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2,001 Holland America Line Alaska Cruise Reviews

Admittedly, we are used to sailing without children, and on a more upscale line, but we were sadly disappointed by Holland America. We chose a suite so our grandchildren (then 11 and 9) could share quarters with us, and the suite was ... Read More
Admittedly, we are used to sailing without children, and on a more upscale line, but we were sadly disappointed by Holland America. We chose a suite so our grandchildren (then 11 and 9) could share quarters with us, and the suite was fine--it was close to the concierge, offered snacks virtually all day long, and kept the kids entertained. What we did NOT care for was: (1) the requirement to have not one, but two formal nights in the main dining room (we always can get by with casual dress on Oceania); (2) mediocre, almost dismissive, service in the restaurants; (3) mediocre food (at best) in the restaurants; (4) difficulty in obtaining food in the buffet lines--mass disorganization. We found their excursions, with one exception, to be only fair. The one exception was the whale-watching excursion, which proved to be exceptionally good. In all honesty, we would never sail on this line again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Had a great time on the MS Zaandam. I was with my mother ( a senior) and she was thrilled to go on her first ever cruise on a Dutch ship ( she is born Dutch). The MS Zaandam has a musical theme with the multi level organ in the Atrium. ... Read More
Had a great time on the MS Zaandam. I was with my mother ( a senior) and she was thrilled to go on her first ever cruise on a Dutch ship ( she is born Dutch). The MS Zaandam has a musical theme with the multi level organ in the Atrium. It also has a figure of Queen ( now Princess Beatrix and the now new King and Queen's photo is there in the lobby. She was emotional seeing them. Our room steward Edwin was wonderful. Super professional and personable. We had a balcony suite. The bed is top notch. Super comfortable. I was impressed. Full breakfast room service ( no extra charge). Buffets were great. Very good with cleanliness and the first 48 hrs you could not serve yourself. For health reasons, they pass you the food that you request for everything including tea. A bit of a slow down but I understood the need. The evening entertainment was ok. Nothing to spectacular. A song and dance group doing a western. One night did have a comedian / impressionist. She was good. Then they also had the philipino song/dance group. There was a small band outside by the Lido bar which seemed to attract some louder types. The band moved to the Crows nest at night. There was music all over the ship during the evening but mostly lounge style. Piano, harp. Not my style but geared to seniors. We are not gamblers and did not use the casino. The day had a cooking demonstration and it lasted about 15-20 minutes. My mother enjoyed it. Again a bit sleepy for me. This trip for us wasn't about the entertainment though. It was about relaxing and spending quality time with my mom. Dress code is more than business casual except for the Lido buffet. Although I worried about Formal night and bought a dress it turns out I could easily have worn dress pants with a glitter top or jacket. Many women did just that. For those of you not participating in formal night, you are not banned to your rooms. You can still hit the Lido. Although this mid ship attracts more seniors at this time of year and the entertainment matches, I would definately consider them again. The service and room exceeded my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Restaurant operation seemed unprepared for guests. At various times ran out of coffee, coffee cups, and breakfast syrup. Had two buffet sides with different dishes. One side would close without warning during buffet operational hours. ... Read More
Restaurant operation seemed unprepared for guests. At various times ran out of coffee, coffee cups, and breakfast syrup. Had two buffet sides with different dishes. One side would close without warning during buffet operational hours. Bring a book as there are very few day activities. Crew can't give any information or dispense incorrect information. On a five night cruise we experienced "songs and dances" from their native land (crew provided entertainment) and "Dancing with the Stars at Sea" (passengers provided the entertainment). One night there was no entertainment. Cruise line therefore paid for entertainment 2/5 nights. Ship is old and needs a facelift. I shared all of this in the post cruise review and never got a reply. It was my first and last cruise on Holland America. At the final departure port in Fairbanks it turned out that Holland American owned the hotel and restaurant provided in the package. The land experience was like the sea experience. Dinner in the restaurant took three hours. They were out of half the entrees on the menu. We all ordered dessert and one guy in our party gave up after an hour and went back to his room. Holland America also seems to cut corners on lighting. The dim lighting did help cover up the shabby condition of the ship! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This trip it was for my husband and me to celebrate our twelve year anniversary we decided on Alaska because it leaves from our home port in Seattle so no flying score!! We were in a Verandah signature suite we both had the unlimited drink ... Read More
This trip it was for my husband and me to celebrate our twelve year anniversary we decided on Alaska because it leaves from our home port in Seattle so no flying score!! We were in a Verandah signature suite we both had the unlimited drink package and one dinner in their specialty restaurant the Pinnacle Grill from our TA. Port 4 out of 5- The new Seattle port is nice but if you are from out of town there is nothing near it shopping and food are pretty far away. Getting to port was a snap we pay for parking in Seattle already so we just parked for the seven days we were gone in our secure parking garage from here we simply ordered an Uber to transport us to the port. We were able to be dropped right outside the port and get right into the security line there were a lot of people so this line was pretty long it took maybe twenty minutes to get through security and checked in at the desk. We were able to walk right on the ship after taking our boarding photo. Stateroom 5 out of 5- Our room was ready as soon as we got on this was a nice thing about the cruise line and our room was nice it was large and had a nice bathtub with jets and more than enough room for the both of us my husband would be spending a lot of time in it. There were the basic TV channels mostly focused on the Alaska team gold panning shows and deadliest cache along with the shopping and movie channels. You were able to get DVDs from a menu in room. If we would have brought our children this room would have felt cramped but still have the room to function with all four of us. The best thing was the veranda this is a Alaska cruise so that was so important to us I enjoyed sitting outside with a blanket and hot coffee and looking at the ocean my husband would spend most of the trip sick so this was a blessing to keep him from going stir crazy. If you can do it get a veranda it is worth the price to see the Alaska land float by. Food I am going to just breaking dining into where we ate I would Give the food a 3 out of 5 due to a few special dishes we enjoyed but in all found the food to be lacking what I was hoping for it needs more fresh seafood choices for this itinerary Room Service -We also ordered room service nearly every morning and some lunch and snack items our service was good and the food was as good as room service food usually is I enjoyed their club sandwich a lot and this is a good option for people just relaxing in their verandas for the day or those who are less happy with the dining options. One of the evening formal night we were able to order the same dinner from the main dining to our room instead of doing formal night we got the lobster and beef options and they were ok. Main Dining Room- we ate at twice for dinner I ate lunch here a few time though the week lunches were fine nothing too over the top I usually had salads and soups. We were not impressed at all with the food in the main dining room it took too long from the time we ordered to the time it was delivered I usually understand that there are so many people all wanting to eat at the same time however our food was never totally right it would be cooked wrong or cold when we finally received it. We also thought that the menu choices were lacking for a cruise to Alaska we expected more options to follow that itinerary then they offered. There were few desserts that sounded appealing and I love desert .My go to dessert will always be crème brulee when I am unable to find something to interest me and I usually only eat the top. This trip on two nights I ordered this outside the specialty first night there was just cream not sugary burnt top that I love, and the second was so thick that it stuck to my teeth it was so chewy this was a big disappointment and a painful one as it pulled on a crown I have. On the one formal night I attended they had crab that was surprisingly good that they pre-crack this was a nice way to eat without the mess. Pinnacle Grill- was amazing we had appetizers of Lobster Bisque and Dungeness Crab Cakes both were delicious for our main course my husband had the Cedar Planked Halibut with Shrimp Scampi and asparagus for the both of us along with mushrooms I had the West Coast-Style Seafood Cioppino it was also delicious. The staff was quick and checked in on us often but not so much that we felt rushed. For dessert I had the crème Brulee as did my husband it was very good and I wish we would have chosen to eat here the rest of the trip. Lido Buffet- After boarding we decided to check out the Lido buffet. In short it was busy and since we are not allowed to serve ourselves until two days into the trip just getting water took an exorbitantly long time. As far as buffets go this one was less than impressive for its choices I understand this cruise is set for an older crowd but the flavor was missing from most dishes like they picked to not use salt and other spices. This was basic food that you expect from a buffet it was not the worst ever but I have seen better on cruise ships. We would go here late at night for a snack to tide us over as we usually do on trips and the late night offerings were so limited that we usually just got pastries or some kind of pasta. We also believe this is where my husband’s food poisoning came from unfortunately. Canaletto- was a nice little restaurant that they portion off some of lido for we enjoyed our food we had the sausage penne and the clams the clams were amazing and I was so sad not eat them one more time before we left they were out of this world and would be the only thing to get me back on this ship. This Restaurant is a share plate so we got large portions of what was ordered outside the appetizer to share with each other family style. We ordered a few extra things to try but the pasta we got and the clams did it for us. This was another place I wish we would have gone to more than once. We also ate burgers by the pool and the pizza these where pretty standard to all ships we also hit the cafe many times for coffee and pastries they also were in line with what we normally would get on other cruise ships. Outside of the specialty eating there was nothing that impressed us food wise and this was upsetting since we like to try all the options we felt that if we decided to do this trip on this ship again we would book specialty throughout the trip and skip the other options. On the day we tour Glacier Park they serve split pea soup my husband said it was good I do not like split pea so I did not partake but it is one of his favorite soups. Service 3 out of 5-I am mixed about the service it was not bad in general our steward was ok he cleaned our room and did what they are supposed to do he was not too friendly a theme I found though the ship. Coming off a Disney Cruise this service was a surprise and I Understand that they are not the same but there was really no personal interaction with our steward or other ship crew. Our dining staff was hit and miss also the order time took so long and they never checked in during our meal perhaps because of the drink package there was no check in to see if we wanted another drink or how our meal was we saw them for our order and then when the food was brought again no personal interaction or warmth. We only did the dining room twice for dinner so perhaps the service would have improved. The staff though the ship was fine there was one waiter I saw and he was amazing he always asked if I needed more drinks and was just in generally happy and helpful I gave him an additional tip at the end of the cruise because he was so nice. There just was not the friendliness I was hoping for it was not bad service it just was not great service. Entertainment 3 out of 5 - The entertainment was lacking on this ship perhaps because it was supposed to be relaxing but still there was not much going on after 9pm. The show Recycled Percussion was amazing and I enjoyed the shows so much I looked into going to their show in Las Vegas this show was fun loud and entertaining and I wish the rest of the entertainment keep up with this show this was the only reason I gave a 3. I also saw the magic/comedy show in the theater it was good there were some funny part this was something that kids could go to and you would feel fine about what they would hear. The production show about the fairy tales was interesting however I found my mind wondering though it that they really need to add more spice to the show it was pretty boring but cute in some ways. Bingo was good it and not just because I won but they tried to keep the crowd entertained and there were a lot of people so that was good. Bingo is no fun when there are ten people you miss the energy of lots of people. Bingo is Bingo it was pricy like all ships but if like me you enjoy a game when you cruise this ship did it well. Ports 4 out of five - The ports were fun we did not do ship excursions instead we got off and explored on our own looking at the shops and getting lunches. We liked the ports we went early May so the weather was hit and miss one port we got off simply to see my step sister and nephew in Sika the town was quaint and cute and the sun was shining. In Juneau it poured cats and dogs but we still got off to see the shops and look around there were lots of shops within walking of the ship this was true in all the ports. Ketchikan was a blast mostly due to where we ate we had the best crab and clam strips ever and we cannot wait to back there again it was the Crab Cracker seafood bar. Victoria we got in late 6 pm not really anything open so we walked to the marina area then had dinner at a restaurant next to the ship. We liked the Alaska water views and the cute shops we purchased some birch syrups and candies and I suggest picking these up in Alaska I Had never heard of it until then and the candy birch Carmel where chocolate covered caramel they had a slight root beer taste that was not bad at all the syrups were also a nice alternative to maple. You will be able to find the items all around the ports I always try to get one new thing when I go places that I just do not have at home and the candy was a hit with my kids also. While we liked Glacier Bay that was a part of the cruise I was not too happy about simply that there really was not much information about activities. There one guide doing talks but it was the same thing we hear over and over again on the TV. I did not see any real interesting workshops or classes about the area most of it was about the sale on cheap cruise items. There was a presentation about people native to Alaska and their culture that was really good but this was not widely showcased and I only found out about it because it was before bingo so I only heard the last part of it and there really were not many people I think due to there being no real advertisement they really need to add more to this day at the glacier park or at least let people know in a better way what is offered. Drink package 3 out of five - I was really the only one to try and take advantage of this due to my husband not feeling well I tried to order a variety of options to see what I liked and all of them were pretty good I liked mixed drinks and those are hard to mess up. There seemed to be an ample amount of liquor to the mixers this made good drinks. An issue however was that it took a long time to get that drink or to reorder I would hate to think that this was due to the package compared to buying per drink but it really felt like it was. I would stand at a bar and have two or more people served before I was when I was there first this was upsetting and only started after the first day or two when they knew who I was and the package I had. I loved not having to worry about the cost at the end of the trip. I think that if my husband had been feeling better I would have gotten more use from it. It covered everything I asked for and as long as you are not looking at twenty dollar drinks you should be covered in what you like to drink. We enjoyed the bar that overlooks the water we would go sit there on port days and enjoy a nice drink and they always had good drinks. Shopping 2 out of 5- I like to look at the shopping on cruise ships and I like to buy but this ship was lacking a lot they did have the blowout sales were the cheap stuff is even cheaper however there was really nothing to inspire me to shop. The jewelry was lacking they should have focused more on Alaska items instead of the same jewelry you see every cruise. There was not a lot of draw you in items that make you want to shop. We bought some alcohol and a watch since I misplaced mine and I like my watch but usually I can find a few things to bring back but all my shopping was in port since there so few things outside unimpressive t-shirts and Holland Alaska items . I would like to see a little more customization on the shops a lot of ships now are get cute boutiques and that is something that would really help this ships shopping. They were constantly announcing the sales instead of the things to do around the ship this was annoying. We all know that there are sales but being reminded every twenty minutes was a bit much instead they should focus on promoting the shows and classes instead of the cheap Alaska T-shirts. Kids Clubs- We did not bring our kids on this trip but I can say I would not bring my kids on this ship. I looked around and there was almost zero things in the cruise planner or around the ship to keep them from going crazy in fact I do not think I saw any kids at all. I do not know how the clubs for children where but I Would guess like the rest of the ship they would be lacking. All in all it was nice to see Alaska’s and we plan on seeing Alaska again next summer but we will not be doing it on Holland America again. The age of the people was mid 50’s and up and that was kind of what we were looking for a nice laid back cruise to relax without our children, however even the older people were saying there seemed to be nothing to do. There were just too many negatives for me to spend the money to go again perhaps if it was an amazing deal but even then I would not guarantee it. We are not really party all night people but If you are under mid 50’s run to another line would be my advice in fact 50’s and up should run also this ship was just too quiet we wanted relaxing not drop dead boring. Ship: ms WESTERDAM Category: SY Stateroom Number: 8083 Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We just got off the very well cared for Volendam after enjoying 7days of fantastic food, service and scenery. The ship is not showing it's wear-still looks great.I t is a smaller ship which we appreciated-not the hoards of people at ... Read More
We just got off the very well cared for Volendam after enjoying 7days of fantastic food, service and scenery. The ship is not showing it's wear-still looks great.I t is a smaller ship which we appreciated-not the hoards of people at the Lido and easy to get around on. We loved the promenade deck for walking and wildlife sightings. The decor is understated and classy and yes there are fresh flowers everywhere-you just have to stop and look for them. We had the early fixed dinner and were very well looked after by Johnny, Gian and Irwan. I always find that you get better service and a better table when you go for the fixed settings. Dinner did take along time each evening and we loved this-just like fine dining in a restaurant. We thought the best show was the gymnast. The music in the lounges was so nice-we liked Adiagio and the solo guitarist.We had great weather and had lots of time in each port to do excursions.Our cabins were kept very clean and all of the staff on the ship including the front desk staff were stellar. We used the gym, sauna and the pools and loved it all.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Day 1: Vancouver We’d flown into Vancouver the day before and booked the Marriott Pinnacle hotel downtown so that it would be convenient for boarding in the morning. I slept in, but DH was up early watching the ship dock at Canada ... Read More
Day 1: Vancouver We’d flown into Vancouver the day before and booked the Marriott Pinnacle hotel downtown so that it would be convenient for boarding in the morning. I slept in, but DH was up early watching the ship dock at Canada Place, and started counting the seconds until we were allowed on board. Sometime around noon, we grabbed a taxi for the $6CAD drive to the port, and once arrived and began the trek through the somewhat confusing boarding process. I hadn’t realized that they would be boarding three ships all at once in one jumbled security line before we’d ever get to check in, and it was confusing to say the least. Additionally, we were confused with the Princess people and stopped by the Wine Dragon (for Princess), who was trying to take our 2 bottles of Tempranillo away until he noticed we were HAL passengers and waved us on. Once through that line, it was on to Customs and Immigration, and THEN finally to the Volendam checkin line. This should have been a breeze. We were in a Neptune Suite, and were whisked to the front of the queue. My husband, however, was getting over a cold said so on the health form, producing his antibiotics and doctor’s note clearing him for travel. This raised a red flag, however, as we both now needed to be checked out by the ship’s medical team prior to boarding. We were ushered over to a cordoned off area and left to sit there for 45 minutes, with our boarding cards kept from us. We saw 2 other groups brought into this area, but no medical team in sight. Finally, around 1:15, someone appeared, asked the same questions that we’d answered on the form, handed us our cards and let us go. There was no examination, no special evaluation – DH decided that if he wasn’t an honest person, he’d probably have lied on the form and saved the trouble. I pointed out that’s how ships end up Code Red. Either way, we were finally through, and we made it to our cabin. Day 2: Inside Passage Did I say lovely weather? Strike that. You know that feeling you get when you’re in the back seat of a car that’s driving around a sharp turn in one direction, and then it suddenly shifts into another direction? Well, the boat was doing that ALL DAY. When we were at lunch, you could barely see past the windows due to the fog and rain. The ship was also a ghost town, presumably because of the people attempting to gain their sea legs. At one point the ship slowed down enough for us to disembark the Canadian Pilot, but it was a very harrowing thing in the choppy waters. This was the first of the two Formal nights. There were people in all levels of dress walking around, from casual to black tie. I even saw a gentleman in a kilt. Everyone appeared to be having a good time, no matter how they were dressed, and that’s really the point, isn’t it? Day 3: (Morning) Tracy Arm After breakfast, it was time for the people who were heading out to Tracy Arm to head off on their excursion. The captain made an announcement, and we looked over our balcony just in time to see them dart away. Day 3: (Afternoon) Juneau This was the stop I was looking forward to all trip. I was going to mush sled dogs! I prebooked this online, as I’d heard it sells out. I found out that there are actually two different tours offered that do this due to the popularity. One goes to the closer Mendenhall Glacier, which is where most of the tours end up going, but as I’d booked early I was on the more exclusive “Norris Glacier” tour. It was farther away (around 25 minutes by helicopter), and the only people going there were specifically to see these sled dogs. It was very secluded, and very beautiful. (I wish I could say the dogs themselves were beautiful, but they’re not bred for their looks. ) Once there, we were shown the dog camp, then taught how to use the sled. The dogs then ran us for 20 minutes at around 6-8mph (it was too warm for them to run much faster than that, but you definitely felt their power). After we got back to the camp, we got to pet some of the dogs as they cooled down. It was neat watching them eating the snow and generally playing around with each other. Back into the helicopter we trudged to head back to the ship, seeing the different glaciers of Juneau from above. The thing that struck me about this tour was how the landscape goes instantly from white to green, once you crest a mountain. It is stunning. This tour was worth every penny of the $574 charge. Day 4: Skagway We arrived in around 7AM, so after having breakfast, we decided to wander around downtown Skagway. We’d been planning on walking, but as soon as we got off the boat, we were hit with a bracing wind and decided that the $2 one way shuttle charge ($5 for all day, including visits to Jewell Gardens/Cemetary) didn’t sound like such a bad idea. It turned out that there actually wasn’t much to do in Skagway besides shop, and we’re not shoppers, so we looked around for a few minutes then went back to the ship to wait for the train. The White Pass Summit Scenic Railroad tour is a 3 hour tour that takes you roundtrip on old train cars pulled by a steam engine through the old White Pass. The tour commentary is very interesting, and the scenery is breathtaking. I highly recommend it. Day 5: Glacier Bay The next morning, the Park Rangers were let aboard sometime before we awakened. We'd decided to order room service and hang out in the cabin all day, and were greeted with beautiful views of Glacier Bay park all day, with narration from the Park Rangers coming through the TV. At one point before the ship was scheduled to turn around DH said he wanted to go to the bow and get some different view of the ship turning. He was in the process of standing up when a klaxon sounded. I didn't think anything of it at first, because one had gone off at the same time every day of the cruise for a fire drill. This was different, however, as it appeared there was an electrical fire on Deck 8, forward, in the spa. They needed people to evacuate the spa, the front of the Lido, and the Crows Nest immediately. Now, under "normal" circumstances, the Crows Nest on a sea day is the place to be. During Glacier Bay day, it was PACKED. I would imagine there was quite an operation to get people out of there. I didn't hear anyone complain about this afterwards, however, and it was roughly an hour before the fire (for there actually was one) was put out and the smoke was all cleared. Once that happened, we completed the turn and sailed on our way. This was all handled quickly, professionally and efficiently by the crew. This was the second formal night, and people seemed to be "more" formally dressed this time. Day 6: Ketchikan, AK My husband booked a shore excursion to go Halibut fishing, which he says is the highlight of his trip. He caught many, many fish. He said that Alaska is now his favorite place to fish. He caught: 2 Halibut (he threw one back, under Alaskan law) 1 Rockfish 7 Cod One person that went out even got a Salmon. All of it was filleted, flash frozen, and will be arriving to our home via overnight shipping next Tuesday. The caveats are that you have to have a US address if you want to keep the fish. If you are a foreigner (Canadian or otherwise), you can go fishing but you cannot send it home without having alternate arrangements. My day was entirely less interesting. Having no particular plans, I merely walked around the town, saw the shops and the old town, and then went back on the ship. There are some beautiful furs and pelts to be had here if you are into that, and the totems are nice if you have the decorating scheme for it. My house is modern and there's nothing rustic about it, so no totems for me unfortunately. This was also Le Cirque night at the Pinnacle Grill. We opted to dine there. The staff was all questions for us as we've been to the real Le Cirque and they wanted to know how their version compares. I learned from my grandmother that when someone asks you a question like that - the only way to answer it is politely. Lets take it for granted that a restaurant that charges $250 a person (without wine) and buys fresh ingredients *daily* from the best sources in New York and Las Vegas cannot possibly be replicated on a ship that gets its stock replenished once a week. Now, say that the menu is "inspired by Le Cirque", and that the staff will do their best to give you the experience of the treatment of that restaurant, for the bargain basement price of $49pp, and you'll have a better idea of what that is. That said, I found HAL's Le Cirque at the Pinnacle Grill to be worth the money spent. When asked what my husband's favorite dish at the real Le Cirque was (we weren't complaining, we were happy with the menu presented, it was only a query from an inquisitive restaurant manager), darned if the restaurant manager didn't go to see if they couldn't find the ingredients to make it for him. We assured him that they didn't have them on the ship before he even went to try, but that didn't deter him. This is Holland America at its finest. When I overheard someone complaining the next morning about how the Le Cirque wasn't actually Le Cirque, and the steak wasn't worth the $250 name, it was all DH could do to hold me down to keep me from throttling the guy. If you pay $50 and expect $250, yes, you'll be disappointed. I found the service to be worth every penny. Days 7/8: Return to Vancouver The Mariner's brunch was on the last day of the cruise. We spent the day packing to go home and watching the world go by. On the last morning, the sun was up early again and we woke up around 5:30AM to watch the boat arrive into the Vancouver area. It was a beautiful morning, not too much fog, and we were able to see the mountains and the bridge on the way in. There appeared to be some issues when we docked, however, and everything was delayed by around 45 minutes-1 hour. At 9:45, we were off the ship and boarded a bus and were headed on our way through a quite enjoyable quick tour of Vancouver, that led us around Stanley Park, Gastown and Chinatown, then on to the airport. Once at the airport, we learned from the bus driver that you cannot check bags more than 3 hours before your flight. It was just about noon, and our flight didn't leave until 6:30pm. We decided to check in for the flight anyway and deal with the bags later. At checkin, we were told it was actually *5* hours prior, not 3. If we came back at 1:30 they would be able to take our bags. That worked for us fine. We head over to get lunch, then when we were done, we dropped off our bags and headed through Customs/Immigration to wait for our flight. And that takes me to the end of my journey.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
When a cruise company offers rock-bottom prices, you have to wonder why it was necessary to do so. Has the brand lost popularity among its clientele, or did the line use the lure of a bargain to attract first-timers who will become repeat ... Read More
When a cruise company offers rock-bottom prices, you have to wonder why it was necessary to do so. Has the brand lost popularity among its clientele, or did the line use the lure of a bargain to attract first-timers who will become repeat customers? For the first Alaska cruise of the season, our 11th with HAL, we paid less than what the competition was charging and less than we paid on the Alaska run in 2007. Canadians like us made up two-thirds of the passenger complement. However, it’s pretty much a law of economics: you pay less, you get less. In this case, ‘less’ meant, first of all, slicing the food budget, reducing variety and quality in The Lido restaurant and cutting portion sizes in the dining room. One night I ordered scallops and got two – two! – with a teaspoonful of sauce. Staff size also appeared to have been reduced in the food and beverage areas, which slowed down the service. The entertainment was just not good enough. Some of the lounge singers, while enthusiastic, suffered from off-key delivery. We felt embarrassed for the talented song-and-dance troupe having to perform such poorly conceived material. There was one shining exception: the classical duo Adagio which was outstanding. Day-time activities seemed largely geared to raising more revenue for Holland America. The Cruise Director – no doubt otherwise competent – was one of those people who needed us to remind her constantly that we were having fun. Any Alaska cruise with great weather is, though, a success, and this one had great weather. The ports are always interesting, though excursion bargains are rare. Any cruise with HAL’s Indonesian and Filipino service crew will give you a smile: there may be fewer of them but their attitude is undiminished. First-timer cruisers have no way to notice the cutbacks. Cabins are still well designed, and, salty windows aside, the ship was spotless; the line’s traditional positives have not been lost. But it was easy to get the impression that HAL is struggling to stay afloat. Two of its ships are being re-branded in Australia; how many more will vanish? Or is this cruise line, which works hard to appeal to multi-generation families, on the verge of a new era of success?   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I got an email for a great price with some pretty nice perks for a last minute sailing round trip Vancouver. It was hard to miss since for us we only had to take a ferry to the Vancouver, catch the ship, enjoy a wonderful itinerary and ... Read More
I got an email for a great price with some pretty nice perks for a last minute sailing round trip Vancouver. It was hard to miss since for us we only had to take a ferry to the Vancouver, catch the ship, enjoy a wonderful itinerary and then ferry home again. I jumped at it. We enjoyed the room (6198) although the bathroom was a bit "old" with some cracking in the tiles. Our attendant and his helper were nice fellows and kept our room in nice condition. As for staff, we specially enjoyed Gus in the Ocean Bar and the folks at the Explorations coffee bar as well as the Casino staff. We had a good conversation on the last day with Christine the cruise director. As for the Lido staff, nothing positive to say here except the table cleaners were always friendly. I can't say there was a server in the Lido or a waiter or assistant in the Radisson who would raise a positive memory. Beverage service was poor (except by Gus), but I did have a good conversation with Calin (?) the Beverage Manager who accepted my criticisms and made a generous offer to try to make up for it. Staff in the front end of the Radisson were not particularly friendly, seemed not to care much about the dining procedures, which I think were quite poor and unlike any other ship we have been on, and it was on the last day that a dining manager happened to overhear a conversation I was having with a staff member about not being able to get a reservation who stepped in and assisted. The Lido buffet was terrible both from a food and service perspective. In fact, the grill at the pool was the best option. I did not mind the need to have food served for the first two days, in fact I agree with that as an option to avoid potential illness. However the way the buffet is set in a single line requiring you to pass by stations that you are not interested in while waiting for a long time in a line is very poor planning. And, to finally get to a station you wish only to find the food options unacceptable is unfortunate. I like to have a fresh omelet in the morning, however it is a lot of time to wait for a single cook with no assistant, and then once getting the omelet, the choices for bacon or sausage or toast are less than what would be expected and sometimes it meant having to stand in the long cattle line up to get to the meat. As well, my wife had experiences with inedible pasta and dry deli sandwiches. As far as indoor dining is considered your process for waiting, waiting, waiting is unacceptable and then table service was quite poor once in the dining room. We payed extra for two nights in the pay restaraunts and the service was wonderful. However, I have never been on a cruise where "all-inclusive" was anything but. After embarkation we happened to go to the Ocean Bar and met Gus who we found to be very nice and we talked about buying a drink pass for the week. From our discussion with him we determined it would be a good idea since my wife likes a couple of glasses of wine with lunch and dinner and we both love special coffees and were sure that pre and after dinner drinks would make the pass a good convenience if not a good value. From that moment on, unless we were in the Ocean Bar we received poor service. For example, on NO days in the restaurant did anyone approach us for a refill. Yes, we did get initial service as the waiter came to the table and we made a drink order. Never did anyone come back other than to clean the table. It was only at dessert that we placed an order for an after dinner drink, and that was with the waiter again, not from a steward. On deck I had to go to a bar myself to get drinks almost every time. Our place to enjoy a cocktail or get a drink to enjoy in one of the public places was the Ocean bar chatting with Gus or one of the other fellows behind the counter. Service in the Explorations coffee bar was very good. I would say excellent, however on three occasions, ships officers were served before us which would be fine, except that it was only on one occasion that the officer was in front of us! And, for that time, she was ordering eight drinks for her peers! Imagine the time that took to complete the order. The casino staff was very friendly and I enjoyed contributing to the ships profits. This is our second Holland America experience and we found the ship to be quite well laid out and the public areas were very good. I do believe the ship was under staffed for dining and beverage service. Our first experience with this cruise line was much more pleasant. Perhaps part of that was we had a totally opposite experience with dining, an excellent Wine Steward, and careful, timely service in the eating areas and around the pool on our last cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We enjoyed our cruise thru the Inside Passage to Alaska. Had a verandah room on the 6th floor and found it quite spacious. The glasses in the room were dirty and when I complained to the room steward I was told the glasses went thru a ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise thru the Inside Passage to Alaska. Had a verandah room on the 6th floor and found it quite spacious. The glasses in the room were dirty and when I complained to the room steward I was told the glasses went thru a dishwasher. These definitely did not! Found myself washing glasses all week. The bottle of sparkling wine the family had ordered for us to enjoy as we sailed out of Vancouver was sitting at room temperature on the desk. The ice bucket was half full of tepid water (Celebrity did an outstanding job organizing the wine two years ago when we went to Alaska with them.) Apart from the glitches with the room, there was lots of entertainment, the ship was clean and well decorated. The food was generally good although the dining room staff could have been trained a bit better or maybe they don't put as much effort into the open seating guests? A second cup of coffee was never offered. The views were spectacular, the prices for souvenirs and drinks were competitive, and the thermostats in the rooms were responsive. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I was sceptical at first when we booked our Alaska cruise as we live "near Alaska" approx 90 miles from Ketchikan as the crow flies. We see eagles, bears, moose, whales, and snowcapped mountains on a regular basis. We wanted to ... Read More
I was sceptical at first when we booked our Alaska cruise as we live "near Alaska" approx 90 miles from Ketchikan as the crow flies. We see eagles, bears, moose, whales, and snowcapped mountains on a regular basis. We wanted to go with friends from back east so decided on an Alaskan cruise, but right up until a month prior we were not that thrilled..we wanted to see palm trees and tiki huts on our vacation, not snow! We had cruised several times before on most of the other lines but this was our 1st time with H.A. and also Alaska. We boarded the Zaandam in Vancouver on a wet a dreary day and were pleasantly surprised once we got on board. It was a much smaller ship than we had sailed before but we found it very easy to navigate and never got lost! We had accepted an upsell a week prior to sailing and we were in a verandah suite midship, cabin 6154 and 6156...we asked our room steward to open the adding balconies up so we had more space to visit. By the time we departed Vancouver the weather had cleared up and we had 6.5 days of pure sun after that..I came home with a tan, wow! Our experience was total awe! Everything from the cabin, the beds, the room service, our steward ( Sandi ), the weather, even the scenery...totally impressed us! We didn't do any shore excursions, we just walked around each port and checked out the stores, had a beer at a local pub, took some photos and found a few geocaches. We like Ketchikan the best, Creek St was neat and we ride the funicular up and walked back down the married mans trail. Tracy Arm was the highlight for us all. We were in awe of the beauty, the fjords were so close to us and seeing the glacier and ice floats were very cool...I couldn't believe the serenity of it all...even with 1500 other tourists on board...it was serene! Needless to say we LOVED the cruise, H.A. was exceptional and we put down a deposit for a future cruise..we are hoping to do it again next year and make it an annual event!! It just goes to show that prior expectations don't really reflect reality! here is the link to my GoPro video I made of our trip :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHRW2XcRZBo   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We don't know why so many people are enthousiastic about this ship? We did already several other cruises with other company's, but the "Amsterdam" is really bad compared with the other ships we had. But positive thing ... Read More
We don't know why so many people are enthousiastic about this ship? We did already several other cruises with other company's, but the "Amsterdam" is really bad compared with the other ships we had. But positive thing and most important: the Alaska-cruise was beautiful! About the ship: - embarkation in Seattle was perfect. In a couple of minutes we were already on the boat - first impression of the ship was small, but we knew that already. And of course, a lot of older people!! And we mean with a lot, more than 80%! So be aware that you have to wait a lot of time as there are many "slow movers" on the ship! Sometimes it is frustrating in the Lido Buffet, but it is holiday....so don't frustrate!!! Interior of the ship is beuatiful with a lot of Dutch Artworks and other unique items. We liked it! - we were in stateroom (oceanroom) 2685. A nice room, not too small and nice bed to sleep. But as we were together we were littlebit disappointed that there was 1 towel in the room when we entered the room. Why? No checkings? And this is a trip to Alaska, middle of the summer. You have to close the window in the evening with a simple curtain. A lot of light is still in the room, even it is 12am....so why no curtains to make it more dark in the room? And did anyone inspect the door inside of the room on cleaning? This was really dirty! Fingertips, old dirt was vissible...jaiks!!! Bathroom is ok, but still with an old-fashioned curtain. And be aware that the floor upstairs is the walk-promenade, so around 7am you can hear already the first people walking! - restaurants: * La Fontaine. Beautiful restaurant to see and also to eat. We liked the food, but the food was not what we expected from the HAL. We travelled last year with the Princess and this food was more variated and same quality or even better. Our thoughts were that the HAL had the best quality of diners? But this isn't unfortunately. Our most negative point was the wine-serving. The first night we could wait till now I am writing. No one was coming. After already asked we asked this again when we had already the main-menu! And finally someone was coming. This was happening again after some days. But the wine-server "Antonio" is really good, he is hard working! But is someone inspecting the clothes of the servers? Every evening we were surprised about the dirty clothes of the servers? Never seen this on other cruiseships! And why did we had 2 days old flowers in the restaurant and other parts of the ship? And is someone inspecting the forks, knives before someone is dining? Almost every evening something was missing on the table! And did someone test the coffee? This is the worst coffee we ever drunk! * Lido buffet. Good variety of food. We had only breakfast and lunch here. The quality of food is good/very good. But one big negative thing. The coffee-machine is more not working than working. Very frustrating every time. And a lot people were complaining about this! And we didn't like the server behind the "sandwich"-buffet. He was always sulky. He never laughed or make a chat. Can this server removed of the ship? Last thing about the Lido. Many servers were more talking together than working. We never seen this on other ships * Pinnacle. In one word: EXCELLENT! This is the quality what you expect on a HAL-ship! Very good food, service, atmosphere. One thing...happy hour....this is normal one buy, one free.... on this ship it is, one buy, other for one dollar. But....why do we have to pay this with 2 cards???? It was not possible if you was alone and order a drink with the happy hour...very strange... - Service of HAL "Amsterdam". We were negative surprised about the service of this ship. The first days looked liked that the people working on this ship didnt like to work. Almost everybody was negative. We heard same of many other cruise-passengers. Something happened on this ship before we entered this ship, this must be for sure! We wrote a small survey on first days of the trip. This was treated very good by the HAL. We received some chocolates for our survey and also excuses. But after this most of our comments were not solved in the rest of the trip....unfortunately... I was really disappointed in the employees of the reception. I visited the reception as 2 of the 4 dryers on the third floor were not working again. As it was very crowdy in this wash-room (already at 7.30 am!) this was giving a big delay. Every time when I visited the washroom some dryers were "out of order". So I asked the reception when the dryers will be fixed. What was the answer of the employee? I had to go to the other wash-room on the 6th floor! Pardon????? The dryers have to work and to be fixed!!!! This is not the answer what I expect from the HAL. I was very frustrated about this On the last evening we received a letter that the bill of the trip would be delivered before 6am last morning on the ship. Well even this very easy thing to do was giving problems for this ship. As we had to leave the ship 7.15 hours and we didn't had the bill at 6.45 we went to the reception. But we saw our cleaner in the corridor preparing the bills. We asked if he had our bill. And yes, he had! But why so late?? Only half our before leaving you could inspect your bill.... This is no service!! About the photographers on this ship. It is so funny to see that they didn't want to make pictures. THey were more talking together than making pictures. But no problem, no pictures, no money for this ship! Hahaha... - Tours/places to stay: tours organized by HAL were very good! Well organized and value for money. We liked most the floatplane in Ketchikan, wale-tour in Ice Strait Point and the raft in Sitka. Places to stay: we don't understand why this ship is stopping in Homer. There isn't nothing to do! Don't stop anymore in this place and stay for longer for example in Sitka or Victoria. The best places to stay! Our overall impression of the Amsterdam is unfortunately negative. But fortunately we had a very good holiday as we liked Alaska! But next time with other company!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and had recently cruised Princess to Hawaii, I was looking for a last minute deal out of San Francisco because there would be no airfare involved. After looking and evaluating that it was a 11 day ... Read More
Since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and had recently cruised Princess to Hawaii, I was looking for a last minute deal out of San Francisco because there would be no airfare involved. After looking and evaluating that it was a 11 day cruise with only four port stops and one day in glacier bay, I decided that was too many sea days after doing the 15 day R/T to Hawaii recently. I started looking at the Holland America Oeosterdamn from Vancouver to Seward and the return from Seward to Vancouver. The Airfare was expensive so that didn't work. I then noticed that the 14 day R/T sailing on the Amsterdam had gone down in price to where this might be doable if airfare was decent. Found a great deal on Alaska Air going into Seattle and was able to get a good fare coming home from Seattle. Found a great basic hotel called the sleep inn with great reviews. I went to cruise critic to see if anyone had stayed there and got great remarks back. This is where I found out about the Seattle Express, a shuttle Service that serves some hotels in the Seatac Area. The shuttle will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the pier and pick you up at the pier and either take you to the airport or back to the hotel after your cruise for $12.00 each way. A reservation is required but you don't pay til you actually use the service. Sleep Inn is very basic. Our room had two beds and included a microwave. There is an IHOP on the property. I would definately stay there again. The morning of our cruise, Seattle Express came to pick us up. We got to the cruise terminal and got checked in pretty fast and than got on our ship to find our Stateroom. The luggage arrived about 30 minutes after we did. We went to the Lido to have lunch and came back to unpack. We had an HH obstructed view cabin on the Lower Promenade deck. Allot of storage. Our cabin Stewarts pretty much kept the place up. Place was always clean. This ship did not seem to be full. We had anytime dinning and we never once got a pager the whole trip. Service was slow in the dinning Room. We would go at 6:30 and would get out til 9:00. The food was good to very good. Remember food is very subjective. We would eat either breakfast or lunch in the Lido. The food in the Lido was good. We were always able to find a place to sit. The crew was constantly working on the ship to keep it in shape. This is a very hard working and most professional crew of all the HAL ships I have been on. In Ketchikan it rained in the morning and this was the only rain we had during the trip. Since I had sprained my leg three weeks before, I was just getting around to sorta normal so we walked through town up to creek street, went to a museum to get out of the rain and back to the ship. Tracy Arm glacier Sun was shinning and we had a great day of glacier and waterfall viewing. In Juneau the morning was overcast and I did a whale watching tour. The water was very calm and we saw lots of whales and sea lions. By afternoon the sun was shinning so we took the tram up to Mt Roberts. Awesome view. I have been to Juneau once before where it was cloudy and rainy and would not be able to see anything if I went up Mt Roberts. Icy Strait Point we have been here before so We stayed on the ship. I took advantage of doing laundry. The laundry was$2.00 to wash and dry each load. Anchorage - we took a ships tour to Portage Glacier and the wild life refuge park where we saw bear, caribou, mouse etc. followed by the glacier tour. Homer - Took the ships tour Homer highlights - We went to the Pratt museaum, an art gallery that is located on the artist's property. Some really fantastic art work of Alaska landscape. We also went to the Ocean Center and than finally the spit. I was so glad did this tour because I saw so much more than taking the ships shuttle buses to the spit. We were there memorial weekend and saw lots of people camping on the beach. We were greeted in Homer by hundreds of seagulls. Kodiak - Neither one Of us felt good so we did not get off the ship. Sitka I found a sort of hop on hop off bus at the pier at he information center by tribal tours. The shuttle took you around to several places in Sitka for $10.00. I went to the raptor center and to totem pole forest. Still recovering from the sprained leg so could not do allot of hiking. I walked a little in the downtown area. Victoria - I have never been to Buchart Gardens I booked a tour with the ship. I was very careful because my elderly father was with me so I made sure this was a one man walking tour. I had booked this before I sprained my leg online at home. There were many slopes in the gardens and my father could not walk some of them. When we got back to the bus we found there were allot of the older folks that were having a hard time with it too. Disembarkation went like clockwork, we did the walk off met the seattle express and were at the airport by 8:30 and ended to wait an hour before we could check our luggage for our 1:25 flight. This trip was blessed with real great weather. I have been to Alaska before when it rained the whole time and it it's still fun. It sure is allot more fun with some sun and no rain. The evening shows were hit and miss. Although I will say that the dancers and singers were better than I have heard before. I did miss " Love in any language song"'they sing at the end do the cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our third cruise to Alaska, second time on the Amsterdam. Embarkation in Seattle was a breeze, and luggage was in our cabin in less than 2 hours. Room steward was solicitous & hard working, as was all of the Amsterdam crew. Never saw a ... Read More
Our third cruise to Alaska, second time on the Amsterdam. Embarkation in Seattle was a breeze, and luggage was in our cabin in less than 2 hours. Room steward was solicitous & hard working, as was all of the Amsterdam crew. Never saw a frowny face, or encountered anything but a pleasant, helpful attitude. Waiters in the Lido were top notch and hard working. The ship is kept spotless, and there seems to be almost always somebody cleaning, varnishing, polishing. Only 2 complaints about Amsterdam: they took the laundry room off the main deck, (even though it still shows on the deck plan they handed out) and only have 2 now, one on the 3rd & the 6th decks. The cooked food in the Lido is almost always luke-warm to cold. I've complained about this to HAL numerous times. Cooked food needs to be kept hot. Dining room food is beautifully presented, but only tastes so-so. We only booked 2 shore excursions with HAL, Icy Strait tram and Anchorage city highlights & aviation museum. The others we bought in port. Most of the ports were enjoyable except for Anchorage. It's just another big city, and we were there Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.........boring!! The Aviation Museum was mildly interesting, but it's just an airplane hangar, unheated, and we were there way too long - they allowed us 2 hours & you can see everything in 20 minutes. We went looking for our driver after about 45 minutes. He made up the allotted time by driving us to the outskirts of the city. In Sitka loved the parks & quaint downtown shops; in Juneau we spent most of the day at Mendenhall Glacier & hiked to the waterfall; loved Homer's rocky beaches; at Icy Strait Point we took the tram through the rainforest to the beach. Tracy Arm and Hubbard were breathtaking. Hubbard Glacier calved several times while we were there. Except for a little rain the morning we were in Ketchikan weather was perfect and the seas always calm. The Indonesian Crew Show was enjoyable; and Cruise Director Gene and Show Host Jazzy made our sea days fun. Love the Amsterdam & will probably do this itinerary next year, but they really do need to do something about their food - quality is starting to slip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My husband and I took the Holland America Land & Sea Journey on the Zuiderdam. We flew to Anchorage where we were met at the airport for transport to the Westmark Anchorage for the start of the Land portion of our trip. It was the ... Read More
My husband and I took the Holland America Land & Sea Journey on the Zuiderdam. We flew to Anchorage where we were met at the airport for transport to the Westmark Anchorage for the start of the Land portion of our trip. It was the first trip of the season so that may have accounted for the disorganization the next morning as we were taken by bus to Holland America's own domed rail cars for the trip to Denali. The train ride was great -- so many miles of forest and beautiful scenery! McKinley Chalet's are where you stay and they are OK but clean. The only drawback on the land portion was your luggage had to be outside your room door each morning of travel by around 6:30 am. That means you have be up and ready by then or you have to carry anything you use to get ready with around with you the rest of the day. All the hotels you stay at are Westmarks or the McKinley. They are all clean but I would only call the Fairbanks & Dawson one's attractive (both in very different ways). We stayed 2 nights in Denali. The wilderness tour was taken on the full day there. We saw numerous caribou, several moose, ptarmigan, a Dall sheep (a dot on the mountain). Some on our group also saw a lynx. Every where we went on buses, they made plenty of stops so we didn't get tired of sitting. From Denali, was took a bus to Fairbanks. It was only a couple of hours trip and there was beauty out all the windows so well worth the time. The next morning we took a plane from Fairbanks to Dawson, Yukon, Canada. (You might want to verify with you cell provider whether you will have service in Alaska and Canada.) We personally loved the little town of Dawson. Only one street is paved and most of the buildings look like they were built a 100 years ago. On our way out of town the next AM, there was a cute little red fox that ran alongside our bus for a little bit. Then about 10-20 miles outside of town, there was a black bear sitting up against a telephone pole watching our bus go by. By the time the driver was able to get back to it, it had taken off so we didn't get photos but had a great initial viewing of it. My husband was really dreading that 9-hour bus trip between Dawson and Whitehorse. But he even admitted it wasn't bad. The bus was comfortable, they made frequent short stops, and there was just so much to see. And the morning after Whitehorse, we rode the old narrow-gauge railroad down into Skagway where we got onto the ship. Little did I know we had already spent the best part of our trip on land. I didn't really think about the fact that we weren't going to spend very much time in each town we visited because there simply wasn't time. But we are still glad we took the Land portion because we did get to see so much more of Alaska that way. Oh, and the shore excursion Husky Homestead Tour was the best. Not only do you get to hold and pet young Alaska husky puppies but 4X Iditarod champion, Jeff King, gives a informative and entertaining presentation about preparing for and running various sled dog races. It was one of the highlights of our trip. We joined the ship in Skagway and things from there were rather a disappointment,. This was our first cruise so maybe I expected too much but all the full-color glossy brochures made me believe we were going to experience the trip of a lifetime. I just thought it was going to be a good thing. The cabin was fine even if you feel like you are meeting yourself coming and going. The hallways to the cabins were dreary. The buffet was staffed by people that English was their second language and quite a few of them made no effort to speak clearly. We never knew what we were going to get because we literally could not understand 1/2 of what they said. And you are charged $11.50 per day per person to give those that wouldn't make an effort to be understood gratuities for service! There were plenty that made the effort to be understood, gave very good service and were polite and pleasant., But not nearly enough of them. Oh, and as for the great quantities of delicious food -- think again. Sizzler has a better salad bar, there was a strange flavor to most of what we got, and the wonderful, enticing desserts were nonexistent. We paid just a little extra one night to dine in the Italian restaurant and only 1 of the 3 items we got was good. I lost over 4 pounds in our 11 days!!!! Side note, every meal we got on the land portion of our trip was good. Unless you like to have people staring at you while swimming and enjoying the spas, I wouldn't plan on using either during the afternoon. There was a Mexican Fiesta buffet set up all around the pool area so you would have quite an audience while trying to swim. I was expecting some serious luxury in at least a few common areas. It wasn't bad but there definitely wasn't any soaring ceilings or graceful stairways. There were glass elevators from which you could see the ocean or land. The colors were primary and bright. We felt that almost everything on the ship was about separating you from your money. We even had to pay over $3.00 a bottle for water in our cabin. I guess the bottom line is I was expecting to be treated really well and I felt we were just treated like cattle and that they expected us to pay well for the treatment! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We were a party of 13 cruising together to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday.As told to me my my travel agent I went to the dinning room as soon as we boarded to change our dinner table setting as my agent could only book as high as 8 ... Read More
We were a party of 13 cruising together to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday.As told to me my my travel agent I went to the dinning room as soon as we boarded to change our dinner table setting as my agent could only book as high as 8 online, so off I went to change it to 13 , only to be told it was not possible ,they only have tables for 10 , needless to say we had 2 tables one behind the other where it was in no way we could enjoy dinner as a group to celebrate dad's birhtday, that in itself was disappointing ,but to top it off we were going to celebrate on the second formal night as we all were excited about it being lobster night, only to be told that because one of the men didnt have a suit jacket , they were not permitted in the dinning room ! Are you kidding me? Everyone of us were dressed up and all that was missing was a dinner jacket on one person that ruined the entire celebration, we had to celebrate without my brother being present, how sad is that? The entire meal on one of our tables were cold and my lobster was full of little pieces of shell , I was NOT impressed at . The buffet was ok , but not special, there were no decorated carved watermelon or other fruit and veggies as I have seen on all the other ships I have sailed on, it was more like a cafeteria nothing to write home about, the food itself was just ok. The hamburger hot dog shack was only open till 5 PM , which I think should have been open till at least 10 or 11 PM for late night snacking, even the latenight snack at the buffet was only open from 10:30pm to 11:30pm after that your out of luck unless you want to sit in your room and have room service . The rooms were spacious and comfortable , and in the ports we had ample time to do everything that we wanted to do , no complaints about the port times but definitely a huge complaint about how far we had to walk to get to town. It was awful ! We had with us a 10 year old and a 1 & 2 year old . We could have taken the 10 year old to play in the playroom but they would not allow the younger 2 kids in even if we stayed with them. Therefor leaving absolutely nothing for the kids to do. The entertainment onboard was lacking, the shows were short and not good with the exception of the recycled percussion group they were awesome. The had very limited activities on board and we found ourselves sitting around waiting for something to happen that we could watch or join into. We all found it quite boring, I have never been bored on a cruise ship before, but then again I had never traveled with Holland America before , and I NEVER will again ! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My wife and I are newbie cruisers, because we used to enjoy more DIY travel until we got married on the Oasis. Anyways, here's is our "biased" review of the Zuiderdam on May 17, Alaska via Glacier Bay. Check-in, Boarding: ... Read More
My wife and I are newbie cruisers, because we used to enjoy more DIY travel until we got married on the Oasis. Anyways, here's is our "biased" review of the Zuiderdam on May 17, Alaska via Glacier Bay. Check-in, Boarding: We were happy as everything went smoothly. The security check was efficient and we waited little to get our room keys and greeted by the various departments of the ship on the gangway. Ship 1st impression: It's a classy ship with lots of colors and artwork. These does not cover up the fact the ship is older. We saw various workers working on maintenance works like scraping old tiles, baseboard, carpet cleaning etc. Surprisingly, even they were busy working, they greeted us with smiles. They staffed extra people on the corridors to direct lost passengers to their room. We found our room easily and found 1 of our checked luggage at the doorway (efficient). While we were exploring the room, our room attendants knocked and introduced themselves and asked if we were hungry. They offered suggestions to where to eat at lunch time. We gave them a tip for the good work done (as with our previous cruise), and we went and explore. The Zuiderdam has everything separated in various part of the ship, thus we had to locate where we were and used the paper map given to us to go to our destination. It would be nice to have larger maps at various traffic areas for the first time. Fortunately the staffs were busy roaming around and we asked for directions. Food: For the first 48 hours, all self-serve services were stopped to prevent illness. We went to Lido for lunch, it was busy and for every line, there were at least 5-6 people in front waiting to be served. Suggestion here: be greedy at Lido, ask for more food because they will give you a small plate!! Even the glassware and cups are small!! Overall, the food is adequate here. On the other hand, the Dive-In hot dog and burgers were amazingly good. Dinner at Vista Main Dining Room were excellent. The portion, the flavors and the cooking technique were top notch, we were treated fine dining every night. They served west coast meals during the trip. The waiter and the assistant waiter were without question, good. For breakfast, the Vista dining room had the slowest service for the similar level of quality at the Lido. We wanted a quick and casual breakfast so that we never tried again. All of our lunches and breakfasts were in Lido or Dive-in. We signed up for LeCirque, due to the smaller scale, we found it a huge step up from the MDR. Did it justify the $50/pp? I think so, but we would probably try to Pinnacle Grill instead. We loved the plates they used on the night, but they were for show, they served with other plates. We also found out only 1 chef would prepare the LeCirque. Bar services were great, the bartenders had the proper techniques. They were definitely not stingy about pouring, at many times my drinks could have at least 2 oz or more liquor in there. The bar prices were slightly higher, average $7.50 per after all the charges. The virgin drinks were horrible, I guess they expect someone would order them. They were too sweet. I am a coffee geek, the Exploration Cafe at deck 9 scored very low marks. The staff there lacks the proper technique to call a barista. The latte came out too hot, expresso was not temped at all. Even McDonald could make a better cup of latte. I visited once and never bought from there again. The atmosphere there was great to read a book or just gaze at the ocean. Entertainment: On our cruise, the majority was about 40+, and being a smaller ship, most of the activities we found too passive. There were game shows, musical performances and classes. The musicians' performance were good, but there weren't too many audiences around after 9pm. The atmosphere was plain and uneventful. For that reason, we did not participate too many of the onboard entertainment and watched movies in our room from our laptop. The LCD TV had HDMI and we could easily hook up the laptop with it. We were told beforehand that they have an excellent culinary program and we signed up for the mixology and cooking shows and classes. For the drinkers, $10 gets you 3 martini/cocktail and you learn how to make it. The cooking class is $30 hands on with the head chef that prepares the LeCirque. It includes a lunch at the Pinnacle Grill with wine. My wife and I found them to have excellent value since we got to learn something, take something and have a nice meal. We highly recommend that culinary programs. Room: As with most cruise ships, they run cruises all year around. I found the room to be clean in general but with some reservations. For example, I found dirty clothes inside the closet from the previous guest; I found the TV remote dirty to touch; some areas have layers of year old dusts. I understand the crews would clean up the busier areas but I would imagine maybe at least a complete cleaning once a month? My room review could be seen at the cabin review later. Shopping: Like any other cruises, there were tons of shopping opportunities for luxury goods. We didn't participate in any of them. We bought some liquor for our house bar and smokes for friends. The selections of liquor and smokes were small. The biggest brands would be there but the mid-range brands were absence. On the Alaska cruise, there were no duty free at ports, therefore the ship is the only place to buy them. For majority of the shopping, the ports had better selections and pricing compare to the ship. Regrets: If we went again, we would definitely buy the Spa package, where we could use the steam, sauna and the hydro pool for the duration of the trip. We would also want to try the Pinnacle Grill more because the quality of the food is significant better. This vacation with the Zuiderdam was uneventful, but relaxing. The smaller crowd, attentive services and good food would be something I would recommend. Despite of some complaints and older ship, none of them is a deal breaker for an once in a lifetime experience in the Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Day 1: Sailing day Arrived at Canada Place. Had no problems whatsoever. The porter was there to take our luggages from the van. Crown Princess was also sailing away that day so the place was quite busy. But the lines to immigration moved ... Read More
Day 1: Sailing day Arrived at Canada Place. Had no problems whatsoever. The porter was there to take our luggages from the van. Crown Princess was also sailing away that day so the place was quite busy. But the lines to immigration moved quickly. That is, if you are holding a US or Canadian passport. My cousin is not, so she had to queue at a different line which took longer. We then filled out the medical questionnaire and proceeded to check in at Holland America. Since I already did the check in online, this process was a breeze. I was surprised when the lady told me “your stateroom is ready”. This was around 12:45 PM. I asked her if we can get on the mariner’s lunch and she checked and said sure I can. It’s my first time with HAL, but I have previously sailed with Princess so I got 1 star in my id card (yey!) Went to drop off our things in our room then proceeded to find the MDR. The MDR was not busy at all which is really nice. I’ve been to buffets at other ships on embarkation day and it’s a zoo in there. So we really appreciated the nice, relaxing lunch away from the crowd. No need to find tables.  I noticed that for our 2 groups, our ID’s show an early seating and a late seating. This was despite requesting my TA to link our bookings together so we can have the same table. So I went to the Queen’s Lounge in Deck 2 to have this sorted out. Good thing it was taken cared of immediately. We then went to explore the ship. We went to the aft side to take pictures of Canada Place. Weather was lovely. Don’t miss the sail away from Vancouver. It was really beautiful and don’t miss the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Day 2 – Sea Day It started raining, but it’s okay. It’s sea day today. We joined the galley tour. It’s also the first formal night. For the production show, it was Recycled Percussions (group that performs in Vegas). Entering the Vista Lounge, they have champagne and orange juice for the minors. They give you drum sticks and all sorts of pots and pans for you to make noise. Don’t forget to get ear plugs as it gets really loud in there. I don’t know if this is always this group performing or not. Enjoyed the show. Day 3 – Juneau, Alaska We are scheduled to arrive in Juneau at 1 PM, but we got there at 12 ish. However, we had to tender. This process took longer. This is the only day when I felt we are a bit short on time. We took our numbers for the tender and waited for them to call our number. Although the process went fairly smoothly, I wish we were actually docked since I planned to go to Mendenhall Glacier. So when we got to the port, which was already 2:20 PM, I immediately headed to the area where there were lots of booths with signs to Mendenhall Glacier. I told the guy to give me the best price for roundtrip shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier for 7 people. He says, “I’ll give it to you for $70”. I say, that’s the same price as your sign. He says the sign shows $10 one way. I took his offer since I heard that they charge $15 per person round trip. He says bus (Glacier Express – white bus) is due to arrive at 2:30 PM. They only have 2 buses and set to travel every half hour. When they give you the receipt, make sure you keep it as the driver will look at this going to and back. We waited, and waited and waited. Saw the bus pass by but did not stop where we were waiting. Talked to fellow passengers waiting for the bus and they said they’ve been waiting since 2:10PM. By now, it was already 3 PM. The white bus finally arrived. The bus took us to Mendenhall Glacier. It was beautiful. Weather was so nice and clear. We walked to the first view point and took pictures. We were debating if we should go to the waterfall, but the last bus says 6 PM and we didn’t want to wait for the last bus as there could be a lot of people. So I asked a fellow traveler and he says it’s easy walk to go to the waterfall. He suggested to us to take the left trail – he says it will not get us exactly to the waterfall but will take us close enough. So we did this. I think it was worth it but next time, I would do the proper trail to actually get close to the waterfall. Also, for those people climbing the rocks, I don’t suggest you do this if you are not fit. It’s pretty steep and rocky. One misstep and you could be regretting your decision. Just follow the trail and you can still get those wonderful pictures. So we got back to the bus meeting place at 5:30 PM. As expected, the bus was full! So we had to wait again. When the bus came, the sign now says last bus at 7 PM. We got off at downtown and went to some stores. The kids wanted to collect the charms. By the time we were ready to go back, it was already 7:45 PM so we decided that we’d just miss the MDR tonight as we still have to tender and we didn’t want to go there late. Overall, Mendenhall Glacier was great but wish there were more buses as there were a lot of ships that day. Maybe 4. Day 4 – Skagway, Alaska We arrived at Skagway early and all aboard is not until 9 PM. So we just slept in and took our time. We did not do any excursions, just walked the street. Just walked the street one side heading away from the ship, crossed the street, then walked the other side heading back to the ship. It was really windy today but at least it’s not raining. Had king crab legs for dinner! So yummy. This is one of the two highlights of my cruise. The other one is Glacier Bay. Day 5 – Glacier Bay Woke up early to see the rangers get on the boat. Stayed at Crow’s Nest early – the place was packed as the day went on. Then went outside and also to Deck 4 – Bow to enjoy the majestic glaciers. No pea soup served though, or I missed it. Saw the ice calving. Everything was just so awesome and so beautiful. I would not hesitate to go back to Alaska to see Glacier Bay. Again, we had the most beautiful weather. It was cold, but clear. I was wearing a thermal undershirt, fleece, jacket and gloves. Zuidy has some blankets as well so you can use these to keep you warm. This is the 2nd formal night where surf and turf (lobster and filet mignon) is on the menu. Guys had on their jacket with tie. Ladies were dressed nicely. But I would say it wasn’t uber formal. Day 6 – Ketchikan Sorry to be making you jealous, but again, weather was super nice. We just strolled around Ketchikan, bought some souvenir items and smoked salmon and went back to the ship. For those looking for smoked salmon, try the salmon in Sockeye Sam’s. This is right near the port. There’s also another place selling salmon in Ketchikan downtown, but my relatives said they liked this one better. Production show as Dancing with the Stars at Sea. The venue was full. As others have noted, the way it is set up is not very good. Lots of poles and spots where you cannot see the full stage. The contestants who joined were all very good. Day 7 – Inside Passage We had breakfast at MDR. I noticed that their breakfast items are a lot more varied compared to other cruise lines. We also tried the Indonesian Tea. There’s not a lot of things to choose from. The menu at MDR for dinner was International. You can order whatever you want in the menu, but I find this a bit confusing. There were 4 (I think) different sections – Asian, North American, South American… I forgot the other one.  Just goes to show I’m really confused. Day 8 – Vancouver My cousin had to go to the Hudson’s since they held her passport. This part was a bit disorganized. A lot of passengers who don’t speak/understand English were being very disruptive with the entire process. The staff should’ve just pulled those disruptive passengers aside so that they can get on with the rest of the process instead of a couple of people affecting everyone. We had our final breakfast at MDR and waited for them to call our number. Got off the ship and immediately found our luggages. I talked to one of the people in Canada Place to ask where we can wait if someone is picking us up (no tours or transfers). She says either the street or we can go to P1, where the drive can get in, load our luggage and leave. There’s no charge if you get out within 15 minutes. If you’re over 15 minutes, then it’s $4. Some public washrooms had delayed flushing.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was my first ever cruise and it exceeded my expectations. We had a veranda room with balcony and the views on this trip were amazing. Food was great and service was excellent. Majority of staff went above and beyond to make my ... Read More
This was my first ever cruise and it exceeded my expectations. We had a veranda room with balcony and the views on this trip were amazing. Food was great and service was excellent. Majority of staff went above and beyond to make my family stay wonderful. Rahmat my dinning room server was excellent and made sure our needs were taken care off every single night. He went above and beyond what was expected. Arief the host made sure we had the same table every night and I was amazed by his effort to remember my room number and family names by the 2nd night. Matus one of the dinning room managers made and effort to visit every table a few times a night to make conversation and made sure guest were well taken care off. I understand that is his job, but on my 7 day trip, he was the only manager doing this, so this says a lot. Rooms were cleaned twice daily, once in the morning and the second time during turn down service. During turn down service, they cleaned the bathrooms and changed the towels as well. Majority of staff on the ship are foreign and they work long hours and give their very best to serve guest. I have seen many guest complain about minute things, but I feel they are uncalled for. I have seen guest even complain that staff were not making an effort to speak English properly, however, the best service came from those whose 2nd language was English. In fact those whose first language was English were not as friendly. Even in the Lido buffet, I apologize for not remembering his name, there was a server who worked the Carnilito section who every morning will bring me water and orange juice. Every morning if I sat in his section. Shy guy, seldom spoke but always served with a smile. In room service for breakfast, came exactly the time you requested the previous night. However regular room service may take longer as they were busier and had less time to prepare for last minute orders. And for those who complain about being stared at in the pool or hot tub, Please!!!! Everyone is enjoying the great scenery of the inside passage or soaking up the sun. Ignore the negative reviews, overall excellent 1st time cruise on board Holland America Zuiderdam, excellent service, great food, will be back. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I'm an old Navy salt. My wonderful wife of 30 years finally talked me into a cruise after MANY years of telling me we would have fun. I finally relented and we booked a 7 day Alaska cruise on Holland America. i ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! ... Read More
I'm an old Navy salt. My wonderful wife of 30 years finally talked me into a cruise after MANY years of telling me we would have fun. I finally relented and we booked a 7 day Alaska cruise on Holland America. i ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Embarkation lines in Seattle were long but fast and efficient. We upgraded to a Signature Suite from a regular verandah suite for $100 more each. It was definitely worth the extra money. Plenty of space and the two sinks and showers were very convenient although the bathtub did drain a little slowly, We will not settle for less from now on. Cabin stewards were perfect, learning our names and preferences almost immediately. The towel animals were a real hoot and we anxiously waited every night to see what was next. Jason out cruise director was really good and quite the comedian. The classical piano/violin duo we listened to at night before dinner was wonderful as was the piano bar entertainer-he really got people to sing along instead of just putting on his own show like some do. I did the beer tasting event one day and really enjoyed it. It was alot of fun and I actually learned some things! The food in the MDR was always good. Plenty of choices, great dessert and coffee but plan on about a two hour experience, although it never seemed to be that long it always was. The staff knew we were celebrating our anniversary and several times brought us a little special cake to celebrate, it was always nice and a good conversation piece with our dining mates. Getting a seat at the 8 o’clock show can be a challenge if you get seated in the MDR after six. We usually just planned on attending the 10 o‘clock show, seats were always available. Cruising up into Tracy Arm was a magnificent experience. I can't commend the Captain more for the expert job he did in that narrow gorge. Awesome! The gym was top notch and I always went to "morning stretch" although one time I think the instructor was getting bored because he turned it into "morning calisthenics"! I felt like I was back in boot camp, but I kept up! The crew on this ship is so nice, cheerful and pleasant that we ended up giving several people personal tips at the end of the week in addition to the daily "service charge" that is tacked on to the bill already. Disembarkation back in Seattle was a breeze. I love cruising, I love Holland America and we are already planning our next one. Carry on.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I've now taken 5 cruises to Alaska in the past decade, thanks to my wife's fascination with the place--three on Princess, and now two on Holland America. Regardless of the cruise line, I recommend that rookie cruisers aim for ... Read More
I've now taken 5 cruises to Alaska in the past decade, thanks to my wife's fascination with the place--three on Princess, and now two on Holland America. Regardless of the cruise line, I recommend that rookie cruisers aim for Alaska first, as the amazing vistas can make even an average cruise seems pretty wonderful. If somebody is ever going to drag me to the Caribbean (a third-rate Hawaii for the unsuspecting) that ship better darn well be spectacular...not so critical here. This was my first trip on the Westerdam, and I found it to be a (mostly) pleasant experience overall. Positive impressions included the overall professionalism of the operation; outstanding, spacious cabin (deluxe verandah suite) and decent amenities commensurate with the price point. Given the size and scope of all the Alaskan cruise operations, anything short of that would have been somewhat surprising. None of these lines are new at this. The Fitness Center is always a big deal to my wife and I, and this one was ok. The usual enthusiastic crowd overwhelming the place on the first sea day ("I'm going to work out EVERY day, for sure!") and then just a few regulars after that. Crowds not an issue. Note to HAL: It wouldn't hurt to touch up the rust spots on some of the machines. White paint is cheap, and the concept of painting is customary on most vessels. BTW, I also learned the Australian pronunciation of "water" from the staff: "WAR-tuh." Just a side note. Entertainment was decent, the shows were not bad. I even liked the 'Dancing with the Stars' show, probably because my wife won it. (I taught her everything she knows. Not.) The food...was, um, plentiful. A wide variety of the usual average everything. I'm fine with that, it's to be expected, and the Italian "surcharge" restaurant was actually pretty good--attentive staff, solid quality and nice portions. Didn't try the "steakhouse" surcharge place. The main dining room was ok--but I had some issues with the buffet and the grill, both worth noting: First, the buffet. As you may know, HAL ships do not allow buffet self-service for the first 48 hours of a cruise, ostensibly to reduce the risk of illness. That slows the lines down considerably, and is extremely irritating. Ah, you may say--but that fact is more than offset by the reduced risk! Except that I did extensive research and found NOTHING that indicates HAL has a lower rate of gastrointestinal illness than, say, Princess. Imagine the wonderful irony at work--HAL has a policy that guarantees bad buffet service and successfully positions it as a marketing ASSET. Awesome. Even after the initial 48 hours, my teeth were on edge--if the buffet servers had worked any slower the ship would have sailed backwards. Of course, part of that is the (lack of) communication between picky eaters and Indonesian employees. As Prince Charles once said, "The international language is bad English." In any case, it was the slowest buffet line I've yet experienced at sea. Now, the grill. This is a small thing, but small things add up. On four, count 'em, four separate occasions I distinctly and carefully ordered a "medium rare" cheeseburger from the "cook to order" grill. The first was well done but edible...the next three were increasingly charred as to be impressively inedible. How difficult is it to under cook a cheeseburger? Heck, it's the default mode in a slammed kitchen. (But room service compensated by delivering doughy muffins and raw scrambled eggs. I soon passed on room service.) Saw Sitka for the first time, lovely. Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria comprised the other ports of call, with a trip to Glacier Bay, all worthwhile. Embarkation/debarkation professional and courteous. Weather worked out, usual mix of rain and sun, 65/35. It's Alaska, and there's a reason for all that greenery. So, Princess vs HAL? My clear winner is Princess. HAL tends to carry fewer passengers than the Princess ships, but that doesn't necessarily mean it feels less crowded--the ship is smaller. The net result is you get the same 'small city' feel as on, say, the Grand Princess, but the larger Princess ships deliver better/broader dining and entertainment options. I believe the prices are comparable, but you'll decide that. Whichever cruise line and itinerary you choose, you'll enjoy Alaska. The amazing mountains, ports of call and the WAR-tuh, too.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our first cruise in 7 years, so things have changed a bit. We have sailed with Holland America before and been quite happy. This time we did Alaska, round trip out of Seattle (we live in Western Washington). Left our car at the ... Read More
This was our first cruise in 7 years, so things have changed a bit. We have sailed with Holland America before and been quite happy. This time we did Alaska, round trip out of Seattle (we live in Western Washington). Left our car at the SeaTac Masterpark lot and caught Shuttle Express from the airport to the cruise terminal. Saved some hassle going, but coming back we had to stand in line with everyone else who was trying to take Shuttle Express, whether they had a reservation or not (we did). Ended up waiting about 15-20 minutes to get on a shuttle that was totally full, but it could have been a longer wait. At the cruise terminal, we stood in line about 20 minutes to get signed in and then headed to the Lido for lunch. We had been told our cabin (4101) wouldn't be ready until about 1-1:30. It was indeed ready then, very neatly made up and clean. It is supposed to be a "larger" cabin, but was smaller then I expected, though when I saw a "standard" size cabin later, ours was bigger. We had great staff taking care of our room, only had to ask for something to get it. I love getting fresh towels 3 times a day. Food in the Lido was ok, though I admit I loved the soft serve ice cream at lunch. Trying to find a seat was a pain most days and for anyone paying extra to eat in the Italian restaurant, be warned it is only part of the Lido dressed up with linen napkins, glassware and waiters. Dinner in the Vista dining room was inconsistent in quality, tho never bad. One night filet mignon was wonderful, two days later it was just so-so. A lot of confusion sitting people, I'm not sure why. Also, I know I'm not continental, but I think 1 1/2 - 2 hours every night for dinner is a bit much, especially when some of the dishes brought out were wrong. Entertainment wasn't bad, definitely not professional quality, but the shows were bright and lively and I don't think Las Vegas quality on a ship should be expected. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Recycled Percussion, which is a LV show, that was performing one night. Casino was adequate, but I had never gambled on a cruise before and found it a slightly confusing system at first to play the slots. One of my biggest complaints, and looking back it really isn't that big of a deal, but there was never anything but luke-warm water in the bathroom after 7 at night. I don't know if it was just our deck or everywhere, but I found it very annoying not to have my hot shower in the evening. Mornings and afternoons were always ok. Getting off the ship for shore excursions was awful. Everyone crammed their way into the disembarking area. There was no organization at all, if you had an early excursion, you had just better get there at least 30-45 minutes early or you wouldn't make it off on time. Holland America REALLY needs to work on this problem, it was extremely irritating and quite possibly hazardous having so many people stuffed into a small area. I felt very sorry for the people in wheelchairs who were completely surrounded by people. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our cruise was lovely. Our cabin steward was wonderful as well as all the staff we came in contact with. The food was lacking both in the main dining room and the lido deck. The main dining room food was cool when it arrived at our table. ... Read More
Our cruise was lovely. Our cabin steward was wonderful as well as all the staff we came in contact with. The food was lacking both in the main dining room and the lido deck. The main dining room food was cool when it arrived at our table. My braised beef tasted like it has been soaked in laundry water. The lido deck food had great flavor but they put condiments.. on EVERYTHING. Why not have condiments on the side. Not everyone enjoys.. fancy mayonnaise or the various dressings available. I spent a lot time scraping ranch and mayonnaise off my food(even after requesting some without) Our normal time is 6 hours different from Alaska time restaurant schedules were not accommodating to our difficulty adjusting (we kept some snacks in our cabin to take with meds). Breakfast was much later than we would have liked. There was no power outlet near the bed for a CPAP machine. Very inconvenient to run and extension cord across the room( why have cruise lines not listened to the millions of CPAP users!) The entertainment was great.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My wife and I enjoyed seeing Alaska again and experiencing the Holland America approach, the first 2 visits were on Celebrity. Overall the ship is easy to get around on and quite pretty in a simple but elegant style. The food was very ... Read More
My wife and I enjoyed seeing Alaska again and experiencing the Holland America approach, the first 2 visits were on Celebrity. Overall the ship is easy to get around on and quite pretty in a simple but elegant style. The food was very good, even at the buffet, which was a pleasant surprise. Lately cruise food seems to have declined in general...but Westerdam excelled in the dining room pretty much every night. Room service was hit or miss and somewhat disappointing, but still edible. The bars served up good drinks and at fair prices. Nice ! I must commend all the staff that we met, they were very polite, professional and really tried to assist in the best way that they could. An example was how they handled our stateroom problem. We booked cabin #4179, a balcony on the back of the ship overlooking the wake. It is larger than normal and has a large, but open roofed balcony....not good if it rains. Our problem, and we were not alone, was a lack of hot water. Several days went by with luke warm water at best. Many other rooms also had the same issue. The ship's staff genuinely tried to fix it and showed true concern for our discomfort. When it was fixed, day 5, they still called to check on us daily. Nice to know we were not ignored. The shows onboard were some of the best we have seen...great vocalists, band, and WOW were the sets amazing. So glad we went. In summary, Alaska is a grand destination and Westerdam is a good way to go. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Recently returned from our Alaska vacation on the Westerdam. I didn't really know what to expect having never been on a cruise before. The service was excellent. Everyone was so friendly. Saying hello, good morning. That was really a ... Read More
Recently returned from our Alaska vacation on the Westerdam. I didn't really know what to expect having never been on a cruise before. The service was excellent. Everyone was so friendly. Saying hello, good morning. That was really a nice touch. I was kind of afraid I might get sea sick. All I needed was some sea bands on my wrists. Never had to break out any of the meds. The ship really was pretty stable. The ship is in pretty good shape for 10 years old. Things are a little worn but not much. Our favorite thing to do on ship was to go up to te observation (explorer's lounge) after dinner and get a coffee and sit in those supper comfortable chairs and look out over the bow. Great view from there. Nice music in the background and the decor of an upscale library. Very relaxing. Another fun thing to do is grab a chair by the pool and enjoy a drink while all the folks spash around in the pool and play ping pong. That's always enteraining. Meal time was a treat. Service was great. We bought wine with dinner and what we didn't finish the first night they held over for us the next night. $32 a bottle wasn't bad. I liked everything I tried on the menu. Presentation of the meal was top notch. The only thing that I could think to compain about might be the long line to register but with so many people getting on board I don't know how they would do it any differently. We done Holland! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
THE GOOD. We chose to use HAL's Flightease and will use it again. Flightease books your flight(s), transfers, and hotel stays. There are HAL personnel at every turn to make sure you are taken good care of. I highly recommend ... Read More
THE GOOD. We chose to use HAL's Flightease and will use it again. Flightease books your flight(s), transfers, and hotel stays. There are HAL personnel at every turn to make sure you are taken good care of. I highly recommend Flightease. As we made our way from South Texas towards Seattle, our connection at DFW made us check our carry-ons right at the gate. No time to pull jewelry, cameras, shaving kits, cosmetic bags or anything else. "You can pick them up at baggage claim in Seattle." RIGHT! You guessed it. Our luggage made it fine but no carry-ons. The HAL folks on station in SEA-TAC went right to work to get Alaska Airlines and American Airlines busy finding our bags. The HAL folks at our hotel keep up the pressure and the concierge in the Neptune Lounge on board the Westerdam picked up the baton and continued to work for us - and 30 minutes before the ship sailed, our carry-ons arrived. Yes, I will continue to use Flightease! THE GOOD. Embarkation went really fast because we booked a Neptune Suite #7085 and a perk is that we were put in a line to check in that was empty while the standard line was quite long. It moved quickly however. As we boarded the ship, we were taken to our already prepared room on a service elevator thereby missing the lines waiting for the regular elevators. This is the first time we have ever had a suite and immensely enjoyed the perks! Particularly the Neptune Lounge and the breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill [reserved for suite guest only]. No brag, just fact. THE GOOD. The ship had just come from a refit a month before. It was clean and sharp. She looked good. Yes, you can tell that she isn't a new ship, but she is in fine shape. I have nothing negative to say about the Westerdam. All the crew smiled, were friendly, and as helpful as they could be considering that many of them had just started after the refit. The passengers that were on board were mostly older and a mix of nationalities. There were some children but not many and the ones I did notice were well behaved. THE GOOD AND THE BAD. The food was a mix. Almost everything I ordered came well prepared and tasty, but I'm easy to please. Room service came when we asked for it to be delivered such as when we had an early excursion. Lido was always crowded and we only found someone serving ice cream one time. For a buffet, the Lido is good, but finding a place to sit was a challenge. The MDR was above par. We like "anytime dinning" and especially like to share a table and meet new people. Not every dish was great, not every menu had lots of items I was interest in, but on the whole - very satisfactory. HOWEVER, the Pinnacle Grill at one breakfast didn't bring my DW her meal until the rest of our party had nearly finished our plates! Totally unacceptable. I get better service than that at Dairy Queen. We also chose to dine at "An Evening at Le Cirque" [booked before we sailed]. The meal was quite good until the Chateaubriand, which was overdone. It was still good but the meal wasn't worth the extra fare. The steak in the MDR was ever bit as tasty. As a side note, on the Zuiderdam we went to Le Cirque and had probably the finest meal I have ever had at sea!!! THE BLAND. There were several evenings where the HAL's entertainers put on a show. They worked hard and showed lots of talent, but the performance wasn't finely tuned. However, give them kudos for on the night with the storm and the bow bouncing in the seas, they trooped on. May have been their best performance. There was a percussion group called Recycled Percussion that played one night. They worked hard but didn't wow me. THE UGLY. The weather on the way from Ketchikan to Victoria had apparent winds of 75 knots. Now HAL can't control the weather, but the upside was that the ship handled it very well. CONCLUSION. I do wish that we had more time in each port, but we didn't go to Alaska to visit ports. We went for the scenery which was terrific. GOOD. Disembarkation seemed to me to be a bit disorganized, but that was my fault. It did start a few minutes late, but when it started - it went really well. Again, Flightease was on the job! There is a program on HAL ships at Seattle where for a minimum fee they take your bags from your room, check them all the way to you destination for you, and even check you in with your airline thereby providing you a boarding pass before you even leave the ship. One nice thing is that you don't have to worry about a bag being overweight. No extra charge for an overweight bag! One of our bags weighed 71 lbs. and we were not charged an overage fee. Do not disembark without taking advantage of this program. I hope your next voyage on Holland America Lines is as wonderful as the ones we have had.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
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