I booked this cruise because of the cheap last minute fare and a credit that I had from Holland America because of an awful cruise on the Zuiderdam in December 2012. With that being sais, I wasn't expecting a lot, but I was pleasantly surprised with the cruise on the Statendam. My trip started out great because I was able to up-grade my flight from Newark, NJ to Anchorage to first class. I stayed at Americas Best Value Inn near the airport and was happy with that choice. They have a complimentary airport shuttle and breakfast. I booked a Wildlife tour for the next day which included a transfer to Seward with Alaska Cruise Transfer ($52.00)
Embarkation: Since we arrived in Seward about 4 PM, embarkation took about 10 minutes. My luggage arrived about an hour later.
Public Rooms: The Statendam was a much nicer ship than the Zuiderdam. It was clean and it didn't look run down. It is a smaller ship with about 1300 passengers, so it never appeared to be crowded.
Dining: Since I was traveling by myself, I asked the Maitre D' if I could be seated with other passengers at dinner. He said rather abruptly that I was assigned to Table 75. I was seated at a table for two with no one else assigned to my table. I ate dinner alone for several days until I met another lady who was traveling alone and she joined me for dinner. She also said the Maitre D' did not want to seat her with other passengers. The food at dinner was good with the exception of the steak, it was just so-so. Presentation and service were first-rate. I had room service breakfast every morning and it was wonderful. It came on time and the food and the coffee were hot. I usually ate at the buffet for lunch and I'm sorry to say that I hate HAL's buffet set-up. Everything is so hard to get to and they have no trays to carry your food. I will say, though, that the French fies on the buffet were excellent! The salmon bake on the pool deck was a nice touch.
Cabin: I had an outside cabin with a large window and I was quite happy with it. The decor was more what I was expecting from HAL and it was nice and clean. The cabin steward was wonderful (as the majority of them are).
Entertainment: I went to see Northern Lights and it was an enjoyable show, but your typical cruise show. I also went to see the Magic of Jeff Peterson and his dog Indy. Of course, Indy stole the show! The show was entertaining and I especially loved Indy.
Services: There was not one error on my bill! What a difference from the Zuiderdam where there were errors almost daily.
Itinerary: Cruising the Inside Passage is a great adventure. The scenery is spectacular. It was nice because passengers were allowed on the bow of the boat giving us an up close view of the scenery and wildlife (the orcas were a lot of fun to watch from the bow). Being on the bow made all the difference in the world when we were at Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay. We docked in Haines which required us to take a ferry to Skagway for most of the shore excursions. The ferry ride was pretty, but added about 45 minutes each way. I went on the Whitepass Scenic Railway tour with time for shopping in Skagway and it was a good choice. In Juneau, I went to the Glacier Gardens and the Mendenhall Glacier which was also a good pick. I had time to tour the capital building and do a little shopping in Juneau as well. In Ketchikan, I did the Misty Fjords and Wildlife Explorer tour. Another good choice.
Debarkation: I like to carry off my own luggage, so debarkation and customs were a breeze. I booked a city tour of Vancouver with Landsea Tours which included transfer to the airport. It was a very nice overview of Vancouver.
Summary: What a pleasant surprise the Statendam was. The only negative was the Maitre D', but everyone else was so cheerful and friendly. The ship was clean and well kept with the carpet in the elevators changed every day to reflect what day of the week it was. The captain or crew always let us know when there were whales in the area or if we were passing a scenic area. Of course, most of this cruise was scenic! Just a really nice cruise.