We took the 7-day Alaskan Explorer Cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam from June 17 to 24. This was our seventh cruise and our third cruise to Alaska and they have all been on Holland America cruise ships. We enjoy the size of the ships, the friendliness and attention, and the wonderful cuisine and service.
We flew nonstop to Seattle via SW Airlines. We had transfers to the Hilton Seattle Airport Hotel, but it would have been just as easy without the transfers, as the Hotel Shuttle was our transfer.
The hotel was very nice, but next time, we will make our own hotel reservations and stay closer to the downtown area. We ate dinner in the hotel at Spencer's Steak & Chop Restaurant and it was excellent. We also had transfers to Pier 91, but the HAL bus was not leaving the hotel until 11:30 a.m. so we had the concierge get us a town car. This allowed us to get to the pier early and board the ship earlier. The embarkation process at the pier was run very efficiently.
Upon boarding, we went to see the dining room maitre de in the Explorer's Lounge as we had Open Seating and wanted to reserve a table for two at 5:15 p.m. This allowed us to sit at the same table each evening and get to know our waiters and wine steward. It is very comparable to fixed seating which always seems to be closed when we make our reservations.
Our cabin was 5109 on the Verandah Deck with a balcony ocean view. We had never experienced a balcony before, but now I don't know if I want to cruise without one. We enjoyed it immensely. Our cabin was ready when we arrived which was so nice. We went to the Mariner's Luncheon, signed up for Internet usage, and purchased a 7-day wine package. When we returned to our cabin, our luggage had arrived, so we unpacked. We set sail at 4:12 p.m. after the mandatory emergency drill.
After dinner, we listened to the Adagio Duo in the Explorer's Lounge. The duo was a pianist and a violinist from Hungary. We were used to hearing a string quartet on the other cruises, so at first we were disappointed. That feeling lasted about two minutes as these two men were outstanding. We listened to them every evening. We then went to the Vista Lounge and were entertained with a show to meet the Oosterdam singers and dancers as well as a comedy routine by Julie Barr -- very funny.
We attended every show in the Vista Lounge. Julie Barr was hilarious and the comedian-ventriloquist, Mike Robinson was also great. The other shows were with the Oosterdam singers and dancers. We enjoyed the "Stage & Screen" production better than the "Garage Band" production. The singers and dancers did an outstanding job, but the Garage Band was a bit overpowering.
Our day-to-day schedule was pretty routine. My husband and I do not do many excursions as we cruise to enjoy the relaxation of the ship. We like to read, attend the lectures and demonstrations, walk on the deck, go to wine tastings, play trivia, meet new people, eat, go to the shows, and watch the ocean.
The first day out we experienced rough seas and there many passengers who stayed in their cabins that day; but then it was smooth sailing!! We cruised Tracy Arm and our ports of call were Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, Canada with disembarkation in Seattle. The week went entirely too fast.
We used the Express Checkout so we didn't see our luggage until we arrived back in Kansas City. The only negative was that one piece of my luggage wound up at LAX and not MCI! Luckily, we picked it up at the airport the next day. I'm not sure if I would use Express Checkout again, but it was very convenient not to lug the suitcases around at the airport. We have never been disappointed with the Holland American Cruise Line and can't wait until our next cruise.