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  1. Just outside the starboard side doors to the aft Lido Deck 9.
  2. I sailed in VS5208 last year and enjoyed the stateroom. Here is a link to my photos of VS5208: http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/photo-reviews/ms-nieuw-statendam-images/ms-nieuw-statendam-staterooms/nggallery/page/1
  3. As a photographer, I will always book an aft stateroom for Alaska for the following reasons: You can see both sides of the ship and not have to move from side to side to get a good photo. There is no wind even while the ship is moving which means you can have Room Service dinner on your balcony. There is little foot traffic past your stateroom. You can enjoy Glacier Bay on your balcony without fighting the crowds at the upper deck railings. You won't lose your spot at the railing if you have to find a restroom. Just step inside your stateroom. No tablets or cameras to block your photo ops. You won't lose your spot at the upper deck railings if you want food. Just give Room Service a call and eat on your own balcony while you continue to take photos. Your minibar is a few steps away if you want a cold beverage. Nobody will kick your tripod if you are on your own balcony. Room Service is a short elevator ride up to your room from the kitchen so orders are both quick and hot when received. The main dining room is a short elevator ride down to dinner. The Lido Market buffet is a short elevator ride up for snacks or pizza on the NA. The sound of the ship's wake is very soothing. There are no noise sources above or below your stateroom. There are those who avoid the aft staterooms for a number of reasons and that ensures that I can have my favorite photo locations on any ship.
  4. Here is a link to my photo review of the Koningsdam: http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/photo-reviews/ms-konigsdam-on-board Here is a link to my photo review of the Nieuw Amsterdam: http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/photo-reviews/ms-nieuw-statendam-images
  5. Alaska is huge and there is so much to see and experience. Consider your first visit to be a sampler to see all that is possible, talk with others who have different excursions, and begin working on a list of things to do on your next visit. Prepare for rain and be thrilled when there is bright sunshine. Ketchikan experiences more than 150 inches of rainfall each year with May being the driest month. The rain does not diminish all of the baby creatures experiencing life in May, does not stop the eagles from soaring overhead, does not bother the whales, does not stop the sound of cracking followed by glacier calving, does not change the snow still on the higher peaks, or change the taste of Dungeness crab. Note that any excursion that involves flying will have very limited seating and should be booked ASAP. Cell phones work fine in Juneau, Ketchkian, and Skagway (unless the ship is docked next to the cliff). Plan your packing to take advantage of the unlimited laundry for $49 per stateroom for the duration of the cruise. Since you will be traveling with strangers that you will never see again, there is no need to "dress to impress". Pack for your comfort and plan on mix & match clothing. Pack a collapsible duffel bag for souvenirs. As you go through your planning process, keep a journal. While on board, keep a journal as your friends will ask about your Alaska vacation. Your journal will be a huge help when you plan your next visit. Take full advantage of the HAL Forum to pose questions and join your roll call when you make your ship decision. Here is a link to my Alaska photographs that include many excursions that you may consider: http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/place/alaska-2
  6. May is a good time for whales as those that migrate are brining their frisky calves back to Alaska waters. There are a number of whales in Auke Bay, Juneau that do not migrate. Every whale excursion guarentees you will see a whale or recive a big rebate. I like the Koningisdam but that means 500 more passengers competing for the same excursions. If you choose the Nieuw Amsterdam, you will miss out on one restaurant, NY Deli/Pizza, and the Ductch Cafe that are available on the Koningsdam. I will be on both the North and Southbound cruises on the NA in May 2021 and recommend for your intital visit (most return to experience and photograph the scenery they missed): Juneau: dogsledding in the snow or whale watching Ketchikan: Crab Fishing with lots of eagle photo ops or Crab Feasting with flightseeing Skagway: dogsleeding in the snow or train ride
  7. I noticed this price reduction today, too and will be booking tomorrow.
  8. I have had issues using Firefox when booking excursions. Microsoft Edge made it possible.
  9. I was on the first US cruise of the Nieuw Amsterdam and thought that Contare was good enough that I bought their CD. I have that CD on my MP3 player and they get me into cruise mode whenever I fly to a cruise.
  10. I asked my HAL PCC and she told me to expect Fall 2021 in mid-September. Also changes being made for Alaska 2021 will be out soon.
  11. This appears to vary by ship. I received the discount on the Nieuw Statendam last December. On the Westerdam last summer, the discount was available from the Explorations Cafe barista on her workstation but not available on the bar workstation just a few feet away.
  12. If you are hoping to get get photos through the train windows, good luck avoiding the rainbow in your photos. Leave your seat and spend most of your journey on the connecting platforms between the train cars. You can move from side to side to catch the ice, moose, eagles, and scenery without the hinderance of the thick train windows.
  13. My experience on the Zaandam is there is a private verandah on Decks 6 and 7 with the aft exit doors on each side marked "For emergency use". HAL omited "Only" from the sign but many passengers only adhere to the secondary use of the door for emergencies. The verandah span the entire aft of the ship and includes loungers, blankets, and a large overhead vent if you need some warm air. Only three other passengers discovered this great photograpy location during my time aboard.
  14. I have done both excursions a number of times. My last Taku Lodge experience did not have the bears showing up for pictures. All plane passengers have window seats and headphones describing the lodge as well as surrounding terrain. The king salmon was caught the day before and the iced tea made with glacier ice. Here is a link to my photo review of the lodge experience: http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/place/alaska-2/juneau-2/taku-lodge The Tracy Arm excursion was a chance for great photos of the huge ice flows as well as the many waterfalls. If you depart from Juneau, there is a lot of just "riding" time to get the the fjord. The box lunch was really good. Lots of wildlife to enjoy. Here is a link to what you might see: http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/place/alaska-2/juneau-2/tracy-arm
  15. I had to contact HAL to get the "no frills" fare. As a solo traveler, the savings were considerable.
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