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Eph60

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    172
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Eph60 last won the day on May 5 2013

Eph60 had the most liked content!

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About Eph60

  • Rank
    Member
  • Birthday 03/05/1953

Personal Info

  • First Name
    Paul
  • Last Name
    Bjorlin
  • Gender
    Male
  • State
    Minnesota
  • Country
    United States

Cruising

  • First Cruise Year
    1991
  • Cruises Sailed
    50+
  • Favorite Cruise Line
    Princess
  • Favorite Shipboard Activity
    Meeting people
  • Favorite Itinerary
    Alaska
  • Favorite Port of Call
    Skagway
  • Favorite Port Activity
    Animal encounters
  • Places I've Cruised To
    Hawaii, Alaska East, West, Southern Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera and West Coast. I also worked on NCL Cruise ships for a couple years and worked for Princess cruise Lines at Mt. McKinley Lodge in Alaska.
  • Next Cruise Date
    June 8, 2013

Details

  • Hobbies & Interests
    My interests besides cruising are trains, camping and watching wildlife.
  • Music
    Old time Rock and Roll and Classical music.
  • Movies
    Movies on WWII and based on true events.
  • TV Shows
    NCIS and documentaries.
  • Sports
    Not into sports.
  • Food
    Meat and potatoes type food.
  • Books
    Historical books and books on destinations.
  • Occupation
    Drive school and charter bus.
  1. Eph60

    Seeing changes

    People have asked me why I cruise Alaska so often. My answer is that Alaska is never the same twice. By this I mean the glaciers are constantly changing and never look the same twice. My recent time in Alaska is proof of that. We hit Glacier Bay 3 times in June. With the glacier calving it appeared as if we were in a different spot each week. I have many pictures of Marjorie Glacier from Glacier Bay over the years and even this past month. If you really look at the pictures you can see a lot of changes over the years and even over the weeks. I also always know I will see wildlife but never know where or when as well as different size waterfalls. Alaska always keeps you looking because if you are not looking you will miss something.
  2. We recently cruised on the Holland America Statendam in Alaska. When ships are in Alaska they are supposed to try to avoid whales or get huge fines. One morning as we were cruising in very calm seas the ship started to have an extreme lean. We were having breakfast in our room and the table and dishes went flying. We were told later by others that many dishes in the dining room went flying and broke. The captain eventually came over the PA saying they had to make a sharp turn to avoid whales. He had hoped the whales would move out of the way but when they would not he had to make a tight turn to avoid them. I have cruised many times and worked on cruise ships and never had one lean that much. Now I heard of no harm to any passengers or crew but it sure was an E ticket ride for a few seconds. Luckily my wife was sitting down because with her handicap I know she would have taken a bad fall if she was standing. This had no effect on the cruise it just added to the experience.
  3. We booked a back to back north south Alaskan cruise on the Statendam. They had this cruise listed as a 14 day cruise but it was actually cheaper to book it as two separate cruises. We had also just gotten off the Westerdam, which was a bad experience so we were now reluctant to board the Statendam at this point. We would be pleasantly surprised at the difference between sailing on the Westerdam and the Statendam. Like the boarding process for the Westerdam the boarding process was very smooth, especially seeing my wife is handicapped. Our first room was an outside room 724. The room was very nice, we only wished that it had a refrigerator. My wife uses insulin so we had to keep it in the medical facilities because we did not have a refrigerator. Our luggage was brought to the room within minutes of us being in the room. Our second room was a partially obstructed view room 374. Still a nice room but still no refrigerator. Moving was easy. We called the stewards and they moved everything. We just packed things from the drawers and they brought a rack. Everything on hangers was moved hung up and put into the next room closet hung up. We only had to unpack things back into the drawers. The Statendam had a very nice layout to it and was a very nice size. The décor was also nice. The Lido, like the Westerdam, is very confusing especially to figure out where lines start and finish. The crew would dish hot items on hot plates. They would tear off paper towel to give you to try to handle the plates while you tried to find someplace to sit. There is not enough seating. We had traditional dining in the main dining room and were given a really nice table for 4 at a window in the rear of the ship. This had great views. Our first night at the table we were by ourselves and the assistant manager came up to us and asked us if we would move to another table. We told him we were happy with our table and wanted to stay unless we could get another table with a view like we had. He came back again later and asked us to please move because someone else wanted our table. This did not sit well with us. Perhaps we were not longtime Holland America passengers but there were plenty of empty tables and asking us to move so someone else could have the table we were at so they would be happier did not seem right to us. We also said we would be happy to share our table. The assistant manager came back again and said he had found us a similar table on the other side of the ship with basically the same view. We agreed to move but were not happy. Fortunately our next table was great and had good people sitting with us. I did watch our old table and the people only sat there a couple nights. It was empty most of the time. We were able to keep our new table for the second week of sailing so we were happy. The food went from good to terrible. There were many meals I could not eat. The sauces they made were not to my liking. I usually reverted back to a steak just so I had something to eat. My wife also had a hard time finding things she liked and she is not a picky eater. I had a hard time finding things I liked in the Lido and the main dining room. The crew on the Statendam were very friendly and really seemed to like their job. This was a totally different experience from the Westerdam. The only entertainment I found that I liked was Adagio. A piano and violinist that played classical music. The rest of the entertainment was just mediocre. The musicians in the Ocean Bar at night were good musicians but had terrible singers and I do mean terrible. We enjoyed the ship and the crew was great. We also met some nice people while onboard. This was a much better experience over the Westerdam. That being said we more then likely will not cruise Holland America again. We just found that Holland America was just not a good fit for us. I am sure people like Holland America and I am glad they do, we are just not comfortable on the cruise line. We must feel comfortable on the ships to return and that just did not happen. We will go back to what we feel is better for us.
  4. Eph60

    June 8 Westerdam cruise

    I recently took my first cruise on Holland America and the Westerdam. It was a 7 day roundtrip cruise out of Seattle to Alaska. This was my 12th time to Alaska on a cruise ship. This is some information on our experience on the Westerdam. I want to make sure you understand this is my experience and not necessarily everyone's experience. First the good things. The way they handled the boarding process, especially for my wife who is handicapped, was excellent. The process was smooth and very quick. Our room VA class 8010 was very nice. There was plenty of storage and the balcony was great. We received our luggage within 5 minutes of getting to our room. This was the fastest we had ever received our luggage on any line. The music performed by the piano player and violinist called Adagio is well worth spending time listening to. The debarkation process was very smooth and painless. They also only made one announcement and you just followed your time period to leave the ship. Unfortunately that is all we had that was a positive experience. The rest of our cruise was less positive. The layout of this ship is confusing with many dark colors. The furniture in public areas was nice to look at but very uncomfortable, with only a few exceptions. In many cases you had to walk through the shops. This is not a big deal except for the fact that the sales people would hound me like I was at a carnival midway. If they were not trying to drag you in to sell things they were trying to give you coupons for a giveaway that would cause you to come back multiple times into the shop. I only felt comfortable walking past these areas when the shops were closed. I only buy one picture from a cruise and that is the boarding photo because it has the ship name and cruise dates on it. When I went to purchase the photo I was told that we had to purchase a package of multiple pictures and could not buy one photo. I was told this by several sales people. On the last night of our cruise I talked to the manager and he told me I could have purchased the single photo at anytime and we should not have been told we had to buy a package. I will say the manager was not happy with his employees. The Lido has a nightmare layout. You can not tell where the lines into any area starts. The food was very inconsistent in its taste. The crew behind the counters were more interested in talking with each other then taking care of the passengers. When hot food was presented it was given on plates to hot to handle. They would tear off paper towels for you to try and hold your plate as you took it to your table, which was not easy to find because there was not enough seating. We had traditional dining in the main dining room. We were at a table for 6. Every night at least one meal was wrong or totally missed. There were many excuses for the mistakes but they never stopped. Our room steward was not terrible but many times we had to request things over and over. In general the crew were very polite but seemed disinterested in dealing with the passengers. They seemed more interested in just talking with other crew members. At times it would be hard to get the attention of the crew to ask for something or have a question answered. Many of the officers would walk around with a sour look on their face and never acknowledge passengers. It was like they were to intense on staring down their staff. The truth is this was the first time that I could not wait for the cruise to end and get off the ship. We still met some nice people and Alaska is always great but I have to say this was the worst cruise experience I had ever had. I was not looking forward to getting on the Statendam when we got off the Westerdam. I am sure there are people who love Holland America and even love the Westerdam, however the things I mentioned and many other things I have not mentioned really turned us off of the Westerdam and Holland America. Again this was my experience and not necessarily what others experienced.
  5. I was reading another post and the question popped in my head. What is more important to you sea days or ports? In otherwords do you need a port intensive cruise or are you happy with more sea days? For me I prefer sea days, the more the better. For my wife she likes to have more port days.
  6. As I have mentioned I worked in Alaska at one of the lodges. I still keep in touch with people I worked with in Alaska and some of them still work there. I was contacted and shown pictures by one of them that were taken Friday. They had a foot of snow fall near the Denali Princess Lodge. He showed pictures of people waiting in the snow for the train. He showed pictures of the lodge. He also said that the water pipes were freezing in the lodge and employee housing. I also heard from someone who got off a ship in Whittier yesterday. They said it was snowing when they got off the ship. Winter has not left Alaska yet and that is unusual with the long days of sunlight. Bring a hat and gloves and a lot of layers if you are heading there soon.
  7. Eph60

    Cruising beats land vacation anytime!

    I will agree that without a doubt cruising is one of the most economical and relaxing ways to take a vacation. I have seen many great places and met many wonderful people while on a cruise. I will also take any opportunity I can to go on a cruise. I will also admit that there are some land vacations I have done that are as good if not better then a cruise vacation for me. I love to be on a ship, however I love getting out on a vacation in the woods with nobody or nothing around. Some of the greatest memories I have of a vacation is just jumpint in a canoe in the Boudry Canoe Waters of Northern Minnesota and heading out camping with family, friends or on my own. The cost is one tank of gas and a $25 permit. Yes I have to cook for myself but I get to enjoy wildlife, the beauty of the lakes and forest and I get to sit by a nice campfire at night and just unwind from the rest of the world. In otherwords for me I love to cruise but I also love the solitude of being on my own for vacation. It all depends on how much stress I have been under. I also love traveling by train to see things that I cannot see from a cruise ship. As long as I am not at work any type of vacation is great for me.
  8. Eph60

    Loyalty Programs & Program Changes

    I have cruised on many cruise lines and at many different levels of loyalty programs on the different lines, but the truth for me is I pay no attention to the loyalty programs. I will take advantage of a price offer but as far as anything else goes in the programs they really do not interest me and I really do not use the perks. That is just me but as I say I really do not pay attention to the programs.
  9. The post about questions asked on a cruise to the crew got me thinking about this. I thought maybe I could help some figure out how to get a tour that might be right for you when you are already on a cruise ship. The ships will usually have a talk about tours that you can attend when you are on the ship. These talks do have some good information, however keep in mind that they will more then likely talk about the tours they have not been able to fill or sell in advance bookings. This does not mean they are not good tours they are just less popular. To get the best advice for the tours go to the tour desk and talk to the tour sales staff. First let them know what interests you have, such as you want something active or not active. Do you like to see wildlife or are you just looking for beautiful scenery? Do you prefer something from the water or a land type tour? It may sound odd but let them know the types of things you like to do back home because that can give them an idea of what you like. The sales staff does NOT know you so they really do not know what you like and unless you give them an idea of what you like they will sell you what they need to fill or what the manager has told them to push for that cruise. Do some research online or through books of the area you are going to. You can find a lot of things that you may really want to see or do and that will steer you towards a tour that is right for you. You must also decide whether you want to take a longer or shorter tour. You could tie up your whole day on tours and not see the port so decide how important it is for you. Keep in mind your budget. Tours from the ships are a lot more expensive then if you booked them on your own, however a tour from the ship will more then likely be a reputable tour company and they will get you back to the ship before it sails. This may be important to you if you have never been to the port before. If you are taking a tour during a holiday keep in mind that some tours may not be available. Some tour companies are small family operations and like you they enjoy doing things with their families on holidays. To enjoy your tour better have an idea of what is important to you and let the sales person know that so they can direct you to the right tour for you.
  10. One reason to never cruise on the first cruise after a refit. This is also another case of someone sitting in an office doing paperwork who has never worked on ships setting deadlines for fixing something they know nothing about.
  11. Vancouver British Columbia would be my favorite embarkation port. To me it is very organised and an extremely beautiful city to be in and to see from the deck of a ship as you leave or enter.
  12. Eph60

    This is good for a laugh

    Yest these questions come frequently. Another shore excursion question frequently asked is "will I get wet if I go snorkeling or scuba diving?" You also get "do I have to put my face in thw water when I go snorkeling?" One question which is asked all the time and is poorly worded is "what kind of tour do I like?" Hard to answer that one if you do not know the person and this is how you can get sold a bad tour for you.
  13. Thanks for your review. I am glad you enjoyed your cruise.
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