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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
I have just returned from my 25th cruise. This one, however, was our first visit to Alaska and our first time aboard Holland America. We traveled with other family members, 14 total, ranging from 74 years old to 15 months old. We started ... Read More
I have just returned from my 25th cruise. This one, however, was our first visit to Alaska and our first time aboard Holland America. We traveled with other family members, 14 total, ranging from 74 years old to 15 months old. We started planning this cruise back in 2010, but the plans had to be placed on hold because of my father's health issues, followed by two new babies in the family. But after a lot of planning, we finally picked a ship and a date. Several family members would be first time cruisers, one who visualized cruising as a worse experience than medieval torture. Would this cruise change his mind? We'd soon find out. My most recent cruises had been on the 225,000 ton Allure of the Seas and the 130,000 ton Carnival Dream, so I will start by saying that I was a bit skeptical about sailing aboard the comparatively small 82,000 ton Westerdam.I learned VERY quickly that a cruise to Alaska would be mostly about the destination and not so much about the ship.PRE CRUISE:We flew to Seattle the day before the cruise on Souhwest Airlines. This was our 1st time flying on them and while their fares are great and the free bags are a nice perk, this airline is not for me. The flight was late, the whole cattle boarding with no seat assignment is not how I want to start my vacation, with people trampling each other and throwing bags to secure a seat. To top it all, they lost one of our checked bags (the BIG one, with most of our clothes). Just for the record, we are back home and the bag is still missing. How an airline looses a bag indefinitely, flying nonstop between two cities, is beyond me. Instead of exploring Seattle, we spent the morning of the cruise shopping for 7 days worth of clothes for the whole family. The good news is that we did our best to laugh it off and tried to forget about it (at least until we got home). By the way, gym pants and a dinner jacket can look good on a 3 year old on formal night!We stayed at the Westin downtown, which proved to be an ideal location for our shopping marathon as well as the bit of sightseeing we were able to squeeze in.THE SHIP:As mentioned before, I was a bit skeptical about sailing on the Westerdam. But I must admit that, as I got to know my way around, I warmed up to her and truly enjoyed sailing aboard this ship.Built in 2004, she's not brand new, but she's definitely not an old gal. She does feel just a bit tired in some places though (nothing major, just little cosmetic issues that can easily be fixed wit new carpeting or wall covers). There were some areas which I absolutely loved, and spent a generous amount of time in:- Crow's Nest and Explorations Lounge: easily the best spot on the entire ship. Tastefully decorated, wonderful views, and great ambiance.- Greenhouse Spa: We signed up for the Spa Retreat week pass which gave us access to the Thermal Suite and the Hydro pool. A little slice of Heaven, specially after a long day of sightseeing.- The Pinnacle Grill: We have enjoyed alternative dining on other cruise lines, and the Pinnacle Grill did not disappoint. The cuisine was great, the service polished, and we enjoyed having the option to eat here for lunch as well as dinner.- Lido Pool: Nice layout. The glass roof was perfect for Alaska cruising, and since we were blessed with beautiful clear skies, the roof was retracted a few times. There's something to be said about taking a dip in a hot tub while enjoying the amazing Alaska scenery!I didn't love everything about the Westerdam though. The decor is truly not to my taste and I found it to be a bit inconsistent. One moment I'd find myself walking by an elegant and tasteful venue or by a fine piece of art, only to be met by the most hideous and tacky decor at another. Some may say that some areas of the ship are "cozy". I'd call them dark and gloomy.Please do note that even though the decor was not to my liking, it truly didn't affect our enjoyment of an otherwise absolutely wonderful cruise.THE STATEROOM:We had initially booked an oceanview stateroom on the Main Deck (1) but just a few days before the cruise, prices dropped and we upgraded to a balcony stateroom on Verandah Deck (5) for free, plus we received $150 onboard credit! The stateroom was wonderful, the bed very comfortable, and we were very glad about having a balcony. Although we found ourselves out on deck for "serious" scenery watching, it was nice to have a balcony where to sit and enjoy some fresh air. The DVD player was a nice and useful touch, specially for people like us with small children and an arsenal of DVD's for kids.The other family members traveling with us booked cabins ranging from Oceanview Staterooms to Signature Suites. All were very happy with their accommodations.THE FOOD:- Lido Restaurant: We ate at the Lido more than we would've liked because we were traveling with small children. the selections were varied and tasteful, but I had an issue with cleanliness (more on that below).- The Vista Dining Room: Very nice (on the few nights we did make it there). One word of caution for families: waiters don't seem to be as used to small children as on other cruise lines, so service is more "adult" and less "family friendly".- Pinnacle Grill: I already mentioned it before, but I'll do it again. This venue is a definite highlight on this ship. My wife and I left our kids with the grandparents while we went to eat there and enjoyed every minute of it. Well worth the upcharge.- Room Service: Nice selection. Definitely wider than on other cruise lines we've taken. It was nice to enjoy a full breakfast in cabin instead of just a continental breakfast. The only thing that was amusing (and a bit annoying at the same time) was the fact that they kept delivering burnt toast. We kept ordering it hoping that the next day they'd get it right but they never did. No biggie. As I said, more amusing than anything else. The use of china instead of hard plastic plates like on other cruise lines we've sailed on was a welcome touch. FELLOW CRUISERS: One of the things that I had read extensively about Holland America was that they cater heavily to a well traveled, older, more affluent, and polished clientele.I will assume that, because this was a 7 night itinerary during the summer departing from a US port, the demographics were different. While there were many fellow cruisers that did fit the description that I had read, there were also many younger cruisers, several families, first timers, etc. Basically, there was a bit of everything, very similar to what we've experienced on more budget conscious cruise lines. Ironically, I had read on the Holland America board that I would never see people walking around the ship in their bathrobes. Well, I think that not everybody received that memo because I saw several throughout the week. It didn't bother me. I just found it a bit entertaining.KIDS PROGRAM:There were many families with kids on our cruise and Club HAL and The Loft are the programs geared towards them. While our kids only attended a few times (we chose to let them play with their older cousins instead), the staff was wonderful and the activities were plentiful. The actual facilities pale in comparison to more "family friendly" cruise lines, but at least they are offered. ITINERARY:We choose this itinerary specifically because it sailed from Seattle, on a Saturday, and visited Glacier Bay. The convenience of sailing roundtrip from Seattle was priceless. The main drawback though was that we sailed along the west side of Vancouver Island (instead of the inside passage) so we didn't start enjoying the scenery until day 3 going into Juneau. Not only was it less scenic, but the seas were very rough on the first night. Thankfully, after that, we were blessed with blue skies and calm seas. -Juneau: Unfortunately, I got sick this day (more on that later) so I didn't get off the ship. But my wife and kids took the Glacier Express to Mendenhall Glacier and had a nice time, although they said they were packed like sardines on the bus. So a different method of transportation may be a better option even if its more expensive.Other family members did the helicopter / dog sledding tour and they said that it was the most amazing experience of their lives and well worth the price. -Glacier Bay: First of all, we were blessed with amazingly clear blue skies and temperatures hovering in the 60's. Arriving in Glacier Bay and seeing the beauty of this place with my own eyes was the moment when I realized that the last 3 years of planning, and all the bumps along the way, had been completely worth it. Pictures and videos will NEVER recreate what your senses feel in this place. Pulling up to Margerie Glacier, and enjoying the views, breathing the pure air, listening to the sound of glaciers calving, and feeling the crisp breeze, was an absolutely wonderful experience. -Sitka: A little hidden gem on another beautiful clear day. Originally, I had been a bit bummed out because I wanted to visit Skagway and do the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, but this itinerary visited Sitka instead. Now I'm glad I had a chance to see this place. We were tendered ashore on the ship's own lifeboats. Sitka is (thankfully) not as developed for cruise ship passengers as many other Alaskan destinations (they only receive an average of 1 ship twice a week). It doesn't have a cruise ship dock and you are not greeted by chain stores like Diamonds International or fancy Welcome Centers. Instead, there's a sign that says "Welcome to Sitka" next to a visitors booth. We opted to walk along the waterfront to the Sitka National Park, cut through the forest, and visit the Alaska Raptor Center where we got to see up close many rescued eagles as well as other birds. On our way back, we walked along Lincoln Street through the downtown area, visited St. Michael's Cathedral, and browsed the shops before going back to the ship. Other family members did a Kayaking tour and loved it. -Ketchikan: The only time during the week where the skies were overcast and chilly. Since we had small children in the group, we opted for the Ketchikan Duck Tour. Very cheesy but very informative. We started the tour asking ourselves what we had gotten ourselves into, but finished laughing along with the other passengers. It was nice to get a perspective from both land and sea. After the tour was over, we walked to Creek Street and browsed the stores. If I have to pick a least favorite port of call in this itinerary, Ketchikan would be it. With 4 cruise ships in port at the same time, it felt a bit too crowded (like Nassau or Cozumel on a busy day). Don't get me wrong, I'd go back in a heartbeat since we had a great time. We just liked the other ports more. -Victoria: Back to clear, beautiful days. What we originally thought would be a technical stop to fulfill law requirements turned out to be one of our favorite ports of call. The ship arrived at 6:00pm and we had to be back onboard by 11:15pm so time was very limited. We took a taxi and were dropped off near the Parliament. From there we walked to the Fairmont Empress hotel. We took one of the side streets and had dinner at Nautical Nellie's before returning to the ship. Victoria is one of those cities that makes you want to return for a longer stay. We used our balcony one final time to watch the ship sail away from Victoria while, making a mental note to come back some day. And just like that, 7 days of one of the most amazing cruises I've ever taken were over. We arrived back in Seattle under blue skies and 77 degrees.Debarkation was an absolute breeze. The silent method was extremely efficient and we were in our taxi to the hotel in minutes. We enjoyed one more day in Seattle (visiting the Space Needle and Chihully Gardens) before catching a 6:00am flight back to Atlanta the next day. Just for the record, the return flight went smoothly and no bags were lost. Yay!SUMMARY:Would I do an Alaska cruise again? ABSOLUTELY, 100% yes! If I didn't use the word wonderful enough times, I'll use it one more time. It was a wonderful and truly amazing experience! I'm thinking that next time, we'll opt for a one way from Vancouver, spend a few days doing Denali, and enjoy all the great tours (like the helicopter, dog sledding, floatplane, etc) that we didn't get to do this time because we were traveling with small children. But the purpose of this trip was to get the family together so I couldn't just leave the kids behind. Next time may be a completely different story. Will I ever cruise Holland America again? For the right itinerary, absolutely (and looking at the brochure that we picked up onboard, there are plenty of itineraries worldwide that I would be very interested in). But I don't think they'd be my cruise line of choice for a vacation where the destination is not the main focus. While part of me craves a more traditional cruise experience like what we enjoyed on Holland, I'm very interested in newer, larger, and more innovative ships just for the mere fact that they may be a better option at this stage of my life (raising a young family). Was there anything that I did NOT enjoy about this cruise? Mostly minor things not even worth mentioning (or already mentioned). But there's ONE thing that wasn't so minor. On the morning we were scheduled to arrive in Juneau, I became violently ill with constant vomiting and diarrhea. I found out that my niece had also woken up with similar symptoms, so needless to say, the first thing that crossed my mind was a Norovirus outbreak. Thankfully, we were traveling with 3 doctors in our family who brought an arsenal of medicines with them, diagnosed us, and brought us back to health by the afternoon. Our symptoms and length of illness pointed to food poisoning. Upon comparing what my niece and I had to eat the day before, we pinpointed the source of our illness to one thing: PIZZAObviously, after this experience, I became hyper vigilant of anything that I ate the rest of the week, avoiding items that were at a higher risk of spoiling or cross contamination. And I also became more aware of how food was being handled. And that's when I noticed some food workers, wearing gloves, but touching surfaces, taking trash out and then handling the food. I watched as one worker put too much rice on someone's plate and then grabbed the excess rice with her hands and dumped it back in the original container. I lost my appetite fast and walked away. I also walked by the pizza station and noticed slices of pizza sitting under the heat lamp and made me wonder if someone else would also get sick. Amazing the things you notice after you get food poisoning! I did report what happened and included it in my guest survey. So, taking the lost bag and the food poisoning incident out of the equation, we had an amazing vacation and I would do it again in a heartbeat. This is one cruise that everybody, cruise enthusiast or not, should experience.Which brings me to my brother in law who considered cruising to be comparable to medieval torture before this vacation. Initially, he tried to focus on the negatives but by the time we got to Juneau and he hopped on the glacier helicopter tour, he became a believer. I don't think he'll become a cruise enthusiast like I am, but he enjoyed the experience tremendously and might even consider taking another cruise some day (gasp!) Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
On the morning of our cruise, we ate breakfast and called a limo service for the trip to Pier 91. I had read about the service on cruisecritic and it cost us $80 one way. We are 2 couples traveling together in separate staterooms. We ... Read More
On the morning of our cruise, we ate breakfast and called a limo service for the trip to Pier 91. I had read about the service on cruisecritic and it cost us $80 one way. We are 2 couples traveling together in separate staterooms. We needed a larger van etc for the extra luggage. On the flip side going back to the airport upon return, we were able to secure a van at the pier for only $40 (with a $10 tip). Upon our arrival at the pier, we stepped out of the van at about 10:30 am and was met with a guy with a cart. He put our luggage on the cart and we swiftly went through check-in. We had about a 15 minute wait for our number to be called to head to the ship (we were group #5). We went straight to our rooms which were adjoined with balconies. Our luggage hadn't arrived, but that was ok. We also took our own water and cokes onboard. I would suggest that if you plan to try to sneak any alcohol on board, it wasn't worth it for us.... (we bought liquor, cokes, bottled tea, water and alcohol and it cost $140 in Seattle. Generally during happy hour, you can get 2 drinks for a total of either $7.20 aprox, or $9.15--buy one get one for 99cents... and I won't discuss my 'method') We went to the Lido Deck to have lunch. We had a very nice cruise and some of the highlights or tips that I would pass on are: Crow's Nest/Library on Deck 10 for looking out forward, and happy hour at 4pm there as well. We enjoyed the food onboard, and the only qualm I have with HAL are the small glasses for tea... altho they did occasionally have the larger glasses mixed in. And above all, look for Septi in the Lido dining area serving coffee water and tea, she is absolutely the sweetest! Alaska was warm, and we are hearing this week that it is even warmer. When we went to Mendenhall glacier, we were sweating even tho we hauled jackets with us. We had clear skies, so if no fronts are moving in and it is warm, you shouldn't need jackets. People were swimming in the water coming off of the Nugget Falls at the Mendenhall Glacier. Wear comfortable shoes for the mile or so round trip walk. We arranged our own excursions etc. once in port. We weren't quite sure what we would do in Victoria BC, but once off the ship (tip:get off after the crowds), we were able to get a reasonable price on a tour by one of the waiting vans/limo's. You can also walk to the waterfront as well, but we went to the Gov't House and saw the garden, altho, if I didn't do that, I would suggest going to the Gardens that were mentioned in the excursion's ... can't remember the name at the moment. Nightlife on the ship could be a little slow, but we were generally tired at night, so it didn't matter to me. I enjoyed the shows in the Vista Lounge. I loved Alaska, and I hear a lot of people say they want to go back, and I am not sure whether I will go back, but being a FL girl, I have spent time skiing in the Rockies and seeing 14K foot mountains, and I remember the awe I had when I first seen them, and it draws you back, and I can see why people have to return. Seattle was nice and we regret not allowing more time for our trip to the Air and Space Museum. We did go to Pike's Market on the waterfront and after a few hours, I was ready to get out of there. It was so crowded. The trip was very educational, and we were told that only 5% of glaciers are healthy and still growing. That is why I wanted to make this trip to Alaska sooner than later. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
This was a wonderful cruise for all of us. There was plenty for everyone to do and a lot of time to relax for the more mature members of our party. The veranda was so nice. We saw loads of wildlife from our balcony (including a swimming ... Read More
This was a wonderful cruise for all of us. There was plenty for everyone to do and a lot of time to relax for the more mature members of our party. The veranda was so nice. We saw loads of wildlife from our balcony (including a swimming bear!!!). If at all possible, you will want to splurge on this luxury. Embarkation- This was the best we had ever experienced! There was NO line. We arrived later than I had planned (1pm) due to a marathon that closed down the freeway and delayed many passengers. We ended up sailing about an hour later then planned. I was happy that HAL made that call. We were able to go straight to our room. We had missed the Mariners luncheon so I was worried that the Lido would be a mess but was pleasantly surprised when I found that the line was not huge but instead manageable. Rooms- 7090,7092 and 7094 VA The rooms were a little small. We were glad that we chose to book separate rooms for the kids now that they are 15 and 20.These rooms were located by the elevator. If you are a light sleeper don't book these rooms, otherwise the location is great and the noise didn't bother me. The stairs are right outside these rooms to so it is convenient to get to everything. The veranda doors were opened right away so the kids and grandma could traverse to any of the three rooms at any time. The bathrooms had a tub, but otherwise were standard. Food- We enjoyed our dinning experience thoroughly! We did try to book Pinnacle a couple of times throughout the cruise but they were all booked for a party of 6. If you are a large party, book before you go or forget it. The MDR did a great job. We ate there every night and alternated between the MDR, Lido and room service for breakfast and lunch. We did the anytime dining option. I will do that from now on. We eat early (just after 5) so when we arrived I gave all three room numbers, asked for a window seat and got one almost every night. I have never had such a great matradee experience. We tipped him extra at the end of the cruise. My favorite thing was the steak and the brie in phyllo dough. My least favorite? The crab and corn chowder. Really, there was no flavor at all. But all in all, the food was good. Expect Salmon and Baked Alaska to be offered every night. Loved it! Also, my daughter is a vegetarian and while all of the cruise lines have plenty of food to offer, if the staff noticed she wasn't eating her standard "veggie loaf" or pasta they always came over to ask her if they could bring he something different. That was the first time that has happened to her. She felt very special. Entertainment- It was fine, not great but they did bring in a Magician that was good and one of the comics was good. The regular singers and dancers were fine. Nothing compares to Disney for Entertainment so I try to keep my expectations down. All in all we had fun at the shows. Dancing with the Stars was a ton of fun and the lady that won on our ship was a former Olympian! Teen program- This was a REAL disappointment! After our last HAL cruise my daughter practically demanded that we take another one because the kids program was so good. This time she and my niece went to the first meeting and would not go back. It took me all week to finally get an answer out of them as to why. Apparently there is a game that they play called "Two Truths and One Lie." where you are supposed to tell two truths and one lie about yourself and the teens are supposed to figure out which one is the lie. Without going into nauseating detail, suffice it to say that both of the girls were embarrassed to the point where they wouldn't return to the program. (I didn't find out until Friday evening as I'm filling out the survey)I'm thinking maybe a little more training as to what you can say to teen age girls may be required by HAL. I put this on the comment card and moved on. The girls were old enough to participate in most of the adult activities onboard and they had fun so no big deal. Service- In one word GREAT! We loved the service and will definitely sail with HAL again. Ports- All of the ports were amazing. We rented a van in Juneau and saw Mendehal Glacier, in Sitka we went to Fortress of the Bear, in Ketchikan we went to Saxman village and Glacier Bay was crazy gorgeous!!! Victoria was nice too. We did the City sights and Castle tour. Everything was good for all age groups. Note that if you rent a car in Juneau and plan to walk to the rental location it is fine unless you have to tender in. The walk is too far for a 70 year old unless you manage to dock, then it should be fine. We look forward to sailing with HAL again in the future! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
Our Alaskan cruise was the most wonderful cruise we have taken. Maybe part of it was because the "upgrade fairy" visited us and we sailed in a cabin category called "Neptune Suites". Believe me, it makes one feel just ... Read More
Our Alaskan cruise was the most wonderful cruise we have taken. Maybe part of it was because the "upgrade fairy" visited us and we sailed in a cabin category called "Neptune Suites". Believe me, it makes one feel just like royalty. Arrived in Seattle two days early, stayed at Paramount Hotel (I would heartily endorse it to anyone).Spennt timrr in Seattle sightseeing. Amazing "hilly" city. Cab to pier Sat. morn @$10.00. very easy embarkation. had a quick bite in the Lido (jammed with people) and then onto inspect our cabin. Bags already in the cabin. Thrilled with everything. had closets we never used, drawers that we never used....separate shower and tub...and double lavatories. A deck to die for. Our first port was Juneau...I completely overdressed...thermal toop, plus a sweat suit. (I had been told to dress in layers).. temp reached 83degrees while sightseeing. (Thought I was going to die, ha ha). Juneau a bustling place...lots of shops. Had a beer in Th Red Dog Saloon. Rode the tramway and saw eagles, etc. Glacier Bay is a once in a life time experience. I was awe struck. wHALES WERE AMAZING. Our next two ports, Sitka and katchakan were very short stops. Wished for more time at these two ports. Victoria at 6:30PM was a disappointment, although we knew ahead of time that was the schedule. Just no time to see Buchart Gardens in our estimation. Had to get bags packed for our 6AM departure the net morn. My memories are of a lovely trip, wonderful accommodations, all food was good., and menu varied.a crew that spoiled us in every way. , a ship and entertainment that we found suited our tastes perfectly. We hope to cruise Holland American again. Thanks for the "sail". Mary Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
Check in was very quick. The thing to do is arrive early ( 10:30 and noon ). Have your paperwork ready, meaning passport and boarding boarding pass. Passengers are asked to fill out a health . At the sign in desk sign for credit card use ... Read More
Check in was very quick. The thing to do is arrive early ( 10:30 and noon ). Have your paperwork ready, meaning passport and boarding boarding pass. Passengers are asked to fill out a health . At the sign in desk sign for credit card use and receive your pass key. They wil l take ID picture for pass key. As you proceed to the ship the picture crew starts taking pictures which can be purchased during crews. Speaking of buying things, if one drinks a lot of cola products of fancy coffees, one might consider a drink card or coffee card. Either allows many drinks at a reduced price. One must be a drinker for it to pay for itself. When one gets onboard find the stateroom, go to the Lido Deck and start the feeding frenzy, and tour the ship ( on ones own or guided tour ). Between 3:30 and 5pm the ship holds a lifeboat drill. On this ship they did not require life vests , because of trip hazards with loose vest ties. Dinner , first seating starts at 5:30. The ship also has open seating meaning one can make arrangements to eat at ones own time. First night show was "meet the talent". On this crews talent seemed to be good. Casino was open for " investments". After the show there were many venues for enjoyment. Breakfast starts at 6:30 on Lido deck or dinning room later. Eating in stateroom can be arranged . Have a tip for the steward. When finished your room steward will pick up dishes when they straighten the room. A help for steward, when your leave he room put "service room" sign in door key slot. Check the daily planner for ship's activities. Ship excursion talk might be a good choice . Casino seems to be open all day at sea. (Not very friendly slots.) Sunday morning church services are nondenominational . The minister said that Holland America is one of the only lines that still has clergy on board. Most ships have the cruise director or his rep as service leader. (Several services held during the week.) Entering Juneau passes along snow topped mountains. Several pods of whales were spotted. The temp hovered in 50's. Mid day expected low 70's. (Note: the observation lounge chairs are very low. Hard to see out the windows. Balcony staterooms might be better or open deck seating.) A day in Juneau, the ship tendered so boats moved in and out about every 15 minutes. Down town is one tourist shop after another. Shop, compare and find the bargains. ( Example: looked at ball caps on ship, $16, bought the same thing for $2 on shore.) Excursions if not from the ship could be gotten on shore. Same ones but not the guarantee that the ship would be wanting for your return. Glacier Bay is the highlight of cruise. Picking up Park Service Guides early in the morning, 6:30am and slowly moving through the ice fields to John Hopkins Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier . Ship rotated for an hour so all could see fro their balconies. Fantastic day at the glaciers. Sitka day was a tender day, boats ferried passengers ashore. About a 15 minute trip one way. Beautiful town with Russian influence . Not a heavily visited port, cruise lines are limited on visits. It's a real treasure to be scheduled. The otter tour saw lots of sea otters. Mothers caring for babied and the males off sunning themselves. Ketchikan is the last Alaskan port on the tour. Several good excursions. Float plane to a glacier lake was fun. The city has a walking tour and a 45 minute trail tour through a rainforest. Both have maps in the tour center on the pier. Lunch on ship was a smoked salmon meal. It was cooked near the center pool. A real treat! Last full day of the cruise got us to Victoria, BC. On the way he ship had its second salmon and chicken picnic around the center pool. The ship stayed in Victoria for 5 hour before heading to Seattle. Seven thirty Saturday morning began the disembarkation process. Luggage. Was taken down to the lower levels the night before and reunited with it in the terminal . With luggage in tow you pass through customs and out to find transportation to the airport or hotel. In summary I found a good friendly staff; They were helpful . The food well cooked and very good . I am sorry those few reviewers had such a bad time! There were 10 of us in our group and ALL enjoyed their cruise. Happy Cruising!   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Background: We have never cruised with HAL, but had been on 2 Princess, 2 Carnival and 1 RC. We are 40 something's on a cruise with some good friends. We had been to Alaska before, back in 1997 on Princess. We flew in the day ... Read More
Background: We have never cruised with HAL, but had been on 2 Princess, 2 Carnival and 1 RC. We are 40 something's on a cruise with some good friends. We had been to Alaska before, back in 1997 on Princess. We flew in the day before, stayed at one of the hotels near the port and took their shuttle to the pier on day of departure. We were traveling together as 2 couples. We picked up my husbands scooter at the terminal. They had it ready for him. This was the first time it was not delivered to the cruise ship stateroom. As we proceeded through to embark, hubby and I were able to breeze through, but our friends had to go through as usual. I do not remember an embarkation taking so long as this one. We waited for them to get through the line and I believe we waited close to 2 hours. The line curved on forever. They did not have enough help to check people in. This was literally the worst thing on the entire cruise. Once they got through, we boarded and let the fun begin. Services: I enjoy going to the spa when on a cruise and this time was no exception. I really enjoyed the massage. I went on a port day and had no trouble getting into the time slot I wanted. The pool was very nice. Sat by that and caught some rays. A waiter was readily available should I need anything. Art Auction: My husband and I like going to the art auctions, but for some reason, this gallery and staff turned us off. One of the male auctioneers gave me the impression that he was too busy to stop and talk with me. Too bad for him, as we have purchased art before from other cruises. It is usually our reminder of the cruise and the good time we had. Instead, this trip I bought a Phillip Stein watch. Food: We ate in the main dining room at the anytime dining. We really enjoy that. 5 of the 7 nights we ate with our friends at a table for four. Food was excellent. In fact this is the best food we have had in a long time on a cruise. Only draw back was they kept seating us way in the back when my husband had his scooter. It was OK when we would go in because tables were empty going back, but when we would come out, the restaurant was packed and people had to get up and move their chairs in so he could get by. We suggested they seat us up front, but they always said no no no, it is no problem. We just nodded and said OK. Activities: Went to the Newlywed game- it was a blast. We haven't laughed that much in a long time. It was fun because the crowd was really into it also. We spent time up in the Crow's nest Lounge. We would play cards up there, have some cocktails and play trivia. Always a great way to spend a day at sea - great views!! Casino: Very nice Casino! Not too smoky. Huibby had a good time playing blackjack and even won a little. Casino staff very helpful. We enjoyed the slot tournaments they had. Disembarkation; Went very smooth. Much better than getting on. Little wait time. We were sad to be getting off. Wanted to stay another 7 days! Summary: We went to Alaska before with Princess Cruises in 1997. It was a different time and cruising was different. Food quality was so much better and this was our very first cruise and I think you always remember your first cruise. Having said that, I feel HAL was an excellent cruse to Alaska and I think the ports have improved since we were there. For seeing glaciers and the scenic shoreline, HAL was better! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
I took advice from other HAL and Oosterdam reviews with a "grain of salt". Our loss. Our experience of one week, has left us vowing to never cruise on anything related to HAL or CCL again. They have cut the food budgets so badly ... Read More
I took advice from other HAL and Oosterdam reviews with a "grain of salt". Our loss. Our experience of one week, has left us vowing to never cruise on anything related to HAL or CCL again. They have cut the food budgets so badly that the Alfredo Sauce, for instance, is only flour and water. That is only a tiny example of a much bigger problem. We are not "Foodies" but what we found available after the morning meal was just awful. Only fifteen minutes into the 3-hour dinner window, they were out of some of the items posted on the menu. The staff said you have to get there sooner if you want the posted items. Sooner?? We found our way to a back-deck grill that was cooking excellent cheeseburgers and fries and that became our fall-back meal several times. The room was another failure. There are two 14 inch in diameter and three five inch diameter cut-outs in the floor covered by carpet at the foot of the bed. They are about an inch deep and make getting around the room very difficult especially if the seas are rough. The rest of the open floor area seemed to be buckled up and was just terrible. The front office said boat was full and they were sorry we didn't like the room but there was nothing to be done for it. This should be a broom closet not a stateroom. The banging of the movable panels from the wind on the balcony were so bad that I jammed folded paper between them to stop the banging at night. There was no fix for the howling of the wind on the balcony glass door, however. The room attendants and most of the staff were very courteous and helpful but I have a problem when the crew, on a limited-time meal break, are dropped in the middle of cruisers who are in no hurry. Both sides get annoyed. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
I had read several reviews about cruising Holland America as well as the ship Oosterdam, I do not know what ship they were sailing on, but it could not have been the same. On a positive note, the crew were very friendly, always smiling, ... Read More
I had read several reviews about cruising Holland America as well as the ship Oosterdam, I do not know what ship they were sailing on, but it could not have been the same. On a positive note, the crew were very friendly, always smiling, and so helpful. Sometimes the language barrier was a little frustrating, but I would not trade that in as the crew was wonderful. That being said, lets start with the ship. It seems to be older, basically clean as long as you stay out of the casino, but there was not much to do unless you want to pay a couple thousand dollars just to get on the ship and spend several hundred more on shopping and activities. Everything seemed to cost. Internet usage was expensive, deoderant(my husband forgot his) was almost $8, every turn someone was trying to sell low quality wine at a price that would suggest robbery. I was excited about the movies, but there is only room for maybe 30 people-keeping in mind the ship holds around 2,000! And help you if you are caught saving a seat for your spouse, I thought one of the families who was saving a seat for her inlaws was going to have to walk the plank! Seating is cutthroat so go early if it is a decent movie that you really want to see. I went to an activity called "make a candy box", Ok there was no candy, and it involved a prefolded HAL box that took all of 15 minutes. * Ok now the room. I had the VA, which is delux verandah. I don't know what was delux about it. I always heard HAL rooms were bigger than other cruiselines-this room was no bigger than any other cruise I have been on, and our toilent did not work the first 4 days. We were constantly calling for someone to unclog it-keep in mind my rule is always flush twice, once before the paper and once after to prevent clogging. It was never less than 2 hours to get the toilet unclogged. Half the time it wouldn't even flush-you never knew when the toilet would work. Beds weren't bad, and the one thing I can say was great was the run of free movies in the room, especially since the screening room was always full. * The ship performances were low rate, say if you visited the old part of Branson Missouri, they were better performers. Even if you wanted to see the shows, there was no room. The only explanation I have for the tiny spaces, is they must have been trying to fit as many staterooms as possible, and no room for other spaces. The fitness center just plane sucked (sorry). It was one tiny room with a few treadmills and weights-people hovered trying to get a treadmill. My husband and I took to running the flights of stairs since working out was not working out in the fitness center. * The ports were great. Alaska is wonderful-but I would not take HAL to visit again. Careful with the excursions. We did the zipline and it was great-all we expected. The second excursion was not very active, and I did not realize that. It was the Wilderness Crab feast. The food was great, but it is more suited for a 70 year old than a 30 year old. We did meet a couple who found their own excursions in Juneau and Sitka. They went to a glacier on foot and kayaked-we were jelous. Their excursion turned out great and they made it to port in plenty of time. Yes, the boat will leave you if you do not make it in time, but don't let that scare you from a wonderful excursion, just do your homework. * Now I saved the best for last-the food. It was for the most part terrible. The positives- the fresh fruit is great, breakfast was just fine. It is hard to mess up 2 fried eggs and french toast, but that is where the good news ends. There were a couple exceptions. I had escargot and it was actually very tender and flavorful. That same night I had a salad with mushrooms and gorgonzolla cheese that was great. The rest of the food is typical buffet food. Tough beef-stay away from the prime rib, it is a sad waste of a cow's life, unless you like boot leather. Vegetables were super salty and full of butter, pizza was comparable to cardboard, I was given a salad that had bloated raisens and soggy apples-it was terrible. The desserts were awful, no flavor at all. We stopped eating in the dining room because it was the same food that was served on deck, and it took forever to get the food. We heard everyone say that the restaurants you pay extra for were great-but I already paid almost $3000, I should have great food. The better food on the boat is the in room dining. You are very limited on your choices, but the quality seemed a little better, and you didn't have lines of people. Oh, and you have a place to sit in your room. The buffet restaurant, you spend most your time fighting for a place to sit and eat before your food gets cold. * I am sorry this review is so negative, but both my husband and I were very disappointed. We are not first time cruisers, but may be last time cruisers. We were not the only passengers with this opinion, we spoke with several others who were disappointed. Yes there were people who were thoroughly enjoying themselves, but I suspect those are the same people happy with the golden coral special. If you like chicken stuffed with prunes, bloated raisens in your salad, the excitement of not knowing if you commode will work, and fighting to the death for a theater seat, this is the cruise for you, otherwise, I would look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Just back from a cruise (May 12 to May 19) and this is my 1st time with Holland America. I have been on other cruise line and their ship is huge so cannot compare them. I cannot said this ship or this company is bad but not outstanding ... Read More
Just back from a cruise (May 12 to May 19) and this is my 1st time with Holland America. I have been on other cruise line and their ship is huge so cannot compare them. I cannot said this ship or this company is bad but not outstanding either. What they do good is Cleaningness. Oh my god, everytime we go somewhere, we see people cleaning. They keep everywhere as clean as possible. The decoration is not outstanding but nice too. they like to put many Antique decoration thing on the ship. Staff is friendly. the cabin that i had is very good as it is huge. We are 3 people in the room and don't find a problem...... What I do like is their food. It is not bad and on average. However the seafood for me is below average which make me feel very bad !! as you go to Alaska cruise, you expect good seafood.......the choice is not much. what i mean is type of food. Their menu has many options but all the same thing.....shrimps everyday, beef everyday, salmon everyday......so you just eat different cooking way of salmon only......no other fish.....shrimp is always cocktail style...... the enterainment show is on average. compare to other ship, the show that i had on this cruise is very boring......only sining....magic is not super good....just so so..... Activities kind of boring too, don't it is because the ship is full of senior or what.....no fun thing to do......i kind find it boring for me when I take this cruise compare to other cruise vacation...... I take this line is because big cabin; otherwise, i might go to pricess cruise line...... Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Departing on "Mother's Day" and also celebrating my daughter's birthday, this cruise was to be a special thing. Other than my daughters companionship, it was anything but special. The food was mediocre, the service ... Read More
Departing on "Mother's Day" and also celebrating my daughter's birthday, this cruise was to be a special thing. Other than my daughters companionship, it was anything but special. The food was mediocre, the service was almost non-existent and the cabin was lackluster. While aboard ship, we tried the Vista Dining Room, the Lido restaurant, the Pinnacle Grill (for lunch) and lots of room service. The Vista dining room service ranged from very slow to OK at the end of the cruise. Portions of food were small and sometimes not very warm. Anytime dining works only part of the time, as they tried to seat us and then told us the table was already taken, so we had to go back to the matre di's desk and wait. And, last but not least my daughter was celebrating her birthday and the waiter had identified her for most likely a piece of birthday cake, but the cake never came, in fact no desert menu ever came after 1 1/2 hours dining. We dined at "The Pinnacle Restaurant" for lunch. We ordered a filet of beef cooked medium rare, but received medium well. Something was lost in translation! We also had to send the bread basket back after discovering a hair. Room service is a joke. Every order we placed by telephone had something missing. The most laughable was when we ordered a carafe of coffee only to receive a pot of hot water. Other problems were no condiments for hamburgers, and no jam and butter for croissants. Customer service is generally lacking. Try to get someone to answer the telephone and you were on hold for thirty minutes. It took three hours to convert our bed from a king to two twins. One piece of luggage delivered to our cabin belonged to somebody else. Try to get your ice bucket filled or refilled, it's waiting forever or never. Cabin stewards disappear throughout the day. They must be doing double duty. After cruising seven times, this was the worst. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
We've traveled on Holland many times, in fact switched from Princess to Holland due to the great service Holland provided and the great food. Seattle Embarkation was a breeze we were on board by 11:30 and our cabin was ready. We book ... Read More
We've traveled on Holland many times, in fact switched from Princess to Holland due to the great service Holland provided and the great food. Seattle Embarkation was a breeze we were on board by 11:30 and our cabin was ready. We book a suite because we like to use the Neptune Lounge and the other perks we get with a suite. However, this time our suite smelled of stale sweat and the drawers had some dirty kleenex and other debris inside. The cabin steward said he could not spray the room. I informed the gals in the Neptune Suite and next thing I knew the cabin steward was in the room spraying some nice smelling spray, he sprayed for the next few days and smell finally went away. I went to lie on the bed after lunch and found some foul smelling stain on the top sheet! He came back looked at it and changed the sheets right away. The bottom sheet also had a hole in it, remember we are in a suite! I was a little disappointed in the Lido fare also as it was the same everyday. The dining room menu was good, but a little to fancy with all the sauces and other things they were trying to do to make it a 5 star restaurant, last time the fare was wonderful. The table stewards were very slow and confused. The room service was not up to par either, we only ordered it once. I have to say I am very disappointed in the changes I saw on the ship, and I am usually an easy pleased person. I am thinking of going back to Princess! The disembarkation was a breeze in Seattle too and the Neptune gals, Ice and Essea, were wonderful and took care of all our needs. By the way, Alaska was wonderful as usual, sunshine and shorts for 5 days till Ketchikan then chilly and rainy. We did not get to go to Tracy Arm due to the wind, went to Endicate Arm instead. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
We have cruised on many different lines before but never on HAL. When planning our trip to Alaska we chose the Oosterdam because of it’s size and itinerary and the great price we got. So glad we did, it proved to be one of the best ... Read More
We have cruised on many different lines before but never on HAL. When planning our trip to Alaska we chose the Oosterdam because of it’s size and itinerary and the great price we got. So glad we did, it proved to be one of the best vacations we have ever taken!Embarkation/Disembarkation: Both were very smooth and easy. We arrived at the port about 11:30 and were walking onboard about 11:45. Just remember that if you are carrying bottles of wine with you (that is allowed on HAL) that you pack them all in your carry on. If you pack them in your suitcases they will be flagged and checked to make sure you aren’t bringing hard liquor onboard. In your carry-on, the wine simply coasts right through the x-ray, no problem. We went directly to our stateroom and were so pleasantly surprised to find it clean and waiting for us. Our suitcases arrived a bit later while we were touring the ship and having lunch. For disembarkation, we decided to use the Luggage Direct program which costs $19.99 per person and assures that when you leave your luggage outside your door at midnight on your last night, you won’t even see it again until you arrive at your destination airport, very convenient if your flight isn’t until later in the day. The only drawback is that you must get off the ship with the first group at 7:30 a.m., not sure why really.Dining: We were traveling with a party of 10 family and friends so we chose the early seating with an assigned table in the Vista dining room. Our wait staff were all attentive, funny and accommodating. We found the menu choices always varied and served with detail to presentation. I must say that even with a group of 10, every single one of us loved the food in the dining room and when an occasional dish was not as expected, our waiter was eager to replace it with something else. When that did happen we also got a visit from the Maitre D to find out if there was anything else he could do for us. We had the best escargot we've ever had as well as many other dishes that were prepared perfectly. There were plenty of choices and if you just didn’t feel like eating at 5:30 you could visit the Lido with a multitude of choices, the hamburger bar by the pool or eat later in the second floor dining room. Of course you also had the option of eating in the Pinnacle Grill for an extra $25/pp fee, which we did one night but really, the food wasn’t that much better there than in the dining room. So in a nutshell…..best food we have ever had on a cruise. A tip when choosing early or late seating...we did hear from some other folks that some of the entree items were not always available at the late seating, although we did not experience this. We did order room service a few times (mostly breakfast)and it was always good, on time and hot.Stateroom: Cabin 8081 on the Navigation deck was near perfect and in great condition. It's located is on the starboard side of the ship just a few cabins back from mid-ship. It is roomy and well appointed with new looking furniture, bedding, patio furniture and beautiful carpet. The bathroom is very large with double sinks, a shower and a jetted tub, both with optional hand held shower heads. The flat screen TV is on a swivel so it can be viewed from either the bed or the sitting area. There is more than ample storage space (we actually had some extra drawer and closet space and our 4 suitcases fit easily under the bed. The cabin was very quiet and only once did we hear what sounded like noise above us, which was coming from the Lido Buffet dining area but not enough to even bother us only lasting a couple of minutes. The balcony is so spacious with plenty of room for the 2 chairs & table plus the 2 lounge chairs & side table. We didn't have any trouble with the door to the balcony sticking or locking unintentionally. We only saw our cabin steward once even though he kept it beautifully clean and supplied with fruit and fresh ice in the bucket every day. I would be very happy to travel in this cabin again if the opportunity arises.Entertainment: First and foremost, the HAL entertainment crew dance and sing their hearts out for you. It may not always be your style of music or dance but they are very talented and do a great job of pulling off their shows on the stage they have to work with. The costumes for the final show were absolutely gorgeous with many changes throughout the show. The Magician/Comedian was so great and the other musicians playing in other lounges on the ship were excellent. Just a tip about the shows...the late show (10 pm) has much more seating available but if you want to go to the first show at 8pm, you must get there about 20 min. early to get a good seat.There were only two things that we would like for HAL to fix ...... please make your ships non-smoking or at least offer a smoke-free casino. I enjoy doing some gambling while cruising but my husband can't tolerate cigarette smoke so we were not able to enjoy the casino together. The second item is the cooking class we took with the chef was very disorganized and we didn't really learn much. Although the cost of the class did include lunch in the Pinnacle Grill afterwards, it really wasn't worth the $30/pp.The ships captain and crew did an amazing job of maneuvering that huge ship around without even a hint of motion. Sometimes when we left a port we didn't even realize that the ship was moving until looking out the window. We had beautiful sunny weather throughout our entire cruise except for the morning we were in Ketchikan, where is sprinkled a little. The cruise up Tracy Arm was breathtaking and something we will always remember! Thanks captain, for making it up so close to Sawyer Glacier, and turning us around on a dime to cruise back down the fjord.What more can I say, we had a wonderful cruise and I personally can assure everyone that they really do give away the free cruise that they sell tickets for all week long(wink). We will definitely be cruising with HAL again within the next 18 months. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
I travelled with my family (daughter, son-in-law and two of my grandchildren). I had no idea what cruise line to choose, having never cruised before. They picked HAL, and said it would be more my style. We booked two VD cabins on the ... Read More
I travelled with my family (daughter, son-in-law and two of my grandchildren). I had no idea what cruise line to choose, having never cruised before. They picked HAL, and said it would be more my style. We booked two VD cabins on the upper promonade deck, but later upgraded to an SY and SB cabin on the upper veranda. Check-in began at noon or 1pm, but we didn't show up until a little after two. We were able to walk right up and check in. We checked out our cabins - I was impressed, and my son-in-law (with the SB cabin) was very impressed. We walked around awhile, and checked out the crows nest, and at 4pm we were on deck as the Oosterdam left Seattle. During the next seven days, I was totally pleased by the cabin, the service, the food, even the weather. As much as it rains in that part of the world, for us the sun shone every day. I've read other reviews by travelers on the same voyage, maybe it's all just luck -- we had a great cabin with no problems, our steward was friendly and attentive, the dining room service was wonderful (maybe just a little slow, but what's time when you're on vacation). I had a massage at the spa, and it was lovely, except for the sales pitch to buy products. We attended some of the shows in the Vista Lounge, they were nice, but not Vegas quality. Still, as I said, they were entertaining. There were not LOTS of kids on board, but enough so that my grandchildren made friends to swim, and play with. They enjoyed Club Hal, for the most part. If I have the opportunity, I will definately sail the Oosterdam again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
Luckily for me, my family is big into traveling. Before this Alaskan cruise I've been on 7 cruises, but only to the Caribbean, and we sailed the younger major cruise lines like NCL, Princess, RC, and Carnival. We decided to switch it ... Read More
Luckily for me, my family is big into traveling. Before this Alaskan cruise I've been on 7 cruises, but only to the Caribbean, and we sailed the younger major cruise lines like NCL, Princess, RC, and Carnival. We decided to switch it up and go to Alaska, which meant sailing Holland America(only cruise line that let 18+ gamble). From the beginning I was bracing myself to be stuck with my mom the entire cruise because I knew everyone was going to be much older.EMBARKATION:Absolutely no problem here and got on the ship right away.FOOD:Some reviews claimed that the food was awful. My family and I thought it was delicious. The only downside is that they had a lot of seafood, especially salmon, and I hate seafood. They had great alternatives though, so I wasn't disappointed. We ate one night at the Pinnacle Grille and it was absolutely delicious.ENTERTAINMENT:I'm sorry but this cruise had the absolute WORST entertainment I have ever seen on a ship. The two comedians were pretty funny but the shows were painful to sit through. Ended up leaving one show after 15 minutes then just didn't bother to go to the ones after that They also have some lady who sings at the piano bar next to the casino where I would joke with other cruisers about asking to close the door so we wouldn't have to listen to her.SERVICE: The crew on this ship was hands down the nicest crew. The room attendants were very accommodating and someone was always there to help. The crew in the Lido were a little overwhelming at times, asking constantly if I needed something else even after I said no, but hey, they were just doing their job.There was a meet and greet type of thing for 18-25 year olds which I thought was awesome. I would say the average age was around 50-60 so it was nice that they made a point to try to get the young kids together. Trivia was always fun and the competitions by the pool were funny to watch.All in all, the cruise was well above my expectations. I wouldn't let the age group of a cruise steer me away from sailing them anymore, but it would be nice to see more young faces. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This is my 5th cruise, the first with Holland America and most likely my last. My expectations: Clean, Kept up, Friendly, Great food. This was not the case on the Westerdam. I found this ship run down. Example: pealing paint on the ... Read More
This is my 5th cruise, the first with Holland America and most likely my last. My expectations: Clean, Kept up, Friendly, Great food. This was not the case on the Westerdam. I found this ship run down. Example: pealing paint on the overhead beams on the deck and the deck hasn't seen a good oiling in years. The edge of the deck stage, the wood was broken. It makes me wonder what's going on where we can't see. I was shocked when I opened my room (deluxe Veranda) to find it very small,worn cushions on the couch with stains on the throw pillows. Although the deck was small they did have the best chairs as they were not resin and comfortable. We had asked for adjoining room/deck as we travel with another couple. the door on the deck couldn't be opened completely as it occluded the cabin door and banged all night long. Whoever designed this never thought it thru. My cabin was kept clean, by who I don't know, I never saw a soul. I found the bathroom clean although I could smell septic. The dining room was open and nice, we had second seating. Our waiter, Sigh...I hope he was new, he couldn't remember anything and I can't blame it on to many people as the dining room was 1/2 capacity. The steak was always great always done right, between the 4 of us I think we tried everything. Mostly good, not over the top and presentation very sub standard. No carvings out of veggies with exception to a watermelon cut into a rose. no ice sculptures. If you like eating the same thing over and over then the buffet is for you. I found it bland as did my fellow cruisers. If you got creative you could make a pretty awesome salad going to all the stations. I found the staff the least friendly of any ship ever. Make sure you really listen to them when they are pushing the drink card. My husband doesn't drink and got a soda card, I got the all inclusive card. Upon check out I see 2 charges on the bill for all inclusive, It was explained that not just one person per cabin could get an all inclusive card...OH REALLY??? And yes I got the charge removed.. That's a scam...beware!! Do I have anything good to say, YES! they have the best by far embarking and disembarking of any ship I've been on. They don't care how much wine you bring onboard, we carried a 6 pack in hand, kept in our room and no problem. The beds and pillows are fabulous and room service is wonderful, the freshest food and the presentation is spot on. Try the Italian Restaurant, it's more than worth the extra $20, we couldn't get into the Pinnical, it was always booked. May say something about the ship food!! Ports: They are what you make of them. We had a great time. Knowing before we left that came in late and didn't give much time, so make the best of it. I was worried about Victoria, as we only had a few hours, but with a lot of hustle we had a good time. Saw all the wild life, the Captain went the extra mile so we could see a bear in Glacier Bay. All in all we had a good time, wouldn't go Westerdam doing it a second time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
I'm a single mom and travelled with my parents and 8 year old daughter; all of us were HAL newbies, and had fairly high expectations just from having cruised a lot and the pre-conceived notions of HAL.Before the cruise, we stayed in ... Read More
I'm a single mom and travelled with my parents and 8 year old daughter; all of us were HAL newbies, and had fairly high expectations just from having cruised a lot and the pre-conceived notions of HAL.Before the cruise, we stayed in Kent at Hawthorne Suites by Marriott; they're condo/apartments and we had a two bed/two bath unit that was two stories and had a living room and kitchen. a regular hotel would have been fine, but we were there for three nights and the price of a downtown hotel, and parking, made staying in Kent much much more reasonable. it's near the airport, and anything you need is a ten minute drive maximum. it took us about 25 minutes to get downtown, but traffic was less than what it is on the east cost. now, the first of two issues would arise before we even got on board. i had a rental car, and my mom and i dropped my dad and daughter at the ship with all the luggage since it wouldn't fit in one cab back to the port. port security sent us to the fourth and final drop off point; where there was not a single porter. it took us a little bit of time to get back to the rental agency (it really should have taken maybe 15 minutes, but i hit some traffic trying to refuel so it took longer). my dad called my mom and told her no porter had come down by where they were dropped off. in typical seattle manner it was drizzly and a bit chilly. 45 minutes later and they're still standing there, not a single porter came to help. now my dad being responsible, he wasn't going to leave the 8 year old alone to go all the way down to the first drop off point (maybe a football field length away) and he wasn't going to leave our luggage alone so he stayed with it all. when we got back to the port, i had the taxi drop me off right at the first spot and i said something to the security lady who sent us to the 4th section, and her response was "i can't tell them what to do, its not my job to send them down there" and i was flabbergasted. that level of rudeness was so unexpected and uncalled for. then i found a porter who was walking back to the loading area and i asked him for help, explained that my dad and daughter had been waiting for over an hour in the chilly wet alllllll the way at the end, and he walked as fast as he could with that cart down to us and loaded it all up apologizing along the way. he made a passing comment about how they were only supposed to drop off to area 3. someone dropped the ball hardcore and it put a damper on the check in process. The ship... the Westerdam was amazing. For being an "older" ship (relatively speaking) it is kept in pristine shape. Having cruised several times on the spirit-class ships of carnival, the actual body of the ship was very similar, and getting my afts and forwards and port and starboards were pretty easy thanks to that. there is nothing tacky about the westerdam, it's the antithesis of a carnival ship... classy, artfully decorated, sophisticated and exactly what i would have expected it to look it. the stateroom... we were in neptune suite 6095; a SB. we were the second room in from the center elevators and the glass elevators and it was a quick walk up a flight of stairs to get to the neptune lounge. i think being on 6 is better than on 7 with the majority of the suites... our room steward had less rooms, and was better able to give us his attention than on the 7th floor which was really nice. the room itself was similar to the suites on carnival, but the TV was on the desk and swiveled and there was an actual desk that faced the window allowing us to sit and look out. so alaska is VERY bright, and is very bright late at night and early in the morning so im glad we had clips to close the curtains all the way.when you walk into the suite, there are closets to the right (3, but the third one has the safe) and the dressing area with 3 more closets to the right; through there is the bathroom with a dual vanity, the jacuzzi tub and then a separate shower (which tended to make a mess with the stupid shower curtain). then there were two chairs, a coffee table and the sofa which was teh double bed (which had to stay out once he put the board on it) and then the two single beds become a king bed which was very comfortable. the balcony had a table with four chairs and then two comfy chairs with ottoman and a small table between them. being alaska, we spend a lot of time on the balcony, but didn't eat out there on the table.here is another gripe... we purchased access to the thermal suite for $299 for myself and my mom (150 each... part of the "first day special") they claimed only 50 were sold, and let's just go with, a massive waste of money to the point where i feel ripped off. the hydropool doesn't have anywhere comfortable to sit down, and the lounger bar things i found to be quite uncomfortable and made for someone who is 5'7 or taller not anyone shorter. the heated loungers were usually filled and no one abided by the 20 minute limit when busy rule; and one day (sitka) i went to use the warm lounger (which seemed to make my back hurt less) and they were ice cold; i told the aloof male employee and he sent his spa manager to check it out... she told me they were accidentally turned off and would be ready in ten minutes. at least 30 minutes later still cold, and she had told my mom a totally different story. then when i told her again they're cold she gave me another story and then i told her the sauna was off too and she told me it was one... it wasn't. it was room temperature and the stones where the dry heat comes from were cold to the touch. so yes. a total waste of money, and i hate to think people pay 199 per person to use that.There were tons of activities... although being an Alaska cruise in May my parents were of the younger demographic and i had more in common with the crew than the passengers. there was bingo everyday, and i highly highly regret (my only regret in fact) missing the afternoon tea. but like most ships you can do as much or as little as you want. the cover to the pool was closed most of the time, so it was comfortable to relax there and read a book while my DD played in the pool with the other kids. now here is where i'm going to sound like a fanatic. but this is such a big deal its important to stress. first, the bad. the pull out beds are HORRIFIC. and that's not even the right word. they are downright disgusting and should not be in used on a line that portrays itself as upper class and refined and should certainly NOT be found in a suite on any ship on any line. it's pretty embarrassing when the pull out beds on carnival (which i have slept on so i am speaking from experience) are more comfortable. i do not know why holland america has these painful disgusting beds, but had our room steward not been as amazing as he was, i would have been flying home from Juneau and calling the vacation quits. i immediately asked for an egg crate for the bed, but realized that wasn't going to be enough, and after the bed was pulled out i found our steward, Hendricks, and he IMMEDIATELY brought down several duvet's to put under the mattress to try and make it tolerable. so i slept on a half dozen duvets, the mattress (that was maybe 4 inches thick) and then the egg crate. i might have gotten 4 hours of sleep, woke up crying, and my neck and back are still bothering me. it really was just THAT bad. fortunately, Hendricks is probably the best room steward to have ever existed, and after a full 24 hours of trial and error, he was able to create a bed for me (a wooden board, 6-8 duvet covers, two mattresses, the egg crate and a lot of extra hours worked outside of his shift) that was actually almost comfortable. this is something that HAL needs to fix, because that's the ONLY thing keeping me from booking another cruise today. our room steward worked so hard to fix the bed debacle, that he repeatedly checked to make sure i was okay, and when he thought i was hesitating, he would go out of his way to get it out of me, instead of just being like "okay you say its fine, then its fine" and walking away. instead he dug deeper and when i hemmed and hawed (because i felt TERRIBLE doing this to him) he bent over backwards for me. generally speaking, the service on the ship was fantastic. our concierge, Dean and Margarete were incredible and the ladies were the most efficient and fabulous "front desk" that could be asked for. having the suite access to the neptune lounge really was awesome, having always travelled in a suite on carnival, experiencing how other lines treat their suite guests makes me want to write a letter to the CEO of carnival because its really shameful how they treat suite guests. anywhere we went on board once they saw our cards (like if we paid for a drink or something) the level of service (if even possible) increased even more!! it was unreal at time; it was late at night one night and the lounge was closed so we used the front desk to get a new DVD and we were ushered to the front of the line when the employee saw that i had a suite card in my hand. i was just holding it, not flashing it or anything and it was both shocking and uncomfortable to be ushered to the front ahead of a few others who were waiting longer than myself.the ports were awesome... we did a gold panning and salmon bake in juneau; glacier bay there are no words in the English language to describe the beauty and incredible-ness of it (and the whales!!) the weather was so perfect HAL called in the helicopter to take video and photo's for press and commercials (which ruined the ambience but we got an extra hour or so there to make up for it); sitka was pretty cook and ketchikan was a good place to shop. victoria we didn't trek into, the line through customs was really long, and that was my dads birthday so we had dinner at pinacle instead.the food on board was fantastic... the lido didn't have the best selection but i still think it was more dignified than on carnival. the burgers from the lido pool area was awesome and the breakfast in the pinnacle was INCREDIBLE. lunch in the dining room was also pretty good. the pinnacle for dinner was FABULOUS, and the meal was both filling and tasteful with the creme brulee dessert one of a kind.Now, my daughter's favorite part... the kids club. she truly loves camp carnival so i was concerned she'd be less thrilled with Club HAL. being a may alaska cruise there were maybe 40 kids on board, with perhaps 10 or so in her age group so Club HAL was empty and they had a lot of fun and leeway with the staff in terms of activities. the glacier bay activities were INCREDIBLE... they did a junior rangers program and go to speak with the park ranger on board as well as the gentleman from the indian tribe that dominates the area (i can't spell the name of the tribe, and it's not phonetic). she loved club hal so much as soon as they opened she wanted to be there and didn't want to leave until 10p when it closed. the staff were also fantastic, in both the tweens group (my daughter's age group) and the younger group (they watched movies together). one massive plus is the staff are all america, which my daughter loved since we've had some camp carnival employees who she couldn't' really understand. armand the CD wasn't my favorite, but after you've had Malcolm on the carnival miracle, it's hard to have anyone not as awesome as he is.Disembarkation... was painless and sad because leaving is always sad. we were the first group and were off the ship with our luggage by 9am. customs was a laughable joke, i was almost embarrassed... they asked one question, "did you have a good trip," and that was that. all in all this cruise was incredible, a massive disaster that was going to RUIN the vacation was dealt with by an incredibly amazing room steward who was so happy with his job and what he was doing that he dealt with me and the bed drama with a kind hand and a smile the entire time. i used to be a carnival loyalist, but Hendricks himself has changed me to a HAL convert. 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Sail Date: May 2013
Arrived at Seatac on Fri. afternoon with reservations for Shuttle Express to our hotel. Had to wait an hour plus while their vans came and went, putting us into rush hour traffic when it was finally our turn. Would never use again - taxi ... Read More
Arrived at Seatac on Fri. afternoon with reservations for Shuttle Express to our hotel. Had to wait an hour plus while their vans came and went, putting us into rush hour traffic when it was finally our turn. Would never use again - taxi from pier back to airport was only $10 more so that little bit of savings not worth it. Pleasant night at the Quality Inn-Seattle Center a few blocks from Space Needle. Arranged for shuttle to pier next morning ($7/each), but another long wait. Although the sight of the giant embarkation warehouse and hundreds of people in zigzag lines was intimidating, it moved quicker than expected. We only had carry-on bags so opted to take our own luggage aboard. Easily found our cabin, unpacked, and went to buffet. It was probably the busiest we ever saw it, but food was good and able to share table with some interesting people. Our cabin was bigger than expected and very clean and nicely decorated. Tub with shower (liked the shampoo, etc. dispensers), plenty of space for toiletries. Comfortable bed with choice of pillows, nightstands on each side (lamps too low for reading in bed comfortably), sofa, chair and table (just right for room service tray), dresser with TV and ice holder on top, mini-bar beneath. Balcony had 2 chairs, an ottoman and small table. We were just around corner from elevators and stairs (never any noise problems) and one floor down from Lido deck (ice water, tea and coffee available 24/7) Our cabin stewards did a great job keeping our cabin clean and making sure ice bucket was filled. They place each day's activity list in your "mailbox" late in afternoon of the day before. We highlighted activities we didn't want to miss - like dress code, destination, shows, etc. We only went to dining room on the 2nd formal night because they were serving steak and lobster. It was very good, but wish the lobster had had drawn butter served with it. Frankly, we wouldn't drag those dressy clothes with again. You could get whatever they were serving delivered to your room by room service if you checked menu posted outside dining room door and called between 5 & 6PM. The food at buffet was always good, lots of selections, and dress casual. Disappointed that there were no crab legs on ship. There were plenty of activities to keep busy, lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and fun times at the outside bar on Lido deck. Captain was able to get us very close to glaciers in Glacier Bay, making an exciting day from whichever place you decided to observe. Booked all our excursions on HAL website - the ones we wanted were no more expensive there than on their own website. We were delighted with all of them - Taku Glacier Float Plane in Juneau, Grizzly Mt. 4X4 in Sitka, and Berring Sea Crab Fisherman's tour in Ketchikan (the highlight of our trip!) We didn't get off ship in Victoria, BC as Canadian officials held ship up for 2 hours before letting us dock. Probably somebody didn't fill out their customs form which you had to do even if you weren't going to get off ship. Captain did announce that anyone who had booked tours would get to take them. We chose to handle our own luggage for disembarkation (you have to fill out their form to do so). Had room service breakfast and was in line by 7AM and off ship by 7:30, quick and easy and no delays. All in all a wonderful trip that we'd highly recommend to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
From the moment we stepped on board until we departed, we knew we had made a great choice, I think attitude has a lot to do with ones experience. We had great attitudes. Our room was ready when we boarded. We booked a balcony suite and ... Read More
From the moment we stepped on board until we departed, we knew we had made a great choice, I think attitude has a lot to do with ones experience. We had great attitudes. Our room was ready when we boarded. We booked a balcony suite and loved it. Our cabin stewards greeted us by name and continued to be very attentive all week. I mentioned that I liked ice available all the time and we always had fresh ice in our bucket. We enjoyed the towel animals and the treats and information left on our bed nightly. Even in the hallways there was a friendly greeting from staff. The food was delicious especially considering the number of meals served each day. We had room service, we ate in the MDR, Lido, on deck Bar-b-que and the Pinnacle Grill. The service was great and in the MDR and the Pinnacle servers always addressed us by name. The Pinnacle was outstanding and well worth the up charge. We loved, loved, loved our balcony - especially while we were in Glacier Bay. The views are beautiful. The first morning, I woke about 4:30 a m and peeked out - the view was incredible. We spent a lot of time at sea on the balcony. We spent time in the crows nest and enjoyed drinks there each afternoon while watching the most amazing wrap around view. We went ashore at each port and booked excursions at two of the ports, Juneau and Ketchikan. We would have enjoyed more time in both of these ports. We enjoyed Sitka as well but thought the tendering process a bit unorganized. Our call in Victoria was brief because a large ship 'beat ' us into port and we had to wait for them to clear before we were allowed off the ship. This was not a big deal for us as we had not booked anything in Victoria. The only bad thing for us was leaving the ship. Not the process- which was hassle free- just the fact that it was all over. We have already booked a November cruise on HAL. I can't say enough nice things about HAL and Westerdam. Great staff- right size ship for us - good food. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
We have always been "Escape from Winter" warm water cruisers. Alaska finally moved to the top of our bucket vacation list. We were not disappointed at all. The weather for May was exceptional - cool, with plenty of sun, and very ... Read More
We have always been "Escape from Winter" warm water cruisers. Alaska finally moved to the top of our bucket vacation list. We were not disappointed at all. The weather for May was exceptional - cool, with plenty of sun, and very little rain. We usually use the ship's excursions for most of our ports. This was the 1st time that we used none of the ship's. We did some homework in advance, and had wonderful experiences in port. On our day in Juneau, we walked to the bus depot and took a city bus to a drop-off point on the edge of town and walked down a gravel road to a little par 3 - Mendenhall Golf Course. What a beautiful, memorable setting for a round of golf (don't have any expectations for the condition of the course and you won't be disappointed ).Visitors special includes 9 holes of golf with clubs, pull cart, balls and tees, and a certificate that says you golfed in Alaska, all for $30, what a deal!! We took a taxi back - we recommend this. We had the knowledgeable taxi driver let us off near the Russian Orthodox Church where we did some Geo Caching, some walking, and a ride up the Tram. Glacier Bay was SUPERRRRR!!!!!! Beautiful scenery, also sighted whales, seals, mountain goats, and a bear. Such a gorgeous day that a helicopter was sent out to shoot promotional video for HAL. Sitka: Our favorite whale/wildlife adventure yet. Gallant Adventures with Captain Paul Davis. Check out his website and book early, as his is a small boat. We saw humpback whales, Puffins, Eagles, a raft of Sea Otters, a 1000 lb sea lion, and great views at the island bird sanctuary, and of the volcano. We still had time to walk to the Totem park, ,do some Geo Caching and sightseeing in town, before catching a tender boat back to the ship. Ketchikan: We had no specific plans. We got off the ship and began walking, shopping, Geo Caching and sightseeing. There are gift shops galore for the cruise ship passengers - not too bad of prices either. We bought most of our take home souvenirs in Ketchikan. Victoria: Beautiful flowers and gardens that will WOW you. We went on a self-guided walking tour lasting about 3 hours (we got back in the dark with less than an hour to spare). Awesome, Awesome, Awesome !! Any of the short comings of the ship or the cruise were quickly forgotten on this Wonderful cruise!   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
We took only the first segment, Seattle-Hong Kong, of the HAL Amsterdam Grand Cruise which departed Seattle September 21 2012, and debarked in Hong Kong Oct. 20. We flew Southwest airlines, Oakland>Seattle, and upon landing discovered ... Read More
We took only the first segment, Seattle-Hong Kong, of the HAL Amsterdam Grand Cruise which departed Seattle September 21 2012, and debarked in Hong Kong Oct. 20. We flew Southwest airlines, Oakland>Seattle, and upon landing discovered that one bag had been erroneously sent by Southwest to Los Angeles, where it was discovered on the L>A> bag carousel. Southwest apologized profusely, said the bag could not be returned prior to ship departure, and would be given to the HAL airport people when it arrived, which happened. Southwest gave me a check to buy the missing items that I could recall, and also had the taxi drop us off at the ship. Boarding was easy since everyone else was on the ship. Our cabin was as reserved, dining room table was as requested and our table mates from Canada were good company throughout the cruise. The ship was excellently maintained, clean and everything worked well: elevators, air conditioning, sound system, etc. We were told that the entire ship's staff on this Grand Cruise had been specifically selected and they were the finest HAL crew my wife and I had ever experienced: the waiters, stewards, supervisors, front desk staff, cruise director ( outstanding) , officers, hotel manager, etc. We had very few unusual requests, but all were met with a smile and done well. Food: The dining room menu was the best we ever experienced, with frequent offerings of prime rib, lobster, huge amounts of shrimp dishes, superb soups,salads, outstanding desserts. We were pleasantly surprised that the Lido Buffet was equally good, breakfast, lunch & dinner ( if we chose not to go to the dining room, especially on busy Port days). The food was always varied, appeared attractive, and the friendly servers explained unfamiliar dishes for us. Many dishes in the Lido were cooked right there, as the food in the pans was taken by diners. There were several excellent outdoor deck buffets, limited only by the number of deck electrical outlets for cooking. The dessert bar in the Lido always had a great variety, breakfast pastries were superb and varied, and the breads were also quite good. There was an Asian station in the buffet with different Asian dishes at lunch and dinner. There was a sushi station daily at lunch. There was also a Pizza and pasta station daily, which my wife ( pizza fan) says was excellent. The pool deck area had a hamburger and sausage and another pizza counter, all of which were freshly done throughout the day, but hard to compete with the great inside buffet. Food service: The dining room waiters were efficient, wee eager to substitute another entree if the chosen one was not what you thought it would be. The kitchen chefs provided items not on the menu if requested in advance ( escargot, some other items). The Lido staff rapidly cleared tables, provided ice water and coffee to the tables as needed, helped people carry plates to tables if needed. Entertainment: The showroom shows were varied. We saw the same HAL musical reviews we had seen on other voyages, since HAL keeps a costly show on stage for about 3 years. The singing and dancing was good, since the shows were familiar to the performers.On other nights,the guest singers, musicians, magicians, were good, generally better than on some other cruises. The movies shown in the Wajang theater were generally poor, films that might be shown on TV. but not in movie theaters. When we were in Japanese ports, HAL showed older Hollywood Japan-themed films from the l960's that although dated were appropriate for the location. There were several musicians who appeared in the top deck bar (Crow's Nest?)who were quite entertaining. Lectures and enlightenment: In addition to Barbara the port lecturer, the ship also had Mr. Salinger, a well travelled author, who provided much background information about Japan, China, Russia, and the the maritime industry. There was another lectuer wo is a Ph.D. naturalist who provided much information about marine life, Fish in particular, as well as other talks on nature. On board shopping: Miserable. Limited stock, inflated prices, little variety. Clerks were courteus & helpful, but limited to what management chose to put in the stores. Tailoring: A Chinese tailor boarded in Japan, measured men & women for shirts, suits,etc., which would be made while we were at sea and delivered in Singapore. We did not get anything. Ports: This cruise had a full time extremely experienced port lecturer, Barbara, who provided complete information about each Port before we reached it, so that we could use local transportation, walk to nearby scenic areas, and know what to look for on the tours and excursions. Library and computer area: The librarians were knowledgeable, helpful in finding a book, even if in the off-limits storage area. The computers were slow as they often are, but the computer technician was as helpful as possible considering the incredibly slow computers. Front desk: More knowledgeable, helpful, courteous than any staff we ever before experienced. Officers, cruise director: Outstandingly helpful, courteous, honest. Captain kept passengers informed as needed. Cruise Itinerary: The North Pacific was extremely rough, with huge swells, and much ship motion. A storm prevented us from reaching our first port, Kushiro in Northern Japan, and we sailed very close to the uninhabited Russian Kurile Islands, and into the Sea of Okhotsk before reaching first port of Hakodate.The Captain modified the actual course to avoid as much of the storms as possible. Excursions: We arranged, months earlier , to take private excursions in every port and cannot report on the Amsterdam Shore excursions. Piers: In every port, the ship docked as close as possible to the center of town: In Shanghai we were on the edge of the Bund, In Nagasaki downtown and one block from the tram station, in Yokohama ( for Tokyo) we were within a few blocks of a shopping center, and a local (that weekend) German Beer and Harvest Festival. Kobe was similar. In Hong Kong, we were at the Ocean Terminal, two blocks to the Star Ferry or Peninsula Hotel. Debarkation: efficient, easy. Our luggage was on the pier and we took a taxi to our hotel nearby, since our return flight was the next day. We took an airport bus ( about $10 USD each) from our hotel to the new Hong Kong airport, about 45 mins. drive. That bus picked up passengers at three hotels, put luggage down below , and unloaded us at out airline entry area. There are numerous luggage trolleys outside the entryway to carry bags to the ticket counters. This was the finest cruise we ever experienced, on any cruise line, and one which future cruises will be compared with. We think the underlying reason is that this was a 'Grand Cruise' which is more costly than regular HAL cruises, and well worth it. The Chef and kitchen staff produced great meals consistently, which proves that "it can be done." Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
This was our 2nd Alaska cruise but the first time we had ever sailed with HAL and while none of it was horrible it just wasn't anything special either. The food was ok in the Vista restaurant nicely prepared and served, the food ... Read More
This was our 2nd Alaska cruise but the first time we had ever sailed with HAL and while none of it was horrible it just wasn't anything special either. The food was ok in the Vista restaurant nicely prepared and served, the food in the Pinnacle was great excellent quality, taste and service, well worth the extra charge. The food in the Lido was just not good, mostly cold, not enough options and the hours of operation not very accommodating. The only station open through out the day was pizza and pasta and it never changed. The place is always a little trashy too, lots of table left with dishes too long, food on the floor not picked up just not well taken care of. The room steward was great but too often in other areas of the ship the service was spotty at best and downright sullen at times. The ship is older and definitely showing its age, chipped and cracked, needing paint little wobbles here and there, our door would not shut tight so we had to put up with a wind noise even after they "fixed" it. On the other hand the bed was the best we have ever had on any cruise and the bathroom while old and tacky was well laid out and had a great shower, too bad the tub didn't drain while you showered. The on board shops are very limited in selection and prices seemed high even for a cruise. The smoking area is not well ventilated so there is a very strong odor all around on that floor. The daily activities were very repetitive and not that interesting. The show lounge had some very good singers and dancers and they put on some nice shows, there were also 2 comics on the ship. They were not to my taste but I must say that everyone around me seemed to be loving them. The acts in the bars and other lounges were uniformly weak and not worth wasting your time. Two things that really bothered me the most is the ports of call and the time allotted to you in each of them. We spent all day in Tracy arm and then didn't see the glacier a real waste of time. We had a reasonable time in Juneau and Sitka but only about 4 hours in Ketchikan and then the biggest disappointment of all was getting into Victoria 3 hours late and having just about 2.5 hours to try to see one of the best walking and shopping cities in the world, and it was late at night. I found it very interesting that the NCL Pearl was still tied up at the dock when we left Ketchikan and yet was already tied up at the dock when we got to Victoria. I don't know whether they got lost or were trying to save on fuel. The second thing is kind of related to the first and that is that there are no comfortable chairs anywhere on this ship. Because of the itinerary we spent a lot of time on the ship, in fact I finished 3 books from the library, but could not find a chair or couch anywhere to sit more than an hour or so.I guess that is not entirely true, the ship has a nice small movie theater and the seats there were pretty good, they got a lot of use from the movie goers. Getting on and off the ship during the ports of call was very slow, but embarkation and disembarkation was handled very well, quick and smooth. If a friend asked me to recommend this cruise I would tell them all of the things to expect but probably still suggest they go if they got a great price. I think as long as you understood what this ship experience is you would be all right. Most of our cruises have been on Celebrity and they are just a better more polished experience. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
We just got back from the Sept 2-9, 2012 Oosterdam Alaska sailing from Seattle. It was the first 7-day cruise we had done in 10 years and seemed to have a much younger average passenger age than the 14-21 day cruises we've been doing ... Read More
We just got back from the Sept 2-9, 2012 Oosterdam Alaska sailing from Seattle. It was the first 7-day cruise we had done in 10 years and seemed to have a much younger average passenger age than the 14-21 day cruises we've been doing and lots of West Coasters that booked last-minute like us. We last sailed the O-dam in late October 2011 on a 21-day Hawaii/Mexican Riviera Collector's cruise. Captain Van der Loo and Deejay Brett were on that cruise and this one as well. I have very high regard for this captain as he made some critical decisions last year with a triple medical evac on the Hawaii cruise. Brett is highly energetic and lots of fun. He remembered us from last year and we enjoyed sailing with him again. I was happy to see the condition of the ship was better than last year, even though it had just emerged from dry-dock at that time, which you couldn't tell. While we were sailing then, much of the public areas got new carpet and our cabin carpet was cleaned on the cruise this year. I didn't notice shabby/dirty upholstery on this cruise, but the cocktail tables throughout the ship (particularly in the Crow's Nest) need to be replaced. We were satisfied with our cabin. We were in a nice quiet spot in the aft on deck 6 and had been upgraded several categories. The beds and bedding are still awesome - I always sleep so well on a cruise. It also seemed that the heating/cooling system in our room worked better than normal. Cabin stewards did a great job and kept everything stocked. No issues there. Food was a little uneven. My favorite lunch was a Salad Nicoise with salmon that had the best balsamic/olive oil dressing in the MDR. I also enjoyed the sushi in the Lido and soups were wonderful as always. I didn't eat any bread, but DH said it was good. The cupcakes at the Cupcake Tea were dry and tasted like they had been frozen, which was also the case last year on O-dam. My cheeseburger the first lunch in the MDR was charred beyond recognition and the bun was as hard as a rock. I will say the coffee seemed better than last year. I didn't mind it and the cappuchinos at dinner were good as well. I didn't have salmon at the salmon bake by the pool this time, although I ate a lot of salmon and seafood at dinner. Several people mentioned that the salmon at the bake was bland, but very fresh. Entertainment was only fair. We have seen all the production shows several times before, so didn't bother to attend those. They had two comedians - a very funny guy with a dummy (mannequin-american as he called it) and Julie Barr (did 2 G-rated & an X-rated comedy show). She reminded me of Lisa Lampenelli and was entertaining. Only had the "Marriage Game" & "Liar's Club" shows in the Queen's Lounge. Saw one movie in the theatre - "This Means War", which was enjoyable. They also showed "The Lorax", "Hunger Games" and several others. We are big trivia players and there was one main trivia game per day in the Crow's Nest, along with a music/movie trivia game at 6:00 pm in the Queen's Lounge most days. The Alaska weather was beautiful. Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier was overcast but not raining and we got pretty darn close to the glacier. It was so late in the season there wasn't much ice and didn't see a single seal. Last summer on the Amsterdam, we saw countless seals there on the ice (some even having babies). We saw some bald eagles and quite a few whales and dolphin enroute. Juneau was partly sunny and very mild. Enjoyed walking around the harbor and doing some shopping. DH went to Mendenhall Glacier and really it enjoyed it and the waterfall there. He also got to touch a live bald eagle some guy had in town - he loved that. Ketchekan was perfectly clear (blue skies!) and fascinating to see the salmon running. I had never seen that before and it was great! Only downside was the rotten fish smell that permeated the whole town from all the dead ones. Sitka was its usual scenic self and clear as well. We walked around town and up into some neighborhoods and did more shopping. Victoria was a bust. We got in late and only had a couple of hours in late evening to explore. There were shuttles to take people downtown in the dark, but we chose to stay on the ship. It is a real shame not to get a whole day in Victoria - it is a beautiful city with a gorgeous harbor and lots to do. Overall, I would rate this cruise a B+. It wasn't my favorite cruise (out of 13 so far), but it wasn't the worst either. For what we paid for it last-minute, I felt we got our money's worth and enjoyed a pleasant week's vacation. Still like Holland America as much as ever! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
My fiance and I picked this cruise because the reviews suggested there would be few children and it was not a party ship. We're under 35, we just don't have any interest in night clubs or sharing a pool with lots of screaming ... Read More
My fiance and I picked this cruise because the reviews suggested there would be few children and it was not a party ship. We're under 35, we just don't have any interest in night clubs or sharing a pool with lots of screaming children. The Oosterdam lived up to that with much more. The room was big (we had a balcony) and our service was great. Our room steward figured out that I was using all the ice to make ice packs for my back injury and started keeping my ziploc bag filled with ice for me. I thought the food was pretty good, certainly better than Carnival's, but the Lido selection was pretty small. Our dining room steward remembered the types of tea we liked and he even found as at one of the afternoon teas and brought us our tea right away. Excellent service. However, on the one night we wanted to do open seating so that we could make it to a movie showing. This was a mistake. I'm pretty sure Burger King offers better service than the open seating in the Vista. The line was long, but there were tons of open tables. The service was insanely slow. It took us 2 hours to get through dinner and we skipped coffee/tea to finally escape. There were plenty of servers literally standing around not doing anything (our table was near their prep area and I could see them standing in there leaning against the counters doing nothing). We also spoke with a few other passengers who told us they weren't enjoying open seating either. The Tracy Arm was great and we got up pretty close to the glacier. Our ports were great and it was even nice and sunny for as well. I liked the ship, not too big, but with everything you need. I really liked the movie theater and the aft (no-kids) hot tubs. The crow's next and Library were really nice too. I would recommend this ship and itinerary highly. Just don't do open seating. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
Husband and I sailed from Seattle to Alaska Sept 16-23. Embarkation was very smooth and we were on board within 30 minutes of arriving at the port. When we boarded at noon we were told the rooms were ready so we went to our VA Deluxe ... Read More
Husband and I sailed from Seattle to Alaska Sept 16-23. Embarkation was very smooth and we were on board within 30 minutes of arriving at the port. When we boarded at noon we were told the rooms were ready so we went to our VA Deluxe Verandah room to leave our carry ons. We loved the room on the Navigation Deck on the back 1/4 of the ship on the Starboard side. The Lido back pool was near our room, but we never heard any noise. We went to the Vista Dining Room for lunch and met some nice people from Arizona. Muster Drill went smoothly. Time to leave Seattle! It was a very nice warm sunny day, as were all 7 days of the cruise! We had Sun, Mon and Tues as sea days, and they went by quickly. We choose to eat most of our meals in the dining room, and we had open seating. Yopi checked us in for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. We were able to sit at the same table several times. Food was great every meal! Have a hard time understanding the people who say the meals were terrible. We had reservations in Canaletto on Tues night as we were leaving Tracy Arm. Great food and scenery. We played bingo each session and I finally won the last session but the game I won had 6 other winners. We each got $60. I was also in the finals of the slot tournament, but didn't win. I got a T shirt for husband. We loved the shows and thought the singers and dancers did a great job. Didn't go to the comedy night. ON Wed we arrived at Juneau. We took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. I would encourage everyone to do this. We loved it. Much cheaper in port than booking excursions on ship. We had lunch at the Red Dog Saloon. It was definately a tourist trap. Food was alright but very expensive. Also went to the local quilt shop. Thursday was Sitka. We tendered in, found a coffee shop with WIFI, then the local quilt shop. Walked around town a bit and then headed back to the ship. Friday was Ketchikan. I found the quilt shop very close to where we left the ship. I was able to buy lots of Alaska Batik and got some in each shop. We loved the fact that HA has priests on each sailing. Fr Carl was lovely. Had a good sense of humor. We attended Mass each day and were happy about it. Saturday we arrived in Victoria about 8:45. We got off the ship but only went to the souvenir shops at the port. Decided that we didn't want to get left in Victoria. felt bad for those who had excursions booked. Disembarkation went as smooth as embarkation. Our time to leave was 9:10 but we walked down at 8:50 and they said all bags were in the terminal. We walked on and went through security and customs very rapidly. Our son-in-law was picking us up and he was there, we were loaded and out of the terminal area by 9:30. I have nothing negative to say about Holland America. We are talking about going next September also. Because the weather was so nice, we sat out on our verandah several days. We won't go again unless we have a verandah. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
We had a great time on this cruise. The weather was amazing for Alaska; so we feel lucky. Those looking to book in September should realize the weather can be constant rain this time of year; however the lack of crowds make this ... Read More
We had a great time on this cruise. The weather was amazing for Alaska; so we feel lucky. Those looking to book in September should realize the weather can be constant rain this time of year; however the lack of crowds make this worthwhile. Plus a lot of the gift shops are having closing sales! Now onto the review: The Ship: The Good: I've been on NCL before (the Dawn) and loved this ship. There is a lot of elevators; so the wait was not too bad. They layout was great too; plenty of public spaces to enjoy. We never really felt crowded except on the Lido at breakfast. You really did not feel like 1900 people were on board with you. The Crows nest is a great spot; and the Library on this deck is a nice bonus. I liked how the space flowed together. Also having a roof on the main pool that can close is a nice bonus; plus there's a lot of spaces for shade if you are getting too much sun. The Bad: Note that the pictures featured are of the spa; I also kinda missed having a large atrium. That being said Id rather have more public spaces to gather in than open space in the center of the ship. Also the screening room where they show movies is really small. The Service: The Good: The service was great; I never felt accosted by servers pushing drinks and camera people taking pictures. It was a great bonus to have DVD's available to borrow; and a large amount of books to be lent out of the library. The crew was friendly; and seemed willing to go the extra mile. We were both fighting colds we caught on the plane; and our cabin ninja keep us stocked up on tissues. I also noted they served food to you on the Lido on the first 2 days; in order to avoid spread of norovirus. Why doesnt everyone do this? It seemed like a great idea to me. The captain seemed great. I especially liked his safety briefing and his overview on when to be back on the ship. He really drove the point home; to the point that everyone made the boat! The Bad: Nothing really came to mind. Note that meals are relaxed and take at least 1 1/2 hours; but we really didnt mind. We thought of it as an experience; and not a rushed meal. We tried open seating and never had a problem. Entertainment: The Good: The comics were pretty good and the headline show called Stage and Screen was excellent. The Bad: The first show was pretty hokey; and we felt the shows on NCL were better. Also some of the evening entertainment was pretty low key. So if you are looking to party this is not the ship for you. Read Less
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