb jam! Our Westerdam cruise will be there 7/20.

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10 hours ago, CupKayke said:

I'm no longer using the green font

 

Oh, thank goodness!  I was finding the green font too hard to read so I had resorted to skimming for pictures. 😂 And speaking of pictures… yours are gorgeous.  Thank you for sharing!

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Posted (edited)

I love your husband's hat! 

How tall is he?  He seems to be around the same height as my husband, and I was wondering if he would be comfortable in the HAL showers. 

Thanks for a great trip report!

Edited by tundra1
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He's somewhere between 6'1" and 6'2".  He was comfortable in the showers.  The showers on HAL are the kind where you can hold them in your hand IF YOU WANT (they are removable). 

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Thanks!  We might have to go with the hand held route.  My husband is 6'5".  But he is used to "making it work and ducking when needed".

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Thank you so much for your reviews..  we are sailing Sept 4.  I did not even look for an excursion the day of the Hubbard.  Assuming there would not be anything available.  On our excursion day says the boat is a catamaran?  Wonder if that is the same boat?  I am signing up.  Much thanks!!

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Posted (edited)

Sitka, continued...

 

Sitka is the place we had planned to eat a big crab meal.  We actually eat crab at home semi-often when we get a good deal on a pound of crab.  It's usually not King crab but still... we get some good deals quite a bit.   Having said that... I'm not for sure I would or would not recommend our next activity so you can decide for yourself.  I'm struggling writing this portion of the trip report.  I don't want to disparage a business but I'm not sure I want to say it was worth it... even if you are in Alaska eating crab legs...

 

Today we had made plans to eat a crab legs meal at Halibut Point Crab and Chowder.  IMG_1486.JPEG

This restaurant is on the pier and is highly recommended on review sites.  It's the glass 2-story place on the right.

 

We were early (it was just after 11am when we got to the restaurant) and they were just filling their "display" tank outside where you can hold a crab and take a picture with it...

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That's kind of a neat perk.   We were the first customers of the day and chose to sit outside.  We sat at a table closest to the restaurant and this was our view...

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So... the prices were inflated... A LOT ....even for Alaska.  Did you know Red Lobster sources their crab legs from The Bering Sea crab boats?  They do.  The Today Show did an entire segment on it and you can Google it and read the article.  We've ate at Red Lobster a couple of times this year.  We buy crab at home.  We expect to pay $20 to $30 a pound (sometimes much less).  Here is their menu..

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We ordered the Alaskan Crab Combo to split and this is what we got for $94.34..

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We ordered one clam chowder cup to go with our meal shortly after it was delivered.  Our total with a Diet Coke, a Budweiser in a bottle, and a Spruce Tree (local beer) on tap with tip was $159.42.  I can be a tightwad and I know that but I was generous with the tip (our waiter was great) but that was steep for this meal, IMHO.  I wish I could say I felt really great about this meal but I felt like the portions were skimpy for the price.  

 

  HOWEVER...  we ate every bite....

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Our waiter was excellent.  We had heard about the Spruce Tree beer from Phil during our trail walk in Juneau.  They actually use the spruce tree berries and make it locally.  It's a novelty but I'm glad we tried it.  Our waiter had to go upstairs to get it and he was accommodating as they didn't have the upstairs open yet.  He was also just a nice kid.  We liked him.  Another thing... the owner was outside talking to the dock workers and he was helping a waitress run a raven out of their trash can... and he stopped by and checked on us....then he walked over and started checking on the kids running the live crab tank.   I mean... that's what makes this review tough because CLEARLY there is a lot of effort and love put into this restaurant.  The chowder was EXCELLENT and we are picky chowder eaters (especially me) and we love Ivar's in Seattle.  This chowder was clearly a different recipe than Ivar's but so-so good!!  The crab legs were great.  The corn fritters were okay.  I didn't taste the honey in the butter.  We may have not touched the coleslaw.   Overall, would I do this again?  Maybe.  I think the next time we go to Alaska (and we WILL go back)... I would like to sign-up for one of those big excursions where they fly or boat you into a lodge and give you a crab feast.  I'd like to see how that goes.  Of course, that's going to cost us $200 or more for 2 of us so maybe this is on par for what we got.   They have a neat gift shop at this place too.     

 

Edited by CupKayke
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Bluesplayer - There is only ONE excursion in Hubbard.  If you signed-up for it, you are on the small boat.  It WILL sell out before your cruise.  And yes, it is a catamaran!   

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Posted (edited)

Sitka, continued..

We were back on the boat with our full bellies and our souvenirs by 12:15pm!  I decided to go find an empty hot tub (and they were all empty).  I used the giant one on the Lido Deck all to myself for over 20 minutes and it was great!

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I don't remember what time the ship left Sitka (3:30-4pm?) but at 4:25pm we were sitting on our balcony and witnessed a Coast Guard rescue!!   We've seen A LOT of things from balconies but this was a first...

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We obviously don't know what happened... did the boat's engine stall?  did the man have a medical emergency?  We think it may have been a medical emergency because a Coast Guard person was dropped in the water... then the Coast Guard person got into the little boat.... then the helicopter backed-up and flew SO SO close and low to the water... and we assumed they tied-on the stranded/injured person and took him up in the helicopter... but the entire process was so slow that we didn't get to see the ending because our ship was going too fast...

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Our guide in Juneau told us the water is in the 40s most of the time.  Kudos to the Coast Guard.

 

No more pics today but something happened last night or tonight that irked my husband but we have to remember the room stewards are CLEARLY new.  It was SO evident.  We always travel with our own toilet paper.  We pack a roll or usually two of Charmin everywhere we go.  My husband says the cruise or hotel toilet paper is "crap" for lack of a better word.  We had sat the cruise ship's toilet paper rolls under the cabinet and we were using our roll which we sat on top of the countertop by the sink.  They threw it away or took it this afternoon and put out three new rolls of THEIR toilet paper.  I thought my husband was going to lose his mind (I was laughing).  We were telling some friends we met on deck and they were saying that HAL always throws away or takes away the rolls once they get smaller.  So then it became a big discussion with this group as to what happens to those nearly used rolls of toilet paper???  Someone said they must have made a fortune selling them during COVID.   But seriously... what does happen to them?  Surely they are not so wasteful that they are throwing them away?  Today's cruisers and future cruisers are not so pretentious and if they are being thrown away, this practice should be stopped. 

 

Tomorrow, our favorite day in Alaska... Ketchikan...

 

Edited by CupKayke
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Your toilet paper was confiscated because the ships' toilet/waste lines could get clogged up by it - impacting many guests.  Their toilet paper is specially made for this type of system, and that's all you're supposed to use.  It's not like being at home or in a hotel on land 😉

 

Loving your report and photos!  Agree the hat really suits your husband - and those crab prices are insane!  I'm glad I don't like crab, lol.

 

Sue/WDW1972

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The above toilet paper info is not true.  We asked.  They said they just didn't know it was our toilet paper.  We had another roll in the suitcase which we put out and we used it the rest of the cruise. 

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35 minutes ago, CupKayke said:

The above toilet paper info is not true.  We asked.  They said they just didn't know it was our toilet paper.  We had another roll in the suitcase which we put out and we used it the rest of the cruise. 

Interesting - I could have sworn a ship's engineer posted the info but could be mistaken.  Perhaps it's one of those "old wives tales" that just get passed down.  But, how could they not know Charmin was your toilet paper, since the ship doesn't carry that brand?  I've not heard of toilet paper randomly materializing from thin air in random staterooms 😉

 

Sue/WDW1972

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If you pay attention the next time you cruise, they take all the rolls of toilet paper every time they get "low" - that's why the group on the Lido deck had the big discussion about what they must do with the leftover toilet paper.   It wasn't that they were taking OUR roll.... they take everyone's roll when it gets small...

 

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On 6/25/2022 at 11:42 AM, Caribbean Chris said:

 

 

1 hour ago, CupKayke said:

Bluesplayer - There is only ONE excursion in Hubbard.  If you signed-up for it, you are on the small boat.  It WILL sell out before your cruise.  And yes, it is a catamaran!   

All signed up!  Much thanks.  My only issue is will we miss the pea soup!!!    LOL

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2 minutes ago, bluesplayer said:

My only issue is will we miss the pea soup!!!    LOL

 

Do you have family/friends staying on the ship? My DH isn't going on the excursions and will save me some soup. We have insulated water bottles he can put it in.

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Ketchikan 😍

 

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Cruising to Ketchikan is beautiful.  You will pass their little airport and see planes coming and going...

 

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We only had 4 hours in Ketchikan today.  Again, the itinerary changed from the Navigator app versus the daily information and when we booked, etc.  We were supposed to be here sometime between 7am and 12pm.    We ended-up here at 7:30am and left at 11:30am.   

 

We booked the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour.

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I booked this tour directly with the owner's website.   They guaranteed we would be back in time for the ship.   Frankly, they had to be because the ship offered this exact same tour and don't quote me on this but I think the ship's price ended-up being the same that we paid.  A friend told me about this tour years ago and it was the first thing I booked once we booked this cruise.  I didn't even check the HAL site for the tour.   So, no matter how you book... you are not missing the ship.   

 

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This tour is on the Aleutian Ballad crab fishing boat.  This boat is famous from Season 2 of Deadliest Catch.   They tell the story of what happened to this boat on the tour.  To this day, that four minute clip is the single most viewed clip of the Deadliest Catch on YouTube – and they are now on Season 18, I think?  Anyway, you don’t have to be a fan of the show or know that the guys standing in front of you all day are celebrities to appreciate what happens on this boat…

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Here's the quickest rundown I can think of to write about this tour.... it's a crab fishing boat that has been remodeled to now be a tour boat.  They left certain parts still workable to show you how crab fishing works.  They bring up pots from 300 to 500 feet of various animals and it is an interactive tour - you get to touch everything they bring up.  They have special permission from a native tribe to fish in their waters.  They are the only boat that is allowed to do this.  The owner and two Bering Sea crab fisherman (all 3 of them are active or former crab fisherman) tell stories, they do demonstrations with how they get the crab pots and the big crab cages up on the boat, they make it quick and fun and they never just make you sit down and be bored.  There is SO MUCH happening that the time flies and really.... every excursion off a ship should be so great!

 

For starters, Dave, the guy with the idea to do this tour years ago... the owner of five Bering Sea crab fishing boats, and the owner/operator of this tour... tells his story and it is interesting and funny.   Dave and his wife are onboard and they are interactive and help with the passing out of the sea animals, etc.  

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...more pics coming...

 

 

 

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Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour,  continued  (Ketchikan)

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They bait the lines for the next tour (they let this kid help cutup the fish/bait) while letting you walk around the boat.   This boat is 2 stories and there are seats upstairs and downstairs.  This is a live tank full of King Crab (because obviously they can't catch those in 500 feet of water).   This boat is handicapped accessible.  The seats are stadium-style so everyone can see what they are doing.  They do demonstrations while you sit and then they let everyone get up and roam the boat and touch everything and then you sit a bit more and then you roam a bit more and it goes on and on and it is a GREAT day!

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Some pics...

Rock crabs.  They usually only pull these up about once a month.

 

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Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour,  continued  (Ketchikan)

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We held starfish, shrimp, rock crab, Dungeness crab, and I don't know what else.  Everyone held different animals and passed them around.  They had two live tanks with the King Crab and they did allow you to touch the legs and they also used the cool water in the live tanks to dip the animals in frequently and they did not keep the animals out for touching too long.  They thought of everything on this tour, IMHO.   They pulled up a sunflower fish (that was a surprise to them too), some other odd fish, rock crabs,  shrimp, and even a big octopus.  There were a lot of things that happened on this boat and it was all fantastic.  I really don't want to give it all away.   It was a delight!

 

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The protected waters we were in were beautiful..

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They have a gift shop/galley on the boat.  Coffee is free.  They sell King Crab legs and hot butter and other items.  They sell hats and hoodies (I bought one - only $50 I think) and those yellow jackets they are wearing (about $100 I think).   The gift shop/galley area was popular and busy!  

 

We got off this excursion on a happy high.  There is no other way to describe it.  Dave Lethin is a genius.   He is the owner of this tour boat, this was his idea and people told him he was crazy to do it, and he is also the first guy to sign with Discovery Channel to allow his boats to be filmed on The Deadliest Catch.   I cannot recommend this tour enough.  We liked this tour and this cruise so much that a friend of ours is taking herself and 12 family members to Alaska next summer.   They will be on this tour.  

 

This is about all we saw of Ketchikan..

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When we got back onboard, we watched some of Ketchikan as we sailed away.  Nice views and beautiful boats.

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I found the Dive-In restaurant on the Lido deck by the pool where they serve Nathaniel's hot dogs (I had never tried one) and specialty cheeseburgers.  There was a long line but it moved quick enough.  I noticed when I was waiting for our meal that an official-looking HAL employee walked by with a little microphone on and I heard him say "one more to Dive-in" and lo and behold another employee showed-up.  HAL was ON TOP of things this cruise.  I was so impressed.  The Lido Deck had people sunning (and it wasn't even 70 degrees outside which is hilarious).  

 

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Tomorrow is basically a sea day because we won't arrive in Victoria, BC until 8pm... but don't worry.. I have more random pictures and an opinion post of what HAL is doing good, what they can improve upon, and some suggestions.  It's okay to be opinionated... opinions are what change the world... sometimes for the better. 

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Posted (edited)

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The evening of Ketchikan is when you jump forward an hour and go back to “normal” Seattle-area time.

 

This was the perfect sunset to a perfect day in Ketchikan…

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Final Day onboard all day was Saturday…

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Our cruise is almost over now.  We slept-in (until 8am), ate breakfast on the Lido deck (where they served breakfast very late today so I was impressed with that), and started packing.  We had an airport transfer with HAL so bags had to be out in the hall before midnight.   We were scheduled to stop in Victoria, BC from 8pm to midnight.

 

Here’s another pic of our room for the guy interested in a SS.  See those little gold “rods” underneath the upper bedside lights?  Those are actually movable and adjustable night lights.  They are cool because they don’t turn on until you pop them out of their socket. 

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Here is a close-up of my messy desk area.  The mini fridge is in that cabinet on the far right.  Also, your signature suite comes with free binoculars for use on the cruise.  We never used ours.  We didn’t even use the ones we took except the day we sailed into Ketchikan and it was kinda neat looking into the trees/mountains with them but I wouldn’t pack binoculars for future Alaska cruises but that’s just me.  Did I mention I attended a binocular class one morning at 9am?  I did.  The guy who taught it was funny and it was a short and sweet class.  I liked what he had to say.  Take your binoculars to the class (I did not). 

 

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Here is another view of our room as I was packing..

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Edited by CupKayke
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Final Day On The Ship, continued..

 

I woke-up and walked on the track today.  I was aggravated later on in the day when I saw there was a "Walk The Deck" for a cause thing going-on and people were wearing t-shirts and walking the deck for some cause.  I had no idea.  We didn't get our little papers in the stateroom last night and I didn't think much of it so I didn't know this was going on.  I didn't really take the time to read the papers every day so this is sorta of on me - next cruise, I'm reading every inch either at night or in the morning before my day gets going.  It was hard for me to stay awake on this cruise because I was 3 hours ahead of my normal time zone and I normally go to sleep around 9-10pm in Missouri (sometimes earlier) so that's 6pm-7pm on this cruise.  I like to get up and drink iced tea and get walking and I should have taken a few moments every day to plan out my day and read the pamphlets. 

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I ordered some pictures today.  They did a great job of taking pics at Embarkation and in Juneau.  They gave me the pictures on a little HAL ship drive!  So cute!   Also, in case you are into stuff like this… you can order a customized metal luggage tag with any photo they take or any photo on your phone for $7.99.  I ordered two because my husband liked the idea so much.  They are SO cool.  We love them.  We had our last name and phone number printed on them.  We used half ship photos, half our photos.  We even used our family photo with our dog that we had taken last autumn on one of side of a tag.

 

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It was a little late this cruise but we did our “walk the ship” tour today.  We started on Deck 1 and took the stairs to every deck and walked and visited everywhere.  I took a few pictures of random items I found beautiful or interesting. 

 

These chairs on Deck 7 were too cool..

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We enjoyed some time on the aft deck with our friends and with each other.  The bartenders back here were GREAT!  This one guy is clearly a seasoned employee, and he could make anything.  My husband is a certified bartender (from many, many years ago) but he still thinks he knows it all.  He was impressed by these guys.   I have never been a smoker and I never will be a smoker but I am so thankful that all the cruiselines still offer a covered area where folks can have a drink and a smoke.  If it were not for this, my husband would refuse to cruise.  I also met some great people in this area.  IMG_1806.HEIC

 

Up next... Victoria, BC

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, CupKayke said:

The above toilet paper info is not true.  We asked.  They said they just didn't know it was our toilet paper.  We had another roll in the suitcase which we put out and we used it the rest of the cruise. 

 

It is true. Marine toilets aren't like your toilet at home, which is connected to a sewer. 

 

Please ignore the people you spoke to in the Lido and respect the veteran cruisers on CC like @wdw1972 that are telling you that your toilet paper is not to be used. I'm going to include @chengkp75 who is a retired ships engineer and hopefully he will post and give you the technical information that will provide you with a better understanding of the toilet system on a cruise ship.

 

Yes, the cabin stewards do remove a low toilet paper roll, only as a matter of courtesy. 

 

I have been RVing for over 25 years and because residential toilet paper is a huge concern in "black" tanks, I am familiar with the damage that can occur.

Edited by seaoma
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My DH and I, along with our son, wife and 15 year old daughter were on this cruise.  It was our 8th HAL Alaska cruise and our 4th HAL cruise since Alaska last July.  Your pictures are terrific and thank you for the commentary!  Using your own TP in the bathroom is a no no, but I will not pass judgement on you 🙁.  Taking the Hubbard Glacier excursion was a great choice....we have done it for the Tracy Arm.

 

I think you passed me on your walk to the forest in Sitka and the totem poles.  I was with a group and Tlinget guide.  I went to the Raptor Center presentation that day on board with the Red Tailed Hawk.  The Walk for a Cause was to raise money for Ukraine refugees, and was promoted several days before the event.

 

We enjoyed the cruise with the only complaint being that Port Valet was no longer offered at disembarkation which made for a nightmare at SEATAC with 3 ships checking in there at the same time. They offered it last summer, don't know why they didn't do it this year.

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