Alaska Scenic Cruising On Holland America Sip Savor Sail

Scenic cruising through Glacier Bay is a lot like a day at sea, but you can see land. It’s a popular part of an Alaska cruise that takes cruise travelers up close to the Alaskan wilderness, where they might see Bears, Sea Lions or other animals. What visitors will for sure see; two different glaciers while slow cruising through pristine Alaskan waters, the scene narrated by a U.S. Forest Service Ranger. Alaska Scenic Cruising: It’s one of  my favorite parts of an Alaska cruise, for a variety of reasons.

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Entering Glacier Bay before 7am, we picked up two rangers who serve as both educators and enforcers.   Their running commentary as we make our way through Glacier Bay is helpful, if not calming, as Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam makes her way from place to place.   Guests meander from side to side on the ship which is being ever so gently rotated around on it’s axis so all have a good view of the scene.

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All the while, the bridge crew stands by, looking for wildlife and paying special attention to watching the water as they navigate through environmentally-sensitive Alaskan waters.


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My Favorite Cabin Location For An Alaska Cruise

Right about now would be an appropriate time to talk about my cabin selection for this trip, an inside stateroom. In Alaska I like an inside stateroom, one with no windows, for a number of reasons.   First, if the notion of sitting on the balcony to see the wildlife is in your head, that’s not entirely accurate. If for no other reason, camping on your balcony during scenic cruising cuts the odds of seeing something amazing in half, because you can’t see what is on the other side of the ship.

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Also, I am a light sleeper anyway and the fact that the Sun sets in a wacky way, wackier or less wacky depending on the time of the year, throws me off. In an inside cabin there are no windows so it’s always dark, any time of the day. Also, my cabin 4012 is perfectly located at the bow (front) of the ship, steps away from that bow portion of the ship no one ever sees except the crew. During scenic cruising, they open that up for passengers.

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Verified: The aft and forward cameras of the ship, viewable in every stateroom, gives a good idea of something amazing coming up that required you and your camera be on deck. That my inside location on a lower level is steps away from outside deck makes this a perfect location.

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Also Verified: Being right under the showroom is one noisy cabin location and the effective use of ear plugs absolutely takes care of that concern. Me seeing a performer the next day and saying “You sounded great last night” is not an idle complement, as is “I felt that amazing rendition of (insert song name) last night”


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Interestingly, my love of inside cabins comes from another Holland America Event, their Dancing With The Stars: At Sea Champion’s Cruise, sailed in January 2014. That event proved to be one of the most interesting, yet challenging, I have ever had the pleasure of participating in. Capturing thousands of images during a live performance is a lot of fun but each one needs to be viewed, trashed or kept then processed for use here or with some other article going somewhere else. Having my cabin/production facility within each walking distance saves time.

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That was also the event when I realized that any fool can probably get a good shot or two if they simply hold down the shutter frequently enough…but they still have to find it mixed in with all the lousy shots that were not so lucky. Note to self at the time: perhaps learn something of the technical side of photography. Not too much, for fear of capturing the same images as everyone else, but something.

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It’s a topic that causes our actual professional photographer Whitney to just shake her head about; my lack of technical expertise. It’s also a topic that baffles travelers who know of such topics when they ask me about the technical capabilities of a lens I am using which I refer to simply as “the big one” or “the one for shooting food”. None of my replies satisfy their need to discuss the technical angle of photography with the guy who they see all over the ship shooting every event, for a living. Crewmembers, on the other hand, are highly interested in what I do, especially after a day or two when they all start figuring out that photos of their fellow crew are starting to appear on the Internet.

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Some guests also get into the whole social scene of following along with a travel blogger, most often for a very good and selfish reason: if they tell their friends to follow me at, they won’t have to report back what they are doing and can simply enjoy their travels. We really like those people and often make Facebook friends with them.

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An Opportunity Cruise Lines Are Missing

It never fails to amaze me that cruise lines don’t do this with their photographers; capture images to post on a microsite just for that particular sailing. Posting live while the sailing is in progress would enable passengers sailing to share/brag about the experience with the folks back home or fellow office workers still back at the cube farm.

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I am reminded of the PhotoPass program Disney World has (since Whitney works there) that enables park visitors to see all the photos taken of them for 30 days after visiting, live, as they are captured. What a wonderful idea and strong positive reason to let those Disney World photographers take their photos. Nothing to buy really, just good times shared.


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Back on deck, crewmembers passed out complementary Dutch Pea Soup, a Holland America Line tradition, as we scenic cruised through Glacier Bay.


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Some of what we see depends on weather and ice conditions, both of which were cooperating, bringing a crystal clear day with nearly unlimited visibility. That’s a first for me, always taking rainy and cold as typical of any trip to Alaska; just part of the deal. An extreme advantage of being lucky on weather: you begin to see that there is a photo opportunity in every direction when visiting Alaska a bit earlier. Once it is right on top of you, the sight can be quite overwhelming.


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On the evening’s menu, the nightly Sip & Savor event, this one with wine maker Bob Bertheau, Chef Jeff Maxfield and Chef Seis Kamimura.  Also a signature event of each Holland America sailing, these pre-dinner Sip & Savor events usually feature one of the ship’s chefs. On our cruise we enjoyed the trio of celebrities discuss what they had paired for the event, the history and background of what went into the pairing.

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Catch up with Holland America Line’s Sip-Savor-Sail Alaska cruise right here, along with these other resources and scroll down to the bottom of this article for a gallery of Glacier Bay In Photos:


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Facebook Photo Albums photos added throughout the voyage here as well.

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