Zuiderdam To Alaska – Day 5 – Glacier Bay

Today began at my earliest yet – 6 am. The reason why I was up so early: Glacier Bay. Today we would be cruising through one of Alaska’s most picturesque destinations.

I was originally woken up this morning by the sounds of our ship’s horn. After I had heard it around 5 am I went back to sleep thinking it was nothing. As my sleep became lighter, the horn continued to sound every few minutes. Soon I was fully awake and headed out onto my balcony to investigate why the horns had been sounding all morning. One look out my window gave me my answer: fog and lots of it. For the next few hours, the Zuiderdam was cloaked in a blanket of thick fog. We even passed a Princess ship, but I was never sure if it really was a Princess ship. It could have been a “ghost” Princess ship by the way it looked through the fog.

Eventually we approached the main sight of the day: the Margerie Glacier. As the ship approached the glacier, Captain Turner began to slow the ship down and turn her so that the port side was facing the glacier. From there, Captain Turner cut the engines and the ship came to a soft stop next to the massive glacier. For the next 15 minutes, the Zuiderdam sat still as her guests marveled at the beauty and awesomeness that is the Margererie Glacier. Soon, Captain Turner spun the ship around and offered the same view to the guests on the starboard side of the ship. After another 15 minutes the Zuiderdam started her engines and slowly began to move away from the glacier.

As we began to make our way out towards the Icy Straight, we continued to sail through Glacier Bay. Our park rangers from the Glacier Bay National Park informed us that we would soon be sailing through an area of sea life and that we should have our binoculars and cameras ready. Well, we had them ready, and we sure got a show! In just under an hour and a half, we saw close to 20 whales, countless sea otters, and a group of sea lions sun bathing on various rocks. The views offered by the Zuiderdam of the Alaskan wildlife was enhanced since Captain Turner decided to open up the bow area for guests to enjoy.

Soon we exited Glacier Bay National Park and we entered the Icy Straight. We waved goodbye to our park rangers who were boarding a small boat, which would transport them back to their base. As Glacier Bay became a distant view, we turned towards our daily activities guide to find something to do. As it had it, the final Dancing with the Stars class competition was today – the Cha Cha. Now, I’m not a dancer, but my mom is and she was excited to participate in the competition. So, we headed down to the Queen’s Lounge to sign her up. She soon found a partner and was learning how to Cha Cha with instructions from the Zuiderdam show dancers. After about 15 minutes of learning the moves, the three judges picked the 4 finalist couples and my mom was one of them! The final round had arrived, the winner of this final round would advance to the main show on Friday night with the chance of winning a free cruise. Suddenly, the music started playing and the couples were dancing. Following the same dance routine that they had just learned, the finalists moved across the dance floor trying to impress the judges. When the music stopped, the dancers took their place on stage and the judges began scoring. My mom received a 9, 9, and a 10 from the judges and ended up placing third in the finals, but with the second highest score. Somehow, the group with the lowest score ended up taking first place, placing ahead of a group with three 10’s.

After the excitement from the Dancing with the Stars performance, it was time to move down onto dinner. Tonight we had reservations in the Pinnacle Grill for the Le Cirque evening. Once a cruise, Pinnacle Grill is transformed into a variation of the Le Cirque restaurant in New York City, featuring the same dishes, cutlery, decor, and menu as the New York based restaurant. If you are going to dine in any specialty restaurant aboard Holland America Line, the Le Cirque evening should be your number one choice. Anyway, our great experience began with the warm welcome from the Pinnacle Grill Manager Sam. Throughout our evening, Sam would check to ensure that each dish was cooked to our liking and satisfaction.  Nina, our waitress, was excellent in doing the same. She kept our water glasses full and kept us smiling and happy with her warm, hospitable service. My appetizer tonight was an interpretation of the Caesar salad with a poached egg on toast. The salad was uniquely stacked on layers of lettuce with special Caesar dressing between each leaf. Plainly put: delicious.  The appetizer was soon followed by the main course, a dish I had been looking forward to since I sampled it on the Eurodam in February: the three cheese ravioli. Each ravioli was filled with a blend of three, unique cheeses. Over the raviolis – parmesan cheese shreds and a tomato sauce. A perfect blend between the cheese and tomato. The three cheese ravioli exceeded my expectations I’ve had since February. The main course was followed by the Le Cirque crème brûlée. The crème brûlée was perfect. From the caramelized topping to the creamy, vanilla whip. It was completely perfect, but most importantly my favorite dessert so far on the Zuiderdam.

Next port of call: Ketchikan, Alaska (6/27)

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Mike Faust

Mike Faust is an avid world traveler, often found traversing city streets in Asia and Europe rather than his home city of Boca Raton. Mike has touched down in 39 countries, set sail on 35 cruises, and flown over 400,000 lifetime miles.