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Sail Date: May 2013
We had sailed on the Star in July, 2008, when the weather was totally sunny and the temperatures were in the 70's and 80's. This time we wanted to experience Alaska in more normal weather. While the weather this time was in ... Read More
We had sailed on the Star in July, 2008, when the weather was totally sunny and the temperatures were in the 70's and 80's. This time we wanted to experience Alaska in more normal weather. While the weather this time was in the 50s, we did have some sunny periods, and the visibility was always good. We arrived in Seattle on the Wednesday evening before our Saturday, May 11, sail. Spent two nights in at the Hampton Suites in Lynwood about 30 minutes north of the City. This proved to be an excellent location for visiting the Wineries and Indian resort casinos nearby. On Friday night we moved to the Homewood Suites on Pike, across from the Civic Center, and took in the Pike Street Market and our favorite restaurant, Elliotts Oyster Bar on Pier 53. Elliotts has the best in regional oysters, plus a great location on the waterfront. Took a cab to the new Princess north pier location; we arrived at the designated arrival time (a new Princess loading scheme), but had to wait an hour. The staff seemed to be disorganized first time experience in this our 5th Princess Cruise. Once on board, we were quickly impressed with the condition of the Star the same ship we had sailed on five years ago. The ship had the appearance of having recently been refurbished, although I dont think this was the case. Our favorite place to look out, the Sky Walker Lounge, was still in place, and had not been removed as it has been from the Stars sister ship, the Grand. Our cabin, C424, was great. The steward was very attentive and efficient, and the cruise so lacked any rocking, etc. that we thought we were on a lake rather than out on the Pacific for the first two days. The glacier state park at Juneau was beautiful to see, and we also were able to observe two bear cubs in a tree, as well as several mountain goats. At Skagway, we rented a car and drove one hour north to the Yukon Territory, and had lunch at the only restaurant just north of Carcross. Enjoyed spectacular scenery this is an option to the train at Skagway that I highly recommend. Cruising in the Glacier Bay National Park was the highlight of the trip! Ketchikan was good for shopping, while most of the shops in Victoria were closed when we arrived. Service on board the Star was uniformly excellent. The jazz performances were very good. Meals at the specialty restaurants were good, and the International Food Bar was excellent. Now the bad news. The food at the Horizon buffet was often cold, and not very tasty. The menu selection at the traditional dining room was very poor. Princess needs to do something, quickly I believe, to address their food preparation and variety. Debarking went smoothlyI recommend checking your bags through from the ship at a reasonable cost. The bus service purchased through Princess was a near disaster. The driver got lost in downtown Seattle, almost hit a car on I5, and drove between lanes on the Interstate. The trip to the airport took twice as long as it should have taken. All in all, we will cruise on Princess again, but we hope the food, especially, will be much improved. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
I was told not to put this in letter form but just an FYI a letter was written to two people at NCL and sent on 07/23 and neither saw fit to respond as of this date (now that was really disappointing to say the least. What upset me most ... Read More
I was told not to put this in letter form but just an FYI a letter was written to two people at NCL and sent on 07/23 and neither saw fit to respond as of this date (now that was really disappointing to say the least. What upset me most was the fact that we were WALKED in ot TWICE. It is in a paragraph almost at the bottom....the rest of the incidents were bad enough but that was totally not good or right. Sorry to those that love this cruise line and I see some had similar experiences with food, etc. but I just found this site. I HATE starting out sour grapes but some of these issues are IMHO important enough that others should at least know in an effort to help them make an informed decision My wife and I recently took a cruise on the "Norwegian Jewel." It was our anniversary cruise after over 40 years of marriage. The body more or less went as below. A couple of weeks have passed and I have now "settled down" some and got caught up from the trip. I feel I need to make you aware of a number of issues we encountered on this cruise and why I hope this was all just an aberration and hope this is not indicative of the cruise industry of today. I was not a "happy camper (or cruiser)." First off please note that we totally enjoyed the trip to Alaska and would go back given the chance. We had a great time on all the shore excursions and each port and we even enjoyed the ship we were on. We also enjoyed the bottle of wine and chocolate covered strawberries sent our cabin and thank you. However, it was a lot of little things that made this NOT a customer-friendly trip. First off this cruise served as my wife and my anniversary gift to each other after over 40 years. I will save the worst for last. I really had hoped things would go differently. Day one started out with a disastrous attempt at getting signed in. 1. We stood in line for hours, in a SINGLE line. After the first hour and a piece as it neared around 2:30 p.m. or so it came over the intercom that your company was having computer issues and "sorry for the delay, etc." It was not so much as standing in line that really upset me, it was the fact as I learned from having own my own business that when there is a problem the true worth of a company shines. In this case, not. It was apparent there was absolutely NO WAY everyone was going to get boarded to sail on time and everyone sort of figured it out as time dragged on. I based this on the time we stood in line before the announcement and how many folks were behind us that were in the building. It was obvious some were going to be boarded w/o going through the boarding process or left behind if we were to leave on time and was borne out by the fact that the next day over the intercom it was indicated where such people should go to complete their boarding process. I even had to go to the Purser's desk to "link" a credit card to our account. NCL apparently chose to do things the way they had always done when there were no issues except for the single line which in itself made NO sense. When we finally entered the terminal a kind gentleman asked if we had sailed on NCL before and showed us the "short, reserved line" for previous NCL cruisers. Although we had previously been on at least six cruises over the years, we simply could not remember so we opted to say, "No." We were then shuttled into the single long line. As time went by we saw a few thirtysomethings enter the other line as they apparently said, "Yes" when they were asked if they cruise with NCL before. In the same line as we were in were a number of older folks, even older than we are (67 and 62), who were having a very difficult time standing on their feet for so long in the heat generated by so many people in such close proximity to one another. Some of them were using canes. Some of them were verbally and physically agitated. At the very least the "older" folks should have been shown the respect due them at their station in life and (in view of security) could have been "patted down" and should have been allowed to board and complete the process at a later time. Or, NCL should have directed these folks to the line the thirtysomethings were in. Or, they should have been allowed to sit down and NCL could have sent one or two of the 20 or so folks behind the counter out to personally take care of them. Any of those alternatives would have at least shown a bit of class and would have shown that NCL really cared for ALL of their passengers. My father was a vet and served in WWII and was shot down, I am a vet from the Nam era, my son and daughter in law are currently serving and both have served overseas. Everyone including Cruise lines now shows concern and caring for our vets by way of special fares, etc. and this is a good thing.however, who takes care of the "old folk? They are just as valuable a resource and is even more valuable in my opinion. 2. After we did get onboard and into our room and waited for our luggage to arrive we found we could hear nothing broadcasted over the room speaker with messages. Even after reporting it, the speaker was never fixed throughout the whole cruise. We were however directed to the channel on TV by our very pleasant and courteous room steward and was told the information also was conveyed this way. Thing is we didn't want and nor did we have the TV on 24/7 and a lot of messages went unheard no matter how important. 3. Once the luggage arrived my wife started unpacking and as she was putting things in the closet she said, "John!" I asked her what was wrong and as I turned to look at her I saw she was holding some women's underwear. Thing is, it wasn't hers. She found it in the bottom of the closet on the floor. I tried to make a joke out of it telling her how lucky I was this was our first day and we never left each other's sight but by this time her mood was almost like mine.hoping things would go better. Well, you take it from there. 4. Now with all that and done unpacking we decided to relax on our very lovely and quite adequate balcony and just relax for a while and have a drink from the minibar. I wanted a scotch and she wanted water. I looked at the price list for the minibar and was totally amazed. To be quite frank I found the prices to be airport prices or high end restaurant prices. Seven dollars for an ounce and a half of scotch? To me that is restaurant prices but the thing is we go out to eat a couple of times a month so that is not so bad, but this was a week straight on a cruise ship. Well to me the prices were sadly high to outrageous. To charge $5.25 for a liter of water is again way beyond not customer friendly almost to the point of gouging for the almighty buck. I truly understand profit having owned a full service gas station but we never charged book prices for labor and we always treated the customers fairly. You could have still doubled your money charging half that. To boot I never saw a liter of water in the room much less in the minibar and I doubt a liter would even fit in the minibar. That was just our first day.on the second day we had NO heat in our room that evening. Unlike the speaker issue however, it did get fixed. Other issues I would like for you to know about that sort of agitated me (and a few of my fellow passengers) were the facts that: 5. The buffet was FAR from convenient or customer friendly. It was a sad attempt versus other cruises we have been on. What is more if anyone took any of the longer shore trips and came back and wanted lunch at the buffet, forget it. The hours were terrible. I can full well understand shutting down a table or two at a time during changeover but to shut them all down and leave a small, very small one open in another room with little options was not so good. Any other cruise had a real 24-hour buffet. Heck, even when the outside buffets were supposed to be open, they were not. At least one side was always closed and the lines were long and the other side opened "late." To top everything else off we were told to go to the Blue Lagoon if we wanted. Thing about that was.no one was there???? I later found out when they were there you had to order from a menu???? In addition, one night they completely closed the whole buffet for "chocolate night???????!!!!" I am a diabetic. Why would close the main buffet? Why not close one of your boutique restaurants for one night or the Tzar's restaurant and set up there for those that like that sort of thing. The buffet should have remained a place to eat dinner. To boot, I think it even opened at 7 p.m.? 6. The whole washy-washy, happy-happy thing was an affront and if it is meant to keep the germs away, well let us say there is definitely no issue with the stationary hand cleaner there for folks who wish to take advantage of it but to have someone stand there (when they were there) and spray the back of your hand or miss and spray your pants leg or arm or whatever they could hit.when I get out of the shower in the morning I am supposedly clean. I do not need nor want to be sprayed. I am adult fare-paying customer, not a child that needs washy-washy. If I wanted to "sanitize" again I could have used the one placed there on a stand. Again, sometimes they were there, sometimes not. 7. It is very interesting that the room steward keeping banker's hours only on a split shift. We would come to our room after shopping or whatever and would want to get a drink or some ice. Most times what little ice was left in the bucket before she left was already melted and when we went to get some no steward was found anywhere. At least if you are not going to have a steward available please consider putting an ice machine somewhere on each level where a passenger could get ice. Out of curiosity what do they do the other 16 hours? NOTE: I am saying anything bad about our steward. She was wonderful, polite, and attentive when she was there. No complaints re her job, just the inaccessibility and again not very customer friendly. We had to call room service for ice. Almost done. 8. Why is it necessary to send folks to the purser's desk to get a copy of their room charges when even hotel rooms (and from past cruises) have a channel on the TV you can go to and get those charges displayed. Never mind. I probably already know the answer. Linking a credit card to a room is one thing and understandable due to the problems onshore but I should have had easy access to what charges were put on my card and to make sure mistakes were fixed and there were indeed mistakes. 9. There were a few other incidents like trying to talk us out of a bottle of sake after we had agreed on their price and the room service menu not showing prices on "everything" that would be charged for like water, etc. and little things like that. Since this is already long, I am going to stop with the final, most egregious two incidents. TWO times we were walked in on, TWICE. The first time was our room steward.my wife was in the room alone napping. She heard a tap-tap on the door, the door opened, and she heard a "hello, hello" and turned and there she was. The second time we were sitting on the balcony watching time and sea pass. , again, when my wife heard, "hello, hello." I turned around and there in the room by the bathroom stood a man. I asked him what he wanted and he told me he was from maintenance. I was shocked he came in like that. After the initially shock wore off I asked if he was going to fix the speaker (he knew nothing about it) and he said "no" he was there to look at the toilet seat that was broken and was turned in. Neither my wife nor I knew what he was talking about. Anyway he said he would replace it "as soon as we get one in supply." Thing is, our seat was not broken to both our visual inspection and to our knowledge it too was never fixed. If there was no seat in stock, why even come at all? This is so very not good. Unless the "make up room" sign is out a room should NOT be entered unless you can be certain the room is vacant. Use your imagination and think if it was a young honeymoon couple!!!.again, on past cruised the stewards knew when we left as there was ALWAYS a steward close by. It was like a genie whether the room was already made up or not, they did something to freshen it up. At the very least a phone call should have been made. When someone is sitting on the balcony they most assuredly cannot hear a tap, tap on the door and can barely hear a hello, hello. To boot, I am deaf in one ear and most seniors do lack hearing to some degree. I know this because my wife is in the healthcare industry and sees it on a day-to-day basis. I am sorry for the length. I truly did not mean for it to be a b..ch session and apologize because it most certainly is but I feel somewhat better now and it is off my chest. Will we cruise Norwegian again? I will not say never because I do believe in second chances (turn the other cheek). I just hope the whole industry (including NCL) has not adopted the "show me the money" doctrine and the "attitude" towards the general population that we felt on this cruise when we were on board. I truly hope this was an aberration. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Writing this review I will try and be impartial, although I think I will find it difficult. We have just returned from a 10day cruise to the Inside Passage of Southwest Alaska. We boarded at San Francisco and were treated to the ... Read More
Writing this review I will try and be impartial, although I think I will find it difficult. We have just returned from a 10day cruise to the Inside Passage of Southwest Alaska. We boarded at San Francisco and were treated to the most efficient service we have ever received when boarding a ship. We were just 20 mins from getting off the bus to our state room. The check in staff of Princess were all so efficient while being extremely friendly and professional this may have been because they were of the more mature age range but I think it was because they were all good at their job. Sailing out from San Francisco is one of these magical moments, we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and it was spectacular, beautiful blue skies and no fog. The next two days were sea days and were quite rough, this is were I feel the ship could have been a bit better organised, there wasn't a lot to do on these days if your not a bingo or dart player and just felt that some quizzes or some talks indoors would have been more appropriate given the conditions we were sailing in. The movies under the stars was a dead loss and one stage the swimming pool was hitting the screen. That coupled with the fog made watching a movie a complete No No. However it gave you a chance to get to talk to your fellow passengers and make new friends.This is definitely one of the friendliest ships I have been on it may be because it's smaller. I had read negative reviews the Horizon Court and although we only used it for lunch a couple times it was O.K . We used the M.D for most of our meals and the waiting staff were great. All the staff that we meet were very professional, helpful and pleasant and nothing was to much trouble for them. We had a balcony cabin which was adequate with enough space for everything. The suitcases fitted under bed and there was enough wardrobe and drawer space.it was kept immaculate by our steward. We didn't see that many shows because of our schedule preferring to stay off the ship and enjoy the towns we were visiting but we did go to see the comedian and he was good.Glacier bay :, it is a day of scenic cruising into one of the most fascinating area's. The park rangers come onto the ship and make announcements over the tannoy so you are informed throughout the day of exactly what you are seeing. The also hold a slide show talk in the theatre which is informative and interesting. We picked this cruise so we could see Glacier Bay and it did not dissapoint. Coming out from Glacier Bay you see an abundance of wildlife because the waters are so rich, the scenary is so vast and so clear again we had blue skies all day. Our main reason for choosing Alaska was to see the scenery and the animals and that was spectacular. We were lucky enough to have pure blue skies for most of our trip and no rain except in Victoria. I don't think I will ever better this trip. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Dont get me wrong, we had a good time on our cruise. We had waited 10 months on what was our "big birthdays" holiday so we "pushed the boat out" so to speak and had a balcony cabin, on Deck 9 which was really lovely. ... Read More
Dont get me wrong, we had a good time on our cruise. We had waited 10 months on what was our "big birthdays" holiday so we "pushed the boat out" so to speak and had a balcony cabin, on Deck 9 which was really lovely. We felt this was a one off cruise as Alaska is not the sort of place we would normally go to as we love sunny destinations. We were so surprised at the weather, every day we were told 4-5 times "we are so lucky with the weather". only 2 days did we need our coats. We also liked the fact that we had people come on board to give talks and guide us through Glasier Bay and whale watching. We chose Princess as this was part of our holiday package and this was the biggest ship we had been on. Unfortunately, it didnt live up to our expectations in some areas and cast a small shadow over the cruise. The best bits for us was the cabin, production shows, breakfast in horizon court, entertainment team but the place we always found ourselves in was the Piazza which was fab - there always seemed to be things going on (after a couple of lunches in the horizon court, we decided to have our lunch thereafter and with the purchase of a coffee card which was good value, we spent many a good hour eating drinking and people watching. We also loved to dress up so two formal nights was great and the highlight was the elderly Japanese ladies in full dress - lovely. The let downs,and this is in order of importance for us was (1) the quality of the main course in the main dining rooms, (2)there didnt seem to be any atmosphere in these dining rooms, they were all decorated the same - a bit boring really and they had italian names? One would expect more colour than beige. (3) The entertainment shows (excluding production shows) were by other cruise standards abismal. I would hope that the Golden Princess were so desperate to have a band that they employed New Deal -they could certainly empty the bar. And the artist who did juggling etc, his voice was so grating on you and once youve seen him thats enough, not nearly every day - well thats what it felt like - you could hear him at the other end of the ship. Well each to their own and it was not our cup of tea at all. (4) We used the adult pool in the spa area for the first time then saw the scum around the edge and Carole wrote our names in it and we promptly reported it to the staff. I must say the next day the pool was empty and was being cleaned soit was good that Princess dealt with this straightaway although why should get in that state in the first place? The jacuzzis were fine tho. (5) My friend didnt like the fact that you couldnt physically put coins into the slot machines but that might apply to all ships nowadays - that was just her preference. (6) Being duped into taking a "welcome cocktail" from a waiter - little did we know at the time that it had a "keepsake plastic princess cruise glass" at a cost of over $10 which of course we queried and the cost reduced. We wanted to make our concerns known to the Pursers Office but couldnt get past the reception desk so we completed the appropriate comments pages and handed them in. most staff were very good however we found the ones that didnt have a smile on their face all day long were the eastern europeans. Our steward Enrique was excellent and couldnt do enough for us and as I mentioned above, the entertainment crew were great. On the whole though it was a good holiday and I would recommend Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We took our first NCL cruise Sept. 2010 from New York to Canada and New England found it to be excellent so this year booked for Alaska on the Star *what a let down* Entertainment. The theatre was not only poor it must have been ... Read More
We took our first NCL cruise Sept. 2010 from New York to Canada and New England found it to be excellent so this year booked for Alaska on the Star *what a let down* Entertainment. The theatre was not only poor it must have been embarrassing to have one night of acceptable entertainment the whole cruise (the last night) I am guessing they were so embarrassed that is why the theatre only had one show most nights rather than there normal two! Dinning. We celebrated our Ruby Anniversary, so we dined in there main restaurants. The service was slow and the food was not consistent, it was mostly lukewarm, yes you would complain and you would wait for another but you should receive it hot to begin with. Example; the morning of the Glazier three couples in the restaurant first thing so we could have our breakfast and return to see the Glazier. The starter arrived the first table had a problem so we waited and waited the first table finished their starter then we all received our main it was cold and I mean cold, again they would offer another but the point of going early was to see the Glazier and we were not going to miss out and just left. We had to change ships at Vancouver for our second cruise on the Pearl, some law in USA/Canada you have to spend 24 hours, at the time we thought it was a stupid law but not now thank you America. What a difference we actually received hot meals and some of the best entertainment we have had on a cruise. The Pearl on the whole is an all round for superior ship. I did not receive a survey for the Star and I requested one! I also wrote to NCL head office in Miami, I have no doubt you have guessed over one month latter no reply. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We booked late for our cruise to Alaska so had to select either a cabin they couldn't sell,or pay the extra money for concierge class. We chose the latter - big mistake!. Our cabin 9121 is below a balcony where chairs and tables are ... Read More
We booked late for our cruise to Alaska so had to select either a cabin they couldn't sell,or pay the extra money for concierge class. We chose the latter - big mistake!. Our cabin 9121 is below a balcony where chairs and tables are being scraped across all day. It was the noisiest cabin I've been in on a cruise.Concierge service gives you almost nothing more than regular service. The "hor d'oeurves" were little pieces of melba toast with some bland goo on them. The ship is too old. There are signs of wear all over. Chairs in the main dining room are falling apart. I complained to a waiter about my chair because it was broken- he did not find me another one- so I had to select the least defective of three other chairs. When people were walking next to the table the floor sagged. There was a horrible noise coming from the engines when we were dining. The food in the main dining room was the worst we've had on a cruise ship. good points, generally the staff was very nice and the managers, including the captain would mingle with the guests. The entertainment was excellent-including the cruise director. Kudos to the beautiful latin band. The cafeteria food was way better than the dining room food. I will never sail with Celebrity again because we feel that we did not get value for our money and they have not responded to my guest survey and e-mails. Also we enjoy dancing and have heard that their newer ships don't have good dance floors. I phoned Celebrity to tell them not to send me so much junk mail. Our best cruise was on Diamond Princess we got very close to a glacier on a classy ship.-with Royal Carribean Rhapsody of the Seas ,a floating beautiful piece of art a close second. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2010
This was my first cruise on Holland America. All my other cruises have been Royal Caribbean or one of it's subsidiaries. The best thing about Holland America was it's expedited disembarkation. If you take your own bags, get ... Read More
This was my first cruise on Holland America. All my other cruises have been Royal Caribbean or one of it's subsidiaries. The best thing about Holland America was it's expedited disembarkation. If you take your own bags, get off early and don't have transportation arranged by the cruise line, you can get off early without sitting around waiting for your group to be called, and don't have to put your bags out the night before. We really, really liked that. We also liked the tour of the ship's kitchen that was open to everyone, not just the privileged few. The ship had self-service laundry facilities on three decks. For an Alaska cruise, it was nice that there is a cover over the pool that could be closed. It made the pool area much more useful. They had a demonstration kitchen with a guest chef that prepared four different dishes on the trip. The items in the gift shop were moderately priced, but that might have been because it was toward the end of the season. The buffet was well done with nice wrap options for lunch and made to order omelets for breakfast. The bad points were beverage choices, over-amplification, endless sales pitches, limited ports, entertainment and dining. There were only two choices in diet sodas, plus fountain iced tea from syrup rather than fresh brewed. You need to bring earplugs because sound was way over-amplified--almost to the point of pain--in the showroom, the bar, and virtually anywhere a microphone was used. Every time you turned around, someone was trying to sell you something, but this really isn't unique to HAL but endemic in the cruise industry. We had done an Alaska cruise previously on Celebrity. This cruise had much less time in port. It was rarely more than half a day in any port, and we missed Victoria completely due to weather conditions. I know, that isn't the cruise line's fault. The entertainment was not very good. Trying to do Vegas style seems to be a losing proposition on cruises. We really liked the cabaret format on the Azamara Quest. The option seating option in the dining room didn't really work all that well. Unless you made a reservation ahead of time, you often had to wait for a table. Once we were even given a pager and had to wait in the lounge upstairs. The food and desserts for the most part were just good. While a dessert might look spectacular, the taste was just OK. The stateroom with a verandah was average. We were upgraded to a Spa room. That got us yoga mats (unused), a in-room water feature (a table top waterfall) that was mostly unused as it took up the only electrical outlet available, which was most often used to recharge something. We also got some upgraded bathrobes, which were really nice and some bottles of vitamin and mineral waters. Those were given to our travel mates. In general, it is nothing we would pay anything extra for and didn't really consider it an upgrade, just a gimmick.The service was generally OK, but not great, except for Juli in the dining room. I did find that the Indonesian crew members were very cheerful and friendly. The ship itself was nice, but of course there is a certain sameness about all of them. We did have a room (6124) right next to the elevators and stairway but didn't hear any untoward noise due to our location. Getting on and off the ship was well handled at all ports, not just disembarkation. There was a line at embarkation, but it moved quickly. The only problem was standing in a long line in the rain in Ketchikan. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2009
We (lw and neighbor couple) sailed out of Seattle on July 3rd. Embarkation was a breeze. Lunch for Mariner members was a delight. We were in our cabin shortly and soon up on deck for sail away. Of course sailing out of Seattle requires a ... Read More
We (lw and neighbor couple) sailed out of Seattle on July 3rd. Embarkation was a breeze. Lunch for Mariner members was a delight. We were in our cabin shortly and soon up on deck for sail away. Of course sailing out of Seattle requires a long cruise through the Strait of Juan de Fuca before hitting the open seas. Impressions: Crew: very friendly and eager to help. Steward even complied with our request for more hangers. Cabin: well cared for and clean even though it appeared they had taken some room from the "C" cabins to make more room for the Lanai cabins. Since this was an upgrade, no complaints. Food: outstanding. We ate almost all meals in the dining room. the service was great and the menus offered enough variety to please most anyone. Anyone complaining about there not being enough food simply didn't ask the waiter for a little extra. For our group, we were very complimentary of the size of servings as they did not make you feel overstuffed. My only complaint is, HAL and other cruise lines simply haven't figured out how to cook been unless you go to the added cost restaurant. The seafood and duck were particularly tasty. Entertainment: it would be a mistake to mention entertainment without a word for the string quartet. This group of ladies from Ukraine certainly entertained well. It made for a fine calming evening. The other entertainment on board was also worthy of praise. The trio playing dance music and jazz was quite accomplished. the guitarist and piano bar added entertainment for many. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the on board show cast of singers and dancers. the singers could all hit their notes in rhythm even though some better mike technique would have made the opening night show more enjoyable. These nine people plus the Hal Cats and the string quartet entertained in the show room all but two nights. In my opinion, the best show cast I've heard on board, even from larger ships. public rooms: I would be remiss if I didn't mention the joys of visiting the explorers lounge. It was always a busy place for everyone from young people playing card games and board games, to computer users, crossword solvers and readers. Such a change from the times when you had to search for the library and they hope for a time it was open. Loved the lounge. Geography: we were on our second Alaska cruise in two years and were pleased as we were before. The ports are fun to visit with plenty of things to see. The two stops this year we didn't see last year were the Hubbard Glacier and Sitka. The captain of the Rotterdam got us so close to the Glacier it felt as if we were feeling the sound of the calving. Absolutely marvelous. Sitka is a true delight, seeing the historic Russian settlement in an environment intentionally kept free from as much tourist paraphernalia as possible. Final thoughts: If HAL is losing it, as some suggest, we haven't seen it. We enjoy the size of the ships, the attentive crew, the art on board and the ability to relax and have a great vacation. The only reason we will choose another cruise line is if HAL doesn't got to a port we really want to see.   Read Less

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