It’s been an endless summer in the Midwest. As much as I love my sweet home Chicago, after weeks of sweltering triple digit and near-triple digit temperatures, I’m ready for a break from summer in the city. Thankfully, I’ll be cooling off with my 12-year-old son, Charlie, aboard Holland America’s elegant and modern Oosterdam, a mid-sized ship holding nearly 2,000 passengers.
Chilling out in cooler climes is just the tip of the iceberg. For my scenery starved city kids, my travel goal is always to get them out into nature, unplugged from the electronics that seem to be such a natural part of our daily lives. I try to answer the call of the wild during vacation, and what could be wilder than Alaska? Eagles, bison and bears… oh my!
Along with checking out the wildlife, we’ll be exploring the kids’ clubs and other teen/’tween activities onboard. Charlie will give you his 12-year-old opinion on just how kid-friendly our voyage is. Maybe we’ll even stir it up in a culinary class. Speaking of culinary adventures, I’ll make sure and give you a taste of Holland America’s newest epicurean delight— the Master Chef’s International Dinner. Held once during each cruise, it’s a cross-cultural tour showcasing signature dishes from around the world. I’ll let you know if this exotic menu is a 12-year-old’s recipe for a great meal, as well.
We’ll also be dining in high style when we enjoy “An Evening at Le Cirque” at the intimate Pinnacle Grill. Offered once each cruise, it’s a menu inspired by the legendary Le Cirque restaurant’s award-winning cuisine. I’ll let you know whether Holland America’s version lives up to the legend.
Hope you’re hungry for more, because I’ll also be highlighting our shore excursions. One great way to get to know a port is through volunteering, or, as I like to call it, voluntouring. We’ll be doing just that in Juneau as part of the Whales and Glaciers Citizen Science Adventure, where we’ll be on an exploration vessel helping out with scientific data collection. It’s part of Holland America’s innovative Cruise with Purpose voluntouring initiative. Sign up for a Cruise with Purpose shore excursion and you’re not only having a great adventure, but you’re giving something back to the community as a volunteer tourist. I’ll let you know whether our citizen science whale-watching adventure measures up!
Catch us if you can when we’re in Ketchikan, because we’ll be taking a walk on the wild side. Charlie and I will be playing king of the mountain as we attempt to hike the 3,000 foot summit of Deer Mountain in the Tongas National Forest. The trailhead is only a half mile from the cruise port and I’m told if you’re lucky you’ll spot mountain goats, sitka deer, wolves, maybe even black bears. I’ve heard the mountain peak provides spectacular views of Ketchikan and the Alaskan wilderness. It’s a 5 mile roundtrip hike that takes about 4 hours, I also hear there’s still likely to be snow at the summit. I’m not promising we’ll make it to the top, but we’ll definitely be heading into the wild.
Here’s the complete itinerary for our Oosterdam cruise:
|0||29 Jul 2012||Seattle, Washington, US||04:00 PM|
|0||29 Jul 2012||Puget Sound CO|
|1||30 Jul 2012||At Sea|
|2||31 Jul 2012||Scenic Cruising Tracy Arm CO|
|3||01 Aug 2012||Juneau, Alaska, US||07:00 AM||06:00 PM|
|4||02 Aug 2012||Sitka, Alaska, US TR||08:00 AM||04:00 PM|
|5||03 Aug 2012||Ketchikan, Alaska, US||07:00 AM||01:00 PM|
|6||04 Aug 2012||Victoria, British Columbia, CA||07:00 PM||11:59 PM|
|7||05 Aug 2012||Seattle, Washington, US|
The fun begins right here on July 29th as Charlie and I fly to Seattle, check out the famed Pike Place Market, then embark the elegant Oosterdam. Hope you’ll join us for the adventure!
Andrea Guthmann is a Midwest Emmy Award-winning broadcast, print and digital journalist. She spent many years as a TV producer for WTTW, the PBS station in Chicago. Her writing’s been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent and on-line travel sites. She’s also the Midwest blogger for TravelingMom.com.
A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations. She’s thrilled to be sharing tales of her Alaskan adventure aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam through daily reports on AvidCruiser.com. She’ll be setting sail from Seattle with her 12 year old son on July 29th, 2012.
Disclosure: Holland America hosted the author and a guest for purposes of this review.