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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Since my husband and I have never taken a vacation in 10 years together, and since we are Puget Sound residents, we decided an Alaska cruise would be a relaxing and easy getaway. Embarkation was extremely smooth. We parked at the ... Read More
Since my husband and I have never taken a vacation in 10 years together, and since we are Puget Sound residents, we decided an Alaska cruise would be a relaxing and easy getaway. Embarkation was extremely smooth. We parked at the SeattleCruisePark lot within the confines of the Armory. Took about 10 minutes to shuttle to the terminal. Once we got our bags inside, time from check in to onboard was about 20 minutes. If we hadn't have been able to use the Neptune Suite check in line, it probably would have been significantly longer; the regular check in was a verrrrryyy long line. Once on board we were impressed with the ship. The furnishings are tasteful and the art is interesting. There are many little nooks you can sit at and not be bothered. The ship was at full capacity but it never felt crowded other than at the Lido during peak times. Our room was 7132, an aft corner Neptune. We booked specifically for the balcony which we used extensively. We were very happy with the room and our steward, Aan, was great. We used the Neptune Lounge a few times and the concierge, Inge, managed to track down my husband's suit bag when it went missing from his returned dry cleaning. I found there to be a lack of daytime activites that weren't centered on shopping. Too many jewelry auctions, shopping presentations, shopping guides, ect. There was also a lack of any kind of live music or anything; there was an empty piano in the Ocean Bar where we went frequently. Why not have someone there playing? The shops on the 3rd deck also were lackluster. When an "end of cruise sale" is supposedly happening, why is none of the merchandise actually on sale? We got a couples deep tissue massage, which was worth every penny. No hard upsell for the products afterwards. Nighttime entertainment was good. The BB King band was awesome. We stayed for the whole 3 hour set. The comedian was funny as well. I was a little disappointed with the BBC Planet Earth "Alaska" show. I was under the impression that the Lincoln Center Stage performers would actually play live with the Planet Earth footage. It was just a screen with the music. It was good, just not what I had anticipated. Food was excellent. Cannot say enough good things about the Pinnacle Grill. Lido food surprisingly good, however VERY busy there. Loved having breakfast in the PG where it was nice and quiet. We only ate in the MDR once and found that the food was good and so was the service, however, it was absolute chaos in there and WAY too noisy from the engines. Dive In makes a great burger but the wait is too long, sometimes it was over 20 minutes. The pizza by the aft pool is some of the best I've had. We did not do any shore excursions. Lots of them were "walking through a rainforest" type things, which, since we live in Washington, we see all the time. We opted to do self guided walking tours: In Juneau we saw the Governor's Mansion and St. Nicholas' Orthodox Church. We were given a tour by the clergyman inside. In Sitka we went to the Russian Bishop's House and took the upstairs tour, which was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. We also went to St. Michael's church and saw the New Archangel dancers. Tip: eat at "Agave". Very good food. In Ketchikan we just walked around. Kinda tourist trapy. We were there on a rare sunny day. Got some coffee. Didn't even get off the ship in Victoria. Disembarking was very easy. When they called our group we were off the ship in about 5 minutes. No one was blocking any hallways or elevators so it was quick and painless. All in all, there were just some minor things that certainly didn't make our trip any less special and we would consider HAL again for our next cruise. We had a great time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our first cruise, and coming off a cruisetour (Y4L) we had four days on the ship. We had an opportunity to upgrade to a Signature Suite from a Veranda and glad we did. This put us in room 6072 in the middle of the ship. We had a ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and coming off a cruisetour (Y4L) we had four days on the ship. We had an opportunity to upgrade to a Signature Suite from a Veranda and glad we did. This put us in room 6072 in the middle of the ship. We had a larger bathroom and room to spread out. The veranda was a wonderful place to view the glaciers on our day in Glacier Bay. We ate at the Lido buffet for breakfast and lunch all days. It was easy to go at any time and there was a huge variety of food choices. I particularly liked the omelet station for breakfast. Easy to be healthy and easy to indulge for all meals. We had dinner at the Dining Room. We had open seating and for 3 of our 4 nights were seated with other people. Again, we found the food to be delicious with plenty of choices. One evening my husband asked for extra steak when he ordered and they were more than happy to oblige. We were there for a Gala Night and we dressed up and enjoyed a special dinner. Service was great. Entertainment on the boat was outstanding. We went to BB Kings every night, the Billboard pianists were fabulous, and we went to an afternoon performance at Lincoln Center Stage. Very talented musicians who worked hard to entertain the crowd. We did not see any of the stage shows in the evening. We were too busy enjoying the music! We also used the health club. Plenty of treadmills, bikes, ergs and machines. Some free weights too. It was not crowded and we were able to use the equipment we wanted. The treadmills were placed at the windows in the bow which my husband enjoyed. I liked working out without looking out to sea so something for everyone. Our third day on the boat we stopped at Ketchican. We planned to hike Deer Mountain at this stop and since the weather was good we stuck with our plan. We grabbed a cab when we came off the ship that took us to the trailhead. Glad we did. It was an uphill walk and the cab knew exactly where we were going. We walked back into town after the hike and had some time to poke into the shops before boarding the ship. By our last day we felt we knew our way around. There is a daily schedule of activities so always something going on if you were looking for something to do. A little sad to say goodbye but the four days on the ship were a great way to relax after the busier pace on land. It was an older crowd for the most part on land and on the ship. We had a couple on their honeymoon on the land tour and there were some young families on the ship. If you are looking for the big shows and non-stop entertainment this might not be your cruise/cruisetour but it was just perfect for us. Already thinking about going back to Alaska! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We just returned from a 14 day cruise on a the venerable Grande Dame, Holland America MS Amsterdam. Let me preface this review by saying we (my husband, son and DIL) very much enjoyed this cruise. We chose it for the unique Alaska ... Read More
We just returned from a 14 day cruise on a the venerable Grande Dame, Holland America MS Amsterdam. Let me preface this review by saying we (my husband, son and DIL) very much enjoyed this cruise. We chose it for the unique Alaska Itinerary that included many ports to which we had not been on our previous Alaska cruises. This was our 4th Alaska cruise and first time on Holland America. We have also cruised with Carnival, Norwegian, Celebrity and Viking Ocean. By reading all the previous reviews, we knew that HAL caters to an older crowd; however, "older" is a relative term which in this case means "floating nursing home." I myself am 70 but I felt young and spry on this ship of canes, walkers and wheelchairs. Don't expect to move anywhere quickly, but do expect to meet educated, well traveled shipmates with much good information to share. One of our shipmates reported going to the Lido late-night buffet, when an elderly man wandered in completely naked. Yes, that happened. Holland America knows their target market well, and have staff to help the frail get food at the buffet, enter and exit the ship, and even have the day of the week printed on the rugs in the elevators to help with orientation. This ship still has the great viewing room with floor to ceiling windows that many newer ships have replaced with fee restaurants. There is also a big library/gameroom/computer room with large windows, which is a great place for hanging out. We flew in a day early and had arranged for a car to pick us up at the airport through Seattle Town Cars. Their service was prompt and friendly. They delivered us to The Inn at the Market, which has a good location near Pike Place Market. We did the Savour Seattle food tour, which I recommend. We got to taste many of Pike Place Market's highlight foods including crab cakes, chowder, doughnuts, chocolates, dried cherries, Beecher's cheese and mac'n'cheese, to name a few items. My favorite was the salmon pate piroshky and rhubarb piroshky from "Piroshky, Piroshky." Absolutely delicious! We Uber'd to port, arrived later than most, so there was very little wait in line. We boarded and were able to go straight to our cabin, which I will review in the appropriate section. Dining: I would describe it as hit or miss. It is sometimes hard to find a clean table in the Lido Buffet. Or the table would be clean but the chair greasy or the wide carpeted window bases next to the table would be littered with food crumbs, etc. The bread baker is awesome, the assortment of breads varied and all delicious. And the pastries! You won't find better in Paris--flaky, light and baked to a golden brown perfection. Bravo! We found the Japanese, Chinese and Thai selections to be very good overall. Some soups were very tasty and well-seasoned, others were bland. The gravies on this ship are all deep rich and hearty. I wish I could make gravy that well! If you order filet in the main dining room you will receive a slice of baked tenderloin, good but lacking the crisp sear of a good filet. For that, you would need to eat in Pinnacle Grill, which currently has a $35. per person up charge. It is a bargain at lunch though--only a $10 per person. Make reservations early and know that the Pinnacle has no view and Cannaletto is a closed off section of the buffet (and serves many of the same foods). The Italian foods on this ship are in general just OK. Some dishes (rigatoni) were dried out, some sauces bland or watery. Avoid anything with spinach in it--the veggie lasagna consists of noodles, alfredo sauce and a blob of boiled spinach. Spinach omelettes are similarly yucky. Some foods that would have been delicious had they been served hot, suffered by being served lukewarm or cold. The Dive-Inn burgers fell into the lukewarm category (congealed cheese), but were served with tasty hot fries. Avoid anything with guacamole. It is a blackish-green color. My kids enjoyed the sushi choices and we all liked the salad bar, with many fresh choices, and some excellent house made dressings. I highly recommend the Asian Sesame. The ice cream was a lower quality that I have experienced on any ship, with some choices (chocolate) tasting more like ice milk. My DIL loved the sorbet choices. The Lido has some serve yourself sections, but most hot sections were served by behind the counter servers. This, along with limited hours, led to lines. It was not unusual to wait in a line for your eggs, then wait in another line for your toast. If you do the egg line first, your eggs will be lukewarm, if you do the toast first, it will be cold by the time you get your eggs. The main dining room is beautiful, but has problems. Service varies from very good to glacial, depending on the wait staff in your section and the time of day. We quickly learned where the best wait staff worked and requested their section. (Kudos to waiter Anas at dinner time--- ask for table #177 folks). Be advised that the MDR fills the worst seats first-- the ones that back up to a service station, face a wall, have a view blocked by a large column or surprisingly, are on the side so sunny that you have to pull the curtains and miss the view, while the shady side goes unoccupied. I avoided breakfast in the MDR after two tries. Are they deliberately trying to funnel people to the buffet by making them wait 45 minutes to order and another 45 minutes to receive the order? And then you receive lukewarm eggs, cold toast and cold pancakes. What a disappointment. The room service folks try very hard to get your food to you on time, as ordered and still warm. It is just a long way from the kitchen to the cabins. Toast will be cold (order pastry instead), eggs lukewarm. Do not order the scrambled eggs unless you write in "use fresh eggs," or you will receive tasteless, weird-textured pre-fab eggs. Hint to Holland America: please get some lighter-weight dishes for your hard working servers. Those trays are heavy! And they need a heated cart to keep the food hot. A napkin wrapped around toast is not going to hold in the heat. I only used room service at breakfast--my son and DIL used it once for dinner and commented that it wasn't good. Staff: There were many friendly staff members, but some who seemed stressed, unhappy or unfocused. At breakfast one morning as I waited for my eggs, I watched a (novice?) server mix up the orders, break the over easy eggs, walk away to wipe his nose and then walk back to wipe the edges of the fry pan with the same paper towel. I asked him if he realized what he had just done and he presented a blank stare. After that, I avoided any station where I saw him working. (I did report that to a supervisor.) The room stewards were all very personable and friendly, and there were always smiling folks to wish you a great day as you entered or left the ship. Download the Holland America Navigator App for easy reservations at any of the extra fee dining venues. It has a free chat service with fellow travelers which we found helpful and which was operational most days of our cruise. It also has a list of the days activities, although some days it was not a complete listing and we found it safer to carry our daily newsletter. There was less entertainment on this ship than on any of the other lines on which we have traveled. There were some mediocre to very good singers and dancers, a very funny ventriloquist, an amusing comedian. We liked the violin and piano duo "Adagio." Some evenings the highlight entertainment was a not so current movie or a BBC documentary accompanied by music. Small 1/2-filled bags of cold popcorn were available at the movies. There were also the usual Trivia and Bingo. The Test Kitchen presentations were well attended. If you don't want to stand, you need to arrive 1/2 hour early. They need a mirror over the work surface of the chef, as even if you sit in front, you can't really see what the chef is doing unless you watch the two TV screens at the sides. Might as well skip it, and watch it later in your room. My DIL attended a stretching class which she enjoyed. Each day there is a tea offered at 3 PM. We attended once and it was enjoyable to share a table with new friends, but the bread on the little sandwiches was stale. If you are a swimmer or hot tub lover, this is your ship. They were sparkling clean, the pool is also heated and they were often empty. No problem ever getting a lounge chair and the roof closes whenever the weather is cool/cold. We avoided the casino area because it was so smoky. Unfortunately, the ship's shops are across from the casino and also smoky. I usually enjoy on shop browsing, but not this time. Ketchikan: We booked the George Inlet Crab Feast privately. We have done this before and loved it. I must say that there has been some erosion in quality. Gone was the tasty potato that used to accompany the crab. The dressing on the salad, which was delicious in the past, was not as tangy. In the past, all the crab was fresh and delicious. This time, about one in three tasted watery and not fresh. The fresh ones though were awesome and the cheesecake is creamy and delicious. Be aware that there are many steps to climb to reach the Inn whether you arrive by bus or boat. You can request a ride if you need it. That afternoon, our son and DIL did the Lumberjack show (we just walked up and bought tickets) and they loved it. Juneau: We have done Taku Lodge excursion in the past and it stands out in our memories as one of the best tours we have taken. This time, our son and DIL did it and also loved it. It is expensive, but so worth it. Anchorage: We rented a car from Avis (the "B" street location). We took the free shuttle from port to the drop off point and walked the approximate 5 blocks to Avis. We arrived at around 8:30 AM and there was no line. We drove south along Turnagin Arm which is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. We stopped at Potters' Marsh and watched a pair of geese herd their brood of goslings. We drove on to Girdwood and had a yummy lunch of fried fish and chips at the 5 Chairs Restaurant. It has a charming log cabin feel and a beautiful mountain view. We also stopped at a quirky little coffee shop called "The Grind." We moved on to the Mt. Alyeska Lodge where our son and DIL met their tour for the "Summer Sled Dog Adventure." Both really enjoyed it. Meanwhile my husband and I took the hike through the beautiful woods behind the Inn. There is also a tram up the Mountain for scenic views. We then re-united and finished our day at the Alaska Wildlife and Conservation Center. If I go back, I will rent a car again and do the Portage Glacier Boat ride, which you can book privately. Homer: We loved this port. We took the free bus out onto the Spit. Word of advice--if you plan on shopping, there is no need to arrive before 10AM. We shopped, stopped at the Memorial, walked on the beach and had lunch at The Little Mermaid Restaurant, which I highly recommend. Everything we ordered was top quality and perfectly seasoned and prepared. Service was excellent and friendly and the atmosphere is wonderful. They play great upbeat music and you can hear the happy cooks singing along. Our kids took the Katchemak Bay tour offered by the ship and said it was good. Sitka: We did the Wildlife Quest and Finn Island Lodge tour offered by the ship and enjoyed it. The boat was large, comfortable, with plenty of indoor and outdoor viewing space. We saw one whale blow about 3 times and then dive. We saw many otters and eagles. We then proceeded to the lodge. The room where they serve you is a calm and pleasant banquet hall with a vaulted ceiling and wall of windows overlooking the expansive deck and water view. Everything seems new, fresh and meticulously clean. The food was wonderful--everything fresh, perfectly seasoned, piping hot. It was one of the best meals we had on the entire voyage. After eating, we went out by the bonfire where they had all the ingredients for s'mores, including Reese's cups, which make a surprisingly delicious addition. Sitka is almost always under cloud cover--dress for the likely misty rain. I can only imagine how beautiful this lodge/setting must be on the very rare sunny days they get. Icy Strait Point: We have been before and enjoy this made-for-cruisers stop. This is one of my favorite places for souvenir shopping. There is a nice shoreline walk, and a free exhibition of old canning equipment. Don't miss the trail through the woods behind the main buildings. It is an easy walk that evokes the Frost poem, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep." Seriously, it is the kind of old growth, mossy woods where fairies and hobbits would be right at home. Too bad they are building a ropes course in the center. Kodiak: Next time I will take a flight plane to see the bears. Folks who did that highly recommend it. We did the ship's tour that included a Russian Tea. Our bus arrived a little late. Our guide introduced herself and said that both she and the bus were old but still had good engines. I would add that the bus also had good brakes--more on this later. Every two seats had a washcloth hung over the back, presumably to use on the windows, which had to be closed due to the misty rain. With the windows closed, they quickly misted over and between that and the pea-soup fog, our sight-seeing drive was a bust. We could see absolutely nothing. If you have allergies, avoid this bus, there was mold/algae growing on a panel over the door and around the seals of the windows. At one pint, we drove around a corner and traffic was at a standstill due to some construction. Our driver slammed on the brakes and we hydroplaned sideways into the oncoming lane. Thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic, but it gave us all a scare. Our guide was also our driver and seemed unable to focus on both her driving and delivering her spiel at the same time. We stopped at a chapel of a Russian Orthodox Seminary and learned some history and went into a Russian Orthodox Church where the Pastor gave a presentation. We almost missed this second stop as our guide said the church was not open, until someone commented that they could see people going in and out, so we did stop. The tea part of the tour was held in a large room at at an Episcopal church. The tables were laid out nicely with cloths, china and Russian knick-knacks. The tea was a delicious citrus blend. The borscht was bland, the piroshky had very little filling and paled in comparison to what we had in Seattle. We each had one cookie, which was very good. The best part of this tour was the music, played by a large group with unique stringed instruments and dressed in Russian costumes. It was obvious that they enjoyed playing together and they were excellent musicians. Victoria: We took a taxi from port to our meeting point for the 5 Star Whale Watching Tour. We booked early and were able to get the smaller boat, the "Sailish Shadow." It was just us 4 and the captain and only cost a little more than the other large-group boat. The small boat does have a bathroom, but it is tiny and you literally have to crawl in and out. The hour long boat ride out to find whales is not recommended for anyone pregnant or with back problems. Heed that advice--the ride is jolting, at times my bottom and the boat's were air-borne. Still, I found the ride exciting and kind of like being on a thrill ride at a a fair. We saw only one whale, a transient male orca but were able to follow him along a coast-line, watching him blow, surface and dive. He even rolled once and showed us his pectoral fin. Our driver was excellent at maneuvering to get the best view. After our tour, we walked down to see the floating houses on the wharf, then took the harbor taxi boat back, had delicious lobster rolls at Nautical Nellie's Restaurant, and caught a taxi back to port. The two taxis to and from port were 1/3 the cost of using the ship's shuttle. We also cruised to Sawyer and Hubbard Glaciers. Amazing. We luckily had sunny days for both. Hubbard Glacier is magnificent, reminds me of the great ice wall in Game of Thrones and is backed by snow capped mountains. The glacier talks to you with loud creaks and thundering cracks and we were lucky so see an active day of calving. Sawyer itself is smaller and less impressive, but the scenery as we cruised toward it was beautiful and the sun on the glacial water turned the water to jade. It looked like it was lit from under the water. Mesmerizing. We Uber'd from our final port to the airport. Easy peasy. So, final judgement... would I cruise with Holland America again? Yes, but... only if it offered a unique itinerary that my favorite cruise line (Viking Ocean!) doesn't offer. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Sailed HAL for 10 of 12 cruises. Last cruise 34 years ago. First vacation in 8 years and first vacation with wife in 28 years (never had honeymoon and always had kids)?? Basically, the shore system didn’t match the onboard system. I ... Read More
Sailed HAL for 10 of 12 cruises. Last cruise 34 years ago. First vacation in 8 years and first vacation with wife in 28 years (never had honeymoon and always had kids)?? Basically, the shore system didn’t match the onboard system. I bought 4 indulgences and packages and none were ready for us. We never received the excursion tickets or most of the Add-ons without multiple trips to Guest services. They never notified us of Port Valet services or shopping specials that were supposed to be delivered to room. HAL completely missed our anniversary. They were quick with ‘I’m so sorry’ but slow on resolutions. Missed several onboard events while waiting in line at Guest Services. They don’t answer the phone so don’t bother. MDR was nice but if you share a table, they may make you wait 30 minutes until the table is full. Lincoln Center Stage was the best. I wish they would let me throat punch the drunks and obnoxious passengers that walked by and disrupted the performance. Weather was rough 1 day (18’ swells) and passengers felt the need to vomit on the common area carpets instead of staying in their cabins. Everything is an add on. Better meals in MDR ($25+ extra), candid photos ($20 each or 5 for $60). Portraits at Gala, $40 each or $160 for 5). Bingo was about $40 plus the $2.50 dauber. Staff was always pushing drinks, pictures, spa treatments, etc. Had 2 of 8 days without problems and trying to get what we paid for. Well possibly travel on HAL again if they fix their problems. I’m a 3 star Mariner and have a long way until 4 stars. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. This was also our 25th cruise. We had never cruised to Alaska before and over the years many fellow cruisers had recommended it. It was our 3rd time on the Oosterdam and our 2nd ... Read More
We chose this cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. This was also our 25th cruise. We had never cruised to Alaska before and over the years many fellow cruisers had recommended it. It was our 3rd time on the Oosterdam and our 2nd Neptune suite so we knew what to expect as far as accommodations. We stayed in Seattle at the Marriott waterfront for two days prior to embarkation and had a nice time there exploring the city and doing the usual touristy things. We rode the Light rail for the experience and ate at two notable places in Seattle: Belltown Pizza, and the Biscuit Bitch, both within walking distance from the hotel. Embarkation was easy but different from any others we’ve experienced. We arrived at 11:00 and walked right into the terminal but were not directed by anyone to the proper stations for check-in. There were signs of course, but with so many people walking around at once it seemed a little confusing not to have a person directing traffic. We expected to complete a health check first as we usually do but surprisingly that was not required for this cruise. We found our way to the proper line and were checked in quickly and were instructed to wait for our number to be called. The waiting area was combined with Princess and Holland ships, a first for us. We began boarding about 45 minutes later and walked right on to the ship without any greeting at all. We expected at least a greeting and maybe the usual mimosas as suite guests but nothing. We went straight to our cabin (5190) and found it ready for us but without luggage so we went exploring a little and had lunch in the Lido. Our luggage had arrived by 1:00. Our steward, Toni, took very good care of us. The room is a nice size and the balcony is amazing as we remembered. We stayed in the same cabin 18 months earlier. It’s perfect for Alaska viewing. Dinner in the main dining room was routine— food satisfactory, service good. With one exception, it remained that way throughout the cruise. We had dinner in the Pinnacle Grill one evening and it was considerably better than the Main Dining Room, as expected. Breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill was very good each day. We avoided the Lido as much as possible. It’s crowded, difficult to get a seat, long lines, and mediocre food. Hundreds of people in there at once, many wandering around, stopping and turning without notice, breaking in line. It’s a madhouse. Some use it as a place to sit long after eating rather than a place to eat and leave, contributing to the shortage of places to sit and eat. There are so many other places on the ship to sit; I don’t understand the desire to use the Lido. On the first night we began to have a lot of ship movement which got steadily worse throughout the night and into the next day. The captain announced at noon that the winds were gale force in excess of 40 mph which had not been forecast which were causing the significant motion. He predicted it would improve later in the day but it didn’t until after midnight. Many got sick including crew. Fortunately my wife and I did not. We did the Mendenhall Glacier guided hike in Juneau, which was strenuous but very nice. We walked around town in Sitka, visiting the historical museum with totem poles, native artifacts, and artisan presentations, and a stroll through downtown shopping. We found it a very pleasant place. In Ketchikan we watched the Great Alaskan Lumberjack show. It was a little corny, but entertaining. The Hubbard Glacier cruising was spectacular, especially from our enormous wrap around verandah. Lastly, we got off in Victoria, walked to the Fisherman's Wharf Park about ½ mile from the dock. Lots of places to eat and to see unusual houses built on the water. As for entertainment, my wife attended a couple of shows but didn’t find them interesting enough to stay the entire time. I like to play blackjack but not unless the table is at least 4-6 people. Many times there were just one or two at a table so I didn’t play as often as I like. We did like the Lincoln Center musicians and the two piano players just across from the casino. The group playing at the B.B. King club sounded great but we did not go in. We had a good time, and we’re glad we went but doubt we’ll ever visit Alaska again. Once was enough for us. In fact I think we realized something on this cruise. Our enthusiasm for cruising has diminished over the years. The past two cruises with a Neptune Suite have been nice upgrades from previous cruises and a must for future cruises but at a cost that now competes with some other pricey getaways. I think we’ll try something different for a while. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose the Westerdam for the itinerary from Vancouver to Alaska and Denali addition. The ship was very nice, many small bars or sitting areas for when weather was cool. However we had great weather all but one day! Enjoyed BB King ... Read More
We chose the Westerdam for the itinerary from Vancouver to Alaska and Denali addition. The ship was very nice, many small bars or sitting areas for when weather was cool. However we had great weather all but one day! Enjoyed BB King Blues bar the most - we prefer blues music anyway and enjoyed the band every night. The Billboard lounge has the “dueling pianos” and they were okay. Did not care for the classical music at Lincoln Center. Food at the Lido Market was just average. You really had to work at picking out decent food. The Main Dining Room was much better. The entire staff was VERY friendly and always had a smile and a nice greeting. We had an ocean view obstructed room. It was large enough with plenty of hangers and shelving. Ice whenever we needed and fresh fruit. I thought the ship was sold out, but we never had a problem finding a place to sit. The rooms had a hair dryer and makeup mirror, and we never needed an extra plug for electronics. Also, every step of moving a large group of people went very smoothly from embarkation to transfer to buses, to check in at hotels. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
In 2015, we did our first Alaska trip, which was an HAL Land/Sea Tour, where we did a land based tour of the Yukon first, and then did a short (4 night) cruise on the Volendam to finish off our tour. This week long cruise on the ... Read More
In 2015, we did our first Alaska trip, which was an HAL Land/Sea Tour, where we did a land based tour of the Yukon first, and then did a short (4 night) cruise on the Volendam to finish off our tour. This week long cruise on the Westerdam, from Vancouver to Anchorage, paled in comparison to that experience, for a number of reasons. On this trip, my husband and I also brought along my mother in law, who had never been on a cruise or to Alaska, and who stayed in an inside cabin across from our balcony cabin. See detailed cabin comments, below. FYI, if you have never cruised out of Vancouver, there is a pretty extensive "check in" process. Not only are you checking in for your cruise, but if your cruise is heading to Alaska, your first port is the US = customs. So, you actually go through the US Customs process in Vancouver, before you even leave the cruise terminal!! This saves time when you do get to your first US port (which probably doesn't have the capacity to handle customs for so many arriving passengers at once). So, plan for extra time before boarding the ship in Vancouver - you can get to the port around 10:30 or 11:00 am and not be early! The public interior areas of the ship appeared to us to have been recently refurbished. The carpet appeared newer; the seating in the theater was actually comfortable (we have been on several cruises where we had backaches getting up after a show in the theater!). The refurbishment did not seem to extend to the artwork/walls of the hallways and lobbies of the ship. As a matter of fact, that was one of the weirdest parts of this ship - I couldn't figure out the "theme" of the decor - what it was trying to be: a classic elegant cruiser; a ship that featured Greek or Baroque type of art/display; an Asian inspired vessel (there was some brightly colored Asian furniture in the lobbies of the elevator bank closest to our room). It needs some cohesiveness in design. Also, there were no activities or entertainment in the atrium area, as there are on many ships - and again, there was a modern light fixture/chandelier hung above the area, but the rest of the atrium looked more traditional. But, the "artwork" on the walls in our hallway was especially atrocious - it looked like prints that had been installed on the wall when the ship was built and never updated or changed since then, no matter what new carpet was put down, etc. Like prints my grandmother might have framed as "art" in her house. So, we could never get a handle on what the vibe of the ship was supposed to be, which has typically been pretty easy to figure out on any other ship we've cruised on. The exterior of the ship looked fine, to us, and the refurbished parts of the interior were also nice - but there was no consistency in decor, which just made it weird. The theater itself was more intimate feeling than other ships we've been on - not sure how many it seated, but we got good seats for the shows we saw, and had a good view of the productions. Unfortunately, the number of theater shows on this particular cruise was disappointing. We saw one production show with the onboard singers/dancers on night 2, and nothing afterwards. I found out on our last sea day that there were some technical and staffing issues with backstage/tech crew, which meant the normal shows could not go on - which was really disappointing for us, as that is one of the things we look forward to most on cruises - the onboard entertainment. They had also brought onboard an illusionist (who focused on sleight of hand magic) and a pianist/singer/comedian who was a very talented piano player. The illusionist did two shows one night; the piano player did two shows one night, and they did a show together one afternoon or evening (I think to make up for the lack of a second or third production show by the onboard singers/dancers). I am not a huge fan of either of their type of entertainment, but I went to the first magic show (he is very talented at what he does) and the first piano show (again, excellent pianist) but skipped their joint show - just didn't need to see more of either one. The first night we skipped the show in the theater - there was only one at 7 pm, and it was an introduction to Alaska preview (movie?) hosted by the cruise director. The fourth night was a BBC Earth movie about Alaska, with live music playing as accompaniment to the movie - again, only one show that night, at 7 pm. The fifth night was an EXC presentation about Iconic Whales of the Northwest - I think it was a talk by the cruise director - again we skipped it. So, this was, unfortunately, not enough "entertainment" in the main theater for us, and was a major disappointment. We barely heard/saw anything from the Cruise Director onboard. This has not been our experience with other cruises we've taken, so not sure if this is an HAL thing, or if it's just because he is new at the job & with HAL. However, the entertainment in the smaller venues was a highlight for us. The quintet that performed in the Lincoln Center Stage were all young people (20's or 30's) and very accomplished musicians. That small venue was full every time they performed, I think, and they also had a unique themed set of music for each performance - I think their performances were each approximately 45 minutes long (maybe an hour). The Billboard Onboard venue featured the "dueling pianos" concept which I love, and there were even some opportunities for sing-alongs with the crowd. I also liked those two performers and thought they were talented, as well. The BB Kings Blues Club was where we spent almost every evening - there was a great band in there, fronted by both a male and a female lead singer. We really enjoyed their sets, and cruisers were often dancing, too. However, the band themselves seemed to have a lot of technical issues with the sound techs - I think sometimes their monitors weren't working, sometimes a keyboard wasn't working, sometimes a mike or two wasn't working - they just seemed extremely frustrated with the tech crew. It didn't affect the sound quality/performance for the audience, fortunately. And, I know, from walking by in the afternoons, that the band rehearsed earlier in the day, so I'm not sure why the tech team couldn't get the sound right when it came to performance time. But, again, BB Kings was a highlight of entertainment for us on this cruise - we often stayed for all 3 sets they played nightly! For dining - we ate all but our first night's dinner in the Main Dining Room on the "Anytime Dining" program. We were fortunate to be assigned a table that was in the back of the dining room (so, at the back of the ship) with a gorgeous view of the wake of the ship out the huge window. It was a perfect location for us, and we had the same waitstaff each night, who were outstanding and remembered our preferences for drinks, etc. We thought the dinners in there each night were delicious, and had everything from apps through dessert almost every night. I would give the dining room 5 stars! We also enjoyed eating lunch either in the Lido (buffet) or out at the Dive In or the Taco Bar near the main pool. For some reason those burgers and fries just taste better than at home! In the buffet, they offer a pizza/pasta bar, as well as a custom made salad bar - which we chose several times - they prepare it for you, and then add the dressing and mix it up for you, if you like. There was also a dessert area that featured about 5-6 ice creams, frozen yogurts, gelatos, etc. per day, in addition to other individual dessert selections. We also ate breakfast in the Lido each morning, mostly because of the omelet stations - made to order omelets each day, along with many other buffet options (Eggs Benedict, etc.). Our first night, we decided to treat ourselves to the Pinnacle Grill at the special "first night" pricing (note, you need to book this in advance when you board - don't just show up for dinner there and expect to get the discounted price). Although my mother in law and I both had excellent dinners featuring perfectly cooked filet mignons, my husband's entire dinner there was a "fail". He had been wanting King Crab Legs forever, so went for that; but his crab was so awful that he asked to have it replaced with a filet mignon like we had. Then, they brought him his steak, and it was uncooked in the center - like not even warm. So, he asked for it to be cooked more, and they instead brought him a different steak (looked like NY strip) which was tough and overcooked. They also make a big deal about their lobster bisque, which features one tiny piece of lobster in a bowl, then poured over with the bisque - which, as my husband observed, tasted a little bit like gravy. But, the worst part of the meal was that our server was continually looking at other tables he was waiting on, even when he was taking our orders/serving us! And, he never really got the severity of how badly my husband's entire meal service was going. We asked for the manager, who tried to make up for it; but it couldn't really be saved, by that point. We got MUCH better service from our waiters in the Main Dining Room than we did in the Pinnacle Grill. Again, when we went on the Volendam 4 years ago, we had a lovely dinner in the P.C. with excellent service. so, this was a disappointment, and was the reason we couldn't give dining a 5 star rating. The only shore excursion we booked through HAL was in Skagway - the White Pass Yukon RR trip, because the train literally pulls up next to the ship for boarding. I'm not sure it was HAL's fault, but for some reason we had to stand outside for a very long time prior to boarding the train, which was sitting right there! And, each cruise ship is assigned cars, which are labeled for the guests to find! So, not sure why there was such a long delay getting us boarded onto the train and on our way. All other ports/excursions we did on our own. Other random observations: The Lido Pool (under the retractable roof) seemed to be filled with kids on our trip. If you are interested in a more adult pool experience, I would suggest signing up for the Spa experience and using the therapy pool in there - it looked lovely; wish I would have used it at least 1 day onboard! The America's Test Kitchen demos were held in the Blues Club and did have TV screens so you could see what the chef was doing. Unfortunately, there were only 3 demos; one on the first sea day, and two on the last sea day. I had the impression there would have been more. And, I thought the recipes selected were weird - one was Asian Dumplings; one was a take on Tomato Soup and (gourmet) Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I didn't get it...This was something my mother in law was looking forward to, and thought there would be more of throughout the trip. Based on the totality of this cruise, compared to other cruises we have been on (Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival) we probably would not choose to cruise on HAL again (unless it was on one of their newest ships - and not sure why we would choose them over any of these other cruise lines, anyway). Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
3 couples (brothers & sister & spouses) took this trip for the Glacier Bay stop. 2 of the couples had been to Alaska previously--but never had seen Glacier bay. Our age grouping is late 60's to early 80's. My wife ... Read More
3 couples (brothers & sister & spouses) took this trip for the Glacier Bay stop. 2 of the couples had been to Alaska previously--but never had seen Glacier bay. Our age grouping is late 60's to early 80's. My wife & I had never been to AK and after reading many reviews on CC, decided to select the Eurodam for the GLacier Bay stop. We flew in to SEA the day before and stayed at Cedar Brook Lodge near Sea-Tac. Very nice facility--nestled in a woodsy--outdoor setting. Would highly recommend this facility. Free morning buffet included in the price ($215) Hotel had free shuttle from SEATAC. We used Seattle Express to travel from hotel to Pier 91 and Pier 91 to SEATAC --they were prompt & had nice vans. Got to Pier 91 around 945 am and got stuck waiting outside terminal building as folks from the ship were still disembarking. Got congested outside terminal (people & bags).They started letting people inside around 1045 am. Once we were inside and dropped off our luggage--we were processed quickly and sat in the upstairs waiting are until our group # was called. Princess Ruby was also boarding at the same time, from the same waiting area, Got on the ship around 1115 am, dropped the carry on's off in the cabin and headed to the Lido buffet Got our lunch and then went outside on the Lido deck to watch the activity on the Ruby Princess & Eurodam. We had the Signature Beverage Package as part of our Explore 4 promotion, got some drinks and watched the people and ship activity--went to the Lifeboat drill at 315 pm. and then went back up to the Lido deck to watch cast off of the Ruby & Eurodam. Ruby left first @ 4 pm. Eurodam left 445pm. Delay was never explained--not a big deal. One comment about the SBP drink package--it also included the 15% Service charge as long as the total for the drink & SC together was under $11, not $9 as I was led to believe. To buy the package separately was $363. Cheaper than on Royal Caribbean. 15 alcohol drinks per day was the limit. I never exceeded that limit and I tried hard. "Miami Vice" was our favorite drink. Our previous cruise was July 2018 on Oasis of the Seas (6000 passengers), that is our basis of comparison for this cruise. Wife does not like seafood much and complained about lack of menu options, but I found the MDR menus varied. Lot of Asian/Indonesian items on the menu--wife would not try them. Sigh. Ate in the MDR six nights and Pinnacle Grille one night (part of our Explore 4 package). Good food & service in the MDR & Pinnacle. Our table servers in the MDR were outstanding. Food portions on Eurodam were smaller than Oasis, but adequate for most folks. I sometimes had an appetizer size second entree Wife thought the French Onion soup on the Oasis was better than Eurodam. Very little cheese on the soup on Eurodam vs Oasis. Shrimp cocktails on Eurodam were of better quality & size than Oasis. Steak, salmon, French Onion soup, Caesar salad were offered every night. Eurodam has a late night (1030--1130 p) buffet in the Lido, was always too full to try it. We had SY7078 (Signature suite) and my siblings had SA 7061 (Neptune suite) & PS7036 (Pinnacle Suite) Our suite was adequate in size, but not as roomy as the JR Suite we had on the Oasis. Lighting for the closets was lacking somewhat. Shower stall in the bathroom was tight. We had a shower tub combo in the bathroom as well. I never used it, USB ports and 110/120 outlets by the bed were adequate. Went to BB King performance several nights--they were V good. Female singer was combo of Aretha & Tina Turner and has some powerful pipes on her. Got the club jumping. The group played late 70's & early 80's hits & disco type tunes. Saw the magic & comedy shows--good--but G rated. Saw the BBC Alaska wild life movie in the main showroom--good but short--less than 45 minutes. Short clips from other films. Casino had $6 Blackjack table--spent several hours in there. Wife tried the slots and was happy with that activity. We did not partake of other offerings on the ship. Lincoln Center chamber group played several afternoons & evening. I attended one performance and that was enough--very dry, odd ball classical (IMO) music. 2 violins, a bass & piano. Lots of scooters & walkers & canes on board--beware when moving about. They are dangerous. We lucked out with the weather. Cloudy leaving SEA, Juneau was misty & cloudy, but bearable, it cleared later in the day. We found a taxi that took us to the Mendenhall Glacier & picked us up again at our time, for $27 /ea., I had a National Park pass that saved us $5 each (Entrance Fee to Park Visitor Center). Walked to Nugget Falls & back (1 mile each way). Easy trail. Glacier Bay was cloudy, but were able to see clearly. Margerie glacier was calving while there. Sitka was clear & sunny. Took ship excursion (4 & 1/4 hrs) out on the bay looking for Otters, Bald Eagles, Whales. Saw lots of Otters, Eagles, a few whales in the distance and stopped at the Raptor Center. Only had about 15 minutes to look at the Eagles & Owls, etc under rehab--not long enough. Tour was SI10 $160/ea. After getting back to ship, we sat out on the Lido deck and watched Eagles sitting in trees near the harbor watching for fish. That was neat. Ketchikan--sunny--walked around downtown ( very close to ship pier), shopped and got T shirts, etc. My 26 year old son who came along on cruise did an ATV ship excursion into the forest area and was pleased-- $200 for the trip. Got back on board and again watched Eagles doing their thing. Bar service on Lido deck was V good. My son is a social animal and hung out with the bar crew after hours and as a result we got V good bar service from those people when they were on duty. Victoria--arrived 6 pm. (sunny) took shuttle bus ($15 RT) to town and walked around. 4 ships were in port, so DT was crowded. Arrived in SEA 6 am Sat. left the ship at 845 am., on SEA Express and at the AP by 930 am. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Where do I begin...To me, HAL is how cruising is supposed to be. The ship was very elegant and classy, like you would picture an old-time cruise ship, but not antiquated at all. It was also very "green" and environmentally ... Read More
Where do I begin...To me, HAL is how cruising is supposed to be. The ship was very elegant and classy, like you would picture an old-time cruise ship, but not antiquated at all. It was also very "green" and environmentally conscious and that's something that is very important to me. I never saw a single paper towel or napkin (even in the public restrooms you dried your hands on little washcloth-sized towels) and no disposable plastic ANYWHERE. The drinking glasses in the buffet area were a really heavy plastic that we thought were glass at first, but the plates are all glass/stoneware and the bowls were a very heavy resin type material. In the buffets, you don't serve yourself, you just tell them what you want, so there aren't a thousand people touching the spoons and messing with the food. The food here was remarkable, considering the amount that's served each day. The main dining room was fantastic (atmosphere, food and service) and in the afternoons there were little happy hour specials at different bars on the ship where you get your second drink for $2. We actually had a TUB in our cabin and the bath towels were huge. They even provided blankets for the balcony and up on the outside decks. It was all just amazing. Yes, HAL is sometimes referred to as the "geriatric cruise line", but that is a misnomer. I have been on at least a dozen cruises, and this one was by the far the busiest, but it wasn't geared towards keeping children entertained. (This was my first time on HAL so I can't speak regarding their other ships). That said, they do have a kids' program and I can't imagine that a kid would get bored, (I would be delighted to take my grandchildren on this cruise) but there were no water slides or rock-climbing walls or things like that other than whatever they have in the dedicated kids' area. One thing I was a little afraid of was that it was going to be a more formal atmosphere than we wanted, but that wasn't the case at all. Even on the Gala nights the wardrobes ran the scale from formalwear (but not much) to jeans and everything in between. In a nutshell, we are new HAL fans and are already thinking about our next cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We have been cruising to Alaska many times because as resident in Vancouver, it is an easy trip for us. One hour leaving from our house, we will be sitting at the ship's top deck eating lunch. Volendam, compare to other ships I ... Read More
We have been cruising to Alaska many times because as resident in Vancouver, it is an easy trip for us. One hour leaving from our house, we will be sitting at the ship's top deck eating lunch. Volendam, compare to other ships I have been on, is a much simple in decor(but has interesting art works in their corridors), aged, and small, but a good ship. The advantages is less walking from one end to the other, the buffet area is not crowded even in the busy time, plenty of closet spaces in our room, good service and foods. We stayed in the picture window , a good size, suite on level one, our first at such low floor, but we discovered it is less rocky during an odd rolling sea day. The disadvantage was the dining room on the four level is complicated to find if one don't take the very end elevator, I took the mid elevator and got lost twice and ended in the front of the theatre twice. Good thing the ship was not too long to walk ,even twice. Second disadvantage was our room safe required a credit card with a magnetic strip (any magnetic strip). lucky we have a Starbuck card, otherwise we had to carry our credit card around (bring along an expired credit card, the third disadvantage was, in the buffet, most food are served by a server and the foods was not label clearly. So you have people asking what each dishes were(one asked what is liver and rather the beef was from a grass feed cow) and then take a minute of so to decide what to have. So in busy hour, the line up was long and the server was frustrated from repeating answering the same question. Entertainment: we like the Concert in Alaska, a beautiful video accompany with live music play by the ship's band. I also attained and enjoy the lesson on computer on how to use Windows 10 to edit and create videos from photos. Food: HAL always have a high standard for its food and that is the reason we choose this ship. Take in mind that the ship is cooking for thousand of passengers, so it could not compare to those of the top restaurant, but I did enjoyed their foods, the dessert has the right amount of sweetness. (As an Asian, I love their breakfast congee which I have it with smoke salmon or left over roast beef). Also,as a repeated HAL cruiser,we were invited to a Thank you lunch in the dining room on the last sea day heading home. The foods were delicious. Don't miss this invitation. Port: Juneau, the price of dedicated bus to Mandenhall glacier increased to $45 which is only 6 miles away. If you arrive the port early, say 9am, you could take the local bus, $3, which take one hour then and walk a mile or so to the park. Then walk another half mile to the big waterfall. The glacier itself is ok since you will see a lot more specular glaciers in Glacier Bay. I walk toward the bridge to see the new whale sculpture, wait for the water spray, it made it all the difference. I also recommend doing the counter or clockwise around the edge of the town. Lots of interesting things to see up the hill. Glacial Bay, it was perfect weather (overcast at first to bring out the blue in the ice, then turn sunny to bring out the white, saw many otters and some seals along the way. On the way out, over the speaker, the ranger told us an island which we passed was full of sea lions and seagulls, thousand of them, but you need binocular to see them. Play attention on your exit to the park. Skagway, walk thru the town to the waterfall, a short walk pass the old cemetery. Ketchikan, walk along the creek to the hatchery, the park is quite nice now. Along the cruise, we saw otters, whale, dolphin/porpoise, and bear, some even saw mountain goal, but all from far distant. Bring a good binocular. Also, if you want an unobstructed front view of the ship, walk to the front of deck 6 and go out on the door marked exit. Actually both side of exits are good, but one marked for emergency exit only. For a good enjoyment, it is about talking to other guests and be respectful. Treat people the way you want them to treat you, even if they are the workers. Life is like throw a ball to a wall, wherever you put out, it will come back at you. Enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. As with most HAL cruises, it was port intensive. On board were a geologist, naturalist, a chief of the Tlingit people, an indigenous wood carver and a couple who shared their music, stories ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. As with most HAL cruises, it was port intensive. On board were a geologist, naturalist, a chief of the Tlingit people, an indigenous wood carver and a couple who shared their music, stories and experiences living in Alaska. We were able to learn from these presenters and interact with them daily. In addition, there was evening entertainment, including, singers, comedians and magicians. This cruise was an opportunity to visit small ports that were more authentic, without the multitude of jewelry shops lining the sidewalks. We were able to support local businesses and speak with the people who lived in these communities. Of particular interest and enjoyment was Port Alberni, British Columbia. We sailed up the Alberni Inlet and were received with the warmest welcome that we have ever had in another port. To begin with, a group of indigenous people canoed to our ship (which was tendered) and sang a welcome song. On shore, the local people were there to greet us and assist us in any way. The Book Club participants dressed in period costumes, the indigenous peoples did a welcoming dance, volunteers offered rides to see local attractions. As it was a Saturday, there was a wonderful Craft Market on the Quay. There were offers of free local tours. When we admired the restored logging trucks at the Quay, we were personally driven to the Industrial Heritage Centre, where they have restored numerous vehicles and machinery from the logging hey days of the area. There were vintage trucks and antique machines that have been restored over the past 35 years by a group of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers. The volunteers showed us around the various vehicles, giving a history of each one. Unfortunately, their steam train is currently out of service. When it is running, it goes from the original train station to the Historic R B McLean Lumber Co. site. If this attraction is restored, it would be a wonderful addition for cruise visitors. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Just returned from the 7 day Alaska cruise. This was the first time on HAL but have over 12 cruises on other lines. It been several years since our last cruise so the comparison is from over time. Last cruised Alaska about 8 years ago ... Read More
Just returned from the 7 day Alaska cruise. This was the first time on HAL but have over 12 cruises on other lines. It been several years since our last cruise so the comparison is from over time. Last cruised Alaska about 8 years ago Everything very clean- including cabin- no complaints about ship or cabin. Very satisfied there. Thankful we had great weather- no rain at any port and saw Hubbard Glacier fairly close. Main issues were food and entertainment. Poor entertainment....very little to do during the "at sea" days unless you watched a movie...surprisingly they had a good selection but why pay hundreds of dollars to watch a movie when it can be had for $10 at home. I walked every deck for exercise at night...by 10 o"clock the ship was deserted. Some people in Casino, BB King and listening to twin pianos but all combined maybe 50-75 people out of 2,000 passengers. This is a seniors ship...( note: we are seniors in our 80's but still full of life.) Food was blah. Many of the selections did not appeal to me and you were given small portions. Buffet had same food and if you are into desserts--FORGET IT. Had ice cream scooped for you and 3-4 cake selections and that was it. No great broadway-type entertainment...no steak at all at main meal...no midnight buffet...no tables full of various desserts..no joy of cruising. The 'good old days of cruising" not available here. Probably gone from other cruise lines too. Will go back to Las Vegas where you pay the same or less but get more bang for your buck. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. ... Read More
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. Food good. Only disappointment was lunch in the Pinnacle Restaurant. Not worth the extra $. Not sure why a Coconut Trifle would gave 2 layers of rich chocolate that overpowered the taste of anything else...inedible. Strawberry pavlova...better pavlova in the Lido. Crab cakes for appetizer were excellent. Entrees (mains) pretty ordinary. Dinner may have been better. Santos and Otto did a great job in looking after us in our stateroom on Deck 10. Recommend this Stateroom, in particular location. Great service with a smile everywhere. Plenty of updates from the Captain. Smooth sailing. Embarkation was easy and we were able to board earlier than designated. Disembarkation needed more signs for lines of group colours. Easy to look up everything on TV in cabin, e.g. account and dining menus for the day. Good movies too. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
The Holland American Alaska Land & Sea Cruise was a marvel in it's organization from Fairbanks to Seward on land and Seward to Vancouver at sea. The hotels, ground transport, buses and train moved us with without any problems. ... Read More
The Holland American Alaska Land & Sea Cruise was a marvel in it's organization from Fairbanks to Seward on land and Seward to Vancouver at sea. The hotels, ground transport, buses and train moved us with without any problems. The weather was exceptional for May. The Panning for Gold, Steamboat Cruise, The Denali Outback was 102 miles filled with moose, brown bear, caribou, sheep was great. The sea excursions the White Pass Train and Salmon Fishing was outstanding. The transfers from airport and to ship were again very On the ship the Neptune Lounge, staff, the stewards, our waiters, wine steward, and the entire crew were helpful and friendly. They tried their hardest to improve the food that was being served and it did improve a little. The quality of menu was terrible. The managing chef his menu lacked any inspiration. His plate pairings were off the wall. His line chefs plaited the food poorly and no one was tasting the food or were uneducated with what good food should taste like. The quality of the food has been reduced to the level of it's parent company Carnival. It was not like this on my previous sailings with Holland American. Even the cafe was dull and tasteless and the specialty restaurants were only slightly better, just OK that's all we can say about the food. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Cruise was part of 23 day Rockies and Alaska package. Paid extra $1200 to be upgraded to Verandah and had a cabin that was partially obstructed and the balconies from higher decks looked down on our balcony. Food in the main dining room ... Read More
Cruise was part of 23 day Rockies and Alaska package. Paid extra $1200 to be upgraded to Verandah and had a cabin that was partially obstructed and the balconies from higher decks looked down on our balcony. Food in the main dining room was extremely patchy and not of the standard promoted. The embarkation process at Vancouver was very prolonged as guests were herded like cattle from area to area. Once on the ship the cabins were available which was a plus. Found it almost impossible to hear announcements as they are not on the ships TV. The information provided on the ship tv was respective and the same movies/ shows played all day. Our cabin attendants were helpful but were not fluent in English - great service with always replacing towels etc. The whole experience was mediocre at best and it is an experience I do not wish to replicate Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
The land tour was extremely well organized. You never had to stand on line to register in the hotels.The hotels were very nice. Our hotel in Anchorage was a top hotel. Our rooms were a good size and very comfortable. The food on the ... Read More
The land tour was extremely well organized. You never had to stand on line to register in the hotels.The hotels were very nice. Our hotel in Anchorage was a top hotel. Our rooms were a good size and very comfortable. The food on the cruise was very good. The service was very good. The entertainment was good, although we had seen the same productions on the Koningsdam. My only criticism is the afternoon tea. I had noticed on the Koningsdam that the afternoon tea had gone downhill. It was worse in the Noordam. They have eliminated the scones. We had upgraded from a balcony to a Signature Suite for a nominal charge. We were very happy that we had. The other rooms are small with the bed taking up too much space. We had a double sink, jacuzzi tub and shower. My only criticism is that the shower is too small. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I once considered Holland America the most upscale of the mainstream cruise lines. I found the service, amenities, entertainment and dining far superior to Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean. However, after my weeklong Alaskan cruise ... Read More
I once considered Holland America the most upscale of the mainstream cruise lines. I found the service, amenities, entertainment and dining far superior to Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean. However, after my weeklong Alaskan cruise on the Eurodam in May, I believe HAL has slipped to just average. That much being said, "average" is still a great vacation when you're cruising Holland America. We still had a wonderful time on board and you will too. The staff went out of their way to make us feel special from embarkation until our last minutes on board. We sailed round trip from Seattle and spent a day touring the city before boarding. Pike Place Market was our starting point. We spent hours there seeing the sights and tasting the free samples. We also went for one of the underground city tours, which was a fascinating way to learn about the history of Seattle. HAL's cruise terminal is about a $40 cab ride from downtown hotels. There were no porters standing by to help us with our luggage, which shows more poorly on the port authority than the cruise line. I finally found a group of four porters, standing around socializing. They were eager to help once I asked them if any of them were working. Check-in was easy and smooth. We were Neptune Suite guests so we breezed through embarkation. The only delay was for the obligatory pre-boarding photo from the pesky cruise photographers. It normally wouldn't be so bad, but it was cold and rainy in Seattle and we were uncomfortable waiting for photo-ops. One great change for Holland America is letting guests into their cabin as soon as they board. I loved being able to drop off our carry-ons before exploring the ship. We were met in Cabin 7065 by our two room stewards, who greeted us and asked us if we had any special requests. We did. One of the great perks of staying in a Neptune Suite is complimentary laundry and dry-cleaning. We had a lot of wrinkled clothing from our flight in. The stewards took care of it. We then headed to the Neptune Lounge, another great perk for suite guests, for a light snack. While there, I made reservations, with the concierge, for the Tamarind restaurant ($25 surcharge), Pinnacle Grille ($35 surcharge) and Sur La Mer ($49 surcharge). Experience has taught me, if you can afford it, the premium restaurants are worth the extra money. The Eurodam is a beautiful ship, although starting to show some wear. You can walk from one end to the other except on decks 10 and 11. To go fore and aft on those decks requires you to go down to deck 9. The midship pool area (Deck 9) was covered, giving folks a place to sit outside, without wearing jackets. There were plenty of bars, although there were times when we had to search to find an open one. Here's a tip: Deck two has two bars adjacent to the casino. One of them is almost always open. The Lido Deck (9) bar is also open most of the day. The other bars are open sporadically, making it a challenge to find adult beverages at times. The gym is fairly well equipped, although most of the treadmills were broken. Some didn't incline. Others would only run two minutes at a time. Some didn't have a place to put a tablet for reading. This led to a wait for the machines, even at 6:30 in the morning. My wife ended up walking around deck three, where three laps=one mile. There were plenty of weight machines and free weights in the gym. No wait for weights (sorry, I couldn't help myself). I was a bit put off to find exercise classes that were once free, now costs money. The spa & salon are nice, but terribly overpriced. The biggest rip-off, to me. may be the thermal spa which is marketed at $279 per couple for the week. $169 for a single. Our traveling companions found it overcrowded and difficult to enjoy for more than an hour at a time. We did splurge on a couples massage ($379 for 75 minutes). It was very relaxing, but three times what we would pay for a similar massage in Florida. Our cabin (7065) was large, well equipped and starting to fall apart from age. A broken drawer, makeup mirror and stained furniture were my chief complaints. It was still a wonderful place to share a pre-dinner bottle of wine with friends and we loved the oversized balcony. The best part of the cabin were our stewards Gede and Franz. They seemed to know intuitively what we would need or want and provide it. We had the signature beverage package, which includes 15 drinks per person per day. It was comped to us as part of our cruise package. However, even if we paid for it, I think it would be a great value. I was never able to come close to 15 drinks, even with several cappuccinos throughout the day. Of course, that may be because our traveling companions brought six bottles of wine on board and preferred to drink that with us. A note about the bottled wine. No-one checked our carry-on while we brought the extra wine on board. We were only charged a corkage fee ($18) if we brought a bottle to the restaurant. Even that was waved one night when we also bought two bottles of wine from the menu.. I found the main dining room below average for both dinner and lunch. The menu options were not appealing and they were very limited. The service was friendly and efficient, but the food didn't cut it. However, all of the upscale restaurants were great. The Tamarind ($25), serving Asian food, was my favorite for service and food. We literally ordered every appetizer and dessert on the menu to try and they gladly brought it for us. I also liked the Pinnacle Grille. The service was top notch, although the kitchen was not five star. Too many little things that gave me a sense the head chef took the night off. The pizza parlor on deck 9 aft was a huge hit, Great individual pizzas with most of my favorite toppings. They did run out of mushrooms halfway through the cruise. I liked the salad bar, which never seemed crowded. Huge bowls of fresh lettuce and vegetables. The Dive-in hamburger stand was SLOW SLOW SLOW! It frequently took 20-25 minutes to get a burger or chicken sandwich. The entertainment was not great. There was no pre-dinner cocktail music on board. Most cruise ships have two options for pre-dinner music. The Blues Club was fun and lively, although it was basically the same show every night. Billboard On Board sounds like a Dee Jay, but is actually a piano duo. They were great, but only played late. I would have loved an earlier show. The comedian just wasn't funny. In fact, the illusionist was far funnier, more polished and provided a super show. Fortunately, the comedian has left the ship. The illusionist is staying on board for an extended run. My favorite part of the entertainment was the game room on deck two adjacent to the casino. We had loads of fun playing old fashioned games with other on chilly sea days. The best part of the Eurodam is the service. Everyone on board seemed to have a "can-do" attitude aimed at giving people a positive cruise experience. The ports in Alaska are very all similar to me. In fact, the excursions are also very similar. In Juneau: I highly recommend the helicopter ride to Herbert Glacier for dog sledding. It is a once in a lifetime experience that we've done on three Alaskan cruises because it's so much fun! Expect to pay a lot ($600-$800 per person) depending on who you choose for a tour operator. Glacier Bay: is a trip around a bay with a few glaciers. I found it boring to watch glaciers from a mile away, having just gone dog sledding on one! But HAL had some nice touches, offering hot soup to chilly guests on board. In Sitka: We took the free shuttle into town and hired a private taxi for a tour. The three hour tour was 1/3 the cost of the similar tour offered by the ship. The plus side was we had a private car instead of a crowded bus. In Ketchikan: we took our only Holland American shore excursion, the off road kart ride. It is a blast. We got filthy and had fun doing it. Highly recommend it. Victoria, BC: is a waste. We docked at 6:00 for five hours. At dinnertime! So, we were left with a decision to et on board and waste time in port or skip dinner. Alaska is supposed to be a once in a lifetime cruise destination. We've now been there four times. It's that good. And while Holland America, has slipped a bit in service, dining and entertainment, I had a fantastic cruise. You won't be disappointed. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary, both sea and land portions along with Holland America's experience in Alaska. Our first time on HAL. We really appreciated the opportunities provided by HAL to upgrade our cabin and ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary, both sea and land portions along with Holland America's experience in Alaska. Our first time on HAL. We really appreciated the opportunities provided by HAL to upgrade our cabin and ended up in a Neptune Suite for a nominal fee. Our room steward and Neptune Lounge concierges were fantastic. Pre-cruise in Vancouver at the Pan Pacific hotel was perfect. Embarkation was good except for an hour delay due to a surprise Coast Guard inspection. We liked being able to use our Signature Beverage Package in the Neptune Lounge. However, we were misinformed on what we could order. We were told beverages up to $9 but learned after the cruise it was $11. We booked two excursions through HAL - the Discover Whale Watch in Juneau and Husky Homestead in Denali. Both great - well organized and delivered as promised. We planned to participate in more onboard entertainment but only managed to make it to Billboard Onboard, the casino, and a couple EXC presentations. All good! Some of the presentations offered in the EXC lounge were standing room only. Dining overall was good. We tried the Main Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill, Room Service, Lido Market, Dive-In and taco bar. We only tried a couple of the bars because we primarily used the honor bar in the Neptune Lounge. We cruise primarily for the destinations and excursions, not the ship itself. However, all were very good. The only significant negative was the hotel in Anchorage. Holland American needs to seriously renovate this hotel. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I chose this cruise because of the chance to see the Inner Passageway up close, and because it sailed round-trip from Seattle. Visits (and excursions) in both Juneau and Sitka were beautiful and worthwhile; Ketchikan is just one big ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the chance to see the Inner Passageway up close, and because it sailed round-trip from Seattle. Visits (and excursions) in both Juneau and Sitka were beautiful and worthwhile; Ketchikan is just one big souvenir shop and hardly worth the stop. This was only my 2nd ocean cruise (the first was on Viking; all others were various river cruises) and I admit to having been spoiled by smaller ship size and ambience. In my opinion, this ship does not deserve a 4.5/5 rating. We ate at the Lido, in the Dining Room and in Pinnacle Grille and, at best, the food deserves a 4 (in the Lido, a 3 would be all I would give it). Service in the Dining Room and Pinnacle was good and efficient. Lido was hit or miss service (usually ended up filling and refilling all drinks ourselves), and food was cafeteria quality (except for omelet station, which was good tho' lines were usually quite long). Food stations were not organized well for crowd flow and table bussing was often slow. Onboard entertainment was not very exciting: America's Test Kitchen was just watching from a distance as someone else prepared a meal, and the Billboard OnLine performers were just OK. Best entertainment was the movie "Alaska in Concert," which was excellent (shown two times on one night of the cruise). I had paid for a spa pass and was sorry I had. The 6 lounge chairs in the spa were usually full and there was a separate aqua pool but no hot tub. Sauna's were nice but how long can you stay in one of those? WiFi was awful: slow and sporadic and you can only connect it to one device at a time. Very expensive for what you get. The worst thing about this cruise was the constant "upselling" that went on. We were interrupted several times during lunch conversations with waitresses telling us about specials in Pinnacle and Tamarind (the additional cost restaurants). Every fitness and spa experience was an infomercial and the absolute worst were the ship photographers who were in your face at meals, on the deck and as you were heading off for shore excursions. If I heard "let's see those smiles!" from the male photographer once I heard it 24 times during the 7 days of the cruise. Finally, I would not recommend going on the Eurodam as a single traveler. Fortunately, I had family travelling in another cabin, but the large ship size makes it more difficult to meet and connect with new people. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We have sailed many times with Hal and have always had a good experience. This cruise had the potential to have problems but Hal solved them in prompt fashion. We were assigned to cabin 7138. The first evening we experienced vibrations ... Read More
We have sailed many times with Hal and have always had a good experience. This cruise had the potential to have problems but Hal solved them in prompt fashion. We were assigned to cabin 7138. The first evening we experienced vibrations so severe that we could not sleep. Hal solved the problem by finding a new cabin for us. Since the sailing was full they went out of their way to help us. The best thing about Hal is their commitment to service and concern for passenger comfort. They came through for us beautifully. We feel dining is the best of the large ship lines. We were pleased with the food preparation in all of the dining venues. They have really upgraded their pizza and dive in restaurants. The dining room is great but we did notice that the menus are beginning to show a cut back in finer offerings. There are many choices but less so than in the past. Entertainment has been improved by adding several music venues. They were all good.We also enjoyed a dance troupe and a magican and comedian. Daytime activities are stll lacking and need to be increased. The strongest element is the service provided by staff in all areas from cabins to dining to activities. The ports are all great with the exception to the stop in Victoria. The ship arrives so late there is little time to do much./ A free shuttle usewd to be provided to the town but now a $15.00 charge is in effect. We had another great cruise and look forward to our next. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We wanted to see Alaska and Glacier Bey, So HA cruise line was one of the lines that goes there and we where advised by our travel agent as well. Ship had good rooms and great stuff. Everything else didn't meet our expectations. Of 7 ... Read More
We wanted to see Alaska and Glacier Bey, So HA cruise line was one of the lines that goes there and we where advised by our travel agent as well. Ship had good rooms and great stuff. Everything else didn't meet our expectations. Of 7 days there where just 5 days of shows on mane stage and most of them where low class performances (other two days they showed a movie). On other stages performances where the same each nice so after first day nothing new. They had just two ping pong tables that where very popular because there wasn't anything else to do. Pool aerie was closed way to early at 9pm and we literally where kick out when we where there at 9pm. Just two activities where organized just last day in a ship but very poor and short (ping pong tournament and song trivia). Buffet food was okay but dining room food was almost as buffet food, not so much special taste food. We knew that HA cruise to Alaska will be quieter experience but it was just bad organized and low quality with a little that they had. And at each corner they tried to sell us something, like creams at spa, good feet at gym, bear at buffet, meal to buy at dinning and so on. We for sure will try another cruise lines but wont suggest anyone HA line. Also we spoke with other travelers that used that line before and they tolled that this year they really very poor organized compare to before. Also we heard from our travel agent that other people where complaining withe their line too. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant decline in the entertainment. HA have introduced a new Step 1 dance company which didn't appeal to us. They were 6 dancers, with no singers, no band, and a poor sound system. This is no doubt another effort to reduce costs but not for us. We used to recommend HA to friends, but not now with this decline. Other on stage performances were an illusionist and a comedian which were both good. The BB King band on board was absolutely fantastic - this is what will bring us back to HA. Cherise and Steven were the vocalists and were terrific, and so were the other band members. The "Cruise Director" was very sweet, but not the ever present role of the previous CDs. There was no activities staff, no dance lessons, so Celebrity is way ahead in this area. HA claim the best perks at sea, but we dispute that as we get much better perks on Princess and Celebrity where we have similar status. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our fifth cruise, with Holland America, so I have no comparison to make with other cruise lines. It is obvious during the embarkation, that this is not “their first go-round”. Moving 2000+ people onto the floating hotel is no ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise, with Holland America, so I have no comparison to make with other cruise lines. It is obvious during the embarkation, that this is not “their first go-round”. Moving 2000+ people onto the floating hotel is no mean feat. Add to the fact there’s another cruise ship, different line, loading for the same departure time. These folks do a marvelous job, the Port of Vancouver is a great place to depart from. I am totally amazed by the comments of folks doing reviews for Cruise Critic. Fortunately you can read all the comments, and sometimes wonder “did these folks travel on the same ship?” How can one person be so positive and another negative. Well that’s the way it is, we are all different and we all see things through different eyes. But with the Cruise Critics’ review, you can at least sort out the wheat from the chaff. every review was negative, then the cruise line has a problem - a mixture gives each line a chance to iron out the negatives. Our fifth cruise, this time on the Nieuw Amsterdam, went without a hitch. Embarkation was as smooth as the previous four trips. Our cabin was ready and we met our cabin stewards. Now, these folks meet several people each trip, how do they remember our names? Holland America trains these stewards to do their job, and part of that is getting to know your clients (and that’s what we are). Our Veranda stateroom was everything we’d expected. There is plenty of room for two and the outside deck is an added benefit. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship, wandering around you get to appreciate the effort in making this ship. If your only efforts take you from your stateroom to the Lido or Main Dining Room, you are wasting your travel time. In many reviews I have read that critics have said the trip is boring, there’s nothing to do. HAL regularly prints daily schedules of activities and events. Should you chose to ignore those, then yes, you will have a boring do nothing cruise. Food, does that interest anyone - the Nieuw Amsterdam has every type of venue available, and I had to say they are all top notch. From the Dive In and Pizza place to the Main Dining Room and the pay extra dining. You can have whatever you may wish, you will not be disappointed. On this trip at each stop, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan there were three other cruise ships, all arriving and departing at similar times. That’s somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 cruisers joining the locals. And yet it doesn’t seem excessive. There was a little sea movement between Ketchikan and the northern Vancouver Island, this was to be expected, but had very little effect on us. Weather forecasting sometimes is misleading. If we’d planned our trips on two-week forecasts, we’d never travel. On the week 18-25 May 2019, the weather gods blessed us. Arriving back in Vancouver, our disembarkation was as smooth and our embarkation Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this because my Aunt always cruises with Holland. We are really enjoying it. Have a Vista Suite and it’s very comfortable. It was hard to tell from pictures how large it was but it’s plenty large. Tub is small but my 6 foot ... Read More
We chose this because my Aunt always cruises with Holland. We are really enjoying it. Have a Vista Suite and it’s very comfortable. It was hard to tell from pictures how large it was but it’s plenty large. Tub is small but my 6 foot husband is able to use it. Food is a bit so-so in my opinion but I didn’t really come on the cruise to eat! The portions are small, and I felt that service in the main dining room was just okay. Also, they have an Alaska special which they said they were out of on the first night, which was frankly, weird. The Pinnacle Grill was okay, but just okay. I expected food like a fine restaurant and the crab cakes were awful and my salmon was undercooked. All that being said I still think it’s terrific. The time in Glacier bay was spectacular. The service is very good. We are in Ketchikan now surrounded by behemoth cruise ships. I like that Volendam is small. I did think it would be more formal, but I guess they are trying to make cruising more accessible to people. We plan to take more cruises. Overall, it’s great. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
My wife and I have been on two other cruise lines so a friend of ours invited us on a vacation to Alaska on the line HAL Oosterdam. The staff was very friendly but when we needed some guidance we couldn't understand what they were ... Read More
My wife and I have been on two other cruise lines so a friend of ours invited us on a vacation to Alaska on the line HAL Oosterdam. The staff was very friendly but when we needed some guidance we couldn't understand what they were saying and they didn't even know the answer to our question so make sure your staff who works on the ship knows everything about it like where's the nearest bathroom . While going down the hall to my room it smelt like sewage that was just not normal and it wasn't just my hall... we made a shore excursion n Ketchikan as soon as we were down we had 2 go back 2 the ship we had no time to explore Ketchiken cause we only hade 4 hours to stay. Now the food in the restaurants were EXCELLENT but n the lido deck buffet u couldn't serve yourself , same food every day , when they served you they gave you little portions . Now my main concern on my list is the ENTERTAINMENT !!! To talking to some of the other passengers there was nothing 2 do. Sure they had the comedian which who was hilarious and the magician which who could of had did something more than what she did if Lance Burton is her idol. Every day u should have some kind of ENTERTAINMENT it doesn't have to be something big but just something. Hope this helps cause I will not be recommending this cruise ship 2 anyone Read Less
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