I’m in a state of awe. Alaska has that affect on you.
From 2pm until darkness fell around 10pm, we were sailing through what must surely be one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It’s the most stunning spectacle of nature I’ve ever witnessed. Oosterdam is in Alaska’s famed Inside Passage, sailing through the narrow waterway of Tracy Arm, named after Civil War General Benjamin Franklin Tracy.
Both sides of the ship are coming incredibly close to cascading waterfalls, immense snowcapped mountains and pristine forest. These narrow fjords provide breathtaking views of the untouched shoreline, all while the ship navigates its way around enormous blocks of floating ice.
The ice reflects the sky, making it appear blue, a blue so bright it seems unreal. It’s hard to describe how striking the color is, but it makes the place feels magical.
Crowds of passengers wander about the ship mesmerized by the spectacle before them, trying to experience it from different perspectives.
One of the best spots is up on the observation deck. Just inside, the ship’s travel guide and resident Alaska expert, Cathy, provides play-by-play analysis of the changing natural landscape and where we might spot wildlife. Seal spotted at 11:00— and everyone grabs their binoculars.
We put our binoculars and camera down long enough to enjoy an afternoon break steeped in tradition. Holland America offers daily tea service, another example of the understated elegance of this cruise.
White gloved servers bring you finger sandwiches, scones and a little something special for the kids as well. Yesterday, I outlined a few of the other kid-friendly options Oosterdam has for families.
It’s a sweet and tasteful indulgence that is worth experiencing at least once during a cruise.
Peak Dining Experience
Most nights on the cruise we dined in the main Vista Dining Room, a stunning setting that honors a gilded age of sailing. Rich red furnishings, brass railings and light fixtures and fine china provide the backdrop for a dignified dining experience.
However, tonight we decided to experience the Pinnacle Grill. The Vista Dining Room is lovely and a great value, since it’s included in the price of your cruise, but the Pinnacle is just that, the peak of fine dining. For an added $25 you can have a dinner that is extraordinary, from the setting to the service to the food.
A great way to end another perfect day aboard the Oosterdam.
Tomorrow we arrive in Juneau. Join us as we embark on a citizen science adventure with Holland America’s innovative volunteer initiative, Cruise with Purpose. We’ll be on the lookout for whales, helping scientists collect data about Alaska’s wildlife.
Curious about this and other voyages aboard Holland America? Make sure and visit their website for complete details on their full 2012-2013 voyage lineup.
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 Oosterdamthrough August 5th, 2012, through daily reports on AvidCruiser.com.
Disclosure: Holland America Line is hosting the author and her guest for purposes of this review.