David and Juli Cruise to Alaska

June 5-13, 2004   Page 2

Sunday, June 6, 2004: Today we got up late and then headed to the dock to get on the cruise.  Juli and I were very excited as we had never been on a big boat.  The plans were to get there before noon and get up to the boat because we could get a Brunch as part of the whole thing.

We caught a cab to the Pier and then got checked in.  We met Juli's folks and Maren and Paul there. It was good to see Maury and Arlene as well as Maren and Paul. 

The check in process was slow going as they checked passports, tickets, luggage, etc. Once we got checked in, they took our luggage, which would be portered up to the ship.  Then we walked up the long gangway to the boat.  I was amazed at how big the boat was....as huge as a building.

  

Juli on the gangway with the ms Amsterdam in the background.  Juli and David with Seattle in the background.

The boat we were on is the Holland-America Lines ms Amsterdam. At 780 feet, this is the fifth largest vessel in the Holland America fleet, though not nearly the size of some other company's cruise ships (as can be seen on the Juneau page).   Our home for the next week would be Cabin L2519...in the lower middle row, 5th from the right (as seen on the map below). This cabin did not have any windows, but was comfortable nonetheless.  There was a small TV and a small desk. We also had piped music if we wanted it. A pictures of the cabin is also located below.

Ship Facts: Ship's Registry   The Netherlands; Passenger capacity   1,380; Crew members   647; Gross tonnage   61,000 grt.; Length   780 feet; Beam   105.8 feet; Maximum speed   22.5 knots

         

Juli is on the bed in our room. The curtain behind the bed opened up to a white wall....no windows.

After eating a WONDERFUL meal on the boat, we were able to finally go to our cabin and see what it was like.  We also had to prepare for the boat drill at 4:15 PM.  This was to train us about the safety features, the life boats and the life jackets.  We had to take the life jackets from the room and go out to the deck of the boat, where we were informed of all the safety things.

  

Juli's sister Laura and her husband model their life jackets.  Juli's sister Maren does the same.

After doing all of this, we spent time getting acclimated to the ship's environs.  There were shops, a casino, bars, stages, a movie theater, a fitness center with large picture windows, some coffee shops, a number of restaurants.  There is an indoor and also an outdoor pool.  There were tennis and volleyball courts out on the deck.  The boat has 9 decks, with rooms on 7 of them.

Finally, at about 9:30 PM, the boat disembarked and began the trip to Glacier Bay, which was almost a 36 hour boat ride.  It turned out to be one of the worse parts of the trip for me.  As we left Seattle, things were fine.  We stood out and the deck and watched the city of Seattle disappear behind us. That first night, the waters of the Pacific were choppy and I got really, really seasick.  I couldn't get comfortable in the room as the boat rocked up and down. It was amazing that something so big could still be rocked around in the water like that.  I finally found some seasick pills, but it was really too late for those.  I should have taken them BEFORE we left.  I'll know better next time.

Monday, June 7, 2004: We continued to be at sea on Monday.  I was still not feeling well, but I arose early and went out on the deck and breathed in the fresh air.  I walked around and I felt a bit better.  At least I didn't lose my meal as I did the night before.  According to the Ship's Log, by noon we were at 51 03'6N 129 57'4W which is located on the map below:

Our location at noon on Monday.  The town of Dawson's Landing is in British Columbia.  Further north is Princess Royal Island.  It is a popular, yet hard to reach Wilderness Area in Canada.  We would continue north to Glacier Bay on the Alaska Peninsula.  I hope to someday visit this part of Canada as it looks fascinating.

My seasickness went away little by little during the day as we participated in numerous activities on the boat.  The meals were out of this world.  I ate grilled salmon, baked salmon, lox, and more types of salmon along the way, not to mention all of the other goodies being served. Its no wonder people say they gain lots of weight on these trips.

Each evening there is the dinner in the dining room.  We have our own table that is reserved for us each evening, so there is no confusion as to where we will sit.  We even have the same waiters, who get to know what we want.  There are some evenings where the dress is suits and ties.  There are others where the dress is casual.  The meals are always 5 or 6 courses...a soup, a salad, a main dish, etc.  As with everything else, it could be all you care to eat.  We could decide on not having some things and get two of others, if we so desired.  It was pretty nice.  From our table, which was in the middle of the dining area, we still had a nice window view of the scenery outside.  It was truly a nice atmosphere.

After dinner, we could attend movies, or dance shows, or just go to a room and play games.  We did a little of each on the cruise.

Even on this first day of the cruise, as I wandered around the boat and explored, I could see that there were numerous ways they would reach into people's pockets for a few extra bucks here and there. Indeed, if one wasn't careful (or money was not a concern), one could spend more money ON the cruise then they spent for the cruise itself.  The day we boarded the boat, they took our pictures and then that evening they were posted so we could decide if we wanted to purchase them.  At each dinner and even around the boat throughout the day, there were photographers taking random photos and then asking us if we would like to order copies.  The casino, of course, took plenty of people's money.  Then, there were the gift shops.  They sold jewelry, watches, trinkets, Holland America things, Alaska souvenirs, etc.  If you wanted internet access, you could buy it by the hour or by the day.  It was fairly expensive.  I did get lucky and win a drawing for one day's worth of internet access.  That was great for me!!  Finally, there were the numerous side trips at each stop.  Many of these looked absolutely awesome...but they were all so expensive.  Some of Juli's family did take the side trips and had a good time.

Most of the time on this first day was spent on the boat, playing cards, reading, watching movies on the TV, walking around the boat exploring and eating....  

Finally, it was time to settle down to sleep. Most nights were OK for sleeping, as long as the boat didn't hit rough waters.

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