As a couple of first-time cruisers, we have no points of reference to compare our trip with other lines or destinations. Here are just some of our observations, mainly for anyone thinking about their first cruise.
One of us was particularly concerned about sea sickness, so following advice we read, we got a cabin at mid-ship. Definitely a good thing, our cabin being calm when the Crow's Nest was swinging so much that you couldn't dance. We bought ginger chewing gum before the trip, and it did the trick in all but really bad water, where meclizine worked fine but caused drowsiness.
We like coffee while we're getting dressed for the day, so we bought a couple of the HAL travel mugs at Explorations Cafe, and made a run to Lido each morning. Saved waiting for room service.
We dined in the dining room whenever possible in preference to Lido. We found the food much better, and the service outstanding. The Canelleto was nice but make reservations early, it fills quickly. The Pinnacle Grill was outstanding.
We work out at home, and were happy with the equipment in the gym.
We took advantage of HAL's policy that allows you to take wine on board. The party started early each evening with a room service order of cheese plates and our wine.
Alaska in September could have been the middle of winter elsewhere. The wind was 35 mph most of the time, and it rained a lot. We had to pass up Sitka because the ocean was too rough. Dress for winter and hope for better.
Luggage Direct was great. We handed our bags off at our cabin, and picked them up at our home airport. Had the day free in Seattle.
This was great fun, and I have no complaints about HAL. The Amsterdam staff was courteous and attentive. Will be cruising again on HAL.