Cruise Update: Knowing Before We Are Going

The pre-cruise madness continues here in Alaska as AKontheGO Fam makes more arrangements for upcoming trip. In a flurry of activity we have begun to put the framework of the cruising week together in a way even I might understand.

Holland America has adopted an online option (more than simply an option, for the line really, really wants people to us it) for pre-cruise check-in. Called ‘Express Docs’, its design is to alleviate long lines upon embarkation at the ship and supposedly gets folks aboard and having fun sooner. I hope it is worth it, for checking in three people, their important information and figuring out everything from meal plans to stateroom locations took a long, long time. But it is done and all we have to do is carry the package of paperwork onboard and we’re set.

We have officially become passengers aboard HAL’s Veendam and now have our own personal number that will take us through the entire week of festivities and shore excursions. Most ships now offer a cashless/credit-cardless system by which you use their card (which doubles as a room key) for purchases, the amount of which is a pre-set guesstimate when passengers check-in. This is a handy budgeting tool as well, as we have also found out through some sleuthing, that indeed things are pretty pricey onboard. Yes, customer service is primo, but almost everything extra comes with a price. I would advise a thorough checking of what is and is not included before you book. We will be taking along some beverages for AK Kid, let’s just leave it at that…

Holland America staff have a special form just for parents (especially those with infants/toddlers) that breaks down items they have for pre-purchase; everything from baby food, diapers, formula, to booster seats. Other cruise lines have such forms as well, or they may take your order over the telephone. In either case, it bears checking out. The money may be well-worth the hassle of schlepping along all those extras, no matter how important they are.

One difficulty for us is trying to figure out how to get ourselves from Anchorage to Seward without breaking that budget. Normally, a drive to Seward is 90 minutes of cheap entertainment. Set the SUV on cruise control and away we go at a minimal cost. But, since there is NO parking available for those toting vehicles to either Seward or Whittier, Alaskans must either suck up the $72 one-way cost of a motorcoach ride to embark on the ship, or find some friends who possibly owe a favor to drive and drop-off. The Alaska Railroad is also an option, but at a steep cost and long, long ride (4+ hours), it’s not my first, or even second choice.

Today I must get moving on securing transport, lodging, and rental car for AK Fam’s post-cruise itinerary. Since we disembark in Vancouver, British Columbia, we are taking an extra week to visit our former home of nearby Port Angeles, Washington. More logistics, but all seems to be moving along smoothly, and it will prove to be one more feather in our traveling family’s cap of success. We hope.

Posted in General Travel Info, Logistics With Kids, Miscellaneous.