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Alaska Cruise

by on August 16, 2011 · 19 comments

We’re back from what was supposed to be a long weekend in Seattle. And while it was a Seattle vacation, the real purpose for going there was to eat doughnuts at Top Pot.

Top Pot Doughnuts

Just kidding, but I had to include the doughnut photo somehow and we did go to Top Pot. The real purpose of our trip was to board a Holland America ship and take an Alaskan cruise. It was definitely one of the best trips of our life, and even a little more fun since we managed to keep the whole thing a surprise for Fuzz. On our last morning in Seattle, we told her we were switching hotels, when in actuality the second “hotel” was to be the Oosterdam. Fuzz didn’t realize what was happening until we were at the port getting out of the cab.

Holland America Oosterdam

The next seven days are a blur of activities, food, trivia games (probably our favorite thing to do on the ship), whale watching, sled dogging and walking around in various ports. If you want any information on Alaska cruises, shoot me an email or just leave me a comment. I did a lot of research prior to this trip and am always happy to share information or answer any questions. Since there are so many things to write about and I want to get back to baking (if I remember how), I’ll answer any questions here and then try to post a more detailed report some time later this week.

If you’re planning an Alaska cruise, at some point you might find yourself dealing with the question “Tracy Arm vs. Glacier Bay”. One reason we chose Holland America is that their ships are allowed in Glacier Bay. This is the view from our balcony.

Glacier Bay

Another reason we chose Alaska was that I’d always wanted to go on a whale watching trip. We booked one with a tour company Alaska Galore out of Juneau. Our guide was excellent and we did get an up close view of plenty of whales. We also saw lots of whales from the cruise ship, which was really exciting. Every time we’d sit down for a meal, we’d look out at the ocean and try to spot whales. At one point, some dolphins came along and played near the ship.

whale tail

Another highlight was visiting the sled dogs at Sled Dog Discovery and Musher Camp in Juneau. Unlike the whale watch, which we booked privately through Alaska Galore, we booked this one right on the ship through Holland America.

sled dog puppy

The Raptor Center in Sitka which rehabilitates bald eagles and other raptors, was also very interesting.

bald eagle

Wow, there’s just so much more to cover. We loved Seattle, had fun meeting Cake Spy and Ellie Matthews, eating pizza with some other friends at Belltown Pizza, taking the Pike Place Market Ghost tour, eating at Pike¬† Brewery, checking out the Experience Music project, spending a day at the Pacific Science Center and taking in the view from the Space Needle.¬† And we only scratched the surface!

top of the Space Needle

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Published on August 16, 2011

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue August 16, 2011 at 8:05 am

Fun, fun, FUN! And, great memories for your family! I’m glad Fuzz was completely surprised by the ‘change of hotels’. :-)

Adam August 16, 2011 at 9:54 am

Glad you had a great trip and welcome back :). That doughnut looks epic :).

Katrina August 16, 2011 at 10:15 am

What a fun trip! Glad the surprise for Fuzz worked out! Whatcha baking today? ;)

Gloria August 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I would have liked to have seen Fuzz’s face when she found out she was going on a cruise! The view from your window is breathtakingly beautiful.
I think you have sold me on an Alaskan cruise and a visit back to Seattle for next summer! Lucky for me you’ve done all the research and planning work and experienced everything I would probably love to do!

Cheryl August 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Glad your trip was so great! My husband went on this same trip on the Westerdam 2 years ago. Best vacation we ever had! Love Holland America!

Louise August 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I’m glad you liked all the sights. They’re something you’ll enjoy again when you see them elsewhere. Now you’ll have to dogsled in winter, see the aurora borealis, and the Midnight Sun. :-)

Emily August 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Yay! :) I’m so glad you all had a good trip! Seems like a ton of fun!

Shannon August 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm

How many days did you get to spend in Alaska (how many days for excursions)? My family was considering a cruise to Alaska (on Carnival), but hasn’t made plans yet and was concerned that there would be more time spent on the ship than being able to explore.

It sounds like you had a great time !

Paula B. August 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

So fun, do tell us more. This is one of my dream trips, I want to visit as close to the Arctic Circle as possible when we go. We do have whale watch excursions around here at home so I would like to do some of the land side trips to get the historical and cultural (and geographical) perspective. Did you have to “dress up” a lot for evenings on the ship? This must have been such a wonderful family experience, a great summer vacation indeed!

Anna August 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Paula, it was a great escape from the Texas heat, that’s for sure. To answer your question about dressing up, there were 2 formal nights. Honestly, they weren’t that formal. People looked nice, but I didn’t see a lot of evening gowns and tuxedos — dresses and suits.

Shannon, we stayed for 7 nights.

Cheryl, based on this cruise I’d have to say Holland America is my favorite line right now for a lot of reasons. The crew was accessible and friendly, the food was very good for cruise food with some things being excellent (the beef was particularly good and there was a ton of fresh fruit), the pool wasn’t overcrowded and there were always places to sit, there’s a cafe/library called Explorations which has all kinds of books and periodicals and an all-around nice atmosphere, the waiters in the main dining room were genuinely nice. We had assigned seating on the upper level and they gave us our own table. As a party of 3, I expected we’d have to share, but that was not the case. The beds were exceptional, the activities were varied (we really liked the trivia games with JT, the cruise director) and the people running the kids club knew Fuzz’s name. There were a lot fewer kids on board, of course, but enough so that Fuzz made friends. I also loved all the culinary demonstrations and craft sessions.

Upstate NY Native August 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Glad you had such a wonderful time. Your Guest Posters were fantastic and even though I don’t post much, I always read your posts and I’m glad you’re back.

karen August 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I was on that very cruise on that very ship in 2008! How funny!

Kathy August 16, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Wow, you just did a dream of mine (cruise to alaska). Would love to hear from you about your research. Hoping to do it next year with several people (no kids though). I am just starting the research myself so I hope you don’t mind if I mooch off your findings! :)


Carole August 16, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Anna, FYI—Holland America has culinary cruises. On these cruises a celebrity chef gives demos and classes during your days at sea.

Brooke August 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

Very cool. My husband and I have been talking about taking an Alaskan cruise. My only concern is that I don’t want to be the youngest folks on the boat. Lame, I know, but a concern nonetheless.

Gina August 21, 2011 at 1:05 am

How cool! I have always wanted to take an Alaska cruise. Now this is the one that’s seven days, starts and ends in Seattle, and only goes as far up as Juneau?

Heidi August 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

So fun to read a little bit about your Alaskan cruise! That is something I’ve always wanted to do. Actually, cruising itself is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’ll be looking forward to your more detailed post… I’d love to hear a compare/contrast of Disney and Holland America, though it sounds like HAL has won your heart for now.

Lou August 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Your cruise sounds like great fun – I have followed your blog for the last couple of years because I love baking and your recipes are always enticing! I remember a while ago you were asking about different cruise lines and you were interested in Celebrity Cruises – I would highly recommend them, especially the Solstice class ships. Like Holland America, they are not geared so much to families as Royal Caribbean or Disney, but I have always found the kids club brilliant and the service is absolutely phenomenal. It ends up really good value in the end for what you get for your money!

Anna August 27, 2011 at 7:40 am

Lou, thanks for the advice. We are probably going to try Celebrity next. I wanted to try them this go-round, but they didn’t have the right itinerary. But yes, I’ve heard they are one of the best lines and that their European cruises are really nice.

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