Alaska: the Inside Passage

Tracey Arm

In late August, Alastair and I went on holiday. Huzzah.

Along with the parentals, plus Bro and gf, we flew to Vancouver and hopped on a cruise ship to Alaska. Yes, family holiday ahoy.

It was a 7 day cruise to the inside passage. If you’ve ever looked at a map of that part of the world, you’ll see that there is a thin segment of land on Canada’s far west that belongs to Alaska. That’s the part that we visited.

Ms Zaandam

We went with Holland, and our ship was the Ms Zaandam. We saw several other ships doing the same route, and ours was mid-size (Celebrity looked like it was the largest ship).


But all the companies carry so many passengers during the Alaskan cruise period that I reckon any would be fine.


This was our cabin – I mean, stateroom, as they insisted on calling it.


Ms Zaandam had a max occupancy of 1,432 guests and 615 crew (in comparison, the Celebrity one carried 2,850 guests and 1,500 crew).


As we were on the one of the last cruises of the season, I’m pretty certain the ship wasn’t full – probably only about 1000 guests at a maximum. It never *felt* like there were 1000 other passengers on board though.

Outer deck

I’ll go into more detail about the shore stops we made (Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan) and food in latter posts, but first let’s start with some photos of the KITCHEN. Because that is always one of my favourite things.

Kitchen tour

Some stats. The kitchen has 91 staff, 3 refrigerators, 4 freezers, 3 thawing rooms and 5 dry stores.

Kitchen tour

There’s a cold kitchen, a dishwashing area, pastry and bakery area, a fish preparation room, a pots and pans area, a wine bar, and the Pinnacle Grill restaurant kitchen.

Kitchen tour

The amount of food they go through weekly is pretty amazing. On average every week: about 3855 kgs of meat, 1810 kgs of poultry, 2000 kgs of fish and seafood, 5400 kgs of fresh vegetables – I could go on…

Kitchen tour

Oh yeah, and how was the food? Overall, I’d say it was good. There was some really good and some really bad, but overall fine.

Wine tasting

So what did we do on board? Well, there was wine “tasting”.

Beer tasting

And beer “tasting”.

Bro and I did wine tasting with mum and dad, and then went and met Alastair for beer tasting straight afterwards. Hello stamina!


There was cocktails of course.




Err… rather a lot of cocktails…

Bloody mary

There was even 10am mimosas (for Ma) and bloody marys (for moi). Look, my mother wanted to, okay? It was my duty as her daughter to join her in pre-lunchtime drinking.


Oh look it’s more drinking. MA WANTED TO, I SWEAR.

Sangria and cheese

(You think I’m joking but I’m being completely truthful.)

Cruising to Tracey Arm

However it wasn’t all food and booze. There was the shore stops that I’ll mention later, and we also cruised Tracey Arm.

Cruising to Tracey Arm

Tracey Arm is a fjord near Juneau, and while it is very pretty on its own – the main attractions are the twin Sawyer Glaciers.

Tracey Arm

You would not believe how close our massive hulking ship got to the Sawyer Glacier although it took bloody ages. It was a really wet day (pretty usual for Alaska) and I stood outside in the rain and cold, staking my position near the ship’s bow for at least an hour.

Hey, see those little black spots on the ice in the right hand side of this photo? Seals. šŸ™‚

Tracey Arm

It was worth the wet and cold though – it was SO PRETTY. In this photo, just left of the middle, I managed to catch a hunk of ice carving off the glacier.

Tracey Arm

So pretty?

(So cold.)

Bald eagle

Did you know that bald eagles are basically like pigeons in Alaska? We saw lots of them – and never at a time when I had my zoom lens on the camera. Wah wah wah. This photo was taken with my 35mm while on board the ship so it was pretty damn close (if only I had my zoom eternal regret argh).

Better than pigeons anyday.


As for other wildlife on the trip – well there was a seal (towel animal).


And a squid.


But the best one! We walked into our room to find this monkey hanging up. Ahhh best.

Goodbye Alaska

Before I go, here’s a quick FAQ of things people seem to keep asking me about this trip:

What was the best part? – Being away and being with the whole family. Being in Alaska was just the icing, tbh.
Was the ship full of old people? – Honestly, yeah. Mostly it was older people and families, and only a smattering beyond those two groups.
What did you think of Alaska? – We didn’t see much of it, but the scenery was beautiful. It’s a weird spot though. So remote. One of the stops was Juneau, which is Alaska’s capital city, and there are no roads that connect the city to the rest of Alaska or North America. You can fly in or ferry/take a ship in.
Was it worth it?? – Yes, of course.

That comes to the end of this assorted collection of photos. Stay tuned for more (if I ever get around to editing them ho hum).