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Trip Report - Zaandam plus land tour June 17- July


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We returned on Monday from a two week trip to Alaska. I had been wanting to take my family on a trip like this for years and had saved enough frequent flyer miles for tickets for me, my husband and two kids (ages 3 and 6). We originally booked on the Star Princess but my husband was laid off just before final payment and we cancelled due to the inflexible cancellations policies after final payment. It worked out well. We ended up booking on the Zaandam just over a month before the trip for a much lower price (cruise was just under $300 per person with us four in an inside cabin +plus taxes and tips).

 

Here was our itinerary

 

June 17 Fly to Vancouver to from Cincinnati, OH arriving around 9 PM

June 17-19 - Pan Pacific Vancouver (booked through Hotwire)

June 19-26 - Northbound cruise on Zaandam with stops at Ketchikan, Juneau and Glacier Bay

June 26 - Brother in Law flies to Anchorage, I take bus to pick up Brother-in-law and rental car, husband hangs out in Seward with little ones

June 26-29 - Havenwood Vacation Rental - Seward

June 29 - ski condo rental in Girdwood

June 30-July 3 - Cabins at Denali

July 3 - Guesthouse Inn and Suites in Anchorage

July 4- flight home leaving at 5:25 AM and arriving in Cincinnati at 6:47 PM

 

I provide some details on how the trip went in future posts.

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We arrive in Vancouver a little tired from traveling and took a cab to our hotel. The Pan Pacific had someone take our luggage directly from the cab to our room which we really appreciated. We were assigned a City View room on the 5th or 6th floor (just can't remember). The room was large with two beds plus a fold out couch and plenty of room to stretch out. It was the 2nd to last room on the end so it had an extra window on the side that gave us a little view of the harbor and front end of cruise ships. It also had a nice City View. We liked the location and liked the food court in the basement.

 

 

On Saturday morning we walked out to Stanley Park.We had checked the forecast before we left. And it showed rain rain rain. So we bought rain gear on Amazon and swore we would venture on. There was little light rain when we left. It was enough that we put the kids in rain gear and wore rain coats, but decided to skip the dorky rain pants (bad decision).

 

 

At Stanley Park we walked to the train station only to find it closed. It started to rain harder at that point and the kids were disappointed about the train so we let them plan in a playground. I have never seen kids shoot off slides like they did. The combination of the water on the slide and the rain gear propelled them. We had to catch them to keep them safe. They had a blast.

 

We headed back in the pouring rain, wishing we had the dorky rain pants. We felt like we were too wet for a cab and when we got to the room we could actually ring water out of our pants. It rained the rest of the day with only short breaks. We spent most of the time resting in our room and headed out for dinner.

 

We need to return to Vancouver at some point. It was a beautiful city, I am sure even more so with sunshine.

Edited by straychicken
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We arrived in Vancouver a little tired from traveling and took a cab to our hotel. The Pan Pacific had someone take our luggage directly from the cab to our room which we really appreciated. We were assigned a City View room on the 5th or 6th floor (just can't remember). The room was large with two beds plus a fold out couch and plenty of room to stretch out. It was the 2nd to last room on the end so it had an extra window on the side that gave us a little view of the harbor and front end of cruise ships. It also had a nice City View. We liked the location and liked the food court in the basement.

 

p><p><img src=[/img]

 

At Stanley Park we walked to the train station only to find it closed. It started to rain harder at that point and the kids were disappointed about the train so we let them plan in a playground. I have never seen kids shoot off slides like they did. The combination of the water on the slide and the rain gear propelled them. We had to catch them to keep them safe. They had a blast.

 

We headed back in the pouring rain, wishing we had the dorky rain pants. We felt like we were too wet for a cab and when we got to the room we could actually ring water out of our pants. It rained the rest of the day with only short breaks. We spent most of the time resting in our room and headed out for dinner.

 

We need to return to Vancouver at some point. It was a beautiful city, I am sure even more so with sunshine.

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On Sunday morning we had breakfast at the food court and pack up the suitcases for the cruise. Around 10 AM the bellhop came and collected our bags and we headed for the cruise terminals. We were all really excited to see the ship parked right by the hotel.

 

We waited in a seating area for a few minutes before we were directed to the line for catch in. Then went went through security into the boarding area. Since we had our 3 year old in the stroller they had us wait with the handicapped passengers. I think we boarded around 11 AM or so; right after the handicapped passengers.

 

We headed to room 2664, which is a large inside cabin on the main deck. It was a good size and we liked the set up. We had two twin beds plus a bunk and a couch. Our room steward made neat towel animals every evening.

 

<a href=20160625_125111_zpsajglhbup.jpg' alt='20

 

We headed to the buffet for lunch and beat the crowds. The food was good but a little slow since it is not self service. We spent the rest of the day exploring the ship (played basketball and tennis). We also checked out the kids club (and they kids ended up wanting to spend all their time their).

 

We had opening seating dining and made a reservation for 5:30 PM. We were assigned a table right be the window. We were not happy with the service. It don't want to make this trip report a comparison between HAL and Royal Carribean. But Royal Caribbean did so much better on our 3 day cruise last sumer. Our server seemed overwhelmed. Our kids were handed kids menus with coloring sheets with no crayons (even when we asked for some). We also asked to substitute veggies or fruit for fries for the kids and were initially told it wasn't possible but finally given a few slices of cucumbers. I thought the food was good. But we only made it back to the dining room one other night due to the poor service. (But we did enjoy the other food options).

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Monday was our first sea day and we enjoyed it. We watched the new Star Wars movie in the theatre as a family (even our 3-year sat through the whole movie).

 

Tuesday was our first port: Ketchikan. We planned to walk around Creek Street and go see the totem poles. But it was raining - so we left the ship dressed in our rain gear (packed the dorky rain pants in our bag) unsure of what to do. We ended up booking a bus tour for $45 each and the kids "free". Free meant they sat in our laps on the bus - which worked out fine. On the tour we stopped at a spot by the sea with a lot of bald eagles. Then we stopped again at an area where bears are sometimes seen. We saw no bears but tons of eagles. On the way back we stopped to see the Totem Poles in Saxman and at a waterfall. We were dropped off a little brothel museum and walked around Creek Street then back to the ship in time for lunch.

 

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As a side note, I will be traveling back to Ketchikan next month for a few days for work. Looking forward to it!

Edited by straychicken
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We arrive in Juneau on Wednesday and the sun came out! We didn't dock until 10 am so we sat on the deck enjoying the scenery.

 

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We had a car rental booked and brought car seats off the ship in a special backpack. I was questioned and held up while departing. They they asked if I was getting of the ship. I didn't understand the question. Finally I figured out that they thought that I had luggage. So I explained the car seats and we went on our way.

 

We had a little wait to pick up the car. When we pulled into the tram parking lot the kids were already hungry. We debated where to eat, but were still close to the ship. So we got right back on the ship and ate lunch and headed up the tram afterwards. There were nice views.

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We also enjoyed a short hike.

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After the tram, we headed to Mendenhall Glacier. We could see the glacier from the road as we approached. We hiked the Nugget Falls trail which ends at a little beach with a gorgeous view of the glacier and waterfall.

 

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We let the kids play in the water for a while. We headed back toward the ship and spotted an awesome playground. It was probably the coolest one I have ever seen. We stopped there and the kids loved it!

 

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Edited by straychicken
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We had another day of good weather in Skagway. We had a car rental reserved and it was a bit of walk to get to the Avis office. We loaded everything in the car and installed the car seats. We had a little issue with the car (low tire) but found a gas station with free air and headed on our way to the Yukon.

 

It was a gorgeous drive.

 

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We spotted a couple of bears right beside the road and watched them for a while.

 

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We accidentally drove a little ways past of our intended turn around point at Emerald Lake. But we didn't get too far before we realized it.

 

Emerald Lake lived up to its name

 

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We stopped at the world's smallest desert on the way back and the kids played in the sand.

 

Once we were back in town we stopped at the Gold Rush Cemetery (my son loved it) and walked to the waterfall from there.

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Friday was our Glacier Bay day. The kids were in the kids club every chance they got (9-11:30, 1-4, and 7-10). This gave us time to enjoy the glacier viewing. The kids did the junior ranger program and HAL had a Native American onboard who told them stories. We spent some time on the bow and got nice views of the glaciers.

 

http://vid36.photobucket.com/albums/e44/straychicken/Alaska/Zaandam/20160624_101625_zps0asmwkmq.mp4

 

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We also watched some marine wildlife with binoculars. We dinner from the main dining menu with room service. It was Gala night and we didn't want to dress up but lobster was on the menu. They once again insisted that the kids have fries with their dinner. The kids went to the kids club and we watched a magic/comedy show.

Edited by straychicken
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Saturday was a sea day. We spent some time on the wrap around deck and the kids played games while we took turns walking.

 

20160625_123051_zpsr06l8qsa.jpg

 

We also took the kids to the pool. The pool was a little cool (26 deg celcius). But the kids liked it for a while. When they got cold, we headed to the hot tub.

 

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Once again the kids spent a lot of time in the kids club which gave us time to pack. Our week on the ship went by so fast! We thought the Zaandam was a great ship. It has been well maintained and really our only complaints were the service in the main dining room and how they handled the kids menus. We had a lot of good times on the ship and enjoyed the great scenery and ports on the inside passage.

 

DSC06223_zps4lqiugz5.jpg

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Ugh! So sorry you ran into rain! The kids are adorable, especially in their rain gear :)

 

 

Thanks! My co-worker was on a cruise leaving one week prior to ours and didn't see a drop of rain. I am guessing some rain is more common than perfect weather (though several days in a row did wear on us).

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Thanks for this!!! We also live in Cincy and will be traveling on the Zaandam with our children. Did you fly out of CVG or DAY?

 

We live in Stamping Ground, KY and flew out of Cincinnati on Delta. We bought the tickets will Skymiles. The flights were smooth. We flew through Minneapolis both ways. The kids got to see the cockpit and see the pilots before one of the flights.

 

Are you leaving soon? I hope your family has a great time!

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We arrived in Seward to a cloudy day with rain predicted. Due to logistics we had to split up. My husband stayed behind in Seward with the kids. I took a bus transfer to the Anchorage Airport to pick up our minivan and my brother in law. We stored our luggage at the Marina Motel in Seward.

 

My husband and kids spent the day wondering around Seward; playing at a playground and visiting the Sea Life Center. I made it to the Anchorage airport around 12:30. My brother in law and I ate lunch and bought some groceries in Anchorage then headed back to Seward. It was a lot of time on the road, but a beautiful drive.

 

We checked into our rental home north of Seward around 5 PM or so. This ended up being our favorite lodging of the trip. We had booked it on VRBO. It was an apartment with 2 bedrooms (one was in a loft). A large open kitchen/dining room and a deck with a hot tub (shared with the owners). The apartment was well furnished, included some pastries and cereal and milk for breakfast and toys for the kids. It was perfect for a family.

 

The next day we headed out and drove around checking out the sights. We ended up going to Bear Lake in search of salmon. There was some confusion on where to park but we eventually figured out how to get to the salmon stream (the directions we followed from http://www.alaska.org/detail/bear-lake are not exactly correct).

 

We finally found the salmon stream at stood on edge of the lake and watched them jump. We were amazed. Suddenly a moose appeared in the lake and began walking toward us. Mr. Moose seemed to want our spot, so we vacated (as any sane person would do for a moose) but snapped a few pictures as we left. This encounter really got us excited about being in Alaska and what we might see in the week ahead!

 

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Later we headed to Exit Glacier and planned to go to the toe of the glacier. We couldn't figure out how to get to it. We went out into the alluvial plain, but it didn't seem possible to actually get to the glacier. I think the stream had changed course, cutting off the usual path. We continued on and got some up close views of the glaciers. The mountain scenery alone is worth the hike.

 

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That evening we had dinner at our rental apartment and headed back out for more sightseeing. We went back to Bear Lake and found a salmon structure where we saw a couple bald eagles and lots of salmon trying to jump up the artificial waterfall.

 

Then we drove out along Nash Road, which was very scenic.

 

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We found our way back to our rental pretty late. With the constant daylight it was very tempting just to keep on sightseeing.

Edited by straychicken
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We live in Stamping Ground, KY and flew out of Cincinnati on Delta. We bought the tickets will Skymiles. The flights were smooth. We flew through Minneapolis both ways. The kids got to see the cockpit and see the pilots before one of the flights.

 

Are you leaving soon? I hope your family has a great time!

 

 

 

We live in Mason, so either airport is right around an hour away. Our trip is next summer. We will be meeting my parents and all of my siblings in Vancouver for an 11 day sea/land package. I'm sure hoping it's a great time!

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Tuesday was another great day in Seward. The rain that was predicted never held off for most of the day through it stayed cloudy.

 

We did two very different hikes. The first hike 3.2 miles out and back was to Grayling Lake. It was a fairly easy hike with some elevation gain. The kids loved wading in the lake and "fishing" with their handmade fishing poles. They also liked getting to hike across the railroad.

 

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In the evening we drove Lowell Point Road and decided to hike to Tosina Point. The hike was fairly easy until we started the switchbacks down to the beach area. A lot of the trail from there was washed out and in the process of being repaired. It was really muddy and slippery and the condition of the trail made it difficult to avoid getting sunk up in the mud or falling. When we made it to the point it was just starting to rain. We didn't stay long because we were afraid would make the hike up the switchbacks even more messy. The point area is beautiful. The stream that enters the bay at the beach has glacial bluish gray hue. We liked how different the hike even though the condition of the trail made it difficult. We managed to make it back to the top of switchbacks and the rain stopped. Then we headed back to our rental cabin where we relaxed in the hot tub.

 

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Wednesday we headed to Girdwood for one and made a stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on the way. Once we got settled in our ski condo we hiked the Winner's Creek trail from the top down (it is a little shorter this way). This hike has a really fun hand tram that you have to use to cross a gorge. You and one other person get into a little metal cage and then use a cable to pull yourself across. Others waiting to cross usually help. We crossed the hand tram, hiked a little ways and turned back and crossed it again.

 

To be continued...

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We checked into our rental home north of Seward around 5 PM or so. This ended up being our favorite lodging of the trip. We had booked it on VRBO. It was an apartment with 2 bedrooms (one was in a loft). A large open kitchen/dining room and a deck with a hot tub (shared with the owners). The apartment was well furnished, included some pastries and cereal and milk for breakfast and toys for the kids. It was perfect for a family.

 

 

 

Hi! I am loving your review! We'll be traveling the same itinerary next year with our 6 year old son. Any "adventurous little boy" tips would be much appreciated!!

 

Also, can you give me any additional info on the apartment you rented in Seward through VRBO? It sounds perfect! We much prefer homes/ B&Bs/ apartments to hotel rooms when traveling w our son. Did it have a washer/ dryer available? We'll be doing a 1 week land tour before the cruise and I'd love to stay somewhere in Seward where we could do some laundry.

Thanks! Katie

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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