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280 Holland America Seattle Cruise Reviews

I chose this cruise because it was an In Touch Ministries cruise. The entertainment and speakers were wonderful. Dr. Charles Stanley and Andy Stanley were very inspiring, and all of the singing groups were not only exceptional, but they ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it was an In Touch Ministries cruise. The entertainment and speakers were wonderful. Dr. Charles Stanley and Andy Stanley were very inspiring, and all of the singing groups were not only exceptional, but they were also very engaging when approached on the ship. The ship needs some repair. The fabric on the couch in our stateroom was worn, and the couch was not comfortable. There was rust on the deck of our balcony. There were other places on the ship where paper was peeling away from the wall. Repairs and upgrades are needed. The food was good, but our waiter was very unfriendly and at times rude. Our water glasses were never refilled. This was my 4th cruise, 3 others being on other cruise lines. This ship did not measure up to the other cruise lines I've been on. We went dog sledding in Juneau, and that was very enjoyable. The weather was warm and very unexpected. We just St walked the streets of Sitka and went to the totem pole exhibit. That was interesting and worth going to. Ketchikan was my favorite stop. There was lots of great shopping there. We weren't in Victoria very little NGOs but went to the Butchart Gardens. It was beautiful and ended with tea and scones. I highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Arrived in Seattle by plane the day before embarkation and stayed with Residence Inn in Bellevue. Next morning we drove our rental car back to National's downtown Seattle location and took their free shuttle to Pier 91. Started the ... Read More
Arrived in Seattle by plane the day before embarkation and stayed with Residence Inn in Bellevue. Next morning we drove our rental car back to National's downtown Seattle location and took their free shuttle to Pier 91. Started the embarkation process at 11:50AM and were in our Neptune Suite sitting on the balcony at 12:15PM, so needless to say fast and smooth in processing. By 1PM we had our luggage and shortly after we were totally engaged in cruising. Boat drill lasted a little long as one of our Neptune Suite neighbors thought that since they were wooptedo they didn't need to attend and had to be searched out by staff before the Captain would let us return to cruising. They did get punished by having to go to several one on one counseling sessions with the first officer...should have been kicked off the ship IMHO. The Neptune Suite on this older ship (2000) had an enormous balcony compared to Westerdam and Zuiderdam, I would guess about 250sf+. It was by far the biggest balcony we have ever had and we always get suites, grand suites and owners suites. The suite itself was quite nice with a King bed, leather sofa bed, two chairs and a coffee table. Lots of storage in the dry bar area and a coat closet next to the entrance door. The dressing area had a nice desk like make up area with a small sink and running water and 3 double mirrored folding door closets. Two for clothes and one designated by us a dirty clothes. The bathroom had a single sink, commode and whirlpool tub with hand held or fixed shower head. This differs from newer ship's Neptune Suites in that they have a double sink and separate shower from the tub, but plenty big enough for both of us. Our Stateroom attendants stopped by to introduce and make sure we were settling in, both were very personable and took care of all our stateroom request during the next seven days. We are easy, we need two ice buckets twice a day and oranges and bananas instead of pears and apples. They fulfilled all that and kept the suite in good order for the week. The rest of the ship was as expected as we had watched several youtube videos of the ship just to get a better feel before boarding. Food was good in all the venues once you get used to the way they serve you in the Lido restaurant. You ask for what you want and they serve you....if you don't ask for more of something you get a small serving. Salad bar was quite good, pasta station fresh, Asian station not used, deserts were all OK but began to taste all the same (sweet) by the end of the cruise, and lots of different choices at the main serving statation in addition to lots of bread choices and different sandwich choices with chips at lunch. We tend not to eat in the MDR, as getting dressed up is not one of our priorities when cruising and taking a couple of hour to get served. We found plenty of alternatives in the Lido, Dive-in, and snacks at the coffee-bar in the library. We ate one night in the Pinnacle Grill which was very good with lots of choices for elegant dining. I had the 10oz Filet medium rare and my wife had the King Crab with all the accoutrements, Yummy and all was done perfectly. Service throughout the ship was good with lots of wait staff available in the people areas of the ship. We did find a couple of very quiet spots for reading and just peering out the widows at the world going by. Shopping on board was as usual with jewelry, notions and booze as the top sellers. Stores were small because this is a smaller ship, but they had everything we needed to spend our Costco OBC on. Ports were all good. Juneau we had a self booked tour on a Dolphin Jet Boat Whale watching tour that was much better that the Allen Marine tour we took several years ago. 20 people on a fast, comfortable boat with a naturalist where you were able to go out on deck and not have to look through 80 or 100 people on the bigger boats. Saw lots of whales, sea lions, eagles, and scenery. Hubbard Glacier was amazing. We spend a couple of hours at the glacier listening to it creak, pop, move, calve and just generally amaze everyone on the ship. They opened to main deck forward (helo area) to all and views from there, Deck three and our balcony were great. This was sooooo much more of an experience than Mendenhall glacier in Juneau area on our last visit. Sitka was a tour booked through HA as it was the only one we could find that let us visit three places on one tour. First it was the Alaska Raptor Center that takes care of injured raptors from around Alaska....just amazing, next it was a museum and fish hatchery that was OK and finally a visit to the Fortress of the Bear which is a bear cub rescue. They have 6 Brown Bear adults that have been there since being rescued and 3 Black Bear cubs. Got to see the bears in kind of a natural setting with eagles flying overhead during our time there. The naturalist there told us all about the project and bears in general. Very interesting visits on all the stops with good picture taking opportunities. Ketchikan we booked the Bering Sea Crab Boat tour directly with the company and saved some $$ over people who booked through HA. Amazing stories told by the 100 year of experience the crew had in actually doing Alaska fishing. Stayed in calm waters but the crew demonstrated how the fishing and crabbing was done and we got to hold and see different types of crabs and other ocean creatures. They stopped at one small island and as soon as we arrived the Eagle started circling the boat. Watched the eagles fishing for herring thrown by the crew for about 30 minutes to we all got some amazing photos and videos of up close and personal eagle flying and fishing. I would estimate there were about 20 eagle during our stay with some fledgeling that don't have the white head and tail yet. This is a must do tour as far as I am concerned...classic Alaska stuff worth every penny of the price of admission. Victoria was a nice very crowded city as three boats were in port. We just went downtown on the shuttle to do some shopping at Munro's Book Store and have a Starbucks sitting outside people watching. We have been to Victoria before several times and have done the Bruschett Gardens and Tea at the fufu hotel (name escapes me at the moment). Debarkation was a snap. We used the luggage direct service, got off the ship at 9AM and caught the shuttle back to National to pick up a car and visit our Daughter for the day before our 11PM flight back to Cincinnati. We are Global Entry qualified but didn't need it at this port as the line was very short, we have no luggage to fool with except three bottles of booze for our daughter was all we were carrying. Customs smiled, took our form and onto the shuttle we went. Had a great time on this smaller ship but the wife says she wants back on the Mega ships from now on. This was our 16th cruise and this is the smallest ship we have been on. The biggest, Allure of the Seas. We are now planning our 50th on one of RCI's Meggas. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
9 to 16 JULY 2016 ......This was my third cruise. My wife and I really enjoyed the time aboard. Our cabin was 5177 so it was an inside room with no windows, which I like for sleeping. Our cabin steward "Riza" was very good ... Read More
9 to 16 JULY 2016 ......This was my third cruise. My wife and I really enjoyed the time aboard. Our cabin was 5177 so it was an inside room with no windows, which I like for sleeping. Our cabin steward "Riza" was very good about keeping our cabin picked up and towels and bed kept orderly. My wife just loved the towel that was folded different each day into a different shape of some type of animal. We had plenty to do on board and we enjoyed the shows and other special activities. The top two for us was the "marriage game" and "Name that tune". The list of Shore excursions was great so we had many options but the only negative I have with that is that the time in port of calls seemed to be so rushed. The cruise up into Glacier bay was just wonderful and interesting and we was given a map of the area in our rooms the day before so we knew where and what we was watching on deck while the PA system announced each Glacier. Initial embarkation process is very chaotic as well as the drill for the life boats but over all we had a very good vacation. we are going to be very pro-active with our friends about they must take a trip to Alaska and HAL would be a good choice for cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Instead of doing an overall review (there are already too many of them), I'd like to give my impressions and experiences of the advice I received from reading Cruise Critic: Large Groups on board - I was led to believe they would ... Read More
Instead of doing an overall review (there are already too many of them), I'd like to give my impressions and experiences of the advice I received from reading Cruise Critic: Large Groups on board - I was led to believe they would ruin my cruise. In actuality, the 600 people with the Inspirations Group were very pleasant people. No issues at all. Dive-In - Was told hamburgers and fries were wonderful. I know we all have different tastes, but I thought they were just ok. MDR - Was led to believe this was very good and on the verge on elegant. I thought the food (my sirloin steak) was not good. The variety/selection was lacking. It was not Gala night but I saw a family walk in in jeans and big hiking boots. I was led to believe jeans were not allowed. Clothing - Rain gear and boots were a must. I would not bring boots next time. There was nothing I did that my tennis shoes wouldn't have been appropriate for. I packed too much. Room accessories - Per CC suggestions, I brought post its, pens, magnets, clothes pins, coffee mugs. Didn't need any of these. There was a pen in the room. They give you so much paper with advertisement of diamonds and jewelry, I used the backside to write on if I needed a piece of paper. Didn't need any of these items. I also did not see any doors decorated on the outside. I didn't plan to do this but was led to believe that at least half the people on board did this. I saw no door decorations. It's Illegal to take food on and off ship if its not in it's original wrapping - This was never mentioned on or off the ship. No one checked for food or drink at any port. Lido Buffet - So many people said they did not like the buffet and never ate there. We preferred the buffet because of the variety and especially the views out the window. We always ate at a window table and enjoyed the view. Whenever I looked they had someone at the sandwich station ready to make a sandwich, but there was hardly anyone there. The custom made salad bar was my favorite. 8th Floor Room under Lido/pool - Was told that we may hear chairs scrapping early in the morning when the pool was being cleaned. We heard chairs scrapping and people running must days during the day. We spent a lot of time in our room enjoying the landscape from our balcony. If you don't spend much time in your room, it would be a non issue. Smokers - Was made to believe that if you were next door to a smoker, it would ruin your trip. I smelled someone smoke next door to me one day and that's it. We were in port so the wind was not blowing the smoke away. I went back inside for a little while. No issue. Excursions - It seemed like everyone booked excursions (and multiple excursions) at every port. I booked excursions at only 2 of the 4 ports and that was plenty. Listening to others who booked lots of excursions they were saying that they didn't have time to walk around and enjoy the town. As other Cruise Critic members mentioned: Pinnacle Grill was exceptional - I agree Canaletto was just ok - I didn't like it at all Balcony was worth it on Alaskan Cruise - I agree Crows Nest was nice to relax - I agree Explorations Café - great Latte's Ship hairdryer not good - I agree, take your own Laundry bag held a lot - I agree, sent out my laundry at dinner time and received it back the next morning. I was able to fit a lot in the bag. I'm sure some of the CC members will criticize some of the things I said above (because I think criticizing others is their favorite pastime), but these were my impressions and observations of my first cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose HAL because we love this cruise line and this was our first time on Ms Westerdam to Alaska and we were not disappointed. The Westerdam had some slight wear but we experienced no major issues on our cruise. We did encounter some ... Read More
We chose HAL because we love this cruise line and this was our first time on Ms Westerdam to Alaska and we were not disappointed. The Westerdam had some slight wear but we experienced no major issues on our cruise. We did encounter some noticeable vibration in the MDR and some slight swaying in our room (that we did not experience on the larger Oosterdam ship) but contributed it to a smaller vessel. We were in Neptune Suite 7081 and loved it. Nice layout, spacious balcony, and our room stewards were very attentive. We always enjoy the Neptune Lounge with their delicious coffee and food. Most all of meals were very good in the MDR with the exception of one night when we requested an appointed time (had open seating) and it was made for the wrong night. The host tried to refuse to seat us but we insisted and we were seated in a corner between other guests and had poor service, after that we chose to "walk in" and had excellent service from then on. Did not see any of the shows or musical acts but did participate in trivia events and enjoyed. We signed up for the Alaskan beer sampling and recommend this event. We found there were plenty of educational and fun events to do if you choose. Crow's Nest very cold. The overall service was good- we were not impressed with the attendants in the Neptune Lounge who are normally very helpful, friendly, and attentive. Several times the lounge would be unstaffed and also made wrong or no reservations for us without an apology when we did use their services. Spa service are not recommended on Westerdam as my massage turned into a hard core sales pitch to buy products. I left angry and humiliated. Juneau- Salmon bake & gold panning adventure was very good. Sitka- 1/2 day salmon fishing was amazing-11 caught by us 3. Ketchikan- fun day of shopping Embarkation was very smooth, disembarkation was a little hectic especially trying to get on elevators to leave ship. I would definitely recommend Holland America for cruising to Alaska or any destination provided by this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. We had a balcony room on the 7th deck. Our room was nice with lots of storage. The room and dining staff were amazing. I live in the Seattle area and am used to seeing beautiful trees and large ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. We had a balcony room on the 7th deck. Our room was nice with lots of storage. The room and dining staff were amazing. I live in the Seattle area and am used to seeing beautiful trees and large mountains, but Alaska is like home times 10. Truly a must-visit destination. Food in the dining room was very good (we only ate dinner there), and food on the lido deck was pretty average. Our excursions were very good and saw lots of wildlife. So many whales here. Given the short cruise and destination we knew there would be families with kids to deal with, but at times, I felt like I was at Disneyland rather than on a cruise. The pool area was packed with kids all times of the day. It was also quite a challenge to find a table anywhere on the lido deck during meal times. For entertainment, we pretty much stuck with the B.B. King’s Blues Band. They played 2-3 sets every night except one. They were awesome. We also spent some time in the casino, but there were too many smokers to stay for any length of time. The photo options are very expensive and not worth it. They charge $30 for a single photo, and if you want the digital version of the same photo, it’s $30 more. They have package deals starting at $200, but if you really want the best photo combinations of your trip, be ready to pay much more. Ports and Excursions Seattle – We live here and love it. What more can I say? Must-see: Space Needle, Chihuly Glass Garden, EMP Museum, and Pike Place Market. Glacier Bay – Awesome scenery. Loved it. Juneau – We took the Whales & Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari excursion here and it was by far the best one we went on. It was a small group and very knowledgeable guides. We saw lots of whales and other wildlife. Avoid the shops near the dock. The sales staff were very pushy and the prices didn’t seem very good. Walk down the street to find locally owned shops and you will have a much better time. Sitka – We did the Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest excursion. It was pretty good, but felt a little rushed. They tried to cover lots of ground, so we couldn’t spend much time in any one place. Ketchikan – We did the Rain Forest Sanctuary and Raptor Center excursion. It was a short walk through a forest area. The guide was good, but we felt we could have passed on this one and done something else. Victoria – We didn’t bother getting off the ship given the sort time in port, and the fact that we’ve been there many times. The gardens are really worth seeing. Overall, we felt like we got a good value for the cruise and would go again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was our very first cruise, but I can't imagine making a better decision! The 14 night Great Alaskan Land Explorer itinerary caught my attention right away. At 45 days out, we got a great price so I booked an inside room for ... Read More
This was our very first cruise, but I can't imagine making a better decision! The 14 night Great Alaskan Land Explorer itinerary caught my attention right away. At 45 days out, we got a great price so I booked an inside room for myself and my 2 sons, ages 10 and 12. I know my review will be fairly long, but hopefully it has some good tips for first timers. We were due to arrive into Seattle at 11 am on the day of embarkation, instead we were delayed until 2 pm due to weather. Booking the HAL transfer seemed like it may have been a little pricey when paying for more than 2 people, but it provided great peace of mind as a new cruiser. We were able to easily find representatives at the baggage carousel and everyone was helpful and professional all the way through the embarkation process. Showing up a little bit later meant that we barely had any line to wait in and we breezed through check in. In the future, I'd prefer to arrive a day or 2 ahead of time so flight delays aren't as big of a worry. The ship itself was very well maintained. We saw them cleaning windows, etc at every port. The decor could use some overhaul. There were some finishes that seemed worn. But, really, that was cosmetic and the crew really worked tirelessly. The Maasdam has all the necessities and then some to be comfortable. Our major concern was the reputation of HAL being for a much older crowd and we were afraid of formal nights. We worried for no reason. Everyone we encountered was friendly. You saw kids around, but you barely noticed them since they were all well behaved. The older guests were fun and lively. I was a little worried when we heard that our sailing would include a number of square dancers. It turned out that they was a lot of fun to watch and were happy to teach anyone and include them. There was no hesitation to strike up a conversation from the time we trudged to the mandatory drill on the 6th deck during the first hours to the pick up line outside the terminal after disembarkation. As for worries about gala nights? The boys were fine in a button up shirt and tie. They probably would have been fine in khakis and a polo shirt (their uniform most days) if we didn't have suits. The suit jackets weren't necessary, though most men did wear them. There were even some who got dressed up in tuxes. Otherwise, just going to the lido was a fine, casual alternative. Our inside cabin was moved at the last minute. I wasn't thrilled that we went from a quad to a triple and to the lowest floor. But, it really worked out fine after my first day freak out. Once we had the beds separated into two, got the suitcases under the beds, and had the chair/table removed our room, it felt so much larger and comfort was no longer an issue. We were in the very middle of the ship and felt little movement nor had issues with noise. I had packed sea bands, ginger candy, ear patches, and an econo bottle of dramamine. None were needed. You can ask for meds at the front desk for free, if necessary. The water was pretty calm the entire 14 days. The good news? Since we couldn't get a paid upgrade to oceanview (we were offered upgrades but for a 3-4 person room, it was far more difficult than for 2), the free inside cabin upgrade turned out to be a great thing. We had only a small shower. No issues with a too tall tub to hurdle over. Plus, I believe this also gave us more space in the main room, which counts when it's 3 people in there for 2 weeks. The other benefit was that without windows, there was no issues with 20 hours of sunlight. We were just as happy watching the midnight sunset from the crow's nest, the back of the lido, or a number of other spaces around the ship. It rarely felt like any space was over crowded other than peak times at the lido, the 8:00 show (the 10pm was up to 90% less crowded), or if you wanted a lounge chair in the crow's nest occasionally. We had to wait in line for open dining in the main dining room twice, but that was fixed by either dining by 5:30 or after 7:30. I had very little expectation about the caliber of entertainment we'd see on board, but was very pleasantly surprised. The 4 main singers were incredibly talented, as were the 6 dancers. The guest entertainment was even more impressive. I'm only in my late 30s, but knew almost every song from the 60s to present day and had a lot of fun singing along or laughing at the comedy. Most of the comedy was family friendly. The few jokes that weren't still were relatively tame without feeling forced. I wasn't impressed by some of the activities like bridge lessons, casino lessons, etc but we were never bored. I really enjoyed Jeanette, the location expert's talks about Alaskan life, wildlife, and the ports. I attended some of the culinary events (with free champagne), a free whisky tasting, and even checked out some of the shopping events. I only ended up purchasing some duty free liquor, makeup, and a bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume. I didn't find the jewelry to my taste and while the tees/sweatshirts were a decent price, I bought a few for about $5 in ports instead. But, it was easy to forget your jackets, etc and pick them up for under $20 on board or at any stop if needed (mid-July temps ranged from 50 to 80 for highs). I was surprised how affordable souvenir shopping was most places, with the exception of Victoria being a little less impressive IMO. Service is really where the crew of the Maasdam shined. The Indonesian/Filipino crew was extraordinarily hard working and friendly. Sometimes I wished they would take more breaks. Our room was attended to twice a day by Iwan and Eris.They were responsible for about 30 rooms. I was sure to tip them often. I found it was really smart to come prepared to do laundry ourselves. You can get quarters at the front desk. Wash is $2, dryer is $1. There is powdered soap for free, but we brought our own soap pods and did laundry every other day. Most people just did wash once or twice on sea days. We avoided the crowds by going late around 9 pm. I thought I was missing out by only booking two excursions ahead of time. But, I found most people came with their own plan or just intended to walk around in most cities. The high speed ocean raft in Sitka turned out to be the best. We went at noon, as one of the last ones out. The weather wasn't great, but that made it more fun and we were able to see many more things than the earlier groups and got to stay out later with a ride back to the ship afterward. I was scared it would be too rough. We got knocked around a lot but never felt out of control or endangered. We also booked a hovercraft ride to the Taku glacier in Juneau. It was pretty awesome (not for mobility challenged), but only worth the expense if it really calls to you. Otherwise, there are cheaper excursions and we missed out on the Mendenhall glacier and other excursions. We didn't book ahead of time in Anchorage and found Salmon Berry Tours across from the visitor's center. Our guide was amazing and our group of 10 got such personal attention. The wildlife center had 3 buses of HAL excursion guests, but our guide knew every animal by name and really let us experience more. We saw Dall sheep and moose by the side of the road and were able to stop as needed for restrooms, pics, etc. She also took us up the tram at the Alyeska resort where my kids got to play in some ice and threw snowballs at each other for a few minutes while wearing short sleeves in July. Now the important part, the food! We never had a chance to get hungry. We tried the main dining room for all meals, but found it was easiest to follow the crowd to the lido for breakfast. It was great to have so much variety. Both sides of the lido had most of the same items, but one also had a dedicated Asian section. I tried the rice 'pudding' one morning with tofu, garlic, etc. It tasted like miso, but wasn't for me. That was the cool thing though, you could try anything without much risk or obligation. There was always a full English breakfast available, quick continental items, or made to order fried eggs/omelets. Even when the meal hours were over, there was always something available. The Dive In opened at 11:30 most days and served really good burgers (or portabello sandwich or even chicken) with fries. My son loved the Dive In sauce. You could bring anything you wanted back to your room, so burgers were always a good choice if we wanted to sit around and watch a movie. In room dining was pretty good too, but usually had a 30 to 40 minute wait. The meals in the dining room were mostly good. The vegetarian selection wasn't always great (curries were good but I don't like coconut milk, I didn't like bread-y things like veggie pancakes). Stuffed eggplant, mushroom ravioli, and a lunch roasted veggie wrap were my faves. You could also order as many appetizers/entrees as you wanted, eliminate the chicken/fish from a salad or ask for sides of veggies. Sometimes the food wasn't hot or had been cooked in advance. But, overall, it was elegantly presented and well worth the wait. There was a cold fruit soup every night. Some were like smoothies, but not bad. We just preferred the hot soups or the kids enjoyed seafood plates. We usually drank water with dinner. Many people ordered wine packages, but most people declined the expense. I prefer beer or mixed drinks but I usually just had drinks during the 4-5 pm or 9-10 pm Happy Hour in the Crow's Nest where all drinks were buy 1 get one for $1 (included non alcoholic mocktails). I often carried them down to the dining room or to the show room. I ordered my boys the $50 soda cards before our trip, which cost $25. Each soda came to $2.01 with tip, so they were about to have 24 or 25. We had a lot of balance left over the last day. Unused gift cards can be refunded, but I wasn't sure how it would work with the soda card since it was discounted. We really enjoyed our trip. The Maasdam was a great introduction to cruising and we look forward to similar trips. The smaller 1,200 passenger capacity seemed just right. We were able to make some wonderful friends we saw often, yet met new people every day. My boys wouldn't go to club HAL since they were at the upper end of the 7-12 Tween age range, but they had no problems with boredom. They caused no problems and navigated the ship with ease. It was truly the trip of a lifetime. With our new knowledge and experience we will know in the future how to par down our luggage and optimize our fun. Cruise Critic was really the best source of info as a first timer. A couple other issues--we survived with almost no internet! Yes, 14 days. Amazing. We only turned our phones on in ports. There was pretty much no T-Mobile coverage outside of Seattle, but we found some roaming was included with any of their plans so we were happy. I ran close to my limit on data and was able to add more for $15 (which lasts for up to a week). The roaming on GCI and AT&T worked well when we weren't going to waste time sitting at a library or McDonalds for free wifi. Internet access on the ship was 75 cents/minute or could be bought in packages that weren't worth the price IMO. If you do purchase any be sure to log out or the time will not stop counting against your account. They said if you set up an account you could surf the Holland America website (and maybe a couple others) for free, but I couldn't get it to work. The Explorations cafe area had plenty of books, games, magazines, etc to keep you busy and you could always order movies for free from the front desk if the featured movies on the TV didn't work for you (they played on repeat the day after they were played in the ship's theater--stuff like Jungle Book, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, etc). Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
July 4 - 18, 2016 This was our third cruise to Alaska, third trip with Holland America with at least 20 cruises on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess and Crystal. Alan was celebrating his 80th birthday on the first night of the ... Read More
July 4 - 18, 2016 This was our third cruise to Alaska, third trip with Holland America with at least 20 cruises on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess and Crystal. Alan was celebrating his 80th birthday on the first night of the cruise. Getting there and getting home We flew Southwest to Albuquerque to visit grandchildren for a few days; then nonstop to Seattle on AlaskaAir. Our return flight was nonstop to Fort Lauderdale on AlaskaAir. All flights were on time and we encountered no delays at TSA checkpoints (to our surprise). Air Alaska's seats had much more leg room. Arriving late on Sunday, we stayed at the Embassy Suites near the airport and had AJ (Seatac Towncar) take us to the port. After the cruise we stayed one night at the Hampton Inn Downtown. We arrived before 10 and no rooms were ready. They sat us in a lounge and offered breakfast. AJ picked us up at 6:45 AM for our flight home. AJ arrived each time at least a half hour early, but told us not to rush. Embarkation and Debarkation We arrived at the dock around noon and waited in line to check in for a half hour. Just as we were called, they started boarding. Cabins were ready; we dropped our bags and went to lunch in the main dining room (MDR). We were scheduled to debark at 9:10 (latest time, at our request). We had ordered room service breakfast and waited in our cabin until we were called. Our color was called on time and we found our luggage and a porter quickly. There was no line at Customs and Boarder Protection (never happened before) and taxis were waiting. Our Cabin We were in cabin 421, an aft-facing outside cabin on the Lower Promenade deck. It was a typical HAL oceanview cabin, very comfortable. The advantage of this cabin was that it was right next to a door to the outside. The only negative with the location was the outside door slamming every now and then, and the vibration when we were leaving port. We had some plumbing problems -- a toilet that didn't flush and a sink that leaked. They were fixed quickly, every time. Our cabin attendants were very good. Smoking We are used to Celebrity and its almost smoke-free ships. Having heard so many complaints about HAL, I was surprised to rarely smell any smoke outdoors or even in the casino. Dining & Drinking For religious reasons, we eat only fish (with fins and scales) and vegetarian on cruises. We ate most of our dinners in the MDR and were pleased with most of the food. On two nights, they made a vegetarian baked onion soup especially for us (and we could have had it more often). The salmon in the Pinnacle was outstanding, as was the service. The selection in the Lido left a lot to be desired, particularly at dinner. We enjoyed lunch in the MDR when. Lunch in the Lido had a better selection than dinner. We didn't have breakfast most days, except room service for early excursions. We had the drink package promotion, which was very convenient. We would never buy it at full price; we don't drink that much. I had a Café Mocha (included in the package) most mornings at the Explorer's lounge; the server knew me by name after a few days. HAL could save money by not printing receipts for every drink. Our wine steward was very attentive. Entertainment We went to some of the main shows. The house band, the Halcats, consisted of two guitars, drums and a keyboard, sometimes augmented by a piano. The shows were typical cruise ship shows. The other music around the ship was more to our liking. The Jazz Trio in the Ocean Bar was outstanding, as was the classical duo. They each played several hours every evening. The piano bar was good; the guitarist was not to our taste. The Halcats, augmented by a very good singer, also played some evenings. Sightseeing The reason for choosing this 14-day cruise was the beauty of Alaska. Having been in most of these ports, we sometimes enjoyed the sights from the ship. In Ketchikan, we just wandered about town. The next day, we were supposed to cruise in Tracy Arm. However, the amount of ice in the arm was too much for a cruise ship to navigate. We went to Endicott Arm instead. It was very pretty; we had never been there. I was actually hoping for this since we had an excursion to Tracy Arm from Juneau with Adventure Bound. The boat held 30 passengers and wove through the ice. According to the captain (who has been running this tour for 28 years), no cruise ships have made it into Tracy Arm this season. We got very close to the North Sawyer Glacier, but could not get to the South Sawyer Glacier. The captain said he has not seen it yet this season. I got good pictures of black bears, seals, an eagle, and large bright blue ice bergs. We did not get off in Icy Straights Point. A number of passengers enjoyed the zip line there. In Anchorage, we enjoyed the 26 Glaciers tour through HAL. We bussed along Turnagain Arm, and stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We saw a large variety of animals, including brown bears that came out from hiding when their names were called. From there, we went through the 2.5 mile long (one lane) tunnel to Whittier. We boarded the Klondike (a catamaran) for a 5-hour tour of College Fjord, with its many glaciers and sea otters. There were two Park Rangers on board to give commentary. We got very close to Barry Glacier. On the way back, we saw a whale. They served a nice lunch, included in the tour (fish fry or chicken). We've been to Kodiak and Homer before and did not get off. We approached Hubbard Glacier very slowly, as there was lots of ice. We could only get within 5 miles of it, but the Island Princess stayed twice as far away. The sun came out while we were at the glacier. I had a cold and stayed on board at Sitka and Victoria. We had tickets for a tour of Butchard Gardens, but turned them in that morning. (They refunded the cost.) In Seattle, we had a nice brunch in the restaurant on top of the Space Needle; it was pricy, but included the $29 admission fee. Medical Center Allyn's cough sounded like touble and we went to the medical center. Dr. Lim was very patient and seemed veery knowledgeable. Summing Up We really enjoyed this cruise. The ship is small and easy to get around (except on deck 7 where the kitchen is between the dining room and the rest of that deck). The weather was near perfect. The days were often overcast, but we only encountered a brief shower while we were inside a tour boat. The sun came out from time to time and the temperatures were around 60 most days. Alan & Allyn Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Overall, our family of 9 had a good time on the Amsterdam, but I certainly would not want to do an "Around the World" trip on her. Our cabin had a few problems that our very nice stewards did their best to take care of. First, ... Read More
Overall, our family of 9 had a good time on the Amsterdam, but I certainly would not want to do an "Around the World" trip on her. Our cabin had a few problems that our very nice stewards did their best to take care of. First, they had put a very large dorm refrigerator in the space for your knees at the vanity so that you could not use it at all and the frig was plugged into the only outlet, so that I could not use hair dryer and curling rods. They did remove that for me and saw that we had a good supply of ice in our room. The other problem was that there was no hot water in the sink. A repairman tried, but his repair only lasted about 5 minutes. Oh well, I can live with that as there was hot water in the tub and shower. There was a lot of storage room and the balcony was larger than newer ships with a lounge chair as well as regular chair and small table. I read the review that complained about the lack of Salmon, but don't understand it as they served baked Salmon on deck twice and I believe it was one of the items on the menu available anytime. I thought the dining room food was pretty good and they tried hard to please my very fussy grandson. Breakfast buffet was good, but I thought the manu at the Lido could be better. I think it is the only ship I have been on that does not have Pizza on the pooil deck and the things that are there close down at 5 pm sharp. The Pinnacle is always wonderful. All of our group agreed that Sitka was our favorite stop. We booked private tours on shore and were so pleased with the friendliness of everyone. We were blessed with good weather in Juneau, Sitka and Victoria, and also for cruising Hubbard Glacier, which was awesome. It rained buckets in Ketchikan, but that is the norm there. We were very unimpressed with the photography on this ship. Some photos were Ok, but others were very fuzzy. The Black Label experience was definitely not worth the money, and on top of that, the photographer was rude to each one of us. For such a small ship, the entertainers were terrific. The Irish singing and dancing was a real treat. We will certainly cruise with HAL again, but probably not on the Amsterdam. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was our first cruise, and trying to read ratings, reviews and make a decision on which cruise line to pick can be daunting. I read one reviewer that noted some of the poor reviews were from pretentious cruisers with expectations that ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and trying to read ratings, reviews and make a decision on which cruise line to pick can be daunting. I read one reviewer that noted some of the poor reviews were from pretentious cruisers with expectations that were beyond reasonable. I witnessed that first hand more than once. We cruised on the Westerdam from Seattle to Alaska. We had a balcony, which is a must when you have such amazing scenery. The rooms are dated - however they were clean, someone was always making sure our beds were made, fresh towels and ice all the time. The guest list ranged from young families to older cruisers, definitely a variety of ages. Dress ranged from yoga pants to suits. The Lido food is meh....Lido had several different stations, lunch included hot choices of meats and vegetables plus a pasta bar, sandwich bar, fruit choices, dessert bar, oriental food, pizza and salad bar (salad bar was excellent). The food in the dining room was excellent. Room service was fine, we ordered a couple of late snacks, one not so good was the cheese tray which was a few different varieties of cheese served with graham crackers, but we survived. If you starved, well that would be almost impossible as there are tons of options. The entertainment that we went to was a comedian, an illusionist and the Westerdam singers/dancers. Comedian and illusionist were great, the singers/dancers were okay. We did the bar crawl (fun), played trivia (fun), hit martini night every night! (fun), and the blackjack tournament (fun). During the Glacier Bay excursion there was a spotter on the ship pointing us to the different wildlife (bears, whales, otters, sea lions and eagles) along with a forest service guide talking about highlights and history of the area. We hit the exercise facility to workout and the spa for massages and facials. Almost every day of the cruise there were specials posted in our rooms for discounted spa services. Crew and cruise director were very friendly and accommodating. Excursions: Juneau - float plane trip to Taku lodge and salmon bake. Awesome sights, salmon was excellent, local black bear came up to clean the grill, and we finished with a short hike. Sitka - 4 hour salmon fishing. Our guide, Sam was friendly and we had a blast. Caught two kings and shipped them home. Five people on the boat, 4 fish caught. I would have liked to fish longer, but I wasn't up for the 8 hour trip that was offered. Ketchikan - we went kayaking with Autumn on a 3 or 4 hour trip. She was super friendly, talked about the wildlife and the area and kept everyone on track. Saw deer, sea lions and lots of eagles. It was really peaceful. The excursions are spendy but it is worth it. There are several excursions at each port to pick from, and varying price ranges. There is an excursion "help desk" that can answer questions or book excursions for you during the cruise if you did not book any in advance. All of our excursions were seamless as far as loading, transportation, etc. Summary: I get that cruises are expensive, but am annoyed by the nickel and dime stuff...I only want to pay one fee. I don't want to pay separately for soft drinks, alcoholic drinks or things like wi-fi. We had a great time, and the Alaska cruise was an excellent first choice. Only really one full day at sea, and the rest of the time we were on deck watching for wildlife, checking out the scenery or heading on an excursion. No regrets! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We had a fantastic time! This was a multigenerational trip, and there was something for everyone. Our room was of course small, and there were a few little issues with shower drainage, but everything was clean and in good condition. Any ... Read More
We had a fantastic time! This was a multigenerational trip, and there was something for everyone. Our room was of course small, and there were a few little issues with shower drainage, but everything was clean and in good condition. Any problems we brought to the staff were fixed. They even managed to get us an extension cord for my husband's CPAP - which, by the way, apparently you are supposed to list as an accommodation when you are booking so that you have a plug near the head of the bed! The stewards were great, they even put up the bunkbed for us on the last night to surprise our 10yo who really wanted to try it! The food and drinks were terrific. We ate most of our meals in the main dining room, and there were always different choices. We were supposed to dress nice for dinner, and it was fun to feel a little pampered. Most of our group, even the kids, tried foods they had never had before. Our server was always attentive, and even offered the kids an "extra" appetizer or soup if he saw that they seemed to like their taste of someone else's! The wine steward was right there to offer service, but never pushy with ordering more. We stepped it up for one night at the Pinnacle Grill as we had a free meal from our travel agent, but even if we had paid the extra $$ it would have been well worth it! Service in general was really good. All staff we ran across were friendly and helpful. Service at the bars was occasionally slow, but only if it was busy - they were never ignoring us. We didn't do a lot of the onboard entertainment activities, but the kids did try out Club HAL a bit - they weren't super excited about all of the activities, but found some they wanted to try. I think it would be great for slightly younger kids - ours would rather swim or play up on the sports deck. We all saw the magician shows, and that was fabulous enough that all 3 kids were mad we wouldn't buy them the magic set. Our Star Wars boy was really excited that they showed Episode 7 on the last night! Our group did a variety of shore excursions, including whale watching and glacier visit, ocean raft adventure, sea kayaking, and ziplining. Everything was fantastic - and since one of our tours ran late, it was really good we had booked through the cruise line, as they will not leave without you. I would definitely recommend this cruise for anyone! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My husband and I were looking for an interesting cruise for the summer and decided that Alaska would be just the right thing. We had been to Sitka and Juneau several years ago when he participated in a Russian music festival in Sitka. The ... Read More
My husband and I were looking for an interesting cruise for the summer and decided that Alaska would be just the right thing. We had been to Sitka and Juneau several years ago when he participated in a Russian music festival in Sitka. The Westerdam did go to Sitka, which was one reason we selected this cruise. Also we had sailed with the Noordam before and really liked this class of ship. We booked the pre cruise hotel and transfers with Holland America and were very pleased with the Sheraton in Seattle. Also the fact that our bags were transferred directly to the ship from the hotel made the embarkation process much less stressful. The Saturday we left Seattle was very busy as the Crown Princess was also in port. The transfer bus took us efficiently to the port and we got through the lines without much trouble. The Holland America staff is very efficient and we were on the ship without a long wait. We had booked a veranda cabin but had the opportunity to upgrade to a suite for a reasonable price. This was a good decision as the suite was very comfortable and spacious. We usually do the open dining but we had been assigned a table for the fixed dinner. It was for two and very nice. Our waiter Hendra was very attentive. The ship itself is lovely and very well designed. We never felt crowded or that there were just too many people for the space. I'm not sure why so many reviews of the Westerdam are negative. I confess I did not spend a lot of time going around the ship just to find something to complain about. Also the food is amazing when you think about how many meals are served every day and the variety and quality of the food is better than in many good restaurants. If you are not sure about what to eat, try the pasta dishes. They are always excellent. We were fortunate on our cruise to have very good weather, just a little rain in Juneau. This contributed to our overall satisfaction with the cruise, although the weather is out of the control of the ship and crew. The only reason I didn't give a 5-star review was the disappointing entertainment onboard. For some reason the sound level for all the musical shows is way too high. The sound is distorted almost to the point of being unpleasant. We did discover Anna in the piano bar and went there every night. She was excellent and the choice of music from broadway and films (as well as a little country) was just what we were looking for. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We chose this cruise because the ship is relatively smaller than the NCL, Princess & Celebrity ships offering an Alaska itinerary. We spent three days in Seattle prior to our embarkation, visiting with friends. Seattle is a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the ship is relatively smaller than the NCL, Princess & Celebrity ships offering an Alaska itinerary. We spent three days in Seattle prior to our embarkation, visiting with friends. Seattle is a fabulous, progressive city with a lot to do, so if you can go early, do so and enjoy a couple of days in this vibrant city, We arrived at tge ship about 1PM, and embarkation took over an hour - longer than any other cruise I've taken. We used luggage direct for disembarkation; our luggage was sent to the airport (we had minimal luggage) and we spent the day in Seattle and flew the red-eye back to Tampa on Sunday night. Our luggage arrived without a hitch. Highly recommend! We had three cabins forward on deck three; 3303, 3305 and 3307. While we had obstructed view, we did have a view of the sea. Our cabins were close to an exterior door on the lower promenade deck, which we loved as we spent a lot of time together on sea days, enjoying proximity to the deck chairs. The service was excellent, though each time I cruise I am reminded how little the staff - aside from some managers - earns. Most of the ship personnel leave their families for months at a time just to provide fir them. I always tip more, and often, feeling thankful that an extra $100 or so won't have a long-term impact on my budget but may be a blessing to those who work so hard to make our journey comfortable and memorable. We cruised with 2 adult daughters and their husbands, and had a splendid time. We celebrated a special birthday in the Pinnacle Grill. The steaks were to die for, and the service was impeccable. We also dined at the Italian restaurant and really enjoyed our meal. Our assigned dining table was at the extreme rear of the ship, against a floor to ceiling window. We really enjoyed our dinners, watching the wake left by the ship, In Juneau, we did the Sea Kayaking at the Mendenhall Glacier excursion. It was great, with views of the glacier and sea otter and eagle sightings but...,we were attacked by no-seeums and returned to the ship with numerous bites and welts. We were advised the bugs had not been there the day before, so just our luck! Btw, no bug spray works on the nasty no seeums. The menfolk golfed in Sitka, arranging it directly with the one golf course in Sitka. Cost was $80 and included pick-up/return to the ship, 2 rounds on the 9 hole course, club rental, and a few balls. The course personnel advised they no longer worked with the cruise lines because they charged $200 for the 'golf excursion', which they called 'golf extortion'! The views at the golf course were spectacular, and the weather was glorious. The gals walked to the totem park, and the around the town, meeting the guys when they returned for lunch at a pub. We scheduled a float plane tour in Ketchikan on our own, at a cost of $169 pp vs. $250 as a HAL excursion. In the end, it didn't matter as the weather was bad and nothing was flying....unfortunate as there is little to do in Ketchikan. We settled on a local tour, including a totem village. Not awful, but surely not as exciting as the float plane glacier tour! Victoria is charming, but our 6PM arrival limited activities. Good thing we had visited Victoria twice before, All in all, it was a great vacation with many memories. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Cruise was nice - Wait staff left something to be desired (especially breakfast) Our MAIN problem was it seemed once the waiters brought your food they acted like you didn't exist any more. If you needed drink refills; more bread; ... Read More
Cruise was nice - Wait staff left something to be desired (especially breakfast) Our MAIN problem was it seemed once the waiters brought your food they acted like you didn't exist any more. If you needed drink refills; more bread; or basically anything... you were out of luck... We started to deduct tips for poor service and now wish we would of. Our cabin stewards were excellent; Once we told them what we needed daily; they always had it there for us without having to ask twice. The shows were very good; and the talks a guy gave about who (where) to watch for wild life we very good, They had Windows 10 classes; and also photography classes. It was all very informative; but in our opinion they classes should of been held in a larger area. we went twice 15-20 minutes before the scheduled start time; and the line was already so long the room filled up before we were able to get in. SO a larger room would of been nice so everyone that wanted the info could of gotten it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We had sailed on the Maasdam 6 years ago and that experience hooked us on Holland America cruises. This cruise has a wonderful itinerary. We did an 8 day Alaska last September and were very disappointed with the weather. This trip we ... Read More
We had sailed on the Maasdam 6 years ago and that experience hooked us on Holland America cruises. This cruise has a wonderful itinerary. We did an 8 day Alaska last September and were very disappointed with the weather. This trip we had fabulous weather except for two days. I cannot tell you anything specific about the ports as due to mobility problems we did not disembark. We had an inside cabin which was large enough, however, in the future for a cruise of this length we would get an outside or balcony as the inside cabin made us sleep a lot without daylight. Our cabin steward was wonderful, even cleaning the cabin when we left at 1pm. the dining overall was good except the main courses were bland. Service was slow at times but overall very good. Staff is extremely friendly and helpful. The shows were good compared to other lines, the only thing missing were adult comedy shows which i was told because of the demographic some passengers found them offensive even though they were told they were adult. Service was friendly and on the lido buffet I found them helpful in getting you drinks and taking your food to the table for you if you had a mobility issue. The food at the lido was ok, a little disappointing from other holland cruises. We did not disembark at any of the ports however the scenery was fabulous and we did see a whale and an american eagle. I would take this cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our second cruise, with the first being with Norwegian. The disembarkation process was excellent. We were assigned a color and number (Pink 3) based on our desired disembarkation time (we chose 9-9.30). We could not hear the ... Read More
This was our second cruise, with the first being with Norwegian. The disembarkation process was excellent. We were assigned a color and number (Pink 3) based on our desired disembarkation time (we chose 9-9.30). We could not hear the speaker calling our ticket so we could go to the gangway. We happened to hear them announce that all tickets had been called (this was at about 8.30), and we were ready to go, so we walked to the gangway. There was no line once we got there and we were off the ship in 10 minutes including walking from our stateroom. The food at the Lido Restaurant was average, with some items being very good, but mostly pretty average. The Vista Dining room breakfast was fair; we went once but didn't like it enough to return. The dinners were good. We found the wait staff in the dining room to be fair and not very attentive. There was only a small selection of restaurants on ship, and it was sometimes challenging finding something good to eat unless we timed it to coincide with the open hours. There were two gala dress nights, but we didn't plan to dress up. This meant we had to eating dinner in the Lido Restaurant, and the food selection was pretty limited. I will say that the Lido salad bar was very good to excellent. There were cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Center, which were informative but geared mostly towards beginning cooks. The chef didn't really follow the recipe card. Once he didn't even know which dish he was going to be preparing before he arrived (his staff had set up the ingredients). Unfortunately, they were not able to hand out samples but often cooked dishes which were offered in their dining rooms. I appreciate sales and marketing, but it seemed they were offering the demonstrations as a way to get people to come to the upgraded restaurants to taste the foods. There were no hands-on classes offered. The talks about the history of the area were very informative and enjoyable. The Vista Lounge was a beautiful auditorium with balcony seating. We traveled with our daughter, son-in-law, and 1 year-old grandson. We were aware of the lack of daycare, but were disappointed that our grandson could not even crawl around in the Club Hal play area while supervised by a parent. Overall, we probably would travel on Norwegian or a different cruise line before selecting Holland America Line again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We are in our late 60s and love cruising. We usually go to be on the ship and not for the ports. As a result, we seldom book excursions. Alaska and Hawaii are the exceptions. Europe would be an exception if we went there but so far, no go. ... Read More
We are in our late 60s and love cruising. We usually go to be on the ship and not for the ports. As a result, we seldom book excursions. Alaska and Hawaii are the exceptions. Europe would be an exception if we went there but so far, no go. We are on a fixed income, located near the west coast and by budgeting carefully and shopping for deals, we manage to take 2-3, 7-night or longer cruises a year. We have cruised with Carnival, Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean so far. This was our first cruise with HAL. We have never been on a cruise we haven't thoroughly enjoyed. We also have never been on a perfect cruise where there was not a small problem of some sort or another or something not particularly to our liking. Every ship and every line, in our experience, has had it's pros and cons. Keeping that in mind, here is my review of the Westerdam, 7 night cruise to Alaska on 5/14/16 r/t from Seattle. This was our splurge cruise. We normally book an oceanview room but my wife wanted to try, at least once, a mini-suite. The price was right so this became what will probably be our one and only mini-suite cruise. I must say that if you are going to Alaska, it is worth it to at least get a balcony stateroom. The show is outside almost the whole trip, an ever-changing panoramic slideshow of natural beauty. If I did nothing but sit on the balcony or watched out the glass balcony door the whole time and just ordered food in from room service, I would still have had a fantastic time. Embarkation: Smooth as silk. We took HAL's airport transfers both ways. When we got to the pier about noon, there were the usual long lines but they moved super fast. We were on board and in our room before 1 o'clock (yes, the room was ready). We went up to the Lido deck for the buffet but it was overcrowded and hopeless. Each station (except pizza) has individual servers - it is not self serve- which slows things down considerably. We grabbed a slice of pizza and headed back down to the room, figuring we would eat later. Although the food on the Westerdam was, overall, the most flavorful I have had on any ship, their pizza was the worst. I hail from Chicago originally, one of the two great pizza cities (New York being the other). I am very picky about pizza. Room: We were in mini-suite 6113. The room was wonderful. Spacious, lots of light and more storage than I have ever had in a stateroom. The balcony was very large, probably 15 feet wide by 8 feet deep. The bathroom had a double sink, a jacuzzi bathtub/shower combination with a separate shower cubicle as well. Medicine cabinets for each sink. The two minor issues with the room were bathtub water on hottest setting was only lukewarm although sink faucets and separate shower faucets had HOT water. This would only be an issue if you are someone who likes to take really hot baths. I do. Second issue was the air vent in the bathroom gave out a high pitched whistling noise that, after a while, became very irritating. I spoke with maintenance about it and they said the only way to fix it was to shut off air to the bathroom. It was apparently inherent in the system. Did not want a bathroom without air so I lived with it. It was not audible in the room, only when I was in the bathroom. King bed was very comfortable. Food: I have to preface this part with an explanation that I am a very basic meat and potatoes type guy. I like plain down home cooking. I am not a gourmet and enjoy a well made hamburger or hot dog almost as much as a good filet. I already told you about pizza. If the food is pronounced in a foreign language, chances are good I will not like it. The food in the main dining room was the tastiest food I have ever had on a cruise ship. It was a delight. Most of the menus suited my wife just fine but I would struggle to find something I could eat because they would try to fancy up a dish and make it more gourmet. They might have chilled peach soup as an appetizer, for instance, all well and good. But then they would add cucumber or mint to it or other stuff which would ruin it for me. Try and find a plain lettuce and tomato salad. I dare you. So most of the time, I had to have our server, customize a dish on the menu to make it edible for me. Sometimes it was possible, sometimes not. Their regular menus always had an everyday choice of New York strip steak and a couple other items which were my go-to dishes but on the gala (dress up) dinner nights, there were special menus that did not have the always everyday choices. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill steak house (upcharge) one night. The steak was perfect. Could not have been better. None of the appetizers were anything I could eat. Lido buffet: Food generally was good but not as good as in the main dining room. Salad bar where you design your own salad was excellent. At lunch, they would have different deli sandwiches out in addition to their hot entrees. These were very good. Dive-in: Grill on lido deck served hamburgers, hot dogs, fries and I think, grilled chicken sandwiches. Hamburgers were so-so. Room service hamburgers were better. Hot dogs good. Fries good. Room service: Food was consistently good. Chocolate cake was unbelievable! Entertainment: Three production shows with the ship's singers and dancers and ship's band. All dancers and singers excellent. Ship's band excellent. Shows were good. Comedian Derek Cameron was excellent. Clean and very funny. Magician James Cielen was excellent and very engaging. Beatles review singer and guitarist Jesse Kazemak and his wife Coleen were excellent and very entertaining. There were other music venues on board that we did not see as there was only so much time. Activities: Our main activity was viewing Alaska so there wasn't much time for other activities though the daily paper had a fair amount of onboard activities and classes listed. We did go to a Windows 10 class which was disappointing as there were far more people attending the class than there were seats and computers for. It was standing room only with no computers for a good many of us. My wife stayed but i walked out as I was not about to stand for an hour or so with no computer to work on. I do not know why they did not just limit it to people who they had enough seats for, or if it is that popular, schedule more classes and let people make reservations in advance. Shore Excursions: We took two. We went on the musher's camp excursion in Juneau where we met and learned about the sled dogs as well as went on a ride in a wheeled cart pulled by the dogs. At the end of the excursion, we got to hold and pet the puppies before we left. It was fun and everybody there was a dog lover. The dogs, however, are used to subzero weather so they were shedding their undercoats in mass quantities. Be prepared to get dirty and covered with dog hair. Second excursion was wildlife excursion on a catamaran boat in Sitka. The port has free shuttle buses which take you into town where you meet for the excursion and board the excursion boat. The cruise ship docked at the port at something like 7 am. Many of the excursions began at 8:30 am. We chose a 12 noon excursion. We got off the cruise ship at 10:30 am figuring we have some time to look around town before meeting for our tour. WRONG! We had over an hour wait time for the shuttle. It was like they had never done this before and were totally unprepared to handle the number of passengers. It was like being in line for an amusement park ride at Disneyland. We barely made it to the excursion on time and never did see Sitka. Although it was too early in the season for whale watching and the boat did not have sonar, we got lucky and did see one humpback whale and one meinke whale. We saw some sea otters and a few bald eagles. No bears. The guy behind me said he took this tour a year ago during the summer and saw a lots of whales and bears and all kinds of wildlife. Disembarkation: Again smooth as silk and fast. You can wait in your stateroom until your group is called. However, the announcements do not go into your stateroom. You can hear them in the hall or if you are out on your balcony. You can hear them in your stateroom only if you have the TV on and it is tuned to the ship channel. Then you can hear them on the TV. Odds and ends: You cannot view your account on the TV like other ships. You can get a statement from the front desk (think incredibly long lines) or at one of two kiosks on the main level near the front desks. Both kiosks seemed to be not working much of the time. Room service asks you to call them to have your tray picked up when you are done rather than leaving it outside your door like on other ships. We would call and call but they were extremely deficient in pick-up though delivery was prompt. After two hours I called guest services and complained. Then I got pick-up service within 15 minutes but that was the only time. Usually the room steward took care of it when he made up the room. The toilet in our room stopped working on the last day of the cruise. I called guest services and they told me that they were aware of the problem and were working on it. Apparently there was a whole section that had the same problem. Why not make an announcement and let people know so they did not use the toilet until it was fixed? Also tell them where there were public toilets that were working. Communication, in a number of areas, was the biggest downfall on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We were two couples celebrating our 25th anniversaries. We knew this would be an older crowd but we really, happily, felt quite young on this ship! We have all cruised previously, mostly Caribbean. Embarkation was super easy and we ... Read More
We were two couples celebrating our 25th anniversaries. We knew this would be an older crowd but we really, happily, felt quite young on this ship! We have all cruised previously, mostly Caribbean. Embarkation was super easy and we were on the ship within 45 minutes of arriving and our rooms were ready immediately (that was a first in all of our cruising). Our first stop was the spa because we were interested in the thermal suite package. For $149 per couple, we could not pass this up and it was the best purchase of the trip! We had adjoining balcony rooms on deck 6 and our wonderful steward (Tao) opened the connecting door for us so that we had access to both balconies - really added to our enjoyment of the cruise. Overall this was a calm, laid back cruise which is what we expected. We were very impressed with all crew members - they are just wonderful, all so friendly, helpful and hard-working. I loved the movie choices and theater, shows were pretty good although the "comedian" was really a ventriloquist that told a couple jokes. Good for a ventriloquist but I was hoping for a comedian! The Beatle's guy was amazing but we weren't thrilled with the corny wife stuff (although she was a great singer - just sing and forget the "humor"). We enjoyed karaoke the first night but were disappointed when the same people sang the same songs the second night. Happy Hours are great - twice a day and it's buy one drink, get another (same) for $1. We did not participate in Bingo or culinary arts or art shows, etc - just wanted to relax and enjoy the fitness center and spa during the day. The difference between a Very Good and Excellent rating for me was the food. We all agreed that we would have enjoyed more choices, longer hours and less repetition on the buffet. I also would prefer self serve rather than having to ask for each dish (although the servers were wonderful). The little grill by the pool is nice and it would be great to have that open late for evening snacks. The choices were almost the same daily in the buffet so a better variety would have been nice. The dining room choices were very good and the food there was excellent. We had any time dining and only waited one night for about 10 minutes (and could have been seated right away with others). We did not realize the Pinnacle would get booked for dinner within the first 24 hours so we missed out on that but we did have a nice lunch there - very good. Overall, the food was good but not great and the hours were limited from what we have experienced on other cruises. As mentioned, the fitness center, spa and sauna was great. Every day began with a complimentary stretching class which was very nice. The thermal suite was never crowded so we spent plenty of time there. Rooms are large and the beds and pillows are sooooooooo comfy. There is plenty of room for storage. We never took a shower in the room nor used the jetted tub - all of our showers were taken in the spa. The apples in the room are excellent. We asked for expedited disembarkation and it was simple. We were off the ship, through customs, in a cab and at the airport by 8:30. Overall, this was a great relaxing trip. The crew made it extra special. The only slight negative was repetitive food on the buffet and limited dining venues. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We really enjoyed this cruise! First, is should be noted that in some cases Tracy's Arm - is bypassed due to the conditions around the inlet. From ice to fog, if the ship can't get through it safely, they bypass it. ... Read More
We really enjoyed this cruise! First, is should be noted that in some cases Tracy's Arm - is bypassed due to the conditions around the inlet. From ice to fog, if the ship can't get through it safely, they bypass it. Amazingly, the Captain, Captain Mercer was first afraid that we were not getting into Tracy's Arm because the aforementioned ice. We started our trek to Eddicott Pass instead. However, in true amazement, he was able to see that Tracy's Arm was opened and HE DID BOTH! Many cruise lines I feel do not invest in this type of "protection" to ensure all parts of the cruise are completed. He did. During rough seas - we also had the chance of Sitka being cancelled due to the tender operation. For the first time ever, on our cruise, the ms Amsterdam docked in Sitka. Holland America line even provided bus service to get you back into downtown from the dock. We were told later on that again, Captain Mercer got this taken care of - and saved the port of call. A strong BRAVO! It should be noted that there is a review in here that stated the ship vibrated at high speeds -- the high speeds were done in order to protect all the ports of call and to prevent cancellations. Again, you are on a ship, things will vibrate. I will take the slight vibration in order to see an additional part of scenic cruising AND maintain the port schedule. We had a few issues in the dining room - mainly with staff that just was not at their best. We addressed this directly through the survey and onboard. It felt that the staff was a bit immature or new to the cruise industry. For a flagship we found this concerning. It was a complete 180-degree flip from last year where we had two waiters so great - that we remembered their names: Adi and Suchi. BOTH were absolutely amazing. All other areas were good - with a good selection of both European and American breakfast items in the Lido. It was noted that some of the entrees for lunch were repeated through the cruise, but still fresh and we really enjoyed the dinners in the Lido for the special events. We highly recommend partaking in the "Taste of Alaska" like dinner in the Lido - very good seafood and entree items. Prior to the cruise we pre-purchased a Pinnacle Grill package, which was to give us a voucher for a dinner in the Pinnacle. This wasn't delivered until 3 days into the cruise - which meant that all the reservations were taken. Front office tried to fix it, but ended up being refunded. The ms Amsterdam as a ship is in good condition, with a decent color scheme and some dating. In terms of quality, everything is functional. But don't be surprised to see maybe a bit of carpet wear or wood paneling a bit scratched. This is a ship that has had a long service life and in general, she is kept in good condition. This ship also does the extensive, 300+ day cruises around he world - so in some cases, the repair work is done ONBOARD. Don't expect perfection, it's a ship that goes through open ocean more often than most - not just Alaska - things wear. Take it as the "character marks" that make the Amsterdam unique. Embarkation/Disembarkation was smooth. We highly recommend looking elsewhere for Seattle airport transfers than Holland America line. We found a company called Seattle Express that did the transfer for half the cost, in a smaller van with great service. The entertainment was decent as Holland America started migrating to a more mainstream entertainment background. No longer all "broadway production" shows - everything from comedians to the crew show was worth the visit. Really not impressed with the onboard photography team - from being a bit pushy to outrageous pricing ($20 a sheet of photos) - totally not worth it. Bring a good camera and do it yourself. We would do this cruise again (technically we have, we did the same route/ship last year) but we will be looking to visit different ports of call. Holland America line does offer a good mix of value with competitive differences that make them stand out. Their respect of the environment is also notable, as you see other ships pass by, the Amsterdam lacks a lot of smoke out of her chimneys - were passing ships would have a small cloud. I feel that Holland America really represents Alaska well and puts the state on stage, versus lavish garbage on board. They want you to experience Alaska - and they do it - quite well. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise to Alaska! Sunny Seattle was a welcome sight as we took about a 40 minute ride from Sea-Tac airport on Super Shuttle to the Smith Cove Terminal where the MS Amsterdam was docked. We were ... Read More
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise to Alaska! Sunny Seattle was a welcome sight as we took about a 40 minute ride from Sea-Tac airport on Super Shuttle to the Smith Cove Terminal where the MS Amsterdam was docked. We were to enjoy sunny skies and calm seas until the last day in Vancouver. While still in port, we headed down for the Welcome Aboard Reception as 2-Star Mariners. After sailing, we settled into our Vista Suite on the Verandah Deck then later took a walk, pleasantly satisfied with the familiar look as compared to the MS Maasdam and MS Ryndam ships we have cruised. At sea on the second day we celebrated my wife's birthday with a delicious steak dinner and very attentive friendly staff in the Pinnacle Grill joined by my brother and his wife. Following a restful night, we cruised the inside passage to the Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier where we enjoyed split-pea soup sitting covered with blankets on Lower Promenade deck chairs watching the seals sunning themselves on the floating glacier ice chunks. In Juneau we took an excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier; what a beautiful sight! There we saw bald eagles gliding overhead, salmon in the shallow stream, a porcupine sleeping up a tree, and were warned that bears had been sighted beyond the barricaded trail. Back in Juneau we sampled the delicious but pricey crab at Tracy's. Aboard ship we spotted the distant goats on Mt. Juneau then had our fill of more delicious crab in the La Fontaine dining room. We tendered into Sitka, toured the Russian Bishop's house, then shopped as we strolled back past St. Michael's Cathedral to the Pioneer's Home and statue, paused to take pics at the totem pole, climbed the hill of Baranof's Castle for a panoramic view, then returned to the tender under O'Connell Bridge. As we sailed out of Sitka, the captain called out the location of whale pods so we all could get great pics of their spouts and flukes. Arriving in Ketchikan we were awakened by the buzzing of float planes and enjoyed seeing them come and go alongside the busy airport. The bald eagles kept a sharp eye out atop the buoys and light poles. We walked over to Creek Street but saw few live salmon that late in the season. We shopped our way back to the statues at The Rock and took many pics of the beautiful town. Our last day we arrived at Victoria with overcast skies. We didn't mind as we walked the 25 minutes from the ship to the inner harbor fronting the legislative building where we happened upon the open docks of the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. We strolled along admiring the beautiful wooden boats and listening to the music of the live band before heading back to the ship and reaching it just as a drenching rain began to fall. The next morning we docked back in Seattle. Disembarkation was a breeze. We travel light with a carry-on bag each so we didn't have any delay at all getting through the cruise terminal and the covered walkway to the van was much appreciated. We had planned to stay a while in Seattle but it was a dreary, rainy day, so we headed back to Sea-Tac to catch an earlier flight home. We enjoyed our time aboard, mostly spending time with our family, enjoying music and drinks in some of the nightclubs, and the great meals served in the La Fontaine, to be greeted by our room steward and delighted by a different animal each evening in the cabin. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
BACKGROUND: I am 60 years old, and have cruised on dozens of ships. I was solo for this trip. It was my sixth cruise to Alaska and I was looking forward to a relaxing cruise. I was not disappointed! EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Both went ... Read More
BACKGROUND: I am 60 years old, and have cruised on dozens of ships. I was solo for this trip. It was my sixth cruise to Alaska and I was looking forward to a relaxing cruise. I was not disappointed! EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Both went smoothly. The disembarkation might have been the quickest ever. I had a delicious breakfast, disembarked, found my suitcase and was out the door in a matter of minutes. I Ubered to and from Pier 91, and that worked well. PUBLIC AREAS: HAL maintains their ships very well. The areas are attractive and very clean. The ship doesn't have a stunning atrium, but rather a number of understated areas with attractive artwork. The elevators are well-placed and it is easy to maneuver around the ship. CABIN: I had an inside cabin which was quite sufficient. DINING: The MDR, Vista, offers delicious meals and attentive service. I had anytime dining, and ate most evening with new friends. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table. I enjoyed the sea views from the MDR. The Lido buffet has fewer choices than other recent cruises, but then, the Westerdam is also smaller than many ships, with about 2,000 passengers. For breakfast, enjoy the fresh-squeezed OJ and delicious pastries. The burger bar, Dive-in, has the best burgers at sea! The only issue is that they are cooked to order, and the wait can run 20 minutes or more. Pinnacle, the specialty restaurant, offers lunch for just $10, and it is a gracious alternative to the larger spaces. I didn't try it for dinner. THe few times I ordered room service, it came promptly. ENTERTAINMENT: HAL has contracted with a new entertainment company, and the cast was about the best I've ever seen on a ship. They have renovated the theater, and the production quality is superb. In addition to three evenings featuring the singers and dancers, we had a very funny comedian, Chris Pendleton, and a 4-man group, "Recycled Percussion." They had the audience on our feet! Our cruise director was very good; he didn't try too hard, but was pleasant and informative. HAL has also joined with "Dancing with the Stars" and offer a very entertaining show on the last day in which passengers, coupled with the professional dancers, compete. I don't watch the TV show, but loved the ship program. HAL also has a "BB King Blues Club" jazz group that performs every evening. They were so great that I tried to listen to them as often as I could. Many couples were dancing, too. FITNESS/SPA: I work out daily, so ship fitness offerings are important to me. I found the fitness equipment to be just OK, and space limited. There were very few classes, and the two staff members seemed bored. I payed for the Greenhouse Spa week-long pass. It only makes sense if you plan to use it daily. It isn't that great compared to other ships. In fact, the hydrotherapy pool has no view at all. I was pleased that it wasn't crowded. I had one massage and it was good, but not excellent. ITINERARY/PORTS: Having been on this itinerary before, I didn't feel the need to book any excursions. It was a rainy week, so I adjusted my times in port. I think it is a good itinerary for a Seattle cruise. I appreciated the naturalist and his presentations. OVERALL: I was especially pleased with the quality of entertainment. I found the MDR experience to be excellent, the Lido buffet good. I wish that HAL paid more attention to the fitness center. I'd recommend this ship and itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My husband and I usually cruise on small luxury lines like SS, Seabourn, or Regent. I signed up for this one-week cruise because it was sponsored by a group I am interested in, with group seminars on board on sea days. I was a bit ... Read More
My husband and I usually cruise on small luxury lines like SS, Seabourn, or Regent. I signed up for this one-week cruise because it was sponsored by a group I am interested in, with group seminars on board on sea days. I was a bit nervous going "down" in service level from a small luxury line to a bigmainstream ship, so I booked a spacious Neptune suite with a bathtub and a big balcony and a concierge lounge to help ease the transitions and service deficits I expected. Overall, I was pleasantly surprized with the Westerdam. It was clean, tastfully decorated, had good hearty and varied food in the MDR, pleasant and helpful service, a good wine selection, and problems that came up (there were five things that broke in the suite) were immediately attended to. The only thing I did not like in the suite was that the big balcony chairs were hard and upright wicker, with thin cushions, and did not lean back, i.e., they are not restful chaise lounges and were very uncomfortable. I loved the jacuzzi tub and the abundant storage space. The Neptune lounge services were helpful and organized and the constant food there made it easy to snack all day without leaving your area. Excellent espresso, capuccino, included for Neptune pax. Breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill for Neptune suite people was calm, and pleasant. The ship had plenty of other room to sit and lounge, other than your room, and spaces did not look crowded except at the pool on a sunny day it was wall to wall loud kids in the pool and hot tubs, and the Lido cafeteria could be a disorganized, loud zoo during busy times. Shore excursions were not too good, likely due to poor weather we had, and there were many flight and escursion cancellations due to rain, which HAL cannot control. I liked the exterior, ocean view elevators on the ship. Embarkation and disembarkation were much slower than with the smaller ships I have sailed, but personnel were friendly, and the lines moved along. The MDR had bad acoustics, noise easily amplified when people would drink alcohol while trying to talk to hard of hearing seniors, worse than on other lines I have been on. I enjoyed the luggage direct service HAL has that spared me having to drag my bag around at disembarkation, went straight from outside my door on the last night to my home for $29. Internet pricing was fair, ($99 whole voyage for premium) though service was slow, but I have had worse on luxury lines. There were two formal nights in one week, men mostly just wore suits or coat and tie, but people tried to look nice, Photographers roamed taking excellent pictures and then sold them for high prices. If you wanted a bridge tour, they charged $150, twice, free on luxury lines. Hard liquor drinks were very expensive for value, and you are not allowed to bring any on. If there is another group or family tour, I would go back on HAL and ship my own lounger chair for the balcony. But without a group motivation, I prefer my smaller, luxury line ships. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Flew to Seattle the day before the cruise and stayed in Pioneer Square. A few homeless around, but the cafes and restaurants around were open late and accommodating. Our hotel had a more than continental breakfast so we ate their prior ... Read More
Flew to Seattle the day before the cruise and stayed in Pioneer Square. A few homeless around, but the cafes and restaurants around were open late and accommodating. Our hotel had a more than continental breakfast so we ate their prior to calling an Uber to take us to Pier 91. We arrived with our party of 9 around 11:15 am and were called to board prior to noon. By 12:15 we were in the main dining room for lunch and were surprised there were very few people there. We got back to our rooms with luggage already there, unpacked, participated in drill and went to lido deck for sail away. We had a balcony cabin on the 4th floor which was really nice during Glacier Bay and time in port. All food was excellent every day. I'm not sure why people are complaining about the food - we found it to be very good in the main dining room, had room service and even on the lido which is not our favorite, but definitely good for lunch or the kids. Pinnacle is always excellent and was free for us due to our booking. Juneau - was rainy and our dog sledding excursion was cancelled. We sailed the week after the plane crashed in Ketchikan so I'm sure they were being extra cautious, but better to be safe than sorry. Plus we had a huge credit to work with on the rest of the trip.We enjoyed the Roberts Tram excursion instead and loved the view and totem pole carver. We walked all around town and bought a lot of gifts to take home. Glacier Bay - amazing but kind of sad to know they were once much larger. Captain was great it taking you through all sides and we got fabulous pictures from our balcony. Even popped our bottle of champagne we brought on board from Seattle to enjoy. Sitka - was the favorite. We made our own excursion in town - a $5 shuttle takes you to Fortress of the Bear ($10 entrance) and Raptor Center ($12 entrance) and kids were even less. For $27 an adult - I think the kids were about $18-20 - we saw amazing animals up close and personal. Bald eagles were everywhere. It was amazing. Ketchikan - passes on board ran out of the Lumberjack show so we just went into town and found the first show to be open and best timing- so we had all late morning and afternoon to explore and shop. Ketchikan is the biggest shopping and best with coupon books in town giving you special prices in shops near the cruise ships. The ship had a salmon bake on board near the end of Ketchikan which was delicious! Victoria - We had our Pinnacle dinner that evening so we went for a late excursion to the Secret Garden and Teahouse. The Garden was beautiful and the tea was good with scones, but the time was too short. We had barely gotten our tea and scones when the driver showed back up to take us. He gave us a few extra minutes, but the teahouse servers seemed like they weren't ready for a big group. They should've prepped everything when we had arrived. The time in Victoria is too short and hardly worth the stop. Entertainment on board is lacking. Recycled Percussion show was the best and not to be missed. Dancing with the Stars lessons were fun since I love to dance. Disappointed that we didn't have a guest chef with us as I loved that on my last HAL cruise to Mexico and the Chef was fabulous. We liked going to trivia - there was foodie trivia, pub trivia, movie trivia and did the line dancing in the evening once which was fun. Kids begged us not to put them in the Kids club as they did it a few years back and didn't have fun. Our 16 year old watched our 12 year old in the room as the adults went out and they did just fine. They rented movies from the ship and brought their own video games and enjoyed themselves with that. Disembarkation was fast and painless. I was so worried they'd check everything, but we just turned in our form and walked on through. No questions asked. We took an Uber back into Seattle where we rented a condo for 3 days. It showed up in no time - they must be waiting in the area as the lines to get in are long and our Uber was there in 4 minutes. Staff was friendly and amazing everywhere on board. I would go again to hope to get my real dog sledding in! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We have cruised with Princess 7 previous times and this was our first HAL cruise. Overall I can say I would recommend Hal to friends. I would say that HAL is more for the cruiser who prefers to pass time quietly rather than ... Read More
We have cruised with Princess 7 previous times and this was our first HAL cruise. Overall I can say I would recommend Hal to friends. I would say that HAL is more for the cruiser who prefers to pass time quietly rather than participate in multi activities. The Amsterdam is a relatively small ship and we could tell the difference from princess. There is less room to share amongst the many things one wants to do on a ship. The crew managed to do a good job with space available. I really like the enrichment programs - particularly the windows sessions. the instructor was first class. He showed me things ( an I am a computer geek) that I never knew! We were really impressed with the efficiency of embarkation and disembarkation. Princess could take a lesson here. Service on board was good in all areas though we could tell that staff count was a bit low. we never had to wait unreasonably long times for service. A note for people who are considering the beverage package. I declined it and then tracked my spend. Now when cruising I enjoy a few drinks along the way and did not restrict myself. If I had taken the beverage package I would have spent 30% too much. So for most of us, I suggest that a la cart is the best way to go. We really liked the food in all venues. The pinnacle grill was top notch. Area to improve in our view would be: We could do with less promotional activities for art auctions. improve the smokers area. although I am not a smoker it is clear they are delegated to the dungeon at the back of the ship. Sitka was our favorite port. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and the town was so full of artisans, we could have spent another day. We did not take many excursions but those we did were very well done. would recommend the mendenhall glacier and the Sitka artist walk. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our first exciting cruise to Alaska and we opted for the inner passage. Decision was made to start from Seattle because our friends were there, could have started from Vancouver and saved a sea-day. Ports of call: - ... Read More
This was our first exciting cruise to Alaska and we opted for the inner passage. Decision was made to start from Seattle because our friends were there, could have started from Vancouver and saved a sea-day. Ports of call: - Juneau, was surprisingly small for us. Booked a shore excursion to view the whales and was not disappointed. Coach to a smaller port where we boarded a 50-60 footer boat. Took us to the inlet where we spotted eagles (thought it was great but saw so many at Ketchikan later on), seals, and whales. Boat was a bit crowded so we had to nudge our way for a good view. The unique memory was to see the humpback whales form a bubble curtain to trap fish and then swoop up to eat them. Visited a receding glacier on the way back to the ship. Returned to the port and walked around town a bit. Wanted to try the Alaskan crabs but it was pricey on shore so decided to return to ship for a meal. - Galcier bay was the highlight, saw a huge glacier and the ship was small enough to enter the glacier bay, and point towards the glacier. Exciting to see the glacier close up. - Sitka, small town, walked around the town a bit, had lunch at a burger joint - reasonable food, ship food is better, had a beer, shopped a bit. Returned to ship for a better meal. - Ketchitkan, more interesting, walked to the park nearby observed a small salmon run, had seafood chowder in a cafe set in a garage, learned hot to read a totem pole. Returned to ship for meals as the cafe food in town did not seem that interesting. - Victoria, met a friend there who took us out to his house for dinner, uneventful as we had been there before. Dining: Holland American has excellent food, took meals most times at the dining room to enjoy the service and ambience. Mainly western food, with a smatterring of Asian food. Lido deck has good food everyday. Burger joint "Dive In" next to the pool serves a fantastic ground meat burger. Entertainment: Nightly shows, good, but not excellent but kept us entertained. Sat but the piano bar a few nights and enjoyed the playing and singing. Service: Excellent. Had a fixed table for dining, wine steward and service staff were excellent throughout the cruise. Shore excursions: Overpriced and often not necessary, especially in the smaller towns where you can just walk around. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
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