Tag Archives: holland-america

Alaska Vacation Help

Lee Moore from Irving, TX: “My wife and I did a cruise to Alaska on July 15 out of Seattle. Loved every moment! Sure a lot cooler than Dallas, TX. In Ketchikan, we took a floatplane trip – which I can highly recommend. The flight was into the Misty Fjords National Park. We even landed on one of the lakes and got out on land for a short time. Our pilot, the business owner was a lady with 20 yrs. plus experience in Alaska. Her name is Michelle.”

Bill Jones: “Last year, I returned to Alaska on September 3 and covered the area from Anchorage to ‘NORTH POLE’ (a town near Fairbanks) by car. I also discovered that tying oneself to a three-week car rental is the WORST way to see Alaska. I know the cruise is beautiful, but probably full of geriatrics (you see them getting off of Princess busses when they arrive in Anchorage). The real Alaskans are a whole other people: youthful, intelligent, pleasant and COMPUTER LITERATE. Hell, what else do you do when the days shrink to two hours of sunlight?”

Gregory Gooden: “I’ve been TWICE to Alaska’s Inside Passage. You MUST do the Helicopter tour over Hubbard glacier (the LONG tour). They land on a few glaciers, land on a gorgeous NON-glacier mountain with a view of everything that “god” gave our planet. It’s beautiful and a MUST-SEE! I hope the Tuesday Hubbard Glacier is the flight I speak of. BTW, there’s also a cute “small airplane flight” from Juneau that leads to a Canoe trip where they give you waterproof clothes and you and several others row (in a canoe) to the BASE of a glacier (where it meets a lake).. Great time! Have a great trip! I sure did! (Twice; Celebrity and Princess)”

Kent: “Sorry, I was sleeping before you started your vacation or I would have advised you to take a surge protector (not enough outlets), possibly a small night light, a sling purse for Ponzi (for the room key, etc.), And if you think the Hubbard Glacier was great, then take HAL’s cruise tour to include Denali and see the Glacier Bay and College Fiord. Great!”

Charlie Burkey Jr.: “It’s always raining in Ketchikan – or about to rain. They get 13 feet of rainfall a year. Did you make it to Ray Troll’s art gallery? There are few sights more awesome than a tidewater glacier that is calving off chunks of ice. Hubbard glacier was named long before L. Ron Hubbard was born. Knew you would enjoy Alaska!”

Jan Nieman: “I see by your schedule that you will be in Ketchikan for a few hours. I just want to let you know that you will not find friendlier people anywhere. I lived there for 2 years in the early 70’s and my son was lucky enough to be born there. Plus, my ex still resides there with his new wife. I know things have changed in 30+ years but friends and family who travel there still say the same about the folks there. Friendly and helpful all the way. Stories I could tell you about being from the lower 48 and going up there at the age of 19 and enjoying marriage and a baby in all that beauty. One more thing, visit historic Creek Street which used to be their Red Light District. But whatever you do, ENJOY.”

Keith Thompson: “Your weather sounds exactly like what we had in our visit to the great state of Alaska. I did go fishing while in Ketchikan and had 40 lbs of Salmon fillets sent home. My wife did the same as yours, make sure that the credit cards function. I hope your experience with Alaska is as rewarding as ours. We were there just a bit later than you and took advantage of the last tour of the season to obtain fantastic bargains (70% off on many things). I think that some of the photos I have show the best scenery that we have seen in our many trips both in the US and abroad.”

Bill: “I’m visiting Alaska myself. Been here in Anchorage for three weeks. I came by land, so I don’t have any ideas for you other than here in Anchorage. Restaurants. You’ll hear about Frumpy’s and the Glacier Brewhouse. Went into Glacier on Saturday and the wait was too long (make a reservation if that is your choice). Ending up having a great meal a few doors down at Ristorante Orso. More expensive, but very good food. The Smoked Salmon Chowder is wonderful.”

Alaska Photos

I’ve uploaded darn near every Alaska image in my personal inventory to an Alaskan Cruise Flickr album. I must, again, thank Pluggd for giving me the opportunity to upload both text and images while on the cruise liner (through an ample Internet connection). Sorry the markup is bulky here – I couldn’t find an easy way to strip ID and NAME attributes from the link tags.
Continue reading Alaska Photos

Victoria, Victoria

Alas, this week is winding down. We’re on our way to Victoria, British Columbia – that’s in Canada, for all of you who aren’t familiar with the name or territory. I’ve only been on the outskirts of Victoria, spending most of my BC time in Vancouver. I hear they have wonderful gardens in Victoria, actually – but I’m not sure if we’re scheduled to see any of ’em. Ponzi’s signed us up for some kind of tour and “high tea.” Guess that means we’ll be riding around in a bus with our pinkis extended? I wouldn’t mind traipsing through Victoria’s gardens, actually – it must be a shutterbug’s paradise. There’s not a cloud in the sky this morning – nothing but ocean outside our stateroom window. We have a western view for the moment, and that scenery won’t likely change until the evening hours when we roll into port.

I’m sipping my way through an espresso in the Neptune lounge again. It’s bitter, but at least it’s keeping me from getting a caffeine headache. My body has treated me rather well this week. I got slapped with dizziness only once, after a shot of Southern Comfort and a few puffs of a cigar late one night. I didn’t get seasick, and I never really felt the need to recouperate in the middle of the day. The schedule is a little wonky on this, the last day of our Alaskan cruise. Everything winds down not long after we return to the ship from our Victorian excursion. Passengers are expected to be fully packed by Midnight, placing tagged luggage outside their respective rooms well before our arrival time of 7am. All things considered, I’m happy to be returning home in the morning – we’ll have a full weekend to catch up and prepare ourselves for the coming week.

Ah, vacation. You’re almost over! Thank you for delivering wonderful experiences and fantastic company. Holland America did fine by me, too – especially with wireless Internet availability (which came to me courtesy of Pluggd). I didn’t capture our time in audio, but I did take plenty of photos – and this trip was certainly a visual smorgasbord. Would I recommend an Alaska cruise to anybody? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Catch Me, Ketchikan

I’m disappointed. I mean, here we are in Alaska, and Ted Stevens has not stopped by to say hello. That’s the least he could do for me, considering CNN put the InterTubes bLaugh in one of their segments the other day! I was sorting through my spam remotely (through VNC to my home computer) when I saw a message from Mitch which claimed that the comic had appeared at the end of a “Situation Room” segment. Sure enough, Crooks and Liars captured the video for me to see it second-hand. The quality isn’t amazing, but it seems that in the broadcast, they kept our sponsor’s message (the GoDaddy coupon code “bLaugh”) intact. Freakin’ sweet! I wonder if we’re anywhere near Ted’s place today?

Ponzi couldn’t wait to hit Ketchikan today, although her window for shopping will be relatively short. We docked in the early morning hours and will be departing before 1pm. I’ve been playing the “lazy card” for most of this week, and today is no exception. I could hear the seaplanes buzzing a few hundred feet away, but that wasn’t enough to wake me from my slumber. It’s a bit overcast in this port, which is exactly how I like it. I’m chilling in the ship’s library right now (though it’s far from quiet here). Ponzi’s on shore, no doubt looking for sales and specials and more ways to ensure that our suitcases will get the honorable “HEAVY” tag slapped upon them before transport. I’m just glad she didn’t force me to tag along; I really can’t stand shopping if I don’t know what I want or have nothing specific to attain. She, on the other hand, has some kind of “buy” instinct. Is there a pill for that?

We’ll be back in Seattle on Saturday morning. The concierge asked if the latest departure time would be okay. 10am? Fine by me. We’re honestly in no rush. That said, I’m very much looking forward to returning to an “always on” Internet connection. I’m thankful that Pluggd stepped in to sponsor our connectivity while on board Holland America’s Oosterdam, but those moments are fleeting. It’ll be far better to post photos after I’ve had a chance to sort through them and pick out the best ones. The text summations are sufficient, considering we really haven’t done many touristy things in Alaska. I almost wish we could stay another week. Almost.

The Alaskan Adventure Continues

The world could be ending right now and I wouldn’t know it. Sure, we have satellite television on board – but the time we’ve spent in our suite has been minimal. Internet access is a premium, so I haven’t spent much of my time catching up with the news online. I’m largely unplugged this week (ironic, as Pluggd is keeping me connected to the Internet for the duration of this voyage). Yes, this week wouldn’t be half as much fun if I wasn’t able to log on and post updates near real-time. And as far as I’m concerned, a couple of times a day is just about as close to “immediate” as you get on the high seas. We haven’t been boarded by pirates yet, though.

Ponzi and I had a wicked time in Juneau yesterday, coptering halfway across the city to land on a glacier. There sits a modest dogsled training camp – populated by over 300 dogs and a dozen mushers. We walked amongst Iditerod champions and hopefuls in the early afternoon hours – but when they took us on a short run “around the block,” we were smack dab in the middle of the action. Certainly, the teams didn’t open up all the way. It was a first for us, though. I’m surprised the weather was relatively temperate, especially at the higher altitude. Even so, I’m glad we picked up suede gloves in downtown Juneau earlier (miles away from and well below the dogsled adventure).

What goes up must come down, and so another helicopter returned us to less-icy ground. The views from the air were spectacular. On the bus ride back to “the city,” we spotted an American Eagle – another first for both Ponzi and myself. I snapped a few pictures through the tinted glass, so I’m afraid the images won’t be crystal clear. When we returned to Juneau’s downtown shopping district, Ponzi wanted to hop out and poke around – but I was ready to eat (as we hadn’t hda a nibble since breakfast). I’m pretty predictable when it comes to my “I hate to shop” attitude, so we shuttled our way back to the Oosterdam for a relaxing afternoon.

Today? We’re visiting the largest glacier in North America.

A Morning on the Cruise

Despite weathering a relatively restless night, I feel refreshed. The bed was comfortable enough, with two twin mattresses akimbo, 250 count sheets, and soft pillows. However, my sense of balance kept me from enjoying a peaceful sleep. I think I’m finally getting my sea legs, though. At least, I hope! It’s most difficult to manage when I can’t see the horizon. The temperature outside? Chilly, but certainly tolerable with thicker clothing. Despite the cool climate, We opted to dine on the verandah for breakfast this morning – the view was oceanic and the company kept us warm. Ponzi and I have a private space just outside our stateroom. Despite the weak coffee, they did bring us heavy cream (per our written request). We’re now getting ready to enjoy our day on board, with Ponzi hot to attend a couple of classes (even though some of them are designed to teach you how to buy more junk that you don’t really need).

Last night, Ponzi and I decided to get a nice cigar and sip cognac in the Oak Room on the upper deck of the Oosterdam. Neither of us smoke, and we really don’t drink, either – but it was an “experience” nonetheless. I took a few more photos, though I might wait to upload my favorites at the end of the day. Tried to help a mergers and aquisitions lawyer with his wireless connection a few minutes ago – seems I can never escape this lot. Coffee’s good in the Neptune room (though I had to bring in the heavy cream from breakfast). Gotta check my email now… and again, thank the gang at Pluggd for enabling us to get online and check in with friends on our journey to Alaska.

The Internet connection on this Holland America liner, itself, is flaky – and not very trustworthy. For some reason or another, Akismet crapped at at some point in the past 24 hours, and I can’t load a full page to clear ~250 junk comments from my legit queue. Argh! Ooooh, now I sound like a pirate.

Alaska, Ho!

We’re finally aboard the Holland America cruise liner! Yes, right now – on a wireless Internet connection. Thanks again to Pluggd for providing the ability for us to get online and post updates. I’ve only been aboard for a couple of hours, but… I’m beyond impressed. Our room is absolutely amazing – and we’ll be able to eat breakfast every morning on our “private” verandah. We’ve got cocktails with the ship’s captain right before dinner – so the fun hasn’t even begun. No, seriously – Holland America is teh shiz. Puts Royal Carribean to shame! Oh man, everything’s so clean. I think this is the first vacation I’ve ever taken when I didn’t want to leave the room.

However, as was explained to me beforehand, Ponzi and I are the only people on board who aren’t members of AARP. Ronni and Millie would certainly blend in with the crowd. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? Let’s get a whole bunch of bloggers together and crash a cruise. It’s gotta be a Holland America cruise, though – wow. I’m just blown away by our room.

There are WiFi locations scattered throughout the cruise liner – including down the hall on deck 7 (where we’re staying). Gotta check in with the concierge, too – they’re giving us complimentary DVDs! Oh man, I never wanna go home. Hey Ponzi? Can we stay another week? I’ve already started to upload our photos from the trip (although the Flickr upload tool is acting weird). I think it has something to do with the connection’s caching mechanism. Stay tuned!

Our Alaska Cruise Schedule

As noted in my cruise ship report, we have a general schedule for our Holland America [ms Oosterdam] cruise:

  • Sat: Arrive at terminal at 1:00pm
  • Sat: Depart from terminal at 4:00pm
  • Sun: At sea all day
  • Mon: Juneau from 11:00am to 9:00pm
  • Tue: Hubbard Glacier from 12:00pm to 5:00pm
  • Wed: Sitka from 7:00am to 6:00pm
  • Thu: Ketchikan from 7:00am to 1:00pm
  • Fri: Victoria from 6:00pm to 11:59pm
  • Sat: Return to Seattle at 7:00am

Anything we “must” do (besides dogsledding, which is happening earlier in the week). I just asked Pluggd if they wanted to do a few Skypecasts – so, keep your ears on for a couple of audio updates!

Pluggd Keeps Us Plugged In

Expect to see plugs for Pluggd in the near future: they’re sponsoring our Internet connection on the cruise next week! As it stands, I’ll be checking in at least once a day from the Holland America cruiseliner – text and photos, guaranteed. I’ll post daily audio experiences as well – so long as upload speeds aren’t capped at 2400bps! Drew Olanoff made the cruise connection for us – and for that I’m damn thankful, period. Alex Castro (Pluggd CEO) and I are getting together at Caffe Vita this evening – and I’m bringing the iRiver Clix podcast recording device with me. The audio quality may not be outstanding, but at least it’ll get the job done.

The Gnome is Cruising Alaska

As revealed in last night’s report, I’m going on an Alaskan cruise in another week or so. Friends tell me that there are breathtaking photographs waiting to be taken of the Alaskan landscape – but can I rent (borrow?) higher-quality hardware for a week? The cruise is already going to be expensive to begin with. Here’s a fraction of the feedback I received this morning…

Connie Devine: Cruises aren’t what they used to be. Forget that shuffleboard stuff. You are going to love it. Holland/America is a fantastic cruise line (yes, I am Dutch). Also I have a friend that works as Tour Director for Princess Cruises and almost every ship she goes on has internet access and sometimes it is part of the package, so check that out. Either way, relax and let them pamper you and drink in the views.

Paul Raven: I loved the Alaska Cruise last summer and wanted to go this summer too. The seas are fairly calm since the land is usually on both sides of the boat. They do have Internet access (yes it is expensive) on the ship and you may be able to get some access from the boat at some ports. Bring your laptop to dump your digital photos. My wife, son and I took almost 11,000 pictures last summer during that week. The scenery is awesome. Wild life is beyond awesome (Whales, Porpoises, Eagles, Salmon, Bears, etc.)

Tom D. Kerrigan: The main thing I have heard from people taking these cruises is to be careful of the food! There is food everywhere all day and all night long. This could wreck havoc with your diet. Are you at the downtown terminal or the one by the West Seattle Bridge? I work across the street (Kind of) from the terminal by the West Seattle Bridge. On my daily walk I go by the 2 Alaska cruise ships every Friday and after working the weekend found out they also have Saturday sailings. I am at the Seattle Lighting Warehouse/Offices there across Aurora from the terminal. Have a great cruise. I am very undecided if I would ever want to take a cruise, the travel plans seem too structured.

Uncle Bob: If you get a chance go fishing, I’ve been only once but would go again even with all the airline security. Take all the side trips you can, I was amazed it wasn’t all ice and snow. Don’t let anyone try and print your pictures for you, I lost 8 rolls of film and see one of my shots quite often in publication.

Dennis Williams: Holland America is a wonderful cruise line, but be prepared to be the youngest people on board. The “average” age is about 72. We’ve taken several with HAL and loved them, but the folks are old for the most part (we are, too, at 64 and 62). Bon Voyage!

Charlie Burkey Jr.: Cheer up! Sounds like a cruise to AK will do you some good. As an AK reader of Lockergnome (not sure I’m ready to claim the title of Lockergnomie – or whatever), let me say what I say to everyone who is thinking about visiting AK: you owe it to yourself to see AK and you won’t be sorry you did. We don’t live in igloos and I’ve been told that a higher percentage of Alaskans have computers in their homes (practically all connected to the Internet) than any other state. We do have Internet in AK. Come on up and enjoy the Inside Passage, you’ll be glad you did.

Bern Muller: Chris, we have cruised around the world with Holland America. They are great. All Holland America ships have satellite internet connections. I take my laptop, and go to one of the hotspots on board, and hook up. But it is expensive. I hope you enjoy Alaska. We did.

Kent: I’m sure that you will find HAL (Holland American) to be a great line. Treat the waiters as friends not slaves and you will have made a # of good friends. If you like bread pudding, go to the lunch buffet on the Lido deck. Great. Good ice cream and cookies there also. You will find a lot to do. If it would make you feel better, you stay home and I’ll go in your place. BW and I have been on 11 HAL cruises and are planning another for Nov 06. Relax and have fun.

Eddie: I really do feel for you being away from your computer for a whole week. You cannot even take your Dell with you as it might catch fire. Azipod propulsion was designed by the same people that developed Windows XP, so you have nothing to worry about. Just go and have a good time, and take your camera with you.

Leland: My focus isn’t Alaska but you can pick up some good cruise tips that are practical from my website. By the way, without the encouragement from Chris’s newsletters over the years, it wouldn’t exist. Thanks!

Ed Accornero: Look at Wikipedia for the definition of Azipod. There are pictures of the propulsion system, showing that the Coast Guard is using the system, and what it looks like and how it saves fuel.

Bill K: Your cruise ship has an internet cafe on board and all staterooms have an internet connection. So don’t forget to pack your laptop. Just don’t tell you know who!

According to Holland America’s site, “Guests can send and receive electronic mail in real-time, via a high speed satellite link 24 hours a day, satellite conditions permitting.” It also says I can use my own laptop. So, I should have Internet access on the cruise (albeit on a limited basis). There’s no access pricing on HollandAmerica.com, but I imagine I’m going to have to find a sponsor to help cover the costs. That way, I can do a check-in every day from the high seas. Or a few recorded Skypecasts, perhaps?

My special email address will be pirillo7071 @ oosterdam.cruisemail.net – but I’m not sure how that will work yet.