My husband and I (early 50’s) and my 20 year old daughter and 12 year old son sailed on the Statendam from Vancouver to Seward on August 2nd. This was our first trip w/Holland America and our first trip to Alaska. We’ve been on Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines before. We selected the Statendam for the itinerary to Glacier Bay and the long days we were in the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. We began our trip from Los Angeles with a stay at the Crown Plaza because we had to pick up our daughter from LAX the night before and we had an early morning flight.
Waits were 45 min at the reception desk to check-in. They only had 1 very friendly and organized individual working the front desk. We got a $45/night rate thru priceline. We left our car parked there for the duration of our trip and with a AAA discount, it was only $11/night. Room was clean and roomy and was an excellent choice for us. Boarding was smooth, slight wait but the line was constantly moving. After the lifeboat drill, went on top for the sail away- only tortilla chips were complimentary. Ship was clean, but shows its age. The staff was helpful and pleasant. We had 2 cabins- 1 outside and 1 inside on the lower promenade deck. We originally going to do 4 in 1 cabin- thank goodness we didn’t. Closets were good sized and tub/shower combo fine. I didn’t like the promenade deck because people were often standing at the rail or walking and the view was obstructed. We didn’t get a balcony because I’d rather stay outside and look all around at the scenery and I like to save money for more vacations or excursions.
Meals were very good- We live in southern California and we are used to great restaurants. Nothing out of the ordinary or creative, but tasty. On cruises we tend to order an appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and dessert, to try everything. My son always found something he liked which pleased us since he can be picky. Ate at Pinnacle Grill for lunch –tasty, but again I am glad I didn’t pay the surcharge for dinner since $80 for the four of us was spent elsewhere. Breakfast was good at the Lido Buffet, tables were busy. We ate lunch at the buffet and couple times at the dining room. Buffet- avoid anything asian, and desserts were unedible. The grill was predictable. We noticed that they had a large Filipino population on the ship (travelers) for this sailing and they even had a mini buffet at the grill serving Filipino dishes.
The evening shows were not spectacular- we went twice and gave up. My husband and I went to hear the band at the crow’s nest and were not impressed. The female vocalist was horrible- she ruined almost every song. The dance floor and bar was always empty. Sad, because we enjoy dancing and listening to music. There was a good mix of ages on the ship. I expected an older crowd, but was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t being overrun with oxygen tanks and wheelchairs.
There were a good number of children and teens. My son didn’t want to do the activities with the kids in his age group (9-12) because most appeared on the younger end. He did enjoy the video games and was usually there a couple hours/day on the at sea days. The schedule looked like a good mix for those who wished to partake. My daughter, age 20, was too old for the teens and too young for the singles, so she ended up going to the video game room or hanging out with us on sea days. We did have fun checking out board games from the Explorer’s Café. We had so much fun that we occasionally got a little noisy. We just miss the 4 of us together since daughter is away for college. We would play board games, cards whenever we were on board the ship so we utilized the lounge a lot. We did enjoy the casino, daughter even had fun since age limit was 18.
Glacier Bay/College Fjord: Stayed out on the decks almost all day- breathtaking. Played more board games and did laundry. Boy we glad we were one of the first in the laundry room- it was a jostle all day. Luckily our rooms were a few doors down from the laundry room so I could stand there and wait for an available machine. Bring your insulated mugs for hot chocolate and pea soup. Wool blankets were readily available. Spent many days walking laps around the promenade. Went to see a movie about the habitat in Glacier bay- interesting. Didn’t do any bingo, spa treatments, cooking classes. I am an avid cook and when I peeked in for a few minutes, it was very basic.
We disembarked in Seward- had to handle our luggage ourselves and brought it down the gangway. We did not leave our luggage out the night before since we had reservations with Kenai Fjords 6 hr. tour (again using our Toursaver coupons) and they picked us up at the terminal at 7:30 am. The bus driver for Kenai tour took us to the train station (“Bob is already there …”) and we dropped our luggage off for our 6 pm train ride to Anchorage. The tour was great! Even though there were over 70 passengers, the guide and his assistants was excellent and very informative (much more so than our previous whale watching trip).
In hindsight, I would not have done the Juneau whale watching trip because this was so much better. The glaciers, otters, porpoises, birds, and whales were great and the time went by very quickly. At the end of our tour we took a taxi to the Sea Life center, had early dinner at a small restaurant just up the street on 4th avenue- great food and very friendly wait staff. Called the taxi again to take us to the train station and began our journey to Anchorage. Train was fun, picturesque- even saw some Dall sheep along the way (train slowed way down so we can see…)
Arrived in Anchorage, had taxi phone # in cell, called for a van and arrived at the Sheraton- nice hotel, not the greatest area. Room was cramped but priceline rate was $65/night. Next morning walked to the Anchorage museum- interesting but only stayed an hour and a half; Had early lunch at Glacier Brewhouse- excellent food; walked to the Visitor’s center log Cabin) took the shuttle to the Native Heritage Center. Spent 3 hrs here enjoying the crafts, demonstrations, dances, and the outdoor exhibits. The guides at the outdoor exhibits were not very informative , but they were young high school students. Took the last shuttle back to the visitor’s center. Walked to Ship’s creek to watch people fishing- it was fun and insightful how Alaskans spend their day. Had another good dinner at Orso’s before we gathered up our luggage and headed back to Los Angeles for a late night flight. It was a great, busy trip for us. On looking back, I wish I would have done a flight over Mendenhall instead of the Whale watching trip in Juneau. We decided against Denali due to time constraints with daughter and expense. We are hoping to go back in a few years, besides I don’t know if my son would have enjoyed the long bus ride. Skagway- perhaps the train or maybe a bike ride or kayaking.