The unusual itinerary of this Trans-Pacific cruise caught my attention early and reservations were made early. Travelling single, I wanted to be sure of the trip, cabin and needs. My T.A. was first told that HAL could not book out of my home city so that was reluctantly agreed upon. I paid a deviation fee to be able to use my city and a better flight. My final travel documents were first online for the air. Immediately I found that there was an error and much time was spent adjusting a "computer problem." Final papers only arrived about a week early.
For the first night, I stayed in the Osaka Imperial Hotel (booked by HAL). The hotel is very high quality but not centrally located. The transfer to the hotel took very long in wait time. The next day, there was little chance to do independent touring with, "...bags out at 10am, check-out at noon, and bus at 1:30pm."
Ship check-in at Tempozan Pier was not unusual until we were told to wait in another room after being ready to board. It was then that we learned that a virus was already making problems on the ship and our activities would be limited by sanitation procedures.
Finally boarding, I found the cabin adequate. The bathroom is well-sized. Storage was good except for keeping the suitcases also in the cabin. After the boat drill we found our dinner tables in the Rotterdam Dining Room. That evening was fairly empty as many passengers were late arriving. I was at a round table for six but with seven places set! It did make for close eating when all were there.
The Statendam stayed in port for another day with shore excursions. Then we headed North to Tokyo. The Tokyo Port welcomed us on arrival. Information and transportation services started late and made self-planned touring difficult. Again staying overnight, we had a good excursion into the city. Time always seemed limited.
Continuing North to the Japanese city of Aomori, we saw a plain, welcoming community with unusual museums. Continuing along the Kuril Islands we arrived in Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Russia where the authorities let us off the ship even without a Visa! My excursion had been cancelled and there was no good alternate. Russian services and shops were VERY limited. Crossing into the Aleutian Islands, we stopped in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska. Not a tourist port we still saw great scenery and walked a long way. The ports of Kodiak and Sitka, Alaska followed with traditional activity and I ended my travel in Vancouver, B.C. Canada with a waterfront hotel and return home on the next day. Overall weather was cool/cold but with little rain.
The Statendam passengers were mostly ages 60-90+. At age 60, I was a "baby" aboard. A highly literate group, the library, lounges and bars were filled with readers. There were many veteran travellers in the passenger groups. We were about 50% American, 40% Canadian, Australian, New Zealanders and British. Lectures were busy and collegiate style. Children were extremely rare. It was too cold or stormy to swim. Days-at-sea activities were limited. I think that the activity schedule was a bit thin. The evening shows saw comedians, musical talent, singers and the usual "Vegas Style" performances. The Van Gogh Theatre is eclectic in design and somewhat small. Seats filled very early. Internet connections were not available for several days and annoyed many. Telephone service was erratic, too. Sanitation procedures were relaxed about half-way through the cruise.
The ship's basic staff were mostly Filipino or Indonesian. Room cleaning and care were satisfactory. Most people ate in the Main Dining Room for dinner. Other meals seemed better taken in the Lido Buffet. I did have a meal in the special dining room and it was more to have a quieter meal on a busy day. The food was higher quality with closer service. All of the ship's food was excellent and varied. Interpretations of some ethnic styles were often unusual. The bars seemed lightly used. The bar music, lounge shows and the ship's orchestra were great. Some public areas were noisy with piped-in music or bar/coffee prep. noise. A steady clientele used the casino with more loss than win.
On the last night of the cruise after putting our bags into the hallway, we were surprised with a fire alarm. There was a fire in a disposal chute and there was talk of evacuating my deck/cabin area. Happily, it was controlled and a slight smokey odor soon was lost. Departure was the usual organization and confusion. The "World Wide Shore Excursions" staff seemed to be somewhat ignorant of procedures and information given to us. There were confusing delays at the pier in Vancouver, too.
I'm sure that I missed more areas of concern to you or of interest. Please contact me with any further questions. I have photos of the shore points that you may view if you supply an email address for me to "arrange an invitation" to see the images. I am pleased with this ship's tour DVD. So, I am happy for the chance to relax on ship and explore the ports on this exotic itinerary.