We recieved this trip as a gift from my husbands Grandmother who wanted to take her close family on an Alaskan cruise. This was our first cruise. There were 15 of us going, flyng in from all over the states, but mostly from California.Our trip did not start out very smoothly,however.We arrived at the Seattle airport much later than all of the rest of the family members who were sailing. We did not know where to go for the transportation that was provided by Holland. We tried the airport transportation desk and then the bus pick-up area but found no help. After walking the airport for an hour, we realized it was our mistake by not looking for an agent from the cruise line right when we go our bags. They had been waiting for us right there. Our bad. We got to the hotel (Sheraton Downtown Seattle) and had a nice stay.
Next morning, embarkation was smooth. We were on the ship by 11:30. The ship is elegant and stately, however not as modern as some of the newer lines. Our room was a standard ocean view stateroom and was pretty cramped for our family of 4.There were some drawers under the bed that came in handy, though.Room was very clean and had comfortable linens. Elegant decor. Room staff was extremely efficient and went out of their way several times. Did not feel like they were begging for tips, either.
The public areas are very nice and well equipped with what you need. Giant chess pieces and ping pong on the Lido deck were fun to use. They had a nice kids program for our kids' age groups. Teens had a cool, modern area to hang out in and are only mildly supervise(my daughter liked this!) My son had fun in his program, they had a few theme nights like pajama party and talent show. They had a wonderful library with a beautiful view from the front of the ship. Had a coffee/pastries bar in it and internet stations.(fee) They had several areas for families to gather, play cards, hang out, etc. Staff was always very polite and especially accomodating to our children.
Dinner was in main dining room every night. It was very elegant and the wait staff superb. Food was good, and they were very accomodating to our requests. We had several picky eaters, and my daughter is a vegetarian but this never was a problem. They let them order off of the lunch menu, or kids menu even! The dinners were nice, although we had the early seating and it seemed too early. We had to stop what we were doing every day and start getting ready for dinner about 4:00. There were two formal nights, which ended up being nice because they took so many nice photos of the whole family while we were all dressed up. I have to say that while the pictures were expensive, they were fantastic! They have many opportunities to have pics taken throughout the ship and are very good with poses.
Ports of call were fun! Juneau was beautiful and we took a tram ride to the top of a mountain and hiked for a while. It was cold, but beautiful. The temperature was actually cooler that we expected so we had to buy gloves in the gift shop.
Sitka was very nice, too. We walked around the town and enjoyed the history. The ship never seemed crowded even during lunch. In Ketchikan, my daughter and husband did a zip-line adventure and they had a ball.
The entertainment on the ship was great. The "house" singers/dancers were okay, but the Elton John impersonator was outstanding! It was a great, high energy show. The food on the ship was diverse & satisfying. There were several places to eat on the ship and all were wonderful. We loved the huge taco/nachos bar on the Lido deck. There was also a grill with burgers, fries, etc. They seemed to be open all the time. There was a buffet open most hours, too.Some of the best food was at the mostly made-to-order stations at the buffet. Even a late night snack was easily accessible. Room service was very prompt & efficient. There was a late night dessert buffet up on the main deck one night, and I have to say I have never seen or tasted anything like it! It was spectacular. They had ice sculptures & food carvings out of every kind of edible imaginable. Disembarkation was smooth and we had prompt transportation to the Seattle airport. All in all, it was a very enjoyable, relaxing cruise. We are now hooked!