My second cruise, first on HAL. We stayed a few nights in Vancouver before sailing (Carmana Plaza) and found the port easily accessible from Downtown Vancouver. We took a taxi (8-10 Canadian) to the terminal; it was a very short ride but a long wait because the Terminal Bldg has a small, U shaped drop off area. Luggage handling was fast, though. Cabin wasn't ready until 1:30 so we went up to the buffet for lunch, toured the ship, and began meeting the rest of our group (friends).
This was a 7-day cruise up the Inside Passage to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and back to Ketchikan with 2 full days at sea, one going up and one coming back. The scenery is gorgeous and, for those who may be novice sailors, land is in site for much of the trip because of the many islands off British Columbia and the Inside Passage itself. We did have one windy night, on the way back, with some bigger swells and some people were uncomfortable.
What we liked: the Ryndam is a smaller ship and so it was easy to get around and to find our friends. The Explorer's Cafe with library, internet center, games and so on was very popular with our group (middle-aged adults), and we found the Explorer's Lounge best-suited to us to gather before dinner because it was relatively smoke-free and a chamber group played classical music and standards every evening. We found the atmosphere better for conversation. Some of us also had tea in the main dining room, available every afternoon, and I enjoyed mixing with other passengers (the crew was adept at making sure no one had to sit alone). I didn't go to all the shows but enjoyed those I saw - the opening night, the Hits of Broadway, a Magician-Pianist and, a highlight, a show performed by members of the Indonesian Crew. The ship added a special classical piano concert one afternoon which proved very popular. Our group really enjoyed the lectures on Alaska which were filmed and broadcast on the CATV in our cabins. Our cabin was small but comfortable, and the bathroom was ample with a full tub-shower. And it was very quiet. We didn't go on a lot of excursions because it rained every day and we live in the northwest and so are familiar with some of the offerings. But we enjoyed a train ride out of Skagway, and others in our party especially liked going to a glacier, hiking and taking a bike ride. The lumberjack show in Ketchikan was a big hit. I was impressed with how fully and carefully those who went on outdoor excursions were outfitted with clothing and gear. The crew was friendly, helpful and seemed very skilled (though one couple encountered less friendliness on the last day when they asked for assistance). And though we had open seating the first few nights for dinner, the crew never lost our bottles of wine from the previous evening.
What we didn't like: The cigarette smoke was a big drawback. Several of us stopped going to the Casino and several of the lounges because of the smoke, yet we often had to walk through some of these smokey areas to get from one place to another. (Smoking is not allowed in the dining rooms.) We thought the prices for the spa and many of the excursions were very high, but that's possibly because we are novice cruisers. We also were somewhat disappointed in the food. The variety at the buffet did not change much from day to day, and some of the food pairings at dinner seemed odd to us in the dining room.
Some things to be aware of: it rains in the north. It rained every day on our cruise which wasn't a big draw back for those of us from the Pacific Northwest but was hard on people who weren't prepared for it. The passengers were generally older, although there were many families with children. There seemed to be plenty of activities for kids, though. Also, we did not get very close to glaciers in Glacier Bay because seals were having pups.
Most important of all, we found the cruise and the ship very relaxing. We truly rested and felt completely refreshed when we arrived back in Vancouver. We got a taxi with two other people right away in the Terminal and reached the airport in less than 30 minutes (about 30 Canadian).