Second cruise, second with HAL (Zuiderdam 2010), so I have little to compare to. I have a disabled spouse who walks but have only 50% use of left side, so I book tours etc. with this in mind.
Amsterdam - 14 day cruise June 29th to July 13th,2012. We did stay in Seattle for a few days before and stayed at the Inn at the Market, excellent little hotel.
The ship is quite nice and I like the feel of a smaller ship. I do like the decor of the Amsterdam over the Zuiderdam. But at the end of the day I'm all about the destination, not the ship or company. It was the itinerary that I wanted and almost cancelled this cruise at Christmas time as we already did Alaska (our first cruise).
Unlimited laundry, we used this service and it was excellent. We sent out laundry almost every day and it came back the same day. Even when I was late getting it out and didn't expect to get it until the next day, it arrived. I definitely could have packed a lot less than what I More
Soda card, I wouldn't buy one again. We do like the cans and we aren't big soda drinkers, but thought the 14 days we would make use of it.
Internet - bought 100 minutes and I actually think the service has improved. It didn't feel like it took that long to load compared to when I used it on the Zuiderdam, but it is still slow.
Dining - we had open seating, and only made it down to the dining room three times. We just found with our shore excursions we would had to the Terrace Grill when we got back and weren't too hungry for dinner. Food is fine in the Lido, just I wasn't eating as much for the last half of the cruise as I experienced seasickness and the food felt heavy in my stomach.
Room 7056 and the secret deck is not so secret anymore. The aft deck is quite literally five steps out your door. It's used as a smoking deck, so we ended up using the promenade deck more than this deck. If you are a smoker, it would be idea for you. A lot of noise from the doors slamming is a problem for this room. The value for your dollar is not worth it on this room as it's very small and you are rated as a DD category and I'm pretty sure my deck in my yard has more space than this room.
This room is very small and cramped and is okay for short cruises. I wouldn't want to be stuck in here any longer than this two week cruise. Even at the two weeks, I felt hubby and I were stepping over each other. As the days went on with this cruise, I really think this room is more suited to a single traveler. With that said they did maximize the use of the space. We intended to use the unlimited laundry, and had just enough storage space. If you were on a longer cruise and had lots of clothes, then you might have a problem. Shower only, which is okay for me and hubby. Bathroom is very compact but again worked for us. One step up into the bathroom and then about a three inch lip to step into the shower.
Lights from the back deck do light up the room a bit, but I found that okay, as it gave enough light to see in the night if you had to get up. But if you don't like lights, it may not be the room for you, as the curtain does sway so the light might bother you. Also early in the morning the back deck is hosed down and cleaned off (usually around 5-5:30), which we noticed the noise. Again we are early risers so it didn't bother us for the most part.
One more thing I would recommend. Bring your own bottle opener if you have beer sent up to your room. There is one here, but it's on the bathroom wall next to the toilet. I personally was not comfortable using it.
Excursions we are were a combination of private and HAL tours. I would rate them as follows:
Icy Straight Point - Misty Bay Lodge - rated number one. Well worth it and I would book this tour again. Also I think ISP is better for whale watching than Juneau.
Anchorage - We booked the Phillips 26 Glacier tour with bus accommodations out of Whittier - excellent tour and the 10 hours flew by.
Juneau - Orca, had a great whale watching adventure.
Kodiak - Memory Makers - great couple Kale and Kady, though the weather did not cooperate when we were there, and this impacted our photo opportunities. When they make a stop near where the eagles nest is and tell you they make great cookies, believe them. They were the size of bear paws.
Ketchican - Misty Fjords tour, expect rain in Ketchican. We did have window seats for husband and I was able to walk around.
Sitka - Sea Otter Quest and Fortress of the Bears - Fortress of the bears saved this tour, and if I ever go back, I would get a private tour or a cab to take me there as we spent a lot of money through the ship for this tour which didn't cut it for us on the Sea Otter portion.
Homer - we winged it and decided to head to the Time Bandit store. If this is the only place off the spit you want to go, book and cab instead of spending money for a bus ride. It's about a half a mile walk to the Time Bandit from their stop. We couldn't do the spit as the walk (which was suppose to be two blocks) was too much for husband, so we headed back to the ship.
Victoria - we disembarked in Victoria and spent the extra day there. By this time we were done with being a tourists. We did end up on Friday taking one of the water taxi tours to kill some time. Hubby was able to navigate getting on/off this little taxi's. Less
Cabin review: Large Outside Stateroom (fully obstructed views)
Cabin 7056 is very small and noisy. You hear a lot of noise from the doors which are just outside your room as well as the staff hose down the deck (outside your window) every morning between 5 & 5:30. Personally I don't think it's suitable for two people.
The viewing opportunities for the disabled is non existence for the boat portion of this excursion. Even though Allen Marine posts on their brochures that standing is not recommended, they don't enforce it. This particular day, the seas were rough and husband could not stand, so he spent the whole boat tour seeing only people which to me had no value and was an expensive boat ride. The fortress of the bear, saved this tour somewhat, but I felt that more than a half an hour should have been allowed for this portion of the tour.