Rob and I have been great friends since we met freshman year at college. In fact, in many ways Rob is responsible for my sense of wanderlust as it was with Rob that I had my first true travel experience, backpacking across Europe after graduating college. It was that trip that got me hooked on travel and the idea of wandering the globe. Thus, when Rob called and asked if I wanted to be his substitute date on a Holland America cruise to Alaska that he had booked for his now ex-girlfriend, I jumped at the opportunity.
One might say that there are two types of travelers: Cruise People and Non-Cruise People. After spending a week at sea on the Eurodam I can confirm that I am definitely not a cruise person. Cruises are great for people who want to relax, not think about travel, and get a small glimpse of a few cities. To me, traveling is not about getting a glimpse of a place, I travel to learn about new places, cultures and grow as a person. On this Holland American cruise I feel that I experienced very little of Alaska, while learning to master a cruise ship buffet (not a great life skill). In fact, even though I was gone for a week, I spent a meager 29 hours in total on Alaskan soil (see the ship’s itinerary below). The majority of time was spent on the deck of the cruise ship watching the Alaskan coastline pass-bye or eating.
Experiencing new cultures, places and people is not possible on an Alaskan cruise where much of the time is spent watching the shoreline from the ship or shuttling from boat to tour group and back to boat. If you want a glimpse of Alaska and plenty of time to watch the sea from the deck of a ship, a cruise is a great way to travel. The Holland America Eurodam was a very nice ship and if you like cruising you may love this ship. However, if you want to see anything genuine in Alaska, then a cruise may not be the best idea.
Not that a cruise was all horrible: I got to spend lots of time with my friend Rob, which was terrific. I also had an opportunity to photograph a wide variety of animals from seals to bald eagles. We also took an amazing helicopter trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was great to be able to land and hike on a glacier, however at nearly $500 a person, it is crazy expensive. The ship itself was fine, I ate way too much (there were long stretches of time when there was nothing to do but eat) and have no complaints about Holland America. I’m just not a cruise person.
Alaska is terrific and fortunately I was able to return to Alaska a few weeks after the cruise ended for a self-guided tour. As you will read in future posts, for me this was by far the best way to see Alaska.
DAY 1: Depart Seattle / Day at Sea
DAY 2: Day at Sea (Scenic Cruising Stephens Passage)
DAY 3: Juneau, Alaska, US (9 hours on land)
DAY 4: Day at Sea (Glacier Bay)
DAY 5: Sitka, Alaska, US (10 hours on land)
DAY 6: Ketchikan, Alaska, US (6 hours on land)
DAY 7: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (4 hours on land)
DAY 8: Seattle – Depart in Morning