We took the Alaska-inside Passage on Holland America Zaandam in mid-May of 2012. Sailed from Vancouver, which is a really nice city. Should have planned more than a one-night stay. Stayed at the Mariott Hotel the night before. Hotel was clean and quiet and nicely located-$180/night. Walked to the ship at noon. Getting on the ship was easy and well organized (about 30 minutes in all). On the ship, we stayed in room B6199 (with balcony). Nice room, fairly quiet, clean, but smoke from neighboring balcony. The staff was excellent and friendly in dining room, Lido, and room service. Food was average. Pinnacle was nice but not over the top. Had coffee, juice, and a treat delivered to the room each morning at 6am. Later, we went to breakfast!
Nice people, a great string quartet, no pressure in buying things, friendly passengers. The Holland crew tried to do some fun things like line dancing, the polar bear plunge, a comedy show....all worth it. Much to our More
disappointment, we were a bit queasy, especially on the two open sea days. It put a damper in our trip.
The "helicopter-glacier-dogsled trip" was cancelled in Juneau (Holland is extra cautious). It had snowed the night before. Probably could have arranged something on the dock at Juneau but instead went to see Mendenhall Glacier by bus. This is well worth the trip. You can sign up at the dock for the round trip for $16. Skagway was beautiful...took the railroad trip up the mountain and back. This trip is well worth the $120. Seward (the port of disembarkation) was also beautiful. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours to explore. Glacier Bay was excellent.
Took a land tour from Seward to Fairbanks. The bus and train ride were very picturesque. Saw bears and wolf and other wildlife in Denali. Fairbanks was fun with the gold panning and steam boat ride. While these activities sound touristy, it was first class and very enjoyable and a highlight of the trip. If I were to do it again, I might just rent a car and explore the Kenai Peninsula before heading out toward Denali and Fairbanks.
Had I not gotten a bit seasick on the ship (the drugs made me feel worse), I think my review would be more glowing. Spent a bit of time in bed, but never missed a meal. Wish I had tried the wrist band for sea sickness. Alaska is beautiful and the cruise/land tour was a good deal. Try it! Oh, I made my own plane reservations early, so I got good flights and good seats. If there are two of you, usually, calling a taxi to get to the airport from the hotel is cheaper and easier. Less