From the moment we walked aboard the Statendam, we were greeted with professionalism, friendliness, and a crew and staff that are serious about their business. True, we have only one cruise line to compare this to, (SS DOLPHIN II, that is now out of business), but from others recommendations, we selected HAL because we knew it must be a good cruise line.
Our cabin was down on Deck 4 (A DECK), room 810, and perfect for not feeling any wave action -- smooth the whole 7 days. It was also easy to disembark, since it was only 1 level UP, to disembark at ports. Our window was also a godsend, to be able to look out on the water, or ports, and to see when it was "daylight". Our cabin stewards, Made & Gede, were both excellent and always had the stateroom spic and span, each day, with those cute towel animals, sitting on our bed, when we returned to our room! Plus 2 chocolate candies, and the day's activity flier as well.
We had room service each morning, of coffee and juice, which always arrived within 5 mins. of the ordered time. Filled out Room Service menu, each night, hung on door handle, and each morning, we received a tray with our ordered coffee, hot tea, and juices. We did this, mainly to tide us over, until we got dressed and went up to Lido Buffet for full breakfast.
Front Desk personnel were always willing to help us, in anything we might have question with or printing out our preliminary statements, buying stamps from them, or simple questions answered. Gift shops were well stocked with momentos, and surprisingly not that expensive, (to us, from Florida), and at this time of year, they did have some good sales happening.
Pinnacle Grill -- VERY ELEGANT dining, and glad we paid the extra money. We happened to reserve the dining, on same night as formal night, so we really ate 'in style', that night. Food was excellent, presented nicely, and to top it off, we passed a pod of humpback whales, and were able to enjoy them, as we ate. What luck!! Of couse, our cameras were clicking away, capturing this special moment.
Crow's Nest - Good place to be to watch the ship pull into ports, or leave a port, or just cruising; of course, a drink or two, you'll pay the 15% gratuity, for each drink, but we would limit that drink to ONE each. We had our 2 bottles of wine, back in the room, if we wanted more.
Lido Deck - Since it was raining continously for 7 days, while we aboard ship, we didn't spend too much time on deck, once maybe to walk around. Mainly ate in the Lido Buffet, where there were plenty of choices of foods, no matter what type of diet you might be on. We ate in Main Dining room, couple of times, but found it to be sitting over 2 hours, (waiting for each course), was a little tiring--even getting there about 6PM, we didn't leave until after 8PM. Because of this, we missed 2 Shows we wanted to attend, in the Showroom of the Seas. Yes, they do have a 10:00 pm show, but by then, we are both ready to relax in our stateroom. That was the only downside of eating in Main Dining Room -- too long between courses.
Showroom of the Seas - We saw ONE production - "Street Singin'" with 4 guys, who had marvelous voices, and sang 50-60's hits, with great props, and very well choregraphed and put together!! These guys are on their way to Broadway or Hollywood, if they are not already!! We were disappointed that we missed some other shows, but as I mentioned earlier, we couldn't get out of the Main Dining Room, in time.
GERMS BEWARE --- There were hand sanitizers throughout the ship -- and when you came back aboard from a port stop, the crew was always waiting at the gangplank, with a bottle to give you a squirt of hand sanitizer! Guess it works, because we are not sick, today.
Port Stops -- all great places to stop - Ketchikan was my favorite, Skagway, we did the White Pass Scenic RR, Juneau, we saw the Mendenhall Glacier via tour bus. We did have to miss Glacier Bay, however, because of bad storms coming into the shore. We were disappointed, but realize the Capt. made the right decision to pass it by. With his 42 years of experience, we trusted him to make the right decision -- don't think we would have wanted to experience the storm and high seas of 28 ft waves!! He elected to "outrun" the storm, and that, he did, and put us in Seward a day early. Seward was our disembarkation stop, for our Land/Tour portion of cruise. We mainly just rested that extra day, explored the ship, etc. We could have gone ashore, but it was raining too bad for us, as my husband is a cancer patient, and does get chilled easily.
We had a smooth disembarkation, just like the Cruise Director said it would be. I must say, HAL has everything down to an exact "SCIENCE" on everything that is done on this ship -- they have specific instructions on embarking, disembarking, luggage tagging, etc. to make things go smoothly, and it did!! Was very amazed at such preciseness. We never lost any luggage, had smooth transitions onto land, and even through Customs, as well.
We did not utilize any of the Salons or Spas - we were too busy doing other things. From what we saw of other passengers, they were truly enjoying the ship, with many relaxing, and reading books, in the library or in a quiet corner they had discovered, or a few using the computers, to stay in touch with the outside world.
One thing that might have been disappointing was the Ship Photographers -- we had several pictures taken, and we only purchased 2 of them. Our formal photo was not very good, mainly because it looked like it had been "manipulated" by photo shop, etc. (?) because my husband's head was a bit "deformed" in the picture. (ha)...so of course we didn't buy that one. Our FIRST photo, when getting on ship, was a good one, however, and we did buy that one, (at $19.95).
We were glad that we had another couple take our formal picture, outside of the restaurant, so we had that one to fall back on.
Land Tour was great, too, seeing Denali National Park, taking Tundra Wilderness Tour, (Great bus driver/guide - Lisa Frederic!!), seeing beautiful snow-capped mountains, saw pair of Moose, Moose tracks, Dall Sheep (white specks high in the mts.), and ground squirrel. I think the rain was keeping others under cover, etc. or we just wasn't in the right place, at the right time. No matter--it was delightful, anyway.
The slightly "negative" thing on the Land Tour portion -- we spent 2 nights in McKinley Chalets, and one night in Westmark Hotel (Anchorage). They seem to be a little rushed, or not much time to recover from the early out, jumping onto bus/train to go to next place. We found that to be a little exhausting. If we go again, in the future, we will look into something different, that allows more time to "catch your breath", so to speak.
One thing, that HAL needs to adjust -- Find alternative "pre-cruise" hotels that are convenient for cruise ship, but yet not as pricey as the Pan Pacific Hotel, in Vancouver. We had ONE breakfast, for 2 people, that was 2 cups of coffee @ $4.99, plus a med. sized breakfast (2 egg omelet, ham, home fries, toast/jelly), for $28.00 for each of us. BOY!! Was that sticker shock for us "Florida folks". HA...of course, not sure what it was in American Dollars, and guess we'll find out when our credit card bill comes in. HA...But, again, very nice staff in hotel, very accommodating. Plus again, our luggage found it's way to the ship, etc. as planned.
I must say, our luggage was ALWAYS where it should be, in all of the transferring to airports/hotels/buses/ship, etc.....That was a good thing!!
Summary -- Despite the 11 days of rain, I would do it again, but need to save some money. We now know what to expect and what we want to do, for our next journey to Alaska -- Truly, the Last Frontier --- in one word -- AWESOME!!