Sometimes it is the little things that make a voyage remarkable. We arrived in Vancouver to a beautiful sunny and warm day. I had forgotten how green and beautiful Vancouver can be at this time of the year.
We were met by a very friendly Holland America representative who helped us find our luggage, answered all our questions and provided great company. As part of our booking we received transport to the hotel and was surprised to have received a cab ride compliments of HAL. We were expecting a bus. Not having to worry about transportation was great.
We were very pleased with our accommodations at the Pan Pacific hotel. Our room was ready early for us and we were able to check in at 10:30 am. After a quick sanitizing of our room we felt comfortable to settle in for the day. The next morning our suitcases were picked up in our room and taken to the ship. Another nice extra. We tried to tip the porter, but he refused our tip stating that everything was taken care of. Another nice extra.
Checking in on the ship took a little longer than expected. We were in a line for about 45 mins and then waiting another 15 mins to board. We headed straight to our cabin and found it to be in a great state. While sanitizing the cabin, we found some damage on the desk and found the refrigerator was soiled and contained an opened bottle of water. A quick call to concierge and the fridge was emptied and cleaned for us.
Sail away from Vancouver was late. We were supposed to have sailed away at 5, but didn't get underway until 5:55 pm. We went top deck to sail under the Lion's Gate bridge. A quick trip to the Lido for dinner. The Prime Rib roast was delicious.
The hilight of Day 2 has got to be dinner at The Pinnacle Grill. This evening was formal night and we usually skip it. We decided instead to take in the PG and it was excellent. Crab legs were available but no cavair. The food and service was the absolute best. We were warmly welcomed and our server Diane was gracious, professional, friendly and made the evening. The food was excellent with my only complaint being we ate too much.
I should also point out that the Dive In was not on this cruise.
Before we leave Day 2, we had lunch in the main dining room. Let me just state that we are not fans of the MDR, but lunch today was great. The food was hot, tasted great and the servers were somewhat attentive. We weren't offered tea or coffee at all, but we weren't in the mood for any either. We had planned to go to the Dutch Tea but decided not too. Just too much food. We will be trying the MDR more on this cruise.
So far we are also very pleased with our Steward Doni. Very friendly and approachable and we appreciate his hard work. He has been with HAL for 10 years and it shows. Doni takes great pride in his work.
Day 3 was Juneau. We had wonderful weather and a great whale watching tour. The folks on the excursion were wonderful. Tonight we decided to try the MDR for dinner. It was below expectations. My DW's Caesar salad had hardly any dressing on it whatsover, the steak was a little undercooked and her veggies were cold. The seafood platter that I had was salty. I had the pork for an entree and it was good, however, my potato was cold also. When our server brought us coffee, he didn't bring any spoons so we had to wait until dessert was served before we could try our coffee. We were surprised by this service as we arrived at 7:00 and there were plenty of empty tables in the dining room.
Day 4 was Skagway and what a wonderful day. The sun was shining and the temperature hit 17 Celsius. A great day for exploring the down town and for the white Pass train ride. The train ride was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it.
Day 4 was also a Lido day. Partially because the MDR is not living up to a great experience and also because we are now at the part of every cruise where nothing looks especially great on the menu. Tonight we took in the Volendam Singers who performed the first performance of Classique. We enjoyed the show and thought that they did a wonderful job.
Day 5 and Glacier Bay. The sun was shining, the water was like glass and the views were outstanding. Clearly the highlight of our cruise. You truly owe it to yourself to visit this majestic land. Our second formal night. On a side note, we are noticing that more and more passengers are choosing the Lido over the MDR.
We went to the MDR for lunch and it was excellent. Service was good and the food tasted great. I had Asian Pork Ribs which were tender and served in a tangy sauce. DW had the burger and it was great also. It would appear from our unscientific experience that the MDR is a great place for lunch.
For dinner, we ordered room service with items from the MDR. We enjoyed the surf and turf on our balcony while we cruised. It was wonderful. The food was excellent and enjoying it on our balcony made it a very special evening for us.
Tonight's show was comedian Rich Purpura. We really enjoyed him. During a time when many comedians resort to vulgarity and expletives to be funny, it is always refreshing to find a comedian who is funny without being insulting or rude.
A note on the ship. The Volendam appears to be in great shape. I haven't heard any complaints about the plumbing or air conditioning. It does appear though that the air conditioning is disabled while the ship is in port. Her decor is a tad dark and we find our suite to be dark also. I am a little disappointed though that the " flower ship " does not have a lot of flowers throughout the ship. There are only a scattering of orchids in the Lido and most of them are in a sad state. There are a couple of large floral displays in throughout, but I was expecting more. The floral arrangement in the Pinnacle Grill is outstanding.
Day 6 and Ketchikan. We decided to try the MDR for breakfast. DW ordered waffles and I ordered Eggs Royale. Both meals were cold. Butter did not melt on the waffles and the eggs Royale were cold in the centre. On the plus side, the hash browns were hot. We have decided that we will not be going back to the MDR for breakfast or dinner anymore. I am always concerned about the health issues of eating food that is not served at the correct temperature. We also find that the service is lacking in the MDR. Waiters rarely approach your table to inquire whether everything is to your liking and instead sometimes ask at the end of your meal whether you enjoyed it. I simply cannot understand how room service can deliver a meal piping hot while the MDR cannot.
Today was spent exploring Ketchikan and shopping. Lunch was at Burger Queen and their halibut sand which is the best. Just turn left once off the ship and walk until you come to the tunnel. The takeout is right at the end of tunnel.
Last day. The last full day of our cruise was cruising the inside passage. As Alaskan cruise is different from other cruises in that there is nearly always beautiful scenery to watch all around the ship.
Lunch today was in The Pinnacle Grill and it was delicious. The food was tasty and hot and the service impeccable. Lots of passengers out shopping today and enjoying the casino. We had dinner tonight in the Lido and it was disappointing. There was only one poor lady serving the hot line and many of the items were not available.
Tonight's entertainment was the show Droom. It was really enjoyable. The costumes were amazing and the dance moves were wonderful. The scenes with the butterflies were amazing.
All in all, a most wonderful and enjoyable cruise. Sun and clear skies for the entire trip and a great experience aboard the Volendam.