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13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We have been on Holland America ships three times before with no issues. First time for the Eurodam. Overall, the ship was clean, well maintained, and had great service staff. We went to Alaska which was amazing. We were in a balcony cabin ... Read More
We have been on Holland America ships three times before with no issues. First time for the Eurodam. Overall, the ship was clean, well maintained, and had great service staff. We went to Alaska which was amazing. We were in a balcony cabin which was clean, comfortable, and well appointed. There was no room guide for information or room service. When asked we were sent a small paper copy of the book which was hard to read. The cruise director was mia most of the time, unlike most cruises. Didn't see much of him around the ship. There was not a lot of activities when not in port. There were no games like newlywed and such. Everything was pretty much done by 11:30pm. The Lido deck was not really a fun place to be. No activities there, and a lot of seating taken up by private tent areas for rent with no takers as we were going to Alaska. Not even a polar bear plunge at the outside pool at the glacier. (Past Alaska Holland Am cruises had this) They did have some naturalists at Glacier Bay national park they were informative. Days with no port call were boring and lack luster. Now for the food. Most frequent cruisers know that cruise food is usually average. Some delicious items now and then. I'm not kidding when I say that food was equal to Granny's buffet or Old Country Buffet. Really! That was the buffet area on Lido (pool) deck. Also annoying was no self serve of hot foods or salad bar. If you asked for small portion, you got regular or larger. I ended up tossing out a lot of food. My spouse complained about the porting size of the food he asked for. There were also no sail away parties. If you returned to the ship later like around the last call at night, there was no food at the Lido except pizza or room service. I can say that the food on Eurodam was the worst food aboard a cruise ship we have ever had. Last. The entertainment was little and lack luster. There were only two main shows in the theater, plus a comedian for an hour once. The BB King Blues club was the only entertainment aboard that stood out. The band was amazing. We went every night they played. All in all: We would not recommend Eurodam. Almost forgot the dinning room. That was also below average. One night I sent the entrée back, and didn't get anything else due to the crapy offerings. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I had high hopes, after cruising on the Holland America "Amsterdam" for a 2-week cruise to Alaska on June 19th thru July 3rd this year. THAT cruise was absolutely wonderful!!! Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Holland ... Read More
I had high hopes, after cruising on the Holland America "Amsterdam" for a 2-week cruise to Alaska on June 19th thru July 3rd this year. THAT cruise was absolutely wonderful!!! Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Holland America is very consistent. Previously, I was on the 33-Day cruise in March this year, on the ms Maasdam. And, while there were many issues (it is a VERY old ship), I was very impressed with how the captain handled the huge amounts of complaints. It really felt like he cared about what we complained about. He responded quickly and appropriately to everything. I was so impressed, despite the many issues (poor vent/AC system, horrific tendering, etc...) because while there may have been problems, they were addressed, the captain apologized, AND he took action to try to keep us all happy, for a very extended amount of time. It convinced me to cruise on Holland. And, I did - on the Amsterdam to Alaska for two-weeks. It was absolutely wonderful. But, this last cruise, just makes me shy away from cruising on Holland again. I didn't bother to complain while on this ship, after my initial letter to them, on the first day, to let them know how unhappy I was. It was clear to me, that Holland's ms Eurodam couldn't and wouldn't live up to the great Amsterdam experience. First of all, windows were regularly blocked with closed curtains. Does the ship NOT understand that the view is the MOST important aspect of an Alaska cruise? I had mentioned it several times, to employees/staff, but they never did anything about it. I would get smart alick answers like "the weather is bad". Second, in the diningroom I felt that every table was pushed together closer than ever and each one was set with two extra place settings - enough to cause a full table to feel knees and elbows and having the inability to pull out a chair without hitting a person next to you. It was near impossible to walk freely. Conversations were impossible as well, as the diningroom was so crowded, you couldn't hear a person sitting next to you! I was constantly struggling to hear anything being said. Also, the staff were so extremely busy, with what appeared to us all, was extra duties, while trying to perform diningroom duties, that they didn't have time to ask us if we wanted anything, if our meal was satisfactory, or if we would like tea or coffee with our dessert. Orders were taken quickly, food was thrown at us, like being on an assembly line and I was even told repeatedly, that I could NOT have a tea pot, when I asked for tea. I actually had to argue with diningroom staff, to let them know that I CAN have a pot for hot water and I do NOT have to settle for a cup of hot water. It was impossible to get Earl Gray tea or Jasmine tea. I would get it from the Lido/buffet line and bring it to dinner with me. The first three days I couldn't even get any lemons for my water. One table even commented to me on the last night for dinner that it seemed like a real struggle when I was trying to ask for a tea pot for hot water. The waiter had tried insisting that we ONLY get those for "room service". I had to inform him that I have been cruising for the last couple years, just about once per month and this was the ONLY ship that refused to give me hot water in a pot. He then caved in and got me one. (Why did it take such an ordeal?) One of the best features of a Holland America cruise (for me) is the Tea Time. But, on this ship, it was also part of the assembly-line service. Instead of having a pleasant dining experience, being seated formally and treated with respect, we had to find a seat, at least a half an hour PRIOR to tea time and there was NO choice in the tea we were poured. The tiny bar tables were pre-set with small plates and tea cups that fit only 3 settings, but had four chairs. Needless to say, it was a very uncomfortable experience. I have no idea how the service was for anyone on the 1st tea day, because I was out of luck as to how to get a seat. The other two times that I managed to get a seat, it was rushed, hard to get re-fills of tea, and almost impossible to get a finger sandwich or sweet treat. Staff members were doing the best that they could, but also under staffed and not friendly or concerned with attention to our needs. It felt as though it was part of their forced routine that they were anxious to get over with. On the UP side, I absolutely LOVED my Ocean View!!! And, the band was outstanding. The comedian was great. The string quartet was remarkable. And, as always Metka was a pleasure to bump into and she remembered me from our first cruise in March. Room service was okay, except they found the need to repeatedly call to ask if I had everything (until asked them to STOP calling me, and let me enjoy my food.) And, as always, the room attendants were the best service of any service on the ship. I do not believe I will ever cruise on Holland America again, unless it is a deal that I cannot refuse. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
The casino offered the worst blackjack payout of any casino I've encountered. They pay 7:6 (16%) instead of the usual 3:2 (50%) for a blackjack. The food is mostly disastrous. The worst of it can be had in the lido buffet. There are ... Read More
The casino offered the worst blackjack payout of any casino I've encountered. They pay 7:6 (16%) instead of the usual 3:2 (50%) for a blackjack. The food is mostly disastrous. The worst of it can be had in the lido buffet. There are long lines for every station (asian, mex, omelette, etc) because HAL insists on serving each passenger individually rather than you serving yourself. The result is a huge waste of time and a terribly stressful meal. Start with a wait for an omelette, then wait in another line for side dishes. Then, hope you can find an empty seat/table before your food cools further. The Pinnacle grill for breakfast was just as bad, food wise, but at least you can sit and be waiting on. The MDR was hit or miss. The only highlights for food were to be had at the upcharge Chinese venue (Tamarind) and the pizza and burger stands, if you don't mind waiting a very long time to receive your order. We will never sail on HAL again. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My wife and I traveled with her parents. We had a cabin on Deck 7, with a nice balcony. Check in was a 3.5 hour disaster, being told first to go to one place and then told that we had to go to another place...5 different times. And we ... Read More
My wife and I traveled with her parents. We had a cabin on Deck 7, with a nice balcony. Check in was a 3.5 hour disaster, being told first to go to one place and then told that we had to go to another place...5 different times. And we waited and were herded like sheep from one large holding room to another. No one seemed to know what to do and of course, no water, no one to answer question, just "go there, sit there, stand and wait there" for 3.5 hours. After boarding we arrived at our cabin which was really small considering it was supposed to be larger and with a balcony. It was reasonably clean, except for the carpet, the HVAC vents (which had hair and dust hanging from the vent and which was never cleaned during the cruise). The crew are constantly smiling and saying good morning, etc. but when you see them not interacting with a passenger they look pretty miserable and are fairly lazy. I sent my shoes out for polishing twice and they were wiped off, but not polished. We used the lotion provided which was never replenished. Daily cleaning consisted of making the bed, replacing towels and wiping off the sink (missing hair a few times), making the bed and emptying the wastebasket. One of the things that really bugged us was the waste of paper. They constantly deluge you with notices in your mail box advertising sales of jewelry, art work, excursions, future cruises, etc. etc. to the extent that we were getting 6-10 extrinsic pieces of paper per day. And of course, when you check in online you are told to print your check in documents (multiple pages) which you are told on the dock were not necessary. The food in the Lido lounge was not good and one day I actually got food poisoning from a bad salmon omelette. Often in the main dining room when choices were made (i.e. items to include in a make your own omelette) there were items missing. Getting a second cup of coffee required a special request. The food was acceptable but clearly mostly made well in advance and calculated to look much more special than it tasted. And the money grubbing that HAL does is truly offensive. At EVERY meal you are asked if you want a special extra charge coffee or other beverage. When you ask for advice on wine, you are ALWAYS pointed to the most expensive choice and it is clear the wine steward has little to no knowledge about wines. Upsell, upsell, upsell happens a dozen times a day and gets really tiring. I lost track of how many times I was solicited to buy their drink package at $55 per person per day for up to 15 drinks a day that cost up to $9 each (which is about 2/3 of their drinks). We bought a wine package and again were pushed to upgrade to a higher level. When we ordered wine off our package we were told the most expensive bottle was clearly the best. Then there are the photographers, taking pictures and trying to sell them to you, the art gallery, the jewelry "sales", the shoe orthotics, the spa treatments, massages, facials and face lift packages, the "private" cabanas, the soda that you are charged for, it simply never ends. Even the tour and "gift" and jewelry shops closest to the ship in every port are owned by HAL, or so we were told by one of the merchants. What was good? Our room was reasonably quiet except for the racket made by the crew early each morning as they went up and down the hallway with their cleaning carts and equipment. The balcony was sufficiently large and pleasant. The scenery was beautiful. The crew were usually cheerful and always said they would do or bring you what you asked for (although it often didn't happen). The elevators were fast and efficient. We arrived on time although we never departed at the scheduled time. The Captain declined to tell us of "gale force winds" and "20 foot swells and waves" until everyone was back on board and the ship had departed, thereby denying a timid sailor the chance to avoid seasickness (we are not in that category, fortunately). We had a lengthy conversation with one of the officers in the Silk Road bar (which is beautifully decorated) but we noticed he appeared very unhappy and seemed to drink to excess (fortunately he was not the Captain or an officer charged with navigation). The entertainment was mediocre and the crew show was pathetic. Also the crew said they didn't get off work until after midnight and then had to rehearse on their own time until 4:30 am. Our impression is that the crew of mostly Indonesians were not very well paid and were worked extremely hard. We were told they do not have a day off during their entire 10 month contract. And finally, we discovered that we grossly overpaid for our cabin. We found other people who had paid less than 1/3 what we paid and who had better cabins, included drink packages, etc. This clearly is our own fault, and I would not even mention it but for the other shortcomings by HAL. Tipping is automatically added to the bill ($27 per day per cabin) and is divided supposedly among the crew. I prefer to tip directly and did so, while I still paid the $27 per day. All in all, we aren't likely to sail on HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
I chose this ship as I had heard good reviews and as it was a "holiday of a lifetime" we thought we would pay a bit more. It turned out to be the worst experience of a holiday we had ever had. There was nobody at the airport to ... Read More
I chose this ship as I had heard good reviews and as it was a "holiday of a lifetime" we thought we would pay a bit more. It turned out to be the worst experience of a holiday we had ever had. There was nobody at the airport to meet us in Canada after a nine hour flight which was in itself very stressful. There was no help or guidance as to where to go with any of the organised excursions which I had booked online through Holland and America with us being put on the wrong bus at one time which the tour guide found funny!. One of the excursions was changed without our consent which would have meant us missing the next one so we went and changed it back and noticed a $10 fee each for it being charged on our statement so we had to go and get it refunded, for which we were made to feel an inconvenience and the staff were very rude. We were treated worse than cattle when queuing to get on board which took us over 5 hours with no seats for disabled people and one person passed out in the queue which was very distressful. A lot of the entertainment on board involved an extra fee and there was not much choice of entertainment even the films shown in the cinema were available to watch on TV in your room. Staff were unhelpful and if anything ran out they were not willing to go and get more until the next day. It is the only cruise where food was not available most of the time when we asked if there was anything to eat we were told there were burgers and hotdogs in the lido but as a vegetarian that did not offer a solution to us. We discovered to our horror that Holland America had accepted additional money from someone to hire a large portion of the ship for a private function which meant that after waiting for an hour and a half for a good seat to watch wildlife I was told I had to move out of that section!!! We were dropped at the airport to go home at 10.30am with 8 hours to wait at the airport before our flight, both ill with the flu. Sanitisation on board was very poor with just a hand cleaner before entry to the restaurants which about 50% of people noticed or used. We held off writing a bad review because we wanted Holland America to have a chance to reply. They agreed we had been treated badly and offered to pay us £500 compensation which was a very small percentage of the price we paid but we agreed to accept as we were pretty annoyed by this time with the whole thing and wanted to forget it. HOWEVER over 3 months later we have still not received any compensation despite several e-mail chases and an e-mail from the travel agent. My opinion is that if you are looking to book a holiday of a lifetime to Alaska then avoid Holland America. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
General I do my own cruise planning and read a lot of reviews of that specific cruise on that specific ship before purchasing a cruise. I observed that Niew Amsterdam and HAL in general get very mixed reviews. Some people loved it, some ... Read More
General I do my own cruise planning and read a lot of reviews of that specific cruise on that specific ship before purchasing a cruise. I observed that Niew Amsterdam and HAL in general get very mixed reviews. Some people loved it, some did not for various reasons. It is my opinion that a lot of complaints are probably from people who didn’t do their homework and perhaps booked the wrong cruise for their tastes. This is often on them, not necessarily on the cruise line. Every new customer should know HAL is known as the “senior citizen” line and be OK with being left alone to read a book or entertain yourself at least a little bit. If you need someone else to entertain you constantly, pick another cruise line. My wife and I have done ten cruises on five different cruise lines (Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Holland America). This was our first cruise on HAL. I have never not enjoyed a cruise, even the worst one. Full disclosure: I am not a complainer, generally. I don’t expect everything to be perfectly to my liking anywhere where 2,100 passengers are being served. If I complain, it is going to be a legitimate complaint, not a small annoyance that passes. It is imperative to have a good time and complaining detracts from my own experience. Ratings are as much about expectations as they are about the actual experience, just like a marriage. This cruise was the last Alaska cruise of the season for Niew Amsterdam. I chose that one so we could stay on the ship for its next cruise, a 5 day repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego, avoiding a flight. Then we rented a car at the airport and did a 1 ½ hour drive home to Orange County and turned the car in at John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana. The Signature Suite price was not all that much more than a Verandah on this last cruise of the season, so for the first time we booked a Suite. We switched to a Verandah for the second repositioning cruise, which was serious cheap ($499), so got a back-to-back Suite vs Verandah comparison on HAL. See my review of Sept 30, 2017 repositioning cruise to San Diego for the cabin comparison. Enrichment Activities We engaged in these sparingly. Went to a BBC screening that was interesting. Went to two of the Americas Test Kitchen live classes on “Meatless Mondays” and on different ways to prepare salmon which my wife was interested in. There were a lot of Microsoft Windows 10 classes. I went to the one on Windows “One Drive” and would have gone to more but was doing other things at the time. These were good to fill in those occasional gaps in the schedule when we had some spare time. Because these offerings were available I didn’t make any progress on the book I was reading on my Kindle, like I thought I would. Embarkation This was an unmitigated disaster! It was because 3 ships departed the same afternoon (about 10,000 passengers) and US customs was swamped. This inconvenience was not HAL fault, but US Customs and Vancouver facility limitations. However, HAL instructions were to “please arrive at least 3 hours prior to the ship’s departure time.” That would be 1:45 for 4:45 departure. That would put you in the heart of the customs logjam. Bad advice. On page 1 of the boarding pass document they said the embarkation process starts at noon. Since they gave us that instruction, we assumed it was not possible to arrive sooner, perhaps the HAL check-in desks might not yet be open and the ship had not yet been cleaned and prepped and we might have a long wait to get started (this happened to us in San Francisco once with a different cruise line). More bad advice. So we left our hotel around 11:30 for what the hotel clerk said should be about a 25 minute cab ride (the clerk used to work for a cruise line). Guess again, we arrived at 12:45 into a sea of humanity. A porter took our suitcases. We got on the ship at 4:00, over 3 hours not including the cab ride. Be sure to bring water. We were exhausted. We had a similar experience in 2012 when 3 ships were departing Vancouver. They have made one significant improvement since then. They have added three large seating areas so that when you have a very long wait, you are issued a sequence number and at least you can wait in a padded seat with a restroom nearby until your group number is called. Not so in 2012. First line was security check of all carry-on items, second line was HAL check-in, and third line was for US Customs. Customs was the problem. We talked to passengers onboard who arrived around 10AM and breezed through in an hour or so. Wish we had ignored HAL instructions and done that. But it would have been a risk as HAL check-in might not be open. If I ever cruise out of Vancouver again I will check how many ships are departing the same day and never again book a cruise with 3 ships departing the same afternoon. Or else arrive at 10AM. Might consider Seattle or another port. On the second leg of this trip, the repositioning cruise to San Diego, we were the only ship in port in Vancouver this time and customs clearance was a breeze. Yes, they made us get off the boat and go back through customs to re-board, but they escorted us with a crew member pass so it was pretty quick. They left our bags on the ship. Public Rooms The ship was nice and in good condition. Public rooms were nicely appointed. Cabin Our first suite experience (SS-6087) was appreciated. We loved the extra space and we filled it up easily. The bed was the best we have had on a cruise. We both have achy hips and a hard or bad mattress causes us to wake up repeatedly during the night to turn over to relieve hip pain. If an old person has to take Advil because of a mattress, that is a bad mattress. No Advil required. I’m not saying it was great, definitely not as good as our sleep number bed with a pillow top at home, but acceptable and the best on a cruise ship we have experienced. Normally when we first get to a room we look for the cabin attendant and request an egg crate foam layer be placed on top of the mattress as a pillow top. This is the first time we didn’t think that was necessary. Often the ships keep some of these egg crate foam pads and give them to the complainers, but they run out so it is imperative to complain early. The leather couch (sleeper) is the most uncomfortable piece of furniture I have ever sat on. Too deep and back straight up. It was necessary to pile pillows a certain way to be able to sit on it. Our biggest complaint about our Signature Suite is that the couch was right under the large wall mounted flat screen TV, so you could not watch TV from a comfortable (or uncomfortable) seating position. Only from bed or a desk chair just like an interior room. Lots of closet space. The bathroom had 2 sinks, a full size tub with Jacuzzi jets and shower head, and a separate shower stall. Suite! Service Generally service was very good. There was only a couple of times when someone told me I couldn’t do what I want and delivered the message a little tersely, forgetting their training. Most went out of their way to be polite and friendly. Many of this ships employees were from Indonesia. The gals in the Tamarind were especially friendly. I think the dining room servers are friendlier for the fixed dining when you get the same servers every night and a mini-bond is formed. No bond with the server of the day. Value for Money Being the last Alaska cruise of the season the price was significantly lower than midsummer and the Signature Suite was not that much more than a Verandah on this cruise, which is why we went for it. We payed $2099 each for the 7 day cruise which is the most we have ever payed for 7 days, but we got to try a suite to see how the other half lives. Cruising in the fall is our secret for success. Few kids, lower prices, cooler weather and with HAL you avoid the frat party crowd puking over the balcony railing like they do on Carnival. We live in a desert so we have no aversion to foggy drizzly weather. Value for money was OK. Dining Main Dining Room We requested fixed early dining which has always been our preference, but were wait listed and assigned open dining instead. On this cruise we started to like the open dining because of the flexibility, and we could still request to sit at a table for 6 to meet other passengers. They would accept reservations one day ahead, so we learned to figure out our evening itinerary, browse the menus, and book a reservation a day ahead. Then the wait to get seated was minimal. We figured if something came up and we didn’t show up it wouldn’t matter anyway, but that never happened. The food was generally good. Not the best we’ve experienced (Celebrity), but not the worst (Norwegian). Good, but no wow factor. The first night the meat was tough and I thought Oh Oh. But it was a one-off and the prime rib later in the cruise was surprisingly tender and juicy and things got better. Lido Buffet We had lunch and dinner here occasionally, never breakfast. Again, good. Not everything was great, but there was enough variety that if one was picky you could choose the dish you like and pass on the others. Keep pecking and you will find gold. Tip: The menu in all restaurants is shown on the TV daily, so we learned to see what was being served in the dining room and the Lido and then make a choice. Room Service We only used room service for breakfast, but just a continental breakfast to get us started mornings. Just coffee and toast, and occasionally danish or fruit or yogurt. The full breakfast is not the way to go on room service unless you like overcooked scrambled eggs, which is the only way they serve them (true for every cruise we have been on). The breakfast was much better in the dining room; eggs cooked to order, pancakes & waffles etc. Much better for big breakfast eaters. Of course room service was no extra charge. Dive-In Poolside burgers, dogs and chicken sandwiches. I liked them, my wife was less enthusiastic. New York Pizza Back of the boat on the Lido deck. They will make your pizza to order and have a couple of decent salads. Covered outdoor seating next to a bar. If you want to take it to your room they will put it in a pizza box, just like delivery at home except the delivery boy is you. The pizza was – you guessed it – good. Tamarind Specialty Asian dining for $25 extra fee. The Indonesian servers were quite good and friendly. The food was good with some creative and unusual selections. For me it was not an extra $25 better than the main dining room so we didn’t return on the second cruise. Pinnacle Grill I had high expectations because of the $35 extra fee. Our experience was OK, it was a good meal but not worth the extra fee so we wouldn’t have considered going back. Entertainment I knew from pre-cruise reviews that this is where HAL and Niew Amsterdam get panned a lot. Accordingly we went in eyes wide open with low expectations in this area. There was good entertainment available at times, but I have to admit that compared to the other cruises we have done it didn’t measure up. But since this was not a priority for us we didn’t care that much. There were a couple of main stage shows that were enjoyable. The impressionist Tyler Bryce was extremely talented and funny and this was the best stage show. The comedian Mark Pitta was OK. Both were relatively clean, thankfully. There were no musical headliners like we had on almost every other cruise, so the other main stage shows were production number stuff. The performers sang and danced their hearts out for us but it’s a little underwhelming. In the lounges, BB King’s Blues Club were the only exceptional performances and this saved Niew Amsterdam’s entertainment rating as far as we were concerned. We went there about 7 out of the 12 nights (2 cruises back-to-back) to the point that I was actually getting tired of an exceptional group. It was the same group on both cruises. To their credit, each night they had new material and only started repeating numbers late in the cruise. The other lounge acts were just OK. Here is the skinny on in-room TV. There is a wide selection of on-demand movies. You can start anytime, pause, rewind, etc. The only live TV channels were BBC World News, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN and ESPN 2. Tip: If you put the TV on the front facing ship’s camera (up on the bridge) you can hear the ship’s announcements clearly on TV. Otherwise you can’t hear announcements with your cabin door shut. Shore Excursions Juneau - we went to our old haunt, Tracy’s Crab Shack and gorged on king crab legs fresh out of the Bering Sea, washed down with a cold Alaskan beer. We consider this pilgrimage as a shore excursion, making the $122 price tag for two seem cheap! The bucket was 3 ½ pounds of legs. Tracy’s has been in a different location the three times we have partaken, now it is front and center near the cruise terminal, seen easily from the ship. Souvenir shops in town discounted 50% because this was their final week of the season. Skagway – We did an 8 hour tour that started in a big comfortable bus with a toilet in the rear. It drove us on a very scenic trip through wilderness across the border into Canada, the Yukon. We stopped for a nice BBQ chicken lunch with fresh made donuts and visited a sled dog operation. Some people took a sled dog ride using a sled with wheels, since there was no snow yet. We petted the little sled dog puppies. Then we drove back to a train station and boarded the White Pass Railway for a winding trip back to Skagway. Very nice scenery, and we enjoyed the day. Ketchikan - We did an internet search a couple of months before the cruise and found a local that does private SUV tours. She is a native, born and raised in Ketchikan. She will drive you around town to see whatever is there to see at that time. We told her we were most interested in wildlife, spawning salmon and bears if available, not so much totem poles, log rolling lumberjacks or museums. We had her for about 3 hours, and she delivered on the spawning salmon and we saw a bear come out of the woods, snatch a salmon and haul it back into the woods. Late September is late season for the spawning salmon so we saw them at the end of their long journey, beat up, dying, and dead. It was $240, so cheaper than any shore excursion and it was flexible to current conditions. We’re glad we did it that way this time. Onboard Experience Our overall experience was good. We may do HAL again, if we are looking for a relaxing, rather quiet cruise, not lusting after the Wow factor, and we are very enthusiastic about the ports visited. On these types of cruises we can get more into the shore activities than some of the more active glitzy cruise lines where there is more excitement onboard. Sometimes you need a rest after a day on shore, and sometimes you need to get off the boat to rest, but not on HAL. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We cruised out of Vancouver and spent the day prior, seeing the sights. There is lots to see and do in Vancouver, so do your homework. As we were driven into the city by friends, we drove around and took in Stanley Park, then drove to the ... Read More
We cruised out of Vancouver and spent the day prior, seeing the sights. There is lots to see and do in Vancouver, so do your homework. As we were driven into the city by friends, we drove around and took in Stanley Park, then drove to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and spend the afternoon there. Tip: There are discount tickets to be found on the Internet, so do your homework. If you are unable to purchase discount tickets in advance, they offer a military, student, and seniors discount at the ticket window. Highly recommended. This was our first cruise ever and was selected for us by a trusted travel agent. She got us a free drinks package, so I think we did alright booking with the travel agent. Being first-timers and unsure about motion sickness, we let her select our cabin (#1086), which, turns out, was spot on - lower in the ship and in the middle - we felt very little movement at night and it was very quiet. In spite of other reviews I've read, I found the cabin to be quite spacious. Well, for a cruise, anyway - how much more space do you need? We had a desk, table, sofa, and queen-sized bed, as well as a tub in our bathroom. I felt neither claustrophobic nor crowded. The bed was comfortable, the room was quiet. I had debated initially about whether or not to upgrade to a balcony room and in the end, did not. For one, we had a window (quite a large window) and that was sufficient. For two, it was cold most days; I know I wouldn't have sat on my balcony drinking coffee in the cold. And, there were many other outdoor spots to take in the view. So, I felt it was a a money-saving option to NOT upgrade to the balcony. I've heard that on cruises there is no end to the food and that the food is incredible. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed on either presumption. We ate at the Lido Buffet the first few days, but after that made a point to seek out the dining room. The food at the buffet was good, however, 8:30am, everyone is there, so it is hard to find seating. Breakfast in the dining room -- where the toast is crisp (room service breakfast was substantial and good quality, alas, the toast was limp), your eggs are prepared to order, and the coffee just keeps coming - is my first recommendation. But, breakfast is only served til 9:30am, so no sleeping in if you want a full breakfast. While the dining room has limited meal hours, the Lido always has food, even just chips, salsa, tacos in between meals. We sampled both the Pizza Joint and the Dive In Burger Joint and found both to, again, be excellent. The pizza is made to order and comes out hot and crisp. Whether or not you are a fan of flatbread crusts, it was still well-made. And the burger place - the fries were crisp, the burgers solid - this was no fast food, but more akin to fast casual. Excellent quality, for just burgers & pizza. Our favorite meals were in the dining room - 3 course meals every night - I could get used to that! We did enjoy the onboard restaurants, but honestly, you could do without. The quality and the variety of the dining room were plenty to keep you satisfied every night. I was particularly impressed with the menu every night: there was always a fish dish, a steak, a chicken, a pasta, and a few other choices. Even if you wanted steak every night, it was a different cut. We also made it to the dining room for lunch on a few occasions and again were quite satisfied with a 3-course lunch. We particularly liked being at a shared table with other guests, to talk about their experiences and their tips. One thing I would advise on the dining room: the standard 8pm dinner reservation didn't work for us. 8pm is much too late to be eating a full, 3 course meal, and dinner often lasted 90 minutes or more, making it difficult to get to the evening activities on time. A 5:30pm dinner, alas, is too early to eat. I'd recommend the drop-in dining option. Our great deal came with a free dinner at the Pinnacle Grill. While we enjoyed it, as I said, the meals in the dining room were equally as great. Unless you are interested in a romantic dinner for two, I wouldn't bother. The food at the Pinnacle Grill was great; the service was so-so. I mention that, only because service everywhere, the entire week was outstanding, so it was really noticeable at the Pinnacle Grille. We also ate at Tamarind, only to enjoy an alternate cuisine. We are huge sushi fans and the meal did not disappoint. If your sushi dinner isn't complete without a bottle (or two) of house sake, get the momokawa silver - it's pretty close to what you'd get at home. Bar service throughout was pretty decent. If you sat a table, within a few moments, wait staff would greet you and take your drink order. On the occasions that didn't happen, it was easy enough to go to the bar and get your own drinks. I found the bar to be amply stocked: plenty of beer options, multiple vodka brands and spirits. Perhaps the cocktails were a bit on the weak side, but when you're doing nothing but drinking all day long, that's probably a good thing. And, just order your vodka straight up or stick to beer, and you can get as buzzed as you like. I was impressed with the abundance and variety of entertainment options. Although I did not partake in many of them, still, I found there to be something for everyone's interests. We caught some of the evening entertainment, but as I mentioned, most nights our dinners went late, and we were just tired to stay up and enjoy the entertainment. What we saw of the BB King Blues was great. Cell phones & Internet: wifi is available on the ship at 75c per minute. You'll note everywhere they encourage guests to download the app to keep up with daily cruise activities. However, if you're on the app, you are on their wifi and it's 75c per minute - that is a ridiculous cost and completely unnecessary. I was hoping that I'd have cell service while out to see; I did not. What I got was "Cellular at Sea" 5.99/min talk, .50c per text. Tip: Put your phone on 'airplane mode' to avoid those charges. In port, I DID get cell service from the local tower. I was hoping I'd be able to tether my laptop to my cellphone to get some Internet done. And, while it did work, it was soooooo sllloooowwwww ... I called my cellphone provider and they told me, yes, it would be. I'm connecting to a local tower and probably only getting 3G or 2G and then to tether on top of that, of course it's going to be slow. So, if you need internet, get off at port, find a bar, buy a pint, and take advantage of their free wifi. Juneau: The tour we wanted - whales, ales, & glacier - departed earlier than our ship arrived. So, we put together our own excursion. DON'T pay $45 or more per person for the stupid shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier - Lyft & Uber are both in Juneau. I tried Uber first, didn't have success, and was advised by a local to try Lyft instead. $28 from downtown to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor's center, right to the front door. I exchanged numbers with my driver (ah - Lyft won't pick up from Mendenhall, so good thing I got his number!) and he dropped us at the Alaskan Brewery Co. The Brewery is small and the "tour" is really just a tasting, conducted in a comfortable room, where you learn the history of the brewery and sample the beers. $20 per person gets you 7 4oz samples - that is plenty to taste, in my opinion. We caught the brewery shuttle back to the dock. Skagway: The White Pass & Yukon trip is one not to be missed! But - do your homework! There are drive-up only tours and short train rides - make sure you book the longer, 7.5 hour excursion, to really get the most out of this adventure (you'll need your passport for this one). Over dinner, our tablemates were disappointed to realize how much more we saw, and how much they missed out on. We first drove up the mountain, stopping several times to get out and take pictures of the amazing scenery. We hit Emerald Lake - words cannot describe! Not all the tours go here, so make sure yours does - it's a sight not to be missed! We enjoyed a simple, yet substantial HOT lunch in Caribou Crossing, and got to see the wildlife museum, visit the gift shop, see the husky puppies, and if you wish, take a sled-dog ride. On the way back, we visited Carcross, Yukon, a tiny Tagish First Nation village, population just around 300. They had a Little Free Library, art shops, and museum, all within their tiny community. We picked up the train at Fraser, BC and rode it back down. Tip: ride the trip UP on the LEFT, ride the train down, on the RIGHT for the best views. Again, utterly amazing sights. To imagine those prospectors hiking through that pass, in treacherous conditions, carry 1,000lbs of supplies .. they were certainly made of sturdier stuff - you can see the original trail from the train. There is time after the train ride to explore town, though there isn't much to see. Souvenir shops, a bar/brothel, a brewery. Glacier Bay: Plan to get up early to catch it. We saw one, large glacier, around 11am, before we headed out of Glacier Bay. It was still spectacular, and awe-inspiring. No wildlife. Ketchikan: We weren't interested in the excursions offered, though I'm sure, depending on your interests, there's adventure to be had. I found that Ketchikan was the best port for souvenir shopping - there were more stores, with more sales. We didn't see the Lumberjack Show, but had heard that it was worth watching. Being a first-timer, Holland America made a great first impression. I would definitely take a cruise again, and I would travel this itinerary again - there is more to see in all of the ports, and plenty on the ship to take advantage of that we missed out on, with a short, 7 day cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
We have never been on a traditional cruise before, and we were so impressed by the excellent service from every member of staff on board this ship, from the Captain to the waiters and the room service. All the staff spoke to us whenever ... Read More
We have never been on a traditional cruise before, and we were so impressed by the excellent service from every member of staff on board this ship, from the Captain to the waiters and the room service. All the staff spoke to us whenever they saw us, and made us feel so welcome. The food was delicious, with such variety, and available at all times. Over eating was a real temptation, as it was all so tempting. We enjoyed our expeditions ashore, and the days spent on board were relaxing and comfortable. A truly memorable cruise with all the wildlife we had hoped to see. We saw humpback whales, dolphins, orca, sea otters, porpoises and so much more. We dined in all the restaurants and they were all excellent, especially the Pinnacle restaurant. Every day we received details of all available activities for the next day in a smart newsletter, so we could plan what we wanted to do, or decide to do nothing. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This was my second cruise on Holland America, my 10th cruise overall. Husband and I did round trip from Seattle to Alaska. The price was a few hundred below other cruise lines doing this itinerary, and now I know why. The Good: Smooth ... Read More
This was my second cruise on Holland America, my 10th cruise overall. Husband and I did round trip from Seattle to Alaska. The price was a few hundred below other cruise lines doing this itinerary, and now I know why. The Good: Smooth embarkation and disembarkation. Room stewards attentive. 24 hour Room Service fantastic. LOVED BB King Blues Club. Drink prices were quite reasonable. Large selection of movies on the TV in the stateroom. The Bad: Main Dining Room food always lukewarm, quite bland, and service was spotty. On Gala night was seated at 5:30 and did not get entree until 7PM. Activities during the day were sparse. If you like to cook or want to learn more about Windows, you will be fine. Other than that, though, you had best pack a few books because you are on your own! Singers and Dancers on the Main Stage were sub-par. The stateroom seemed poorly designed Holland America has made great strides in reforming its image as catering only to older (read 65-85) passengers, sadly this has happened at a cost to the "Old World Elegance" that HAL was once known for. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
We were recommended by a friend who lived in Canada. It was our golden wedding so we wanted an unforgettable trip. It was amazing, we had glorious weather and saw glaciers,bears,whales etc. BUT Ship was cold, only place we were ... Read More
We were recommended by a friend who lived in Canada. It was our golden wedding so we wanted an unforgettable trip. It was amazing, we had glorious weather and saw glaciers,bears,whales etc. BUT Ship was cold, only place we were warm was our cabin where we could turn heating up. Theatre, CrowsNest ,all public areas, you needed your coat. First 2 nights awake all night due to constant banging, reception said it was the waves, never had that on any previous cruise even if weather bad. After an unfortunate encounter with “man in grey suit” at first breakfast, where i was told breakfast was closed, despite me holding my plate with eggs on it,waiting for toast, we ate breakfast every day in our cabin. Buffet and dining room, queue for everything, food bland, always cold and unless you liked salmon or Japanese cuisine you were in trouble. Lived on fried chicken and pizza. Gala night a joke, no one wore smart clothes, one fellow diner even kept his cap on. Staff very random, always smiled but did not always deliver. We apparently had 2 cabin stewards, never met them, cabin clean but nothing exceptional. Excursions expensive but very good. Cruising to the glacier stunning but surprised to have to pay $9 each for mug in which to drink our Free hot chocolate. We wanted a photo but pushed to buy a package at end of cruise, needless to say we did not bother. Entertainment poor , singers were flat. B.B. king club good , no activities during the day. Never saw Cruise director around the Ship, obviously very busy in the office. Embarkation and disembarkation excellent, best we have ever had. Daily gratuities expensive considering service etc, we adjusted it to Nil, but reception staff made it very difficult and were quite condescending, attempting to explain to me how gratuities worked. After 16 plus cruises I think I know and this is the first time I have ever refused to pay it. The destination, weather and sites made the distance travelled worthwhile ( we flew from London) but Holland America Oosterdam - forget it. Read Less
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