VIIIAlaska08: Home Again
July 28- August 6, 2008
By LEWIS NOLAN
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Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008
– Cruise to
I was awakened at 7:40 a.m. when a ship steward knocked on our cabin door to deliver the hot breakfast I’d ordered the previous night. This was a later time than usual for me to be up and about, probably due to the lateness of the hour of our retiring due to the Chocolate Extravagaza last night.
As usual, I greatly enjoyed the full breakfast of bacon,
scrambled eggs, hash browns, whole wheat toast, slice of fresh orange, tomato
juice, Diet Coke and glass of ice water. With today spent at sea steaming back
From the two picture windows in our cabin on the port side of the center of our ship, the M/S Ryndam, we had an excellent view of the flat sea. Unlike on previous days, there was no shoreline in sight or even a glimpse of distant mountains. A little later in the morning, a bank of fog “crept in on little cat feet” as poet Carl Sandberg would say. I napped while Betty laundered our jeans and a few other clothes in a handy, coin-operated washer in a room just around the corner. It took $2 in quarters and automatically dispensed soap.
Our to-date statement of ship charges was delivered in our cabin’s mail slot along with the daily edition of the New York Times News Digest. I checked the charges against our receipts and mistakenly, as it turned out, suspected they were wrongfully charging us $20 a day for the delivery of two rather than one breakfast. However, an amiable conversation with business office clerk Joanna revealed to me that the surprise $10-per person a day charge for room service was justified since it covered room cleaning, etc.
I related to Joanna our pleasure with the luxury and service of the ship but unhappiness with the “no show” of Holland America’s bus vendor service from the airport to our hotel and the fact that the lateness of our arrival meant we had to pay high charges for after-hour hotel room service delivery of a sandwich and couple of beers. She was very nice, apologized on behalf of the ship, talked to her boss and quickly told us that the ship would give us a $100 refund to make amends. I opted to have that sum deducted from our to-date charges of $292 covering our purchase of three bottles of wine for dinner (an $89 special we spaced out over seven dinners) plus assorted beers, margaritas and taxes.
(Upon arriving home, I wrote a letter to
For lunch, I had my usual grilled cheeseburger with French
fries, a couple of slices of pizza and a few tortilla chips with guacamole dip plus
Diet Coke. Betty got her lunch on a buffet tray in the Lido Restaurant, which
consisted of delicious pizza with a thin crust and only a dusting of cheese
(the best pizza I’d tasted since we ate at a café on
Later, the fog lifted and we spotted a pod of Orcas (commonly known as Killer Whales even though they are flesh-eating members of the porpoise family) porpoising through the waves 200-or-300 yards off the starboard beam of the ship. It must have been a migrating family to have been so far from shore.
We stopped by the Internet Café and I was charged $8.25 on a
special rate to check my email. We used the ship’s service to print out our
airline boarding passes for the next day’s Delta flight from
Later, we joined a flood of ship’s passengers for a 1-hour, 2-for-1 drink special at the ship’s Ocean Bar. We enjoyed our weak margaritas and not long afterwards joined Ulrich and Susie and Tony and Shelly in the Rotterdam Restaurant for another excellent dinner with very good company. I had a salmon appetizer, Caesar Salad and a half-dozen genuine scallops served over spiced rice. Betty also had scallops and a bowl of Strawberry Bisque. We finished a bottle of California Chardonnay from last night and had wonderful crème brulee for dessert.
After dinner, I checked on the status of the adjustment to our room charges bill and was politely informed by an Asian clerk that the promised $100 had already been credited to our account.
Back in the cabin, Betty packed our two checkable bags and put them out in the corridor as instructed. We retired early and planned to attend the ship’s disembarkation briefing at 7:45 in the morning.
Wednesday, Aug. 6,
2008 – Passing through Customs, Flights Home from
We were up early at 6 a.m. when the steward delivered my usual excellent breakfast, only missing the usual Diet Coke since our room charges account had been frozen after I paid total charges of $232 in full with American Express.
As promised, the final statement slipped under our cabin door reflected the $100 credit given in apology for our problems with vendor bus service.
We reported to Vermeer Lounge on the 7th Level
for the 7:45 a.m. disembarkation briefing. We visited with Susie and Ulrich,
said our good-byes and invited them to come to
After deboarding the ship at a downtown cruise ships pier,
Betty and I rode a bus with a jokester driver for the one-hour ride to the
We arrived in Memphis just before 10 p.m. We had to wait a bit to collect our bags then paid a taxi driver $25 to take us home. We were tired from the long day of traveling, but were satisfied that this has been one of our better trips. I am impressed with the efficiency and hospitality of the Holland America line and its ship’s crew.