Travel in times of Covid (part four)
By Patrick Robertson
We just got back from a seven-day Alaskan cruise on the Holland America Zuiderdam with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan. We had a starboard balcony cabin on the seventh deck at the stern and sail away was at 4 p.m. out of Vancouver.
The next day was at sea as we cruised through the Inside Passage. There is no shortage of things to do onboard. There are three live music venues and there are talks and workshops going on throughout the day. I was unable to get to all the things that I would have liked to do. The ship has a full gym and spa, shops, casino, three pools and five hot tubs.
Happy hour is from 4-5 p.m. and 8-9 p.m. each day except the first day. Drinks are 50% off with most costing $5. The cocktails are expertly prepared and I took a mixology course for $15 on our day at sea.
The dinner menu changes each day and salmon was on most evenings along with filet mignon, prime rib, duck breast, escargot and a variety of other dishes.
I brought on four bottles of wine that were served to us at dinner. The least expensive wines onboard cost $55 that retail for under $15. I paid the $25 per bottle corkage fee with our $100 onboard credit from our travel agent.
Our first port on day three was Juneau, the state capitol of Alaska with a population of about 30,000. We walked and looked around the State Museum, the Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol building.
Day four was the port of Skagway. The town is six blocks long with wooden historical buildings including the oldest hotel in Alaska. The National Historic Park Service has a big presence here with a number of buildings and talks. It is here that you can take the White Pass Railroad over the scenic pass that so many Klondike gold rush prospectors climbed.
The third stop was Glacier Bay, a national park and preserve covering over three million acres. There are seven active tidewater glaciers that calf icebergs into the inlet. Cruising 65 km up the inlet the ship moved very slowly through the calm waters. The spectacular wilderness is awe inspiring and for me the best day of the cruise.
We had brilliant blue skies, warm weather, and saw a couple of ice faces crack and crash into the water. We also saw waterfalls, two other glaciers, and an Orca along with many bald eagles, sea otters and sea lions.
Our final stop was on day six at Ketchikan. There is a vibrant marina and I liked walking through Creek Street behind the marina with all its old historic buildings. Following the creek for 10 minutes will bring you to the Totem Heritage Center. Admission is $5 and the facility is world class.
Day seven was an at-sea day and I was looking forward to taking part in several of the activities. But, we were feeling a bit under the weather so we stayed in our cabin and ordered room service.
We arrived in Vancouver on the morning of day eight and decided to drive straight home. We were very careful on the cruise wearing our masks except to eat and drink. Everyone had to be double vaccinated and tested the day before the cruise.
We tested ourselves and we were both positive for COVID-19!
We had driven through southwest US for a month in March. We went to Mexico for a week in May. In both areas we felt safe but we were able to stay away from people except on the plane. On the ship, you are around people all the time unless you stay in your cabin. I think we got Covid in the dining room as it was crowded with other people around you just a few feet away.
Lucky we were vaccinated and only suffered the symptoms of a bad head cold but it still was not fun. I have had four vaccinations and I still got Covid from being around a lot of people.
In the big scheme of things, two out three ain’t bad; but I will hold off going on another cruise for a year or two.
– Patrick Robertson is a travel writer and long-time resident of Fernie. He is an expert in planning independent travel and finding budget travel deals. Go to his website for more information and pictures of this trip to Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta.