AK Fam has been inundated by questions from people who want to know about our trip on the Southbound Inside Passage cruise via the Holland America ship, Veendam. While previous posts have glorified the scenery, the food, and the activities, the nuts and bolts of our seven days in heaven deserve their own blog post.
Parents, especially, will find the following information useful if they ever decide to embark on a journey like ours. Which they should, of course. So without further ado, here is AKontheGO’s top five things we would like readers to know before they hop on a boat and head out on the open seas…
1. Don’t worry so much about the Formal and Smart Casual dress code thing. Lo and behold, there were options for dining in shorts and jeans every night. Huh, how did I miss that one? Holland America has “As You Wish Dining”, which means that if you are the kind of family who never dresses up beyond Carhartts and hiking boots (much of the Alaskan population), this is perfectly okay in such dining areas as the Lido deck, where pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and other yummy, kid friendly options await. I put way too much emphasis on the clothing thing.
2. Use Room Service for breakfast. Unless your family is a bunch of early risers, it saves a lot of time and trouble to get everyone up, dressed, and at the crowded breakfast buffet in time for the ports of call. We were able to get room service on any day (including disembarkation day) at no additional charge. Made things much easier for our little guy.
3. Utilize those cabin stewards. These guys rock. They made our bed (sometimes twice a day after nap time), created towel creatures for our little fellow, and brought fresh fruit and ice for evening snacks. They really are there to help in any way; count on them to help from everything from stuck light switches to cranky kids.
4. Think carefully about the shore excursions. We did two; one in Juneau on a fabulous whale-watching/Mendenhall Glacier/salmon lunch tour, and the other in Ketchikan at the Saxman Native Village and Lumberjack shows. We loved the whale-watching, but did notice our four-year-old was the only little kid present, piquing my interest. Ketchikan was a little too much. Neither day left much time for exploring the towns, our fav vacation activity. But, that said, if a cruise to AK is your one and only visit, then plan carefully the time and content with the Shore Excursion Manager, a great resource.
5. Use the kid clubs. Open sea days are long and not exactly the most exciting for smaller kids, especially in Alaska where the weather can often be, shall we say, stinky. Holland America’s Club HAL was a godsend, especially with the highly skilled and personable staff and well-executed programming throughout the day and night. AK Kid was in heaven all day, every day. He still talks about it. Visit the kid club site as soon as you board and make a connection with the staff; we did and they went out of their way to make sure AK Kid had a blast. Plus, every evening was Date Night for us; we’d feed Kid early on the Lido deck, drop him off at the planned theme night, and go out ourselves. Nice. Very nice, indeed.
Count us in, Holland America.