The Digital Workshop blog has moved

8 Jun

Thanks for visiting the ship’s website!  We haven’t shut down our blog operations, but rather we have moved all of our efforts into one main blog.  This is to ensure that the experience for you, the guest, is one that is slightly easier because of more frequent posts, fresher content, and knowing that everything is in one great place.  The URL for the new website is:

At this site you’ll find new content, great feedback from all of our Techsperts, as well as useful links like Handout Downloads, and great information from Windows.

Thank you all for your support and for following along with the Digital Workshop.


Images from Alaska

25 May

I just thought I’d share some images from our first Alaska cruise.  I’m no professional photographer, but I did some basic photo editing in Windows Live Photo Gallery to get the best of some of my shots.

First some photos of the delightful port of call of Skagway!

A beautiful view of the majestic mountains from the dock in Skagway.

Had a great cupcake from Sugar Mama's in Skagway!DSCN0202
While some guests were doing all kinds of neat excursions, like going to the dogsled camp or hiking on glaciers, I was taking in a culinary opportunity unique to Skagway: a cupcake shop called Sugar Mama’s where I had my first maple BACON cupcake… sounds odd, but was yummy!  Check it out if you stop in Skagway on your cruise!

The elegant MS Zaandam against a beautiful mountain backdrop.

Jacob and me in front of the White Pass rail in Skagway
My better half and I in front of the White Pass Railway Train (I’m lucky enough to work on the same ship as my husband.  We very much enjoy travelling and working together, here on the Zaandam).  You can take the train to the White Pass Summit, or even into the Yukon territory!

Next, some photos from our scenic cruising through Glacier Bay, a highlight for any Alaskan cruise!

DSCN0246 Stitch
a panoramic shot of the bow in Glacier Bay. 
If you don’t know how to create a panoramic shot, Windows Live Photo Gallery makes it really easy!  Check out my post learn more!

Lots of guests took advantage of the bow being open to get wonderful shots and see some glaciers and wildlife up close! I got an ok shot of an eagle on a chunk of floating ice, I’m wishing I had a better zoom so you could see it better, but I think it’s still worth sharing

For me, seeing the Margerie Glacier is the
highlight of our trip through Glacier Bay!

While we were in Glacier Bay, I took some time to help guests get the most out of their cameras, showing them how to adjust their flash, change to landscape setting, and even use their video setting to catch some glacier calving or wildlife.  They were nice enough to take this photo of me to help me remember my trip to Glacier Bay

I’ll post more tips and tricks next week, and hopefully some more great photos of our Alaskan voyages!

Up Close and Personal

12 May

Hello all!

We just wrapped our last Hawaiian Cruise of the season, and on Sunday we’ll officially begin our Alaska season!  I can’t wait to see some glaciers, bundle up in sweaters, and maybe even see some whales and other Alaskan wildlife!

On this past cruise I had lots of guests comment on the size of the text and other content on their laptops.  Sometimes it can be difficult to see certain things.  Depending on your needs, you have 3 different options when it comes to increasing the size of items on your screen.

If you’d like to increase the size of items while you’re browsing the internet, Internet Explorer has an easy way to do that.

For example, maybe the links on the side of the browser window below are too small for you to see.


In that case, all you need to do is hold down the control key (CTRL) while pressing the plus key on your keyboard (+).  You’ll increase the size of items displayed on your screen by zooming in, like this:


Press it again and you’ll zoom in even more, like this


You can zoom in as much as you want, to zoom out, hold down the control key while pressing the minus key (-).  Notice that the more you zoom in, the more you lose of the screen, however you can always use the scroll bars on the right and bottom of the screen if you need to.

But what if you just need to increase the size of your screen even when you’re not browsing online?  In Windows 7 you have 2 great options. 


Click on the Start button and type in screen size to search.  Then choose “make text and other items larger or smaller” at the top of your search results list.


Now you can choose “medium – 125 %” from the control panel.

But what if that’s not enough, or you just want to temporarily enlarge part of your screen. 


In that case, click on the start button and search for magnifier.  See it at the top of your search results list?  Click on it, and you should see the window below.  Click on the plus sign to enlarge items on a portion of your screen.  Now you won’t be able to see the whole screen, but just move your mouse to go further up or down on the screen to areas you might not be able to see.


Hopefully one (or more) of those tips will help if you need to get a little more up close and personal with your computer!

-Techspert Krista

Help and How To

20 Apr

Well we just finished up a wonderful 10-day cruise through Mexico.  And now we are headed up to Vancouver before we begin our last Hawaiian cruise of the season.  I really enjoyed the past 2 cruises, because many guests sailed for a total of 24 days (for our Hawaii cruise AND our Mexico cruise) which meant that I spent more than 3 weeks with some of you.  It was great meeting every one of you.

Throughout my classes, I almost always have some guests who ask me, “how do you know so much?” They usually think I have some fancy computer schooling, but to be honest with you, that is not the case.  While I had training from Microsoft to teach these classes, before that my computer schooling was anything but fancy.  It was just me with the computer, trying to do stuff.  And trying to do it until I got it right.

So what do I do when I can’t get it right?  I look for help.  Lots of guests ask me questions I don’t know the answer to, but I always take some time to find the answer so that I can help them solve their problem.  It really can be as simple as looking for an answer on the internet. 

But if you’re overwhelmed by how to find an answer- I thought I’d list a few sources you might try first if you have a problem with your computer or a questions about some software.

If your problem has to do with something related to Windows and/or Microsoft software try:

Both of these have a search box that will allow you to search the sites for a specific subject.  Just type in whatever you want to know more about.  Usually you can find your answer in a relevant article or in a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

You can also click on “help & how to” which has lots of great information about all the different Windows and Microsoft products and services.

You can also try,  This site shows forums where people (including you!) can ask questions and real Microsoft employees will respond with answers.  A lot of times you don’t even have to ask the questions, someone else has asked it for you.

If you still can’t seem to find the answer, try typing your question into an online search engine.  Bing is a great option.  There are tons of Technology Q&A sites that can help point you in the right direction.

Remember, you’re probably not the first person to have this problem or question.  So the answers are always out there.

So how do I know so much?  I found it all on the internet… or at least on!

-Techspert Krista

Hawaiian Panoramic Photos

31 Mar

Hi All,

One of the most popular features in the class Put Your Best Face Forward 1 is creating a panoramic photo.  In this class we create a couple of panoramic photos for practice, so that you have the knowledge to make your own at home, on your own computer.

I realized that I should probably try it with my own photos, just to make sure it was as easy as I claim in class.

Well, it is!

Below is a panorama I created of the Waikiki skyline.  I took five overlapping photos while I was in Waikiki, imported them using Windows Live Photo Gallery, then used the panorama tool to stitch them together.

waikiki skyline

It was incredibly simple, and very easy.  And I think the result is great!

One of our other ports, Lahaina, boasts one of the largest banyan trees in the US.  It fills a whole block!  I used the panoramic tool to capture an the banyan tree as well, but I got a little more creative.

I took a total of 13 photos. I started at the top left portion of the tree and took photos moving to the right until I reached the right side, making sure the photos overlapped by at least 1/3.  Then I moved my camera down to take another row of photos, making sure that these photos overlapped with one another, but that their tops also overlapped with the bottom of the photos I took on the previous row, creating a collage.  Even though I used multiple rows, I can still use the panorama tool the same way: import the photos, select the photos, click create, and then click the panorama icon. 

Here’s what I came up with:

banyanStitch (2)

As you can see I missed the top right section of the tree, but I’m ok with that because I really only spent 5 minutes taking the 13 photos.  Plus, I can always go back and use my cropping tool to get rid of those edges like so:

I love the huge banyan tree in Lahaina, Maui!

The panoramic tool is really fun to use, but most importantly it’s really easy.  Get creative and try all kinds of series of photos, and use the panoramic tool to stitch them together.

Happy Photo Creating!

Techspert Krista


Panoramic Review:

Step 1: Take a series of photos.  Make sure they overlap by 1/3

Step 2: Import photos using Windows Live Photo Gallery

Step 3: Select all photos in the series (click on each photo while holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard)

Step 4: Click on the “Create” tab

Step 5: Click on “Panorama”

Step 6: Save the Photo

Step 7: Crop the photo if edges are uneven.

Techspert Krista onboard the Zaandam

14 Mar

Hello all,

After 7 months onboard the Zaandam, Techspert Erin definitely deserved a vacation.  I’m here as her replacement, and I’m excited to spend the next few months teaching and assisting passengers here in the Digital Workshop!

I am a new techspert with an interesting background: I started out working for Holland America working as a librarian!  I had a lot of fun with that, but was eager to see what other opportunities I had, and so I was thrilled when I was able to join the team of techsperts that serves throughout the whole fleet.  I spent my fall here on the Zaandam as librarian while Erin was techspert, so it was great to return to a familiar ship and take over for a friend.

I’m sure I’ll have much more to share with you throughout my time here on the ZADM, but for now I just wanted to give an introduction, and I also wanted to take a second and share a thought that I try to impart on all the passengers I come in contact with here in the Digital Workshop: Feeling comfortable using your computer takes practice!

A lot of passengers say to me “I’m computer illiterate, there’s no way I’ll ever learn.”  Well, that’s not true.  The only reason you might be confused is because maybe you’ve never done something before, or maybe you haven’t done it enough.  Just like anything, if you aren’t regularly using your computer, you won’t remember how to complete the tasks (like photo editing, or checking your e-mail) that you need to do.  Don’t look at your PC with fear and refuse to touch it because you might “mess it up!” Take the things you’ve learned on your cruise, and continue to do them on a regular basis.  It’s not that you can’t learn how to accomplish many tasks on your computer, it’s just that it  takes practice.  Don’t be frustrated just because you aren’t sure how to do something.

If you need more information about how something works, our handouts we give on the cruise are a great resource.  If you have questions about any Windows programs or Windows 7, you can always go to the help and how-to section of the Windows website, I find answers to many of my questions there all the time!

I can’t wait to share more with you over the next few months.  Thanks for a great first cruise as the Zaandam techspert.

-Techspert Krista

Mexico Jan 12- Jan 23

3 Feb

Sailing to Mexico was a quicker trip then Hawaii, and a little bit of a smoother ride as well!

This week in the Digital Workshop I noticed I high interest in using Windows Live Moviemaker. Many guests were excited to learn how to create a video of their trip but also in general many people had seen friends and family create a movie of their own and were very interested in learning how to create their very own movie as well!  I have found that the Windows Live Moviemaker is very consumer friendly but I would like to review some tips in order to make it easier for those back home.


  1. When adding pictures and videos to the moviemaker you can choose to bring them in starting from Moviemaker or you can start in the WINDOWS LIVE PHOTO GALLERY and bring them in that way as well

  2.  If you are using Windows Live photo gallery to organize and edit your pictures, if you chose to take advantage of adding captions to your pictures when you bring them over to MOVIEMAKER the captions that you previously added will be added automatically

  3. Remember the best way to start your movie is to begin by selecting one of the AutoMovie themes

  4.  There are 2 different ways for you to save your movie

            – SAVE MOVIE – this is to be chosen when you are completely done with your movie

            –  SAVE PROJECT this is to be chosen when you are not finished with  your movie and you would like to go back and make editing changes later on


These are just a couple of simple tips to remember when making your movie. Have fun and Enjoy being a producer of your own movie!


Holiday Cruise

3 Jan


The Holiday Cruise on the MS Zaandam started out great with a little bit of Christmas Caroling and the Lighting of the Christmas tree, and ended with the New Years Celebration. The trip to and from Hawaii was a great run!

Many guests got a lot of the workshop and were excited to go home and continue the work they started on the ship.

One of the “favorite” topics that the guests were excited to try was the new Photo Fuse technique in the 2011 version of Windows Live Photo Gallery. The new feature allows us no excuses for bad family photos.

I wanted to review the steps for those guests that were eager to try the new tool once they got home

1. Open Windows Live Photo Gallery

2. Select the Multiple Family Photos that  you would like to “Fuse” together.

3. Once all are selected, continue to your “Create” Tab at the top of the screen

4. Once selected on the “Create” Tab Select the “Photo Fuse” icon

5. Your pictures will be fused together

6. Draw a box around the face/body of the individual with whom you would like to fuse their face from the second picture into the third.

7. Once you draw a box it will give you all options of their face in every pictures, go ahead and select the option you like best

Remember to have fun with your pictures, and now you can show off your Holiday family portraits with pride!!

~Techspert Erin~


30 Nov


Many of our guests really took advantage of our “Say Cheese” class where they learned about their digital camera’s and different techniques would work best!

Some guests had panoramic assist tools on their cameras but didn’t know how to locate them. To review when to best use each of these. Landscape would be best used when you want to get objects that are in the foreground and in distance in equal focus. An example would be the palm trees on the beach your standing on, as well as the island you see in background.

Portrait comes in handy when you want to take a picture of your subject and you don’t need to worry about the background. A great example would be a picture with you and your spouse when you don’t care about the trees or atmosphere in the background.

Macro I found to be very popular with some guests as well because they had never tried to use it before. Macro would be best used for small objects; flowers, rings, stamps, insect, coins. Anything that you want to be sure to pick up tiny detail.

There are many more modes and settings on your camera. Take the time to play around with your camera and get use to the different settings and how they make your pictures turn out. Most of all enjoy discovering the new techniques your learning! 🙂

Techspert Erin


2 Oct

Wavy Start Provides Different Opportunity!

We started out a little bit rough and rocky this week! The Captain made the smart decision to turn around and go a different way so our itinerary changed slightly. However this allowed for more classes and learning opportunities in the Digital Workshop! We ended up going to Glacier Bay in the afternoon instead of the morning which allowed for different colors of the glaciers to pop out that normally are not seen!

Guests enjoyed the extra sea day to edit their photos and here are a few great images that were captured by the Zaandam guests this week!

Panoramic Picture of John Hopkins Glacier

Viewing Glacier Bay Panoramic

Glacier Caving

This was our last cruise to Alaska and although it started a little bit different then we expected we had the opportunity to see Glacier Bay in a different way then any other guests or cruises had all season! The guests really enjoyed stitching together their panoramic pictures and I truly enjoyed seeing them turn out!

Thanks for a great last cruise to Alaska!

Techspert Erin