My husband and I decided to take a cruise in late August 2003 because for the first time in 19 years, we're going to be kid-less for an entire week. My son was going to a weeklong school field trip and my daughter started school in mid August. With a kid at private college and another teenager at home, needless to say, we were rather tight with money, but we decided to splurge since we both desperately needed a vacation
This was my second cruise (Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Sea to the Mexican Reviera July 2002) and my husband's first cruise. We are a couple in our forties. Our family has traveled quite a few places, mostly in Hawaii and Mexico. I am picky in terms of where we stay. I don't need to stay at 5 star hotels but it better be spacious, nice and clean. For this I was rather surprised how comfortable I was last year when my daughter and I stayed in a small inside cabin during our cruise to Mexico. I knew I was hooked on cruising.
I did quite a bit of research for this cruise. We are both not party people and would be the last people you would see in a Congo line. Holland America seemed to be perfect for us. I wanted a cruise with plenty of quiet corners where I can read, cool weather, some pampering and of course a week without cooking and cleaning. We picked the Veendam even though one-way airfare to Anchorage from San Diego was quite high. We booked our flight and cruise online through Expedia and received excellent service from them. I had to call Expedia after booking the cruise to book transportation from Anchorage to Seward and arrange seating for our flights. Both times I received prompt and courteous service.
After an uneventful flight to Anchorage, we boarded a Holland America bus .to Seward. The scenery during this trip was spectacular. The bus driver even gave us an audio tour along the way. Boarding the ship was also pretty easy. It took us about 10 minutes from the time we got off the bus until we were shown to our cabin. We were assigned a category A inside cabin (that was all we could afford). Our cabin was larger than what I had with RCCL in the previous year. Two twin beds pushed together to become a queen size bed for us, two night stands, a love seat, a small table, a makeup table, spacious closet space and a bathroom with a shower. It also had a strange looking hair blow dryer attached to the bathroom wall. I had to use this thing a couple of times. It worked but not really well. The plastic cord seemed to get warm fairly quickly and I had to use a hand towel to wrap around the plastic holder while blow drying my hair.
We ate dinner at the Lido buffet on the first night (too tired to go to the formal dinning room). The second night, we encountered a fairly large storm and my stomach just could not handle it very well. We ordered room service and the food was delivered nice and hot. We thought it was amusing that they even have a special menu for seasick people. The next morning the Captain announced that the swells we encountered the previous night were as high as 50 feet.
We then spent the next five nights receiving excellent food and service from the dinning room staff. The food was so good and the portions were more than generous. The lobsters were succulent, the prime-rib and steak was nice and tender and cooked to perfection. We dined with two wonderful couples, Kent and Judy, and Maureen and Vince. I could tell we were all having a good time because we were the last ones to leave the dinning room each evening. We ate each breakfast and lunch in the Lido buffet, try the bread pudding; it's so good.
We were happy with the entertainment. We did not expect much since but were pleasantly surprised by some of the performances. We especially loved Edge the juggler; he was funny and talented. My husband and I agree that we would pay "real" money to see him again if he happened to be performing in San Diego or Vegas. Our favorite stop was Juneau. The sun made a rare appearance that day. We took the tram up to Mount Robert and saw a storyteller give a wonderful performance. That afternoon, I found myself back on the cruise, floating in the pool looking up at the sunny sky and I remember telling myself, what a wonderful I am having. It rained a little in Ketchikan but we went on our favorite tour here. We had the best tour guide. Unfortunately we forgot the name of the tour, however we still remember the name of our Scottish bus-driver/tour guide, his name was Carn. He was one funny and knowledgeable guide.
We spend the whole week being pampered, relaxing, and sleeping. My blood pressure must have dropped at least twenty points. We met some wonderful people. I think cruisers are the friendliest people. I spend lots of my time in the library reading, watching couple of movies, listening to some wonderful music, swimming in the pool and of course lot of eating.
To be able access our emails, we purchased an Internet package. The Veendam no longer offers the unlimited usage package. People were buying the unlimited package and then rented it out to other passengers. We spent $40 to purchase 100 minutes usage. It was quite expensive but well worth it.
I can't say enough good things about the Veendam crew. They are hardworking, polite and obviously like to please the passengers. They are warm and friendly and always have a big smile on their faces.
Yes I will surely cruise again. As a matter fact, I already found myself dreaming about my next cruise. Where? When? How? Asia? Mediterranean? Carribean? Mexico? Too many cruises to choose from and to little time and money left.