NORTH TO ALASKA!!

Mike and Renée's
Cruise Tour
On Holland America Volendam
August 4-17, 2009

This review is in three sections:

THIS PAGE covers the cruise from Vancouver to Skagway

PAGE 2covers the tour from Skagway to Fairbanks.

PAGE 3covers the highlight of the tour, Denali Park.

This was our 38th cruise, our eighth on HAL, our seventh to Alaska, but our very first Alaska Cruise Tour. It consisted of a four day cruise on HAL Volendam, followed by a 9 day land tour, the highlight of which was two days at Denali National Park.

This was an extremely good trip, with much beautiful scenery and exciting history as well as wildlife sightings. We had a great time, and returned home exhausted but exhilirated!

We boarded the ship in Vancouver. Although US Direct does not operate on Wednesdays, we breezed through immigration very quickly. Our bags were pulled by HAL, and we did not see them until we arrived in our cabin on board.

The cruise began with a leisurely day at sea. We enjoyed the Ocean Bar on the ship, and Renée had the good fortune to spot some spouting whales. On other occasions we saw the fin of an orca, and 7 porpoises swimming together. This was a really amazing amount of wildlife sightings from lounge sitting on the ship!

The Volandam is a beautiful ship, reasonably sized and not overwhelming with the sheer distance to travel and masses of passengers aboard. We like her very much.

The next day we ventured into Tracy Arm. This is a beautiful glacier valley, pretty much like Yosemite with water in the bottom. Large chunks of glacier blue ice floated by as we enjoyed the scenery and hot chocolate with a bit of peppermint schnapps.

At the end of Tracy Arm are the "Twin Sawyer Glaciers." They have receded a great deal since our last time here. The Captain took the ship to the very end of the Arm, with barely room to turn around. The North Glacier was not visible at all, and the South Sawyer Glacier has receded behind a couple of islands. Nevertheless it is very pretty. However, Tracy Arm is not the place to view glaciers from a cruise ship. Rather it is a very scenic day cruising.

In Juneau, Renée was finally able to do the Dog Sledding on the Glacier. Twice before, this trip had been cancelled on her, but this time the weather co-operated and she was able to have this much looked forward to experience! She was completely thrilled by the chance to visit the 200 dogs camped on top of the glacier.

The helicopter flight was beautiful as they passed by several glaciers and scenic points. Finally the camp came into view below on the glacier. Upon landing, well fitted out in warm clothes and boots, there was a chance to meet the dogs and see their luxury accomodations!



Then Renée climbed on the runners and actually got a chance to be the "musher" as the dogs started off across the frozen landscape. She said that it was hard to judge speed as everything was white and there were no landmarks to estimate speed by. It was a great time for her and her wish was finally fulfilled!

Back on the ship we had time to take in a cooking class. The ship's chef was delightful and we had a great time. There were many activities aboard the ship, and just sitting and watching the ocean go by was a very popular one.

The next morning our short cruise came to an end in Skagway. We disemarked the ship and our bags were sent to the hotel while we had a short tour and then free time in Skagway. This is a very scenic city, and we also walked to the creek and watched the salmon swimming upstream for a while.

We had time to take in the "Days of '98" show which was a lot of fun. We had music, dancing girls, and of course, the mandatory recitation of Robert W. Service poetry.

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CONTINUE

with our cruise tour review covering Skagway to Fairbanks.

OR JUMP AHEAD

to the section covering Denali Park.

BACK

to Cruising With The Halls



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