12 Holland America Amsterdam Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it did not disappoint. Check- in was a long process as those going on the World Cruise are mostly four and five star customers and the designated line for that was just as long for the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and it did not disappoint. Check- in was a long process as those going on the World Cruise are mostly four and five star customers and the designated line for that was just as long for the other guests that were new to the ship. There are a lot of seniors on this trip (who else could take off for 113 days) so don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere as that won’t happen. We had an Oceanview room on the second deck right in the middle. We would not choose this again for two reasons. The pilots that board to help the ship dock usually come in very early in the morning right below your window and then there is the cleaning of the deck (deck three is the walking deck) also very early in the morning. However if noise doesn’t bother you, the cabin was nice. It had a large picture window, plenty of drawers and closet space and ours had a renovated bathroom that had a large glass shower and a marble counter. Unfortunately the rest of the décor was aged and some of the wood on the dressers had chips out of it. The rooms on deck 6 and 7 were fully refurbished during the last dry dock, hopefully they do the same with deck two. The itinerary was the best. Top ports to us were: Easter Island, Komodo Island, all of New Zealand, Singapore, Oman, Jordan, Cadiz (Seville), Copenhagen, Oslo and Dublin. We learned a few things to pass on to others regarding ports. If you are going into a tender port and really, really want to explore that port book a shore excursion. Even though the price is double what a port excursion is, you are first off the ship. We had rough seas when visiting Easter Island and some people did not get on the tender to view this impressive place. However, we were lucky to get a couple of hours on the Island and were very disappointed in Holland America when we saw an awful lot of staff on the island before we got there. Some were helping out with the tours but most were either from the shops or officers, we assumed that guests would have first dibs on the tenders. Pros: - Itinerary was absolutely amazing. - The Microsoft Digital Workshop was a free service that had classes on how best to use Windows 10. We learned a lot - Gloeta was a biology lecturer we had on board that was fabulous. It was standing room only for her lectures on the Pacific Ocean and what was lurking below the water. - The staff was second-to-none. Big shout out to Captain Johnathan Mercer. He kept us informed about all that was going on and always had time to say hello or answer a question. Henk Mensink is the hotel director but you see him everywhere. Wishing you a pleasant day in port, helping you on to the tender, picking up after guest. Holland America is lucky to have him. The wait staff and kitchen help were happy and helpful. - The ship was amazing clean, down to staff polishing the hand rails everyday on every stairwell and even brushing the carpet. Rooms were also exceptionally clean. - The food was all you could hope for. No need to dress up for formal nights in the dining room as the same food is served at the Lido (sure saves on what you have to pack). No need to get to the speciality restaurants either as the food is just that good. I liked the fact that almost all the food is served to you from behind the sneeze guards. We assume that there would be a lot less waste and much more cleanly that way. Cons - The internet is stupid expensive and so unreliable. We paid $700 US for a plan for the whole cruise and had better luck at the ports and in McDonalds on land, than trying to get the internet either to work at all or was so slow you couldn’t connect with what sites you wanted. - Staff – the cruise director was invisible except when the captain was at an activity, otherwise you never saw him or he quickly passed you without even a nod. The shore specialist was more interested in telling you all about the history of the place or what his favourite items were (sailing and pubs) than giving you hints on what to buy, where to buy, how much to pay, etc. Very disappointing for both of these. - Library needs to either get updated books or become a digital library. Some of the books had been there an extended period of time and anything new was few and far between. - The entertainers on board were average at best. Some good, some bad. The average age looked to be around 75 so the entertainment was geared to that era. - There were two big back windows in the dining room that you could not see out of because they were shattered but were never changed out the whole trip. Also couldn’t see out of most of the windows by the end of the cruise as they were not cleaned. We had to complain in order to get our window in our cabin cleaned. Even though there were some cons (as I assume all ships have), this trip was a once in a lifetime experience and what was saw of the world was fabulous. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Definitely would use Holland America again. Wanted to go to Alaska with 2 friends who had it on their bucket list. Needed wheelchair and they were so accommodating, helping me lift w/c when it was hard for me. We did bring our own fold up ... Read More
Definitely would use Holland America again. Wanted to go to Alaska with 2 friends who had it on their bucket list. Needed wheelchair and they were so accommodating, helping me lift w/c when it was hard for me. We did bring our own fold up wheelchair. Room staff very helpful for our situation. Everyone who worked on the ship really seemed to like their jobs. Very happy people. Plenty of hand sanitizers everywhere they put the ship which to me said they cared about keeping us healthy. The cruise food was a10/10 especially the two dining areas but even the food on top level was very good. The dog sledding on land was interesting, the timberland thing was a bit quirky-silly fun. Weather was great. Victoria is so beautiful should have longer time there. Can’t thank them enough for the wonderful trip we had. Booked with AAA. Thank you Holland America Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Boarding the ship with a wheelchair was easy and accommodating. The first day into the cruise was filled with underwhelming food. It seemed like the ship did not have any stabilizers and I got very seasick. Not only was there nobody in the ... Read More
Boarding the ship with a wheelchair was easy and accommodating. The first day into the cruise was filled with underwhelming food. It seemed like the ship did not have any stabilizers and I got very seasick. Not only was there nobody in the infirmary to answer the phone, but there was also nobody in the infirmary that could give me seasick medicine. I eventually was helped by someone in guest services. With the medicine I was given, I needed to take it with food. However bring it was late in the night, the only thing open was room service. I could not get ahold of room services for the entire day and still had my tray from lunch in my room. I also used the complimentary movie service. However I did not get to watch a movie because the DVD got stuck in the player. I called to ask for help in working the machine, was told someone would be to the cabin shortly- nobody ever came. The only thing that made my trip with Holland America bearable were the excursions. The excursion company was very good and helpful. The staff were very rude when boarding the ship and were rushing passengers through security. I understand the need to have a swift departure, but they were rude with even elderly passengers. The best food on the ship was the ice cream- which was running low (the popular vanilla and chocolate flavors were nonexistent) by the second to last stop on the cruise. The buffet was lacking in variety and flavor- lunch and dinner time consisted of the exact same things. By day four of the cruise, I was sick of the food. I enjoyed the decor of the ship but ultimately felt it was not a wise use of money and the longest week of my life. I understand that situations are out of control of the hands of the crew- like the rough seas- however, there was nothing extremely good to overshadow the rough beginning in which lots of things the crew could have done better went wrong. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We visited most major ports in Alaska except Glacier Bay and Skagway/Haines. Embarkation was better than average with minimal waiting, and the port in Seattle was very easy to navigate. Holland allows 3 bottles of wine per adult ... Read More
We visited most major ports in Alaska except Glacier Bay and Skagway/Haines. Embarkation was better than average with minimal waiting, and the port in Seattle was very easy to navigate. Holland allows 3 bottles of wine per adult which can be placed in regular luggage, but bring your corkscrew if you will drink in your room. Corkage in the dining room was $18 plus tax in Washington :-( . Once out of Washington, no tax. Wine steward service was very good with our bottle always waiting for us at dinner, and each bottle lasted 3 dinners for us. Mildly upsetting was that Holland initially tentatively charged our credit card account $1,499.82 on embarkation (per our bank) while our final bill was only $32.20, overestimating the final amount by 4,657.8 percent. Seems to me that they should have disclosed this to passengers so that they would know what to expect since many banks now inform their customers of each charge made. The ship appears to be old and desperately needs renovation with SD TV's with poor reception in the staterooms (even for the usual onboard sourced programming) with noticeable wear in the bathroom and cabin and dated ship decor. There was substantial deferred maintenance In our stateroom, the bottom desk drawer didn't function well (other passengers said theirs did not work at all) and when I decided to take a bath (I am used to the tiny showers on other lines) there was ring around the bathtub. Yuk - showers on out. I also noticed that the grout had brown stains and the toilet seat showed signs of wear. The bathroom had ample shelf space with toiletries bags and reading material going under the sink and a closing corner vanity cabinet with three levels, There was a hair dryer mounted on the wall as well as a corded hair dryer in the desk which we did not use. A magnifying mirror was mounted to the desk and there was another in the desk as well. Two bathrobes were provided. During our cruise, they were apparently sanding and varnishing outdoor stairs between decks (we were pretty far aft). The strong smell permeated the hallway and rooms and caused both my wife and I to become nauseated. This continued for a substantial time. At one point, someone propped up am outdoor chair in the exterior doorway, but that was soon removed. They were also varnishing the railing on the top deck. Unfortunately, their "Wet paint" signs were placed on small labels facing the sea twisted somewhat around the railing structure. I found out that there was wet varnish the hard way. In another area of the top deck, the top wood rail was completely missing and remained missing throughout the two week trip. Others complained of smoke odors in public areas (purportedly no smoking allowed) and we noticed curry smells near the stairwell once or twice - we presume that the crew must have been cooking in the lower decks. Clean windows appeared to be a low priority on this ship. Besides the stateroom windows which is understandable due to their inaccessibility, windows for public areas, particularly the dining room, were filthy substantially blocking the view outside. Even accessible windows (like the windows on doors in public areas were filthy). Stewards were very polite, as were most personnel on board - much better than we have experienced on competing lines, while shop personnel were typically hard sell as on other lines. Food service in the dining room was good though food sat too long and was too repetitive. With a few exceptions, soup was placed in pitchers and poured into bowls at the table which helped to keep it hot, but most everything else was lukewarm. Portions promoted good health but seemed small. They served Alaskan crab at one dinner which consisted of two segments of a single leg. Dinner fare was unimaginative and repetitive. Souffles were sparse, and the variably prepared creme brulee was available every day. The one time I tried a souffle, it was very cupcake-like. The dinner rolls were likewise the same for the whole trip while other cruiselines provide different variations and styles. I was surprised when the surf and turf night did not include a baked potato. Interestingly, this cruise featured demonstrations by America's Test Kitchen, but it did not appear that anything was communicated to the cooking staff. Eating at the Lido Buffet was similarly unimaginative. Breakfast was substantially the same everyday. There were several stations with different types of food, but the food was generally unchanged and if one wanted different things, several stations would have to be visited. There were separate stations for fried eggs, omelets, waffles, poached eggs/congee, one for juices/milk, ... If one wanted poached eggs/eggs benedict and sausage, that would require a trip to two different stations, or even more if one wanted toast, with each having a separate queue which became very long at times. The stations generally did not have any additional assistance when the queue grew. Potatoes were cooked the same throughout the trip - no variations like potatoes o-brien, hash browns, etc. were offered. Fruit was sparse, and there were no smoked fish like salmon\ or trout, nor a large variety of sliced meats like those offered on other cruiselines. The servers were apparently instructed to work fast, but in their effort to serve the next person, often failed to provide what the prior person wanted. Once, and elderly gentlemen in front of me wanted a couple of different items. When he politely repeated what he wanted, the server became visibly peeved, finally responding to him and filling his request. Things similar to this were often repeated and it appeared that the servers either didn't want to listen or did not understand the people they were serving. It appeared that their failure to listen resulted in longer delays in the lines, though by the third or fourth day, I gave up and took whatever they scooped. Beverage service (coffee, water, tea, lemon syrup water) was spotty, depending on what personnel were present. Even though we were generally approached fairly quickly, beverage speed ranged from immediate to times when after finishing my food, I went to get iced tea from the dispenser myself. Even the supervisors (in suits) were variable - sometimes they would be helpful, sometimes they were busy talking amongst themselves and didn't care, and there were times when the dining area was relatively empty - they served a single diner, but refused to acknowledge other diners who wanted refills, even turning around and walking away after seeing diners wanting service. Lunch at the Lido was similar. There were multiple stations with a few variations (whatever was left over from a prior meal). Pizza, relegated to one regular station, was the worst I have had on a cruise, in part because it generally sat around for a long time (I don't know if the older passenger demographic was a cause). It was refreshing to be offered sushi, but there was only a very few variations of mini rolls (surprising since this cruise served lots of salmon), so after the second day, meh. They were small enough that people often got several, poured the sushi onto one plate, and abandoned the empty dishes. Many also gave up on waiting for the server - they just reached over and grabbed what they wanted. The buffet closed between meals though the food was placed in warming ovens quite early. The food, having sat for an extended time, lost its freshness by the time it was offered. An example - one station had small plates of pasta. I did not encounter any fresh plates. The plates had been sitting around long enough that the outside was dry and hard. Very few people partake. For lunch, sparcely filled small sandwiches were often available in small paper bags. Unsealed, these sat around long enough that the bread was often hard and dry. Lido provided snacks 10:30p - 11:30p. Comfort food such as wings, fries, tortilla chips, potato chips and other leftovers were offered. The wings, though not real fresh, were pretty tasty (unlike the other fried chicken which could have come from a frozen TV dinner. The fries were the best I have had on a cruise ship with two variations, one well done and one regular, provided. The chips, probably coming from bags, were typical. Guacamole was provided, but typically went very quickly without replenishing and at other times, stayed, the surface clearly discolored from sitting too long. The Lido dining area was not well maintained. The tables were often a little sticky (They need to replace the cleaning buckets more often) and it appeared no one bothered to vacuum the carpet, particularly noticeable near the windows. Desserts where typical - nothing fancy - but were not replenished quickly enough. Ice cream service was exceptional, extensive queues not withstanding. There were several choices of real ice cream (eg: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip, cookie dough, etc., sherbets) as well as soft serve, served in regular cones, waffle cones, or in bowls with a selection of toppings such as marshmallows, syrup and chocolate chips. This started near lunch and ran throughout the day. The Pinnacle Grill provided a quiet experience with attentive service though the food was unexceptional. The Italian restaurant was a cordoned off part of the Lido. It had attentive service and good portions, though the food was not up to par and was not close to what we consider good authentic Italian food. It tasted the same as the dining room although with a little different spice mix. Since there were very few people there, it was very quiet. Their written confirmation was off by a couple of hours for us as well as another diner, but with few patrons, it did not matter. The only Cioppino I ever had before this was San Francisco Cioppino and this did not compare. I appeared that the ingredients were boiled separately with Italian inspired broth poured over. The seafood had little flavor. Entertainment was next to the worst we experienced in the over 10 cruises we have been on. The ship's personnel's shows were karaoke style with mostly recorded instumentals accompanied by a lone violinist. There was good one male singer who apparently also worked the restaurant while the others attempted a reasonable facsimile of a high school musical. Dancers included one woman who clearly had some ballet training, but the others were not so graceful. The troup's attempt at a county western bar motive was, with obviously non-native English speaking backgrounds, was entertaining, but not in a good way. The guest performers were better than the onboard musicians and dancers, and they were often accompanied by a live band which appeared to be professional. There were also the requisite lounge musicians. Stateroom TV's provided old NTSC(?) standard definition analog video of very poor quality with lots of distortion, NOT caused by degradation of satellite signal. Last time I watched video that bad was close to 20 years ago. Although the TV appeared to be a first generation stereo set, all signals going to it were mono. This was a 14 day cruise covering just a few more ports than shorter cruises and allowed extensive time in each port, so there was no hurry to get off the boat or rush back to the ship. Unfortunately, at least for us, when we returned to the ship, it was often after lunch hours and there was no food available. For extended hour ports, we arrived after dinner hours, so no food either until snacks at 10:30. This was the first time we were left hungry on a cruiseship, and after 11:30 pm, no food (although room service was still available). It would have been nice if they coordinated the buffet, but no such luck. It was surprising that many halls, stairwells and elevators and outside decks were empty after hours. It was refreshing and comfortable, if a bit spooky, to be able to walk the halls of a cruiseship without seeing another human. This contributed to the slowness of the environment. Maybe because young families cannot always afford to take a 14 day vacation, this cruise attracted an older crowd and we sexagenarians appeared to be among the younger of the crowd. This is NOT a cruise for young people though there was one pack of less than 10 millenials wandering around the decks. Our adult child would have been miserable. The whirlpool on the pool deck closed at 10pm (the pool closed earlier) which was disappointing (we like to linger later) though after 9, there were very few people on deck. Well before 10, the retractable roof over the pool area was closed. Some ports were small enough that unless you paid for a shore excursion, there was very little to do. One port provided a short shuttle to the other side of the spit where there were only a few shops catering to cruise passengers. This being our fourth cruise to Alaska, we did not go on any shore excursions. Embarkation was the best we have experienced. Port Valet service allowed passengers to check in their luggage on the ship and obtain boarding passes for their flights FREE of charge. Luggage fees were charged to our onboard account at cost ($25.00). It made it very easy and comfortable to disembark without having to deal with luggage, and made disembarkation the easiest and most efficient we ever experienced (They or our overbooked airline did lose our seat assignments, but we were able to get new assignments at the airport). I do not know whether it is a Seattle port program or a HAL program, but the ability to transfer our luggage and check in was much appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We signed up for this cruise because the price was right and it included ports we had never sailed to. The weather was better that we could hope for. We only had a little rain on one day and we dried out after being rained on. That port ... Read More
We signed up for this cruise because the price was right and it included ports we had never sailed to. The weather was better that we could hope for. We only had a little rain on one day and we dried out after being rained on. That port was Icy Strait, which was new to us. The tribal corporation has built very nice, modern port facilities. We enjoyed walking thru their shops but really enjoyed walking to their village. Everyone we spoke to were very polite and helpful. Our visit to Kodiak was great. At Sitka, we had arranged a tour that was excellent. Their web site is sitkawildlifetours.com. Check it out, the price is excellent and the tour we took was very professional and informative. We also did a tour on our own in Victoria that was a walking tour with food tasting along the way. Their web site is atasteofvictoriafoodtours.com. Again, worth checking out. We very much enjoyed the tour. The experience on the ship was very positive. The ship is well kept and the right size. Dining at the main dining room was never crowded. We had to wait about 5 minutes on one occasion. Other that that, it was walk up and be seated for any time dining. The food was excellent as was the service. The shows were pretty good in general. We do not care much for the shows with the ship's cast as they tend to be too loud and over amplified. The other shows were mostly very good. The crew members were very nice and helpful. I'd highly recommend this cruise to anyone who has an interest in visiting various ports in Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Wow. What a cruise. The ports were amazing. Hawaii, Somoa, Fiji, Tonga and French Polynesia. I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years. My husband finally retired so we had the time to do this 48 day cruise from San Diego. ... Read More
Wow. What a cruise. The ports were amazing. Hawaii, Somoa, Fiji, Tonga and French Polynesia. I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years. My husband finally retired so we had the time to do this 48 day cruise from San Diego. The weather was wonderful the whole time. I can't even remember having any rain. The seas were calm and quiet the whole trip except the night we left and the night we came back into San Diego. There must be something about ocean conditions off the coast of Mexico and California. The Amsterdam is an older smaller ship. I liked the size. Not too big and not too small. We usually get balcony cabins as we enjoy them so much but on this cruise the balconies were cost prohibitive. We made do with an outside cabin. It was okay. We did not like the TV. It was small and was pointed sideways. We couldn't enjoy it as we couldn't see it well from our bed. Also, there was no fridge in our cabin. We couldn't get any cool water to come out of the tap. I won a bottle of wine from the art auction and we had to drink it warm. We were told the lack of fridges was because it was an old ship. They seemed to blame a lot of things on it being an older ship. The food on this cruise was wonderful, however, I am not picky, if someone else makes it I'll eat it. We usually ate in the dining room at a shared table for dinner, however, service was very slow. We found out that the wait was cut in half if we managed to get a table for 2. Tables for 2 were in very high demand. Some nights we ate dinner in the buffet which was so much faster and easier. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the buffet. We were never allowed to serve ourselves in the buffet so the staff had to ask each person what items they wanted on their plates. This slowed down the lines in the buffet greatly at busy times. There was also the Dive In grill that had hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos. Needless to say we didn't lose any weight on this cruise. We loved the main pool area. It never seemed crowded. It was just very sunny and hot. There was no shade for the loungers. The pool itself was very nice. Cool but not too cool. It was deeper so it was so nice to dip into to have a swim. There is a pool in the back of the ship but it was only 4 feet deep. Much too shallow for my liking. I must say all the staff on this ship were fabulous. The bartenders, room stewards, etc were all so nice and friendly and did their jobs well. I hate being called Madam. In the buffet I met a waiter who called me Madam. I told him how I hated it and told him to call me by my name. For the whole rest of the cruise he recognized us and called us Miss Linda and Mr. William instead of Madam and Sir. We were upset that our captain did not take us past the lava flow in Hawaii. To go to Hawaii and not see the lava flow is like going to Alaska and not seeing a glacier. The Captain gave no explanation and just kept saying it was not on the itinerary. Funny how it was on the Noordam's itinerary who cruised past it just a day before. After complaining to the corporate office we found out the reason we missed it was because of fuel consumption. We had been on a Hawaii cruise a few months before this on Celebrity. Not only did the captain go by the lava flow. He stopped the ship and circled it 360 so everyone got a view of the flow. This does not make this captain or HAL look very good in our eyes as was the case for many on this cruise. We missed one port. Niue was cancelled. We do not mind missing ports when the need arises but the way it was told to us was very disappointing. The captain said it was due to heavy swells. We had never seen such calm seas that day. Hardly a ripple. So we found it very odd. We were talking to a tender officer on deck and he said the port was cancelled because the tender did not line up to the pier. The officer explained passengers would have had to jump up 1 meter from the tender to the pier. Now why would the captain lie and say heavy swells when it was due to the pier height. Had HAL never been to this port before? Bad planning on HAL's part. We did not appreciate being lied to by the captain for a second time. We were then slapped in the face when they refunded us .99 cents to our accounts for port charges. I love to snorkel. So I intended to snorkel in every port. I snorkeled in every port except Nuka Hiva. In Nuka Hiva we were not allowed in the water due to bad sharks. We were also warned not to walk away from the port area alone as cannibalism is still practiced here. (We found that hard to believe until talking to the cruise director. He said a tourist was killed and eaten in 2014. Yikes!) I did not purchase any shore excursions from HAL. They were all so over priced. I purchased all my snorkeling shore excursions on the pier and usually paid less than half of what the ship charged. Sometimes I just went snorkeling independently at public beaches or areas near the pier. I enjoyed all my snorkeling trips very much. Sadly, I must say a lot of the coral is dying. I had one snorkel leader who thought nothing of stepping on the coral with her fins. sigh ;-( We purchased $425 in internet time. The internet on this cruise was horrible. Most of our internet time and money was spent waiting for pages to load. We were told by the captain that the reason was because the Amsterdam was such a old ship. The internet could be improved on this ship however HAL corporate will not spend the money to upgrade the internet equipment. The entertainers on this ship were hit and miss. All of the production shows were great. The dancers on this ship were most excellent and the best I had ever seen on a cruise ship and I have been on a lot of cruises. They were exceptional. We had 3 local dance groups perform. One from Hawaii, Fiji and Tahiti. They were very nice. Some comedians were good, some were terrible. Some singers were enjoyable some were boring. We had a lot of musicians. I think I have heard flight of the bumblebee on every musical instrument known to man. Some nights we had no entertainment and just had a movie shown. I must say I loved HAL's popcorn. We had to take tenders to most of these islands as they did not have piers for larger ships like ours. Tendering was such a pain. We would have to line up very early in the morning to get tender tickets. One morning I was 4th in line for tender tickets. I got tender number 4. I asked the crew member in charge how in the world could I be on tender 4 when I was fourth in line. She explained that the 3 people ahead of me had gotten 3 tender boats worth of tender tickets. I guess people were getting 30 tender tickets each for their friends, neighbors, groups etc. I don't think people should be able to get that many tender tickets. It should be limited to 4 or 6 per person. People on ship excursions and 4 star mariners with HAL did not have to line up for tender tickets. They were all the first ones off the ship. Disembarkation was a nightmare. All non Americans were required to go to a lounge and clear customs. Customs would not clear the ship or let anyone off until that was done. Many non Americans did not go in a timely manner. The cruise director kept announcing over and over again for people from certain cabins to go to clear customs. This took 2 hours. It was 9am and we were kicked out of our cabins to wait in the public areas. Finally the ship was cleared and self assist was able to disembark the ship. The problem was that so many people had gone down to the gangway to wait to disembark that the self assist people couldn't get off as all the stair ways and hall ways near the gangway were full of people. The cruise director announced several times begging people not to go to the gangway area until their colors were called. Then it was found that the gangway was not secured to the ship properly. Disembarkation had to be stopped while the gangway was re secured. Our color was supposed to get off the ship at 9am. Our color was finally called at 10:30am. Right then they announced that the elevators were all non operational. I am disabled and walk with a walker. Since my walker doesn't do stairs I had no way to get down 8 decks to the disembarkation area. My husband finally decided to carry my walker down the stairs while I slowly and carefully negotiated the stairs. When we got down to the disembarkation area we saw all the people waiting for their colors to be called. It was difficult to try to get around them and get off the ship. Now this nightmare was not all HAL's fault. Why do people not go when they are told to check in with customs? When people are told not to go down to the disembarkation area until your color is called why do people not listen and go anyway? We made it to the airport in plenty of time as our flight was not until the afternoon, however, I am sure many people must have missed their morning flights. We are not loyal to any one cruise line. When we cruise we have a choice. Most main stream cruise lines are more similar than they are different. We cruise a lot with all cruise lines and are used to getting affordable balcony cabins and booking perks. On Celebrity and NCL we usually get free gratuities, free beverages and free unlimited internet. Nothing is free on HAL. Because of this and the captains dishonesty I don't think we will not be doing many more cruises on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Our cabin was ok, except for night noise from galley above. Only 1 electric outlet a problem. First night out was horrible weather - bring meds. Days typically misty, rainy with pm clearing. Entertainment ranged from "A" ... Read More
Our cabin was ok, except for night noise from galley above. Only 1 electric outlet a problem. First night out was horrible weather - bring meds. Days typically misty, rainy with pm clearing. Entertainment ranged from "A" to "F." Brooklyn pianist and Ukranian violinist/pianist the best. Generally 5-6 choices in the evening. There will be usual run of annoying people - save seats for 20 people, keep the ship waiting while they purchase one last totem pole. HAL maintains the average of passengers is dropping - I think it went from 74 to 73.2 years of age. Daytime classes - cooking ok, but short. Microsoft 10 very good. AK seminars ok. Others usually sly sales pitches. Child care - heard a couple of families trying to (unsuccessfully) convince their children to go with on shore excursions. Didn't see much in the way of security cameras - heard about one incident with an older man sitting down with an unattended child. Could have been nothing since people on board are generally very open and easy going. Excursions - HAL generally 15 - 20% more than those purchased in town. Chamber of Commerce Visitors Info Booths in each town, 1st stop next to the pier. The little ladies know all there is to know. For example, Juneau - you can get to the Glacier for $40, $25, or $8. Each town had free internet access at the library. Try the "Cultural geography" tour - just talking to residents about how they and their families live - the student in the library, the "crew" store clerk, the lady shopping in the grocery store. Heard several complaints about tour ripoffs - $600 helicopter trips that couldn't get above low ceilings. The raptor center that only had a sleeping owl with a bandaged left wing in a small room and an 18 year old from Penn.on his summer job as a"tour guide" who didn't know anything about AK. Food - La Fontaine - Nicely presented by well-trained staff. Usually over 2 hours with a 30 minute wait for service of main course. Typically 5-7 options for appetizer/salad course; about the same for main course options and deserts. Always 1 fish dish and veg menu available. Food occasionally served cold. Lido - Italian station, sandwiches, salads, carving station, Asian - Thai, Indian, Chinese, Veget. Main course station - always fish and a casserole. Two soups. Unfortunately the food was often served cold. On one port day they had food for hundreds prepared and only 25 people in the dining room. It just sat there - poor planning by Chef and questionable health practice. 10:30 Buffet - Nice late night options, but again everything was served cold. Be aware of "ship time" - it can mess up your schedule. HAL messed up our baggage transfer, but kept our $29 X 4. We had to carry our own 2 suitcases, 2 bags, 2 CPAP machines, on my wheelchair. The best part of the trip was the people - lots of lengthy and personal conversations with people, especially at open table dinner. It's worth $200/day/person to put your life in perspective. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We were on the Amsterdam for the 14-day trip June 22 - July 6th. We had a great time! Cabin: 3431. This is a handicapped accessible cabin on the stern of the ship - lower promenade. The shower was wonderful and the room was very spacious. ... Read More
We were on the Amsterdam for the 14-day trip June 22 - July 6th. We had a great time! Cabin: 3431. This is a handicapped accessible cabin on the stern of the ship - lower promenade. The shower was wonderful and the room was very spacious. The door was wide enough for the scooter to enter and exit easily. There was a closet with shelves as soon as you came in the door. Directly opposite the door was another closet with a shelf and hanging room. Next to the door area was another double closet - one for hanging clothes and the other had the safe and shelves. There were 3 large drawers in the desk area. We left the beds as twins and had a large empty space between the beds. The nightstands were in front of the window which meant we could stand there and look out. The views off the stern of the ship were breathtaking at times and it was nice to see where we'd been! We'd book this cabin again in a heartbeat. Ship: The ship was in great shape. She is our favorite and we enjoyed her yet again. The ship is easy to get around and there are many places to get away. Staff: Everyone was super nice and so accomodating. I did the Meet and Greet and several officers attended. The CD was Michael Harvey and he was very good. He did a nice presentation for Canada Day. As a Canadian who has lived in the US for 35+ years I learned a few things from him. Lisa, the Beverage Manager, was so easy to work with and so personable. Our room stewards were great! Food: I'm definitely not a "foodie" and I can say that we never went hungry or wanting for food. We tried the Dive-In a few times. My hubby loved the fries but found the burgers to big and messy for his liking. He found he preferred the hot dogs. The Lido was always well-appointed. We ate all but 2 evenings in the dining room. We had As You Wish Dining, a reservation for 5:15 and, after day 4, sat at the same table, with the same tablemates for the rest of the cruise. Some have said the portions seem smaller and I can see that but I look at that as a positive. I can have all the courses and not come away stuffed. Both Canada Day and Independence Day were formal nights and the dining room was well-appointed for both holidays. On Canada Day there were a few dishes with a Canadian theme and we all agreed that the French Canadian Tartiere was to die for! We all wanted it as a main dish and not as an appetizer. Some people I knew even ordered it again for dessert! Itinerary: All the ports were wonderful. We had rain in Juneau and Ketchikan but it was spotty and didn't hamper us from getting off and exploring. My hubby uses a scooter for mobility and the crew was great at helping us on and off the ship. We tend to do things on our own which makes for a more interesting time to us! In Icy Strait and Sitka the crew toted the scooter down the stairs to the tender - we contributed to their crew fund as a "thank you". All the ports were fun to walk around in and we'd love to go back to them (even if this was our 3rd time on this itinerary). Excursions: We did two through HAL - The Rain Forest Tram in Icy Strait and, in Anchorage, the Aviation Museum. Both were very nice and we enjoyed them a lot. The museum in Anchorage is small but the people in charge are very friendly and worked hard to be sure we had a good experience. They even had a couple of the men who had helped with the plane restoration come in to give us guided tours. Every other port we got off on our own and walked everywhere we could! Entertainment: We only had 2 shows, plus the first night overview, from the singers and dancers and many people commented that they wished we had seen them more. There were a number of special acts including Chad Chessmark (comedian and magician - ok), Jeff Burkhart (comedian - ok), Paul Pappas (pianist - excellent); The Unexpected Boys (quartet - excellent); Lee Bayless (comedian - excellent) and Barnaby (comedian and juggler - ok). Meet and Greet: We had 92 on our roll call and about 1/2 came to the Meet and Greet. Lisa, the beverage manager, did an awesome job of setting everything up for us. I had asked for a ship's photographer to attend and Vladimir came. It took some doing but he got a very nice picture of all of us. We had several officers there including Lisa, Michael (CD), Clinton (Events Manager) and a few others. The captain did not attend because it was an extremely foggy day and our event was punctuated with the fog horn going off. We were very glad he was on the bridge taking care of business! Again?: We would do this itinerary again in a heartbeat. We love the ship and 2 weeks is a great time frame. We love the ports and had a great time getting off and walking. My pedometer, by the last night of the cruise, had logged over 550,000 steps and over 130 miles. We had on our walking shoes!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Excellent cruise experiences on this 14 day Alaskan Explorer adventure. With my disabilities there had been some physical and logistic concerns prior to the cruise that were totally alleviated throughout this experience. My husband ... Read More
Excellent cruise experiences on this 14 day Alaskan Explorer adventure. With my disabilities there had been some physical and logistic concerns prior to the cruise that were totally alleviated throughout this experience. My husband is a photographer, and even though it rained 12 of the 14 days he managed to take almost 3, 000 pictures. I have some disabilities and was really fortunate to find very attentive and helpful staff when departing and returning to the ship as well as during the dining experiences in Lido or La Fontaine Dining Room. The cruise critic group on this cruise gathered in the Crow's Nest at the beginning of the cruise and had a group picture near the conclusion of the cruise, arranged by luvteaching. Special thanks to her for making these arrangements. The cruise captain, cruise director, and manager came to both gatherings and willingly answered our many questions. As expected the travel was a little rough with high wind and waves in the Pacific between Icy Strait Point and Anchorage, Kodiak and Hubbard Glacier, and between Sitka and Victoria. Fortunately I had learned from cruise critic prior to the trip that Ginger Root 550 mg beginning a few days before the cruise and continuing throughout the cruise would help with gastrointestinal symptoms with lasting potential physical problems from other commonly used over the counter or prescribed medications. From the Indonesian Crew, Elie, Dwi, and Victor were exceptionally helpful in the dining rooms. All crew staff members that I encountered were friendly, courteous, and accommodating. Our dining experiences were mostly limited to the Lido for breakfast and lunch and the La Fontaine Dining Room for dinner. We enjoyed the breakfast egg choices, and lunchtime individualized sandwich combinations. The appetizer, soup and salad, entrees and dessert choices in were always interesting. I especially enjoyed the chilled mixed berry and strawberry soups, lobster, salmon and baked Alaska choices. Since food could not be taken off the ship, we had brought a supply of packaged peanut M & Ms that were a big help from my husband's frequent snack habits. During the Captain's Welcome and the Mariner's Champagne Brunch we met some very interesting travelers, and had good food. The afternoon teas in the La Fontaine Dining Room provided an opportunity to try a variety of teas and foods. When possible to attend sessions on the ship with the captain, April, Patti, Jeanette or the cruise director they were found to be interesting as well as informative. I really enjoyed learning to make a box, carve veggies into decorative shapes, use Windows 7, the Introduction to the Cloud and Camera Basics. Two of my favorite experiences were learning about Alaska Natives Culture and history, and playing trivia. The talented and energetic cast of 8 who sang and danced in the Queen's Longue after dinner were very entertaining. Jeff Tracta's impersonations and inspirational life story were amazing and greatly enjoyed. Libraries in most of the sites visited had computers with free internet access when time allowed visiting. Even though it rained 11 or our 14 days, we were prepared by using Camp Dry to prepare hats, coats, slacks, shoes, etc. before the trip. With much of our time in the "rain forest" of Alaska, we expected some rain, but not quite as much as occurred. We were not quite prepared for the very cool temperatures but were able to purchase warm clothing. Shore excursions are the opportunities that really help one experience and remember their time in Alaska. Prior to this cruise we spent a lot of time carefully considering various options for each port and the following are those we selected for this 14 day trip. In Ketchikan we selected the Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tour with Kat and Dave and found it very interesting and geared toward whatever the passenger (in this case my photographer husband) was most interested in seeing. We saw many eagles and their nests, visited Potlash Park, Rainbow Falls, as well as a popular fishing camp in the area. We saw many interesting totem poles and had an explanation about totem poles. Price of this tour was $74 per hour for the vehicle which could have held up to 6 people who could have then divided that $74 per hour. We could not locate other travelers who were interested, so had the tour to ourselves and all our questions. The tour was well worth its cost. In Juneau we took the AAA recommended Mendenhall Glacier Transport LTD for $30. We saw much of the Juneau city and local favorite photographic sites. Then were taken to the Mendenhall Glacier and permitted to stay as long as we wanted and return on any of the Blue Glacier Express buses that depart every ½ hour. Later that afternoon my husband went on the HAL sponsored Photo Safari by Land and Sea which cost $199.95. He had many photographic opportunities on this tour including the glacier, a brown bear with 2 cubs, whales and eagles and thought that experience worthwhile. In Icy Strait Point (Hoonah) the tender to shore was no problem with my walker, and help from the crew. We took the Town Shuttle into Hoonah and enjoyed talking to the native driver. Whales were swimming near Hoonah near the road, and an eagle next was in a tree across the street from the school with 2 young eagles that were exercising their wings and a parent that came to feed them while we were watching. We had no prior plan but met a local bear hunter who was parked near the town stop for the shuttle. He was talking to another couple and offered to take us to see bears in his 4-wheel drive vehicle for $40 for 2 hours. He seemed to know and respect almost every bear in the area, knew what foods they preferred and where they usually were found. We saw several bears in their natural setting. This was an excellent experience. In Anchorage we took the AAA recommended Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and Alaska Native Heritage Museum tour for $28.95 each, and later took a taxi to Potter Marsh (reported to be an excellent birding location). This was the first sunny day of our trip. The Museums were well worth the cost especially the Native Heritage Museum. On the other hand Potter's Marsh had very few birds during the time or our visit, was near a highway, and skeet shooting range. The mountains were lovely from Potters Marsh, but I would not repeat that long taxi ride for the experience. In Homer we took the HAL Homer Highlights tour for $79.95 a person. The pier was long and steep , but this was an interesting 4 hour tour with a local guide. The 3 level Pratt museum was very interesting and the staff were accommodating to an individual who could not navigate the stairs between levels. Here we saw a live video from a nearby waterfall where a brown bear was fishing. In real-time we watched as the bear caught and consumed a salmon. We also visited the studio of the accomplished artist, Norman Lowell. His work included water color, acrylic, oil, poetry and other art forms. Many of the scenes he had painted of Alaska were breath taking. While we were in his studio, Normal Lowell circulated among us in his electric wheel chair answering questions about his art. In Kodiak we took the cruise critic recommend MemoryMakers Tour with Dake and Kadie. Both Kadie and Dake have many talents but especially knowledgeable about photography. My husband loved talking with them about various methods of canvas printing and retail opportunities they use. Dake knows secret places were puffins and eagles nest and frequent. We did not stop at the Baranov Museum but drove by it and other landmarks on the island. We visited Abercrombie State Historical Park and the World War II Military Museum. Here an employee was dressed in a uniform typical of our servicemen in WW II. The young man and his assistants posed for pictures and were willing to demonstrate equipment that may have been used at this primarily munitions location during WW II. Hubbard Glacier calving as seen from the ship was really interesting. There was no room in the Crow's Nest but I easily watched from a window seat in the Lido. In Sitka we took the HAL Birds, Bears & Barnacles tour for $59.95 each. We visited the Raptor Rehab Center were eagles and other birds of prey were cared for until about to be returned to their native environment. We saw orphan bears at a special farm that cares for them and other animals, and a marine hatchery and sea animal place. These were all animals in artificial settings, but up close and easy to photograph. This was a very nice though not realistic tour. From the port in Victoria we took the CVS Shuttle from the Cruise Terminal to the Empress Hotel using an all day pass for $8 a person. We had ordered online the AAA recommended CVS Shuttle tour from the empress Hotel to the Butterfly Gardens and Butchart Gardens for $50 a person. The butterflies were lovely but the hot and humid environment was good to visit for only a brief time. On this beautiful, sunny day and the flowers in Butchart Gardens were a photographers dream to behold and we stayed more than 3 hours. In this tour you can spend as much time as you like and then take the next shuttle from either the butterfly garden or Butchart Gardens back to the Empress Hotel. I would love to repeat this trip when no longer needing a wheelchair or walker and oxygen at night. Much time has been spent since the cruise completing claim forms for my camera which disappeared from our US Airways checked baggage with TSA locks directly from Seattle to the Charlotte Airport. The camera battery died and I decided that it was not worth carrying the extra almost 1 lb. load in my backpack. We have had up to 6 pages of froms from each of the following: US Airways, TSA, and the travel insurance. In addition we have had to contact and receive information from our home owners insurance. So far no help. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Second cruise, second with HAL (Zuiderdam 2010), so I have little to compare to. I have a disabled spouse who walks but have only 50% use of left side, so I book tours etc. with this in mind. Amsterdam - 14 day cruise June 29th to July ... Read More
Second cruise, second with HAL (Zuiderdam 2010), so I have little to compare to. I have a disabled spouse who walks but have only 50% use of left side, so I book tours etc. with this in mind. Amsterdam - 14 day cruise June 29th to July 13th,2012. We did stay in Seattle for a few days before and stayed at the Inn at the Market, excellent little hotel. The ship is quite nice and I like the feel of a smaller ship. I do like the decor of the Amsterdam over the Zuiderdam. But at the end of the day I'm all about the destination, not the ship or company. It was the itinerary that I wanted and almost cancelled this cruise at Christmas time as we already did Alaska (our first cruise). Unlimited laundry, we used this service and it was excellent. We sent out laundry almost every day and it came back the same day. Even when I was late getting it out and didn't expect to get it until the next day, it arrived. I definitely could have packed a lot less than what I did. Soda card, I wouldn't buy one again. We do like the cans and we aren't big soda drinkers, but thought the 14 days we would make use of it. Internet - bought 100 minutes and I actually think the service has improved. It didn't feel like it took that long to load compared to when I used it on the Zuiderdam, but it is still slow. Dining - we had open seating, and only made it down to the dining room three times. We just found with our shore excursions we would had to the Terrace Grill when we got back and weren't too hungry for dinner. Food is fine in the Lido, just I wasn't eating as much for the last half of the cruise as I experienced seasickness and the food felt heavy in my stomach. Room 7056 and the secret deck is not so secret anymore. The aft deck is quite literally five steps out your door. It's used as a smoking deck, so we ended up using the promenade deck more than this deck. If you are a smoker, it would be idea for you. A lot of noise from the doors slamming is a problem for this room. The value for your dollar is not worth it on this room as it's very small and you are rated as a DD category and I'm pretty sure my deck in my yard has more space than this room. This room is very small and cramped and is okay for short cruises. I wouldn't want to be stuck in here any longer than this two week cruise. Even at the two weeks, I felt hubby and I were stepping over each other. As the days went on with this cruise, I really think this room is more suited to a single traveler. With that said they did maximize the use of the space. We intended to use the unlimited laundry, and had just enough storage space. If you were on a longer cruise and had lots of clothes, then you might have a problem. Shower only, which is okay for me and hubby. Bathroom is very compact but again worked for us. One step up into the bathroom and then about a three inch lip to step into the shower. Lights from the back deck do light up the room a bit, but I found that okay, as it gave enough light to see in the night if you had to get up. But if you don't like lights, it may not be the room for you, as the curtain does sway so the light might bother you. Also early in the morning the back deck is hosed down and cleaned off (usually around 5-5:30), which we noticed the noise. Again we are early risers so it didn't bother us for the most part. One more thing I would recommend. Bring your own bottle opener if you have beer sent up to your room. There is one here, but it's on the bathroom wall next to the toilet. I personally was not comfortable using it. Excursions we are were a combination of private and HAL tours. I would rate them as follows: Icy Straight Point - Misty Bay Lodge - rated number one. Well worth it and I would book this tour again. Also I think ISP is better for whale watching than Juneau. Anchorage - We booked the Phillips 26 Glacier tour with bus accommodations out of Whittier - excellent tour and the 10 hours flew by. Juneau - Orca, had a great whale watching adventure. Kodiak - Memory Makers - great couple Kale and Kady, though the weather did not cooperate when we were there, and this impacted our photo opportunities. When they make a stop near where the eagles nest is and tell you they make great cookies, believe them. They were the size of bear paws. Ketchican - Misty Fjords tour, expect rain in Ketchican. We did have window seats for husband and I was able to walk around. Sitka - Sea Otter Quest and Fortress of the Bears - Fortress of the bears saved this tour, and if I ever go back, I would get a private tour or a cab to take me there as we spent a lot of money through the ship for this tour which didn't cut it for us on the Sea Otter portion. Homer - we winged it and decided to head to the Time Bandit store. If this is the only place off the spit you want to go, book and cab instead of spending money for a bus ride. It's about a half a mile walk to the Time Bandit from their stop. We couldn't do the spit as the walk (which was suppose to be two blocks) was too much for husband, so we headed back to the ship. Victoria - we disembarked in Victoria and spent the extra day there. By this time we were done with being a tourists. We did end up on Friday taking one of the water taxi tours to kill some time. Hubby was able to navigate getting on/off this little taxi's. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My husband and I are in our mid 70s. The last time we cruised we got a wheelchair for use on the ship. So this time I rented a scooter to be delivered to the dock because I have difficulty walking the distances required on a cruise ship. ... Read More
My husband and I are in our mid 70s. The last time we cruised we got a wheelchair for use on the ship. So this time I rented a scooter to be delivered to the dock because I have difficulty walking the distances required on a cruise ship. Neither of us has ever been to Alaska before Pre-Cruise: one night at the Mayflower Park Hotel. I had been to Seattle in 1994 and wanted my husband to see Pike Street Market and eat dinner at the Space Needle. The concierge at the Mayflower said I could borrow a wheelchair to go to Pike Street Market (which we did). She also made arrangements for us to be picked up at the airport in a Town Car ($45) and gave us the Cruise Special which included breakfast the next morning and a shuttle to the port. Internet in the room was free. Embarkation: fast and easy. We were delivered to the dock about 12:10, the porters took our bags and showed us where the scooter kiosk was on the dock. I got on the scooter and we went through, right onto the ship with no waiting. Food: Since this cruise was booked only one day before the final payment, we had non-fixed dining. We went up to eat every day at 5:15 and never had to wait for a table. We had room service for breakfast whenever we had an early tour and it was delivered at the time we asked and had the items on it that we wanted. On the first few days in the Lido, you could not serve yourself because they said they were trying to avoid people who came on board spreading sickness. But this made the lines very long. There was no way I could do the Lido on either a scooter or with a cane even if I was allowed to serve myself. If I was lucky enough to get food, I would have no place to put it on the scooter. I had to find a table and my husband had to guess what I would want and bring food. On previous HAL ships, the staff has been helpful when people are handicapped and having trouble, but that was not the case here. No one offered to help, and we only were offered tea or water at the table once. So we never ate in the Lido if there was any other option. Dining Room service was excruciatingly slow and sometimes we did not get what we ordered. I ordered two soups once and only got one of them. A lady and I ordered two different omelets and she got mine but didn't realize it until she got to the goat cheese in the middle. I understand this was because of mostly new crew. The food was usually good. I love the cold soups. The breakfast menu in the dining room was changed from when we were on HAL before and I liked it. We were able to get cranberry juice and tea if we wanted. We never ate at the specialty restaurants. Activities: We did Trivia once. We usually do all the Trivias but we didn't have any fun at the first one so we didn't go again. I went swimming once. The pool was nice and warm, and the bathrobe in the room was good because the air wasn't that warm. We did not use the spa. Bob went to a couple of the shows, but he does not like the flat floor in the HAL theaters first floor. We had good internet access in the room, but the computer lady (who was excellent) couldn't get my computer to stay logged on so she lent me one of the ship computers. That worked for me. There are several places we visited where you don't have a port listed. After we left Seattle we went up the Inside Passage and this was beautiful. Between Ketchikan and Juneau we did Tracy Arm. It was nice weather - not too cold and there was a very interesting naturalist on board giving a narrative. We didn't get to see the glacier, but it was peaceful and beautiful. Bob forgot to get some split pea soup on deck as it is his favorite. I was sorry that we didn't get to go to Glacier Bay which is the prime location for glaciers although I did like Tracy Arm. We also did Hubbard Glacier. They had a talk in the theater before hand. The naturalist at Tracy Arm was better, although the Glacier itself was amazing and we got to see it having a lot of calves. Disembarkation - Black Mark for Amsterdam here. They failed to tell us was the breakfast hours or what would be open so we got room service. I had intended just to get a taxi to the airport and that would have worked excellently. We would go off the ship (me on the scooter) and Bob would get the luggage and then we would turn the scooter in and get a taxi. But when Bob turned in the form they persuaded him that he should buy the $19 each bus tickets to the airport. Not only did we have to wait while all the luggage was stowed but the bus dropped us off a LONG way from where we had to go to check our luggage and for me to get a wheelchair. The only airlines who were checking luggage at that location were AAA and Delta. We had to go across the loading area, and up the escalators with four suitcases (2 each) to Southwest and it was very difficult. (There were too many people with strollers and luggage carts to use the elevator.) Very much more hassle than it needed to be Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Friday August 19 (Seattle) We are staying at the La Quinta Inn at 8th Avenue and Denny Way in Seattle, out near the Space Needle. It's just ok, no decent restaurants nearby, we dine at the Hurricane Cafe, a dive. We share fish ... Read More
Friday August 19 (Seattle) We are staying at the La Quinta Inn at 8th Avenue and Denny Way in Seattle, out near the Space Needle. It's just ok, no decent restaurants nearby, we dine at the Hurricane Cafe, a dive. We share fish and chips. In the morning it starts out cloudy and cold. Breakfast is free at the hotel. I make waffles. The breakfast room is full of kids and ESPN is blaring. Nancy needs cosmetics, so we hike west to a Walgreen's ON Denny Way. Now we can see the Monorail and the Space Needle, so we head thataway and get coffee and a rest stop at McDonald's. The weather turns better, and I see a sign for "Ride the Duck" with the phone number on the side of the vehicle. I call from the cell phone, it is only $28 (they don't mention the tax) they leave in twenty minutes, and pass by 130 sights (an exageration.) Nancy says: go for it, so we cross the street and soon we are aboard the duck. Our Captain is a wild man; we are entertained. There are only a dozen tourists aboard, so we can take pictures easily. I only have the cell phone for photos, but it will have to do. It is soon very breezy. We head south along Alaska Way and get a good tour of the waterfront. When he's not talking, the Captain plays rock and roll on the loudspeaker. Tourists gawk at us: we become the show. We turn north through downtown; this part is not so great. We end up going over the Ballard Bridge, then entering Lake Union at its north end for a half hour boat ride. It is now sunny and very pleasant. Lots of houseboats and kayaks, real fun. When it's over, we walk a few blocks to ride the Monorail (it only goes a mile) for a dollar, and have lunch at the downtown Westlake Center. After a mediocre Chinese lunch (although in an interesting urban setting), we duck through an adjacent hotel and get a taxi to the Amsterdam. Downtown Seattle traffic is very crowded, but we get to the ship easily. We manage to get a wheelchair for my wife. Boarding is slow, so we go up a ramp alongside the ship without the wheelchair. Holland American is known as a senior-friendly cruise line. Nevertheless, we are surprised at something new: rental motorized wheelchairs, similar to the Hoveround advertised on TV. They are numerous aboard the Amsterdam. Our bags come soon. We unpack, it is easy because the room layout is the same as on the Rijndam from our Panama cruise. We did not get an upgrade, so there is no window and no bathtub. Soon it is time for the lifeboat drill, a pain because they make us stand on the deck for twenty minutes. Dinner is excellent, prime rib, with a view of Puget Sound. After dinner my wife crashes, while I go to the free round of Bingo. Our table mate, George, wins the $200 prize! I buy a book: The Alaska Cruise Handbook, it has lots of maps and photos. Saturday August 20 (Inside Passage) We sleep in, and when we are up and ready we go to the Crow's Nest bar, it has a 270-degree view, enclosed, and a panorama of Canadian channels and islands is before us. The weather is clear but cloudy. Then we go to the formal dining room aft (La Fontaine) for breakfast. We are a half hour late and don't get a window table, and service is slow. Nancy likes to be served, nevertheless! Then we go to the presentation about the shore excursions- lots to do! Next we go back to the Crow's Nest, and relax as the scenery goes by. We are passing through a narrow channel: Johnstone Strait. In no time at all, it is lunch. We get a window table, and try not to order too much. Our table mates are from Florida and South Carolina. After, we sign up for the Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Straight Point (Hoonah) tours. No ports today, we are taking things easy and adjusting to Pacific Time. In the afternoon, there is a veterans' meeting, with free drinks, and the old codgers get to tell war stories. Some of the guys are in their nineties, and tell of their World War II adventures. Others are Vietnam veterans and talk of exposure to agent orange. Since it is Saturday night, dinner is grand. I have the beef Wellington. My wife has rack of lamb. After dinner we go to the Broadway show, where eight energetic youngsters sing and dance to tunes ranging from Oklahoma through Cats to Chicago. So much energy! A dozen changes of costume. Meanwhile, the ship itself is doing rock and roll, we are in the open water of Hecate Strait. We retire to a long night's sleep (there is a one hour time gain.) Sunday August 21 (Ketchikan) I am up at 4:00 after eight hours sleep. I go topside: it has rained heavily, everything is wet, no stars, pitch black except for the many lights of the ship, we are in the open water of Dixon Entrance, near the Canada-Alaska border. The sea is calm, one other cruise ship in the distance. No one is about except some of the cafeteria staff. There is coffee, always (but not decaf.) We don't go ashore until 10:00, when we are scheduled for a tour. It is cloudy and cold, but not raining. The tour bus takes us through the town. We head south to the Tlingit village of Saxman, which used to be the end of the road. I take pictures of the totem poles, but the only other building open to us is a tourist shop. We buy some postcards. Back in town we take a funicular that goes up Deer Mountain to a tourist lodge. We explore town a little, looking for lunch, but I have left my wallet in the safe on the ship. We decide to return to the ship for a quick lunch in the Lido Cafe, and catch our 2:00 P.M. tour on the Duck, which departs from the ship. The Duck tour duplicates the town part of the previous tour, but now it is raining. The Duck is covered, but the side curtains fog up and the view is diminished. The town is jammed with tourists from the four large cruise ships that are present. There is room for four cruise ships to dock. The Duck finally enters the channel from a boat ramp in the new harbor, and although it is raining, we poke the camera through the plexiglass window and get some good photos. The town has become a cruise ship port, almost devoid of the former support of the lumber and fishing trades. We are told that most of the shops are just boarded up for the winter. .After the tour ends, My wifey goes to our cabin, and I return to town to explore. It starts to pour, so I cut short my tour and take the shuttle bus back to the Amsterdam. I am thinking that, although it has become a profitable cruise ship port, it has lost whatever charm it had. Actually, Ketchikan is still a charmless place, with really gloomy weather. Monday August 22 (Tracy Arm) We wake up to a cloudy and misty day. The elaborate breakfast and lunch meals in the La Fontaine are becoming routine, and we start to think about eating less, rather than gain a lot of weight. The food is very good, though, I think better than last year's voyage on the Rijndam. We meet new people at every meal (and soon forget their names). A lot of them are from the middle west and south. We are having lunch when the Captain announces that we are deep into Tracy Arm: it is time to go out on deck and look about. I find my wife a good chair near a window in the room where they play bridge. I go forward, dressed warmly with a sweater and raincoat with a hood, wearing my watch cap from skiing days. We see lots of waterfalls and small icebergs. The icebergs are very blue. One iceberg had a group of birds on it. At around three, as promised, we arrive at the end of the arm, and view Sawyer Glacier in all its glory. The return trip out is an anticlimax. We go to the Crow's nest for Happy Hour: you get two cocktails for the price of one, plus a dollar. All bar tabs have 15% service charge added. This is in addition to the daily charge for cabin and dining room service. Out table mates for the 5:15 dinner in the La Fontaine are from Austria. We are at a table for four, and the wife doesn't understand or speak much English, so the conversation is strained. The evening's entertainment at 8:00 in The Queen's Lounge showroom is a second show by the resident song and dance troupe, the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers. They do popular songs, and they are excellent: good voices, well-chosen hit songs, and excellent costumes and choreography. We are pleased. As we retire, My wife says she is cold, and resolves to dress warmly for Juneau. Tuesday August 23 (Juneau) I get up early to supervise the Captain's job, bringing this monstrous ship into the narrow Gastineau Channel, which is the entrance to Juneau Harbor. It is drizzling, as one might expect in southeast Alaska at any time of the year. The ship docks right downtown. I can see the building where the Coast Guard has an office, on the Government Wharf. Another cruise ship is already docked. A third will dock soon, and one more will anchor out. The town will be jammed with tourists, a far cry for the 1950's. We go ashore for our tour, which starts out with a bus ride north to the Mendenhall Glacier. In 1956, I visited the glacier, when it was just a short walk from the highway that leads to Juneau Airport. Now, a two-mile road leads to the glacier. The parking lot is jammed with tour buses. A thousand people are milling around the Visitor Center building. We go to the movie, which gives a good rundown of what to see. (We buy a copy of the movie.) We have a front row seat, and I am able to easily photograph scenes from the movie. Afterwards, I hike the nearby trails and take a lot of photos, while my wife visits the shop. It is raining all the time. Afterward, the bus takes us to the Glacier Garden. We don't know what to expect, it's just part of the combo tour we bought, but it turns out to be better than the glacier. We tour the rain forest in a covered tram, roof overhead, while the rain pours down. The forest is on the side of a steep mountain. The owner of the attraction invented an upside down fern planter, like an upturned hapu trunk, with the top buried in the ground, with the former root ball is made into a planter filled with annual flowers. The tram goes up the hill through the rain, giving a view through the trees of the water below. Very pleasant and interesting. We return to the Amsterdam in time for lunch in the Lido cafeteria. After lunch, we go ashore again and take the funicular to the top of Mount Roberts. The cable car and the amenities at the top are run by the Tlingit tribe. We get a god view of the city and the channel and take a lot of photos. Then we go shopping, wending our way through the masses of tourists, through the drizzle. We buy some gifts. We try to get into the Red Dog Saloon, but it is jammed. The decor is Alaska wild, with a lot of hokey Alaska stuff on the walls. I take my wife back to the Amsterdam (just yards away), and walk through the drizzle to the Baranof Hotel. It looks run down. I return to the ship for dinner in the La Fontaine. We are achy and tired, so we retire early. Wednesday August 24 Icy Strait Point (Hoonah) I am up early again, anxious to see the Amsterdam come into port. Actually, we are just going to pull of to the side of the channel, out of the way of other shipping, and send the passengers ashore by tender. We go ashore at an old cannery, which is now a set of tourist shops and restaurants. Our tour is a tram ride along a shingle foreshore, with a Tligit woman as our guide. We see some eagles, fishing boats and waterfalls, all under a cold, cloudy sky. Afterwards, we enjoy a native show, with a narrator who explains the Tlingit cosmology: it all started with the raven opening a box. I, and the other tourists, get to do a native dance to the Tlingit drumming and chanting. At two o'clock, we are hungry, and order fish chowder and beer. We return to the ship, cold and tired. We have good steaks for dinner. During the meal, we pass the lighthouse at Cape Spencer, And head out into the Gulf of Alaska. Thursday August 25 (At Sea) When will the sun shine? I am up at six as usual for coffee and a check of the weather. No land is in sight, cloudy skies, but at least no rain, and not too rough. We go to the theater at 1000 for a presentation about the shore excursions that are coming up at Anchorage, in the morning. We also hear about the excursions for Homer, Kodiak, Hubbard Glacier (Yakutat), Sitka and Victoria B. C. We are looking forward to tonight's special: King Crab Legs! After that we will go to the showroom for the third session by the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers. We have already attended two of their shows, and they are great. It is amazing that such talent is on a cruise ship. Friday August 26 (Anchorage) Again I am up on deck early, watching to ship come into the dock. Anchorage has a tremendous tide range, a large ship like the Amsterdam can enter only at high tide. The inner harbor has been dredged, so the ship does not go aground, but it cannot depart until the next high tide, thirteen hours later. The port is a secure zone, south of downtown, we have to use a tour bus or shuttle but to reach downtown. We have signed up for a bus tour of Anchorage, followed by a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, north of town. The city is small, about 280,000 population, with many modern hotels and office buildings. Although Juneau is the state capital, Anchorage is by far the economic center. The buildings are new, because most of the old buildings were destroye3d in the 1964 earthquake. We don't tour the downtown by foot; it doesn't look interesting. The cultural center has a presentation which describes the various tribes who were the original population of the state. We are treated to a native dance presentation by a group of Haida, one of the original people of southeast Alaska. Actually, they are all from the town of Metlakatla, which is on Annette Island, which used to be the airport for Ketchikan. Saturday August 27 (Homer) In the morning I go on deck early to watch the ship being docked at the "spit," a harbor area about six miles south of the town center. It has a small boat harbor, filled with boats owned by the residents of the Anchorage area, who come down to Homer to fish for halibut. It is about a five-hour drive from Anchorage to Homer. There are hundreds of trailer boats, and some people are camping on the shoreline in tents. There is a shopping area with restaurants, tour offices, and vacation condos. I wonder what these people will do in the event of an earthquake and tsunami, which devastated this area in 1964. The weather continues to be cold and cloudy. We have signed up for a "hop-on-off" bus tour, with four stops. We get off at stop three, which is primarily an art shop. It is very nice, and low priced, I wonder how the owners can make a living. There is an artist present showing his work. I buy some attractive earrings for the relatives. Across the street is the Pratt Museum; we visit it for a while, nothing special. We hop back on the bus, and make a quick stop at #4. There is one small art shop open; we have done downtown Homer, that's it. We get on the bus and go back to the pier. Then there is another bus that goes to the Salty Dawg, in the boat harbor at the end of the spit. There is a hardware and fishing supplies store, which has some tourist items. There are numerous restaurants and some condos at the end of the spit. We are done with Homer, and return to the ship. Sunday August 28 (Kodiak) We dock at a large pier, about a mile from downtown. Shuttle bus service is provided, using school buses, which have cramped seats, but it is better than walking. We do not take a tour, but head for the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church. At first we can't visit the church because of the Sunday service. We head for the downtown mall, which has a few shops open on this Sunday morning. We look for T-shirts for gifts, but can't find any we like. My wife hangs out in a sunny square, while I go to the church to take photos of the interior. It is crowded, but I get my photos, and also buy some slides and church music. The weather is beautiful, but cool, in the 50's. We return to the ship for lunch. . In the afternoon we read until dinner, after which we go to the theater for another show called Avalon, and this time it includes the string quartet and the house band in addition to the eight singers and dancers that have performed before. It is again a hit show; we enjoy it a lot. Monday July 29 Hubbard Glacier (Yakutat) We go to our usual 8:00 breakfast in the dining room, and then go to the sale: the store is having its usual end-of-cruise sale of logo clothing around the swimming pool. . We don't buy anything, but we notice some close-out winter hats and boots in the main store that will make good Christmas presents, and buy some. Then we go to the "bridge" presentation by one of the watch officers. For security reasons, they don't actually have tours of the bridge anymore, so instead they have a Powerpoint presentation of the equipment on the bridge. The officer explains the bridge controls, including the new power pods and bow thrusters, very interesting. The Amsterdam steers into Yakutat Bay, an isolated body of water about forty miles long, with the famous Hubbard Glacier at the end. A ranger from the Tongass National Forest tells us all about it in the showroom. The Captain brings the ship within half a mile of the glacier, considered very close. The glacier, we are told, is 350 feet high at the water's edge. All the passengers are on deck, taking photos. The sky is clear; it is a sunny afternoon, temperature in the fifties. I take a lot of pictures. We hoped to se "calving," where chunks of the glacier break off and crash into the ware, but we didn't see any. A magnificent day. Tuesday July30 (Sitka) Awake around six as usual. I go up to the Lido cafeteria for my morning coffee. I see Mount Edgecumbe, an extinct (some say dormant, the last eruption was 2,000 years ago) volcano, visible from downtown Sitka. The weather is cloudy, temperature in the fifties, but no sign of rain. We are scheduled for a noon tour, but we can go ashore (by ship's boat, the Amsterdam is anchored) early. We tour Lincoln Street, the main drag of the town. There are some strictly tourist shops, but also shops which carry clothes for the local population. We buy T-shirts for the relatives. We tour as far as the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, but don't go in, because it is included on our tour, we will see it later. We have lunch at the Larkspur Cafe, which offers clam chowder, and which appeals to us on this cold, cloudy day. It comes with very tasty homemade bread, but the chowder itself is more chopped celery and herbs, not much clam flavor, and lukewarm at that. We are thankful for a warm place (with a toilet) to hang out while waiting for our tour. The bus, driven by a Tlingit, heads for the Russian Church. We are given its history, and have a chance to take photos. Next we go to the Sheldon Jackson Museum, which has a lot of Tlingit artifacts. The best part of the tour is the Russian dance group, the New Archangel Dancers. This group, organized forty years ago, is all women, because, in the beginning, no men wanted to join the group. So, women play the men's part. They do a great job, and I take lots of pictures. The dancers are talented, and their costumes are very colorful. The tour concludes with a drive around the town, which has a lot of nice homes out on some private islands. The guide says that Sitka has the best halibut and salmon fishing in Alaska, but Ketchikan makes the same claim. It must be very depressing here in the long, cold, dark winter. Wednesday August 31 (At Sea in the Gulf of Alaska) We sleep in. The time changed from Alaska time to Pacific time. The weather is sunny and the sea is smooth, but the air temperature is a cool 55 degrees. We are joined at breakfast by a couple who are ninety-two years old (and still cruising- very encouraging!) At eleven, we eat again: the Mariners' Club champagne brunch, a freebie for those who have cruised on Holland American before. I enjoy the free champagne, but the menu is limited. In the evening, we attend our favorite show, the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers, who put on a splendid "Las Vegas"show, the last of five. Thursday September 1 (Victoria, B.C.) We don't dock until noon. In addition, the weather is cold and foggy, so there's not much to see as we come into port. We did a home exchange to Sydney, a suburb of Victoria, in 2007, so we are complacent about this port. We have lunch in the dining room, so we don't get ashore until after 1:00. The cruise ship port is about a mile from town. We take the shuttlebus to downtown; it's $7.50 each round trip. We had some sun during lunch, but now it is cloudy and cold. The guard says it's 52 degrees. The bus lets us off at the Empress Hotel. We were here four years ago on a home exchange, so we are not interested in roaming around in the cold. We head for the Royal B.C. Museum; there will be things to do there. We settle on the Imax, which is showing a movie, Whales. We see the 3:00 performance. It's very nice. The museum and the movie are very crowded, because it's a holiday weekend (for Americans.) After, it's still cloudy and cold, we return to the Amsterdam. We enjoy our last formal dinner in the La Fontaine. Friday September 2 (Seattle ) I am up at six, anxious to see the ship navigate in Puget Sound. We are loitering off Pier 91, about to dock. We go to the La Fontaine for a last served breakfast. We are relaxed, because we chose to spend the day in Seattle, rather than rushing off the ship to catch the 1150 Alaska Airlines direct flight to Kona. We sit around, waiting for the Green 3 group to be called. We find our bags in the terminal, and get a porter to take them outside. We don't have to have the bags with us as we go through U. S. Customs. There is a long line, but a new post opens up and we rush to it. Almost out! But then, the officer said: "Please follow me to secondary screening!" He holds our passports. There he produced a device which measures radiation. He asked me if I had a prostate problem, and I replied that I had radioactive seeds implanted in March. He repeated the radioactive measurement procedure three more times. He then went to another room and made phone calls. I could hear my name spelled out several times. After about half an hour, he let me proceed. Our porter was found, he thought he had lost us. He leads us to the head of the taxi queue, and we are on our way to the La Quinta Inn. It is 1000, it would have been too late to catch our flight if we had chosen to fly out on Friday. The La Quinta Inn is an ok hotel, within walking distance of the Space Needle at the park called Seattle Center. We walk to the park, but can't get a reservation at the restaurant. To just visit the top of the Needle, the senior rate is $16.00 each. Since we had been there before, we passed. We take the monorail (unimproved since 1962, still only a one mile ride) downtown and have lunch at the Westlake Mall. We hike about a mile back to the hotel. Dinner is takeout pizza from the nearby Whole Foods Market. Saturday September 3 The long airplane ride home. The flight is uneventful, but also uncomfortable. The plane is a stretched Boeing 737 (Alaska Airlines is, of course, all Boeing!) with a narrow aisle and cramped seats, the backrest reclines only about an inch. There is no meal service, only snacks, no movie (just DVD players for rent) and no coffee. However, it is a direct flight of five and three quarter hours, less time than going through Los Angeles or Honolulu. All things considered, an Alaska cruise on Holland American Lines is a wonderful trip! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.2

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