Cruising Alaska: America’s Coolest State Offers the Warmest Welcome

Alaska travel offers the chance to see Glacier Bay.
The view from Glacier Bay. Photo by Pat Woods

As another hot summer dragged on, husband Rob and I decided the best place to cool off was America’s last frontier. So I booked a balcony cabin on Holland America’s Westerdam for an Alaska Inside Passage cruise. The seven-day journey embarked and ended in Seattle.

Cruises are known for decadent dining, and Holland America did not disappoint. Because we enjoy meeting new people and trying different food, we opted for open dining. Dinner and lunch in the bi-level Vista Dining Room provided multiple courses. At the popular Lido Buffet, guests chose from a plethora of tasty American and ethnic soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts.

In addition, the Westerdam offers two alternate dining venues which require reservations. For dinner only, Canaletto ($10) creates the Italian authentic experience with a variety of dishes to enjoy and share. All five dishes Rob and I shared were melt-in-mouth delicious and perfectly seasoned with heavenly sauces.

The Pinnacle Grille ($10 lunch, $29 dinner) provides elegant china, stemware and linens for a romantic dinner or to celebrate a special occasion. Known for its succulent Pacific Northwest steaks and fresh seafood, the Pinnacle is popular with repeat cruisers.

Once each cruise the Pinnacle transforms into the legendary Le Cirque of New York City ranked among the world’s best restaurants. We had jumbo shrimp cocktails, lobster bisque and delectable chateaubriand for two followed by a signature pineapple dessert at our Le Cirque dinner. ($49).

Alaska cruises provide numerous opportunities for close-up glacier views. Three national park rangers boarded the Westerdam to narrate the ship’s onboard visit to Glacier Bay National Park that can only be reached by water or air.

Captain Bart Vaartjes maneuvered our ship remarkably close to Margerie Glacier. Our port-side balcony cabin provided a spectacular spot to admire nature’s incredible beauty. Then he turned the 935-foot ship 180 degrees to share the great views with starboard guests.

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