We think cruising is a great way for boomers to see the world. If you’re a long time reader here, then you know that Alan and I enjoy cruises – especially small ship luxury cruises. In fact, we’ve sailed over 200 nights with Regent. Last year we crossed the Atlantic with Seabourn and we’ll be experiencing our first SilverSea Cruise in December. However, if you’re looking for first-hand advice on larger cruise ships like Holland America, we don’t have any to give. That’s why we’re excited to have Pat Woods back today — remember her post about cruising on the Hurtigruten — to fill us in on cruising with Holland America ships.
Recently husband Rob and I enjoyed a 7-day Canada and New England Discovery cruise on Holland America Line’s Maasdam. With every cabin filled, the 1,258 -passenger ship carried an age-diverse mix of kids, teens, younger adults, boomers and seniors. If you think HAL ships are strictly for your parent’s generation, think again.
Active boomer shore excursion options
Interesting and exotic shore excursions are a huge part of the cruise experience. Virtually all ports offer a variety of walking tours, some uphill on cobblestone streets with scores of stairs. Boomers seeking more active excursions can choose from a plethora of options.
In the Quebec City area, energetic boomers opt for the 15-mile RT biking trip to scenic Montmorency Falls, a pretty provincial park. If a water adventure is more your style, choose the 2-hour rafting trip on the Jacques Cartier River.
Charlottetown, the provincial capitol of Prince Edward Island, offers lobster fishing excursions. Guest anglers help haul up the lobster traps, add fresh bait and reset them in the ocean. And yes, boomers can handle the live lobsters!
In Halifax, don a 19th-century British officer’s uniform to experience being a soldier for a day . . . or go sea kayaking along the rugged Nova Scotia coast.
On HAL Alaska cruises boomers can choose from a plethora of active excursions: flightseeing glacier treks, dog sledding on Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, guided sea kayaking or a full-day halibut fishing charter. Don’t miss the Ididaride wilderness dog ride in Seward. On a rainy August day, Rob and I had a blast riding a wheeled cart pulled by energetic dogs on a gravel path in a rain forest. Part of the fun was petting the dogs and puppies after the ride.
In Denali National Park, consider a back-country Jeep safari or a Black Diamond ATV adventure. In Skagway, brave boomers go Klondike rock climbing and rappelling. Sitka offers Volcano Coast exploration by ocean raft or the South End Sitka bike and hike.
Headed for the South Pacific, Australia or New Zealand? In Hawaii, go Waterfall Cave and Lagoon trekking in Hilo. In Melbourne don’t miss swimming with the dolphins. Also in Australia, canoe the Ri Ri River near Luganville.
On-board boomer activities
For starters, HAL ships sport spiffy fitness centers with aerobic and strength training equipment to keep boomers in shape. The Maasdam, for example, boasts basketball and tennis/volleyball courts, a putting green, table tennis, plus two pools and two spas.
Fitness activities include morning stretches, sunrise and sunset tai chi, aqua aerobics, abs classes, as well as spinning, Pilates, yoga and total body conditioning. In addition, guests choose from fun activities such as beer and wine tasting, salsa lessons and trivia contests.
For mental stimulation, boomers can attend Microsoft digital technology workshops on PC buying, security, Windows 7 and file creation. Because digital photography is a fun component of cruises, HAL ships offer digital workshops in transferring photos from camera to computer, photo moving, creative photo editing, photo sharing, Microsoft movie making and more.
Because more men are involved in food preparation today, men and women can attend a variety of demonstration as well as hands-on classes in the culinary arts center.
Photos courtesy Pat Woods.