Statendam Cruise Review by keepitup: Great experience
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Started in Fairbanks on Classic Denali tour. Transfers between hotels went smoothly and we were impressed with HAL's staff and their unflagging cheerfulness, friendliness and helpfulness. The transfer of luggage is very well organised and our luggage was always where it should be when. Would recommend taking backpack for buses, trains etc. We carried valuables and breakables quite easily that way. Westmark Fairbanks is ok for 1 night. Travel on McKinley explorer was great. All seats face forward and are very comfortable. Views from window are spectacular. Guide (as was pretty well everyone throughout the trip) wanted to help you get the most out of your trip without being too pushy. Thought the meals on the train were only very average and would consider bringing own food, but enjoyed company at table for 4. Mckinley Chalet Resort is large but there is a shuttle bus running constantly. Our room was perfectly adequate and quiet even though we were next to the lifts. Ate in the Nenana More
View Bar and Grille on 2 occasions and enjoyed the halibut and chips very much! There are lots of shops and eateries to choose from across the road: we liked Prospectors Pizzeria very much. Tundra wilderness tour was wonderful and is part of the trip: very early start but not to be missed. Also enjoyed the free Sled Dog demonstration in the national Park.
There is plenty of walking on offer too. Westmark Anchorage is in great location and room well appointed with balcony. Embarkation went smoothly.
MS Statendam is a very elegant ship and although it does have kids facilities I think you would be better on a bigger ship with more options. I found the whole ship experience to be of a high standard: stateroom, restaurant, lido, and compared very favourably with other cruise lines we have used. 2 formal nights on a 7 night cruise seemed excessive but you don't have to go! We don't really do shows or spa so can't comment.
Shore excursion staff were particularly helpful and ensured everything was sorted out and went smoothly.
Glacier Bay is awe inspiring and the soup on deck a nice touch. Ranger talk relayed to the deck and front desk open for viewing also nice touches.
Only 3 ports of call: Haines only HAL go there so it is quiet and great for poking around - make sure you get to the Brewery at Dalton Fairgrounds. I don't think it warrants 10 hour stay but I think that's more to do with scheduling than the port.
Juneau very busy with mainly jewellers shops but there are some gems: we found Cruise Critics port reviews to be really helpful in finding best places to go. Whale watching with Allen Marine was great.
Ketchikan: Also very busy. The salmon run up the fish ladder is a free wildlife spectacular. Floatplane over Misty Fjords was memorable.
Disembarkation in Vancouver was efficient and smooth. We used Big Pink Bus baggage drop off service. It worked well, but big queues build up.
To summarise: Alaska is great and worth the long journeys to get around.
HAL has great experience in this area and handles the whole process very efficiently. They also have good berths in port. The whole crew worked hard to make everything feel special. Anthony, the cruise director is particularly effective.
We had a great time and would thoroughly recommend Alsaka and HAL. Less
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Cabin review: B174
Very spacious cabin, with plenty of cupboard space. Balcony good size, room quiet. Like ice bucket filled without asking. Hairdryer plug is under the dressing table.
Port and Shore Excursions
Bald Eagle Preserve
Guides are local, enthusiastic and made you feel relaxed. Journey very peaceful and enjoyable. Not sure why cameras and binoculars are recommended as it's hard to use them with the raft moving around: better just to watch the wildlife.
Allen Marine are great! Whole experience was great. Staff so enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Saw whales close up and lots of other wildlife. Boats are very comfortable and complimentary hot drink welcome. Guide leaflet and use of binoculars a nice touch.
Misty Fjords Flightseeing
Very efficient operation: felt very safe and well looked after! Pilot really friendly and helpful. Views are spectacular and landing on a lake and stepping on the pontoon is the icing on the cake!