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Crew News

Daily Reports from the Westerdam to Alaska and Denali

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Wonderful report.  Your glacier plane trip sounds great.  Never thought about the co-polits seat having the curve windows for poor picture taking.

 

Interesting how to operate the shower.

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11 hours ago, Crew News said:

Taking a shower taxed all of my engineering skills and ingenuity. While standing in the bathtub with the faucet water set to the ideal temperature, I realized there was no visible way to divert the water flow to the overhead shower.  After several minutes of twisting and turning every plumbing feature to no avail, I found that by holding my hand over the flowing faucet, I could temporarily activate the shower.   I discovered that if I rotated the faucet, pulled and twisted the inner workings of the faucet opening, the shower would activate.  Have I been living in a plumbing alternate universe to not know this?

 

Congrats on reverse engineering how to take a shower! 

 

What amazes me about situations like that:   

You know the people before you who stayed in that room had experienced same thing. 

Did they not complain? 

Was the complaint not fixed? 

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11 hours ago, Crew News said:

Our pilot confirmed that he had already made a glacier landing early this morning and foresaw no problem landing again.  After donning our snow boots over our shoes, we headed for the plane and the pilot told us to remove our coats to leave them in the back of the plane until landing on the glacier.  I was given the copilot seat.  Strapped into our seats, I had a unique view of the details of flying the aircraft.  What was a great seat to see the scenery of Denali proved to be bad for photography with the smaller and curved windows of the cockpit.  We did see the top of Denali before landing on the up slope of a glacier snow field where two other planes were preparing to depart. Our pilot turned the plane to face downhill before we stepped out onto the snow.

 

The pilot wore only a t-shirt so I left my coat in the back of the plane and did not feel cold even at 6000 feet in the deep snow.

 

As recorded the first aircraft takeoff down the slope, I saw it disappear for a few seconds before reappearing above the edge of the hill.  Knowing what to expect, my second recorded takeoff was better quality.  After 30 minutes walking around the snow and taking photos, it was our turn to climb aboard the plane and experience the sudden jerk as the plane escaped the deep snow.  We swept down the hill and lifted softly into the valley of glacier rocks.  After our two flight hours, we returned to the Healy airport for another smooth landing/takeoff.  This glacier landing ranks right at the top of my Alaska experiences with dog sledding in the snow.

@Crew News I'm so happy for you !  

Look forward to seeing your pics. 

 

You were on a plane, not a helicopter, right? 

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On 6/5/2019 at 1:58 AM, Crew News said:

The day began with overcast and raining skies.  It ended in partly cloudy skies and temperatures around 60 degrees.  The forecast for tomorrow in Juneau is cloudy with temps in the mid 50’s.

 

My Room Service breakfast was followed by an excursion to a native-American island for reindeer sausage roasted over an open fire and s’mores with a choice of chocolates. 

 

Enroute to the island, our small boat stopped watch harbor seals, nesting kittiwakes, and 20 minutes observing a feeding whale.  We were met on the island by an older female, two female teens, and a male adult tribe member.  One of the teens is headed to Albuquerque next year to study at the Southwest Indian Polytechnical Institute.  Five years ago I watched the father of the adult male carve his totem on a Ketchikan excursion.  That totem is now in place and the tallest in the totem park.  What a small world indeed.  This excursion required a ¼-mile walk which was from the ship to the excursion boat.  The difficult walk was over the rocks on the beach to the bonfire in the tree line.  There were 16 passengers on a 30-passenger boat.  I would recommend this Bonfire excursion.

 

My squabble with the Front Desk to receive my Mariner Loyalty Discount is documented in a previous post.

 

Dinner at Rudi’s Sel de Mer was memorable in speed of service, friendliness if the staff, recalling past cruises with the PG Manager who was my waiter on my last Zuiderdam cruise.  The Hostess was very helpful in designing a workaround for my Loyalty issue and I will post it tomorrow if it proves successful.  Unlike the Konigsdam Sel de Mer, my bouillabaisse crab claw was cracked open.  The black cod catch of the day was amazing as was the finishing souffle.  I will be in the PG tomorrow for my free dinner.

 

Observations:

 

  • ·     The Australian tour group was unaware that they could have the contents of their minibar emptied to allow room for the two bottles of water they receive each day.  They are now aware.

     

  • ·    I had a great discussion of what Americans are really like with an Australian couple on my excursion.

     

  • ·     There is no special wine list for the Sel de Mer.

     

  • ·     I counted only 12 books available for exchange in the Crow’s Nest.

     

  • ·     My laundry turned in this morning was returned at 3:00 PM.  Amazing service.

     

  • ·     The Westerdam drydock in Jan 2020 will include installation of photo kiosks in the Photo Gallery.

     

More tomorrow.

 

Sorry, I'm going back a ways here.  I don't understand the piece

 

"The Australian tour group was unaware that they could have the contents of their minibar emptied to allow room for the two bottles of water they receive each day.  They are now aware."

 

Is everyone given two bottles of water per day, or what's the deal with the two bottles of water?  Sorry for my confusion, but I have not heard of this.  My first HAL cruise is coming up in August.

 

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12 hours ago, SempreMare said:

 

Congrats on reverse engineering how to take a shower! 

 

What amazes me about situations like that:   

You know the people before you who stayed in that room had experienced same thing. 

Did they not complain? 

Was the complaint not fixed? 

 

I think the faucet was designed that way but my hundreds of hotel stays over many years did not expose me to such a dumb design.

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12 hours ago, SempreMare said:

@Crew News I'm so happy for you !  

Look forward to seeing your pics. 

 

You were on a plane, not a helicopter, right? 

 

On a small Beaver plane with crank-down skis for the snow landing.

 

Pictures will take awhile to convert from RAW to jpgs for posting.

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10 hours ago, przyk said:

Sorry, I'm going back a ways here.  I don't understand the piece

 

"The Australian tour group was unaware that they could have the contents of their minibar emptied to allow room for the two bottles of water they receive each day.  They are now aware."

 

Is everyone given two bottles of water per day, or what's the deal with the two bottles of water?  Sorry for my confusion, but I have not heard of this.  My first HAL cruise is coming up in August.

 

The Aussies were part of a tour group that first visited Canada for several weeks before the cruise.  As part of their tour-operator perks were two bottles of water, Signature Beverage Packages, and a PG dinner.  They told me that the tour cost $25K p/p.

 

Feel free to ask lots of questions to be better informed before you board. 

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Thanks for the response. That explains why I had no idea about the two bottles of water. I have been reading and learning a lot from your posts. I'm sure I will have more questions. 

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The last day of my cruise tour began and ended in bright sunshine with blue skies.

 

The train ride to Anchorage included numerous moose sightings. 

 

At 11:00 AM, I was asked if I wanted to eat lunch in the dining car and my answer was, "Yes".  A few minutes before 3:00 PM, I gave up my wait and went to the back train platform to take photos.  I was seated in the third row (3A) and lunch seating began with the high numbered seats.  If you are riding this train in the first ten rows and don't want to eat lunch after 3:00 PM, bring something from the Resort Main Lobby, Karsten's House Restaurant, or Subway.

 

The train Service Rep did a great job talking about Alaska during the ride.

 

It was nice to see the rest of my luggage waiting when I entered my Westmark Hotel room. 

 

Dinner was at a local bar/eatery, Humpy's, one block from the hotel and the atmosphere was what an Alaska bar should be:  boots, beards, flannel, beer, noise, and great food. 

 

Prior to writing this report, I have redistributed my luggage contents to meet TSA and airline limits. So, early to bed and early to rise for a ten o'clock flight.

 

To those following, I hope I have answered all questions and provided some useful tips/hints.

 

More on Friday.

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3 PM lunch -- way too late for us -- especially for DH who needs to eat around Noon in order to take 4 medications at that time.

 

You have certainly done an excellent job supplying information for everyone.

 

Have a safe flight home.

 

Have enjoyed your reports.

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Post earthquake,  what condition was the Anchorage Westmark? We stay there the night we get off the Noordam before taking the train to Denali.

 

Thank you again for this excellent travel thread, it has really amped up our anticipation for our July cruise.

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7 hours ago, terrydtx said:

Post earthquake,  what condition was the Anchorage Westmark? We stay there the night we get off the Noordam before taking the train to Denali.

 

Thank you again for this excellent travel thread, it has really amped up our anticipation for our July cruise.

 

The Westmark was ok but not in the same category as the Captain Cook. In my room, I noticed one desk lamp the did not work and I had to push in the wall plug by the desk to power the USB ports,  The bed lamps were two different wattage so lights had different output colors.

 

HAL reps were amazing coordinating the different itineraries.

 

Don't vwait until the last minute to eat breakfast as there may be a waiting line.  Continental breakfast was $14 and full buffet was $19. 

 

Mosquitos were getting bad on my second day.

 

Enjoy your cruise planning.

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When I completed my end-of-cruise survey I had kudos for the PG, Executive Chef, Caneltto, my Room Steward, and the best laundry I can remember.  I posted negative comments about the denial of Mariner discounts for Sel-de-Mer until I called the Mariner Society, and the very late lunch on the McKinley Explorer train.

 

I have updated the Alaska 7-day menus (MDR and Lido Market (lunch, dinner, and late snack)) as well as the When & Where for the Westerdam Northbound.

 

http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/

 

 

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Yikes -- mosquitos -- never experienced them when we stayed at the Westmark in Anchorage which was also in June.

 

Thanks for updating everything.  Glad you mentioned on your survey about no discount for Sel de Mer and the late lunch.

 

Thanks for doing this for everyone.

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Thanks to Crew News for his extensive reporting. It was a pleasure getting to know him on our cruise/tour. We wholeheartedly agree with his comments about the extremely late call to lunch on the Denali train. We passed on lunch since they called us for our turn at 2:45 pm. He rightfully praised the HAL logistical staff for their smooth movement of luggage and coordination of tours etc.

My only major complaint is that the Westmark in Anchorage is a DUMP. I would never stay there if I had the opportunity to choose. 

Zoomzoom7

I

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I too was also surprised about the late lunch call on the train to Denali, are there any other options for food on the train? Fortunately we only have tp spend one night in the Westmark Anchorage if is a dump as described.

 

A appreciate Crews News CC blog about this cruise as we are doing a similar cruise next month on the Noordam.

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3 hours ago, terrydtx said:

I too was also surprised about the late lunch call on the train to Denali, are there any other options for food on the train? Fortunately we only have tp spend one night in the Westmark Anchorage if is a dump as described.

 

A appreciate Crews News CC blog about this cruise as we are doing a similar cruise next month on the Noordam.

 

There is a constant beverage service on the train and a limited menu for the seating area.  From memory, there were munchie snacks and also nachos on the menu.   The printed menu was supposed to become a member of my menu collection but at the last minute, it was collected by train personnel.

 

As mentioned in an earlier post, the higher numbered seats were escorted to the dining area first.  You will receive your train seat number on your Denali welcome packet itinerary.  If it is a higher number, you need not worry about lunch.  If not, bring some extra snacks. 

 

I have photographed all of the Denali restaurant menus and will post them in the next few weeks under the "Location -> Alaska->Denali->McKinley Resort" tab of my website.

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3 hours ago, zoomzoom7 said:

Thanks to Crew News for his extensive reporting. It was a pleasure getting to know him on our cruise/tour. We wholeheartedly agree with his comments about the extremely late call to lunch on the Denali train. We passed on lunch since they called us for our turn at 2:45 pm. He rightfully praised the HAL logistical staff for their smooth movement of luggage and coordination of tours etc.

My only major complaint is that the Westmark in Anchorage is a DUMP. I would never stay there if I had the opportunity to choose. 

Zoomzoom7

I

 

It was good to meet you, too and I hope we can cruise together again.  Thanks for posting on this thread and I hope others will give their opinions as well.

 

On my last visit to Denali in 2017, the Westmark was being renovated (huh) and not available, leaving me to stay at the Captain Cook that was one of the nicest hotels in my memory.  My hopes for a last minute switch to the Captain Cook did not materialize.

 

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14 hours ago, Crew News said:

I have updated the Alaska 7-day menus (MDR and Lido Market (lunch, dinner, and late snack)) as well as [...]

http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/

 

@Crew News Congrats on completing your Great Alaskan Adventure 2019 ! 

I know others have said it but thanks again for the great reviews and informative supplemental materials.

 

Question: After I click through these menus below, I only see the Lido Lunch menu.

For example on Embarkation Day, I see a page 1 and then a blank page 2.

Are you in the process of uploading these,  or is that a bug? 

image.png.61eeb393b044d726586fb88ec7b07cae.png

Edited by SempreMare

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2 hours ago, SempreMare said:

 

@Crew News Congrats on completing your Great Alaskan Adventure 2019 ! 

I know others have said it but thanks again for the great reviews and informative supplemental materials.

 

Question: After I click through these menus below, I only see the Lido Lunch menu.

For example on Embarkation Day, I see a page 1 and then a blank page 2.

Are you in the process of uploading these,  or is that a bug?

 

When I go back and read some of my posts, I think of the trivia that was included and the lack of superlatives that would make them the posts more interesting.  "Just the facts, ma'am, " as Joe Friday would say.

 

Thanks for the notice.  I should not have been combining menus and uploading after midnight.  The Embarkation Day menus are now fixed.  If there is no Mariner-only lunch on Embarkation Day, the menu will probably be the same.

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1 hour ago, Crew News said:

When I go back and read some of my posts, I think of the trivia that was included and the lack of superlatives that would make them the posts more interesting.  "Just the facts, ma'am, " as Joe Friday would say.

 

Ha!  

 

@Crew News if you included superlatives and exclamation marks we might all think someone had hijacked your account! 😂

 

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3 hours ago, Crew News said:

Thanks for the notice.  I should not have been combining menus and uploading after midnight.  The Embarkation Day menus are now fixed.  If there is no Mariner-only lunch on Embarkation Day, the menu will probably be the same.

 

Hi Crew News, Embarkation Day menu is now showing as a broken link. The Day Two menus are still there but the header says "AL Embarkation Day" so not sure what happened.

 

Thanks for doing this thread, it has been full of good information!

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2 hours ago, flyrobinfly said:

 

Hi Crew News, Embarkation Day menu is now showing as a broken link. The Day Two menus are still there but the header says "AL Embarkation Day" so not sure what happened.

 

Thanks for doing this thread, it has been full of good information!

 

Hopefully, the link is now fixed.  Thanks for letting me know.

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The embarkation day is fixed but now the Day 2 has gone MIA. Thank you for all your work sharing these great resources with us!

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