This was our 8th cruise on Holland America. The fourth on the Statendam, and our third Alaska Cruise on the Statendam (2006, 2010, 2013).
Embarkation could not have been any smoother. Our cabin was ready when we got aboard (1:00pm). Our bus transfers from Seward to Anchorage were in our cabin upon arriving. Our cabin stewards were on the spot. Our room was turned over every morning while we we out to breakfast and turned down in the evening while were out for dinner. We requested a wine bucket for our cabin and it was kept filled with ice. They did a very good job.
While we had anytime dining, we had the same wine steward 6 out of the seven nights. He was very attentive.
Breakfast in the main dining room was very good. While most people will not opt for pickled or smoked herring for breakfast, I like to try things I do not normally eat while on a cruise. I found these items to be very good and some of the best pickled and smoked herring I have ever had. The food otherwise was mediocre, until the last two days of the cruise. We had a "salmon bake" at lunch on the way out of Glacier Bay. Nothing fancy, but the grilled salmon was delicious, as was the grilled flank steak at the lido buffet.
While not something the cruise line controls, the weather was sunny and warm in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Glacier Bay.
Lowlights (not good):
The food on this cruise was well below what we have been accustomed to on Holland America, and in some cases, some of the worst food I have ever encountered on a cruise ship. At three days into the cruise, I began to wonder if there was even anyone on board in charge of the food. Food in the lido was piled high in the warming trays. It was stone cold on your plate unless you happened to get it right after they put it out. I also observed the cooks taking food out of warming ovens and topping off the food out an the buffet without either removing the remaining food from the buffet or taking the food from the bottom of the warming tray and putting on the top of the pile. Pity the poor souls getting this food (as I apparently did at lunch one day...soaked with grease.). In the past, the soups on Holland were quite good. On this cruise the soups were generally watered down and insipid. Example: the "bouillabaisse" was basically a cup of hot water with a mussel and clam with a few specks of something green that had no flavor. I am not kidding. The "broth" looked and tasted like water. I had "Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup." Not like anything my Grandma (or me) ever made. It tasted like Lipton "cup a soup." I have always enjoyed hot soup as a dinner course my dinner on Holland. Not so this cruise. In addition, all of the soup bowls or cups served at the table, and I mean all, every single one, were dripping with soup on the outside of the cup or bowl. Again, something I am not used to seeing. I ordered a "chile relleno" entree which was an unroasted poblano chile with some kind of batter and a speck, and I mean a speck, of melted cheese inside )it took me a while to find it). However, the pepper still has its nice big seed pod inside. I guess this was the stuffing for the relleno. (The chile itself was good, but it would have been better with some filling). I had halibut one night, but it was overcooked and rubbery, not to mention served in an unappealing manner, as were most dinners. This despite the "Culinary Council" of Chefs. While I have never eaten at a restaurant of Charlie Trotter, Marcus Samuelson, David Burke, Jonnie Boer, or Jacque Torres', I would not consider doing so after eating the food with their names on it that was served in the MDR for dinner (and "recommended"on the dinner menu by Chef Rudi no less!). I wish they would actually go on board and eat what I ate, not to mention seeing how it was prepared and presented. I could go on, but suffice it to say I had only one good dinner in the MDR, and that was the last night with the lamb shank. In my previous seven cruises on Holland America, I can only remember having one dinner I did not like, or for that matter, looked unappetizing and the waiter promptly brought me something else after being asked. The only good food for lunch was the lunch after Glacier Bay and the Mariner's lunch (tomato soup and beef short ribs).
We booked bus transfers from Seward to Anchorage. The bus stopped at the airport and then at the downtown convention center in Anchorage. Checked baggage (the ones you leave outside your cabin the night before disembarkation) are transported separately from the bus to either the airport or the convention center. In the afternoon before arriving in Seward, we received a disembarkation package that included a letter about the bus transfers, luggage, and our luggage tags. It was at this point we first realized that, (reading the letter), while we wanted to get off the bus at the airport (its first stop), our baggage would be taken to the downtown convention center (no idea why) where we could get our bags and then take a shuttle (leaving one the hour every hour) to the airport. We went to the front desk to ask about getting other luggage tags so our checked bags would be delivered at the airport, where we wanted to get off the bus. We were told that this could not be done. The young man at the front desk was quite insistent in his assertion that there was nothing he could do for us. (Right...We have to get off the bus where Holland America, with no input from us, wants to deliver our luggage instead of Holland America delivering our luggage to where we want to get off the bus!). We have never been treated like this before on Holland America. And this seemed such an easy matter to rectify. To make matters worse, the transfers were sold indicating the time from Seward to Anchorage would be about 2.5 hours. More like 3.5 hours...and there were no traffic delays. Just a slow chatty driver looking for tips.
Hoping this is not the future of Holland America.