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Copyright © 1995-2004 
Linda Coffman

Volendam - Holland America Line  
August 2001

by Carol Mavroidaki

Carol & Sue Board Volendam in Vancouver

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!

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 talk 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! 

Sue Enjoys the Scenic Beauty of Glacier Bay on board HAL's Volendam

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!

Photographic Memories of Working on Chandris Lines - Carol's web site devoted to those who worked (and played) on Amerikanis and Britanis

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