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


Victoria, B.C.
A festive ambiance greeted us during our Friday evening port call. After sunset, 3,300 lights lit up Parliament buildings, sidewalk musicians played lively tunes and attractions stayed open late. We toured the Royal BC Museum and strolled flower bedecked Inner Harbor walkways. On a previous port call, we toured Butchart Gardens, rode one of the cute ferries and did a CVS hop on/hop off tour.

Onboard experience
Although the Westerdam carried 1,923 guests and 800 crew, there were no long lines—and we never felt crowded. That’s because management strategically schedules meals and activities to avoid congestion.

Besides traditional Bingo, casino, dance lessons and swimming pools, the Westerdam offered Windows technology and group cooking classes which Rob and I attended. Along with customary evening stage shows, musicians and comedians, the B. B. King’s Blues Club played music that made Beale Street famous.

Dog petting is a popular activity for visitors to Juneau.
In Juneau visitors can stop and pet dogs. Photo by Pat Woods

When is the best time to cruise Alaska? Mark Pells, Westerdam hotel director, says May and September are good for empty nesters who like a quiet environment with fewer kids. Late July is best for King Salmon anglers.

“Reserve a balcony cabin, throw open your drapes in morning and walk around the top deck at sunset,” Pells said. “The sunset colors are amazing!”

To get maximum enjoyment from your Alaska experience Pells advised doing your pre-cruise homework. “Study the different ports, read the literature, check out the websites, then be ready to learn and explore. Listen to onboard lectures, watch the movies, and talk with other guests. Remember it’s the journey, not the destination.”

If you go
Undecided about whether to go?

Mark Twain said it best: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Seven Holland America ships ply Alaska waters between May and September. Get details from your travel agent, or 1- 877-932-4259.

Author bio: A widely published cruise/travel writer, this was Pat Woods’ fourth Alaska cruise. She encourages readers to SKI (spend the kids’ inheritance) on a cruise.

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