I took an 11 night cruise on the Zandaam with my younger brother as a graduation gift for him. We had a great time. Alaska's natural beauty is wonderful. The excursions offered were fabulous and the food was excellent. On our excursions we kayaked, took a helicopter, rode ATV's, swam in hot springs, went river rafting, went whale-watching, and visited an animal refuge.
We also did a 3 day pre-cruise tour of Denali National Park. The land part of the tour was perfect and I recommend it whole-heartedly. I think this is a must see/do in Alaska.
The trip was great overall, but I don't think Holland America truly lives up to its reputation as providing excellent service.
In general, it seems that Holland apologizes a lot for its shortcomings but does nothing to fix the issues or truly address your problem.
The first night, I wanted extra blankets in the room bc it was cold. When I called the front desk, they said they would put in our request. One hour later. No blankets. Then I called again. Same response. Another hour later, I asked what the issue was. The woman hung up on me. When I called back, she accused me of hanging up on her. Totally untrue. I then asked for a supervisor, which she could not reach. Then she offered to have the person in charge of my stateroom floor come by. When he came he had no knowledge of the request. I explained that we just wanted extra blankets and had been waiting 3 hours and was hung up on by the woman at the front desk. He brought the blankets and apologized. Just a minor incident, but even a motel 8 functions better than this. A simple request from a tired and cold traveller should not be that difficult to accomodate. Plus the rudeness of the woman at the front desk was uncalled for. So lots of apologies and 3 hours later we got our blankets.
ALSO, just a word of CAUTION when booking your air fare through Holland America. On my June trip on the MS Zaandaam to Alaska, they booked our flights home through Air Canada on PROP PLANES WITHOUT WARNING US. I was horrified to reach the 2nd leg of the trip and be confronted with flying in in thunderstorm on prop planes.
When I called HA for help to re-book or re-route, they explained that from Toronto to the Mid-west there are no planes other than prop planes. They could have flown us anwyere in the US or Canada to get home, but they chose this terrible route and stuck us on prop planes.
I refused to get on and had to rent a car and drive 5 hours (at midnight), all night to get home.
When I complained that I wanted a refund for the air or for the car rental, all they did was offer us a $100 credit and blame us for not calling the airline to confirm the make of the plane....
Even on orbitz they have to disclose if you get on a prop plane.
In general the trip to Alaska was great, but I think the so-called great customer service of HA is a farce. All they do is apologize a lot but do nothing to fix anything. I have other petty examples, but this flight nightmare was egregious I think.
I give HA 3 stars. The ship and service etc do not measure up to that of a 4 star Marriot or Hilton, but are adequate. The trip itself to Alaska was amazing bc it's amazing and the activities are incredible.