Moving About the ShipIf you would like to visit the Holland-America site, you can see the Ship Deck Plans for the MS Westerdam, as well as take virtual tours of various parts of the ship.
The ms Westerdam is a fine lady of the sea. Long but not too wide, tall and stately, she was elegant from stem to stern. Not only did the locations that passengers visited strike the eye with color and luxury, but even the routes one took to move between locations were a joy to the eye.
There were three major sets of stair/elevator combinations on the ship: Forward; Center; and Aft. The passenger was never too far from a method of changing decks. In addition to the main stairs, there were two special sets of stairs that would take one a shorter distance up or down, and some external stairs for moving up or down a single deck when strolling. Visit our Stairs and Elevators page for a visit to the stairs and elevators of the ms Westerdam, and the beautiful settings created for simply changing decks.
Walking around on a single deck was also a real treat. The interior decks were plushly carpeted and one would pass from setting to setting as if moving about in a fairyland. Where possible there were passageways down both sides of the ship, and other places a single path was available down the center. Most of the way back aft, accommodation had to be made for the ship's engine exhaust stacks, and the center to port side was out of our view for the interior decks, and the foot traffic was all routed to the starboard side.
Deck 3 had a marvelous weather deck, covered overhead, but otherwise open to the sea air and view, where passengers could walk around the entire perimeter of the ship. It was exactly one third mile too, for those counting their distance. Decks 10 and 11 also had outside decks but they were not covered, so one had to be prepared to face whatever the sky might be dropping.
So, a typical visit to a ship's location would normally consist of leaving our stateroom on Deck 5, walking aft a few yards to the Forward Stairs, and using them to move either up or down, and finishing the trip by walking along the destination deck to our desired location.
If you would like to visit the Holland-America site, you can see the Ship Deck Plans for the MS Westerdam, as well as take virtual tours of various parts of the ship.
Deck One or the Main Deck was the reference point for all the other decks.
Moving down from the Main Deck would take you to "Deck A" and to the lower decks, deep into the part of the ship where passengers were not allowed. There is where the engines were housed and the generators for the ship's electrical power. We did go down to Deck A when we were getting onboard the launches to go ashore in Sitka and Ketchikan, but that was the extent of our visit to that deck, with the exception of Jim dropping by the infirmary for me to grab my first meclizine HCl pills (for seasick prevention and treatment). The crew had its berthing there, and we did not wander around those spaces.
Deck 1 had the following public rooms on it:
The Main Deck was a deck that most people "passed through quickly" unless they were visiting one of the three public rooms: Vista Lounge; Video Arcade; Atrium.
The Front Office was also located on Deck One, and we had cause to stop by that a couple of times during the cruise. Tammy and Dotti went here to straighten out the confusion on the lifeboat drill that nearly had Jim and Tammy standing a second one, and we all stopped by here to get my extra seasick prevention pills later on.
We didn't spend any time in the Video Arcade, and I am not sure what was in there. There was something called "The Game Room" on Deck 10 that I stumbled across on one of my picture taking trips on the ship. It had video games in it. But I don't remember actually going into the Video Arcade on Deck One.
The Atrium was memorable because of its ship chandelier. But that was up a few decks. On Deck one, the Atrium had a bar and some tables and chairs, as well as the foot of a spiral staircase that was a work of art, and that led up to Deck Two and Deck Three. While we never stopped for a drink here, we all enjoyed the luxurious and glitzy feel of the place every time we walked by it. Even after passing it by on many occasions and viewing it from three different decks, I always found my eye stealing over to the Atrium for another peek at it.
The Vista Lounge was a big part of the cruise for us. It covered 3 decks vertically, and had room for seating over a thousand people. It was on the Deck One level of the Vista Lounge where the four of us sat (and we were joined by Bob & Judy our two dinner acquaintances from the Vista Dining Room) for the illusionist's show during which we had so much fun. It was a very well designed auditorium with a large stage, complete with an elevator that could comfortably hold half a dozen or more dancers as they were lifted during shows. They also could move scenery backgrounds with the overhead machinery of the stage.
One of the nicest things about the Vista Lounge was the high quality entertainment that was booked into it for the cruise. There were several exceptionally good singers that we heard, and the illusionist put on a great show. Jim and Tammy told us that the juggler and comedian was great as well, although Dotti and I missed that one.
We spent a good deal more time on Deck Two than we did on Deck One during our cruise. Our evening meal was taken on this deck and the Casino kept Tammy and Dotti's attention on several evenings. Dotti even dragged me down for brief visits on two occasions. While I don't think Dotti broke even, she didn't do too badly. For my two visits, I think I was down $5. A minor contribution to make to spend some fun time with Dotti.
Deck 2 had the following public rooms on it:
The Vista Lounge on Deck Two had chairs that were comfortable and situated with a great view of the stage. Once you entered the Vista Lounge from either Deck Two or Three, you could move about to any seat in the house.
The Piano Bar was an intimate little alcove just aft of the Vista Lounge on the starboard side of the ship. We walked through it, but didn't catch it when it was busy. As has been often said, you would have to spend months onboard to actually do every activity that is offered on a single one week cruise.
The Casino was situated about even with the piano bar, but was much larger, running from the middle of the ship to the port side of the hull, and was very similar to land based casinos. Even with the sometimes rolling deck, the games went on, when we pulled out to sea. The casino was eerily quiet and vacant when we pulled into port, almost like a ghost town.
The Sports Bar was just aft of the Piano Bar, nudging up against it. The bartender faced forward from behind the bar, but the customers tended to migrate around behind the wall behind him. The wall sectioned off a little area with televisions with sporting events being displayed. It was mercifully nearly the only public area on the ship with a television on.
The Northern Lights Night Club was very interestingly laid out. The room, and its associated passageways circled around the Queens Lounge, like a hand holding a cup. The entrance was very enticing with a very colorful sign, and when you curved around into the actual disco room the dark dance floor held a cool appealing ambiance above it, calling to all who enter. The room itself was round, and there was a DJ station set into a room in the aft segment. I passed through at one point during the cruise and they were holding a putting contest of all things. On a ship you use what space you have. When exiting to the aft of the night club, we passed down a curved passageway with large signs each with a drawing of Marylyn Monroe's face on it. As we reached each one of the signs, there was a sensor in the passageway that detected our presence, and the sign lit up. It was an interesting effect.
The Queen's Lounge took up nearly the entire width of the ship, forcing all passing foot traffic into a narrow passageway on the starboard side, or into the Northern Lights Night Club. This lounge doubled as the culinary stage, where a professional chef gave lectures on how to prepare fine food recipes, and the ship's movie theater. I never took a seat in the Queen's Lounge, but I did pass by many times and saw the chef lecturing on the stage, with his table and cooking implements. I also saw the lounge darkened with a movie playing on the screen, which had then replaced the cooking table. The round room had an attractive feel to it, and as with the entire ship, it had a luxurious feel to it, as if a queen really would feel at home in it.
The Atrium, which was rooted on Deck One, had tables circling the open room, looking down on the bar, and up at the ship chandelier. At one point there was an art auction held here and there were paintings set all around the Atrium at this level. Jim and I were passing by at that time and there was a lady with a mike headset on talking about the paintings over a small PA system. As she came up to us, she turned off the mike and mumbled something about her words stumbling too much. We assured her that she was doing fine, because actually she was. (We are all our own worst critics.) Some of the art work was outstanding, and much of it would have been better left as paint in the tube, and empty canvas. (So much for my career as an art critic. ☺)
The Pinnacle Grill and the Windstar Café were small cubby holes that we never visited. They were set up against the Atrium, and supplied food and drink for those who were sitting in the Atrium area, but who didn't wish to go down one deck to the bar to grab drinks.
Continuing aft, we now were restricted to a narrow section of the starboard side of the ship. (From here on all the way back to the dining room, the passenger area was pushed off to the starboard side of the ship. The middle of the ship and the port side were set aside for the crew, and the exhaust stacks for the ships engines.) We next came to the Art Gallery. When they had the art auction the paintings from here spilled out into the Atrium area, but for the rest of the cruise, the paintings lined the bulkheads and the display panels set up in the Art Gallery itself. They gave lectures on how to collect art, as well as providing opportunities, to those so inclined, to get started on that endeavor immediately.
The Explorers Lounge took up the rest of the space to the aft up to the entrance of the dining room. It had a circular ambiance, even though it was much longer than it was wide. It was set with semi-circular shaped comfortable chairs, surrounding small round tables. The overhead lighting had a round presentation as well. It was a little out of the way place to sit, visit with friends, or read a book and watch the sea go by through the large windows.
Finally we come to the best part: the Vista Dining Room. On Deck 2 we have the Lower Vista Dining Room and that is where we ate our evening meals throughout the cruise. At the entrance there was a hand cleaning station, where we could clean our hands for dinner, without water. During the dinner rush, to help move people through faster, they always had someone standing on the right side if the door, which was opposite to the hand cleaning station, with bag of hand cleaning solution, and dispensing the cleaning solution to the person who was on that side. The ship was very strong on keeping germs down, and thereby keeping us safe from infection. We all very much appreciated that attitude!
For Jim, Tammy, Dotti, and I once through the door, we turned to our left (which was towards the starboard side of the ship). We were handed a map of the dining room the first night, and the tables all had numbers on them. Our room cards had our table assignments on them as well so all we had to do was match up our table number with the location on the map and we were all set. However, to avoid a large crunch at the door, they assisted us into the right direction immediately. With the number of people they had coming to dine, they didn't have time to escort us all individually to our tables, but with their help we were soon seated at our table, table 151.
We ended up meeting some very nice people in the dining room, and I marked their tables with blue on the map. There was a very nice couple from Florida sitting at a table for two towards the center, whom we ran into on several occasions outside of the dining room, including sitting next to each other on the front row during the Illusionist's show. (The gentleman was even asked to check over one of the apparatuses used during the show.) Another couple was sitting at the table right behind us, and the lady, named Linda, was a Zonie! Not only that, but she was involved in the same illusionist's trick that Dotti was. (More on that in the main write up.)
There was a large spiral staircase leading up to the upper level but that was used exclusively by the serving staff. Just like is usually the case at a restaurant, unless you get up to use the restroom, you see the front door, the path to your table and your table, and not much else. We did not walk around the entire dining room, nor did we make it up to the second level of the dining room.
Deck 3 Was another busy deck, with lots to do. The name of the deck is the Promenade Deck. The word promenade comes from the French, se promenter 'go for a walk,' which in turn came from the Romans, and the Latin prominare 'drive forward.' In English it went from the original 'leisurely walk,' to 'a place for walking' in the 1600's. It was sometime in the late 1700s when it was used as 'a walkway by the sea.' Today it has several meanings, including a formal parade, and it is from this meaning that the term school prom, or promenade, comes, because it is a formal "parade" for the students.
But on a ship, the Promenade Deck always has a place for walking, and the ms Westerdam was no exception. Once around the outside deck covered one third of a mile. It was a covered path and fairly sheltered from the rain. The deck still got wet in spots, but it was a nice place to walk. And when you came around to the rear of the ship, there was a great view from the fantail section.
Deck 3 was the uppermost deck that extended all the way to the bow point of the hull. All the decks above the Promenade Deck ended before they reached the bow, as if they were the forehead, with decks 3 and below forming the nose of a face. This extended area, out beyond the upper decks, formed a large open weather deck, and it naturally had an exceptional view forward. The ship's spare anchor was mounted on this part of the deck.
Unfortunately, and probably for safety reasons, this area of Deck 3 was normally closed off to passengers, but they opened it up when we did our "glacier scenic cruising." Many people poured out onto that deck to get a good view.
One of the big Deck 3 attractions was the shopping area, where you were free to spend as much money as you liked. ☺ They had everything from jewelry to cigarettes, and tee-shirts to liquor. And when you got tired of shopping, you could move over to the library or even the Internet Café.
Deck 3 had the following public rooms on it:
Once again, when we moved all the way forward inside the ship, we ran into the Vista Lounge. This time we reached the uppermost deck of this auditorium. On this level you entered the space at the back of the uppermost row of seats. From here you could look down upon the stage, and on either side the "box seats" were visible extending out towards the stage. These sections of seats were each enclosed in a glass calendar, effectively making them window seats over the stage. We didn't sit there, but they looked like they would have been great seats, and their occupants would have even been safe from a visit from Gallagher and his Sledge-o-Matic.
One of the things I was most disappointed in was the fact that before each show they made an announcement that due to copyright issues they didn't allow any photography, even non-flash photography, during the shows held here. It would have been nice to have a photo or two from the shows that we witnessed, but things have gotten really bad these days with pirated copies of movies, songs, software and so forth that protection of copyrighted material is really on the front burner.
On the last full day aboard, we came here to the Vista Lounge to get our disembarkation briefing, and I was able to snap a couple of photos then.
Heading aft from the Vista Lounge, after passing the forward stairs and elevator bank, on the starboard side was the Internet Café. In there was a sufficient number of computers here, for passenger use, so that I never saw all the stations filled at once. For $0.75 a minute ($45 per hour) we could use the Internet as well. At those rates we learned to curb our Internet tendencies for the week onboard. (Dotti and I found that we could hear what was going on in the Vista Lounge from the Internet Café pretty well, especially when the audience applauded. ) The computers would also allow you to use word processing and to print (for a "nominal fee" of course) but we didn't use those services. There was normally someone there to help you if you had trouble logging onto either a workstation or the Internet.
Mounted on the wall, just outside of the Internet Café, right near the centerline of the ship, there was a very large computerized display, with a touch screen. From here passengers could get information about ship's position and distances traveled, as well as ship's news. On the morning where we were bouncing around a bit, I saw here that the Captain's Log noted that we were in "rough seas" with "waves 12 to 15 feet." I wouldn't have minded having more of these displays around the ship. When I did visit this location, it was always when I was passing through on my way somewhere else.
On the port side of the ship were the meeting rooms, and we saw a number of meetings being conducted there on different days of the cruise. There may have been some classes as well, because we saw the tables set up with laptops for some of the meetings.
On way aft from either the Internet Café or the meeting rooms we passed a large bulkhead mounted map of the world, and there was always a flashing red LED that indicated the general ship's position on the seas. There was a string of lit white LED's to indicate our entire cruise route, from Seattle to Glacier Bay, to Juneau, to Sitka, to Ketchikan, to Victoria, and back to Seattle. Between this map and the computerized display by the Internet Café, we could always be informed about where we were.
On our aftward trek, the only path led starboard of the centerline, and brought us to the entrance of the Erasmus Library. Inside this library there were tables where people could read or bring in their laptops. There was huge globe of the world in the middle of the space. Lining all of the bulkheads were bookshelves, loaded with books behind locked glass doors. I had brought plenty of reading material with me, and so I never found out how to check any of the books out. I never saw a ship's crew member there to check books out with. On the last day of the cruise, during out disembarkation lecture, it was noted that we needed to return books and games that had been checked out. So, clearly there was a procedure for doing so.
Next came one of the ladies favorite areas. There were shops from port to starboard, filled with souvenirs, jewelry, and all sorts of other items, even liquor and cigarettes, for those so inclined. We spent some time going through these spaces on more than one occasion.
Continuing aft, we pass by the amidships stairway and elevator bank, on our way past the Atrium for the last time. This was the very top of the Atrium section. The Ship's Chandelier was the first thing that always grabbed our eye when we walked by. It was crystal, and constantly rotating. It was beautiful. When we looked down over the railing we could look down to the first deck and the tables and chairs, as well as the bar. (Notice in the picture that you can see all 3 decks.)
An atrium is normally a large space that is either open to the outside or has a skylight. The human heart has an atrium, which includes its upper chambers. The affluent Romans build their houses around an atrium, that was surrounded on all sides but that had no roof. While this atrium was not open to the sky, it had a feel that was similar, as it spanned 3 vertical decks.
On Deck 3 the Atrium was property of the Ocean Bar, which formed a "spiral galaxy" about it, reaching into intimate little cubby holes for tables and booths, and providing a small stage for live entertainment. In the photo of Tammy and Dotti, there are several things to note, besides the lovely ladies. The cushioned bench was part of the Ocean Bar. The window behind looked out onto the walking deck that the Promenade Deck got its name from. It took some getting use to for me, seeing windows everywhere on the ship. On a war ship, there are armored bulkheads everywhere to keep hostile fire from entering the ship. I often spent days without even seeing the outside and not being able to tell if the sun was shining, or if rain was pouring down. Day or night looked exactly the same inside the ship. But not now!
Tammy has her room key card attached around her neck with a lanyard. That card was more than just a key to unlock the electronic lock on our stateroom doors. We used it in every port to allow us access to the gangway in both directions. It could be used to charge things to your room, and was part of every day of our cruise in many ways. Lastly, we really should note how happy the ladies look. They reflected the fun that we all were having on our cruise.
At this point, all passenger traffic was directed to the starboard side into a small passageway, curving outward towards the hull and then emptying out into the Photo Gallery. (The port side of the ship was dedicated to ship's crew and machinery, like the route to the top for the exhaust stacks.)
We visited the Photo Gallery often because at each stage along the way of our cruise, the ship's photographers would take our pictures and then print them, and hang them up on the display boards mounted all along the walls. Passengers could look the pictures over and either buy them or leave them hanging.
Exiting to the aft of the Photo Gallery, passengers found the aft stairwells and elevator banks, followed by the Upper Vista Dining Room. We never were on the upper level of the dining room, but we did see waiters moving up and down the circular stairway from between levels and during our final meal in the lower dining area, the staff put on a show where they walked down the stairs singing a song.
Deck 4, called the Upper Promenade Deck, wasn't for walking, and the name was taken merely as a reference to the deck below it for ease of locating this one. This deck was nearly all staterooms.
The only thing that we used on this deck other than the stairs, were the shore launches (what we called "liberty boats" in the Navy).
In ports where we couldn't tie up to a pier, all those going ashore had to ride in a small boat from the ship to the dock.
The boats were all stowed on the Upper Promenade Deck, and the bottom of their hulls made the overhead "ceiling" when we were strolling on Deck 3 in the midsection of the weather deck. One night, when Dotti and I were strolling the deck, we noticed that the10 lifeboats, which were stowed forward of the 6 shore launches, could be identified by their traditional hull shape coming down to form a shape somewhere between a 'V' and 'U,' whereas the launches had a catamaran-like, double hull design.
Deck 5, called the Veranda Deck, like the deck below it, was almost entirely composed of staterooms. However, this deck we didn't just pass through, because we lived here. Dotti and I shared cabin 5021, which was the stateroom 8 back from the forwardmost stateroom on the starboard side. Jim and Tammy shared 5025, the cabin right beside ours.
The verandas, which this deck got its name from, were connecting between our rooms, once we got the staff to open the locked partition between them. The one time that we all were out on the verandas together enjoying them was when we were "scenic cruising" the John Hopkins glacier. Of course we were back and forth knocking on doors too, but the weather was cool enough to where we didn’t just "hang out" on the verandas too much.
Our staterooms were about 190 feet from the bow of the ship and 760 feet from the stern. When we went out on the veranda and looked up, the starboard section of the bridge, which extended out beyond the rest of the deck, was nearly right over us. I don't think Dotti could have found us a better location for our veranda staterooms than the one she did.
From our staterooms, if we turned right from the door, we could go forward a bit and go through two hatchways, one of them water tight, and come out onto a very nice viewing deck, which extended all the way across the front of the ship. We came out here a number of times for a great view of where the ship was heading.
If we turned to the left, we soon came to the forward stairs and elevators. We nearly always took the stairs, and it was great exercise for us!
Deck 6 was called the Upper Vernanda, and, since it was only staterooms, we just passed through and didn't spend any more time here than they did in thinking up the name for this deck. ☺
Deck 7, the Rotterdam Deck was named for the second largest city in the Netherlands.
This deck is once again very heavily populated with staterooms. The one new feature this deck sported, we didn't get to see: The Neptune Lounge. This lounge (along with the associated Concierge) was restricted to the "upper crust" staterooms located on this deck. Somehow we managed to do without this little morsel and didn't miss it a bit. ☺
Deck 8, the Navigation Deck; so called because, although filled almost entirely with staterooms, it also had one essential extra: the bridge. When a deck plan of the ship for deck 8 is viewed with the bow on top, the bridge looks a bit like a sailor's white hat sitting on top.
Deck 9 Deck 9 the Lido Deck is named for Lido, a city located on a sandbar across the mouth of the Venetian Lagoon in Italy. The sandbar is 7.5 miles long and varies from 300 feet to 3000 feet in width. The side facing the Adriatic Sea is mostly beach and is loaded with beach resort hotels, for the summer tourists. So, it is not surprising that the Lido Deck is where we found the swimming pools and spa.
Deck 9 had the following public rooms on it:
Starting from the bow end, there is a great little weather deck where we could view the ship's forward progress. This is where I met up with Dotti, Tammy, and Jim when the ship first pulled out to sea. (See main narrative for day one of cruise.)
The front wall of the interior space was glass on this deck, which could be looked through by those inside using the gym equipment. (What a great improvement over the standard gym's television alternative.)
The gymnasium, located behind the glass wall, had an assortment of exercise equipment available. The treadmills were facing the window so anyone taking walk on them could have a wonderful scenic view to enjoy. The exercise equipment space completely surrounded the Greenhouse Spa & Salon.
The rest of the complex included "Therapy Rooms," where massages and other treatments could be obtained, "Thermal Suites," for steam baths, and most important of all for the ladies: the Hydro Pool. Dotti and Tammy visited the Hydro Pool quite often and Dotti really sang its praises every time she got back to the room.
Tammy and Dotti also stopped in the salon and had pedicures and manicures, so they could feel pampered. I think it worked. ☺
Moving aft from the health complex, there was next the Lido Pool area. This was the one area of the ship where you never knew for sure whether or not you would be inside or outside. It was the first place that we stopped and took a look around when we checked onboard, and it was an outside space then, because the retractable dome roof was pulled back exposing the open sky. Most of the voyage we found the roof closed because things cooled off pretty well when we headed north.
Decorated with a sculpture of three dolphins at its forward end, the Lido Pool itself dominated the space. It was a pool inside a pool, in a way. They had created a large surrounding closed-in area about the actual pool, giving it sunken feel. On the first day, that area had looked a bit odd; but on the second day, we could see why it was built that way. When the ship started rocking and rolling, the water in the pool acted like water in a wave pool in a water park. It was splashing well out of the normal pool enclosure, and would have made a really mess of the deck around the pool if that second level of pool had not been there.
Even though the Lido Pool was the main feature of this area, there was plenty more going on. There were two whirlpools at the aft end of the Lido Pool, and there were tables and chairs all around the area. In the aft end of the space, on the port side, there was the Lido Bar, where Jim and I stopped to get a couple of Cokes one time, and we had a chance to try out the strange, but interesting stools at the bar. They each were carved in the shape of a fish that had its head on the deck, and its tail in the air and curved back over its body forming a seat for the patrons. I can't say it was the most comfortable stool that I have ever sat on but it was definitely one of the most exceptional ones.
Beside the Lido Bar, moving out towards the port bulkhead, there were two maps depicting the areas that we would be traveling during the cruise. One brought out of Seattle and up into Canadian waters, near the southern tip of the Alaskan panhandle. The second covered the rest of the way up to Glacier Bay and all of the towns in Alaska we would be visiting. Just aft of the map was the ping pong table where Jim and I played a few games on the second day of the cruise. Unfortunately, there were some showers just aft of that, for the swimmers to use and during our last game a lady came by, took a shower an then walked right across the area where I was standing for the game. I had to move the water around some to get it dry enough to continue playing, but it all worked out okay. ☺ The showers were wrapped around a spiral stair way that led up to the open deck right above us. Fortunately the top of the stairs were enclosed in a glass structure that kept the elements out of the Lido Deck when the weather was cold and wet.
Moving to the other side of the ship there was an open carpeted area where they often had large chess set setup. The pieces were a couple of feet tall, and it would have been an interesting way to play chess.
There were doors leading aft from both sides of the ship where you could exit the Lido Pool area and move past the amidships stairway and elevator banks into one of our favorite parts of the ship: the Lido Restaurant.
The Lido Restaurant was really quite something. There were many different counters providing many types of food for each meal. If you didn't like what you saw at one counter, you just moved to the next one until you did. And we always did find something excellent to eat. The food counters were all towards the middle of the ship, and the tables were mostly outwards towards the bulkheads. There was one area at the forward end of the food counters, with a short wall around it, and a few tables inside, but the majority of the tables were along side. This was one weak spot for the ship and the cruise. Finding seating during a meal was difficult. If you ate at an off hour, all was well, and there was plenty of seating. But when the rush was on, we spent a lot of time looking for a place to eat our food. But then we always did find a place to sit, and the food was worth the wait.
There were beverage counters where you could get iced tea and coffee, but if you wanted a soda, you had to pay extra for it. (The rest of the meal was covered by the cost of the ticket.) Still, the food, and deserts were no extra charge, and I happen to like iced tea. ☺
Moving aft from the Lido Restaurant we immediately passed the aft stairway and elevator bank before exiting the interior spaces and entering the Aft Pool area. Once again, in keeping with the water resort area, the Aft Pool was located on the Lido Deck. The Aft pool did not appear to be much used, because we were on an Alaskan cruise, with cool and even cold temperatures most of the time, and this pool was outside exposed to the elements. It did have a hot tub beside it though that seemed to get a lot of use, even being outside.
There were deck chairs surrounding the pool, but they too were usually empty due to the weather. The Sea View Bar was on the starboard side of the ship up against the bulkhead at the forward end of the Aft Pool area. The bar itself was covered, and it was normally manned even though it didn't seem to be terrible busy with customers.
All the way aft there was a railing and from there, when we were cruising, you could see the wake of the ship extending off to the horizon. Looking down across the railing, we could also see the really cool cabin outside deck areas. Some of the deck spaces were large, with nice sized tables. There was room for the kids to play as well. Of course those decks were nearly always empty when we looked, so they weren't getting a lot of use it seemed.
Overall, it seemed to me that the outside portions of the ship were very underutilized but that was no surprise, because the weather was so cold, and even wet a lot of the time. The time to have a nice big cabin with a huge outside deck would be on a southern cruise when it was warm outside. Then the Aft Pool would be filled I am sure, and the Lido Pool would have the roof open and lots of activity as well.
Personally, I don't care for hot weather, and I absolutely loved the weather that we had, and the cities that we visited, on our cruise. And best of all, my cruise was with my lovely Dotti and our best friends Jim and Tammy.
Deck 10, called the Observation Deck, is well named. There was a lot of open air space for walking and plenty of unoccupied rail upon which to lean as you looked out at the beautiful open sea. The things that I had most associated with luxury liners were to be found on this deck: shuffleboard, deck chairs, and open sky overhead, with the ocean visible all around.
Deck 10 had the following public rooms on it:
Starting from the bow end of the deck, there is the Crows Nest. In this space there is a bar, and many tables with comfortable chairs around them. There is bandstand and a wall of windows facing forward with a tremendous view. Many times during the cruise they held Bingo games in this room, and on Monday of the cruise, they had a veteran's gathering in this room, which Jim was able to attend. I unfortunately missed it, but Jim brought back several stories about the guys he met. It sounded like a lot of fun!
Just aft, and on the starboard side, there was a plush little room called the Oak Room. It was small and plush with a large fireplace, bracketed by statues, and topped with a mirror over the mantle that reflected the gold leaves of the ceiling art. I walked through but did not visit during a time when it was in use. However, it had the feel of a room that would have been a warm and pleasant place to be with your friends. It reminded me of the smoking room in a men's club that you see in movies from time to time.
Aft of the Crow's Nest and the Oak Room, after passing the forward elevator bank, and the stairs, where the gods and goddesses of the sea greated those climbing to the very top, there was the exit to the outside weather decks leading to a large area filled with deck chairs. In the middle of the deck area, there was a circular wooden bench wrapped around a large skylight that was positioned right over the Hydropool. Dotti says that the skylight was covered on the inside with something that looked like canvas, so she never got to look through it but as was the case with the Lido Deck's Aft Pool area, the chairs were normally empty, due to the weather.
On the starboard side, the top of the spiral staircase that led up from beside the ping pong table on the Lido Deck was located inside a small glass-enclosed structure, with a nice sealing door.
On the forward end of this area were stairs on both the port and starboard sides, leading up to the observation part of the Sports Deck.
It was possible to move aft from this point on either the port or the starboard side of the ship, and in either case you would walk past the Lido Pool retractable dome roof. The roof was made up of 6 sections in all. Each section had glass in the middle, to let the light in when the roof was closed. The sections were layered so that the two sections that met in the middle to close off the outside, were each riding on top of another section that was in turn riding on top of a third section. The roof would telescope out from each end and meet in the middle.
Once past the retractable roof, moving aft there were two glass panels that formed a wind break on either end of a stretch of deck where there were shuffleboard playing areas marked out. (Indeed, it wouldn't be a cruise ship without shuffleboard courts. ☺) In order to get past the windbreaks you simply had to zigzag around them. Mounted on the bulkhead they had a plaque with movable scorekeeping markers for tracking the shuffleboard games.
At this point there was a hatchway into the interior of the ship. (On this deck the two major interior areas were not directly connected with each other without either going outside or by changing decks.) The first time I stumbled across this interior space on Deck 10, I was out on a picture taking expedition, and I hit upon it when I wandered up the center stairway all the way to the top.
I looked around a bit and I found that there was a video arcade inside a small dark room, with many video games for children to play, although I hadn't seen very many children at all on the cruise. In fact the question went through my mind, "Are there any children onboard?"
I then moved aft, through a door into a dark looking room that was intriguing. It had large windows and I thought there might be something interesting going on. However, I was very surprised to find that I had stumbled into the "Kids Zone" where there were indeed children, in a sort of day care center. They were watching a children's movie on TV and there appeared to be games and other fun things to do for kids. The lady, who appeared to be in charge of the children, looked at me suspiciously when I entered. I felt like I was definitely in the wrong place. So, I quickly made my egress, leaving my apologies.
In the passageway I also noted that they had a painting (by René Broné) of the great golfers Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman on the wall to mark the golf simulator area of the ship. I am not much of a golfer, so I didn't nose around in that area of the ship, but even I can appreciate the talent of the great "Golden Bear" and the "Great White Shark."
In addition to the top of the center stairway, the center elevators reached their upper limit on this deck as well.
Next we'll exit back to the weather decks, and into the shuffleboard area. Looking up we can see the ship's stacks. The ship's engines appeared to run incredibly clean. I don't ever recall seeing a big burst of smoke pouring out of these stacks, and most of the time there was nothing more than you can see right here in this photo.
Looking aft we see the shuffleboard courts. On the first full day out at sea we saw a game going on, but that was the only time I saw anyone playing. The weather was not for the faint of heart.
When we turn our view towards the bow of the ship, the satellite antenna covers look like several golf balls set up for a giant to take a swing at.
Turning once more to the aft, we come to the windbreak at the other end of the shuffleboard courts. With a little zigzag, we are by it and approaching the aft end of this deck.
At the rear of this shorter deck, there was nice area to stand and look out over the sea behind the ship, watching the beautiful wake extending off into the distance, as if it were a trail in sea that we were leaving for other ships to follow. There were a few deck chairs here but not many.
There were stairs leading up to the basketball court on the Sports Deck at this point, and at the very rear of the deck there were stairs leading down onto the Lido Deck Aft Pool.
Deck 11, named the Sports Deck, was unique, in that it was only a partial deck, having two sections that were not connected directly. Both sections rested upon the interior spaces of the Observation Deck. (As you may recall those were small and separated from the rest of the Observation Deck as well, but you could at least walk between them on the weather deck.)
On the forward section of Deck 11 was a deck that we visited a number of times over the cruise. It would have been the best view on the ship if it hadn't have had a glass wall all around the front. You could see through it, but it was tinted and didn't make for good picture taking at all. It did block the wind, and that was probably its purpose. However, if you wanted to be protected from the elements, you could go down one deck and have a very similar view from the warm, comfortable interior of the Crow's Nest. So, this was a bit disappointing. However, it was still a nice wide open deck space with no chairs, and a pleasant place to stroll. So, we found ourselves wandering up here from time to time.
Looking aft and up just a bit we could see the spinning radar antennas and other antennas mounted high in order to take advantage of the elevation advantage.
The aft section was a full-court basketball court. There was a ball waiting for us to use and it was a lot of fun, but quite challenging playing out in the sea wind. What a lovely setting for a game, with no land in view in any direction, and the ship's wake visible through the nearly unnoticeable netting. The court surface was firm, with good traction, but it was not so hard that a fall would have very painful. It wasn't a metal deck, or a wood surface. It was some form of matting.
Jim and I shot quite a few baskets, and then Jim went over to the little netted booth and took a few swings with the golf clubs. The ball would hit the net and drop back down at his feet for another go at it.
As with the cruise itself, the ship's tour has to come to end. I hope you enjoyed it!