2 Holland America Amsterdam Fitness Cruise Reviews

Embarkation- Boarding was quick and simple. We arrived at 1:20pm and were in our cabin by 1:50pm. Our cabin steward introduced himself shortly after arrival. The lifeboat drill at 4pm required everyone to stand together besides their ... Read More
Embarkation- Boarding was quick and simple. We arrived at 1:20pm and were in our cabin by 1:50pm. Our cabin steward introduced himself shortly after arrival. The lifeboat drill at 4pm required everyone to stand together besides their appointed lifeboat in order by height. A BBQ was available poolside from 1pm until 8pm. The Ship- I felt the Amsterdam was in good shape. The crew was always painting, washing the deck, or doing routine maintenance, but usually at the least opportune time. For instance, I would think they could schedule another time to vacuum the hallway other than 8 in the morning on a sea day. For some reason, we were late to half the ports, even when we left on time the previous day or even following a sea day. There was an outbreak of Norovirus the first week, (which we later found out effected many of the crew down below). This may have led to the disorganization that prevailed in the public areas. Perhaps some of the Ship's Crew were doing different jobs than usual. During the outbreak, the hot tubs, library, and self-service laundry were closed, but surprisingly the computers in the Explorations Cafe were still available even though the keyboards get touched by multiple passengers. (Of course the internet generates revenue whereas the others didn't). Perhaps the stabilizers weren't working, but this ship rolled more than any Cruise I've ever been on (including through Drake's Passage). This was true even in calm water. The Crewmembers were nice and attentive in all the public areas. Funny story: In the Lido buffet, Crewmember Renny replied to my query about the meat on the cutting board (it was duck) with, "It's Quack Quack" Oddly for a company that prides itself on its experience in Alaska, the maps in the Explorer booklet available in the cabin were often wrong. For example, in Sitka, it showed the Sheldon Jackson Museum on Capitol Hill and in Ketchikan the road on Creek street was listed on the wrong side of the creek. In Kodiak, the Kodiak Brewing Company was listed on the other side of town from where it was really located. (It's between McDonald's and the intersection with E. Rezanof Dr.) I would recommend instead using the free maps from the local tourist office almost always available as you exit the Ship. The Food- Not impressed. The food was consistently bland, under-seasoned, and the meat was almost always dry. This was the same in both the Main Dining Room and Lido Buffett. I hesitate to call the Lido a "buffet". Even after the Norovirus passed, only two stations were self-serve; (desserts and parfaits/ breads). Everything else was served or cooked to order. This may provide personalized service but it created long lines waiting for entrees since the cooks were incapable of multitasking, making the "Lido Cafeteria" almost as long a dining experience as the MDR. During the first week it was so frustrating to get food we always used room service for breakfast on port days. On a positive note, Room Service was always prompt and arrived within minutes of the time range requested. (6:00-6:30, 6:30-7:00, etc.) The MDR is only open for a limited time most days 8:00am-9:00am for breakfast and 12:00pm-1:00pm for lunch. Also, at dinner one side of the Lido buffet was set aside for the ships officers and staff, so finding a table was hard with only half the usual tables available. Between 8pm when the Lido Buffet closes and 10:30pm when they offer a late snack, there is nothing available to eat. If you have a late port day, get back early or eat something in town. The free Ice Cream in the Lido was extremely popular but there was only a limited supply each day. Once they run out of your flavor, you're out of luck. This included the soft-serve even though it only requires refilling the machine. The Terrace Grill poolside had excellent Burgers and also had Pizza, Hot Dogs, and on most days a Taco Bar. Considering this was a 14-day Alaska trip, it was somewhat surprising that there was never any Alaskan Crab served during the Cruise. Cabin- Our cabin was 3410 on the port side. We liked the location which was close to the aft on the Lower Promenade deck. This made it easy to walk outside to the stern or use the outdoor Walkaround on the Lower Promenade. On the other hand, the Lower Promenade deck was hosed down every morning between 6:30am-7:00am which made walking in the morning difficult due to the wet deck and puddles. This also meant I woke up at the same time every morning when they hosed down the outside window of our cabin. The Cabin Stewards were nice but twice our cabin was not made up after a long day ashore. Even after we called the front desk, nothing was done until after we returned from dinner at 8pm. We had the 5:45pm seating and also waited numerous times as we returned from dinner for the Cabin Steward to finish the turn-down service. One thing about HAL that I appreciated was the towel animal each night. This seems to be a vanishing art form on other Cruise lines. Entertainment- The Queens Lounge had the usual mix of condensed Broadway-type shows and individual performers such as Magicians and comedians. There is a large selection of DVD's which are available for checkout to watch on the in-room TV. A list of the DVD's is available in the cabin. The Ship's library was larger than most and allowed all but the travel books to be checked out for the duration of the Cruise. Guest Chef Laura Slama had interesting cooking demos in the Culinary Arts Center. We went to several movies in the Wajang Theater. Get there early because there was only enough popcorn for the first dozen people every night. Ports- Ketchikan- We were docked at Berth 4. A free city shuttle bus was available into town, but it was also walkable. The bus started at Berth 4 and makes two other stops in town before ending at the Totem Heritage Center and returns the same way. Keep in mind the Creek street stop is before crossing the bridge. There was also a Wal-Mart shuttle bus that departed from the Berth 4 that runs every 15 minutes if you left anything at home or want some snacks. Juneau- The ship was docked one block from the Red Dog Saloon downtown. We first took the MGT bus ($16RT) to the Mendenhall Glacier. Once we returned to town we took the Mt. Roberts Tramway and used a Buy-one-get-one-free coupon from the Alaska Tour Saver book. It was a typical Juneau overcast and rainy day so the views weren't that great from the top. There isn't much to do up there so we didn't stay long. We then did the Zip line at Alaska Canopy Adventures before shopping along Franklin St. Since it was a late departure, we freshened up on the ship and then crossed the street to the Red Dog Saloon around 8pm. That afternoon the place was packed but in the evening hardly anyone was there. Slightly less touristy and more authentic is the Alaskan Hotel and Bar a little further down Franklin Street. Icy Straight Point- A Humpback Whale was feeding just offshore between the Old Cannery mini-Mall and the town of Hoonah all day. Several of the first Tenders ashore had to stop as the Whale was feeding directly between the ship and the dock. A matter of personal choice, but we preferred the Juneau Zip line with 10 different zips versus the lengthy but only 90-second-long Zip line here. There are shuttles into town from the Cannery or a sidewalk along the water that also leads into town. There were many small curio shops in Hoonah and we spotted two Bald Eagles in different nests on the walk into town. Anchorage- We've been to Anchorage many times before so we rented a car from Thrifty on Spenard rd. Anchorage City Shuttles picked us up by the ship and dropped off at the Egan Center which is downtown on 5th Ave. between E and F Streets. The Thrifty shuttle bus also picked us up at the Egan Center. We drove north to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, then on to the Matanuska Glacier, and finally back to Anchorage and a visit to Earthquake Park. Homer- We docked at the Deep Water dock on the opposite side of the Marina from the Spit. School Busses shuttled passengers to the Spit and dropped off right next to the Salty Dog Saloon. There was also a free van that shuttled between the ship and a downtown Gift Shop. After hitting the souvenir shops on the Spit, we took the free shuttle to town and walked to the Two Sisters bakery (best Scone I've ever had!) We then made the obligatory stop at the Time Bandit store. We just missed Johnathon Hillstrand who had left in his new truck right before we arrived. His mother was happy to pose for pictures for several other shoppers. Kodiak- Our excursion on Harvey Flying Service was cancelled apparently due to bad weather, although other Bear viewing flights were able to go. So instead, we walked into town along Shelikof St. and rented a car at Budget. Following the suggestions from the folks at Budget on possible Bear viewing sites we drove to the end of Bushkin Beach Rd. We followed the river to the beach but didn't see any Bears (but did see lots of tracks!). We then drove to the Coast Guard base, Fort Abercrombie, and toured a little bit of the Island. For fans of the Deadliest Catch, the Time Bandit was in dry dock across the bridge at St. Herman's Harbor, and the Cornelia Marie was moored there as well. Hubbard Glacier- Captain Mercer brought the ship very close to the Glacier despite the high winds and rain. He turned the ship both ways so everyone got a great view. This was truly an amazing place. The forward observation deck on the bow was opened for Passengers as was the outside deck below the bridge. We were once again late arriving so the 3:00pm Pea Soup was served around the Lido pool deck instead of outside. Sitka- This is a tender port. We walked from the tender dock under the bridge along Harbor Dr., turned right on Lincoln St., and followed that to Sitka National Park. The Salmon were running and it was quite a sight watching thousands of Salmon squeezed together slowly making their way upstream. Victoria- We docked at berth A. I booked Orca Spirit Adventures independently ($95 online vs. HAL excursion rate of $129) Orca Spirit has free shuttle pickup, which was good because we were late again as usual. We saw a family of transient Orca's just 30 minutes after leaving port. The boat followed them until the Race Rocks lighthouse and the Sea Lions ensconced there. Orca Adventures is located next to Fisherman's Wharf, and is halfway between the ship's dock and town. Victoria was a nice town to walk around and have dinner, (All-aboard was at 10:30pm) and do some last-day souvenir shopping. Departure We chose a late departure 9:00am-9:30am and used Shuttle Express to the Airport. Departure was quick and painless even with some extremely long but fast moving lines at Customs.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my husband's 50th. birthday. It was why we paid to upgrade to the Deluxe Verandah Suites, and it was wise that we did. That was the only place the service even remotely met the expectations ... Read More
The purpose of this cruise was to celebrate my husband's 50th. birthday. It was why we paid to upgrade to the Deluxe Verandah Suites, and it was wise that we did. That was the only place the service even remotely met the expectations we had been led to believe were the standard that HAL claims to set.Embarkation went very smoothly compared to the two other cruises we have done. Check in was a breeze! We were immediately directed to the LaFontaine dining room for a liesurely lunch awaiting our cabin to be ready. When we entered our cabin, we did find it to be lovely and roomy, beautiful verandah. Our bags were waiting on the bed. We quickly unpacked and set about to explore the ship. We visited the Sea View & Crow's Nest bars,the Spa & workout facilities as my husband wanted to keep exercising on the cruise. I wanted to check out the hands-on culinary opportunities. The party planner greeting people interested in learning more about that was cold and unfriendly. I opted NOT to sign up for any of those events, and I had really looked forward to them! We opted for room service for coffee and juice for the following morning.A grilled dinner was served on the Lido deck as we set sail. Food was fair, Lido area very crowded. (We never did try the Lido pool or hot tubs. Always full of noisy jumping splashing kids and babies) .We caught the end of the comic's show and off to bed.First day was ok. The only day my husband worked out as he was unimpressed with the workout facilities. Lines for the treadmills and elipticals was discouraging.The next night was the first formal night, and the only one we participated in. They were very accomodating in getting my husband fitted and delivered of a tuxedo the same day! We hoped for & expected great things,but it was not forthcoming. We had opted for open seating, & waited some time with a pager. Once seated, we  had to wait to place our order. One of the guests at our table had to ask for the wine steward twice, and I think he was the only one taking care of 500+ diners, and not very good at it. Once the food was served, it was disappointing, and we waited 20 to 30 minutes between courses, and that was once we had finished eating them. We witnessed a 10 minute tantrum by a mad & unhappy drunk  passenger who was unaware it was formal night and mad he did not meet dress code and could not eat. He never should have been allowed in the dining room. Most people at our table ordered the Alaskan King Crab, which took forever!!! Our server said they "ran out of crab". It arrived in and inch of lukewarm water, no drawn butter or lemon!! Three people sent their's back & got something else, which took forever as well.One of the perks was having personal concierge service on our floor, and we took advantage to book our Juneau & other excursions. Whale watching was fun. Not many whales, but lots of bald eagles and sea lions, and our naturalist was friendly and informative. Our next stop was the Mendenhall glacier, the perfect warmup for the Hubbard glacier. Juneau was beautiful. We picked the Lido buffet for dinner & were not impressed. For health reasons, you could not serve yourself most things, and the staff was slow slow slow!!! Soup had "skin" on top!The next day was my husband's birthday. We had a good roomservice breakfast. He played in the Casino and I relaxed. He again opted for the buffet for lunch, limited selection, bland & uninspired. We ran into the two couples we met at first day lunch, and invited them to join us for champagne on our verandah to witness the spectacular Hubbard glacier. They were all full of stories already of lackluster service & argumentative staff. One couple shared that their bags were not put in their room, but sitting in the hallway. They had just that morning met their steward for the first time!! This was day 3!! Our assistant steward was apparently their dining room waiter one evening, and while pleasant & trying, was obviously inexperienced and inept at serving. It became apparent that the staff are expected to wear too many hats, are not effectively trained. We heard of several people who when they needed something or had an issue, were argued with by staff!! But I digress!! I had arranged a celebration package a few weeks before, which included dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. Our server was congenial and tried, but was obviously inexperienced at what was supposed to be fine dining service. The food was good, but not superior. We then went to the Crow's Nest, where we had been very well taken care of by Gani and Leo. As we walked in the door, Gani immediately began to prepare our favorite cocktails. THIS was the service we heard was standard on HAL, but it was the only place we ever really got it! The next day my husband had booked fishing in Sitka, which he really enjoyed. I opted to pamper myself with a spa day.I chose a massage and facial. The massage was good, but expensive, and their opportunity to push expensive spa products. The facial was ok. Relaxing. But the facial product line was hugely expensive, and one I have never heard of. My esthetician was obviously disappointed that I did not want to spend her recommended $300.00 on my face, after the cost of the facial!! I had a coupon they had delivered to our cabin for 30% off any spa treatment. The manager seemed aloof and none too happy that I wanted to apply it to my most expensive service. We opted for room service for dinner, the salmon. Adequate but I expected better being in Alaska.Ketchikan was our best port day by far. We booked the Rainforest Canopy Zipline, and I highly recommend it. Stunning views, the adrenalin rush, fun people. We found it the best for souvenir shopping. We also had to do some drugstore shopping as the shipboard sundries store was tiny, cramped, and poorly stocked. Our dining experiences ranged from awful to good. Silverware was usually hard to come by, no matter where you ate. My husband waited 30 minutes for oil & vinegar for his salad at lunch, (yes the buffet again.) We would ask for simple things like toothpicks, or silverware, and the person we asked would just disappear.The Terrace Grill was horrible. Soupy & or dried out taco fillings, unfresh toppings, soggy shells & chips. Turkey burger looked like mystery meat, & was chewy & cold.  Breakfast room service was good, snacks not so much. Got our orders wrong twice in one night. No crackers with the cheese & cracker plate. Ordered 2 apple tarts, got 2 chocolate cakes instead.My husband and many others we talked to were not happy with the casino. He saw many people spend a lot of money early on, but no one won much at all. By the last half of the cruise, it was virtually empty. We had issues with our toilet for one day, but that "funky" smell lingered thru the rest of the cruise. We did not go into Victoria. It was a very short port call, and my husband was tired and not feeling well. I convinced him to eat in the dining room, and it was the best dining room experience we had. We realxed in our room, packed, and chilled on the verandah for our last night aboard ship.As Verandah Suite passengers, we were told we could disembark anytime between 8 and 9:30am. We ordered room service breakfast for 8am. At 8:30 we got the bum's rush from our steward saying we needed to get off the ship sooner! We hurried through breakfast, grabbed our carryons and got off the ship. We loved seeing Alaska & Seattle. And we chose cruising for the opportunity to see several places, and for the most popular reasons, service, pampering, and stellar food. Our HAL experience was sketchy at best. Inconsistent and haphazard. When it was good, it was very good, but when it was bad, it was awful!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
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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