Friday, April 6, 2012

Alaska Cruise: Embarkation Day & Day 1 At Sea

As the vacation season approaches many of us find ourselves perusing the travel brochures in search of a travel destination that meshes with our particular interests and lifestyles.  Look no further—the World Bird Sanctuary has just the trip for you!
 This year's ship--the beautiful Holland America Lines MS Oosterdam
In September 2012 Walter Crawford, Executive Director of WBS, will lead a small group to Alaska via one of Holland America’s beautiful cruise ships—the MS Oosterdam.  In 2009 my husband and I accompanied Walter and a small group of travelers on a similar Alaska trip.  I would like to share with you some of the memorable sights and activities from that trip.
 Walter Crawford, Executive Director of WBS, giving a welcoming talk to our small group aboard ship
My husband and I chose to fly from St. Louis, Missouri, to Seattle, Washington a few days ahead of departure so that we could explore the state of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula on our own.  This was well worth the time and will perhaps be a good subject for a separate blog—just suffice it to say that for any who have the time this makes for a fabulous pre-cruise adventure.

At about 3 pm on departure day we boarded the beautiful Holland America MS Westerdam (sister ship of this year’s MS Oosterdam) and were directed to our stateroom where our luggage was delivered to us within a short time.  (No struggling with luggage—they brought it to us!)  We were immediately free to explore the ship, which would be our floating home for the next six days.
 Having dinner in the Grand Dining Room with fellow WBS cruise members
The remainder of the evening was spent exploring and getting our bearings, as well as acquainting ourselves with the Grand Dining Room and meeting our fellow travelers.

Day 1:  At Sea
For those who have never cruised before, a cruise ship is like a floating city and when we were not up on deck we spent this day finding our way around the ship and exploring its many options
The beautiful indoor pool with its moveable roof closed 
View of the indoor pool with its roof retracted
There were two swimming pools (one indoor and one outdoor). 
 View of the outdoor pool
Tucked strategically here and there were small bars serving food and libations.
  One of the many small bars strategically located near the pool
For more serious meals there were huge buffet restaurants--open at most any hour, an intimate upscale small restaurant with a gourmet menu, the ship’s Grand Dining Room, several small lunch bars, and probably other eateries that we never discovered—all designed to fit whichever dining style you prefer.
 One of the many watermelon carvings at the Grand Buffet
For those whose idea of entertainment is shopping, one deck housed a floating version of a shopping mall whose shops ranged from inexpensive souveniers to couturier clothing and diamond necklaces.  Upon unpacking I found that I had packed my lightweight jacket, but mailed it on ahead to Kodiak Island for our post-cruise adventure.  Fortunately, one of the on-board shops had just what I needed, and surprisingly the prices were comparable to those I would find at home.
 The beautiful on board theater where shows were presented nightly
There was a full size theater with professional entertainment nightly--each night presenting a different show.  Speaking of shows—one of the most fun and entertaining shows was the one presented on the last night of our cruise in the grand dining room by the dining room wait-staff.  Everyone took part—including the cooks!  This was in addition to the show regularly presented in the theater.
 The beautiful crystal chandelier which adorns central grand staircase
Other amenities included a sauna and exercise room, library, electronic media room, piano bars and cabarets with musical entertainment nightly as well as dancing for those so inclined.  Of course, there are the beauty salons, massage parlors, casinos, and bingo parlors.  I’m sure I have probably missed a variety of other activities—but hey, you can only do so much in one week. 

For me, the only day I was willing to forsake the top deck and its magnificent scenery long enough to enjoy many of the above activities was Day 1 when we were at sea sailing to our first port.  I’m an “outside” person—but “inside” or “outside” there was something for everyone.

Sail along with me for the next few blogs as we visit Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, British Columbia

So….if you are contemplating a fabulous vacation at a reasonable price for this year Click Here  for specific details.  We’ll be setting sail from September 9-16, 2012 on the trip of a lifetime.

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer

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