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North to Alaska on the Amsterdam with Bill & May Ann - 14 days - 7-3-17

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Report # 1 We begin the journey…..North to Alaska July 3, 2017 Monday Weather at home – warm and getting hotter – 84 degrees 69 PicturesWell, here we are once again, heading off for an Alaskan adventure on the Amsterdam. Seems like we just left the ship after sailing on the world voyage, coming home on May 11th. Yep, it has only been seven weeks of re-organizing and cleaning up a massively healthy crop of noxious weeds at home. So we are ready for a break from all that, even if it is two weeks. Any time on a ship is a gift for both of us.This trip is a special one in that it will be a reunion of guests traveling with the agency we have used for well over 10 years. This will be their 30th year in business. Back in 2007, we also joined this group for a 20 year reunion in Alaska, and believe it or not, they had a gathering of 435 passengers. That cruise was only for 7 days and quite affordable. Since this is double the days, the group size is around 55. Of those, we personally know five of them.Our flight out of San Francisco was at 6:30 am. That meant we had to be up at 2am, and ready for our pick up at 3:30am. Good grief. Despite our efforts of getting to bed early, it was impossible to get in 7 or 8 hours of true rest. Your mind is still active while you think of what you forgot to do or pack. Long story short………we got about three hours sleep, and that set the tone for the rest of the day.The good news is that leaving for the city at that time of day is traffic-free. Better yet, Monday was almost a holiday, many folks having taken off that day to make a four day weekend. The airport was surprisingly busy at 4:30am, we assume, with commuter flights. By the way, we flew with Delta, an airline we have not used for many years. So it was a nice surprise to find the flight was easy, comfortable, and well-attended by staff. We even got a nice and healthy snack pack with slices of fruit and peanut butter with a scone. Coffee or soda followed. We were landing a little over 2 hours later in Seattle to grey and heavily overcast skies.Well, at least it wasn’t raining , as it often does in this part of the USA. In fact, we have been tracking the weather in the cities we will be visiting in Alaska, and for the most part, it has been raining and quite cool. So we hope our visit will be due for better conditions. Pure luck.Eventually, we were met at the luggage pick-up by a HAL rep, who directed us in a roundabout way to access the HAL transfer bus. They have it set up well actually. Along the way, we came across reps who directed us to elevators and hallways to a waiting area complete with bench and table seating. This was in the lower garage parking area. That gave us a little time to do some writing before a coach arrived. By then, at least 30 or more passengers had arrived to fill the bus. We left around 10am and began the 30 minute drive to Pier 91. Lucky for us, there was little to no traffic. Our bus driver pointed out many icons in the city along the way. The guests happened to be a rowdy group, making us think we were headed to the Caribbean instead of Alaska. Yep, this is going to be a fun trip. At the terminal building, we were directed to present our passports and our boarding passes to get inside. At the door, there were stands full of Washington state booklets and maps. In hind sight, it would have been a great idea to spend a few days in Seattle before boarding the ship. Our longtime friend and tablemate, Bob, did just that. He took the hop on hop off bus, and also did a walking tour of downtown Seattle, enjoying the fine cuisine of the northwest. That way, he was able to acclimate to the time change from Ohio, and be rested up for embarkation day. Oh well, maybe next time. Check-in was painless, mostly because we went through the priority line for high number Mariner Society members. Once the HAL rep realized we were President’s Club members, we were treated royally. Once the info was put in the system, we were given our room keys, after taking our ID photos.We were given a choice. Either sit with the next group to be escorted onboard within an hour, or go to a quiet place and be brought on sooner. We chose quiet of course. If we sat too long, we were afraid we would fall asleep. Funny how the lack of sleep catches up with you. Lucky for us, the wait was short, because Myja, the guest relations manager came to bring us onboard. From there, it was like home coming. Many of the staff members welcomed us back, remembering our names. Bart, the hotel director, welcomed us onboard, and told us of a special Pinnacle Grill dinner they had planned for us on July 9th, the second gala evening. The Captain, Fred Eversen, partner Brooke, Myja, and Bart will be joining us, along with two other President’s Club members.We were able to get into our room, although not everything was totally ready yet. Three, our assistant room steward from the world cruise, was still here. Our new head steward by the name of Made, greeted us as well. They could not do enough for us. Our requests were in place……the refrigerator, tower fan, and extra toweling were all there. The queen bed already was made with a duvet, and Three brought us an extra blanket. We should be set for the next two weeks now.Time to see if the dining room was opened for lunch. Usually we board later, so we have never made it on time. Oddly, there was no daily newsletter in our room for today, July 3rd. No one we knew had one. Anyway, we did find the dining room open as usual, and really enjoyed appetizers and entrees of a hamburger and veal parmigiana. Good thing we passed on dessert.At 1:45pm, our travel group hosted a cocktail welcome onboard party, originally scheduled in the Crow’s Nest, but moved to the Ocean Bar. Apparently, a window had to be replaced in the Crow’s Nest, so Bart figured it might be too breezy to hold a party there. There was a special guest invited to this party……Janet Lanterman, the founder of our travel agency, and also the wife of the former CEO Kirk. To make things more interesting, she is the honorary Godmother of the Amsterdam, christening this ship back in 2000. To top it off, her birthday is around now, and the manager of the travel agency had brought a huge cake onboard for all to share. Captain Fred, Bart, the hotel director, and Twinkle, the beverage manager came to honor Janet as well. Connecting with friends Bob, Leta, and Bill was indeed a highlight of the affair. Not to mention, some of our travel agency’s members, who we have known now for 12 years, presented us with a special anniversary card, signed by most everyone in the office in Seattle. Even though we won’t be celebrating this 50th wedding anniversary until August, they decided to celebrate it here and now. Nice gesture we thought.At the same time, another party was being held in the Crow’s Nest for the high day Mariner members. For some unknown reason, we had not been given any invite to this party, although Myja had mentioned it to us at embarkation. Hard to hit it all, we stayed at the Ocean Bar, visiting with friends.The next big event of the afternoon was the muster drill at 3:15pm. At least there is only one on this trip. It is so much more efficient for the boat commanders to use the handheld device to log in our cruise cards. No excuses are accepted for missing this drill, as it is announced that if you are not present and accounted for, you will be denied sailing onward. Short and sweet, it went off according to plan.Sail away was at 4pm, and we were back on the aft deck 8 to watch it. Many folks come back there today to enjoy leaving Puget Sound and Seattle behind. Hoping to see some dolphins or whales, we never did….only a few sealions and birds.More good news…..our luggage was delivered to our room. We had enough time to stash it all well before dinner. Packing sparingly, we noticed we had tons of closet space left on this trip compared to a longer voyage. Dinnertime came quickly at 8pm. Once again, we chose fixed seating on deck five, table for 8. As we walked towards table 65, we noticed a familiar fellow stand up to greet us. What a surprise to find Dave, a tablemate on the Tales of the South Pacific back in 2015. Even funnier that he had been assigned by coincidence to our same table. This was great. Now we know two people, as Bob, our buddy from 2002 joined us. Newcomers were Peggy and Jim from San Diego and Patrick, a single gentleman from the east coast, we think. Despite the fact that all of us were dragging from such a long day, we had a fine time at the table. The true test is finding that we were still there well after 10pm, after enjoying a fine meal. We did miss prime rib, which is normally on the menu the first night. It was served in the Lido, however…..go figure. Both of us were happy with Caesar salads, no anchovies, and a grilled chicken breast added to the top. A lemon torte finished the meal just fine, although we have made a decision not to over-indulge in the sweets. Only if it is something special.Going to bed was so welcomed tonight. Probably 12 hours of sleep would put us back on track. Also, a day at sea, which we have tomorrow will help.Bill & Mary Ann

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Thank you for sharing your Alaskan adventures with us.

 

Have a fabulous cruise.

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So glad you're taking us along once more. Sweet dreams!

 

Smooth Sailing!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!!!!!

Love, love,love your blogs!!!

Followed all not too long ago!

So enjoy your cruise!

Denise🤗

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Missed you by two weeks :( Good to see you back again so soon! Enjoy AMDM and Alaska and see you early next year

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What a lovely surprise to see your thread. I knew you were doing a cruise to Alaska in July, but July caught up on me.

 

Bon Voyage for your cruise to Alaska. Congratulations for your pending 50th wedding anniversary, Bill and Mary Ann.

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I am just loving these in-depth reports on this itinerary, that we are booked with for next year with eight other family members (assuming all can go as it gets closer). Have a blast and tell us about it!

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Love reading your blog. Miss everyone allan and Sandra

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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I look forward to reading your report, as I will be on the next sailing for this itinerary.:D

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wonderful to see your report this morning on CC:) Have a great cruise and thanks so much for taking us along!

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Report #2 Sea DayEnroute To Ketchikan July 4, 2017 Tuesday Partly cloudy & 41 degrees 20 Pictures

 

Today was near perfect, especially after getting a goodnight’s rest. Sure makes a difference. What made today perfect was the fact it was asea day and also Fourth of July for us Americans. So at breakfast in the dining room, there werethree specials of the day. Naturally,they followed a red, white, and blue theme. Greek yogurt with blueberries and strawberries topped with granola was agood start. Waffles with similaringredients was an entrée. That themewould play out all over the ship all day.

 

It sure looked comfortable when we looked out the diningroom windows at breakfast. More oftenthan not, we are in warm climates where it is hot and humid. You come to expect that heat hit you once youexit on deck three to take a walk. Notso today, even though the sun was mostly shining, there was a chill in thebreeze. It never did plunge to 41degrees as the forecast suggested, but perhaps it was in the 50’s with the windchill factor. It was best to put on thearctic jackets, which we thought we might not need. Talking with the staff, we learned that thisstretch of the cruise has been rough and cold with rain ever since the shiprepositioned to Alaska back in mid-May. So, we have been lucky and hope the luck lasts.

 

It took the rest of the morning to finish report #1 and getset up on the ship’s internet. Gettingonline was spotty later in the morning, and once we got further out to sea andaway from land, we lost the connection periodically.

 

We also followed up with some loose ends at the front desk,which was a busy place today. Thenanother stop at the Pinnacle Grill, took care of dinner reservations for thistrip. One of the waitresses we know,Putrah, was available to book our evenings. Always nice to see a friendly and familiar face.

 

Taking a break, we went to the dining room for a light lunch. This was a good move, because halfway throughour meal, we began seeing whales, their blows rising here and there alongsidethe ship. Of course, we finished ourlunch, and headed up to the lower promenade deck. First we began our watch at the aft railing,actually standing in some sun. We didsee many whales feeding on the surface, blowing their spouts, and doing shallowdives. Again, we got lucky.

 

Later on in the afternoon, we went out on deck six forwardto watch for more wildlife sightings, but only saw a few birds scattered hereand there. One happened to be a lonepuffin, and some others floating on the surface of the water were ducks. It was too cold to stay out there too long,however, since the wind was almost penetrating.

 

Half of the day’s activities were ship promotions such as adeck sale, shop sales, or wine tasting. We had an invite, complimentary ($19.95 charge), but we normally do notdrink wine. So we didn’t attend. Thetime was right, at 2pm, so we think the lower dining room was full oftakers. There were beer sales, a preciousstone presentation, and a Merbella party……more jewelry sales.

 

The only games happening include bridge, basketball, trivia,bingo, and lotto draw. No DAM dollarsare involved at all. There were 5Microsoft Digital Workshops, Explorations Central for shore excursion info, andthe first series of the new America’s Test Kitchen. Even though we did not personally check outthe venue, we believe this is taking the place of the former Culinary ArtsCenter, which doubles for the Wajang Theater. Another new feature is the BBC Earth Experiences, which we have enjoyedwatching the series on Alaska’s bears on the TV.

 

In addition, there were two Happy Hour time slots in the Crow’sNest and Ocean Bar. The first one was at4pm, and the second one at 10pm. You getthat second drink for a mere $2.00.

 

As we usually do, we went to the seating area on deck fiveacross from the Ocean Bar around 4:30pm. What a huge surprise we got when we saw friends Marilyn and Harryheading our way. They had been on theworld cruise, and frequently visited with us at this same time. They had actually booked three back-to-backtrips to Alaska starting with this one. Must have got a good last minute deal, because we don’t think they hadplanned this back in April. Anyway, wepicked up where we left off last April, sharing all the info we had. At 5pm, they headed off for dinner, which isbeginning even earlier at 5pm in the open seating dining room.

 

This evening there was one Captain’s Welcome Toast in theshow lounge. But it was only for 15minutes at 7:45pm for the entire guest population. The show this evening was the singers anddancers performing Bellissima, the same we saw on the world cruise. The first show was slated for 8pm, so it musthave been a miracle to clear the room to begin that show on time.

 

Also this evening was the first Gala night. Everyone at our table dressed quite nicely,the ladies in formal wear and the fellows in suits or tuxes. We had a guest host, Victoria, the Port &Shopping Ambassador. She is young,British, but living in southern California, and very vivacious. One of our tablemates did not show up, so weasked for the extra chair to be removed, so we could spread out, and not leavethat awkward gap in the seating. Goodthing we did, because some of our guests ordered multiple entrees.

 

The meal lasted until close to 10:30pm. The sun had not even set yet, and we couldsee the remnants of a spectacular sunset on the horizon. While most everyone went to see the show, weheaded outside to see what was left of the sunset. Yep, we missed a good one.

 

The clocks went back one hour tonight, always a goodthing. Tomorrow we will be spending theday in Ketchikan, the first stop on this trip. Hope to see the salmon making their way up the creek, although it may beearly in the season.

 

Happy 4th of July!

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Thank you so much for doing this thread - so appreciated. Like many others following, we are going on an upcoming sailing and hearing all the amazing details just makes the anticipation so much more fun!

Julia 😀

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Enjoying your thread a lot. We will be on the July 31 sailing for this cruise. Thanks for sharing your trip.

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Good Morning, we are so happy to see you are posting from your Alaskan cruise. We love hearing about your adventures as well as day to day activities onboard the Amsterdam. Loving the photos!

 

Cheers, Denise and Howie, too:D

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Good to see you back blogging on the Amsterdam. Will enjoy following along and vicariously joining you for breakfast every morning until we see you again in 2019 for the world. Who knows maybe we will bump into you even sooner?

 

Rich and Peg

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