Hi All, we just got back from a 1 week cruise on the Volendam, review below...hope it helps someone & is informative!
About Us - We are in our mid 30's, NEVER been on a cruise before, travel often in USA & Mexico. We live in Vancouver.
Arrival - One of the smoothest process' we have ever experienced travelling...from the time we arrived at Canada Place, walked to the terminal checked our bags, cleared customers, we were on the ship in literally 20 minutes. We arrived at around 230pm
Stateroom - Better then I had expected....we were honestly alittle worried, having never cruised before! The room was layed out well, excelled storage, many many closets. The window was large & unobstructed! Room #1823. The beds were comfortable, we wrote a note to the room steward & asked the twins to be pushed together to a queen, the pillows however were severely uncomfortable for us, we both had bad neck pain by the end of the week. Air conditioning could have been slightly colder (yes even in Alaska!) Oh & our toilet would only flush 80% of the time....very odd....we never called about it as it would flush itself shortly after! The rooms were also quieter then I expected, I did not hear anyone next door to us or in the halls, which was nice!
Weather - AMAZING....wow....I know this is not something we can control...but just to brag, the weather made our trip, we have NO RAIN!! 7 Days of sunshine, 2 days we were in our bathing suits at the pool, so were many others!
Service - All the staff was friendly & helpful....I did not find everyone to be as informed as you would think the staff should be....we bought the 'signature liquor package' and NO one knew anything about it, everytime we went to get a drink we had to explain what the deal was with it....very annoying on vacation. HAL needs to inform staff of promotions etc. Also our 1st night in the MDR dinner was MAYHEM....we were not approached by anyone at our table for at least 20 mins, then someone brought us a dessert menu...before ordering anything...it was chaos...I must say it did improve over the week though.
Food - One if not the most important....we were left very disappointed. I must say I expected more & we are not food critics or hard to please....it was simple things like breakfast runny eggs, scrambled were like water, omelets were ok, not a big breakfast selection at all. Lunch was blah too...same items everyday & nothing special...we honestly liked the burger/taco stand at the lido pool the best! The one night we ordered room service it was cold, soggy & took about an hour & half to arrive. The dinner at MDR was good, selection was nice & that is where we ate at night.
Drinks - Good selection, very fair prices, wine could use some improving...not many white wines on the menu by the glass. We bought the 'signature beverage package' this was $44.95 per person per day, covered every item we wanted (beer, hard liquor, latte's, pop, water, etc) it does add up however we had a $200 credit so after the credit it was worth it for us. We heard there was about 57 purchased. No complaints about the drinks, other then the servers knew nothing about it!
Table - As others have said, we asked for open seating & were assigned a table at 8pm, we asked this to be switched & it was, we never had an issue getting a table for 2 & on our last night the frontman gave us the best table for 2 in the MDR right beside the window & we watched an amazing sunset!
Ports - Jeanue, Skagway & Ketchican....Ketchican was by far our favorite, it had a unique layout & the town was not all done up for tourists we really felt like you got the 'local' feel in Ketchican. All ports are interesting & have something to offer, not to be missed!
Glacier Bay - No words to describe...that is why we went & were not let down. Amazing & breathe taking. Worth doing just to see that.
Disembarkation - Again, one of the smoothest process' we have had while travelling...from the time the ship called our room # to go up we were in & out in 15 mins. No lines, no customs chats, no security it was unreal!
In general we were not let down by what Alaska had to offer, we enjoyed the days 'cruising' the Inside Passage is breathtaking, the weather was fantastic....we were slightly disappointed with HAL, the level of service & knowledge was not what we expected. I am not sure I would cruise with them again just for the reason of the food....it is what you make of it & we just wish the food had been better & a wider variety.