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Grenouille21

Live? A test of Alaskan Wifi, AKA Our Alaskan Trip Report August 2018

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Awesome review. Thank you for taking us along on your adventures. Love the humour, style & photos!

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I am apparently a Review of the Week winner! Awesome! I am so honored! :D My hope is to finish this report by the end of the weekend. I only have one day left to edit and write up.

 

Congratulations, a well deserved Review of the Week winner.

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I really enjoyed your review. Thank you!

 

~Nancy

 

Thanks! From one Nancy to another! ;p

 

Perfect, very enjoyable read. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences. Now I am psyched for our Alaska adventure next summer!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read it! You will have such an amazing time in Alaska! :D

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read it! :D

 

 

Awesome review. Thank you for taking us along on your adventures. Love the humour, style & photos!

Thank you! Thanks for your input, as well! :D

Congratulations, a well deserved Review of the Week winner.

 

Thanks!! :cool:

 

Enjoyed reading your report. Glad you all had a great cruise, you all will have such great memories. Loved the photos. Thanks for sharing.

 

Thank you! We will be talking about this vacation for the rest of our lives, I'm sure. :D

 

 

 

I loved all your details! And your awesome photos. Really, yours has been one of my all-time favorite reviews. Thank you so, so much.

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We went through the Taxidermy Museum, which was included with our tour. Oh, lunch was included with the tour, too.

 

We did some shopping, and eventually headed back to the bus... where there was a woman in my seat.

 

Now, it would be one thing if we had all been changing seats every time we had got in and out of the bus, or if I hadn't left my stuff on the bus in my seat. But my whole backpack was on the floor in my seat, and this woman was there, staring me down as I got on the bus. As I approached my seat, looking very confused, she said something like "Well I suppose I have to MOVE now...." and I said something like "Sorry, that's where I was sitting." And she went on to say that it had been HER seat when she first got on the bus, and she had been sitting next to her husband (Grumpy, who had been sitting next to me for 2 hours and hadn't said ONE WORD about it being his Grumpy Wife's Seat, even with all of the getting on and off the bus to take photos before lunch), and where had I sat when we first got on the bus (you know, for the whole 5 minute ride to the train station) and I truthfully said I had no idea. She went on about how I was in HER SEAT and now she had to sit next to a STRANGER, and she had booked this tour AS A COUPLE and now she had to sit with a STRANGER... and on and on as she went to the back of the bus.

 

I could not believe what was happening, and I sarcastically asked her if she was going to be OK and she seriously said something like "Well I suppose I will, I mean I was OK for the 2 hours I had to sit with a STRANGER!" and I rolled my eyes and sat down.

 

Now, as I told you all, I had no idea where I had sat in the beginning, for 5 minutes. We were not told that these were OUR SEATS for the duration, and that we would be returning to those exact seats. We rode the bus in Juneau and if someone wanted to save their seat they left stuff there, otherwise people just sat wherever and no one said a word about it. How was I supposed to know that we had to stay in our original seats? My kids were taking up 2 seats in a different section of the bus and no one said a word to them because WHO CARES???

 

I was totally in shock over her anger and indignation, and it took a while for me to shake it off.

 

We drove past the "World's Smallest Desert" and took photos.

 

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And shortly came to Carcross, which was a cool old town. Our driver told us there was a law that no one could drink alcoholic beverages within a certain distance of a bridge. You can imagine why that law was written, but hopefully you'll get to hear the story some day.

 

This is someone's Retirement Home.

 

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The Carcross Public Library.

 

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I wish I had been able to take this photo from outside the bus.

 

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We had a short time to explore here. My kids tried to talk me into letting them get ice cream but they had eaten so many donuts I said no. Mostly because the idea of eating anything else made me feel sick.

 

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When we got back on the bus, Grumpy's Wife was in my seat again (this time I had intentionally left my bag there to stop her from trying to take the seat again), staring me down as I got on the bus.

 

Let me stop and acknowledge that you may be wondering why I am interchangeably referring to it as "My Seat" and saying that we should all be able to sit wherever we want. It had become obvious to me that sitting wherever we want was NOT happening, so I realized I had to claim my seat (much like the Yukon Gold Miners had to claim their gold- though NOT with the required 1000 pounds of food needed to make the trip) or I would be left sitting far from my kids, and someone else would have to police their fights and listen to their whining. Hey, explain to me why I thought that was a bad idea? Anyway, when in Rome, you claim your seat, apparently. If this was how it was going to be, this was how it was going to be. If it had been that way from the beginning I would have grudgingly accepted it.

 

So as I approached Grumpy's Wife she started up again. "So I guess I have to move AGAIN?" "Well you are sitting in my seat. See? My bag is there." She shakes her head and carries on to the back of the bus. Grumpy follows her to the back and I think he is finally going to sit with his Grumpy Wife but nope, he came back and sat with me.

 

Meanwhile, DD and DS are whining. DS is not in the window seat and he claims he NEEDS to sit in the window seat or he will be carsick. So he NEEDS me to switch seats with him. This means I will be in the non-window seat, on the crummy side of the bus, with DD.

 

So I had the crummy side of the train, the crummy side of the bus, the crummy seat neighbor, and now I end the ride with the crummy side AGAIN?

 

But then I realized DS would get to sit next to Grumpy, and if we got off and on again Grumpy's Wife would have to try and tell DS to move, and then she would have her first Mama Bear encounter, which she would never forget. So I grudgingly said fine, and when Grumpy returned to his seat he had a new neighbor.

 

So obviously I was still mad that Grumpy's Wife was so mad at me.

 

But what dawned on me as we drove off was... why was she mad at ME instead of at her husband... who was sitting with me/DS INSTEAD OF HIS (GRUMPY) WIFE??? He had the choice of going to the back to sit next to her, as obviously there would have been an empty seat and/or at least one person who was traveling alone since there had been an empty seat next to someone when we were on the bus for 5 minutes, and he sat next to me. Plus you know how there are like 3 seats in the very back, next to the bathroom? I think there had been one woman taking up all 3 seats when we were on the bus for 5 minutes. Grumpy had plenty of space to sit back there, and he chose not to. I bet Grumpy had the quietest 2 hours of his entire vacation sitting next to me (and eventually my son, who switched seats with me, I'll get to that in a minute).

 

What's funny is Grumpy and I did sort of talk at one point. It might have been only 2 sentences, but it was pleasant and not Grumpy.

 

 

I'm laughing so hard at this and reading it to my husband. I had pondered for quite some time before our trip if we should do the train/bus combo, go on a van tour, or rent a car and drive ourselves. In the end, since my husband and I are very much not "people persons", we opted for renting the car and doing it ourselves, and I'm so glad we did. Loving your review though, gorgeous pictures and it's making me want to go back so bad!

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I'm laughing so hard at this and reading it to my husband. I had pondered for quite some time before our trip if we should do the train/bus combo, go on a van tour, or rent a car and drive ourselves. In the end, since my husband and I are very much not "people persons", we opted for renting the car and doing it ourselves, and I'm so glad we did. Loving your review though, gorgeous pictures and it's making me want to go back so bad!

 

It is funny now, and honestly it was funny (to me) at the time! But this lady was SO SERIOUS and SO MAD and SO DIRECTING HER ANGER AT THE WRONG PERSON and it was just so insane! You definitely made the right choice with the car! Lesson learned!

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you get back to Alaska some day!

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What a great trip report!! Thanks for taking us along.

Quick question and I apologize if you already mentioned it but what camera did you use? Your pictures are amazing!!!

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What a great trip report!! Thanks for taking us along.

Quick question and I apologize if you already mentioned it but what camera did you use? Your pictures are amazing!!!

 

 

Thanks!!

 

I used my Nikon D50 for most of the photos. I had the basic kit lenses on most of the time. I also used my phone (Samsung Galaxy S7) for food and dinner photos, as well as some of the other pictures.

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Thanks for the great review! I started reading it at the beginning but then I got busy getting ready for our Alaskan cruise on the Noordam. I finally found my way back to your commentary and it was just like reliving a lot of my cruise. Some day I need to be organized enough to take notes and do a cruise commentary, but until then I just like to read ones like you've written.

 

Random comments:

 

My husband and I did the White Pass railroad up and back this time, but once before in Skagway we did rent a car and drove all the way to Whitehorse. The border patrol guy told us that only 3% of the people that come off the ship and drive over the border go all the way to Whitehorse. One interesting thing that happened: when we arrived back and went to fill the tank (having promised to return it full) the only filling station in town had no electricity and therefore was not pumping gas. They had already called the rental car places and we were told to just drop off the car, they would fill the tank later and bill us. I was a little skeptical about that, but sure enough the amount on my credit card for gas was just the amount I was expecting.

 

I loved your pictures, especially the bears at Mendenhall and the eagles. My husband and I took the whale watching cruise in Juneau and although we had a good time and everyone was thrilled with the whales they saw, we actually didn't see nearly as many as in our past visits. (I didn't tell anyone that, they were having a good time and were impressed.)

 

I have traveled on the Nieuw Amsterdam before and somehow I never saw the gallery bar! I don't know how I missed it. I definitely will search for it if I get to cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam again some day.

 

I have been back from my Alaska cruise/tour for 10 days now and am still suffering from post cruise sadness disorder. I miss my towel animals, I miss my chocolates and turned down bed, I miss someone cleaning my bathroom (twice a day!) and cooking all my meals.

 

Thanks again for sharing your experiences,

St. Louis Sal

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Thanks for the great review! I started reading it at the beginning but then I got busy getting ready for our Alaskan cruise on the Noordam. I finally found my way back to your commentary and it was just like reliving a lot of my cruise. Some day I need to be organized enough to take notes and do a cruise commentary, but until then I just like to read ones like you've written.

 

Random comments:

 

My husband and I did the White Pass railroad up and back this time, but once before in Skagway we did rent a car and drove all the way to Whitehorse. The border patrol guy told us that only 3% of the people that come off the ship and drive over the border go all the way to Whitehorse. One interesting thing that happened: when we arrived back and went to fill the tank (having promised to return it full) the only filling station in town had no electricity and therefore was not pumping gas. They had already called the rental car places and we were told to just drop off the car, they would fill the tank later and bill us. I was a little skeptical about that, but sure enough the amount on my credit card for gas was just the amount I was expecting.

 

I loved your pictures, especially the bears at Mendenhall and the eagles. My husband and I took the whale watching cruise in Juneau and although we had a good time and everyone was thrilled with the whales they saw, we actually didn't see nearly as many as in our past visits. (I didn't tell anyone that, they were having a good time and were impressed.)

 

I have traveled on the Nieuw Amsterdam before and somehow I never saw the gallery bar! I don't know how I missed it. I definitely will search for it if I get to cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam again some day.

 

I have been back from my Alaska cruise/tour for 10 days now and am still suffering from post cruise sadness disorder. I miss my towel animals, I miss my chocolates and turned down bed, I miss someone cleaning my bathroom (twice a day!) and cooking all my meals.

 

Thanks again for sharing your experiences,

St. Louis Sal

 

Wow thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience! I love hearing about other people's experiences, which is one of the biggest reasons I am here!

 

I am impressed they charged you for the gas and didn't either comp you or overcharge you! That is the biggest thing I hate about renting a car. But if we ever go back I will be renting a car in Skagway and driving as far as we can (reasonably).

 

Definitely look for the Gallery Bar! It is hidden unless you are in the casino. I never used the casino, just walked through once to get to "my" bar! The bartenders there were the best!

 

I miss all of the same things you miss about cruising. I also miss waking up in a different place every day!

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Loved your review and the amazing pictures. We'll be sailing on the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam this coming June 8, 2019.

 

Which deck were your stateroom on? Were the orange emergency yellow boat blocking your view in anyway? We book the verandah stateroom as well but won't be receiving the assigned room until embarkation day. 

 

Our boarding pass states 12 pm for embarkation but we read earlier on your review that you were aboard on the ship by 11:15 AM. We're looking to embark early and board the ship early as well to avoid the line up and crowds. I hope they will allow us to do this. 

 

Was the lunch on embarkation day complimentary?

 

Can you please share the  When & Where (directory of what's going on each day on the ship)? We're quite surprised that we're not able to get this for our cruise ahead of time instead of on embarkation day.

 

Did you book all of your shore excursions directly with HAL? We're planning these now and just wondering if we should go with local tours or directly with HAL. We were planning to book the whitepass yukon bus/train combo as well but after reading your review we're wondering if we'll be better off renting a car and driving instead (there will be 4 of us).

 

Once again we really appreciate your detailed review and enjoyed reading them!

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, theimanuelsbecruising said:

Loved your review and the amazing pictures. We'll be sailing on the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam this coming June 8, 2019.

 

Which deck were your stateroom on? Were the orange emergency yellow boat blocking your view in anyway? We book the verandah stateroom as well but won't be receiving the assigned room until embarkation day. 

 

Our boarding pass states 12 pm for embarkation but we read earlier on your review that you were aboard on the ship by 11:15 AM. We're looking to embark early and board the ship early as well to avoid the line up and crowds. I hope they will allow us to do this. 

 

Was the lunch on embarkation day complimentary?

 

Can you please share the  When & Where (directory of what's going on each day on the ship)? We're quite surprised that we're not able to get this for our cruise ahead of time instead of on embarkation day.

 

Did you book all of your shore excursions directly with HAL? We're planning these now and just wondering if we should go with local tours or directly with HAL. We were planning to book the whitepass yukon bus/train combo as well but after reading your review we're wondering if we'll be better off renting a car and driving instead (there will be 4 of us).

 

Once again we really appreciate your detailed review and enjoyed reading them!

 

Thank you for reading all of this, and for replying!  I will do my best to answer your questions.  I have a few of the W&Ws, but not all.  

 

We were on Deck 8 and the view was perfect.  Nothing was in the way, at all.  

 

I would arrive early and see if you can board early.  I am not sure they even knew what our arrival time was supposed to be.  

 

I think we ate lunch in the buffet on boarding day, so yes it was included.  It was difficult to find a table, though.  If I were to do it again I might see if the burger place is open and find a seat elsewhere, or eat in the main dining room, though I always feel like that takes up so much time, and I would rather be exploring on my first day!

 

I will share the W&Ws next.  The ones I have, anyway.  Some are missing.  They might be in my suitcase, which is up in the attic.  

 

I did book everything directly with HAL.  I am still one of those people who gets worried about making it back to the ship on time, so I tend to book at least some excursions through the ship.  I compared prices on several, and the price was the same or very close, so for me it made sense to just book through the ship so we had the peace of mind that we would make it back on time, or that the ship would wait for us.  

 

I have such mixed feelings about that train/bus ride.  They really threw us off with switching the order, and you really are screwed if you end up on the "bad" side of the train/bus.  That's half of the people who have a crummy view of one of the most beautiful places!  I think there was another tour, something smaller, which might have been better.  If there is a private tour, where they drive you, or something where they can guarantee that you will have a view... I would choose that and do it again in a heartbeat.  But I wouldn't do the cutthroat "Get There First And Get The Best Seats And Guard Them With Your Life Or You Won't See Anything" version again.  That excursion taught me a lot about touring, and what to look for.  We just did a tour on St. Kitts and for several reasons I chose a small tour by a local, mainly because I wanted to pretty much guarantee a window seat.

 

The good thing about the train and bus tour, though, was that we got to hear the stories about the area.  That's one thing you don't want to miss out on.  On the train you hear stories about the history of the train, etc., as you go through the landscape.  And the view is different than the view from the road on the opposite side.  The bus driver shared a lot of info as well.  I think there is a narrated tour you can buy?  Download?  Something... so you can hear the history instead of just seeing the landscape.  Hearing about how people crossed the land pre-railroad while seeing the land right in front of you, and hearing the other stories about the early days in Alaska, it really helps paint the full picture.  So if you can find a narrated tour or private tour with someone who will share the history, that would be my recommendation.

 

Feel free to ask me anything!  Happy to help if possible!

Edited by Grenouille21

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Thanks for taking us on the trip with you!  We're going in June, can't wait!  Your review was great! 

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10 hours ago, ktbraun said:

Thanks for taking us on the trip with you!  We're going in June, can't wait!  Your review was great! 

 

My pleasure!  You will LOVE it!  Take more photos than you think you will ever need, but also remember to put the camera down and enjoy the scenery.  🙂

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On 9/25/2018 at 11:04 PM, Grenouille21 said:

 

It is funny now, and honestly it was funny (to me) at the time! But this lady was SO SERIOUS and SO MAD and SO DIRECTING HER ANGER AT THE WRONG PERSON and it was just so insane! You definitely made the right choice with the car! Lesson learned!

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you get back to Alaska some day!

We're booked again August 2020!

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On 4/22/2019 at 2:35 AM, theimanuelsbecruising said:

 

Did you book all of your shore excursions directly with HAL? We're planning these now and just wondering if we should go with local tours or directly with HAL. We were planning to book the whitepass yukon bus/train combo as well but after reading your review we're wondering if we'll be better off renting a car and driving instead (there will be 4 of us).

 

We did this same cruise a week or two after the original poster.  I booked a whale watching cruise separately.  I could choose the size of boat and passenger count.  We booked a 6 passenger maximum and ended up on a boat with capacity for 24.  There was one other couple and the captain aboard.  It was perfect.  This probably happened due to it being later in the season.  We were right down on the water and the boat was much more easily maneuvered when spotting whales.

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6 hours ago, Mountaineer0313 said:

We're booked again August 2020!

 

SO jealous!!!  I want to go back, for sure!

 

1 hour ago, songbrd70 said:

We did this same cruise a week or two after the original poster.  I booked a whale watching cruise separately.  I could choose the size of boat and passenger count.  We booked a 6 passenger maximum and ended up on a boat with capacity for 24.  There was one other couple and the captain aboard.  It was perfect.  This probably happened due to it being later in the season.  We were right down on the water and the boat was much more easily maneuvered when spotting whales.

 

I would recommend this as well.  I am sure I said this, but we were the last to be seated on our whale watching tour, and we were on a boat with like 4-5 seats on each side.  Whoever was on the aisle was not seeing any whales. I stood outside, in the rain, and I did not care, but that would not work for a lot of people.  I would definitely recommend going with a smaller boat if possible.  

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Thanks for your spectacular cruise report!  My DW, DD, and I are going on the Nieuw Amsterdam inside passage cruise this coming August, so it was great to read such an amazingly detailed report.  My DD is 15 and also is a music theater fan, so it was really entertaining to read your comments about how your kids took to the ship.  Can't wait to see it for myself.

 

One question - Would you recommend trying to ask for a window seat in the MDR?  If so, how do I do that? Was this a special service you had access to or can I just call up the HAL number and put in the request?

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2 hours ago, ThatLever said:

Thanks for your spectacular cruise report!  My DW, DD, and I are going on the Nieuw Amsterdam inside passage cruise this coming August, so it was great to read such an amazingly detailed report.  My DD is 15 and also is a music theater fan, so it was really entertaining to read your comments about how your kids took to the ship.  Can't wait to see it for myself.

 

One question - Would you recommend trying to ask for a window seat in the MDR?  If so, how do I do that? Was this a special service you had access to or can I just call up the HAL number and put in the request?

 

Awesome!  I think you are going to have a fantastic time!  Can't really go wrong with Alaska.  DD still looks back on that Teen Club experience as her favorite of all time.  She was NOT A fan of the club on Symphony of the Seas in March (though she LOVED the shows!).

 

I was able to request the window seat because I am my own travel agent, so I just checked the box for window table.  If you booked with a TA you can ask them if they can do that.  Otherwise I would think you can call HAL and ask.  I liked having the window there because it was cool to see how light it was late into the evening, and because I just didn't want to miss any of the scenery.  I am spoiled now and want to request a window table on all sailings!

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