May 27, 2011 Holland America Amsterdam
Pre-cruise and Embarkation: We had purchased our own airfare to Seattle but had provided our flight info to Holland during the online check in process and had purchased the transfer to the pre-cruise hotel, the Fairmont Olympic. Our flight arrived at 9:45 pm and in the itinerary it states that there will be Holland America representatives there to help you until 10pm. There is also a number they provide but not for after 10pm. We thought since they knew we were arriving the Holland representative would still be there. By the time we arrived at baggage claim, there was no one there. We had all our bags but did not have clue where to go. A Continental representative helped us to get to where the shuttle was for our transfer. Transfer and arrangements at Fairmont Olympic went smoothly. Please note that if you are a triple or quad make sure you know what the bed arrangements are at check in at the Fairmont. My party consisted of my husband, myself, and our 12 year old daughter. They originally had us in a room with 2 twin beds. I do not see how this would have worked at all, but they quickly moved us to a room with 2 twins and a sofa bed. Transportation on May 27 to the Amsterdam was very smooth as was embarkation. That was the shortest time it has ever taken me to check in and be on board a vessel in all the cruises we have been on (18+). They handed out the Alaska coupon books to each member of our party on our way to the ship. Make sure and get one as they had great values for Juneau and Ketchikan. On board we proceeded to our cat B stateroom (6211). We were amazed the cabin was ready this early, approximately 11:30 AM. A very nice stateroom with lots of storage space. Cabin stewards were excellent throughout whole trip. Safety drill was held. We were not required to put on life vests just report to our station.
Ketchikan: I had booked the Deadliest Catch tour on my own for the 730am departure, and we barely made that. The Deadliest Catch boat was docked right next to Amsterdam and this was an excellent tour. After this we went on the Alaska Rainforest tour through Holland and enjoyed this. Afterwards did the Mount Roberts Tramway.
Juneau: We did the gold panning tour through Holland. We greatly enjoyed this
Icy Strait Point: We took the tender and just walked around the area. I believe there were shuttles into town. A few shops and museum around tender area.
Anchorage: We just took the shuttle into town and walked around. Someone from Holland was at the area they dropped you off in town, to point you in what direction to go in. We took bus to Ulu Factory and walked around town. I heard good things about IMAX films and museum from other passengers.
Homer: There were free shuttles over to the shops on the spit area. There was a shuttle available at a small cost into downtown Homer.
Kodiak: Walked into town (about a mile). There is a museum there and of course some shops open.
Sitka: Walked through town on the way to meet our boat for half day of salmon fishing. I had booked this on our own with Sitka Secrets. They were right on time and we really enjoyed the time spent fishing. We caught one king salmon and two rockfish. The water was very rough. On the way back in I filled out the form for the processing of the fish. When we docked they took the fish and we received it the day after we returned home. Processing was only $2.25/lb of outgoing weight but the Fedex to ship was $95.
Victoria: There were no free shuttles to town here so a taxi was required. The cost was only $2 a person (one way)but some people still walked into town. A beautiful city. Make sure your credit card company knows you will be in Canada as mine was denied because I had not informed them of this. Also have a variety of bills available. My husband bought something that came out to $17.01 American dollars. They would not take his penny, required him to give them $18 and then gave him change in Canadian money.
Dining Onboard: We ate all our breakfasts in the Lido, where they had a great variety of food. We ate all our lunches there also. At lunch there was Italian, Asian, and other food. The Terrace Grill also has burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and a taco bar. We ate one lunch in the main dining room and the service was terrible. It took a long time to get the food and when it arrived the orders were not correct. We very much enjoyed tea every day. We had fixed early seating (5:45) for dinner. The food was excellent, and service was wonderful. We did eat one night at the Pinnacle at that was a step above the dining room and I would highly recommend it.
Entertainment: All the shows onboard were excellent. We also participated in trivia, Name that Tune, and my daughter participated in the Olympics on board. Several shows involved the singers and dancers, there were two comedians, and a harmonica player.
Disembarkation and Post Cruise: We had a post-cruise hotel package purchased through Holland with the Sheraton Seattle. Once we disembarked the ship, the bus to take people to the Sheraton did not show up to 1 ½ hours after disembarkation. After losing about half a day we proceeded on our hop on hop off shuttle around Seattle. Very good tour but would have liked not to have lost so much time in the morning. We ate lunch at Jimmy John's Sandwiches across from hotel and dinner at Rock Bottom Restaurant about two blocks from hotel. Hotel is in an excellent location within walking distance to a variety of shops and restaurants. The next day we had scheduled the Mt. Rainier Explorer through Holland. We informed in the lobby that morning that the bus that was there was not big enough, so a larger one was on the way. It seemed like they should have known how many people were going on the tour and have the appropriate bus ready. The bus arrived about 50 minutes later and we proceeded on our tour. This was an excellent tour. The second night we ate at the Elephant Irish pub also within two blocks of hotel. The next morning we came down to get our airport shuttle. We arrived outside at 6:10Am to take the 6:30 shuttle. Some people with single bags came out around 6:20 to also get the shuttle. The driver arrived and refused to take us and our luggage saying he did not have enough room. It did not matter that we were there first and he had the same type of vehicle that we had come to the hotel in. A bigger vehicle arrived 20 minutes later and we proceeded to the hotel and flew back to Florida without further incident.
Overall, we loved this itinerary and the Amsterdam is a wonderful ship.