Saturday, June 8, 2024

Alaska Cruise on the HAL Koningsdam - June 8, 2024

HAL Konsingdam Alaska Cruise Review - June 8, 2024

Just The Facts:

Ship:  Holland America Line’s Konsingdam, a Pinnacle Class class @100,000 gross tons and 2800+ capacity
Captain: Arno Jutten  -  Cruise Director: BettyAnn Chun
Ports: Vancouver, Canada - Juneau, AK - Skagway, AK - Glacier Bay (Sailing) - Ketchikan AK

This is my first cruise on the HAL Konsingdam, only my 4th Holland America cruise, but my 211th cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo but with a group of classmates from DCHS  and cruise friends.  I haven’t sailed the Alaska ports recently so this will be fun and a bit different.
 
Travel Day One -- Thursday -- June 6th, 2024 -- Tampa Florida to Vancouver Canada
I left the Florida Villa at about 9:30 a.m. with a Lyft driver to the TPA Airport and my 1:00 pm flight. I flew on United Airlines through Denver in approximately two three-hour segments. Just a short layover in Denver so arrived in Vancouver at about 6:30 pm local Pacific time.  I took a regulated ($41Can w/Tip) Taxi downtown and my hotel, The Georgian Court Hotel.  I had a conflict as tonight is the final of the WCWS Softball Championships with my Sooners vs. the Texas Longhorns.  I was able to watch an inning from baggage claim at the airport, an inning on the half-hour Taxi Ride, and then the final two innings at the hotel.  The Oklahoma Sooners won their fourth consecutive National Championship. Amazing. The hotel is a premium hotel with all the amenities one would want so pricy even as Vancouver is already considered an expensive city for travel.  Very nice though.  After the Softball game, I walked a couple of blocks to a Vietnamese Restaurant, Pho Khanh Express, for a nice bowl of Pho…it was excellent.  I enjoyed my Chick-fil-A at TPA and my Smash Burger at DEN so a good day for easy and enjoyable food.  I retired after dinner and enjoyed watching Sooner softball highlights and team interviews before sleep.  Note: my classmates, from Oklahoma, was able to watch the game at the sports bar across from the hotel, they converted the locals too.
 
Travel Day Two -- Friday -- June 7th, 2024 -- Vancouver Canada
I failed to close the window shades and the sun comes up early here so I was awake by 4:45 am although that is 8:45 in Florida.  I walked down to Mcdonald's for a simple breakfast then met friends for our 10:00 am Vancouver City Highlights Tour.  Fortunately, one of the pickup points was my hotel.  After driving through the Downtown area our first stop was the Stanley Park Totem Poles.  It was a very nice area…we then drove the rest of the large urban park towards our next destination: Granville Island.  We had about an hour and a half to visit the famous Public Market and the many unique shops and venues.  They have over fifty various specialized food sellers so deciding is also fun.  I went with Kaisereck Delicatessen located in the Public Market.  I ordered the Schnitzel Plate: Schnitzel (breaded and freshly cooked), fresh Sauerkraut, Sautèed onions, and Potato salad.  I also had a large Oatmeal Raisin cookie from one of the bakeries.  All Excellent.  We then drove through Chinatown and the Gastown District with a brief stop at the famous vintage Steam Clock (photo).  Our final and feature stop was at the Vancouver Lookout atop a Vancouver high-rise with a 360* view of Vancouver, the Harbor, and the Mountains beyond,  We were blessed with a beautiful day for it too.  I enjoyed it very much.  It's a nice place to visit perhaps even better on your own as a good place to take a cool break when touring downtown.  We were a bit rushed as a group. Soon we were dropped back at our hotels and I took time to relax and begin this blog review.  I passed on a group dinner as they were going for Pho on my recommendation and close location.  Vancouver has 40% Asian population with a wide variety of Asian restaurants.  I had a great hot shower and went to bed to relax and work online.  They have fast WiFi and I have a nice room so I’ll enjoy it this evening.   It was a very beautiful and interesting day in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Day One -- Saturday --  June 8th, 2024 -- Embarkation Day - Vancouver Canada 
I woke early but had a very good and long night's sleep.  I enjoyed the room and WiFi until meeting others to share a Taxi ($20 for 3 +bags) to Canada Place at about 10:15 am.  Short trip and we checked our bags in the underground drop-off location.  Then up to U.S. Customs for face recognition.  The next step is security for carry-on bags and then to check in with Holland America.  Just a very short wait until boarding and I was on board at about 11:30 am.  Going early worked very well.  The cabins weren’t ready, but I went by just to get my key card…it wasn’t out as yet so I sat on my aft-facing balcony looking at a perfect view of downtown Vancouver (photo).  The cabin steward came by and finished my cabin so I got my sail card and went up to Lido aft pool for a cocktail. Just after noonish, they announced that cabins were ready so that cleared out the Lido Buffet…I then went there to eat.  I had two Tacos from the Carving Station (fresh sliced pork) with fixings.  Then I tried the Cannelloni with Bolognese Sauce.  All good.  I found my group by the main pool starboard side with a great view and we visited.  Then a rare thing happened:  If you sailed from here you recall that you can watch the Float Planes take off and land between Canada Place (our location) and Stanley Park.  Unfortunately, a boater was racing and cut across the flight path and was hit by the plane.  The boater was a fatality and the plane flipped.  Authorities were there quickly. They salvaged the plane (96% underwater) dragging it ashore.  At 2:00 pm the Muster Stations open…an easy card scan then watch the video on cabin TV.  Easy Peasy.  I do have a drink package for this cruise so I had a few Daiquiris this afternoon.  Nice.  After unpacking I met friends at the Ocean Bar for a few Cosmopolitans before our 7:30 dinner in the Main Dining Room (MDR).  Tonight's dinner was very good,  I ordered the Sea Food appetizer, the Pork Tornadoes with Marion Berry (local) jelly, and a nice whipped fruit dessert.  Some went to the 50’s Show, but I retired to the cabin.  I set up the Music choices on the TV and updated this review before sleep.  It was a great embark day for the Konsingdam.

Day Two -- Sunday --  June 9th, 2024 -- Inside Passage to Alaska 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well although seas are rolling this morning.  I woke up early and updated this blog.  They have a Seaday Brunch in the MDR opening at 9:00 am and I went shortly afterward.  I ordered a unique Alaskan Smoothie (apples, beets, pumpkin seeds), Hot Milk, Eggs Benedict with sides of Bacon & Hash Browns, and a Bloody Mary.  It was very good and nice English guests to visit with.  I began my walkabout this morning starting with Deck 3 the Promenade deck from aft to forward, then went up to Deck 12 and the Crows Nest.  I enjoyed a Coca-Cola then friends came by so tried a Leffe Belgian Beer.  I then finished my walkabout on Deck 2 forward to aft.  The seas continue to be rolling more than I have ever experienced on the Inside Passage.  I then had a Hamburger and Fries from Dive-In up on Lido Deck.  You have a choice of several burgers or hot dog items leave an order then are buzzed when it is ready.  My burger was very good.  It's nice on the inner deck (65°) by the pool, but the outer decks are breezy and cool (55°). I then had cabin time before going to the Ocean Bar at about 3:00 pm and sat with several Classmates.  Tonight is Captain's Night although most do not dress formally as is the cruising practice of late.  I dressed in a wrinkled dress shirt, I failed to hang it as I had so many shirts for 21 days.  Dinner tonight was very good, I ordered: Escargot Bourguignon, Orange Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (plated with Melon), the Pinnacle Grill 17 oz Ribeye Steak ($20), and the Black Forest Cake for dessert. It was all excellent (photo...note that it is still daylight @ 9:30 pm).  Most were attending the Comedy Show this evening, but I retired to the cabin early as I had an early excursion.  It was a fun sea day on the Konsingdam.
 
Day Three -- Monday — June 10th, 2024 — Icy Point Strait / Tracy Arm Fjord / Juneau
Smoother seas overnight and I slept well.  We changed our clocks/time back one hour to Alaska time overnight.  It was daylight at 4:30 am and the weather looked better than the forecast…important as I have an excursion on the water this morning. I had a quick early breakfast in the Lido Market, the bacon was nice.  My excursion, Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer, met at about 8:30 am in the theater and at about 9:00 we were loaded onto a large Catamaran with two decks and a third observation deck.  I got a seat on the first forward row lower level and end so a view forward and starboard side.  First time to be loaded ship to ship on the sea.  Once we were offloaded the Konsingdam continued to Juneau. Our boat entered Icy Point Strait and then into the Tracy Arm Fjord.  We stopped along the way for wildlife seeing a few Bears, and the large natural Waterfall.  There were a lot of small waterfalls for snow runoff as well.  There was a lot of floating ice two almost large enough to be called icebergs.  We passed the Carnival Miracle plodding along in the Fyord.  At about an hour in we reached the Sawyer Glacier.  It was amazing and the Captain got us in very close.  It was that special blue color as well (photo).  We spent some time here before returning down the Fjord to our original site at Icy Point by noon, but we now had to do the three-hour journey to Juneau.  We did pass some Dolphins along the way and the time passed well.  Five cruise ships in Juneau today. We docked alongside the ship and in the cabin just after 3:00 pm.  I went up to the Lido for a hot lunch: Pasta with Bolognese, a Brisket Burrito, and a nice Green Salad.  I then went off the ship and into Juneau spending most of my time in the Red Dog Saloon.  The Beers were good and the show was very entertaining.  Yes of course I had a Duck Fart as well.  I returned to the ship and no MDR for me tonight. I went up to the Sea View Bar for Coca-Colas for the cabin and ended up swapping stories with the Bartender (it was not busy) then ended up drinking a few Captain Morgans.  I soon retired much too tired to blog so a hot shower and bed was very nice.  It was a great excursion day. 

Day Four -- Tuesday --  June 11, 2024 -- Skagway Alaska 
Smooth seas overnight and I had my best sleep of the trip. I still woke early, but I went to bed early.  At about 8:00 am I went to the MDR for Breakfast, I ordered the Eggs Benedict with Crab & Asparagus Tips, it would have been great but the English Muffin was off. The Bacon, Fruit Plate, Hot Milk, and Danish were good.  I visited with new and old friends on the way out of the MDR.  Most of my group is off for the Railway on several types of rail excursions.  I’ve done it a few times so I updated this blog in the morning and will go out to walk about and enjoy the better-than-forecast weather.  I think my friends will have a great day going up the mountain by rail.  At about 11:00 am I took a shuttle into town it is the most people I have ever seen in Skagway.  There are four ships fair-sized ships docked today: HAL Koningsdam, Celebrity Edge, Crown Princess, and Discovery Princess.  I had my obligatory beer at the Red Onion Saloon and walked around a bit, just too many people so I shuttled back at about 1:00 pm.  I had a nice lunch from Lido Market and sat outside enjoying the mountain views.  Then took time on my Balcony with the same view. At about 6:00 pm I met the group for cocktails at the Ocean Bar.  Yes, they all enjoyed their railroading adventure today.  I made reservations at Canaletto the premium Italian Restaurant on Deck 9 for 7:30 pm and had a nice window table.  I enjoyed a Cocktail and the Bread with a variety of Tapenade and Oil & Vinegar as we began sailing away from Skagway. I ordered the Burrata served with nice Tomatoes and dressing, the featured Seared Scallops, the Italian Sausage Paccheri, and the Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake for dessert.  It was all excellent, especially the Scallops and I was very satisfied with the meal and service.  After dinner, I went out on the outer deck aft to enjoy the wonderful views as we sailed away.  The mountains are brilliant with the snow cover at the tops and majestic rising from the sea.  My cabin was turned down, but I opened up the curtains to continue to enjoy the scenery.  The aft view was spectacular this evening.  Another great day in Alaska.
 
Day Five -- Wednesday --  June 12th, 2024 — Sailing Glacier Bay Alaska 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well.  We entered Glacier Bay National Park and picked up the Park Rangers and Conservationists at about 6:30 am.  I went to the MDR for a nice Country Breakfast of my design: Three Eggs over easy, Bacon, Sausage, Hash Browns & Toast.  Also Hot Milk, Tomato Juice, and a Danish. It was good and we were reaching some of the better viewing areas of Glacier Bay.  By the time I returned to the cabin they had begun their 360° turns… which makes the aft-facing cabins with wonderful views.  Also avoids the Crows Nest crowd and a better open-air experience. At about 11:15 we reached the Margerie Glacier and the Grand Pacific Glacier at the upper end of the bay just below the Canadian border.  The Margerie Glacier is spectacular as you can see most of it from the water's edge up the mountain.  Certainly the highlight of Glacier Bay.  I sat with friends in the Lido Market and had a few cookies for lunch.   then took some Cokes back to the cabin.  Sailing south I’m getting the full view of Glacier Bay from the aft-facing balcony and it is magnificent.  I’m glad I booked this location.  At about 3:00 pm I went to Dive-In for a Hamburger and ordered the same as Sunday but with two fries, they are so good, to me they taste like cactus fries. We dropped off the Park Rangers at about 3:30 so we began heading south towards Ketchikan and eventually Vancouver.  A short walkabout the ship before dinner @ 7:30 pm. Tonight was the second Gala night so a fair menu.  I ordered the Escargot Bourguignon, Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, the Beef Tenderloin Oscar entree, and a Black Forest Sundae for dessert.  It was very good.  I did go to B.B.Kings nightclub, that's one of the favorite evening spots for the group.  The comedian has been getting positive comments as well.  It was a brilliant day cruising in Glacier Bay.  My first time as previous attempts were canceled by poor weather...so very pleased.

Day Six -- Thursday --  June 13th, 2024 -- Ketchikan, Alaska

Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. I woke early and updated this blog then went to breakfast in the MDR just after they opened at 7:30 am.  I ordered Hot Milk, Mixed Berries, Danish, three Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, and Hash Browns.  Nice people at an aft-sharing table, actually saw a Sea Lion too. There are six cruise ships in Ketchikan today so we have the short straw and will have to tender, fortunately, I have an excursion so we’ll have an early tender.  My meeting time is 11:15 am and the excursion is  Wilderness Cruise and Silverking Lodge Seafood Feast.  My tender left at about 12:05 and boarded a bus to take us to the north part of the island then loaded a boat for Silverking Lodge.  On the way was saw a pair of Eagles that dove for fish next to our boat,  very impressive (photo).  Once docked at the lodge we took a walk into the Rainforest to one of the largest Red Cedar trees in North America…it too was impressive.  We then had a nice seafood boil at a pavilion.  Crab Legs, Shrimp, Clams, Mussels, Red & White potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Sausage, Garlic, and probably more in the Pot dumped on our table for eight.  We also had drawn butter and a bottle of water.  It was fun and good food.  We then returned by the same route to Ketchikan.  I walked around town for a while then ran into friends before returning to the Shuttle location.  I was told by a guide to try the local Huckleberry Fudge if possible and found a piece of Huckleberry/Vanilla…wonderful.  We were back on the ship at about 6:00 pm.  I relaxed for a bit then went upstairs to the Lido for a light dinner: Fried Chicken, Red Fish, Mashed Potatoes, and Vegetables.  I watched us sail out of Ketchikan and I could easily see the interesting Sea Captain's houses on the hills above the town and waterfront.  It doesn’t get dark here until after 10:00 pm.  I watched some news on TV for the first time in a week, then retired.  It was an interesting day in Alaska.
 
Day Seven -- Friday --  June 14, 2023 -- Sailing the Inside Passage
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. We moved our clocks forward one hour to Vancouver time during the night.  I went up to the Lido Market and it was not busy so I had a nice omelet from the Omelet Station and Bacon, Hash Browns, Fruit, and Danish…very good.  Visited with friends before returning to the cabin to do some business online as we are four hours off EST.