Subject: Alaska Cruise...Sharing our experience
Hi Ziners....

My wife and I just completed a 7 day Holland America Cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary - it was our first cruise and I thought that I would share a bit of the experience.

The cruise was a wonderful experience. We had a mini-suite with a verandah on the starboard side that faced toward land on our way up - so we would sit on the verandah watching Orca's, Humpback, seals and the beautiful backdrop of the mountains.....believe me the Alaskan Mountains are a lot different than the Rockies as they are black, stark, very little vegetation and all snow capped. The landscape is so huge, beautiful and the size of it all leaves you with a frightened feeling due to its starkness.......

We went to 3 ports, Juneau where we went on a town tour and visited the Mendenhall Glacier, Skagway where we went on a narrow gauge railway into the mountains, through tunnels, much of the RR is built on wooden tresles which leaves you with a Gulp feeling when you look down over the side of the train. Narrated all the way and was well worth the voyage.... We spent one day in Glacier Bay - the ship went within 600 - 700 feet of the glacier faces and he slowly rotated the ship at each glacier. We could hear the white thunder sound as the glaciers calved and the ice pieces dropped into the ocean- I got a hell of a sunburn on my face as it was a bright sunny day and the combined sun plus the reflection off of the water gave a good burn.

Ketchikan is built in a Rain Forest and has 13 FEET of precipitation per year and of course the day we were there it rained ... we went shopping but a lot of the shops are Tourist Junk and over priced jewellry but I bought an Alaskan ULU knife which I can use in the kitchen.

The ship was absolutely stunning - holding 1266 passengers and the steward, kitchen staff and anyone that gave you visible service is Indonesian or Phillipino......a great bunch of guys who are trained in Indonesia by Holland America. Each morning we would have room service bring us breakfast and a chap in a red suit with white gloves would drop the tray in your room. The main dining room holds over 600 people and their are two dinner sittings - we took the earlier at 6PM and then we would go to the Theatre to see the shows - Las Vegas type, Ventriliquists, comedians, audience participation show, etc----- a lot of fun stuff.

Dinner was in 5 courses and the meals were outstanding - everything from Prime Rib,Lobster, pastas, steaks, seafood galore, etc.... the presentation was marvelous! You were catered to by your dining room steward, his assistant, and the wine chap-- all dressed in red jackets, black slacks with white gloves....they always had a smile and if you wanted double or triple of anything or if a meal did not quite meet what you expected - just ask and they will bring you more or change it!

They had a Chocolate Extravaganza Buffet one nite about 10PM - --- there was about 80 feet of buffet tables set up with everything made out of chocolate - - (how to die from over eating with a smile on your face!) Once again the presentation was out of this world.

They had ice carvings in the dining room, bouquets created out of vegetables that looked like flowers, everywhere you went on the ship there were huge vases of fresh flowers, the walls were adorned with over 2 million $ of art work and carvings.....

When my wife & I arrived at our suite there was a bouquet of flowers (Orchids, bird of paradise, etc) and a note from me wishing her a happy 25th plus a bottle of wine from our Travel Agent. I had secretly arranged for a renewal of vows ceremony on board by the Ships Captain and there were 3 other couples----- nice touching ceremony with champagne, hour d'ouvres, plus we were presented with a leather bound album with our picture with the captain plus our vows that we said on the spouse was overjoyed!

I could go on and on - but you get the picture.....!! Maximum elegance, every whim is catered to and a truly relaxing atmospere.

They had a fairly large Casino - with about 8-10 tables offering various card games and about 80 one arm bandits...... Tried my luck but I could never win! I am not really a gambler anyway!

If you are ever considering a cruise - I would highly recommend the Alaska cruise. A memorable experience!

Regards Dave Winnipeg, Canada