Special thanks to Joe Koshuta, HAL guest and travel editor at TravelPage.com, for this review of his recent Alaska sailing aboard Zaandam to celebrate his mother’s birthday. Enjoy!
This was a group trip to Alaska to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. Some of the group had been to Alaska before but for most this was their first visit to the “Last Frontier”. This would also be the first cruise for most of the group. There were a total of sixteen people on the trip including: my wife and I plus our two children, my brother and his wife plus their five kids, my sister and her daughter, my mom and two family friends. The ages of the group ranged from eight to eighty.
Most of the group was coming from Virginia and we all arrived during the last four days of June. The first members of the group arrived in Anchorage on June, 27th, my family arrived on June 28th and my brother’s family arrived on June 30th. Unfortunately, my brother’s group was unable to join us for the three days prior to sailing when we drove from Anchorage to Talkeetna.
My flight to Anchorage was long but then again, that’s the nature of the game on this trip. We landed a few minutes ahead of schedule at 11:25 am and then picked up our bags and headed to the National Car rental counter. If you do rent a car in Anchorage, please note that the rental car counters are a bit of a hike from the terminal so if you have lots of baggage, it really makes sense to get a cart. We were on our way to the Clarion Hotel about 30 minutes after we landed.
Weather in Anchorage was cloudy with a bit of spitting rain. We arrived at the Clarion Suites Downtown around 12:30pm where they informed us that we couldn’t check in until 3pm so we drove around looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat. I had been to Anchorage three times previously and it hasn’t changed much. It is easy to get around with numbered and lettered cross streets.
We ended up going to the Snow Goose restaurant and brew pub which is located on a hill overlooking the rail station and the Knik Arm. The pub has two levels and the upper deck has a nice view of the surrounding area (and the aircraft landing at Elmendorf Air force base nearby).
While at lunch we got a call from my wife informing us that she and my sister and the kids had arrived.
Since we were going to be on the ground for three days, and driving to Talkeetna the next day, my sister and I stopped by the local grocery store, Carrs/Safeway, to pick up some supplies including bottled water and snacks for the room and trip.
Slept as well as possible given the circumstances but still woke up at around 4:30am. Napped a bit and then decided to head down to the hotel’s “micro-pool” to get my laps in when the pool opened at 6am. My wife and son headed down to the Clarion’s breakfast buffet and it was as good as you get in the mid-price hotel chain. The hot buffet included fresh scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, make you own waffles, fruit and juice and coffee. I stopped by after my swim and had no complaints.
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