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Whales and Eagles! Oh my!
We had heard that the quality of HAL was diminishing but such was not the case on our seven day cruise to Alaska. Service is still top notch and unobtrusive. Food quality is still very good. Holland America offers good, consistent value for your money.
The embarkation went smoothly. Pier 91 in Seattle is new and is well laid out for the two ships that were embarking on that day. We were fortunate in that we had sunny weather for most of the week. It was strange to see so much snow on all of the mountains but it is still a bit early in the season. Sailing out of Seattle meant that we did not traverse the Inside Passage on either leg of our trip. We missed that part of an Alaska cruise but still had a lot of beautiful scenery to enjoy. There were plenty of humpback whales to observe at several portions of the cruise.
Dining is excellent. My wife and I did dine in the Pinnacle Grille a few times but More
the quality in the main dining room is still commendable. Portions are a bit smaller than in the past but that is a good thing as we tend to overindulge. They did offer a wine card of twenty pours which was plenty for us for the week. It averaged about $3.50 per glass and offered six wines to choose from. A good value and you did not have to buy a bottle. The food in the Lido deck was the same as what was offered in the main dining room.
Entertainment was fair. The Zaandam singers will still feeling their way through the routine. No instruments were used during the shows. Everything was canned except for the flat singing of the four lead singers. They had no chemistry and blending. I found myself wondering when it would be over. They also had a saxophone player one night. He did a great job with some jokes and singing tossed in. The final night we had the ubiquitous magician/comic act. He was very good and we enjoyed it but it seems each cruise has someone of his ilk as part of the entertainment. Also, the cruise director must have been fairly new. He had the same routine each night and tended to read many announcements. Perhaps he will improve as the season progresses. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Most of the ports in Alaska are jumping off points for varied excursions. In Juneau we docked right next to downtown. My wife and I did not take any excursions. We walked around and did some shopping. The shops had a sameness to them with jewelry seeming to predominate.
Ketchikan offers the quintessential Alaska experience. There are a lot of excursions but there are plenty of things to do within walking distance of the ship. Salmon creek is fun and offers some unique stores. Also, there is a library close by to the creek where you can use the free internet. We were only in port for half a day. Just enough time to take excursions, I suppose.
Sitka was very scenic. There was not much of a downtown. The church and the bishops house are easy to get to and worth seeing. Otherwise not much else unless you take an excursion. They have a library close to the dock where your tender drops you off. They have free internet if you want to avoid the 75 cents per minute that the Zaandam charges for slow internet.
We arrived at Victoria at 7:45 p.m. In the literature about this cruise we were to have landed by 6:00 p.m. That did not leave any time to get off as we had to leave by midnight. A waste of time unless, once again, you had an excursion.