Volendam Zaandam

THE SHIPS IN GENERAL Holland America pulled out all the stops on these two ships The centerpiece of the striking triple-decked oval atrium on the Volendam, for instance, is a glass sculpture by Luciano Vistosi, one of Italy's leading practitioners of the art, and that's just part of the ship's 2-million art collection, which reflects a flower theme. On the Zaandam, the focal point of the atrium is a 22-foot-tall pipe organ that is representative of the ship's music theme, which is filled out by...

Cruise Costs

In chapters 5 and 6, we've included the brochure rates for every ship reviewed, but as noted above, these prices may actually be higher than any passenger will pay. Prices constantly fluctuate based on any special deals the cruise lines (and the travel agents) are running. The volume of travelers interested in cruising Alaska heavily influences rates. If the sales season (Sept-Jan are the key months) fails to achieve certain predetermined passenger volume goals, the lines are very quick to...

Shore Excursions

When the ship gets into port, you'll have the choice of going on a shore excursion organized by the cruise line or going off on your own. The shore excursions are designed to help you make the most of your limited time at each port of call, to get you to the top natural or historical attractions, and to make sure you get back to the ship on time. But shore excursions are also a moneymaking area for the cruise line, and the offerings can add a hefty sum to your vacation costs. Whether or not you...

Norwegian Cruise Line

7665 Corporate Center Dr., Miami, FL 33126. & 800 327-7030 or 305 436-4000. Fax 305 436-4120. www. ncl.com. The very mass-market Norwegian Cruise Line offers an informal and upbeat atmosphere on medium- to megasize ships. This year the Norwegian Sun relocates to Vancouver (from Seattle), and the Norwegian Dream, Star, and Spirit take over in rotation out of Seattle. The line offers 7- and 10-night itineraries. THE EXPERIENCE NCL excels in the activities department if the line added any more...

Short Gold Rush History

The biggest event in Alaska history happened 107 years ago the 1898 Klondike gold rush. If you're coming to Alaska, you'll be hearing a lot about it. Here's some context for the barrage of anecdotes you can expect. Prospectors sought gold in small numbers even before Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867. However, the Russians' main interest in Alaska was sea otter pelts. They made few forays beyond the coast, leaving the great mass of the North and Interior unexplored. When the...

Clipper Cruise Line

Louis, MO 63146. & 800 325-0010 or 314 655-6700. Fax 314 655-6670. www.clippercruise.com. Not your typical cruise vessels, these down-to-earth, comfortable small ships focus on offbeat ports of call, learning, and mingling with your fellow passengers. It's the ideal small-ship cruise for people who've tried Holland America or Princess and now want a more intimate cruise experience. THE EXPERIENCE Clipper caters to mature, seasoned, easygoing, relatively...