All in all this cruise was fantastic! This was a 20 anniversary trip with our son and we had been planning for about six months prior.
We stayed at the beautiful Fairmont Olympic for two nights prior to our cruise and loved it. Even better is that we were able to get onto the Holland America bus right from the hotel and didn't have to worry about transportation. The hotel is beautiful and our son loved the indoor pool. The staff was fantastic! We would definitely stay there again.
Embarkation was a breeze. We were at the pier and on the ship within 30 minutes, I would say. Stateroom was ready so we dropped our things off and went to explore and eat. ;) I thought the ship was beautiful and has been well tended. I didn't see anything other than what I would consider normal wear and tear from thousands of people on a weekly basis. The walls of our cabin were a little marked up and there were two strange stains on the walls but that didn't detract from our overall happiness with the cabin. We were in 6060 and had plenty of space for two adults and one 8 year old.
We purchased our two excursions from HAL and couldn't be more pleased. We did the Best of Juneau (whale/wildlife watching, salmon bake and Mendenhall Glacier) and loved the glacier and whale watching. We were lucky enough to see whales bubble net feeding and were within feet our our boat. We could have taken or left the salmon bake at Orca Point Lodge. The lodge and it's location were beautiful but the food was just ok and we felt rushed. We also did the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour on the Aleutian Ballad. I'm a fan of Deadliest Catch so that was a treat for me. It's really a show on board the Aleutian Ballad and all the players do a great job. An unexpected treat was traveling to a spot where about 20-30 bald eagles are nesting and getting some amazing pictures while the guys on the boat fed them fish. That was worth the price of the excursion alone.
Dining on board was just ok for me. I was not particularly impressed with any of the food but it was certainly edible and fairly plentiful. The Lido did run out of several things at lunch most days most notably fruit and ice cream. As part of our Explore4 promo, we received a free Pinnacle Grill dinner. Unfortunately, they first scheduled us for our day in Juneau when we wouldn't be back until late. Rescheduling was a bit of a pain. I first rescheduled for the night after but that was a special wine maker's dinner and they rescheduled us again for a time when Club HAL wasn't open. So we tried to reschedule again only to be told there were no other times available. Eventually, we were able to get a reservation for Le Cirque and only paid the difference between a Pinnacle night and the Le Cirque night which was $20 per person. Thankfully, that was all it was because had I paid the full price I would have been even more disappointed. Le Cirque was not good and I will never do it again. The amuse bouche was bad and it didn't get much better than that. Even our server stated that at the server tasting prior to opening the amuse bouche (foie gras on top of a weird chutney) was not liked by most of the staff. It was gross! The highlight of the meal was the butternut squash soup with toasted pumpkin seeds and truffle oil. Awesome! Other than that my chateaubriand and my husband's cod were nothing to write home about. I hate to say it but most of the other diners were ship staff and very few cruisers. Now I know why. :) Breakfast in the main dining room is a must however. Everything we had was great and it was usually never crowded.
My son loved Club HAL and towards the last few days actually requested to go which is unusual for him. So I would say that was a win for him.
We didn't attend any shows but heard they were pretty good. I did enjoy the guitarist in the Crow's Nest.
Overall we had a great time and very, very few complaints. But we are pretty laid back people and don't demand much. We hadn't been on a cruise in 10 years prior to this (and never one with a child) and had never sailed on Holland America before so we didn't know exactly what to expect and tried to go on board with an open mind and flexibility.
I think we would definitely sail HAL again and Alaska is a bucket list destination for sure!