One of the best parts of a themed cruise vacation is the extra layer of content both on and off the ship. In addition to a normal hotel operation that caters daily to the needs of passengers, extra events are added on top of what crewmembers handle every day, on any sailing, of any ship. On Holland America Line’s Westerdam, we have seen a bunch of those events, offered especially because this is a Sip-Savor-Sail-branded itinerary. Still, many of the Sip-Savor-Sail functions are adaptations of regular operations.
Today’s hands-on cooking class, limited to a dozen passengers, had guest chefs Jeff Maxfield (SkyCity at the Space Needle) and Seis Kamimura (Centurylink Field) mixed in with would-be chefs of varying backgrounds.
Rather than being in the audience, as many are when visiting the Westerdam’s Cultural Arts Center, they are immersed in the world of cooking as never before. There was no audience, but the fully-equipped display kitchen provided all they needed to learn everything from how to cut an onion to world-class cooking techniques, all from the comfort of their cruise ship.
For me, the big event of the day was a flightseeing excursion titled Exclusive Mountaintop Flightseeing and Crab Feast. If you recall, we had flightseeing scheduled a couple ports of call ago, but it was canceled because of high winds, which happens in Alaska. That is why we had this tour booked in the first place; as a backup should the first one cancel. It’s a bit of advice we have been doling out for years; glad to see it’s still accurate and appropriate.
I’ts difficult to predict which tours will fly and which will not. Generally speaking, the helicopter tours are more apt to fly, probably for some boring aerodynamic reason I can’t explain.
But helicopter tours are also a bit more noisy and don’t tend to have us in the air very long. It’s one of those situations where someone is screaming at you, 6 inches from your face, and the appropriate reaction is to just nod politely as if you understand what they mean, sort of like a 1982 rock concert.
This is also a good time to mention what savvy tour takers know: the description of the tour is not always exactly what was promised. In our case, that translated to driving to the Crab Feast then flying back to town rather than flying to the crab feast then driving back to town.
A good experience, just not what was advertised. This is a ‘you just need to roll with it’ moment that all travelers should be in full command of. Expect the unexpected.
What is not unexpected in Alaska is talk of Salmon. If I did not know better, Alaska has a rule that everyone who visits must consume Salmon, and lots of it. Minutes back from our Crab Feast FlyBy, it was time to hit the deck for an on board Salmon Bake that had passengers lined up as if there would be no salmon tomorrow.
Ah but those silly people might have forgotten where we are: Alaska: Where All Salmon Things Are Possible. Bake it, fry it, roll it, pound it, catch it and most importantly EAT IT, is the clear message Alaska has to visitors.
On the other hand, there is crab. Equally dominating the Alaskan menu’s Crab at our crab feast never ended, for those who wished it so. Remembering a particular night long ago when All-you-can-eat crab at a Red Lobster about killed me, I stopped after doing my fair share to curb the crab population.
All of the above, occurred in Ketchikan, one of my favorite ‘walk off the ship and have a good time’ places in Alaska that we barely saw.
A nightly Sip-Savor event held pre-dinner paired Chef Maxfield’s Seared Alaskan Weathervane Scallops with vanilla-verjus gastrique with Chef Kamimura’s Grilled Lamb Chops with Salsa Verde, paired with wines selected by Chateau St Michelle’s wine expert Bob Bertheau.
A big, often the best, part of the Sip-Savor events is the interaction of those on stage with those in the audience, and no questions go unanswered on a wide range of food and wine-related topics.
Sip Savor Sail events, like Dancing With The Stars: At Sea, are part of regular programming on all Holland America Cruises. Different when we covered Dancing With The Starts: At Sea the Champion’s Cruise, that one brought on the top stars of the television program. In a say, our Sip Savor Sail itinerary also adds stars from a different world, that on wine, beer and cuisine, made even better because the celebrities tapped for this voyage are from the Northwest United States where much of the content (and passengers on this particular sailing) are sourced from.
Interestingly, Ketchikan took a back seat to all of the above, undeservedly. This is a really pretty mountain town with a lot of attractions. Totem pole tours and the anticipated Lumberjack-related excursions top the billing with rain forest/zip line tours a close second.
Second to none, views of Ketchikan on a lovely day early in the Alaska sailing season and cabin stewards aboard Holland America’s ms Westerdam. That’s next.
Here’s more from our day in Ketchikan and scroll down for more about the entire voyage:
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:
- Alaska Cruise Season Begins As We Sip Savor And Sail Away
- Alaska In Sight: Sailing Away On Holland America Sip Savor Sail
- Sip Savor Sail Sea Day Full Of Food And Wine
- Alaska Wonder Awaits, One Way Or Another
- Alaska Scenic Cruising On Holland America Sip Savor Sail
- A Day In Sitka With Holland America Line
Check These Other Resources Too:
- Our Live Instagram Feed – a photo a day of our adventure, maybe two
- Live Flickr Photo Albums*all the photos, (good and bad) updated throughout the voyage, Internet signal permitting. Check back each day as we add more photos to each of these albums:
- Port of Seattle– an engaging port authority, get to know the Port of Seattle
- Seattle Sheraton– A great pre- or post-cruise hotel property
- Seattle Space Needle– I thought it would be “great view, lousy tourist food” but it was in fact, “great view, delicious Northwest cuisine”
- Chateaux St Michelle winery– a nice little place not far from Seattle- a great pre- or post-cruise activity
- Chef Jeff Maxwell– From the Seattle Space Needle
- Wine Expert Bob Bertheau– From Chateaux St Michelle
- Beer & Wine Labels On Board– From Alaska Brewing Company products to local wineries
- Westerdam Ship Shots– all around the ship, captured throughout the voyage
- Sail Away From Seattle– our first night at sea and a lovely afternoon sail away party
- BB King Jazz Club On Holland America Line
- Chef Jeff Maxfield Stinging Nettle Soup Demonstration
- Northwest Wine Seminar with Bob Bertheau
- Chef Seis Kamimura- Now from Centurylink Statdium, Kamimura brings a rich pedigree of accomplishments to the Sip Savor Sail cruise.
- On The Way To Juneau– a day at sea was not your typical big ship day at sea, normally competely surrounded by water in all directions- see what is different here.
- Glacier Bay– A collection of what we saw throughout the day, including a rare sighting of a magnificent glacier not normally available for viewing this time of year
- Wine And Cheese On The Bow- is a signature event for Holland America Line’s Alaska operations where the forward bow section of the ship, normally closed, is opened up for passengers to engage the destination.
Facebook Photo Albums photos added throughout the voyage here as well.
- Captain’s Dinner
- Sip-Savor-Sail: Alaska In Sight
- Sip-Savor-Sail: Food And Wine Events
- Glacier Bay In Photos
- A Day In Sitka
- Crab Feast Flyby
*Flickr account required – Sign up here