Courier February Courier - Page 31

Cruise control NTA cruise companies ply the group market with water-based product ranging from weeks-long voyages to one-hour trips. The following pages include two first-person articles from cruise expert (and former NTA Chair) Bob Hoelscher, as well as updates on Entertainment Cruises, Phillips Cruises & Tours and NTA-member cruise companies in Massachusetts. Our coverage concludes with the full list of the association’s cruise providers. Cool Alaskan waters BY BOB HOELSCHER In addition to glacier viewing, our sightseeing options included sea kayaking, exploring pristine beaches and beauti- ful island rainforests (sans the rain), an air/sea trip to Misty Fjords National Monument, plus a wonderful evening explor- ing the uncrowded, extensively illuminated Butchart Gardens. This particular itinerary did not feature the famed “Inside Passage,” but it did offer sunshine and bright blue skies, lengthy hours of daylight, Alaska before countless land travel- ers arrive beginning Memorial Day weekend (although cruise vessels were already out in force) and the inevitable June mosquito hatch, plus exceptional shoulder-season pricing. Last May, spring once again proved to be an ideal time for a cruise to Alaska—in this case a one-week, round-trip sailing from Seattle aboard Holland America Line’s spacious Oosterdam. Just over 2,000 guests enjoyed splendid weather; visits to Juneau, magnificent Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay, Sitka and Ketchikan; and an evening in Victoria, British Columbia. Although I have embarked previously on numerous Alaska cruises on a variety of lines, the Oosterdam’s excellent food, wide variety of onboard entertainment options and excep- tional shore excursions combined to make this voyage one of the most memorable. Three photos from a cruise on Holland America Line’s Oosterdam: on the deck; at the dock in Ketchikan, Alaska; and aboard a kayak. 29