Friday, Sept 12, 2014 we boarded Holland America's ms Zaandam at 11a.m for a seven day cruise to Alaska. This was our second visit to the Last Frontier State, however possibly a very different scenerio than three years ago when we visited in the beginning of May and it was beautiful warm summer weather. Sept. can be very different; it's not the Zaandams last trip of the season for nothing. We are gamblers but went prepared so will accept whatever we find. Our first voyage to Alaska was also with HAL but on the ms Zuiderdam which is a larger ship so not sure if that's going to make a difference or not. The day was sunny and bright with wispy light clouds and it was 21º in Vancouver. The total distance of our trip will be 1,816 miles. Juneau will be our first stop 788 miles away and we'll travel at an average speed of 17.5 KTS
Day 1.....getting acquainted with the ship....first stop as it usually is for most cruisers is to check out the eats. As Mariners (repeat customers) we were invited to brunch in the dining room but chose to go to the Lido buffet where we noticed a new protocol was in effect. Rubber gloved servers would dish out our choices for the first 48 hrs of the cruise. This is a way to halt the progression of nasty gastrointestinal and other seasonal illness that usually run their course within 24 - 48 hours. Anyone infected could infect many other people by touching a surface that others might then touch. I think it's a great idea; anyone with a bug will not be near the food and anyone who becomes ill will be quarantined to their cabin for at least 48 hours. By Sunday the buffet will be self serve and nobody else need get sick as long as people continue to use the hand sanitizers that are handy and located everywhere on the ship. There's also automatic hand washing machines in the Lido that worked very well. You just stand there with your hands in a couple of holes while soapy water automatically sprays around and soft brushes roll around on your hands giving you a nice hand massage and making you feel like a princess. It's a car wash for people. It then goes through the process for rinsing and then some gently blowing warm air but not enough to fully dry them; you have to use paper towels to dry off thoroughly. What a hard life!
We approved of our lunch and then went in search of stateroom # 7072 on the Navigation deck. Our luggage had already arrived so we quickly unpacked and made ourselves at home. Our cabin attendants Mawan and Surya dropped in for any special requests of which i had just one and that was to have our ice bucket filled with ice twice a day. They were amused because they said that's what they always do anyway (how soon i forgot because our last cruise was with Carnival and they delivered no ice at any time) Eventually we had to call upon them again for instructions on how to use the tv remote.....the tv sits on a corner shelf about 8" down from the ceiling and the sensor is blocked by the shelf when using the remote while lying on the bed....who knew you had to fully raise your arm to change channels? Geeze, the work they make you do! Mail had already been delivered to our room and in two gift envelopes we found a $50. card for each of us to spend on the beverages of our choice during our cruise. I can only assume they they keep records of their passengers and and possibly noted that our first 3 cruises were with HAL but we had chosen Carnival last time and had then returned to HAL so maybe this was to show their gratitude (but how do i know; maybe everyone on board had received them too; we'll never know)
We then walked around the ship staying mostly on the promenade decks so we could be out in the fresh air and sunshine until it was time to appear at our muster station for the safety briefing, roll call and lifeboat drill. Anyone not appearing for the drill or refusing to attend will be removed from the ship and not allowed to sail on to Alaska. I like this about HAL; there's no nonsense and they make sure that all passengers know how important it is to know where your lifeboat is located and how to get to it quickly and safely. I don't mind the routine although it takes awhile standing waiting for late people but soon everything clicks into place. Knowing the basics could be the difference between living or dying so it's all worth it.The drill and roll call were done by 4:45p.m. and we were on our way and waving to the people who were waving goodbye from Canada Place. We then investigated the rest of the ship; no show or bingo the first night but still plenty to see and do. We were fast asleep by 10p.m. and slept soundly for 9 hours in our cozy little rocking cabin.
Stay tuned for day 2 tomorrow