Alaska on board ms Zaandam

Alaska on board ms Zaandam

View itineraries onboard ms Zaandam

Overall we had a good time, with good weather, good food, good company, and a scheduled tour which ran like clockwork. Some of the scenery was spectacular with Glacier Bay, Denali National Park and Kenai Fjord being highlights.

Comments on Trip-:

Plane Flight: Air Canada, Sydney to Vancouver - good flight, but no Holland America personnel at Reception desk, just a note telling us to find own transport to hotel.

Two nights stay in Vancouver at Coast Coal Harbour Hotel was a welcome break from the flight. The Hotel was excellent and within walking distance to the boat Terminal, and close to shops and restaurants. A shopping trip to Granville Island was rewarding.

To start the Inside Passage voyage on the ms Zaandam we walked to the boarding zone to find considerable confusion as to where to begin proceedings due to a lack of signage or people to advise where to go. This resulted in several groups walking around the terminal trying to work out where to go! However, we finally found the right place and after going through Customs and being allocated our cabins we had to wait about a half hour before we were finally allowed to board.

We were pleased with the Verandah Suite Accommodation which was spacious and well maintained for the whole voyage. We were lucky to have light winds and no discomfort due to the ship movement, also we were well away from the ship’s engine noise.

On board the food was very good and the service excellent; we particularly enjoyed two nights in the Pinnacle Restaurant.

We were happy with the first dinner sitting, which allowed us to go straight on to watch the night’s floor shows and get to bed at a reasonable time. The quality of the entertainment was very good and appreciated.The daily activity sheets were good and gave more options on board than we could join in! The travel guide presentations were appreciated, also the information sheets issued for Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay.

The excursions ashore were all enjoyable, and provided good shopping opportunities. The Cable trip to the mountain top at Junau was worthwhile, and the dog sled experience at Skagway a highlight. The approach to Glacier Bay was spectacular with the snow capped mountains silhouetted in a still blue sea which was dotted with blue ice flows. The atmosphere at the Glacier was chilling to say the least but also awesome in grandeur.

On arrival at Seward we disembarked, and continued the day cruising the Kenai Fjord. We were fortunate to have a very favourable day and saw dolphins, seals, whales, orcas, and a wide variety of bird life, as well as visit another glacier.

After travelling by coach to Anchorage we spent a free day shopping and hiking around the city, and enjoyed another entertaining sled dog display which included a well presented dinner. At night we found that it was not possible to seal off the light in the room completely with the curtain system used. This problem emerged at all the subsequent hotel stays and could easily be fixed by adding blinds to each room. 

The coach journey into Denali National Park and the mountain scenery was breath-taking along the 70 mile journey. We did see caribou, sheep, grizzly bears, moose, and a variety of birds, and I think that everyone on board enjoyed the effort of animal spotting and a degree of success with zoom cameras.

The next train journey took us to Fairbanks where we participated in a river paddle boat cruise and visited a first nation village where we got a well presented outline of early native lifestyle and culture. Later, we visited the Eldorado Gold Mine, participated in a hearty miners lunch, then, after a demonstration, became feverishly involved with gold panning for our own fortune! Eureka! little yellow spots were left in our pans, which after weighing were valued at $65.

From Fairbanks we travelled to Tok by coach and then to Dawson. The town was full of history, and the old buildings nicely restored. We walked the town and spent some time in the information centre which ran films showing the history of the gold rush era as well as the second world war development of the roads and infrastructure.

Finally, we travelled to Whitehorse and after a day’s shopping, and a fast trip on a jet boat down the Yukon River we enjoyed an excellent Follies show and a hearty farewell dinner.

The trip home, Whitehorse, Vancouver, Sydney, Melbourne, Yarram was long and arduous. The connection flight at Sydney was missed due to delays in Customs. A period of 2.5 to 3 hours should be allowed for this connection.

Finally, would we recommend this trip to others? Yes, but by doing the land content first and the boat voyage second.(The boat voyage is far more relaxing and the luggage packing and handling is not an issue) Note-: we did appreciate the baggage handling for the whole trip, and we were always pleasantly surprised to find our luggage in our rooms at each hotel on arrival.

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