Allison Cruises Alaska with Travelmarvel
Allison Sivewright shares her first-ever experience touring with Travelmarvel, and why the best way to travel beautiful Alaska is aboard the Holland America Line with an experienced Travelmarvel guide.
We are so delighted to hear you had such a wonderful time touring Canada and Alaska with Travelmarvel! What made you choose this tour?
I first read about the tour in the Travelmarvel brochure in my Travel Agents and thought it looked incredible. I knew I wanted to go to Canada and Alaska, and Travelmarvel was offering a tour at a very good price and the perfect amount of time to see everything I wanted to.
What was your Holland America Line ship like?
The ship looked brilliant, very flashy. It also had just the right number of people that it felt social but never crowded. Everything ran so smoothly, there were no huge queues and there were plenty of activities. I was particularly impressed by all the entertainment available at night-time, there were informative talks on what we would be seeing the next day, trivia nights, and three different venues with live music each evening.
How did you find touring as a solo traveller?
I made friends very quickly on tour and always had someone to spend time with, our little group would have a love of music in common and would often go to the piano bar or listen to folk bands onboard, otherwise we were happy to relax in the lounge and play cards.
The Inside Passage is on a lot of people's bucket lists, what makes it so special?
The scenery is truly beautiful. The remote Alaskan towns have a lot of character, especially when it's covered by ice and snow which makes it look magical. The excursions are wonderful, and the Tour Guides can tell you a great deal about the culture, nature and environment as you explore.
I personally liked learning about the history of the towns, such as finding out why there are these lovely little dwellings in such a remote part of the world. Many came to exist because of the gold mining. I also loved hearing about the architecture. I was struck by how charming and well-maintained the buildings were. The shops were incredibly cute and quirky, and it was obvious the locals took immense pride in their little towns.
What was your highlight from Alaska?
The train trip I took from Skagway into the mountains was a magical 3-hour trip on what used to be a route for gold prospectors. It was truly stunning; we went through snow and gullies; and even now I just cannot understand how they built something so impressive in such it in such an extreme landscape - I have told all my friends they cannot miss it.
Also, I loved indulging at the all-you-can-eat crab feast in Ketchikan. It was an optional meal, but absolutely worth it to try the locally caught crab. The seafood was freshly cooked and piled on your plate, you couldn't help but get very messy while eating, it was great fun!
Tell us about your Cruise Director
We had Sue – she was just brilliant, every day she would sit at the desk so she was available for an hour so you could ask any questions and provide help. She also sent out a newsletter with news from the ship and the day's schedule and organised drink get-togethers daily at 4 pm at the top of the ship, where she would come around and chat to each of us. We felt very looked after.
Describe a day aboard the Holland America Line
Breakfast would be a buffet, with a chef to hand to cook your eggs to your liking. Then you would disembark the ship for your daily excursion, which could be anything from a tour of a remote town to a cruise to spot wildlife. By 4 pm we were usually back on the ship enjoying a drink before dinner in one of the restaurants followed by some evening entertainment. We were also always watching out for wildlife from the many windows – we once spotted some orcas in the distance!
How was the catering aboard this ship?
There were plenty of options on board. Around the pool, there was a burger bar which was really yummy and made a great casual dining option. For dinner, there were some first-class fine dining options which I thoroughly enjoyed. The waiters were incredibly attentive, the space in the restaurant was very luxurious and overall, I was made to feel very special.
Did you see any wildlife?
We went on a three-hour whale-watching tour out of Juneau and saw lots of seals - but they kept their distance! At Glacier Bay,
we had the pleasure of seeing otters playing and mountain goats wandering on the glacier mountains.
What would you say to people considering adding Alaska cruising onto their next North American tour?
I would recommend the Alaskan tour to anyone. My advice would be to not choose a large ship. I befriended some people on a 4,000-person cruise liner while we were in Juneau and discovered because their ship was so large, they had not been able to visit many of the places we had with Travelmarvel, including Glacier Bay. Choose your ship size wisely!
Discover Canada and Alaska cruising with Travelmarvel.
Images courtesy of Allison Sivewright.
Interview by Grace Cullinan.