Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cruising, Part 1

My grandma recently took my dad's side of the family on a seven day cruise to Alaska. My cousin and I, as the youngest grandchildren, were allowed to come, too. We had a blast!
The fun started before we even boarded the boat. Our boat left from Vancouver, BC, and the very building where we had to check in was also home to an anime conference that day! I don't know too much about anime so I didn't recognize a lot of the costumes, but I did spot a few familiar faces.


A fabulous Jack Skellington (from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas) and the black blob-creature from the movie Spirited Away. I also saw the Tenth Doctor, and I saw The Joker and The Riddler having a fight (with Jesus in the audience, go figure).

As we left Vancouver, we sailed passed Stanley Park. It was beautiful.

Vancouver's skyline and a corner of Stanley Park
We sailed with Holland America lines (what else would you expect from a family of Dutchmen [and women]?). Our boat was called the "Noordam," which, coincidently, is the same name of the boat that carried some of my ancestors on my maternal side from Holland to America over a hundred years ago!

There were three staircases on the boat and on each landing there was a picture or a piece of art. This painting depicts the Noordam that my ancestors sailed on to come to America in the early 1900s!
Our Noordam looked very different.

Our boat, along with one of the tender boats that brought us ashore to Juneau, Alaska.
All of Holland America's boats are registered in Holland; our boat had a Dutch captain and several Dutch officers. It was nice to hear the familiar Dutch brogue over the loudspeakers each morning, even if it was only to tell us the weather and our current position in the water. It was also cool to see all the Dutch touches... Dutch flags, pictures and busts of Dutch royalty, Dutch tea in the afternoon, Dutch breakfasts on the menu, and Dutch pea soup the day we visited Glacier Bay. Perhaps the best Dutch touch were the servers in the formal dining room singing "Lang Zal Ze Leven," the Dutch birthday song, every night to those who had birthdays. It was especially funny because all of the servers were most definitely not Dutch, but of all different ethnicities.

Our boat stopped in three places: Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We also sailed into Glacier Bay and spent the day admiring God's fabulous creation. At each stop, we had the opportunity to go on excursions, though most of us did not. Instead, we walked around the towns. It's amazing how many jewelry stores there are in the cities that cruise boats stop at! At least every other store sells jewelry.
In Juneau, I walked with several uncles and aunts and my cousin around the town. We found a Starbucks, which was a like coming home for me since there is a Starbucks on nearly every corner where I live. We also went to two bookstores.

In Skagway, my grandma, aunt, uncle, cousin, and I took the train up to White Pass. By far, this was my favorite part of the trip. I LOVE trains. They are my favorite mode of travel. This train took us up into the Alaskan mountains. It was stunning.


If you noticed the thin trail snaking through the left side of the picture, that is the trail that men seeking their fortune in the gold rush rode to get wherever they were going.



I spent most of my time outside the train car on a little platform, snapping pictures.

There were supposed to be three cruise ships docking in Skagway, but we were the only ones that made it into the bay, because of stormy seas. The store owners were expecting over 10,000 tourists, but ended up with only our meager 1,800.
The night we left Skagway, the wind was blowing harder than my mother (who grew up in the plains of Minnesota) had ever felt it before. Two tug boats escorted us outside the bay, just in case we needed help. Thankfully, we made it to Ketchikan with no mishaps.
Once there, we walked around town again. Most people go to jewelry stores or clothing stores or trinket stores when they go to Alaska. We went to the thrift store. We also walked around Creek Street. It is aptly named, seeing that there is a river instead of a road in the middle of the street. We happened to be in Alaska during salmon spawning time, so the lovely aroma of dead mother salmon followed us around Creek Street.
I loved seeing all of the different t-shirts Alaska had to offer:

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na Batmoose!

I have to admit, this one is my favorite. It makes me chuckle.

May the forest be with you

There were four other cruise ships docked in Ketchikan with us, including our sister ship, the Westerdam.

Next time... learn about our trip to Glacier Bay, and the other activities we enjoyed on board the Noordam!

Live long and prosper.


  1. It's nice to have this remembrance of a wonderful trip, Abbey.

  2. Abbey, these are wonderful pictures! Now you will always remember what it looked like.
    A nice job of describing the trip!
    Minnesota Grama