Cruising is a different type of vacation than I typically choose. I’m all about exploring the new places we are visiting. I’m a go, go, go, need a vacation after the vacation traveler. Cruising is too relaxing for my taste.
But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy our trip to Alaska. The scenery was beautiful and our mobile hotel was more than accommodating.
We traveled on Holland America’s ms Oosterdam. She is 935′ long and carried 2054 guests + 797 crew members.
TIME TO START OUR VACATION
A week of no work, no cleaning, cooking, critter keeping or taxi driving was about to begin:
Ten years ago we went on our first cruise. We booked an inside cabin that didn’t even have a tiny port hole to peek out. Never again. I hated feeling trapped and not being able to see outside. If I was ever going to cruise again we were going to have to fork out the extra dough and get a cabin with a balcony.
And we did. It was worth every penny.
We didn’t have to miss any of Alaska’s gorgeous scenery just because we were in our cabin.
Our room had 2 twin beds and a pull out couch. The twin beds were pushed together to create one bed. A bunk type bed lowered from the ceiling. Every morning our cabin steward raised the bunk bed and folded up the couch. Every evening he got the beds ready.
I was worried about how cramped the cabin would be with all our stuff. But, there was plenty of storage – closet space and under the bed.
Between our group, we had 3 adjoining rooms. We were able to open the partitions of our balconies to have one long space.
We booked our cruise through cruise.com. Waiting in our cabin when we boarded was a thank you bottle of champagne and 2 $25 beverage cards. That was a fun & unexpected.
We do like to have an adult drink now and then. However, the drink package we could have purchased seemed more than what we would use. Instead, I had a bottle of Crown Royal delivered to our cabin.
I quit drinking soda on a regular basis a couple years ago, but I thought I might like to have a coke a time or two on the boat. I also thought the kids would like that treat. Before the cruise, I purchased a soda card through Holland America’s website. The promotion they had was to purchase a $50 card for $25. The card was waiting in our room upon arrival. Each soda ended up being about $2, so we ended up having more soda money than we really needed.
The food was good. Not superbly fabulous, but good. I certainly didn’t go hungry.
For breakfast many kinds of breads and pastries were available. There was a waffle and crepe station that Farm Girl went to every day. There was an omelette station, which I will leave you to judge for yourself. I am used to farm raised eggs. I didn’t know I was an egg snob until eating an omelette on the ship. I’m not sure what they use for their watery eggs, but I can assure you they are not farm fresh. There was also the choice of bacon, sausage, eggs any way you want them, hash browns, fruit, yogurt and more that I can’t even remember.
Some lunch options were a salad bar, sandwiches, stir fry, pizza & pasta bar. My favorite was the taco bar. We all enjoyed the hot dog and hamburger stand. The fries were awesome.
We typically ate dinner in the sit down restaurant, the Vista Room.
So. Many. Desserts.
There were a ton of desserts available most of the day. I’m pretty sure all 5 kids in our group had at least one ice cream cone a day, and usually two.
I’m home and I could totally go for this plate of food right about now. A hot dog with bacon, sauerkraut and cheese sauce! I don’t eat many hot dogs, but this was wonderful. Plus, strawberries and a dessert. Yum!
Five out of the seven nights aboard the Oosterdam, we ate in the Vista Room. This was the restaurant included in our cruise price.
I ate here more for the experience, and to step outside my comfort zone, than for the food. At home, we rarely go out to eat. If we do, it’s almost never at a place where you have to dress up. So, I don’t have a good comparison for the food to judge if it was good or not. However, it must not have been horrible since we came back multiple times.
I ordered a seafood dish with every meal. As a seafood lover, that made coming to dinner worth it right there.
I tried escargot for the first time. Covered in butter and cheese, those slimy snails were quite tasty.
My favorite entree of the week was the lobster. Duh.
I’m not a huge dessert person, but I tried a new dessert with every dinner. I was especially excited to try the Baked Alaska. I didn’t care for it, but I’m glad I was able to try it.
Prior to the cruise, I had to do some shopping. It is suggested to dress up to go to dinner. This was easier for Farm Girl. But, I was a little unsure how to dress the boys. On the smart casual evenings they wore polo shirts and either slacks or jeans. On the gala nights they dressed a bit spiffier.
Both my boys can still shop for clothes in the boys department, as opposed to men’s. Price wise, this helped tremendously. I was able to purchase them suit sets on Amazon for about $50 each. The sets came with pants, shirt, vest, tie and jacket. They wore the suits as they came on the first gala night and mixed things up a bit for the second. This worked perfectly. And now Farm Kid1 has a nice outfit to wear to his 8th grade promotion night.
Our friends that came with us also have 2 boys. On gala nights they wore black slacks and shirt with colored suspenders and a bow tie.
These rough and tumble boys clean up nice.
There is not a shortage of things to do while cruising.
Even though the kids didn’t take advantage of the kids club, they kept busy in the pool, playing ping pong, basketball and chess.
Many of the adult activities were geared towards the older generation, which makes sense because it seemed that’s who the majority of passengers were.
There were activities with shopping in mind. Absolutely not my thing. I don’t like to shop when I’m home, let alone on vacation. Even more so for items I would never purchase. I do think jewelry can be beautiful, but in my life not worth the cost. My daily life consists of scooping poop, sitting at my computer tending to my etsy business, and taxiing the kids around town. I don’t attend glorious events, so I’ll take my bling in the form of running medals I’ve earned.
To tell the truth, I was excited with the idea of just watching a movie in our room. I don’t watch many movies, and there were a ton I hadn’t seen. We weren’t in our room much, but I did squeeze in 2 movies – even though it took me 3 different sittings to finish each one.
The kids spent the majority of their ship time in this pool. Hours, upon hours, at the pool. This was an indoor pool, but the roof opened on nice days.
We never took advantage of this pool, but there was another pool outside.
Four of the 5 kids with us were within the age group to join the tween kids club. But, they never really explored it. They went one time and never had interest to go back. They preferred to swim.
Farm Kid1 was the only one of our kids that could use the teen area called the Loft. It looked like a fun place, but I never saw other teens there and he didn’t want to go by himself.
I had a half marathon coming up, so I couldn’t take the week off from running entirely. I certainly didn’t worry too much about it, but I did get a few miles in while on board.
One loop around the promenade deck was a 1/3 of a mile, making it easy to calculate how many laps to do to get in my desired miles.
That first day at sea was a bit rough. Running on a wobbly boat was not easy. Thankfully, the other 3 days I ran the water was calm.
I had intentions of going to the fitness center, but never made it.
Between the running, going from here to there on the ship, and walking in the port cities my FitBit stats for the week were pretty good – which really just encourages my want to travel.
CARDS & MORE
Sometimes we created our own fun. We played cards. We brought books to do puzzles in, color, and read.
Farmer John & Farm Girl put together a scavenger hunt. We had 3 teams of 2: two boys teams and a mom team. We had to find items on the ship and write down which floor we found them. It was a race to find all the items first, come back to Farmer John and win a prize. It was perfectly challenging. A few items were easy to find, some were difficult. Not to toot my own horn – but… the mom team won! It was by the skin of our teeth, but we won. The prize – an ice cream cone.
We watched two shows on the main stage. They were ok. I also watched a presentation in the Test Kitchen on Italian food.
One evening, the grandparents watched the kids and the parents went on a Pub Crawl. We went to 4 different bars on the ship. At each bar we had corny entertainment and a drink or two. Sometimes it’s just nice to be silly and have fun. We all loved it. After the Pub Crawl, we went with others to the dueling pianos bar.
For the price and fun had, this was one of my favorite moments from our vacation.
All in all, ship life was good. There are certainly worse ways to spend a week.
The ship was beautiful and well kept. I didn’t have to cook my meals, or clean up afterwards.
Since we were on the water, we saw marine mammals right from the comfort of wherever we were at the time. I was expecting to see more whales than we did. But, we did see them a couple times. We also saw seals and dolphins. I didn’t get any pics, though, because my camera crapped out on me.
This is our second cruise and it’s still not my favorite way to travel, so I don’t have any cruise destinations planned for the near future. However, I do have two cruises on my bucket list. One is a river cruise in Europe, probably along the Rheine. My plan is to add the cruise portion to some other land European vacation. I would also love to do one of the world voyages. They are crazy expensive, so we’ll have to wait a long while to enjoy that one. But, I love the idea of seeing so much of the world, even if only for a short time, in one trip. A Disney or Caribbean cruise isn’t out of the question either.
Thanks Oosterdam for toting us safely through Alaskan waters.