Eurodam Cruise to Alaska – September 2-9, 2017
This was my first Alaska cruise and my first on Holland America. It was a fabulous week, and I would recommend it to anyone. Any criticisms listed below are nit-picking – nothing major, ... Read More
Eurodam Cruise to Alaska – September 2-9, 2017
This was my first Alaska cruise and my first on Holland America. It was a fabulous week, and I would recommend it to anyone. Any criticisms listed below are nit-picking – nothing major, but I’ll mention our thoughts about how some things could be improved (in my opinion, anyway).
Embarkation -- couldn’t have gone any faster unless we RAN. Very organized and smooth. Our room (5065) was ready at 11:30, and from cab to cabin took about 20 minutes. There was a complimentary bottle of champagne from Costco who we booked through! I think they did this because we were celebrating our 25th anniversary.
The cabin was great – lots of storage, outlets, and room to walk around. The balcony was perfect, the bed comfortable (pillows need replacing, though). My one suggestion is to put a clock in the cabin! You can get the time by turning on the TV, but that doesn’t work if your partner is still sleeping. Since cell phones don’t work at sea, my usual “clock” was useless. I was worried about being on the deck right above the lifeboats, but it was fine. They are certainly RIGHT THERE below you, but you’re usually looking out at the sea, not down. We liked being on deck 5 because there was no pool or nightclub above or below us, and it provided easy access to the bow for Glacier Bay day. We were mid-ship, and felt it was the perfect spot. We did have one bit of excitement when we got locked out on our balcony! Fortunately, our neighbors were out and called rescue for us. The staff came immediately and fixed the broken door latch.
We explored the ship which is small as cruise ships go, which was perfect – I have a slight walking disability and could make it from bow to stern without too much trouble. One of the first things we came across was the Lido buffet. Now, I’m not a huge fan of buffets and this one was exactly what I expected – hectic, crowded, but the food was pretty good. Except the iced tea – yuck. Our favorite was actually the small pre-made salads in the “market” area – those were all delicious.
Next we came across the Spa and were offered a tour. I definitely wanted a day pass to the spa, but after this “tour”, stayed as far away as possible. The whole thing was an attempt to sell us ridiculously expensive treatments and products. We were repeatedly told that if we didn’t book a $249 pass for the week, we wouldn’t be allowed in as they ONLY allow 40 couples access for the week. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I did not appreciate the hard sell.
One of our favorite places to hang out was the Crow’s Nest. We loved the daily Trivia contest, made new friends and saw lots of whales surrounding the ship. There are plenty of nice places around the ship to sit and relax, read, stare out the windows, etc.
FOOD! The best we had was in the main dining room, and our server Augustino was wonderful. I have to eat gluten-free which is a nuisance for everyone. I had a lot of trouble with servers at the Lido and other venues, but Augstino knew what I needed and took good care of me (he also made me an origami crane one night, so I have a little crush on him). The GF buns at the “Dive-In” burger bar were great, but I never got to try the pizza. Breakfast service in the MDR was spotty…one server said there was nothing I could eat but eggs, but another brought me English muffins, pancakes and waffles!! One day it took us 40 minutes to get our food, and beverage refills were hard to come by. In general, the servers were very friendly and helpful, but it would be good if they all got the same training re dietary restrictions. Actually, it would have been smarter to have a reserved table/server for every meal but we didn’t want to be tied down to that. P.S…why don’t they give you spoons on that ship?? You always have to ask for a spoon.
We went to all the specialty restaurants, and would probably not spend the money to do it again. Pinnacle was wonderful but really no better than what we had in the MDR, Tamarind was pretty good, and Canaletto was….very, very average – comparable to Dennys at home. Get the signature salmon and other fish dishes in the MDR!
Drinks – we did not purchase a drink package. We brought aboard one bottle of wine each, and four bottles of soda. We bought wine with dinner and white Russians in the casino at night. Also an occasional beer or soda. In total we spent around $150 on drinks, and the packages would have been around $800! I do wish there were “free” drink stations around the ship, not just in the chaotic Lido buffet area.
In-room dining – we got breakfast three times and it was always great.
Entertainment: All great, although we thought the comedian was offensive and his material dated and not funny. The magician was great, as were all the mainstage performers. The piano bar performers were very entertaining and talented, as were those in the “post-modern jukebox”. Re the latter…why don’t they do that in the BB King room? There was no room in the area to sit or stand, so we were forced to just orbit through and listen from the hallway around the corner. The BEST was the BB King Blues band – really incredible!! We were also brought to tears (good ones) by the Lincoln Center musicians rendition of Stairway to Heaven, and they happened to play several of my favorite classical and modern songs.
We were looking forward to the kitchen tour and waited in line for an hour. However, the “tour” was just a rapid jog through the kitchen with absolutely no information or explanation of anything. A big disappointment.
America’s Test Kitchen – love it. Their recipes and presentations are always fabulous.
Augustino invited us to attend the crew show which was fun. Mostly we wanted to support him and the other crew who put on this late-night performance of song and dance from their native country.
Casino – I wish there’d been more Blackjack tables. I also wish I’d won more often. Sigh…
Shore Excursions: We booked through Costco. In Juneau we went rafting on Mendenhall lake and the river. It was rainy and cloudy, but we loved it. The rapids are mild and short-lived, so don’t be scared!
Sitka – we had a very nice guide, but the tour was just a drive around town. I wasn’t feeling great and barely remember anything notable except for the Fortress of the Bear which was kind of depressing. Sorry, Sitka.
Ketchikan – I wish we’d had more time here! We did the Totem Bight tour, which was great. Would have liked to do some shopping, but there was no time. Four people did not make it back to the ship – I hope they were okay. Maybe they just loved Ketchikan so much they live there now.
Glacier Bay - The absolute, life-changing highlight of the trip! We had a bright, sunny day and everywhere we looked was something amazing. The best views were from our balcony, but it was fun to be on the lido deck or the bow to share the experience with everyone else. We were lucky to see the Johns Hopkins Glacier in addition to the usual ones, and the whole day was just incredible. We took over 400 pictures on that day alone.
Victoria – we stayed on board as we have been to Victoria before and wanted a quiet evening and dinner at Pinnacle.
Wildlife – We saw whales every day as well as porpoises. Bears on the beach on day one! Eagles, otters, seals…all the cool animals you hope to see.
I’ve cruised on Princess and Carnival, and HAL is definitely a more “mature” crowd in general. Lots of walkers and wheelchairs in the aisles, but we met so many interesting people. Also, once you’re in your 50s, it’s nice to feel like the youngsters on the ship! (There were plenty of younger people and a few kids, too).
So, that’s it. I have 839 pictures, so let me know if there’s something you want to see! Read Less