Stepping out on the bow of the ship, in the rain, with a mocha in hand and juggling two cameras is the perfect way to take in Hubbard Glacier when on an Alaska cruise. The best word I can use to sum up the feeling, when you are surrounded by nature viewing the glacier, is "majestic." I could have spent hours watching and listening to the glacier calve, all while taking in the beauty, the rawness, the magnitude, the color, and the fresh air.
One of the best ways to view glaciers is cruising in Alaska. I was on Holland America Line's Oosterdam, cruising the Inside Passage, when I experienced the Hubbard Glacier.
Holland America's ships offers a plethora of entertainment, a little bit of something for everyone. They have a casino; a dueling piano bar area; an observation lounge, which includes board games, computers and books; Bingo with large monetary prizes; enrichment seminars and cooking demonstrations; a B.B. King cover band at night; and evening theater shows. One of my favorite shows was a movie by BBC Earth and accompanied by a live orchestra performance.
Juneau was our first port of call in Alaska. The area we docked at was cute and offered quite a few shops. My personal highlight in Juneau was whale watching. We were guaranteed to see a whale, otherwise we got our money back (I loved that policy). We saw whale after whale, and it never got old. Every time we saw a whale tail or spray come from their blow hole, everyone onboard our excursion boat would cheer.
Our next stop was Sitka. I visited the Fortress of the Bears and the Alaska Raptor Center, which are both worthwhile. The two places are rehabilitation centers for injured animals. Although I enjoyed seeing the raptors, I would have to say the bears were my favorite. The bears are in a large open habitat with viewing decks above, making it so everyone can view them. It's enjoyable to be out in the open and observe bears as they go about their day, including eating, sleeping and playing.
Ketchikan was next, and I spent the day canoeing and learning about the history of different totem poles. Alaska's untouched nature is so
beautiful, and to be able to canoe on a lake surrounded by mountains and trees was so peaceful. I loved the actual town of Ketchikan, too, and wished I could have spent a bit more time in the town. They had great smoked salmon shops and lots of boutique stores.
Our last port before disembarking in Seattle was Victoria, BC. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Victoria. It was one of those places that you immediately felt at home, and I could honestly see myself living there. The city has so much history and aged charm; however, it also has a bustling youthful vibe. Their seafood is so fresh, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! I ate the best (and most) oysters I have ever eaten in my life!
Holland America offers a solid cruise product. I like the amount of variety they have on board in terms of entertainment and activities. The food might have been a little better, but was quite decent overall. They do have an alternative restaurant on board, Pinnacle Grill, which is an additional expense, and the food there is delicious. The staff was very welcoming and accommodating making for a pleasant experience.