In August 2001 my sister and I were
lucky enough to do an Alaska cruise on board the Volendam. We had
not spent ages pouring over brochures deciding which ship to do the
trip on, our tour company decided for us! We come from England and
were doing a two week coast to coast tour of Canada and we thought
that an Alaska cruise add on at the end would be very relaxing,
one of the benefits being that we would be in the same beds for
seven nights without moving on!
& Sue Board Volendam in Vancouver
I am not an expert cruiser like
most of you fans of Cruise Diva. Apart from a voyage to New York in
the mid nineties on the wonderful QE2, I have not been on a cruise
ship since I worked on them in the early seventies! I was impressed
with how things have progressed.
The embarkation was a very smooth
operation helped because we were fairly early arriving at the
terminal in Vancouver. We were on board in no time and as we only
had what I presume was a standard outside cabin very pleased
with it. (The only choice we had when we booked was if we wanted an
outside or an inside cabin). There was everything you could possibly
need for such a short time on board. The bathroom was spacious, the
beds were comfy, masses of wardrobe space, there was an English
voltage plug which was a thrill as MY hairdryer worked properly for
the first time on the holiday!! There was fresh fruit every day,
ice, which was very important for our gin & tonics, TV, and
our steward was very friendly and efficient. Ok, if you'd been on
for a longer trip it would have been nice to have a balcony but we
were not in the cabin very much anyway.
The decor of the ship is very
attractive and we soon found our way around and decided upon our
favourite places. We had breakfast and lunch every day in the
Lido bar area where the buffet food is superb and very varied. It
was always busy but there was never a problem finding a table. In
fact we enjoyed it when we had to share as we met many new people to
During the day when we were at sea
we tried to do our mile around Deck 3. There is a Gym in The
Ocean Spa but that seemed to be for the super fit, or the ones
pretending to be super fit in their lycra! We enjoyed the pool,
which is for all weathers as it is beneath a retractable dome, a
very clever idea. The ship is full of beautiful flower displays
which make all the lounges look very attractive. Our favourite bar
was The Crows Nest which as it is very high up has a wonderful view.
We met our friends for pre-dinner drinks there every evening and
normally ended up there again after dinner when it turned into the
disco. Sometimes they had a themed night e.g. Country & Western.
The other bar we sometimes used was The Ocean bar which had a
fabulous trio playing with a female vocalist singing really great
standards. The Rotterdam restaurant, where we ate on second
sitting every evening, was formal but friendly. It is on two levels
so if one has not had too many pre-dinner cocktails you can make
quite an entrance down the sweeping staircase! The food was
excellent as was the service from both our waiter and wine steward.
I was not madly impressed with the
shows that were in the theatre every night and I admit I enjoyed the
amateur night best of all! We never went to the casino nor the
sports bar. There was certainly loads of things to do but we
preferred to be with the friends we'd made on the tour,
drinking and dancing!
The itinerary was excellent as we
had time at sea which I enjoy. Our first day was at sea, the next
day was in Juneau where we went on a whale watching tour which was
brilliant! They actually guarantee that you will see whales
and we did, masses of them including a calf that kept flipping it's
self in the air! Juneau is like the other ports, very quaint, but
there is not a lot to see in the little town so it is a good place
to do tours from. We had wonderful weather, as it was all over
Alaska, and unusually warm for them.
The next day we were in Skagway,
lovely boardwalks and craft shops and again sun! We spent a long
time looking around the town and did a short tour which we were
disappointed with as we were told it would be much longer. We went
to Liarsville a real touristy reproduction of a gold rush camp, a
rip off in my opinion, don't bother!
Enjoys the Scenic Beauty of Glacier Bay on board HAL's
The next day we spent at sea cruising
very slowly around Glacier Bay, which was amazing because we seemed
to get so close to the glaciers. It was a wonderful sight and the
noise was thunderous when pieces of ice broke off and fell into
the water. I also found it incredible that we were the only ship in
the bay, which made it so peaceful, as we seemed to be following
around the same two other cruise ships all the time.
The last port was Ketchikan and as
with the other places we were moored just at the bottom of the main
street! It makes going ashore so easy and orientation tours
are unnecessary as it is easy to find your own way around everywhere
by walking. Unfortunately we did not know this and so had booked to
do a totally unnecessary tram tour. In the afternoon we did a Lumber
Jack show which was fun but very touristy. Our last day was at sea.
The crew of mainly Filipinos
and Indonesians were all very friendly and helpful, nothing was too
much trouble for them. We had a wonderful trip, the ship is lovely
and we felt very rested (but very fat!) at the end of the cruise and
ready for our long journey home to UK!
Memories of Working on Chandris Lines - Carol's web site devoted
to those who worked (and played) on Amerikanis and Britanis