This is my first cruise on Holland American. Most of my cruises have been on Disney and I must say I am rather spoiled by Disney's service and ships and was a bit Leery that any ship could live up to my expectations. That being said, HAL was right up there with DCL!
Embarking-Getting to the pier is a tad bit confusing, I do think that they need more signs to get to the drop off area! Beyond that small hump embarkation was a breeze. The porter was very helpful and got us moving right along. From listening to other cc members we got there at about 1030am, perfect timing! We were handed a letter informing us that swine flu had been confirmed onboard and that we had the option of walking away with a full refund. We glanced at it and thought for about 2 seconds before filing it away and deciding not to worry about it. We were on board by about 1115am. Made our way to the Lido deck, had lunch, only confusion was seeing people with food we couldn't find! LOL We then discovered the Lido buffet and loaded up. I was happy to find my favorite cheese, which is hard to find, that was a nice touch.
Room, 2678 cat E-We loved our room, it was small but the storage! WOW Having all beds on the ready meant some bumped heads:) The couch bed made my mom's high standards, it was comfortable(thank goodness). The pull down was fun for the 9 yr old. Only complaint here is that the ladder was not really attached and when you did get it to attach it was really loose, it could be a problem if you aren't ready for that. The main bed was really super comfy! Our view was always nice to have. Location of the room was great, pretty easy to find. Steward was really great, always available for us if we needed anything.
Laundry Service: We purchased the 45 dollar unlimited laundry package on our first day. This was the best 45 dollars I have ever spent! Not only was getting four peoples laundry done well it was done fast. Typically within the same day. Only once was it ever a bit later and that was the last night of the cruise. My guess is that more people send out the "by the bag" towards the end? Nothing to complain about, everything came to us folded in a neat basket or on hangers, pressed and super clean. If you are even thinking about it DO IT! If we had known how wonderful this service was we would have not packed about half of what we took!
Kids Club: Traveling with a rather shy 9 yr old I was concerned about her participating in kids club. Wow was I ever wrong! She loved it...so much so that we had to plan events around kids club activities! The tween program was run by Fifi(nickname), and she was really great. She always greeted us by name! They had everything you can imagine to do up there. Some of what I remember were, tag, board games, arcade, scavenger hunts, dress up contests, coloring contests, bingo, survivor game, camp out(not really), superstar, made t-shirts, chef cooking experience, and probably a bunch of other things! Well run and enjoyed by all the kids that were in there. I was worried over nothing!
Spa-I did the thermal suite for 2 for 149 dollars, I was surprised because I had been told it would be 175:) Well worth it for the thermal suite. The chairs were just perfect for me, and as an avid reader I could sit and read in comfort and also could really relax completely! The hot tub was awesome, only the last night the tub was not hot:( The views were great. I didn't do any treatments but wish I had, I kept thinking that I would be spending money I needed for other things. Turns out I would have been fine on money...oh well. Highly enjoyed the thermal suite!
Dining-As you Wish was perfect for us! Loved the Lido as I am not a big fan of the 2 hour meals:) Did eat in the dinning room once with my mom and it was just fine. All the food was good. Only small thing was that I wished the hamburger, pizza, hot dog thing was open more. The hamburger was one of the best I have had! Alvin in the Lido was so friendly and kind, he is a great guy!
Ship-I was impressed, it was really nice. I didn't care for the Atrium area but again I am comparing it to Disney. I also for some odd reason got more turned around on this ship than any I have been on, but that is not HAL's fault, I think I was just relaxed and not thinking fully. The elevators were fast! Only small issue that I wish they would have fixed was cleaning the outside of the windows on the Lido deck, I saw them washing them from the inside but this was from the outside and it really needed some work. It was impossible to take pictures from there and I had a kiddo in the pool so it was where I needed to be.
Techspert sessions! One word GREAT! If you are thinking about it go! I learned a TON and I thought I knew a lot to begin with. He did go slow to make sure everyone got what they needed but I just worked ahead and listened so it was not a problem, he wants everyone to enjoy it. Only wish I could have gone to more!
One important note about this cruise....movement! I have cruised a bunch but this ship had the weirdest motion to it! Even in calm waters it just seemed off. Now it could have been just our group but it just felt ... hum... listy? A lot of vibration as well on each and every deck I was on. We had rough seas the first day at sea and that night was even worse, I woke up and checked at one point and water was splashing up to our second floor window. Looked at the tv and it said that there were force 9 winds and 25-30 foot seas. Woah it was rocky! In looking at cruises to Alaska again I will highly consider the route and even maybe not do a roundtrip from Seattle. I think I would want to stick to the inside where we can see land:) Like I said above, it just felt funny, I read somewhere that maybe a stabilizer was broken and maybe that was it?
Overall it was close to a perfect trip! And weather!!! WOW it was like hitting the lottery, amazing weather!