This cruise completely exceeded our expectations and gave us an amazing mother daughter experience. Here is a breakdown of the MS Amsterdam and what we thought of HAL.
We flew into Vancouver the day before the cruise and stayed in the Victorian Hotel. This is a very cheap hotel considering it's downtown location. I would definitely recommend it, its within walking distance of the port and many other attractions. The bathrooms are shared, but we found them very clean and we never had to wait our turn.
We got onto the ship very quickly and efficiently, the staff was friendly, absolutely no problems.
We had an exterior stateroom, midship on the dolphin deck. It was always very clean, and we found the entire room; sleeping area, closet space, and bathroom, included to be very roomy. The only complaint was that their was only one outlet so be sure to bring a power strip.
The nightly entertainment was expected, nothing jaw dropping, but nothing bad by any means. There was lots of live music offered and there were always staff available to answer any questions about Alaska, or basically anything you needed. Very helpful.
We were surprised at how well the staff remembered us. They frequently called my daughter and I by name, and they were very kind and willing to drop everything to be at our service. They carried our plates, were very apologetic for their few mistakes, and on day 2, when the sea was a bit rocky, they did everything possible to comfort seasick guests. (We went through a storm that day, but if you get seasick easily, Alaska is the place to go, very calm.)
Port and Shore Excursions-
Glacier Bay- The captain did a great job getting us a view of the glaciers. Keep in mind HAL is one of the only Cruise lines able to enter Glacier Bay because it takes special licensing. Definitely a great stop.
However, we did not book our shore excursions through Holland America, so we can not speak for them, but definitely consider looking into the following excursions-
Skagway- Frontier Excursions Yukon Tour
Juneau- Juneau Whale Watch & Glacier
Ketchikan- We mainly went shopping in this port, but we also added a short duck tour. It was informative, cheap and worthwhile.
Dining was very good, but on some nights, service got pretty slow. Food was up to par on most occasions, again, not outstanding, but still very good.
If you are bringing children on this ship this is a MUST READ. My daughter, age 14, recently came with me on a carnival cruise, which had over 400 children her age. This ship had 23 teenage children and she loved it way more! Having a smaller group, she felt like she got to know the people more and activities were easier to participate in. She knew everyone's name, and everyone knew hers. At first, it was a worry because HAL is known to be focused on older age groups, but that paid off for my daughter.
Disembarkation was very easy, we were off the ship in less than 20 minutes.
Hal did a great job giving us a dream vacation. Every single part was flawless including the weather. If you are considering a cruise, Alaska is the place to go. The experience is truly indescribable, and you will be glad you went. If you choose to go HAL is the cruise line to take and the MS Amsterdam is your ship.