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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Our family decided to take part of an Inspiration Cruise which chartered the Eurodam. We heard that we would be on one of the best ships and our pre-trip intel did not dissapoint. The ship and rooms were imaculate...we stayed in a ... Read More
Our family decided to take part of an Inspiration Cruise which chartered the Eurodam. We heard that we would be on one of the best ships and our pre-trip intel did not dissapoint. The ship and rooms were imaculate...we stayed in a Signature Suite (highly recommend). Our bed was so comfortable I did not want to leave!! You will get great sleep on this ship! The only thing we did not completely love was the food. It was hit or miss to our group. The salmon is always fresh and a good bet. Some of the meats did not hit the mark. However, if you want a wonderful meal you must do the Tamarind. BEST PART OF THE TRIP: THE CREW! We fell in love with the crew and if you go on the Eurodam you have to meet our favorites: Nanda (Lido | Tamarind) Best conversationalist and my personal favorite! Taufik (Dining Room | LIdo) Best Energy and Best Smile (We really enjoyed Taufik!) Frank and Nanda (Rooms) Just Wonderful from Beginning to End Dhana (Tamarind | Lido) (Go for dinner in Tamarind and get her table) Best Sense of Humor Peter (Lido) Great Conversationalist and story! Geran (Lido) Gentle Soul | Get him talking! (He shared how well the ship we were on is ranked and the only one to get 100 points each random inspection) Janice (Best Massage EVER) A must!!! Overall, you can't beat Alaska and if you are doing a cruise...take the Eurodam! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
My husband and I chose to go on this amazing Alaskan cruise July 7-14 because it was tied to Charles Stanley In-touch Ministries. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before and we were very excited. We splurged on our room and stayed ... Read More
My husband and I chose to go on this amazing Alaskan cruise July 7-14 because it was tied to Charles Stanley In-touch Ministries. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before and we were very excited. We splurged on our room and stayed in one of the Neptune Suites on the 7th deck in room 7064. It was mid ship and was perfectly located allowing us to enjoy morning coffee and a light breakfast from the Neptune Lounge. We LOVED everything about our room!!!!! With the exception of breakfast, the Lido food was generally average but with many choices.The Main Dining room was elegant but our designated table (175) was directly over the propellers on the second deck and it was very noisy. We also thought that while the menu looked impressive the quality of the food served was a bit disappointing.However, our waiter, Taufik, made up for much of our disappointment as he was amazingly friendly, funny, and gave us great service. Other crew members who helped make this cruise memorable were our room stewards, Frank & Nanda, who always made us feel special. Also the other Nanda (female) in the Lido dining area, and Dhana at Tamerind (best meal on the boat) could not have been more friendly and both were clever and funny! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I have taken been cruising since 1975 and have been on many different lines, but this was my first time on Holland America and was really looking forward to taking a "step up". The itinerary was wonderful and we really enjoyed ... Read More
I have taken been cruising since 1975 and have been on many different lines, but this was my first time on Holland America and was really looking forward to taking a "step up". The itinerary was wonderful and we really enjoyed the cruise from that aspect but the service was sub standard in my opinion. Our stateroom had a leftover champagne bottle and a few other items in the cabinets upon boarding and there was a layer of dust on the ledge behind the bed. Many of the chairs in the common areas were worn out with sprung seat cushions. This was a beautiful scenic cruise except the ship windows were dirty and were never cleaned during the two week cruise. I had dinner in the Pinnacle Grill and upon opening my menu had food fall from the menu into my lap. I have many other complaints but I think this gives you a good idea of why I gave this cruise a 2 star rating. There was generally a line at the customer service desk and the staff there actually got a tiny bit on the nasty side when trying to fend off the complaints - to be fair there were so many that they were probably very tired of handling them. On the plus side, I thought the food was very good and as I said before the itinerary was outstanding. I was also pleased with the entertainers that were brought onboard, the ship's singers and dancers were fine, typical cruise performers. Embarkation and Debarkation were quick, easy, no waiting around and I really liked how they handled it. The comfort level of inside temperature of the ship varied quite a bit. I was pleasantly surprised to find the dining room a very comfortable temperature and did not need a sweater for my short sleeved outfits. However, in the explorer cafe I had several layers on and still found it chilly. It seems that the outside temperature had a much greater influence on the inside temperature than on other ships I have been on. I was disappointed that it seemed like all the other entertainment revolved around food and drink - mostly drink - and of course all at additional expense. It was interesting to note that travel companions of ours who did attend many of these events got to know the cruise director quite well, he was always at the alcoholic events, but I am not sure I could even identify him since we rarely saw him. I did think it rather odd when we were sitting with our travel companions one day in an area very close to where the Sip & Savor event was to take place. He came over to offer to bring the Sip & Savor fare to them but never offered to bring it to us, indeed he did not even speak to us. I had already booked a second cruise with Holland America in January of 2019, I am sincerely hoping that it will be a different experience, but if not, they will never have my cruise business again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We cruised with friends that asked us to join them. The service was excellent and the shore stops were great. The singers and dancers were wonderful but the rest of the entertainment was second rate. We reserved a suite. At least we ... Read More
We cruised with friends that asked us to join them. The service was excellent and the shore stops were great. The singers and dancers were wonderful but the rest of the entertainment was second rate. We reserved a suite. At least we thought that was what we were supposed to get. First, it was no larger then a standard balcony cabin. All the suites were on the 6th deck which was right under the bars and buffet. They started setting up at 5:00 AM and didn’t finish until midnight. Every time someone moved a chair or table we heard it loudly in our cabins. We can’t understand why the most expensive cabins are the noisiest. This was supposed to be an upgrade. The food was hit and miss which surprised me because we have taken Holland America before and had great food. The soups were not good and some of the meats were very chewy. Other meals were outstanding. We boarded in Seattle and cruised as far north as Kodiak. The weather was wonderful with only one afternoon with rain. The water was as smooth as glass. We met some wonderful people and all in all it was a very enjoyable cruise. Embarkation was slow, but ok and disembarkation was wonderful. If you use their transfers, they have a deal with the airlines where they transfer your luggage right to the airline and you don’t touch them until you get home. And they don’t weigh the luggage. No restrictions. We had no children with us, but there were children on board and seemed to be enjoy themselves. We did not spend time in Seattle since we have been there several times. This was our second trip to Alaska, so we probably would not go again, but the scenery is so beautiful, it’s hard to not want to go back. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Two wk cruise that went further north where I haven’t been; Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage Hubbard Glacier and Sitka haven’t been since .1989. The water was like glass and weather couldn’t have been better. Only rained once which was in ... Read More
Two wk cruise that went further north where I haven’t been; Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage Hubbard Glacier and Sitka haven’t been since .1989. The water was like glass and weather couldn’t have been better. Only rained once which was in Anchorage. Hubbard glacier has been the most beautiful glacier I’ve ever ween! Also did dog sledding in Juneau to Tacu Glacier by Northstar. Check off on my bucket list. Smaller ship was very nice and staff fantastic Food not as good as it used to be but that’s the way it is on all the ships now. You would have to pay for what you used to get on formal nights. Formal nights not the same galas as in the past. But all in all Holland and the two week cruise was the best AK cruise Ive taken out of the last 6. First one was in 1989 on Princess. The photography staff was the best. They came to our cabin and took pictures in each of the glaciers of my Mom and me. It was her 78th cruise. Great time!!!’ Also stayed at the Seattle Fairmont. Beautiful old hotel. Did have trouble getting the limo promised by Holland to get from airport to hotel since my Mom couldn’t get up on a bus. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
because of the hype for the "Tweens" program....OMG so mistrepresented, our fault one week in summer, cruise afficeienados beware the portions are mnisule, the food more scooped than served the best is the hilarity of their ... Read More
because of the hype for the "Tweens" program....OMG so mistrepresented, our fault one week in summer, cruise afficeienados beware the portions are mnisule, the food more scooped than served the best is the hilarity of their sandwiches one inch strip of meat warm and soggy on a one inch piece of lettuce even warmer Worst entertainment ever, and bar service worst ever, a cafeteria line in a jail could have done better, how about we have no maraschino sherries maybe try another bar, how about we're out of blue cheese here walk to the other side maybe they have some..etc etc etc Lemon twists sews only have whole lemons no twists, it became comical horrible bar service and they could sell more more and more but they don't care my dog has a better command of the english language, this is not a trainee trip its a family vacation, they need help badly but remember its only a one week cruise so compromise p-revails Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I just submitted my review for our recent cruise. I rated it 5 stars out of 5: This is a quick and concise review compared to most of my previous ones. We have been to Alaska several times so I will not share the port reviews. The ... Read More
I just submitted my review for our recent cruise. I rated it 5 stars out of 5: This is a quick and concise review compared to most of my previous ones. We have been to Alaska several times so I will not share the port reviews. The Wife and I were looking for a relaxing getaway and we chose this Alaskan Cruise based on timing and price. 4th of July fell on a Wednesday this year and business-wise, it made a lot of sense for us to take this cruise during a very slow work week. When we shopped around for cruises during this time period, several months ago, we noticed that the Alaska Cruises were quite a bit pricier than past Alaskan seasons. Good economy? Lots of demand? Who knows. But Travelocity seemed to have quite a good deal and gave us $200 On-board Credit. Our Cruise price was a real bargain in comparison.. We chose an outside cabin in the front of the ship on the lower deck. Stateroom 1805 is designed for handicapped people but is about twice as big as a regular OV (DW is disabled) The stateroom was excellent in our opinion. Odd shape but well over 300 square feet. Plenty of storage space. Excellent room! We had an excellent stateroom attendant (Yusaf) and his assistant. They did a great job. As an example, we needed the beds rearranged and told them before the Muster Drill. We get back from the Muster Drill and the room is totally made up! We are earlyy diners and without telling Yusaf, he knew and made our rooms up quickly every night. Spotlessly! They both deserved the extra tips we gave them at the end of the cruise. Food and service was excellent. We stuck primarily to the Lido Buffet. There was fresh Salmon every day. They are also serving little Tapas style plates for dinner that were great...couscous salad, marinated vegetables, prawn salad and the like. Pinnacle Lunch is a great secret. Do not miss it. I'm telling you. Apparently the Rudy's Special Meal for $49pp for only one night is also a winner. We unfortunately did not get a chance to try it though. Amsterdam was spotless. Service was outstanding. Approx 1350 passengers are easier to manage than the massive megaships that abound. Our last Cruise was Emerald Princess over Thanksgiving with over 3500 pax and 700 children. Enough said on the comparison to this cruise! Tip: Do not try using the ship's internet while in port. For some reason it slows to a crawl. Works better out at sea. DW was on for 10 minutes in Ketchikan and could not even get into her e-mail account. It was that slow. We brought it up to the front desk who immediately re-credited her 10 minute session. No questions asked! Satellite works fine while we are not in port. Tip for you all! Embarkation and Disembarkation were a breeze. All in all, a great cruise and we got what we wanted. Relaxation and a reboot before going back to work the a day after disembarkation. Let me know if you have any questions. -Curtis Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We had to go this week due to kids’ activities in the summer. We spent one night in Seattle then got on the ship around noon. Our room was ready and the lido deck buffet was already being enjoyed. We explored the ship, set up our ... Read More
We had to go this week due to kids’ activities in the summer. We spent one night in Seattle then got on the ship around noon. Our room was ready and the lido deck buffet was already being enjoyed. We explored the ship, set up our phones, and started planning activities. The weather was lovely the entire trip! We only saw rain on the first day at sea when we watched rainbows and mountainsides and sipped coffee from the crow’s nest in comfy leather chairs. We dined in Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill as well as Rudi’s pop-up restaurant. We were not impressed with Tamarind and actually cancelled the second reserved night. Some of the favors were spot on, but the seafood did not seem fresh. I hated PG. I thought the menu was outdated and four of our steaks were over-cooked. Rudi’s was not what it was built up to be or worth the price. My husband said he liked the restaurant atmosphere and service over the main dining room. I did not think any were worth the extra cost. There is also a “sommelier” who is basically a cocktail server. They seem be irritated that we wanted to use our signature beverage plan to order drinks. We actually chose two glasses of wine the first night that were over the $9 cost and were charged full price. I thought we would be charged the difference. We did the helicopter to the dogsledding on a glacier for four. We splurged on this once in a lifetime experience at $649 per person. We were greeted by a high school girl who seemed distracted by her friends who were passing by as she was checking us in on the pier outside the ship. We had a 3:15 reservation and were to check in at 3:05. We were on time. When we handed her our tickets, she said, “how much do you weigh?“ to each of us. It was very embarrassing especially for my husband who weighs 250lbs. They charge people who weigh over 240 a $130 extra fee. The greeter shouted over to another teenager “how much we charge for heavy people?” OMG! We have already paid almost $3,000 for this three hour experience. The fee showed up on our cabin bill. At about 3:40, some other tenn age girl said, “alright, glaciers this way.” There were several tours going on and we weren’t sure what do do or if she was talking to us. So unprofessional. We got to the helicopter facility, were told to sit down to listen to safety presentation which was some 8 x 11 printouts of parts of the helicopter we were not to touch. We were given a locker they said they would lock when we left(?) for our purses and items not allowed on the flight. At 4:20, we finally got in the helicopter and took off. The flight and dog time were amazing but fast. We were back at the ship at 6:28. Worth it? Still not sure. I must warn anyone thinking about the “otters, raptors, and bears, Oh,My” excursion from Sitka. We started right on the boat to explore sea life. The main space was enclosed in glass and became miserably hot. There were no windows to open other than four 4 by 10 inch rectangles that provided a very slight breeze when we were moving. Upstairs was just railings for whale watching. Neither made a THREE HOUR boat ride comfortable. As soon as we docked, we were rushed to a bus. Not a nice or even decent bus. It had old upholstery that smelled musty and the weak ac came on after we sat there for 8 minutes until they turned on the engine. After they counted us twice, the driver announced that we would be going to the eagle location and then the fortress of the bears. I could not wait to get off the bus. When we stopped to see eagles, the driver said that due to the Fourth of July parade, we would need to be back on the bus in 27 minutes. The establishment was fine, and it was nice to see the Eagles. It turned out that 20 minutes would be enough time to see the facility. We got back on the bus and headed to the bears. Again it was announce that we should be back on the bus in 25 minutes. Ugh. The fortress of the bears was two giant round cylinders with a few bears in each. We went up the stairs to look down in the holding cells and down the other side. There were a bunch of hot miserable bears lying amongst garbage piles and puddles of mud. We do see a ton of eagles in the trees surrounding the bears. At the close of the tour, we were dumped off in town 6 miles from the ship. We could not wait to get off that awful bus and get back to the ship. Unfortunately and understandably, we could not get a shuttle back to the ship for over an hour because of the parade. Of course we were starving and thirsty after being on the boat and bus tour for five hours. We got lunch and waited in the longest line to get on a remodeled school bus that took us back to the Eurodam. Do not spend money on the trip. I don’t hate the boat part since we did see lots of sea life. Just beware of the type of boat you are signing up for. I’m afraid HAL is making the excursions seem a little more classy than what you actually get and charging a premium price for them. I loved the piano players! Especially Rachel! They play top hits and requests two or three times an evening. They were great! The casino was small but seemed perfect for the gamblers who were there. Slots and roulette are all we need. The shows in the theater were entertaining. The service was great all around the ship. Staff was upbeat and friendly. I could not believe how many knew our names by day one. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
CRUISED TO ALASKA - SIGNATURE SUITE 10005 This was a terrific experience all around! Embarked at Pier 91 in Seattle. Arrived by hired car (cheaper than a cab) around 12:15p...processed through and on the ship in under 20 minutes! ... Read More
CRUISED TO ALASKA - SIGNATURE SUITE 10005 This was a terrific experience all around! Embarked at Pier 91 in Seattle. Arrived by hired car (cheaper than a cab) around 12:15p...processed through and on the ship in under 20 minutes! Fast and friendly at every point. The ship was elegant and very much geared to the older crowd. We selected the Signature Spa Suite -- the room was VERY LARGE (see pics) and very comfortable. The room was different than described (jetted tub removed during renovations in 2017?) - but close to 450 sq ft...my estimate. Highly recommend the Panorama Deck - (10) - low traffic (not a lot of Staterooms) and easy staircase access to the Observation Deck (11) above - particularly the bar/coffee bar. (We got the drink packages and enjoyed a lot of cappuccinos and beers!) The Tamarind Restaurant was our favorite (went 2x) and service was fantastic. Food generally was VERY good in every venue...and nice variety at Lido Buffett. We went to the America Test Kitchen shows and the evening entertainment (Magic Show; comic; small orchestra)...enjoyed them all. The service by the staff was 10 out of 10 in every venue...stewards; help desk; dining...all top notch. Excursions were all exceptional as well. Felt like money well spent throughout! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We disembarked the Eurodam this morning after a glorious 7 day cruise to Alaska and I wanted to write a review as it is still fresh in my mind. The long and short of it is that we absolutely loved this ship. In order to not feel ... Read More
We disembarked the Eurodam this morning after a glorious 7 day cruise to Alaska and I wanted to write a review as it is still fresh in my mind. The long and short of it is that we absolutely loved this ship. In order to not feel melancholy yesterday, our last day, I spent some time researching our next cruise, and it will also be on the Eurodam, to the Mexico Riviera out of San Diego. Almost everything about this ship was perfect for us...perfect size, perfect entertainment (except for their seating capacity, but more on that later), perfect service, perfect layout...yup, we loved it. It certainly helped that we had perfectly clear and sunny days the entire cruise with temperatures in the mid 70s. Even in notoriously rainy ports, we had golden sunshine. Thank you Universe! We arrived at the Seattle port around 11:00 after having booked Seattle Express' round trip service, from our Seatac Airport hotel to the pier, and then from the pier to the airport at the end of the cruise. Seattle Express performed flawlessly and the cost was $30 per person round trip. As we walked from the shuttle drop off area toward the terminal, I was surprised at the lack of porters, not shortage, but actual lack, as in there simply weren’t any. We continued into the terminal where we were directed to deliver our own “checked” bags deep into the terminal where they were taken by what appeared to be security personnel. We then retraced our steps back where we then entered the checking-in process area at the front of the terminal. In multiple Florida ports, at Baltimore's port, and at Galveston's port, there have always been a multitude of porters ready to take your “checked” luggage. This did not pose a big problem for us as we were physically able to roll our large suitcase in one hand, our carry on in the other, and our tote over our shoulders. For those less physically capable, this might pose a problem. It was the first time we've ever had to deliver our “checked” bag deep into the terminal. Maybe we were too early at 11:00? Once entering the check-in area we moved smoothly though security, then pretty much walked right up to an agent who checked us in and provided us with our stateroom key cards that also act as your onboard “charge cards” with all onboard purchases being put onto your account after presenting this card. The agent also gave us a boarding group card which assigns you to a group with which to board. We were given Group J and our friend with whom we were traveling was given Group I. We were told to board as a group using the lower Group I card as there are not a number of passengers assigned to the group card. Surprisingly, the waiting area was already completely full, standing room only. They started boarding shortly after we arrived to the waiting area and even with Group I (I wasn’t really listening to who they boarded before Group A) we were only in the waiting area for maybe 15-20 minutes before boarding. There was no backup on the entry ramp as you so often find, instead a smooth and steady walk right onto the ship. There are people to welcome you aboard and direct you to the center elevators. Our cabins were just forward of the aft elevators, on decks 5 and 6, so we politely veered to the left. We proceeded to the aft elevators and immediately caught an elevator and were in our cabins moments later by 11:45. Definitely one of the smoother embarkations I’ve been a part of. Our cabin was a Signature Suite, #6106, which is one of 2 category SZ cabins, and not so easy to come across as they can run a few hundred less than other Signature Suites, maybe because the cabins just aft of them have the balconies that jut out and can look onto the SZ balconies. Don’t know for sure, but I saw no reason to not book one if you come across it being offered. The cabin was absolutely gorgeous. The bathroom like a high end hotel. Look at the YouTube video of “Eurodam Signature Suite in English and in Spanish” I think is how they named it. That is the starboard SZ Signature Suite oposite our port side one. Our cabin stewards were pleasant, efficient, and thorough. I’ve noticed in the past few years that the relationship one could develop with the stewards has been effected as the number of cabins they are responsible for has increased. They seem to have less time for pleasantries, although always pleasant. And they look so tired. I try to not disrupt their work, but always offer a friendly hello and am greeted back by name. I was shocked at just how far forward of our cabin I found our steward working. But I always returned to our cabin in the afternoon with it having been pristinely cleaned and in the evening with it having been turned down, refreshed, and decorated with a towel animal. We had coffee delivered every morning at either 6:00 or 7:00. The delivery was punctual, pleasant, and was always followed up with a call 15 minutes or so later asking if everything was okay. Nice touch. I did follow others' advice and wrote in next to the coffee order “Carafe please, brew STRONG”. I also wrote next to the area I marked for half and half “Cream please, NOT milk”. The first morning they did in fact bring milk instead of half and half, and this was corrected after I mentioned it during their follow up call. I was assured it would not happen again, and it didn't. This morning, debarkation morning, was the only morning we ordered breakfast to the room. It arrived hot, on time, and delicious. We did not order any other meals with room service. Lunch was ordered through our cabana steward by the Lido Pool. I will talk more about the cabana later. But our cabana steward would print out the Lido buffet menu every day around 11:00 and bring us whatever we chose from the Lido Buffet menu, from the Dive In Burger/Hot Dog place, or the Pizza Place when we were ready to order. We then ate in our cabana. The one day we chose to walk through the buffet line and find a table in the Lido dining room, we did experience a shortage of tables and had to wait for one to empty and be cleaned. The food at the Lido buffet ranged from average to great (Indonesian Nasi Goreng and Chicken Sate were some of the best I’ve ever had, thank you Indonesian chefs!). Dinner in the Main Dining Room, 8:00 seating upstairs, was how I remember cruise ship dining from 15 years ago. And by that I mean elegant, with great service, tasty choices, and served hot. Unfortunately my reference over the past 15 years has steadily gone downhill as Carnival and Royal Caribbean have lowered their standard year after year until it has become the Golden Corral of the Seas. I have cruised Carnival and Royal Caribbean as they offer cruises leaving from Galveston which is a 3 hour drive for us. That convenience has kept us loyal to them, but no longer. I will now pay the airfare for Holland America cruises. I forgot how much I Ioved cruising until falling back in love aboard the Eurodam. I was surprised at how much I did NOT enjoy Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill. I had consistently read great reviews for both but eating at both actually made me miss our Main Dining Room experiences. Our Tamarind reservation was late, at 9:00, as we made it for the evening we were in Juneau with a 10:00PM sail away. We wanted to stay ashore later, so we made reservations later. My entree, the sea bass, was served room temperature, and my side dish of stir fried cucumber/veggies was also cold, and it was meant to be a hot dish, I asked. The other dishes were not memorable. I know I'm in the minority here, but I just did not enjoy the food, and I’m a huge fan of all Asian foods. Good to know I can save that money next time. As for Pinnacle Grill, the steaks, my rib eye and my husband's porterhouse were simply not good cuts of meat. My husband could not work through his, the gristle was overwhelming. Mine had a weird mushy texture....meat tenderizer? Our meal at the Pinnacle Grill was included with our Explore 4 promotion, so there was nothing for them to adjust, and they apologized profusely, but we just weren’t hungry for what they had to offer after this experience. Again, I know I’m in the minority here, but, we did not like like the Pinnacle Grill at all. Lesson learned for us. Stick with the Main Dining Room where the food and service were consistently top notch. We enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails in the Ocean Bar listening to the sounds of the solo piano player. Lovely way to start our evening. As for after dinner entertainment, the musicians and singers at B.B. King were outstanding, I mean really really good. As were the players/singers at the Billboard Onboard Dueling Pianos. Unfortunately I only got to enjoy them while standing in the back of the room or in the hallway outside the venues. We would go after dinner wanting to enjoy the great music and there was never a seat to be had. Never. One night my husband waited for one to be available and after 20 minutes he was able to score a single seat. This was my main disappointment on this cruise. I never got to sit down, have a cocktail, and enjoy these excellent musicians. I just wasn’t willing to arrive at the venues 45 minutes early to gain seats for 3. The Main Stage Productions were good. Lots of energy and talent. A pleasant way to spend some time. I almost don’t want to say it, because I want them to be available when I cruise, but the best buy of the cruise was the $200 we spent for a Lido poolside cabana for 7 days. It was comfy, cozy, had great service, cold water bottles, fruit, chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling wine served mid afternoon, and lunch orders taken and served in the cabana. It was a great place for the 3 of us to meet up, take in the views, and generally just chill out. Absolutely warm enough even in Alaska with the roof closed. If you can spare the money, spend it. Disembarkation was super smooth. We used the Port Valet service offered aboard the Eurodam. You fill out the paperwork they provide you in the cabin one day and the day before debarkation you get an envelope with your airline boarding pass, a luggage tag if you have checked baggage, and an early debarkation Group, ours was for 7:45. You put the luggage tags on your checked luggage, leave your checked luggage outside your cabin before midnight, and it gets checked all the way to your final destination! No more searching for your bags among the hundreds in the terminal, no more lugging your own huge suitcase off the ship, and it costs nothing! The $25 baggage fee associated with 1st checked bag with Alaska Air was charged to our ship's account. Our luggage was on the baggage claim carousel at our final destination so this service was an outstanding option. I didn’t expect perfect, and yes the music venues are too small, and the paid restaurants disappointed us, but I have my next cruise already picked out, and it’s on the same ship. So yeah, I loved it. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
I'm tired of all the mega ships, lack of service and employees with attitude. I've always considered Holland America a step above and they didn't disappoint. Accommodations were good and food was very good in the dining ... Read More
I'm tired of all the mega ships, lack of service and employees with attitude. I've always considered Holland America a step above and they didn't disappoint. Accommodations were good and food was very good in the dining room although I did visit the Pinacle Grill. I was really pleased with the entertainment for a smaller ship. The staff was very accommodating and seemed to genuinely enjoy their work. I appreciated the lack of long lines on and off the ship. The trip to Hubbard Glacier was amazing. Being a smaller ship we were able to get very close with much calving of the glacier. The entertainment was very good with entertainers who could actually sing! I've been very disappointed of late at the quality on the mega ships . Getting on and off the ship were a breeze. I loved the service of having my luggage tagged all the way to my home airport once it was placed in the hallway. I always heard Holland was for old people but found many single, families and middle aged couples. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was my first cruise ever and I've wanted to go to Alaska for 17 years. I chose this cruise because it went to destinations other cruise lines did not cover. I had friends that told me I would love cruising. I saved for over a ... Read More
This was my first cruise ever and I've wanted to go to Alaska for 17 years. I chose this cruise because it went to destinations other cruise lines did not cover. I had friends that told me I would love cruising. I saved for over a year to take this trip and the entire thing ended up being over 15K (excursions, expenditures, etc.). I was guaranteed a BB stateroom (navigation deck) and received a suite on the deck 6 instead that was supposedly an upgrade. Not. Directly over entertainment and noisy. The ship had norovirus and that made things rather unpleasant for both crew and passengers, since you had to disinfect yourself 4 times to walk across the deck and several group activities were cancelled. The cruise continued; I did not contract the virus. But it didn't make things much fun. I found the crew, who were primarily from the Phillipines, polite, but not friendly. A polite smile and genuine warmth are two different things. Some had language difficulties. Overall, I didn't feel like anyone on the ship particularly cared if I lived or died; I was just a room number. After 3 days, I had to ask to have my sheets changed. Considering the charges for the room and service, I should not have had to ask and there was nothing there to indicate they would not be changed daily. Ick. The "flowers" supposedly in your room are "flower" - a single carnation that did not make an appearance at all the last 3 or 4 days. As this was my first cruise experience, I had high expectations in regards to food and had to ratchet them way down. There is a lot of food, and it is presented in a lovely way, but it is not especially fresh or tasty. The bread was stale every single day. My own cooking is better and I was very disappointed. Particularly hideous were the sandwiches, the pasta, the fried chicken, and the crab legs served at the Pinnacle Grill. "Hash browns" actually made me laugh; they looked like kid's hash browns - little triangles out of a plastic bag. Particularly good were salads (as long as you don't expect them ice cold and crisp), soups, made-to-order eggs, and selected desserts. The way another traveller put it was that it was just "restaurant food" and that sums it up. Not a high-end restaurant. Eating at the restaurant venue (not the buffet) involved standing in line and generally they seat you with strangers. It takes a long time to get through the meals. I didn't find the Gala Nights worth dressing up for. Also, someone needs to tell the crew that no flowers are infinitely better than dead flowers. We had the "special" restaurant package and there were dead flowers on every table. The shipboard activites were described as "geriatric" by one passenger, but I thought that was disrespectful to geriatric persons everywhere. There simply weren't many shipboard activities, they tended to be repetitive, and they weren't especially interesting. I find that "over 18" and "under 115" normally respond pretty much the same way to activities that are interesting. And I think Holland needs to get on the stick; baby boomers and younger aren't really your typical "geriatric" set. The productions were, well, I can't really describe them. I will just have to say that I was laughing out loud at the shipboard versions of Madonna, the Rolling Stones, and Sir Elton. The entertainers could sing, and they could dance, but they couldn't rock 'n roll. Rock 'n roll has a soul and is a bit more...gritty. I'm almost tired of typing, but I want anyone considering this cruise to also be aware of the port excursions. I did not know you had to beware of the on-board shopping coordinator; the ship is in cahoots with certain port stores that give a kickback. The jewelry stores are manned by Indian personnel who are just there for the season, and once you walk in the door, you can't get out. If you are in the market for high-end jewelry, be prepared to spend a LOT of time being pressured. Be prepared to bargain. You might have zapped in there just to get the free charm your shipboard coordinator told you about, but expect that only after at least an hour and if you are really determined to have it. And expect your shipboard coordinator to join in to help the jewelers. Hideous experience; like being in Vegas where they'll give you free show tickets to listen to their condo spiel. Awful. Look for local stores not subsidized by the ships and that are open all year. In terms of paid excursions, it's very hit-or-miss. We took a "russian tea" excursion that was the worst thing ever - like a few church ladies got together and planned a little function. Not russian tea, terrible snacks, in an episcopalian church lobby, entertainment by balalaika players whilst you sat at folding tables being served from a crockpot, wondering when it would be over. I liked Icy Strait Point which has native americans running and supporting everything, and I loved Homer. Homer had an excursion on a catamaran to see a rookery; we saw everything. whales, sea otters, crested puffins, bald eagles, everything. And the Homer spit is, in my opinion, the best place to poke around and shop. I wish we had more time there. The port of Victoria BC was cancelled as the ship couldn't get in to dock. It was windy that day and evidently it was enough to make it difficult. Elsewhere, I learned to pan for gold; it was like something set up for kids, as the pans were the size of a snack dish. But the salmon bake was very nice; beautiful setting, entertainment, good food. The musher's camp was good. In hindsight, I'd opt for physical activities or being out on the water for every excursion. I signed up for different activities in every port, thinking about variety. I think there were too many activities and talks that appeared to be something planned for an 8-year-old; what I disliked most about both shipboard and non-shipboard activities was that they were almost dumbed down to the point of being insulting or condescending. Also, be aware that the sommeliers on board aren't. Sommeliers, that is. I paid 60 bucks for a bottle of Very Bad Wine. I knew it might not be what I totally loved when there was no year specified in the wine list, but at that price, whatever is ordered should minimally be well-balanced and drinkable. Holland has a hub in Washington, for God's sake. They have access to outstanding wines from Washington, Oregon, and California. They should hire some people with a decent palate and stock good wines. If it's their margin they're worried about, you can buy good wine with a decent balance at 12-15 bucks. Just sayin'... So that was my sole, first, and likely last cruising experience. The most expensive vacation I've ever had and one of my least favorite experiences. Next time, I fly in to (wherever), rent a car, take a ferry or seaplane, and sign up for any tours I'd like to take on-line or when I'm actually at that location. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
My husband and I are active thirty-somethings who love to travel. For about half our trips, we choose to cruise rather than plan everything on our own. This was our 7th cruise together. We previously sailed with HAL on a 3 night cruise in ... Read More
My husband and I are active thirty-somethings who love to travel. For about half our trips, we choose to cruise rather than plan everything on our own. This was our 7th cruise together. We previously sailed with HAL on a 3 night cruise in October of 2016. SEATTLE We stayed two nights at a lovely Airbnb in the Magnolia neighborhood. We enjoyed walking around the peaceful streets, hiking through Discovery Park, and watching boats pass through the Ballard Locks. It was a great start to our vacation! EMBARKATION The Airbnb was near Pier 91, so it was a short Lyft ride there. The Port of Seattle knows what they're doing! We were greeted by many smiling employees who directed passengers efficiently. We were able to drop off our luggage without being bothered by porters. Check-in was quick and easy, and we waited a short time to board. From drop off time to boarding the ship, the whole process took less than 30 minutes. Great job Seattle!! SHIP The Eurodam is in good condition and easy to navigate. There is only one spot for smokers on this ship. (As a nonsmoker, I was thrilled!!) Even the casino was smoke-free, so I was able to actually enjoy the bars in that area. The atrium is very compact and not conducive for prolonged hanging out. There is a wrap around promenade on deck 3, which was usually a peaceful place to walk or relax. However, it often smelled of varnish, so we would only traverse certain sections of the deck. The Crow's Nest has been revamped and now focuses on shore excursions. It was always very busy here and not very relaxing. DINING For embarkation lunch, the dining room was closed for a private event. This was the one and only time we ate in the buffet. The food here was very lackluster, and the drink service was slow. The rest of our meals were consumed in the dining room. The dining room staff did a great job! Breakfast each morning was very good with plenty of options. My favorite was the muesli. For lunch, we preordered our meals the day before from the vegetarian menu. Both of us eat fish, seafood, and poultry, but we enjoyed using the vegetarian option. The menu was more diverse and flavorful than the MDR lunch choices. For one lunch, we requested our food be delivered by room service, which was a nice treat. Most of the dinners were good. We did the anytime dining and were often asked if we would like to share a table, which we always turned down. There was never an issue getting a table for two. As a word of warning, if the ship is moving at a high speed, avoid the back of the dining room on deck 2. The engine was loud and made the tables shake. It was hard to converse in this area. On the second Gala Night, we ate in Canaletto. It was delicious, and the service was highly attentive! I wish the restaurant was in a more private area away from the buffet. ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES This is the area HAL really needs to work on. Sea days offered little to do, and we found ourselves getting bored. Many of the activities offered (i.e. test kitchen, EXC talks) were just sit and listen things. We would prefer more active options (i.e. dance classes). The only show we attended was the BBC Earth presentation about Alaska. The live music was great, and the presentation was interesting. The Music Walk is a good idea. The Lincoln Center Stage group played diverse music from classical to Led Zeppelin. The dueling pianos in the Billboard Onboard were good, but we never stayed long here. We prefer to dance. The BB King band is awesome, and we were able to do our dancing here. However, one of the players had to be quarantined due to illness, and the band did not play for 3 nights in a row. This was a big disappointment. I understand one band member could not perform, but I have seen bands on other ships work around issues like this and still perform. For the rest of the cruise, we had to make our own fun. Thankfully, I packed a deck of cards. There were also board games in the Gallery Bar. SIGNATURE BEVERAGE PACKAGE Our booking included the Explore4 Promotion, so we both received the signature beverage package. This was a great deal! Plenty of alcoholic drinks are covered, and bottled water and specialty coffees are also included. We were able to order Evian at every meal, and we even got bottles to take with us on port days. Each evening, we would have a cocktail in our favorite spot, the Tamarind Bar, and then enjoy a glass (or two) of wine in the MDR. I'm not sure if it would be worthwhile to buy the package at the full price, but if you can get the Explore4, then go for it! PORTS This is where the cruise shined!! Alaska is absolutely breathtaking! In Juneau, we took a Juneau Tours bus to Mendenhall Glacier, which allowed us to spend all the time we wanted there. We saw a family of black bears!! We hiked to Nugget Falls, and it was completely worth it. Such a beautiful place! Glacier Bay was amazing! We spent most of the day on the bow just taking it all in. I had seen pictures of this place before, but they do not do it justice. A park ranger provided just the right amount of commentary as the captain guided us around tiny icebergs. We spent an hour in front of Margerie Glacier and saw a tiny bit of calving. Sitka was my favorite town. We docked at a pier five miles from town. Free shuttles to downtown were provided. We visited the Sitka Sound Science Center. It's small, but it's worth visiting. The staff were friendly and informative. The touch tanks were cool. How many aquariums let you touch a starfish or a sea cucumber? We went hiking in Sitka National Historical Park. We had planned to visit the raptor center, but while we were in the park, we came across a bald eagle posing on a tree trunk. We stood watching him in awed silence for at least 10 minutes. After seeing this, we felt we could skip the raptor center. We also hiked to the beach and saw even more bald eagles! A group was hunting for fish and flew back and forth over our heads between the water and the trees. It was amazing!! In Ketchikan, we hiked around town. We were able to easily get away from the touristy areas and enjoy the natural beauty. There is very little time here, so we weren't able to do more. Victoria is the only disappointment on the port list. We did the Harbour Walk but felt like there wasn't much to see, especially compared to the Alaskan wilderness. There is a very long pier next to the cruise dock, and we enjoyed walking out on that. Perhaps Victoria would have been more enjoyable if we had arrived earlier. Being there from 6pm to 11pm is an odd choice. DISEMBARKATION Again, the Port of Seattle did a great job!! We were off the ship and in a cab in about 10 minutes. FYI, taxis charge a flat rate of $40 from Pier 91 to the airport. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary & this cruise line because of our positive experience on our only other cruise up the east coast of US into Canada also on Holland America. Our stateroom was on Level 5 midships with ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary & this cruise line because of our positive experience on our only other cruise up the east coast of US into Canada also on Holland America. Our stateroom was on Level 5 midships with verandah so we were able to enjoy the views even more. We took 7 shore excursions through Holland America & felt they were good value & helped us make best use of our time. We arranged our own Hop On in Bergen but that day it was pouring rain(which isn't unusual in Bergen) so we cut the day short after seeing a couple of museums & having lunch near the Fish Market. We arranged our own activities in Amsterdam pre & post cruise(I Amsterdam cards were a big help). The specialty restaurants on the ship are very good(used Dining Around option). Service in the Main Dining Room can be slow & food tends to have cooled down before being served. The Lido is usually crowded but great selection & very convenient. Entertainment is very good in the smaller venues & ok on the Wold Stage. Library is pitiful(used paperbacks in different languages apparently left by other travellers). No laundry facilities which was ok by us as we chose the unlimited option(extra charge) & the laundry was returned promptly the following morning. Geiranger was the most beautiful port & they are restricting the ships to only 2 a day. Glad to have the opportunity to visit the North Cape;Flam etc. Embarkation;disimbarkation & tenders went smoothly. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
We cruise several times a year and this was my first time on Holland America. I was told this line catered to a decidedly older age group and was a quieter ship than say a Carnival cruise. We bid to upgrade from our midship inside ... Read More
We cruise several times a year and this was my first time on Holland America. I was told this line catered to a decidedly older age group and was a quieter ship than say a Carnival cruise. We bid to upgrade from our midship inside stateroom, which we typically book because we like the dark for sleep and stable midship inside cabins, to a room with a window due to us cruising Alaska. Embarkation went smoothly as we always choose a late time, so we were able to go directly to our stateroom to drop off our carry on bags. The cabin "upgrade" was room 3300 located at the very front of the ship and had a partially obstructed view. There is definitely more movement being at the front of the ship, but we have our sea-legs and do not get motion sick. However, shortly into our cruise the room flooded due to a broken pipe and Holland America refused to move us to another cabin claiming the ship was full. We had two days of a very loud industrial fan running in our cabin and were unable to use the cabin except to shut the fan off at night to sleep. The humidity in the cabin was awful and sleeping was difficult. Beyond the obvious frustration of the large and loud fan, the cabin was just inside the door in the hall leading out to the deck, so there were people constantly going in and out the door which is steel and quite loud. All day people were coming and going just outside the window. Our destinations and itinerary were fine and we enjoyed seeing Alaska and Canada. If I had it to do over, I would have told my husband not to upgrade. We are about to set sail for a full month of cruising across the Atlantic and up the coast of Norway to the arctic circle for the summer solstice. We did not book Holland America for either leg of our journey and we have returned to our tried and true inside cabin midship. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Great trip. 14 days soooo much better than the 7 due to ability to really settle in and be cozy. The 7 day was great, mind you, but this 14 day itinerary had so much more. We want to do it again. Service staff is consistently wonderful, ... Read More
Great trip. 14 days soooo much better than the 7 due to ability to really settle in and be cozy. The 7 day was great, mind you, but this 14 day itinerary had so much more. We want to do it again. Service staff is consistently wonderful, kind, heartful. Love the public rooms except for bad music choices in Crows Nest. Food on Lido excellent as usual. Lots of choices, usually tasty, and fresh. There were little things we would like to see improved such as the music choices in public areas and the one smoking area on back deck leaves smoke drifting across the whole back deck when the wind blows it...unfortunate as the back deck is one of our favorite places! Wi-fi is extra cost, which is a bother, but able to hit free wi-fi spots in ports. This itinerary was just super, and we had outstanding weather all but Ketchikan where rain is the norm. Homer, Sitka, Kodiak, Icy Strait Point were all great fun and beauty. We did Endicott Arm instead of Tracy Arm due to ice. Endicott was fabulous. Hubbard was amazing! Active calving was a real treat. If you use the Port Valet service reprint your boarding passes at the airport before TSA. One of ours would not scan and we had to go back. Amazing trip. Love HAL and this size ship. Zaandam and Volendam are super. Shuttle to and from airport is nice, though the departure shuttle ran an hour later than schedule which made for some nervousness. Shore excursions can be planned independently for less cost. We found public transportation and walking quite useful at various ports. Did a trip with Chugach Adventures from Anchorage and it was superb....train, wildlife center, Spencer Glacier, river float...about 11-12 hour day of greatness. Did a water taxi and hike to Grewingk Glacier from Homer...excellent! Walked to Raptor Center and Totem park in Sitka, plus public bus available to the Fortress of the Bears. SUPER. Hikes in Juneau on Mt Roberts were terrific and only cost the tram fare. Mendenhall is a great hike after shuttle also and can transport to the glacier can be arranged after you step off the ship (about $30RT). Ketchikan has a free bus which goes to Totem Heritage Center and other spots in town. You can walk to the Discovery center..,well worth a visit to both. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
Great itinerary...fantastic staff. The workers were fantastic, they worked so hard to please. It seemed to me, though, Holland America has cut back on the number of waiters and bus boys as we experienced long delays in the dining room. ... Read More
Great itinerary...fantastic staff. The workers were fantastic, they worked so hard to please. It seemed to me, though, Holland America has cut back on the number of waiters and bus boys as we experienced long delays in the dining room. Again, I stress, this was of no fault of the servers, I think there were just not enough of them to go around, some handling 4 or 5 tables of 6 plus people. I also think there were not enough cabin stewards as our steward had a whole hallway..that is a lot of cabins! Food was good, and plenty of it, portion sizes were big. Lido Deck buffet stayed crowded and it was hard to find a table to sit at during peak times. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth as silk as were disembarkation in ports. We did not have to tender at all. Entertainment was good and there was a good variety. There were not a lot of activities happening on the ship during the day,although, I guess I should clarify that statement. I have been on numerous Holland American cruises and they all have the computer classes, test kitchen and encounter talks. They were there but I had done a lot of them already on other ships and wasn't interested in doing them again. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Great Alaskan Explorer Cruise June 4 – 18, 2018 ~~~Embarkation Day~~~ Embarkation Day started early for me on June 4, 2018, rising at 4 am for my SuperShuttle pickup at 4:45 am. I was collected right on time and soon was ... Read More
Great Alaskan Explorer Cruise June 4 – 18, 2018 ~~~Embarkation Day~~~ Embarkation Day started early for me on June 4, 2018, rising at 4 am for my SuperShuttle pickup at 4:45 am. I was collected right on time and soon was transferred to the Orange County Airport for the 6:50 am Alaska Airlines flight #519 for Seattle. Time was sufficient for a quick McDonald’s Egg McMuffin with sausage before boarding my flight which departed right on time. Of course, at John Wayne Airport, no flights are permitted to take off before 7 am, so there is always a long line of aircraft waiting their turn. The flight to Seattle took a little over a couple of hours and was quite smooth. My “Premium Seat” 7D worked out very well and I enjoyed a couple of Bloody Mary’s in route. Landing in Seattle and disembarking at Gate N12 the North Terminal required using the underground train to get to the main terminal and to Baggage Claim where, after retrieving my suitcase, I found several Holland America personnel directing me to their waiting bus for my prepaid transfer to the pier. First I had to open my suitcase to move the bottle of wine I had brought to my carry-on Princess bag and to put my headphones and Miralax back inside the suitcase, also attaching the Holland America baggage tag. Then it was off to Pier 91 and the ms Zaandam, about an hour’s ride, due to Interstate 5 construction, arriving about 11 am. Check in went very quickly and then there was a wait for boarding. I had been informed that for my cabin 2565 on Main Deck, boarding would not occur until 2 pm. Fortunately, this was not the case as my boarding group “E” was allowed to board around noontime; I quickly found my stateroom, just forward of amidships, a very good location as it is turning out to be. Of course, my suitcase would not be delivered for a while so I chose to have lunch in the Main Dining Room on Decks 4 and 5, at the rear of the ship. Only the bottom level of the dining room was open and I was seated at a table for two, enjoying a nice lunch. My suitcase was delivered shortly after returning to my cabin and I spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing until the mandatory safety drill at 3:30 pm, a real confusing mish-mash. Holland America has EVERYONE locate at his or her safety muster site outside on the Lower Promenade Deck 3 (mine was “5”), and stand quietly while listening to the Captain’s safety lecture. Princess Cruises does this procedure in a much more acceptable fashion, gathering everyone into one of their several large lounges with comfortable seats while listening to the safety lecture. Oh, well... Dinner was scheduled - for me on Late Dining, at 7:45pm at Table 37 on the second level of the Main Dining Room. But first, the ship departed Seattle for our 14-day Alaskan cruise at 4 pm and most passengers chose to appear on one of the outer decks for sail away. Dinner went well, joining my tablemates Gwen and Jerry from Clovis, CA. So went Embarkation Day for my wonderful cruise again to Alaska! ~~~Day 2 – At Sea Cruising Vancouver Island~~~ Today is an “at sea day” and we are cruising along in the Pacific Ocean just off shore of Vancouver Island. The seas have been a bit choppy today with rain on and off. Most probably tomorrow when we are in Ketchikan it will also be raining. You know the weather forecast for Ketchikan: it is either raining, has been raining, or is going to rain! With my suitcase finally unpacked and things put away, I am spending the day relaxing from my very full day yesterday, traveling to Seattle from Orange County. Tonight is the first of three formal nights or, as HAL says, “Gala Nights”, so I will have to drag out my coat and tie; the tuxedo was left at home! Television in my stateroom is on most of the time; besides the HAL channels, there are MSNBC, ESPN, CNBC, BBC and, of course, FOX (not my choice!) There will be a time change tonight to Alaska Time, one hour earlier than Pacific Time. Although “refurbished” earlier this year, the TV sets are still the older flat panel ones. The carpet all looks quite new and fresh, however, Many of Holland America’s old favorites are now long gone: the guy with the pillbox hat, ringing chimes to announce dinner; (others escape me right now.) The ship itself, built in 2000, is still in pristine condition with lots of beautiful public rooms, two-level dining room, and theatre... Clientele remains on the older side with very few children present, and the entertainment is definitely chosen with the more mature customer in mind. I feel right at home! At 7:45 pm, my dining time, the Captain was also hosting his welcome toast, so I was a few minutes late arriving at my Table 37, only to find that two other couples had taken my seat! When I demanded an explanation from the Maitre ‘d, I received an apology and seated at a nearby table for two. I was furious! Evidently my tardiness in arrival had been the reason the four other people being seated at MY table. I was assured that that would not happen again, and the Maitre ‘d knew that otherwise I would complain bitterly to Seattle, the head office for HAL! At 10 pm, the ship singers and dancers presented their first performance, and it was quite good. Most of the music was unfamiliar to me but the four singers - two guys and two gals, in addition to three male and two female dancers, gave us all a very entertaining show. Then it was off to bed; tomorrow will be in Ketchikan. ~~~Day 3 – Ketchikan~~~ As expected, our arrival in Ketchikan this morning at 8 am was greeted with scattered showers that persisted throughout the day, requiring my trusty umbrella to shield against the light rain. My plans were simple for the day: take the funicular up to the Cape Fox Lodge, which overlooks the city and harbor, and to dine at the restaurant there, enjoying their excellent halibut along with a pint of Alaskan Amber beer. Leaving the ship (which was docked conveniently directly at the center dock) at about 11 am, I used my umbrella and found my way to the entrance to the funicular, at the very end of Creek Street, another favorite tourist attraction of Ketchikan. Paying my $3 to the attendant, I had no wait at all for the next funicular and was soon on my way up the short distance to the Lodge, retaining my ticket stub for the return trip down. I was again in luck that the restaurant had just started their lunch service at 11:30 am and was seated at a choice window table overlooking the downtown and harbor where the ms Zaandam was docked. My menu selection was, of course, their three-piece halibut and chips for $21, and my Amber beer for $7. Happiness is knowing - and getting - what you want! After lunch - including a second Amber, I returned back down the funicular, again using my umbrella against the light rain. At the base of the funicular is one of the entrances to Creek Street and I decided to walk along. It was at this very location in 2009 while visiting on the Pacific Princess that I encountered - by chance - Bruce and Joy Winston, friends I had made on a Viking river cruise in 2007; they were on a Holland America ship docked in Ketchikan. What a coincidence! With my belly full of Alaskan halibut, the rest of the afternoon was spent napping and watching MSNBC. The day before I had changed my reservations at the Pinnacle Grill, a specialty restaurant aboard, so that tonight I would dine for the first of two times there. Patric, my good friend and travel agent, also sent me a reservation to the Pinnacle Grill which I will use on June 11th; thank you, Patric! My dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, which charges $35 surcharge, was at 7:30 pm and was superb! The shrimp cocktail I had to start with had huge shrimp the size of small lobsters! And the 10-ounce filet mignon was THE VERY BEST steak I have ever tasted! Cooked to perfection and absolutely tender! Yum yum! I slept very well! ~~~Day 4 – Cruising the Endicott Arm~~~ According to our published itinerary, today we were scheduled to cruise the Tracy Arm, viewing the Sawyer Glaciers at the far end of this lengthy fjord. However, the Captain announced that due to the over abundance and density of ice flows in the Tracy Arm, making navigation impossible, we would instead cruise up the nearby Endicott Arm, another lengthy fjord at the head of which was yet another sizable glacier, the Dawes Glacier. Traveling up the Endicott Arm, at first chunks of floating ice were infrequent but gradually increasing in both size and number as we approached the end of the Arm and the Dawes Glacier residing there. I watched from the rail on Deck 3 just above my cabin as we made the approach. The weather, unlike the previous day, was spectacularly clear with much sunshine. The ship’s staff had arranged for the ship’s bow to be open for all passengers as a viewing sight, so as we got closer to the Dawes Glacier, I decided to leave my perch on the rail of Deck 3 and proceed to the bow. With my earmuffs securely in place and wearing my warm leather jacket, I joined the throng on the bow fully expecting to be greeted with a cup of steaming hot pea soup, long a HAL tradition. NOT to be! I was informed that Holland America no longer does this - another thing to add to my previous list of things no longer done by HAL. Another thing to add to this list: the recent absence of self-service launderettes, one on each passenger deck. Now ALL GONE! Thanks to the last refurbishment. Things are NOT getting better with Holland America! Perhaps further negative influence by Carnival, HAL’s parent company? Watching the Dawes Glacier for quite a while and seeing no “calving” taking place, and with the ship rotating about to give good views from all sides, I decided to take my leave and return to my cozy stateroom for a nap. As has now become my routine, this morning I again ordered room service for my breakfast: ham and cheddar cheese omelet, coffee, English muffin, juices - cranberry and orange, along with a bowl of mixed fruit: watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, grapes... I now do this each morning as it is a free service - save the $3 tip for the server. Much better than fighting the rude mob at the buffet upstairs, the “trough” as I call it! I am becoming very spoiled! Tonight I returned to the Main Dining Room, not knowing what to expect or where I would be seated. The Maitre ‘d directed me to my table #37 where I found ... NO ONE! I dined alone. Gwen and Jerry, as it turned out, had chosen to eat at the Canaletto Italian specialty restaurant. I will also be dining there on June 15, a Friday on which their featured menu item is Osso Bucco, which I dearly love. So ended Day 4. ~~~Day 5 –Juneau~~~ Having been to Juneau on numerous previous trips, there were really only two things on my agenda for the day. First, a ride up to the top of Mount Roberts on the gondola, an increase of 1800 feet above sea level, where I immediately went to the Timberline Restaurant, securing a table by the window overlooking Juneau and the harbor. My menu choice - of course - was halibut and chips with a pint of Alaskan Amber beer. Their halibut - all three pieces - was exceptionally good, better even than that which I had had in Ketchikan! All for $21.95 plus $7 for the beer. That done, it was back on the gondola and down to base. The gondola ride is spectacular, especially on such a perfect day with bright sunshine and puffy white clouds. Next on my list was a visit to the Red Dog Saloon, a very famous tourist landmark in Alaska. Being only early afternoon, I was able to find a seat at the otherwise crowded bar. A visit to Juneau would not be complete without a stop at the Red Dog Saloon. Finishing my second Amber beer, I was feeling quite happy - and ready for a nap! Fortunately, it was only a short walk back to the ship, again docked in the very center of town. Holland America must exert special privilege to secure such ideal docking locations. Just behind our ship, the ms Zaandam, was another HAL ship, the ms Volendam, which is the sister ship to ours. Jim and I were on the Volendam on a cruise from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia back in 2009. Dinner in the Main Dining Room saw the return of Gwen and Jerry at Table 37 so all was well in the world again. They are from Central California, a town called Clovis! Of course that name is familiar with me having grown up in Clovis, NEW MEXICO. Our ship did not depart Juneau until 10 pm, although I chose not to go back into town after dinner. Tomorrow we would be in Icy Strait Point, only a short distance from Juneau, so our ship would drop anchor midway before resuming the journey. ~~~Day 6 – Icy Strait Point~~~ After only a short trip from Juneau, including a period of remaining stationery at anchor for a few hours, our arrival in Icy Strait Point was right on schedule at 7 am, at a new dock. Previous visits here had involved ship to shore transfers by tender and this brand new dock was a pleasant surprise for me. It is located a ways down from the older docks, in the vicinity of the zip line terminus. My tour of the day was a repeat of the famous zip line here that, at over 5300 feet, is claimed to be the longest in the world. My report time was at 8:50 am inside the visitor’s center where I quickly filled out the required release form on a convenient computer screen. Then promptly at 9 am our group of 30 was called to follow along a path to the awaiting bus for a 45-minute ride to the mountaintop and the staging area for the zip line. The bus was a converted school bus, now painted green, and the trip up the mountain first proceeded through the small Tlingit village of Hoonah. Driving along the only paved road on the island, we climbed and climbed, soon running out of the paved road for a bumpy gravel one. Our driver spoke to us the entire journey, pointing out things to see and apologizing for the “back massage”. Several places he stopped for us to grasp the stunning views of the surrounding valleys and hillsides. Soon we reached the top and the end of our bus ride. Then it was a somewhat lengthy walk down a steep path to arrive at the staging area. Portable toilets were in plentiful supply and most people took advantage. We then lined up to be assigned, in groups of 6, our departure order. As it turned out, I was #1 in the second group of 6 - the number of zip lines. When my time came I was strapped into a harness, seated with my feet firmly planted on the exit gate. Then on the count of three, the gates opened and I began my trip down the 5300 feet of zip line at speeds up to 60 mph! What a rush! Struggling to keep myself headed straight by holding out my right hand, I partially succeeded, and then the enjoyment of the rest of this 90 second experience continued all the way down from a height of 1300 feet to sea level. Stopping was an experience in itself; giant coils at the end of the zip lines absorb and decelerate your travel - in a very few seconds! And then it is over! Although this was my third time, the fear and panic all came back anew, once those exit gates snapped open. It is quite an experience! Once unharnessed we entered their shed where, in addition to the many logo-ed merchandise items to be purchased, was displayed on large computer screens were photos taken of each of us on our trip down; I decided to forego the purchase of mine for $15.95! For the occasion I had worn the ZipRider hoody I had purchased on a previous visit, which drew considerable attention from the staff who had not seen this older version - in orange color - before! Then it was back to the ship for lunch in the Dining Room, followed by a nap. It had been quite a morning! Our departure of Icy Strait Point was at 2 pm; next stop, Anchorage - day after tomorrow! ~~~Day 7 – Cruising the Gulf of Alaska~~~ With our route of travel in the open Pacific, crossing the Gulf of Alaska, we have been experiencing considerable sea motion here on the ms Zaandam. Starting early this morning there have been large swells topped with white caps throughout the day. Consequently I have spent most of the day here in my stateroom 2565, catching up on emails and napping. As per our agreement, I did go up to the Main Dining Room at 12 n to meet Gwen and Jerry for lunch. I got to the Deck 4 entrance to the MDR a little early and there was no line at all, but shortly people began showing up and a lengthy line had developed before Gwen appeared, saying that Jerry was under the weather and would not be joining us. We soon were seated at a table already occupied by grandparents and their grandson - from Amarillo! Being Sunday morning, the menu was for Sunday Brunch, which probably explained the large lineup at the entrance, usually very scant. My choice was for a berry smoothie and Eggs Benedict that turned out to be quite delicious. Good coffee along with an apple crisp dessert with vanilla ice cream completed my enjoyable Sunday Brunch. The sea motion is still continuing but I have returned to my stateroom for the remainder of the afternoon. Tonight is our second formal, or “Gala” night so out will come my jacket and tie. According to the dinner menu displayed at the entrance to the MDR, one item of interest for me is Filet Mignon. It will be interesting to see how this steak compares with the magnificent one I had at the Pinnacle Grill! I will let you know later. So now I am caught up with my emails, the next of which will detail tomorrow’s activities in Anchorage. ~~~Day 8 – Anchorage~~~ Again this morning I enjoyed breakfast delivered to my stateroom promptly at 8am, the time of our arrival in Anchorage. My usual choice is a ham and cheddar omelet served with hash browns along with cranberry and orange juices, coffee and an English muffin. Lately I have also added a fruit cup with watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and grapes. I routinely give Harun who delivers all this a $3 tip, which he seems to appreciate. I have become spoiled! Today’s excursion, “The Big Swig”, a tour of three breweries in Anchorage, wasn’t scheduled until the afternoon at 2:30 pm, so I spent most of the day here in my stateroom, watching TV and napping. I did go up to the Lido Market buffet for a bite of lunch, something I don’t really enjoy very much. The tides in Anchorage Harbor are tremendous and when the ship docks, the ramps are placed according to the current level. However, soon the level changes, requiring the ramps to be repositioned. This recurs several times during the day so one can never expect the same ramp arrangement on return to the ship from that when you left the ship. At 2:20 pm I went down to the dock to meet my excursion, scheduled to depart at 2:30 pm, joining the others in our 12-person group in a small van. We departed the ship and then drove out of the dock area, in which pedestrian traffic is prohibited. Soon we arrived at our first stop, the new headquarters of the King Street brewery, having passed the older and much smaller location. Although the day had been spectacularly clear with lots of sunshine, storm clouds were forming as we entered the brewery. Our tour guide turned out to be one of the two owners whose compassion and enthusiasm for his trade was quite evident. We were each given a board with holes holding four small glasses into which we chose which of the several beers available we wanted to taste. I chose an IPA (India Pale Ale), another called an AMA, a stout, and an amber - all very tasty! We were escorted through this enormous facility, still under development, observing the different stages of beer making accompanied by the owner’s expert and complete explanations, all the time sipping our samples. Lasting almost an hour we were finally called to go, exiting into a slight rainstorm. Fortunately, our van was conveniently located for our dash through the rain. The next brewery to be visited was the Midnight Sun Brewery, a more established brewery of over 23 years. We were ushered through a back door opening into one of the work rooms where canning was taking place. The noise made it difficult to hear the guide but his voice did carry well. Our first sample came out of a Red Sockeye Salmon figure on the wall; bending a gill produced the flow of beer into our waiting cups. Very ingenious! Following the guide into another workroom we saw the process of beer making taking place. Then we were lead upstairs into a visitor’s area already crowded with customers. Seated at our own table we were served a second and third sample, this time in larger glasses. A fourth sample was 12.7% alcohol and was VERY good! On the tables were provided different snacks for us: cheeses, ham, crackers, nuts, prosciutto, pepperoni, etc. By the time we departed everyone was beginning to feel really good. The last brewery visited was called Resolution and was considerably smaller than the first two. Again we were each given a choice of four different beers and these too were quite good! By this time, however, everything was tasting good! The rain had stopped while we were in the second brewery so our eventual return to the ship - after four hours - was again in sunshine with clear skies. We have been quite lucky so far with weather; only Ketchikan presented us with wet weather. Then it was time for dinner that was my second evening at the Pinnacle Grill. This time I again enjoyed the enormous shrimp cocktail followed by a huge chunk of delectable halibut - with three more shrimp on top! Dessert was a delicious soufflé to end another memorable dining experience. Sleep came easy and early! ~~~Day 9 – Homer~~~ Today’s stop was at Homer, or more accurately, the Homer Spit, a long peninsula extending several miles out into the Gulf of Alaska where deeper water permits cruise ships to dock. Again, the tide is so substantial that several different exit ramp configurations are required during the day. When we first docked, I looked out of my window and saw the dock about halfway up. A couple of hours later, my window was at dock level, and further on, I was looking down onto the dock. This is the base location for the famous fishing fleet featured in the TV series, “The Deadliest Catch”. Having been here before, there was only one thing I planned to do, a visit to the eclectic Salty Dawg Saloon. This bar is an institution in Homer and is reachable by a courtesy bus from the end of the pier around the spit to its prime location. So around 1 pm I left the ship and walked the lengthy distance to the end of the pier where I found a courtesy bus waiting for the short drive past many shops and restaurants to the Salty Dawg Saloon. This historic bar has been here since the late 1800s and is quite the tourist attraction. http://www.saltydawgsaloon.com/ The place resembles a lighthouse and isn’t that big inside, which is covered completely with dollar bills left by past customers. On my arrival I didn’t find the place as busy as on previous visits. Ordering an Alaska Amber beer I found a place to sit near the back and enjoyed myself observing the stream of tourists making their way through, most not ordering anything, just ogling the cluttered interior. It was getting more crowded when, after my third Amber, I decided to take my leave. Finding the courtesy bus I soon returned to the pier and the long walk back to the ship. Being another spectacular day with bright sunshine and clear skies, the walk was rather pleasant. Of course, a nap was in order on return to my stateroom! Dinner is now over and I decided to forego the 10 pm production show in the theatre to finish these two emails. The sun has yet to set and it is almost 11 pm! Tomorrow is their longest day of the year with over 20 hours of sunlight. But for me, it is now bedtime! ~~~Day 10 – Kodiak~~~ Another spectacular day in Alaska! With perfectly clear blue skies and bright warm sunshine, one would question the location where the daylight hours are up to 20 per day. Rather remarkable - even the locals are raving about the excellent weather we have enjoyed the past many days. Our time in Kodiak today was not that long - only until 2 pm, having arrived at 7 am. My tour for the day, “A Taste of Kodiak”, was scheduled from 10:45 am until 1:15 pm, with back-on-board time at 1:30 pm. I need to say a few things about my stateroom, #2565, here on Main Deck 2; the location is just the sixth room back from the outside entrance frequently used on Main Deck, and my window overlooks all of the boarding activity, being on the starboard (right) side of the ship. Normally I keep my curtains fully open, even at night, so I don’t miss anything. This stateroom was a paid upgrade offered for $258 that I have been quite happy to have made. Great location! At 10:30 am I left the ship to join the large number of passengers, some awaiting a tour, but most awaiting the free shuttle bus (actually a school bus!) into downtown Kodiak, a distance of about 2 miles. Bus after bus carried load after load of passengers continuously into town. Good luck on getting back by 1:30 pm! A couple of local tour gals announced our tour promptly at 10:40 am and each of the 15 of us were given a numbered tag to clip on for identification, after signing the requisite waiver. Being a walking tour, I was still somewhat dismayed to find out that we would be walking the 2 miles into town. On our schedule were 6 stops to sample the “Taste of Kodiak” and our first stop was at a busy coffee shop where, in addition to a cup of superb, freshly brewed coffee, we were given slices of bread lathered with a creamed salmon, as many as we wanted! Delectable! Continuing on, we arrived at a crafts shop where samples of local jams and jellies were presented, served on crackers. One choice of mine was a Strawberry Chipotle that was spicy and delicious; another was a Blueberry Barb, also quite tasty. Then it was off to our third stop, a restaurant where we were all seated at a long table and served a generous chunk of baked halibut topped with a mayonnaise-cheesy spread: absolutely wonderful! Halibut is my very favorite Alaskan fish and this was a special treat for me! Next we walked on to another restaurant on a second level where once again we were all seated at a long table and served delicious “Salmon Splash” sandwiches on incredibly good bread, along with a fresh spinach salad garnished with a tasty dressing. Also, very good! Crossing the street our next stop was a local brewery where we each were given two samples of the myriad of offerings; one of mine was a Hiefkessen, German style, and then a darker one I didn’t particularly care for. We were given a quick but informative tour of the back room that housed the brewing operation, a decided smaller operation than those we had visited in Anchorage. Our final stop was at the Best Western Hotel upstairs dining room where we were treated to chunks of deep-fried, breaded salmon with a delicious dipping sauce, as well as an amazing crab and artichoke dip, heated with cheese! Yummy! Then it was the return walk back to the ship that I found to be a real struggle, but I made it by 1:15 pm! Promptly at 1:30 pm the Captain came on the P.A. announcing that our departure would occur at 2 pm, headed overnight for the Hubbard Glacier tomorrow afternoon. He also said the weather report was continuing to be good, which was a relief to hear since our route back across the Gulf of Alaska can be rather rough riding. Then the gangway was lifted up and we were on our way. ~~~Day 11 – The Hubbard Glacier~~~ The highlight of this cruise, I believe, was our visit today of the Hubbard Glacier. Stretching over 7 miles across the face, this Glacier is immense! Our arrival at this giant chunk of ice was around 2:30 pm, under partially clouded skies, and the views were incredible! At first I went up to Deck 3, the Lower Promenade, to stand by the railing and await the slowing emerging vista, watching the increasing number of icebergs - big and small - pass by our ship. It was quite cool, standing there, and my earmuffs were a great help to shield from the frigid wind; protection behind one the vertical standards of the ship made my wait tolerable. As we approached closer and closer to the glacier’s face, the ship’s speed diminished greatly, as well as the wind, and it became very pleasant to view this behemoth in calm circumstances. The Captain slowly rotated the ship, giving excellent observation from all angles; at one point, my view was right on the full entirety of the glacier’s face. Spectacular! Of course, all viewers were waiting to see any “calving”, large chunks of the Glacier falling free, causing enormous splashes in the water below. And we were not disappointed! I personally saw at least 4 or 5 such calvings, most from areas of the glacial face least suspect to calve. My misinformation from a crew member on our first glacier viewing the previous week that Holland America no longer served hot Dutch pea soup, was rendered untrue with this viewing which saw crew members serving bowl after bowl of the hot soup to those of us on deck. My dining room waiter, Reza, came up to me and offered a bowl of this excellent pea soup with ham pieces, which certainly hit the spot! Remaining very near the glacier’s face - perhaps a half mile, the Captain continued moving the ship about, changing the views of all of us on deck. I don’t recall ever having been that close to the Hubbard Glacier! All of this under partly clouded skies - a perfect day! Finally, after over an hour, the ms Zaandam turned back down the fjord toward the open sea. It had been quite an experience! ~~~Day 12 – Sitka~~~ After a relatively calm night at sea last evening, our arrival this morning in Sitka came at 8 am on the dot. We were docked at a new facility - for me, having had to tender into port on previous visits here. About 5 miles from downtown Sitka, this was a real change from before, requiring a free shuttle bus to reach the city and our tour departure areas, near a large and new visitor’s center. Not knowing just how long it would take, using the well-used and crowded shuttle buses, I thought it best to leave the ship an hour early to assure my arrival at my tour location by it’s 11 am departure. Even as crowded as the shuttle buses were, I arrived with plenty of time to spare. I thought that surely there would be a nearby place to get a cup of coffee for my wait but there was none. I walked around to the old Russian Cathedral and to a coffee shop across the street to find my cup of coffee. Returning to our tour site I was greeted by our guide for the tour I had selected for the day, “A Pedal Pub Crawl”. Consisting of a bicycle “built for 15” there were 11 of us on this day, and we were on our way promptly at 11 am. Fortunately - for me - the seat I chose had in-operational pedals, so I had a free ride! A partial relief from my “walking tour” in Kodiak. We presented quite the sight, pedaling along the streets of Sitka, on our bicycle built for 15! Greeting the onlookers with waves and shouts, we proceeded to our first stop, Ernie’s Old Pub, where we were first treated to a complimentary shot consisting of Baileys, Kahlua, and Crown Royal whiskey; delicious! Their name for this special shot is a “Duck’s Fart”. Strong but good! We were then given the opportunity to order another drink; mine was an Alaskan Amber beer. A great start to an enjoyable, unique tour! Our next stop, after wowing everyone on the streets, was another bar called the Pioneer, a place popular with fishermen from the nearby docks. Again, my choice was an Amber, consumed while observing the myriad of fishing photos lining the walls. I struck up a conversation with two girls, Patty and Karen, also from Southern California, who were traveling together. People on this cruise have really been friendly, I think; I have become acquainted with many during our two-week time together. The last place to visit was a brewery, local in Sitka, where we were given three samples of Alaskan beers. The first was a Red Sockeye that I had had at the brewery in Anchorage and the second was a “Blonde” - both quite good. The third sample was from the Midnight Sun Brewery, also visited in Anchorage, a darker beer that I found tasty. Food was also available for order although I chose not to partake. By this time I was feeling no pain! This concluded our “Pedal Pub Crawl”, a unique and enjoyable tour to say the least! Then it was back to the long line of passengers, cued up for the shuttle bus back to the ship. The wait was not too long and the 15 minute ride back around to the new dock and our ship soon brought us back to the ms Zaandam, our floating home for only two more days. Tonight I am dining at the specialty restaurant, Canaletto, this evening chosen because of their daily special for Friday being Osso Bucco. I am looking forward to this my favorite dish with anticipation. ~~~Day 13 - At Sea~~~ Now on our last leg of travel to Victoria, Canada, and then Seattle on Monday morning, the day was quite relaxing and restful after our busy day in Sitka, and the main thing to do was the Mariner’s Lunch to which I was invited at 1 pm. An earlier Lunch was also held at 11:30 am and if the number of attendees at ours was any clue, it is evident that a great majority of the ship’s passengers are “Mariners”, previous cruisers on Holland America. After entering the lower level of the Main Dining Room on Deck 4, along with the throng of others, I found a table for two that already had glasses of champagne poured. As it turned out I enjoyed my own glass and the other glass on my table, plus a glass from the lady at the next table! The Captain spoke briefly, offering a toast to all of us in celebration of a great cruise. My menu choice was Yankee Pot Roast, preceded by a delicious salad dressed with balsamic vinegar. The pot roast was tasty although a bit over cooked. Dessert was a chocolate tart of some kind. As we departed the Dining Room we were given one of Holland America’s famous Delft tiles, this one with a photo of our ship, the ms Zaandam. I have quite a collection of these! The remainder of the afternoon was spent relaxing and watching TV with nothing more to do until it was time to get ready for our final Gala Dinner, requiring coat and tie. We were FINALLY given the choice of LOBSTER and filet mignon, preceded by a Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, and it was delicious! The lobster tail was of a good size and the steak in our “Surf and Turf” was very tender and cooked to desired specification of medium-rare. Dessert was a delectable tiramisu. After dinner I stopped by the Ocean Bar, my favorite watering hole, where I finished off the last bottle of wine I had purchased, and waited until a few minutes before 10 pm before going to the theater for the final performance of the ship’s singers and dancers. An earlier performance at 8 pm usually gets the majority of attendees and I easily found a good seat on the first row of the balcony on Deck 5. The theme for the show was that of a Western Saloon and the performance was the best I think of the four for this cruise. Afterwards members of the cast were located at the exits to greet the customers. Then it was time for bed; tomorrow we will be arriving in Victoria at 1 pm. Our Great Alaskan Explorer Cruise is near its end! ~~~Day 14 – Victoria, Canada~~~ Our last day of cruising between Sitka and the last port of call, Victoria, Canada, has been unbelievably smooth! With absolutely clear blue skies the weather has been remarkably good and it is a pleasure looking out of my stateroom window at the passing calm seas. Arrival at Victoria today was not until 1 pm and I was concerned that the long line of passengers disembarking might delay my meeting my tour at 1:50 pm for a 2 pm departure to the Butchart Gardens and the Butterfly Garden. So I guessed where on the ship that disembarkation would most probably take place, on Deck A, forward, and went down to Deck 1 from which stairs lead down to Deck A shortly before 1 pm. I was right, of course, although the door down to Deck A was not yet open, so I waited. Soon other early-bird passengers began showing up with the same intention as mine, until there was a crowd gathered awaiting our docking and the placement of the gangway. Due to the tide level at Ogden Point Dock in Victoria, there was a delay placing the correct gangway to the ship but soon it was done and we were permitted to depart the ship. Walking down the lengthy distance down the pier to the visitor’s center, it was evident that the day would be warm with temperatures in the 70s. Finding the departure area for shore excursions with the assistance of a ship’s crew, I was one of the first on our bus to the Butchart Gardens. The coolness of the bus was welcome to me, dressed in my one and only short-sleeve shirt, an unanticipated good move with my packing that generally included only cold weather clothes. There were several other tours that also included the Butchart Gardens but the one I had chosen also included a visit to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. Our first stop after traveling from Ogden Point Dock through the center of Victoria and out through the suburbs was to the Butterfly Gardens where were given 45 minutes to enjoy this climate controlled enclosure of a tropical paradise where butterflies flew freely amid the lush vegetation. Also present were exotic birds including parrots and flamingos right at home around a pool filled with beautiful koi fish. Two large iguanas were also in residence, the larger one high in the trees and the smaller one down where it could be petted. Turtles had their special enclosure, and the entire setting was warm and moist, just like the tropical environment it replicated. A wonderful experience to say the least! The guide was an older gentleman, well versed in absolutely everything of importance and interest concerning Victoria, its history, culture and life. His narration continued non-stop throughout our time on the bus and his stories of different local personalities were uniquely interesting. The next stop was the nearby Butchart Gardens where we were allowed over an hour and a half. Entering at the Waterwheel Plaza, we were advised to first visit the Sunken Gardens, the highlight. I took the steps down to the bottom level where the path was surrounded by beautiful flowers in full bloom, and the centerpiece pool with its fountain of dancing waters. Breathtaking! A curving path lead the way up out of the Sunken Gardens and my next stop was at a snack stand next to the carrousel where I enjoyed a lemonade. Next was on into the Rose Garden, filled with thousands of stunning beds of numerous varieties of roses in full bloom; the aroma was intoxicating! Having visited the Japanese Gardens on a previous visit, I chose not to repeat this attraction, due to limited time given to us. Instead I stopped at the Blue Poppy Restaurant, on the way back towards the entrance, for a glass of wine - of course! Back on the bus with only a few minutes to spare until our departure, the coolness and comfort of my seat was a welcome relief from the extensive walk through the Gardens. On the way back to the ship we were again treated to stories from our knowledgeable guide about the original construction of the British Columbia Parliament Building as well as the Empress Hotel, designed by a non-architect (as it turned out), Francis Rattenbury, whose personal life was quite scandalous. Our guide knew all of the raunchy details! Our return to the ms Zaandam was right at 6 pm, giving me only a short rest before dressing for dinner at 7:45 pm. We would not be leaving Victoria until 11 pm, the distance to our final destination of Seattle not being very long, but I had to pack my luggage to be placed in the hallway before midnight. A free option was given, “Port Valet”, in which one’s airline check in was performed in conjunction with the airline by the ship’s crew, including tagging and transfer of luggage to the airport, which I accepted - new to me. The day before our last we were given a Disembarkation Package including our airline-boarding pass with seat assignment and airline luggage tag to put on luggage to be placed in the hallway before midnight. The next time we would see our luggage was on arrival at one’s destination airport. Luggage charges were added to our shipboard account, mine $25 to Alaska Airlines. At first somewhat skeptical, I was pleased with the result; everything went exactly according to plan! At 11:30 pm I was all packed with my luggage placed outside my stateroom door, so it was only left to go to bed for the final night aboard the ms Zaandam. ~~~Day 15 – Seattle~~~ As mentioned before, the distance between Victoria and Seattle is not that far, so our remaining cruise before disembarkation in Seattle took only a few hours, arriving right on schedule at Pier 91 at 7 am. Since my departure from the ship was to be at 8 am, there was little time for any breakfast, certainly not my usual in-cabin ham and cheddar omelet! My flight back to Orange County from Seattle on Alaska Airlines was not until 4:50 pm, so I had chosen a shore excursion, ”Best of Seattle”, which left the ship at 8:30 am, lasting until 12:30 pm, ending with transfer to the Sea-Tac Airport. Included were to be a visit to the Space Needle as well as one to Pike’s Place Market, as well as a tour around other sights of interest in downtown such as the two huge sports stadiums and Pioneer Plaza. About a quarter till 8 am I left my stateroom #2565 for the last time and went to Deck 5 where I encountered a huge crowd awaiting the beginning of our disembarkation, delayed for some reason until well after 8 am. After asking a crewmember about meeting my shore excursion that was scheduled to leave at 8:30 am, I was told to go ahead and join the exiting passengers, which had already begun. Without any luggage to worry about I quickly passed through passport control and was outside the terminal and in my tour bus by 8:30 am, ready to go. Unfortunately, there were passengers not as prompt as myself so our departure was delayed until almost 9 am; in fact, the bus had to return to its parking space to collect the final two passengers! THEN we were on our way, first stop - the Space Needle. Of course, the late start didn’t concern me since my flight wasn’t until 4:50 pm and the later we finished the tour and got to the airport, the better - less waiting time there. Parking on a street next to the Seattle Science Park in which the Space Needle is located, our bus let us out with instructions to be picked up there after an hour and a half, and we all walked up towards the entrance only to find out that it was not yet open! Back on the bus, our driver/guide, Lisa, was told by phone that the Needle wouldn’t be open for another hour or so. Lisa then decided that we would tour downtown Seattle and go to the Pike’s Place Market. However, there were two ladies that hadn’t returned to the bus so after our tour of downtown Seattle, we had to return back to the parking place near the Needle where they were found, waiting. The Space Needle still had not opened! THEN we were off to Pike’s Place where we were given an hour and forty-five minutes to tour the Market and choose among the many eating establishments for lunch. A short walk from where we were let off the bus, we arrived at this large complex on several levels hosted a myriad of shops selling any and everything, as well as many restaurants. The famous fish market is here where the fishermen toss the fish back and forth to each other. Fun to watch! The Place was SO crowded one could hardly walk and I quickly tired of all the people, so I chose one of the restaurants, Lowell’s, where I just ordered breakfast, “Joe’s Egg and Sausage Scramble”, with coffee, for $20! Not cheap, here! It was a huge dish, however, loaded with sausage and mushrooms as well as spinach, with a side of hash brown potatoes. I found an open table near a window overlooking Seattle’s Harbor and thoroughly enjoyed my very large breakfast and wonderful coffee. Then it was time to fight my way back through the crowds towards where our bus pickup would occur. I had changed levels at one point so I wasn’t exactly sure where that would be, but my instincts were correct and I was soon back to the required spot with only a few minutes to spare before our bus arrived and collected us - all of us, this time! Next we were finally informed that the Space Needle had opened so, back to the parking space to which we had now been twice! While those of us with flights after 3 pm were allowed an hour and a half at the Needle, Lisa took those with earlier flights to the airport so they would not miss their flights. She would be back for us later. Approaching the entrance to the Space Needle is confusing to say the least; the possibilities are complicated by the fact that all sides of the circular base are available for entrance. Once this was figured out, we were directed to a waiting line which wound around and up inside the structure, finally arriving at yet another waiting line for entrance to one of the several elevators to the visitor level, a speedy ride of 49 seconds. The view is incredible, especially on such a bright sunny day! The Needle is undergoing renovations, the first in over 60 years - not quite complete, and it was not possible to walk all the way around the visitor level. New thick glass panels now form the walls of the visitor level with thick glass benches scattered around. It was possible to get a great view of downtown Seattle and of the Harbor, but I could not see Mount Rainier - possibly on the inaccessible side. I found a bar where I purchased a Sauvignon Blanc wine - for $10. Couldn’t be atop the Space Needle without having a glass of wine! So I continued to view while I sipped! Then it was back in a long line awaiting an elevator down. If Seattle is this busy on a Monday, I can’t imagine how crowded it must be on a weekend! Shortly we were ushered into a downward elevator, about a dozen at a time, and soon returned to a level requiring two long stairways to get back on ground level. It had been quite warm on top and it was a relief to return to the bus pickup area and sit down on a bench in the shade of a tree. Lisa and her bus arrived right on schedule and, with the remainder of us back aboard, comfortable in the coolness and soft seats, it was finally time to depart to the airport. Our travel time would be about 30 minutes, arriving at about 2 pm; the lateness of our start and the confusion of opening time for the Needle had reduced our wait time at the airport about an hour and a half. It had been a good day despite the complications. Arrival at the Sea-Tac Airport was in the bus loading zone, a short walk into the parking structure, an elevator ride to level 4, and another walk across the pedestrian bridge into the terminal, and then an escalator ride down to departure level. Since we were already checked in, there was only the security checkpoint to face. Having a TSA Pre-check on my boarding pass, the trip through security was rather routine with only my carry-on to be X-rayed; no need to unpackage my laptop or remove shoes. Then it was down two levels to the train to transfer to the N Gates in the North Terminal; mine was Gate N4, contrary to the N3 printed on my boarding pass. Finding my gate and a place to sit, I finally relaxed and worked on my iPad while waiting the remaining hour until aircraft loading at 4:10 pm; free Wi-Fi was available in Sea-Tac Airport so I did some updating and played a few games of Solitaire. When pre-loading was called, without hesitation I went forward as a person needing additional time; being 80 has its advantages! My Premium Economy seat 8C was quickly found and I was somewhat amazed at how quickly and methodically the plane loaded to its full capacity; we were fully loaded by 4:40 pm. Of course, there were a few stragglers but several minutes early, the door was closed and we were off to Orange County. The two hour, 10 minute flight was a little bumpy to start but eventually smoothed out for an enjoyable trip, further enhanced by a couple glasses of white wine - complimentary for Premium Economy. The arrival at John Wayne Airport was right on schedule at 7:08 pm and, being near the front of the plane, I was soon off and on my way to baggage claim, with a side trip to the bathroom. It was a short wait until luggage began appearing on the carrousel and I was really nervous whether my luggage had made the trip from outside my stateroom door and onto the aircraft safely. It HAD, as mine was soon making the round on the carrousel, and retrieved with a struggle - it was heavy! Then out of the terminal, across the street and on to the SuperShuttle dispatcher I went, dragging my luggage. The dispatcher only needed my name to identify me as a paid passenger and he said there would be about a 5-minute wait for my van to arrive. As it turned out, I was put on an ExpressCar van, part of SuperShuttle and ExecuCar, and my ride home was direct with only me as a customer. Upon arrival, my driver even rolled my heavy luggage up the driveway; he received a good tip from me! So, home at last! It has been a wonderful trip but it is good to be home! ~Ron Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was my third Holland cruise, and 3rd Alaska cruise. Alaska is all about thhe scenary and is a must do. This was a roundtrip out of Seattle and did 2 stops we had not done befioire. Sitka & Hubbard Glacier. Overall a nice ... Read More
This was my third Holland cruise, and 3rd Alaska cruise. Alaska is all about thhe scenary and is a must do. This was a roundtrip out of Seattle and did 2 stops we had not done befioire. Sitka & Hubbard Glacier. Overall a nice trip. We had 18 in the group ranging from 1.5 years old to 80 years old. The Amsterdam was only 3 weeks out of refurbishment and some little details still needed polishing. Dinging folks at 1st did not have our 3 tables together, but after my mothher talked with them the 3 tables were then next to each other. Pinnacle Grill was so-so service, 1st time in many years (and in 14 cruises) I ever had to send a steak back for being under done. We had 4 Neptune suites (deck 7), and 4 balconies (deck 6). I lucked into an SB cabin toward the rear of the ship and it was great. We enjoyed dinners at Canelletto & Pinnacle Grill. Everyone went their own way in ports, while meeting for dinner & echange of stories. We (the group of 18) had great luck on drawings, winnning a spa certificate, 3 raffles, 1 bingo, and the slot tournament. Neptune service cannnot be beat. Juneau - whale research vessell tour, got whae tail photos, and really nejoyed thhe hermit crabs. Sitka - disappointed in my 1/2 day fish excursion, not 1 single salmon caught, captian said season was running late & admitted taking us to same spot he had been day before with no bites? A waste of my money. Hubbard Glacier - best day, great photos, and calving photos. ship gets real close, and turns for viewinf on both sides. Ketchikan - just walked aroound, no tour, visited a stone gallery and they will bargain with you. Got some carvings for 30-50% off, which are being mailed to us. Small afternoon rain shower. If I ever get back to Alaska it will be for land tour that includes Denali. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Definitely would use Holland America again. Wanted to go to Alaska with 2 friends who had it on their bucket list. Needed wheelchair and they were so accommodating, helping me lift w/c when it was hard for me. We did bring our own fold up ... Read More
Definitely would use Holland America again. Wanted to go to Alaska with 2 friends who had it on their bucket list. Needed wheelchair and they were so accommodating, helping me lift w/c when it was hard for me. We did bring our own fold up wheelchair. Room staff very helpful for our situation. Everyone who worked on the ship really seemed to like their jobs. Very happy people. Plenty of hand sanitizers everywhere they put the ship which to me said they cared about keeping us healthy. The cruise food was a10/10 especially the two dining areas but even the food on top level was very good. The dog sledding on land was interesting, the timberland thing was a bit quirky-silly fun. Weather was great. Victoria is so beautiful should have longer time there. Can’t thank them enough for the wonderful trip we had. Booked with AAA. Thank you Holland America Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Boarding the ship with a wheelchair was easy and accommodating. The first day into the cruise was filled with underwhelming food. It seemed like the ship did not have any stabilizers and I got very seasick. Not only was there nobody in the ... Read More
Boarding the ship with a wheelchair was easy and accommodating. The first day into the cruise was filled with underwhelming food. It seemed like the ship did not have any stabilizers and I got very seasick. Not only was there nobody in the infirmary to answer the phone, but there was also nobody in the infirmary that could give me seasick medicine. I eventually was helped by someone in guest services. With the medicine I was given, I needed to take it with food. However bring it was late in the night, the only thing open was room service. I could not get ahold of room services for the entire day and still had my tray from lunch in my room. I also used the complimentary movie service. However I did not get to watch a movie because the DVD got stuck in the player. I called to ask for help in working the machine, was told someone would be to the cabin shortly- nobody ever came. The only thing that made my trip with Holland America bearable were the excursions. The excursion company was very good and helpful. The staff were very rude when boarding the ship and were rushing passengers through security. I understand the need to have a swift departure, but they were rude with even elderly passengers. The best food on the ship was the ice cream- which was running low (the popular vanilla and chocolate flavors were nonexistent) by the second to last stop on the cruise. The buffet was lacking in variety and flavor- lunch and dinner time consisted of the exact same things. By day four of the cruise, I was sick of the food. I enjoyed the decor of the ship but ultimately felt it was not a wise use of money and the longest week of my life. I understand that situations are out of control of the hands of the crew- like the rough seas- however, there was nothing extremely good to overshadow the rough beginning in which lots of things the crew could have done better went wrong. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We were with Our mom and dad on this cruise. Our rooms were nice but not The best. The staff was great. The service if we needed anything was great. The food was OK, just OK. They set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This included ... Read More
We were with Our mom and dad on this cruise. Our rooms were nice but not The best. The staff was great. The service if we needed anything was great. The food was OK, just OK. They set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This included the buffet. If you wanted anything after the times you had to order off room service and that was limited. We watched one show and it was pretty good. The boat had some music, but not a lot. This Is NOT A PARTY BOAT by any means. No games either. Oh there was bingo. We did have on board movies in our rooms and trust me we watched them. The staff in the bar by the casino was great. The bar staff and the staff that cleaned our room was the best part of the ship. We loved the ports that we were at. We visited Juneau, Sitka, Ketchika and Canada. The places were pure beauty. We visited Glacier Bay. This was amazing also. I would love to cruise here again, but not on this cruise line Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
I chose this particular cruise since it went to Sitka and not many other lines go there. My family and I have been on 13 other cruises on various lines. Our ages are from 60 to 27. This was our first cruise on Holland and our first to ... Read More
I chose this particular cruise since it went to Sitka and not many other lines go there. My family and I have been on 13 other cruises on various lines. Our ages are from 60 to 27. This was our first cruise on Holland and our first to Alaska. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze. We had a signature suite and it was easily the nicest suite we have ever had. The ship itself was very classy; however, I found all inside areas to be dark and dreary. The food was horrible, both in the dining room and the buffet. Tasteless. Best food was the pizza and hamburgers/hotdogs. Buffet was worse than any buffet I have been to on land and deserts were a joke. Almost every desert had prunes, figs or raisins or was a pudding of some sort. You can tell the age group the line caters to. Other than the BB King group, the entertainment was also pretty bad. Very little activities in the evening and if there wasn't such beauty to be seen in the Alaskan inside passage, we would have been bored. Crew seemed exhausted and service was very spotty. In summary, I would not chose Holland America again. Just was not the line for me or my family. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Hope you will find this information helpful in planning your Alaska visit. This was our (wife and self)14th cruise over many years, with 5 cruise lines, and yes we did enjoy it despite some rocky seas on Sunday while in the open ocean ... Read More
Hope you will find this information helpful in planning your Alaska visit. This was our (wife and self)14th cruise over many years, with 5 cruise lines, and yes we did enjoy it despite some rocky seas on Sunday while in the open ocean prior to entering protected waters near Juneau. If you are prone to seasickness I would suggest departing from Vancouver via the "inside passage". We flew in from Florida one day prior to the cruise. Took a Taki Cab to Motif Hotel in downtown Seattle and the fee was $48 + tip. Cab from hotel to Pier 91 on Saturday morning was $18 + tip. Motif is excellently located just 5 easy walking blocks from Pikes Market and the hotel s super clean with a nice glass of complementary Wine in the lobby following check-in. Castle and Elephant Restaurant is located at the base of the hotel which made for a convenient place for dinner. Directly across the street is the Specialty Bakery and Cafe for Breakfast, etc. All stores are very close for easy walking. Embarkation was the best experienced to date...hats off to Port of Seattle and its smiling staff. Holland America also had its act together at check in. We arrived at port at 11:35 AM and were aboard by Noon and immediately directed to the cabin. Ships staff seem happy the entire cruise. Disappointed that staff did not push hand sanitizing prior to and anywhere else on the ship. Although, restrooms have a sign "please use towel to open restroom doors when leaving". Especially enjoyed the Observation Lounge (crows nest) and Coffee Cafe on the 11th deck. Beautifully appointed with new furnishings and carpet. Ship was in a 10 day drydock before heading to Alaska and I believe the public area carpets were mostly replaced. In Juneau, with a light rain, we took the ships shuttle bus ($45) reserved to Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls. We walked to the falls and back which took about 20 minutes each way...don't you miss this great opportunity. Then visit the visitor center which has a nice movie and convenient restrooms in the building. The $5 entry fee is included in the Shuttle cost. Shuttle time was 3.5 hours round trip with about 30 minutes travel to and from the ship. Driver provided much information on both legs of the trip. Glacier Bay was magnificent on a mostly sunny day. Saw quite a bit of calving of the Margerie Glacier and the ship was maneuvered much closer to the glacier than expected. Thank you Captain. In Sitka, a shuttle to town is provided from the pier which is about 5 miles from town. Weather was clear. We visited the Russian Bishop House (no fee) and very interesting. Run by the National Park Service and very close to the shuttle exit point. Also visited the Sheldon Jackson Museum ($7) which is probably a 10 minute walk beyond the Russian Bishop House. The museum is very large with many historical artifacts. Also visited the St. Michael's Cathedral ($5) which is kind of run down and not that interesting. In Ketchican the weather was sunny and clear. Went directly to the Lumberjack Show ($37) and got seated for the first performance at 8:45AM. Interesting but Kids would enjoy it more than adults. Kind of silly! We then went to the Visitors Center which is run by the National Park Service...a beautiful building, exhibits and movie. $5 entry fee unless you are a National Park Pass holder. Walked Creek Street and did a bit of shopping. In Victoria, Canada, with a light rain, the ship was about 40 minutes late to the dock. We took a pier taxi for about $9 each way to and from the ship. There are many taxi's waiting at the pier and this was the quickest way to the city which is about a 20 minute walk from the pier. On return the taxi's are mostly located near the hotel by the visitor center. In general, the ship doesn't offer much in the way of entertainment. Two main shows, dueling piano's, BB King lounge for music and limited dancing, some cooking show, computer lab, etc. Rather older crowd with a lot of far Eastern passengers. The Seattle Port Authority offers "Port Valet" baggage service in conjunction with the cruise ships and most airlines. This is how it works: The ship will around wednesday send information to your cabin. Simply complete to forms authorize a charge to your onboard account for $25 (per bag) that you want routed directly to you airline and your bag(s) will be delivered to the baggage carousel when you arrive at your destination. The ship also checks you in for your flight and prints your boarding passes. Wow this is a wonderful service and was flawless for us. We walked off with two carry on bags. Disembarkation was a breeze. Walked off the ship at 7:30AM, went directly to the Taxi Cab line and were on our way to the airport. The cab fare is a fixed flat rate from the pier to the airport for $40. Our drivers Prius was hitting 90 mph most of the way. Arrived spooked but in one piece. Let me know if this write up was helpful to your planning and don't miss Alaska. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was a birthday celebration for my daughter. My second cruise to Alaska, first time on HAL; her first cruise experience ever. Embarkation was fast and efficient. Probably the quickest encountered. We arrived around 1pm, and was ... Read More
This was a birthday celebration for my daughter. My second cruise to Alaska, first time on HAL; her first cruise experience ever. Embarkation was fast and efficient. Probably the quickest encountered. We arrived around 1pm, and was surprised to be on board and have immediate access to stateroom in under an hour. (which was a bonus not having to lug the carry on around with you to lunch or explore the ship) Late May is early in the season and quite unpredictable weather wise. Our "at sea" days were rainy, cold and windy. As long as you plan ahead and pack clothing to layer as needed it is not a major issue. We were extremely fortunate, and the weather cooperated in all of our ports. Glacier Bay was magnificent and did not disappoint. We had a full hour at the famed Marjerie glacier. Juneau was the only port where it was drizzling on arrival, but let up to allow enjoyment of the sights and excursions. Since Alaska itineraries are more about the scenery and ports, we noticed that while there were activities on board, these are not to the same extent experienced on other itineraries. Did not experience much interaction with the cruise director at all. The ships main stage entertainment was not as good as we have seen on other lines, but the ship does offer a wide ranging assortment of venues ranging from classical, to Billboard hits and blues. In addition, the headline acts for the sailing, illusionist Joseph Réohm, and comedian David Crowe were exceptional. Dining: Very happy overall with dining options on board. One thing to note about this itinerary is due to late port cells in Juneau and Victoria, if going ashore you will have somewhat limited dinner options in these two ports. Not complaining, but something to be aware off. Lido Market: Very nicely arrange and good variety of options available. This is not self service for the most part, so in addition to finding tables during peak times, there are also significant lines at the more popular food stations. Table service in Lido could be better- do not rely on staff to bring drinks during peak hours... They are too busy clearing tables. We decided it was best to get our own drinks first, then our meal. Tamarind Restaurant: we took advantage of the embarkation day special! The discount price of $18 per person this night made it an amazing beginning. There are so many options, but would strongly recommend the Laksa soup and Baramundi! The tamarind chocolate and sorbet trio were outstanding ends to the meal. Chef's Table: part of Holland's Food & Beverage Aficionado series, we were fortunate to participate in the evening with Chef Ethan Stowell on our sailing. This five course dinner with wine pairing was one of the highlights of our cruise. This program is NOT available on every sailing and has limited capacity. We highly encourage those fortunate to be on one of these sailings... Do NOT hesitate! It is well worth the cost, and an amazing experience. Main Dining Room: No complaints with either the menu or service. The views looking aft from the dining room are exceptional. Disembarkation in Seattle also provided a new experience. The port in cooperation with SeaTac Airport have a program that allows for passengers flying later in the day to have their bags collected, taken to the airport, and checked in for the flight. This is an exceptional program and allowed us to avoid the hassles and lines both at the pier and the airport! All details are provided earlier in the cruise, and made for an enjoyable last day before an evening flight home. Everything went smoothly and our bags were right there when we landed back home. A fabulous cruise from beginning to end. Read Less
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