Treasures of Scandinavia and Russia

Rotterdam to Amsterdam to Copenhagen to Seattle and Port Angeles

Monday July 28 – Tuesday July 29, 2008

From the Cruise Log

The last evening in our room we were provided with a very nice souvenir of our trip, a Cruise Log. In this log was listed the departure and arrival time for each port we visited as well as the nautical miles from port to port, for a total of 2,921 miles traveled on our two week cruise. Included inside was the following:

For those guests leaving us in Rotterdam
on behalf of
Captain Olav van der Waard
Hotel Manager Cees Tesselaar,
Cruise Director Teresa Papp
and the entire ships complement we
thank you for choosing
Holland America Line and wish you a safe
and pleasant journey home.

Holland America Line

HAL Logo

In the early part of the 17th Century, Henry Hudson set sail from Holland in a tiny ship called “de Halve Maen.” His long voyage across the Atlantic heralded the beginning of the Dutch exploration and settlements in the New World. During this century’s great ear of Trans-Atlantic elegance, Holland America’s beloved Nieuw Amsterdam II (1938-1973) came to represent all the luxury and magnificence and splendor of that time. Our emblem shows this famous flagship alongside “de Halve Maen “. Together, these two ships symbolize the centuries old seafaring tradition of the Dutch and long-standing friendship between Holland and America.

Our Arrival

By the time I got up and dressed and made my way topside for a look at where we were, it was almost 6am. We were already in the main shipping channel and heading for the Holland American quay on the Nieuwe Maas. Our beautiful mornings of the past eleven days were replaced by a dark foreboding overcast. As I strolled the wet decks on the Lower Promenade, I observed sheet lightening somewhere over the Netherlands, and the rolling thunder. Wow, what a dismal end to a wonderful cruise. The following photographs more aptly portray the mood of the morning.



A little History

After WWII, Rotterdam was a shambles having been the target of repeated bombing raids. Industrious Dutch engineers set to rebuilding the docks (and the city) in 1945. New canals and refineries were installed, but the facilities were too small, so Europoort, the world’s largest port, was added.

The tide controls south of Rotterdam are tributes to the remarkable ingenuity of Dutch engineers. The Oosterschelde was originally planned as a dam, but environmental concerns led to redesign. The result was the Stormvloedkering (surge barrier). It is now a mobile barrier that lines the floodplain for 2 miles. In event of high seas, it takes an hour to close the gates.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Delft was home to William the Silent and Dutch master painter Vermeer. Delft tiles and plates are the hallmark of the many gifts Holland America Cruise Ships present to their passengers.

Our Departure

By 9:30am we were off our beloved floating hotel and crushed into the melee at the customs baggage room in the terminal. Our crew had retrieved our luggage from the hallway outside our stateroom sometime during the night and had transferred it to the terminal as soon as we had docked. To facilitate locating ones luggage amongst the thousands of bags, the ship provides luggage tags of different colors. The bags are then sorted by tag color and placed in a group in the terminal luggage retrieval area. All passengers are responsible for accompanying their luggage through customs. Dutch efficiency soon insured that we were out of the terminal and moved to an area where we waited for our transportation. Since it was raining, free umbrellas were offered to everyone, one final gesture of Holland America’s “Signature of Excellence”.

The speed of our departure from the ship still had our heads spinning as we boarded our tour buses for the day trip to our hotel in Amsterdam. Another trademark of “Travel with Alan” is the caliber of tour companies he deals with. Alan had contracted for two buses for the 47 people in his group, allowing almost everyone to have a “window” seat, plus most European buses have two doors, one in front and one in the center. The configuration makes for very easy entrance and exit. The pictures below are of scenes along the canals, and the Cheese & Wooden Shoes Factory Alida Hoeve, near Amstelveen (with some yummy tasting) and wooden shoe carving demonstration where we visited.








Upon our arrival in Amsterdam, Alan surprised us with a one hour tour of the canals, while our luggage was taken to our hotel.


Our next surprise came when Alan told us that we would have to “hoof” it for a few blocks because our buses were not permitted on the street in front of our hotel the Radisson SAS Amsterdam. We some of us were a little miffed until we saw our accommodations for the night – excellent, and were within a short walking distance for the center of Amsterdam, How great is that?

Waiting for us in the hotel dining room “De Palmboon” were our friends Yvonne Hummels Prent and her son Rob, and Yvonne and John Hill. We had pre-arranged for them to meet us here. Yvonne and Rob live in the Amsterdam area and Yvonne and John had come by train from their home in Brussels. We had met the two “Yvonnes” 40 years ago when we were stationed in Greece. It is a long story but it was a great reunion the forty years just faded away with the recounting of awesome memories. We shared snacks, wine and beer for about two hours. Too soon, John and Yvonne had to catch a train back to Brussels, however after they left Yvonne and Rob had time to take us on an interesting walk about Amsterdam. Rob was very careful to insure that our “stroll” avoided the “red light” district, where the scantily “Ladies of the Night” paraded their wares in street level picture windows. This visit with our friend from long ago was the icing on the cake of our two week adventure.

Alan’s final offering for this fantastic vacation was a “farewell” dinner the Restaurant DE Nissen, housed in a 17th-cedntury building on the Rokin in the heart of Amsterdam, just a short walk from our hotel.


After a wonderful dinner, Barbara and I decided that we would just take our time returning our hotel. It was a wonderfully warm evening, we felt safe and it was such a joy to experience an evening in this wonderful city. Around 16 of our group decided to take and impromptu tour of the “red light district” as one lady in this group had done extensive research on the “attraction”, and was able to provide a very professional tour.

The next morning we were up for an early breakfast in the hotel dining room and then we were off to our buses for our trip to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Our ride through the streets provided us with view of a busy Amsterdam on its way to work. All major streets have dedicated bike lanes, and many were the times when our guides had to remind us to “not walk in the bike lanes“!


Alan is a master of getting his group into Airports and in no time at all we were in line waiting for our boarding passes. After a short flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, and a four hour layover, we were on our ten hour flight heading to Seattle. Our flight crew was in a great mood as they had not flown together for some time. We once again were treated to very good SAS hospitality, even though we were in “Economy”.

Arriving at SeaTac around 4:30 PM, I was a bit concerned as to how our encounter with Customs and Immigration control would go, but my fears were soon allayed and we were quickly on our way to make our connection with Kenmore Air – 4 hours later. This gave Barbara time to catch up on her journal and for me, some much needed exercise. Our flight to Port Angeles was somewhat of a cliff hanger as it was on instruments all the way with a pilot who looked to be about 14 years old! The clouds cleared when we arrived over Ediz Hook and the Coast Guard Station. Minutes our young pilot made a perfect landing – guess he must have been older than I thought.

It is great to be home, with all our familiar surroundings, but we are ready (almost) to go again.

I hope you enjoyed my writings and pictures as much as I did posting them…… now it’s on to planning for Antarctica in February.

“Some experiences simply do not translate. You have to go to know” — Kobi Yamada

2 thoughts on “Treasures of Scandinavia and Russia

  1. I enjoyed the adventure with you but not the foggy flight home. Which company are you doing Antarctica with? That was a favorite of ours with Norwegian Coastal Voyages and a long “H” name. Take all the clothes they suggest (REI is a good spot to shop) and sturdy shoes and no formals or tux—We still hope to get your way in Sept. at a campground 12 miles east of Sequim–Diamond Point RV resort 294 industrial Parkway…will only go if the warranty repairs get done…the rig is at Poulsbo RV in Kent waiting for the needed parts. We had a fine time at Westport with our kids and grandkids but that was when we discovered more things not working. We think they assembled this thing on a monday after of 3 day weekend.
    Happy Days–Sarah

  2. Thank you Sarah – We are doing the Antarctic trip on HAL’s Prinsendam, thanks for the advice.

    Hope you stop by and visit in Sept. We do have a space and hook up for an overnight stay.

    Sorry you are having trouble with the RV.

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