Alaska Cruise & Tour of the Great NorthWest
Having run commercials for this trip a year ago, it was hard to believe that the departure day was here. I was hosting the cruise portion of the adventure; the husband decided he wanted to accompany me. The rest of the group flew out to Seattle on Saturday; that's where we would board the Holland America Oosterdam for the journey through the Northwest Passage of Alaska ... which included Glacier Bay, as well as stops in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. Our flight was schedule for early Sunday morning, August 14th. We had just parked the truck in the PreFlight Indoor facility when we realized we had forgotten something. Horror of horrors .... we had to drive home!!! It was pouring rain, but we managed to do well on I-95 and even hit all the lights green off Interstate. We got back to the parking garage with ease, and arrived at the airport at 6:50 am ... for 7:30 am flight. A thunderstorm in the area gave us hope that we, and even our luggage, might actually make the flight. A SkyCap caught our eye, so we decided to go for it. He told us we had missed the cut-off, but he would do his best to help us. A few minutes later, with boarding passes in hand, we got through Security without issue and made it to the gate as the plane was boarding. To be continued ...
Up in the Air
We were the last people to board the US Air Flight for Seattle ... we thought. And there were lots of empty seats, so we were looking forward to a rare not-totally-full flight, with some elbow room. As it turns out, due to the storms, some incoming flights were delayed, so our plane remained at the gate until passengers from those flights were able to board ... and fill up all the remaining seats. We took off an hour later than expected, but we ended up landing only 35 minutes behind schedule. Bon Travail! In flight, there were 3 beverage services, so getting a little shut-eye was difficult. That was okay because I knew I wouldn't rest until I was certain our suitcases would be boarding the ship with us. For me, baggage claim is the most stressful part of air travel; I check luggage only when necessary, and this was one of those times. I let out a huge sigh of relief when both suitcase shot out onto the belt at SEA. My first thought was that the SkyCap at PHL deserved a bigger tip than the one we gave him.
Now we had to get ourselves to Pier 91 and the Oosterdam.
Pier 91 & the MS Oosterdam
As we were leaving Baggage Claim, I saw a Holland America Welcoming Team. I approached them and introduced myself. They had just greeted a group from Houston. They invited us husband to board their bus for the trip to Pier 91; the cost would be $28 per person. We thanked them, then proceeded to Link - the Light Rail system. Link would not get us to Pier 91, but it would take us into Seattle, where we could hail a cab. The total cost of this would be less that $20 for the 2 of us. So ... that's why we did, and it worked out great! At around 2:00 pm (PT), we found ourselves at our port of embarkation, where we received our id cards for the ship. The worst part of this process was the photo op just before boarding the ship. I looked like the other end of a roto-rooter after such a long and hectic day of travel. The MS Oosterdam was truly a sight to behold; I was immediately taken by the enormity of the vessel. It was a floating city. We had taken a cruise once before on the Princess Cruise line. Holland America was more luxurious. Our State Room did not have a balcony, but it did have a large window and a seating area with a small sofa, a table and chair. The bathroom had a tub! Nice. Very nice!! After the huge adrenaline rush from the morning mishap and concerns about getting to Pier 91 on time, we were finally able to exhale. We knew we were in for an excellent time on the MS Oosterdam!