Check in was very quick. The thing to do is arrive early ( 10:30 and noon ). Have your paperwork ready, meaning passport and boarding boarding pass. Passengers are asked to fill out a health . At the sign in desk sign for credit card use and receive your pass key. They wil l take ID picture for pass key. As you proceed to the ship the picture crew starts taking pictures which can be purchased during crews. Speaking of buying things, if one drinks a lot of cola products of fancy coffees, one might consider a drink card or coffee card. Either allows many drinks at a reduced price. One must be a drinker for it to pay for itself.
When one gets onboard find the stateroom, go to the Lido Deck and start the feeding frenzy, and tour the ship ( on ones own or guided tour ). Between 3:30 and 5pm the ship holds a lifeboat drill. On this ship they did not require life vests , because of trip hazards with loose vest ties.
Dinner , first seating starts at 5:30. The ship also has open seating meaning one can make arrangements to eat at ones own time.
First night show was "meet the talent". On this crews talent seemed to be good. Casino was open for " investments". After the show there were many venues for enjoyment.
Breakfast starts at 6:30 on Lido deck or dinning room later. Eating in stateroom can be arranged . Have a tip for the steward. When finished your room steward will pick up dishes when they straighten the room. A help for steward, when your leave he room put "service room" sign in door key slot.
Check the daily planner for ship's activities. Ship excursion talk might be a good choice . Casino seems to be open all day at sea. (Not very friendly slots.)
Sunday morning church services are nondenominational . The minister said that Holland America is one of the only lines that still has clergy on board. Most ships have the cruise director or his rep as service leader. (Several services held during the week.)
Entering Juneau passes along snow topped mountains. Several pods of whales were spotted. The temp hovered in 50's. Mid day expected low 70's.
(Note: the observation lounge chairs are very low. Hard to see out the windows. Balcony staterooms might be better or open deck seating.)
A day in Juneau, the ship tendered so boats moved in and out about every 15 minutes. Down town is one tourist shop after another. Shop, compare and find the bargains. ( Example: looked at ball caps on ship, $16, bought the same thing for $2 on shore.) Excursions if not from the ship could be gotten on shore. Same ones but not the guarantee that the ship would be wanting for your return.
Glacier Bay is the highlight of cruise. Picking up Park Service Guides early in the morning, 6:30am and slowly moving through the ice fields to John Hopkins Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier . Ship rotated for an hour so all could see fro their balconies. Fantastic day at the glaciers.
Sitka day was a tender day, boats ferried passengers ashore. About a 15 minute trip one way. Beautiful town with Russian influence . Not a heavily visited port, cruise lines are limited on visits. It's a real treasure to be scheduled. The otter tour saw lots of sea otters. Mothers caring for babied and the males off sunning themselves.
Ketchikan is the last Alaskan port on the tour. Several good excursions. Float plane to a glacier lake was fun. The city has a walking tour and a 45 minute trail tour through a rainforest. Both have maps in the tour center on the pier.
Lunch on ship was a smoked salmon meal. It was cooked near the center pool. A real treat!
Last full day of the cruise got us to Victoria, BC. On the way he ship had its second salmon and chicken picnic around the center pool. The ship stayed in Victoria for 5 hour before heading to Seattle.
Seven thirty Saturday morning began the disembarkation process. Luggage. Was taken down to the lower levels the night before and reunited with it in the terminal . With luggage in tow you pass through customs and out to find transportation to the airport or hotel.
In summary I found a good friendly staff; They were helpful . The food well cooked and very good . I am sorry those few reviewers had such a bad time! There were 10 of us in our group and ALL enjoyed their cruise. Happy Cruising!