We booked this cruise tour only a month ahead of time and did not have a lot of choices so started out a little worried about that. We have cruised several times but not with Holland America and after reading several on line reviews of the Statendam we thought we were booked on a rust bucket with poor service, no ventilation, poor food , etc.......Happily that did not turn out to be the case.
We went to Vancouver two days early and stayed at the Pan Pacific which we really enjoyed. Enjoyed walking the Sea Walk and used the Big Red Hop on Hop off bus to get explore the city. Wonderful city! Had a great meal our last night at the Coast restaurant which was pricey but worth it and we walked there from our hotel. We also walked to a wine store and purchased a few bottles to take aboard the ship.
We walked to the embarkation point from our hotel around 11:00 am and got checked in shortly thereafter but they did not allow boarding until around 11:30. With some trepidation we boarded shortly thereafter. The first nice surprise was that our verandah stateroom had a bathtub and the room and balcony seemed very spacious. Flat screen TV and lots of storage space. Everything was very clean. We explored the ship and yes the decor was a little dated as it first sailed in 1993 but its relative small size (about 1220 passengers) made it so easy to get around and it never felt at all crowded during our trip. The ship had some up to date exercise equipment and both times I utilized it there were very few people there.
The service on the ship was outstanding from our cabin steward to our dining staff (Roni and Rudi). One day we went to the Lido buffet in search of a cheese tray to take to our cabin to enjoy the balcony with some wine. We looked at the normal location but saw none and finally asked a young lady (Mira) if there was any available. She told us she would check and then came out and told us to wait a few minutes and then she brought us two plates of cheese and fruit......would have been easy to just say there was none but she went "above and beyond" for us. This is the type of service we enjoyed on the Statendam.
We had traditional late seating at 8 pm (have tried "anytime dining" in past and never were happy with service) and were assigned to a table of 6. The first night there was no one else at our table. The matre' d came by and said this did sometimes happen that people switch to another time or to anytime dining and that he would check with us the next day to see if we wanted to stay at that table, or he would facilitate moving us to a table with other people or if we preferred move us to a table for 2. He also mentioned that our waiters were some of his most experienced so he would keep us in their area. The next night he facilitated a family of three joining us at our table and we enjoyed them very much and appreciated this level of attention to our needs. We ate dinner in the main dining room a each night except for one night we ate in the Pinnacle Grill and we enjoyed the food at both venues. We understand that food is a very subjective item but all of our food was tasty and at the right temperature and our service was properly paced.
We went to the main show about 4 nights (the main showroom has a dated style but comfortable) and thought they provided above-average cruise entertainment and generally worth our time. Though most of the shows in the main showroom were musical reviews, we were entertained one evening by a comedian/juggler who proved to be a talented juggler and a very funny comedian. The show was appropriate for children and adults alike, and there was interaction with members of the audience that was funny too.
With the exception of one time (when the walkway had to be moved due to the changing tide), getting on and off the ship at the various ports did not take long at all. Therefore, when we returned to port after an excursion, it was no problem to quickly board the ship and freshen up in our state room before leaving the ship again to walk into town.
There was one disappointing thing on the Statendaam -- it is not smoke-free. On days in port, when the onboard shops and casino were closed, a group of smokers would gather in a section of the casino, and it would be filled with smoke. Being a smaller ship, you could not avoid walking through the casino to get to certain areas of the ship. This certainly didn't impact our ability to enjoy our time on the ship, but we were disappointed. We don't know if it is true, but had heard that Holland America's ships will be smoke-free at some point in the near future.
Although the forecast indicated a high probability of rain nearly every day, we only had rain during two days at sea. Otherwise, we enjoyed sunshine and partly-cloudy, beautiful blue skies.
So many reviews have gone over what is available in these ports that we will not cover in too much detail. In Ketchikan we went on the crab feast which was relaxing with boat ride around inlet to see how they catch crab followed by great all you can eat crab lunch. In Skagway we went to the Mushers camp which was about 8 miles outside town and up the side of a mountain where they train sled dogs and we rode in a cart pulled by 16 dogs. Very informative and great memory. In Juneau we went on combo tour of whale watching, lunch at Orca Lodge and Mendelhall glacier. Was fun with lots of whales and only downside was only 45 minutes at the glacier (where we also saw black bear).
We got off ship in Seward and took train to Anchorage where we stayed at the Hilton which was very nice. Thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits at the Anchorage museum. Great dinner at Glacier Brewhouse (would recommend reservations as very busy place). Departed next day for Denali where we stayed at McKinley Chalet, which was a little rustic but clean. Enjoyed the Tundra Wilderness tour, where we saw grizzlies, Dall sheep and a moose. Also, the scenery was breathtaking and we had a beautiful view of Mt. McKinley. Then on to Fairbanks where we rented a car. As it was September and nearing the end of the tourist season, many restaurants and tourist attractions were closed, but we were able to visit the Univ of Alaska Museum of the North, Pioneer park, Alaskan pipeline, and took a short cruise on the Riverboat Discovery. We also enjoyed a nice dinner one night at Pump House. Hotel was Westmark, which we would not recommend. We were a little disappointed in Fairbanks and would have preferred more time in Denali.
Overall a wonderful trip!!!