America advertises on it’s U-Tube video a return to the elegance of 50 years ago. This ship looks like it’s 50 years old. There are numerous maintenance issues and several design flaws. First, the cabins are large. But the extra space is eaten up by poor design. A sofa and table pushes the walk area to about 3 feet. A couple of arm chairs instead with the table between would give a extra 18 inches and be just as useful. The table has an adjustment lever to change height (nice touch) but ours didn’t work. There is only one 115 V outlet in the stateroom and one in the bathroom. Typical of the older ships but a pain in this electronic age. The one in the bath was on the overhead light which was too high to be used by my wife. The ceiling had several small dents and stains, nothing major but contributed to the general “tiredness” of the décor. The entire ship is tired. Halls are a hard paneling that shows numerous dents from carts and luggage. Décor is Spartan with a few ship pictures that are pastel but look faded. Carpets have wear spots on all stairways. Light fixtures are missing decorative vanes (where did they go?). The Lido deck has a roof. Nice touch in the Alaska rains. Numerous leaks that send a fine mist of water to the deck (not so nice slip and fall hazard). The huge fountain in the atrium was the centerpiece of the ship. The ongoing work on it and the bags of fertilizer that were around it, not so much. Staff were a mixture of great and lousy. Room attendant was great. Room was cleaned and restocked every time we left. The Lido deck buffet attendants appeared to be more interested in talking among themselves than serving food. There were too few for the amount of people they were serving. During meal times the empty tables piled up with dishes waiting to be cleared. The guy at the toast station during breakfast looked like he hated the world.
The DVD player in the room was broken. We watched DVD’s we checked out on my laptop. When informed , the front desk was more interested in the fact that the DVD wasn’t harmed than fixing the player. They never sent anyone to fix it. The bathroom door had broken handle gaskets on both sides. Food was uneven. The buffet was definitely sub par. Food was often cold. Lines were long and slow due to lack of attendants. The terrace grill was good and the food fresh. The main dining room was good, not great. Beef dishes were very fatty. The steak was below budget steakhouse quality. Probably an effort to up sell their Pinnacle Grill at an extra $25 per head (or maybe they just bought cheap beef). Wife had her order taken wrong. That happens but the waiter then argued that her veal was actually the chicken she ordered. When we pointed out that the dish was supposed to be presented with dressing instead of potatoes he tried to say that was what she ordered. The others at the table agreed she had ordered the chicken. He then offered to provide the right entrée but by this time she just ate the veal. Soups were bland. Vegetables were usually quite good.
The itinerary was changed several times but that was understandable. We were supposed to stop in Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan. We were rerouted to Skagway because Haines was rebuilding their dock (understandable). Stay in Skagway was then cut short because of an incoming storm (also understandable). Juneau and Ketchikan were then cancelled. I have no problem with the changes as they were needed due to the weather and safety. I mention them only to forewarn potential customers that Alaska cruises are unpredictable and you might end up not stopping at a single port you are scheduled for through no fault of the cruise lines. We were there on a cruise tour and that was a different story. Our stop at Denali was supposed to include an 8 hour drive which was shorted to a 5 hour trip because the 8 hour one did not run in September. It never ran in September but was advertised anyway. It was also listed as over a $100 cheaper when I checked the tour provider, but was told by HAL that they reserved the right to substitute without refund. We also requested a wake up call in the HAL hotel in case of the Northern Lights. No one received a call though one member of the tour contacted an outside provider who picked her up and showed her some amazing shots in Fairbanks while we slept. Maybe the lights were not visible from the hotel but since we told the HAL representative at the hotel that was why we booked in September, it would have been a nice touch to tell us so we could set up an alternative that night.
All in all, a disappointing trip. We will go back to Alaska but not with Holland America.