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About Oakman58

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  1. That was a good review and I completely agree about playing unedited songs with certain "language." I won't book a mini suite because of the tub. I'm 73 years old and I don't care for stepping in and out of a tub. Did you attend any of the stage productions in the theater?
  2. Yea! 53 days from our cruise and we finally got our flight information to Miami. Coming and going will be on American Airlines and they are both non-stop flights. I'm happy with that. When we booked our cruise we paid $99 per person for these flights. To book those same flights through the airline it would cost 345.60 per person.
  3. I think taking air born is an excellent idea. My wife was taking it during the cruise and although she did come down with a cough, it was mild and didn't last as long as mine.
  4. I have every intention of cruising with HAL again.
  5. Ah yes, life as a 3rd class passenger. I'm sure Haven guests don't have to put up with such behavior.
  6. Here’s a link to my trip report with pictures on the Holland Westerdam’s 11 day double Denali cruise/tour northbound from Vancouver June 2nd to June 13th. The land portion ended in Fairbanks.
  7. June 12th Fairbanks continued I'm alive...somewhat. There were a number of homes on the river and they ranged from big and beautiful to one step up from a shack. At one of the lower end house there was a lady cutting the grass. I think she had her work cut out for her. Our boat stopped when we arrived at the kennels of the famous Susan Butcher. Although she passed away in 2006 her husband continues to run the kennels. After a brief talk about the dogs they hitched up a team to an ATV for a pulling demonstration. Those dogs took off like a shot and I couldn’t believe how fast they ran. There was a lake behind the Butcher property and those dogs did a lap around it in no time. It was an excellent demonstration of the speed and pulling power of those dogs. As we moved on, the ship’s narrator began talking about caribou/reindeer just as our boat stopped at an area where there were reindeer in a fenced enclosure. The next stop on our riverboat tour was a fish camp where a young woman demonstrated how salmon are prepared for the smoke house. Our final stop on the tour was the Chena Indian Village where passengers got off to walk around the village. The passengers were divided into three groups and taken to different presentation/demonstration areas in the village. I was still very fatigued so I just stayed on the boat. The boat stayed at the village for about an hour or so. Once we left the village it was back to the boat dock. From the boat it was back on the bus for the ride to our hotel. This was a Westmark hotel too. At the hotel we were given a packet with information about leaving tomorrow and our room keys. All of our luggage was waiting for us in the room. Again this room was much nicer than I was expecting. Sorry no pictures. As I remember, NCL had a desk in the hotel and that’s where we went to reserve a shuttle to the airport. We were assigned to take the 3:30 AM shuttle. Our flight on Alaskan Airlines was scheduled to depart at 5:30 AM. The hotel had two restaurants so we chose to eat at the one with the shortest waiting time for a table. After that it was up to our room and went to bed. June 13th Going Home We left a wake up call with the hotel for 2:30 AM but for some reason they rang our phone at 2:20 AM. I was surprised how light it was at that time of morning. There was some pink in the sky already. The photo was taken at 2:24 AM. It was a short ride to the airport from the hotel and we were checked in and our luggage dropped off by 3:45. That’s when we found out that TSA didn’t open until 4 AM. I passed through security with flying colors again. Before taking this trip I was wondering if all the metal in my ankle would be an issue but it wasn’t. Our plane departed Fairbanks on time for the flight to Seattle. We had a few hours of layover in Seattle and then our flight left for St. Louis on time and we arrived in St. Louis just a little after 6 PM CDT. That, my friends completes my trip report of our Alaskan adventure. I loved cruising with Holland and my only disappointment was missing Denali National Park entirely on the land portion. I’m feeling fine but here it is a month later and I still have a lingering cough. I like to thank everyone for their very kind remarks about my trip report. It’s very encouraging and motivates to do another report after our next cruise.
  8. June 12th Fairbanks I'm alive...somewhat. I was feeling just a bit better this morning but not great. We boarded our bus at 8:30 for the ride to Fairbanks. The scenery on the ride to Fairbanks was unremarkable for the most part. There were a couple of scenic areas though. Our included excursion today would be a riverboat tour on the Discovery III, a 900 passenger boat. Our lunch was included with this tour and we would be eating in a dining room before boarding the boat. When we arrived at Steamboat Landing on the river we were herded into a large dining hall where we would dine with about 400 or so of our closest friends. This was family style dining and we were seated at picnic tables that could seat 8 or 10. After lunch we strolled through the gift shop and didn’t realize boarding had already begun for the Riverboat. Darn, by the time we got on the boat the best seats were already taken. At 2 PM the sternwheeler Discovery III departed the dock and employees came out to wave farewell as we began our 3 hour tour on the Chena River. Glad to be rid of us I’m thinking. I don’t think we had gone more than 100 yards when it was announced there would be a bush pilot floatplane takeoff and landing demonstration. Naturally we were on the wrong side of the boat to get a good view. HINT: grab a seat on the port side for a good view of the demonstration. As we continued on the river an immature Bald Eagle was spotted high up in a tree. We also came upon the Discovery I tied up to shore by the house owned by the Binkley family. It was Jim Binkley who started the Discovery tours in 1950. The matriarch of the family, Mrs. Binkley, was standing by the river and gave us a hearty wave as we passed by. Notice that the satellite TV dish on the left of the picture is pointed at the horizon. Fairbanks is so far north that the dishes have to be pointed at the horizon to get a TV signal. Continued in my next post.
  9. Gross or not, sleeping on the loungers like that is incredibly rude. "Freestyle sleeping," sleep where you want, when you want.
  10. June 10th Denali Riding the rails. We were up a 5 AM and we had to have our bags outside our door by 6 AM. We ate at the hotel’s breakfast buffet. I believe the prices were $14.95 for continental and $19.95 for the hot buffet. After looking at the offerings on the continental buffet we both chose to go with the hot breakfast. I was definitely coming down with something and not feeling on top of the world this morning. At 8:30 we boarded a bus and were driven to the train station. The train departed the station for Denali at 9:20. The glass domed railcars for this leg of our journey had two levels, the upper level was passenger seating and the lower level was a dining room. Each car had a rail guide and the young man we had was very good. Here’s a picture of our rail guide. After leaving Anchorage the mountain scenery seemed to disappear. We did pass by a number of pretty lakes and streams. Because of the limited seating in the dining room, lunch service was done in groups. Our lunch had been comped by our travel agent so no cost to us. By this time I was feeling pretty tired again and I didn’t eat much for lunch. The scenery for most of the train trip was unremarkable. It wasn’t until we got closer to Denali NP that we began seeing mountains in the distance again. Our train arrived at the station in Denali at 5 PM and by this time I was feeling pretty bad and very tired. Also it was raining harder than we had experienced on this entire trip. At the station we boarded a bus for the short ride to the lodge we would be staying at. It was a little before 6 PM when we got to our room. At this point I don’t remember how we were assigned a room or even how we got there. My note taking ended. I did manage to take one picture of the room we were assigned. Pizza delivery was available at the lodge so at 7 PM Joyce called and ordered a pizza and beer for us. It took an hour for the pizza to arrive but our drinks had been forgotten. It took another 20 minutes for the beer to show up. I ate one piece of pizza, laid down on the bed, and passed out. June 11th Denali National Park I become Rip Van Winkle. Joyce woke me up at 8:00 AM and told me the Denali Urgent Care Center would be open at 9. She called the front desk and they sent a van over to take us to the center. There were already a number of people waiting to see the doctor when we arrived. Joyce was beginning to cough too so when I signed in for treatment, she signed in too. I was prescribed something for my cough and an antibiotic. Joyce was prescribed something for her cough. Fortunately they dispensed the drugs right there at the center. This photo taken inside the center is the only photo I took that day. Joyce called for a van to pick us up again and we were driven back to our room. My feeling of fatigue was overwhelming and I laid down on the bed again and went to sleep. We didn’t get to do the included Tundra Wilderness Tour nor did we do the Covered Wagon Adventure with Back Country Dining excursion we had paid for. I was down for the count. I’m still bummed about that. Up next Fairbanks
  11. June 9th Anchorage continued Disembarkation and Land Cruising At 6:15 PM we were picked up at the hotel for our flightseeing excursion of Anchorage. This excursion was through Rust’s Flying Service. After checking in, everyone on our flight had to get on a scale and get weighed. OH SURE, after 7 days on a cruise ship and eating like a pig, now you weigh me. Here’s a picture of the plane we would be flying in. After boarding the plane our pilot gave us a little briefing and then we were off. Once in the air I couldn’t believe how many private aircraft there were in this area. Everyone on the plane had their own headset so that could ask the pilot any questions they might have. The headsets were voice activated so there was no learning curve. Soon we were flying over the mountains and the views were awesome. At one point the pilot pointed out some sheep on the side of a mountain. The goats are the white dots to the right of the photo. The 30 minute flight ended and we headed back to the airport. This excursion was well worth the money. Back at the airport we boarded a van and we were driven back to our hotel. We ate dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and then called it a night. Stopping for now.
  12. June 9th Anchorage Disembarkation and Land Cruising. We were up at 4:30 AM and after dressing and doing our other morning duties we went to the buffet for breakfast. The buffet had opened at 5 AM this morning. From breakfast we headed directly to the theater. Wow, there were a lot of folks with the same cough I had in the theater. Our group was escorted off the ship and to our train to Anchorage which was waiting right at the port. The glass domed train car had booth type seating, two people facing forward and two backward with a table in between. Since there weren’t many passengers in our car just about everyone was able to sit facing forward. The train departed Seward at 6:45 AM. Each car had a rail guide who would describe the areas we traveled through and what to look for. The rail guide also helped serve drinks and food that was available for purchase. The scenery on the way to Anchorage was absolutely stunning. The train arrived in Anchorage at 11:25 AM and we were told the rooms weren’t ready at our Westmark Hotel. At the train depot there were buses that took us to the Holland America hospitality room that was located in the Marriott Hotel. Just before 4 PM our group was called to board a bus for the short ride to the Westmark Hotel. We were assigned to room 418 and wow, I wasn’t expecting such a nice room. Our luggage was already in the room. Continued in my next post.
  13. June 8th Sea Day I think we're party crashers. I was up early as usual. When I stepped out onto the balcony it was chilly and the skies were cloudy but the ocean was very calm. Even though the buffet didn’t open until 7 AM I was able to fill our mugs with coffee and hot water in the buffet. As we had done all week, we ate breakfast in the buffet this morning. Another thing that I really liked about the Westerdam, every morning there were “newspapers” available with news from various countries in the language of that country. I’ve really been impressed with the little things that Holland America does for its passengers. There was a meeting at 8 AM this morning in the Mainstage Theater where they would explain how luggage would be handled for those of us continuing with a land excursion. Oh boy, there were quite a few people with the same cough I had. Not good. After the meeting we went out for a stroll on the promenade deck. We only did one lap because of the chill in the air and we really weren’t dressed for it. I was impressed with the number of deck chairs on the promenade deck. NCL ships would only have a handful of chairs available on the promenade deck. We headed up to the Explorers Lounge and bought some hot chocolate to warm our bones. Then we went back to our room to change into better clothes for the Mariner Society Lunch we had been invited to. We have never cruised with Holland before so we were at a loss as to why we received this invitation. I’ve been to Norwegian’s Latitudes parties for members and it was nothing special. I considered not going to the lunch but one of the couples that joined us on the cruise were members of the Mariners Society and wanted us to join them for the lunch. I’m glad we did. I ordered the beef pot roast and it was delicious. Just before dessert was served a young man wearing a very retro uniform came by our table and gave us all a ceramic coaster complete with certificate of authenticity. Now I did feel like a party crasher. I loved the retro uniform that young man was wearing. After lunch we went back to our cabin to start packing some of our clothes. Tomorrow we would begin the land portion of our tour. When I got back to the cabin I was feeling fatigued so I took a short nap. My cough wasn’t getting any worse but it wasn’t getting better either. At some point in the afternoon we went to the shops and loaded up on cough drops for me. At this point my notes got sketchy because I was very fatigued for the rest of the day. We had dinner in the dining room and I don’t know if we ate alone or had company. Here are a couple of pics of the menu that night. After dinner we went back to our cabin to finish packing. Our bags had to be in the hallway by midnight. One bag would be going directly to Fairbanks (dirty clothes) and the other would meet us in Anchorage the next day. I think I had the bags in the hall by 8 PM and then I went to bed. Since we had a meeting time in the morning at 6:05 AM in the Mainstage Theater we would be getting up early enough to have a breakfast before leaving the ship. Next up later today Anchorage.
  14. Yes the boat was too big with too many passengers for good whale watching. We booked this through Holland America so I don't know the name of the company that actually operated the excursion.
  15. June 7th Glacier Bay continued. A wonderful day for most of our group. I’m not even going to guess what the name of this glacier was. To give a perspective of the glacier's size, I've included a couple of photos of the large tourist boat that was cruising in the area of this glacier also. The boat can be seen on the left of the picture. Later in the afternoon we headed out to the open ocean and left the awesome mountain views behind. We had been truly blessed with beautiful weather for our visit to Glacier Bay. I forgot to mention that our room steward had set out these lap blankets so we would be warm on our balcony as we visited Glacier Bay. Did you notice what's on the table? That's right, binoculars...bring 'em. At 3 PM we went to the Classic Afternoon Tea in the dining room. Joyce loves hot tea and she was thrilled that this was offered on the ship. On each table there were tiered trays of goodies to enjoy with the tea. It just makes one feel civilized and sophisticated having afternoon tea. As I sipped my tea I tried to hold my pinky finger away from the cup in hopes of looking very sophisticated. I don’t think I fooled anyone. It was Happy Hour in the Ocean Bar and we joined one of the other couples with us for a little happiness. When our drinks were served our waitress also brought some appetizers on a tray. Sweet, can things get any better? On the dinner menu for tonight was surf and turf which was filet mignon and lobster tail. Things just got better! Both Joyce and I ordered it and since Joyce doesn’t like lobster I made the great sacrifice and ate her tail too. I took this picture after our waiter had already removed the tail from the shell. After dinner we had time to go to the 7 PM show in the Mainstage Theater. Tonight’s show was the Illusionist James Cielen. His show was very entertaining and definitely worth going to see. At some point today I developed a dry hacking cough. Fortunately I was able to control the coughing with cough drops. In the theater I noticed other people were coughing too. I was hoping I wasn’t coming down with the cruise crud. When the show was over we went back to our cabin and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Yikes, there was a monkey in our room. Tomorrow morning I'll post about our sea day.
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