EAT: Sadly, there were no moose burgers, but the ship has no shortage of on-board eateries, from the swanky Pinnacle Grill (try the melt-in-your-mouth steak, top-notch seafood dishes and a superior wine list) to the Rotterdam Dining Room, with its impeccably-liveried waiters and daily five-course dinner menu, to the no-jacket-required Lido buffet restaurant which serves a bumper breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, there’s Explorations café (serving up coffee, cakes and computers) and the Terrace Grill, where you can grab fresh pizzas, hot dogs and nachos, as well as regular themed-lunch buffets, poolside.
SHOP: After flexing your muscles in the onboard gym, exercise your credit card in the numerous onboard shops, snapping up clothes, jewellery, souvenirs and even art in the art gallery. You can also get pampered in the Greenhouse Spa & Salon and in the photo gallery you can pick up your portraits from the previous night’s formal dinner. On shore, Alaskan towns know how to treat tourists with souvenir shops as far as the eye can see, offering the chance to stock up on miniature totem poles, jewellery, clothes and fridge magnets.
DRINK: Water, water everywhere (not to mention all that shopping) can give a gal a mighty thirst, so sip cocktails in the hip Crow’s Nest nightclub, imbibe a brandy on the Upper Promenade deck or sip wine in the Ocean, Casino and Piano bars. On shore, the ports of Skagway and Juneau display their Gold Rush-era heritage with some traditional saloons, which back in the day would have provided a shot of Bourbon and a trip upstairs where hard-working prospectors could cash in their day’s takings for a brief encounter with some equally hard working girls! Nowadays, the options are limited to sampling the locally-brewed beer and a guided tour of the upper floors.
SLEEP: Sleep soundly knowing that tomorrow brings not only another day, but also another town or city. As the icy Alaskan waters crash against the ship’s bow, passengers can retire to several different cabin types, from the luxurious, super-sized, Penthouse Verandah Suite, to the deluxe or regular Verandah suites, each featuring a large balcony. If you can live without a balcony – remember, it’s Alaska and sunbathing options are limited – most of the ocean-view Staterooms have a large window so you can take in the scenery, as well as every modern convenience, including a TV, bathtub and shower.
THE SIGHTS: Wide open spaces, lush forests, and the occasional brown bear are just some of the sights. The ports of call on this cruise include Alaska’s state capital Juneau, a busy cruise ship port that’s filled with quirky shops; Glacier Bay National Park, with its 65-miles of breath-taking landscape (no wonder it’s a World Heritage Sight); the former Gold Rush town of Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska’s fourth largest city and home to art galleries, totem parks, lumberjack shows and salmon-filled rivers. You can book tour excursions before you even leave home or once on the ship, and they include everything from salmon bakes and fishing trips to helicopter flights and dog-sledding on glaciers – there are more than 250 different excursions available so you’re spoilt for choice.
Andrea cruised onboard Holland America Line’s ms Ryndam on a 7-night Alaska Inside Passage cruise. Holland America Line operates a selection of Alaska cruises from May to September every year. Prices start from £1,849* per person for a 9-night fly/cruise including scheduled flights from London (£150 supplement ex-Belfast), pre-cruise hotel night in Vancouver and 7-night cruise full board basis. Contact your travel professional, call 0845 351 0557 or visit www.hollandamerica.co.uk for more details. *Based on ms Ryndam 7th May 2009.
Andrea flew from London to Vancouver, where her cruise departed from, with British Airways (www.britishairways.com), as part of her fly/cruise package.