I am so glad we didn't believe the negative reviews we read about the Statendam. We went with an open mind. We are a wife and husband of 68 and 72 but active people. We have cruised on 3 other cruise lines besides Holland America for a total of 8 previous cruises.
We did an 11 day land/sea cruise tour. We flew into Anchorage and were met by the Holland America people with a bus to take us to our hotel. We were part of a land tour group of 20 people and luckily, all were nice and friendly. Our tour guide was the greatest. The time on land was absolutely wonderful. The weather was great and the fall colors were extremely beautiful. The time spent on the train was a wonderful experience. This was our second trip to Alaska; the first being in the month of July 2007 (on a different cruse line) so seeing the difference was beautiful. The first night in Denali we did the tour of Jeff King's musher camp. It was a lot of fun...especially holding the puppies. He really educated us on the Iditarod, etc. We took the Tundra Wilderness tour in Denali...what an experience!! We are now part of the 30% Club. We were able to see "Mt. McKinley" in full glory with the sun shining on it. In Fairbanks we did the Riverboat Cruise, the gold mine tour and panned for gold. Even though we had done this before, it was still enjoyable a second time. Our cruise tour included a flight from Fairbanks back to Anchorage. While flying, the Pilot advised that those sitting on the right side of the plane would get to see Mt. McKinley. As luck would have it, we got to take pictures looking down at the mountain without having to take a special plane tour. What a treat.
We boarded the ship in Seward on a Sunday; boarding went so smooth we were in our cabin before we knew it; it was raining but we weren't concerned until the Captain said we couldn't leave port because of gale force winds and 32 foot waves in the Gulf of Alaska. He said he would keep us advised. Monday we were told we couldn't leave port again. They did have shuttle bus service to take us into town if anyone wanted to get off and on the ship. Tuesday morning we left port but were advised the ship would be "rocking and rolling" due to the storm and the ship would be moving at a slower pace. Because of all this, we missed the glaciers and then also missed going to Haines. Thursday we were able to dock in Juneau and had a wonderful day. We did another musher camp tour and rode in a cart being pulled by the dogs. That was fun. I would recommend it. Again we were going into rough waters off and on and were told we could not dock in Ketchikan. The inside passage part of the cruise was fine.
I want to add that we enjoyed the ship at all times and we were never bored; we went to the shows which were great; even went to one show twice because it was so good; most of the singers had been on Broadway at one time or another; their voices were outstanding; one show was a piano player (and sometime singer) who played the whole time without music sheets in front of him. I went on the kitchen tour; went to Bingo; we did the casino, and went to 2 culinary demonstrations as well as took advantage of renting a movie one night. Love having the DVR in the cabin. We had a free cocktail party because of the storms and missing ports in the Crow's Nest. We went up to the Crow's Nest for karaoke and it was fun. Since we were return cruisers, we were invited to the Mariner's Luncheon. Really nice. I could go on and on but I won't. The last night in the main dining room was "Chef's Night" with a special menu. That again was fun with singing, etc.
Sunday we docked in Vancouver with the sun shining. I want to let you know that I was never nervous or scared on the ship during the storms; yes, it "rocked and rolled" but the Captain (Frans Consen) kept us advised at all times and I even met him when docked in Juneau. I was on a larger ship during a storm and I felt the Statendam was a lot better in the rough waters. We had a balcony but couldn't enjoy it because of the bad weather. (We always prefer a balcony. I'm a camera nut and take all kinds of pictures.) All the negative reviews I read of the ship proved to be wrong. I felt the ship was in excellent shape and very clean. I didn't hear any major creaking or moaning while in rough waters that seemed out of the ordinary. I actually liked the smaller ship. Our cabin was a good size with "loads" of storage space. Actually had some empty space. The bathroom was larger than normal with a bathtub. This I understand is normal for Holland America. Our cabin stewards proved to be wonderful; knew our names, did our towel animals each night, and kept our cabin very neat and clean. The food was top notch. After the first day, my husband and I had breakfast delivered to the room each morning. Coffee and/or tea were hot and everything was fresh and good. We really enjoyed that and will do it in the future. We always did lunch in the buffet. Even though you cannot serve yourself in the buffet, I found that I liked it better. No one took food and put it back as I have seen on other cruise lines. I also liked the way the buffet was set up. No congestion...and the dessert area was separate from the main food area...and a large dessert area with ice cream every day. No complaints on the buffet food. Great variety of choices. There always was a table to sit at. I didn't have any food in the main dining room that I did not like, and the portions were ample. Even my prime rib was cooked to perfection.
If I had to have a complaint it would be the smoking in the Crow's Nest and Casino...but, I understand that smokers do need a place to smoke. I learned to not sit near anyone smoking; I would just move and that solved the problem.
We have already booked our next Holland America cruise and we are looking forward to it. I felt sorry for anyone that was on their first cruise or anyone who had never seen the glaciers but I know it is part of cruising; weather cannot be predicted when booking your cruise. Thank you Holland America and Ms. Statendam for a wonderful/memorable vacation.