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281 Holland America Seattle Cruise Reviews

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
Parents took 3 kids, their spouses (significant other) and grandkids on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. We have all cruised before, and have experience with several lines. Seattle's ... Read More
Parents took 3 kids, their spouses (significant other) and grandkids on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. We have all cruised before, and have experience with several lines. Seattle's embarkation/debarkation was very good, didn't wait very long and the Ruby Princess was also using the same facility as they were across the dock at the start and end. The Amsterdam looked good for her age, the fresh carpet that had just been replaced looked good (due to the recent mini drydock after her world cruise), only noticed one area that still had a leak in the public areas by the shops, but the carpet had not been replaced on the stairs, but the beds were comfortable. We had 4 cabins on the lowest deck, but they were all ocean view. No big issues except we noticed a very strong varnish smell in two of the cabins on different days for several hours, not sure if it was a ventilation issue. Otherwise everything worked, cabins were clean and stewards were attentive and very nice (threw in some extra cash for them above the expected automatic tips). Some in our party had a few discrepancies dealing with the front desk, but I personally didn't. We had the explore 4 promotion attached with this booking, so $25 credit, dinner in the Pinnacle Grill and the SBP was also included for all the adults (my father is the master of finding deals). Actually purchasing the SBP would not have been worth it for us, as none of the 8 adults ever reached the 15 drink limit, and rarely even reached the equivalent cost of the daily charge. As we're not heavy drinkers, but it was nice to sample different drinks and coffees this time. The food was good, but I've noticed on all of the cruise lines that the quality has suffered over the years due to costs and consolidation. HAL does great deserts, and actually had quantities of salmon on the buffet every single morning (not sure if this is an Alaska thing). But the serving times on the Lido (and it's closures) were an issue at times and not convenient at 9 PM if you were hungry and had gone light at an early dinner. We actually liked that the portion sizes in the main dining rooms were not large, so you could pick and choose more. We were accommodated at the only table that could fit our party of 11, which was nice, but we got a couple of snooty looks from the wine steward, as we used our individual SBP cards at dinner instead of overpriced bottled wine. The Pinnacle Grill food was good the one night we went, but the cost is only really acceptable to someone from a major city, and that kind of food/service is what standard cruising used to be like. We didn't do any ships excursions, but wandered in the towns that we have traveled to before, and explored the new ones by foot or on the city bus ($2 per adult in Juneau to the Mendenhall Glacier). The Tracy Arm sightseeing was excellent, and an experience, love the dutch pea soup. Weather was ok, you just have to accept that it's going to rain in Alaska during the summer, but it wasn't unbearable. Definitely wear layers with a waterproof shell. We enjoyed the cruise, as did most of the people on board, but the up-selling is more noticeable and getting harder and harder to escape from though. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Flew to Seattle the day before the cruise and stayed at the Marriott Waterfront which was nice and convenient. Hotel arranged a shuttle to the terminal the next day. Very easy embarkation due to the fact that you can carry on your own ... Read More
Flew to Seattle the day before the cruise and stayed at the Marriott Waterfront which was nice and convenient. Hotel arranged a shuttle to the terminal the next day. Very easy embarkation due to the fact that you can carry on your own bags if you wish and that saves waiting around for your suitcases to arrive at your room. Ship was very well maintained and our room on the fifth deck was spacious and comfy with good closets and hangers and all sorts of hooks and storage places. Veranda was good and we enjoyed the bathrobes and the shampoo, conditioner, and gel dispensers in the bathtub/shower. Of the many activities, we enjoyed the shows and comedians at night. The Explorer's Lounge with the excellent piano and violin players. The captain's discussion, the talk about the excursions , the cooking classes and Dancing with the Stars Competition were also good. The food was good except my husband would have liked more beef on the menu and Beef Wellington was not offered on any night. We had an excellent lunch in the Pinnacle and the breakfast waffle, eggs benedict, and omelet bars were great and made with real eggs and all the trimmings. Pizza salads and sandwiches were our favorite lunch choices and the coconut ice cream!!!! We did excursions in all the ports and was either on a bus or catamaran most of the time, which was great as my husband has a bad back and doesn't like to walk more than about a mile at a time. All our excursions were 4 to 6 hours and allowed time before or after for shopping and exploring. The glaciers, mountains, whale watching, Lumberjack Show and High Tea in Victoria were all great and very diverse. We had open seating and sat with other people three times and by ourselves four times.......which was just enough. Roni was our favorite crew member, we talked each morning at breakfast and he knew just how I liked my coffee! Our captain was Dutch and quite a character .......interesting and friendly and a real perfectionist! Would have liked some piano music to slow dance to somewhere on the ship, but that was all that was missing. We would definitely sail with Holland America again. Disembarkation was a snap as we walked off first with our own bags. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We were first time cruisers and not sure of what to expect but we had always heard about incredible food and top-of-the-line service. We didn't experience either. The food was mediocre and room service took a minimum of 45 minutes, ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and not sure of what to expect but we had always heard about incredible food and top-of-the-line service. We didn't experience either. The food was mediocre and room service took a minimum of 45 minutes, when the food arrived.. it was cold and far less quality than what was in the dining room, and that's not saying much. The restaurants, however, were great! The Pinnacle Grill had a great selection and everything tasted incredible! The italian restaurant was also very good! But truly the best thing about the cruise for us... was the balcony! So thankful we paid the extra for it since we spent about 80% of our time on board enjoying the sights and wildlife around us. Also, the ports were very enjoyable! HAL offers a great combination of ports on this cruise: Juneau, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Sitka, and Victoria, B.C. Juneau -Tracey's Crab Shack was phenomenal!! It also had a lot more to offer in authentic Alaskan souvenirs. We had been told that Ketchikan offered better deals but I feel like they were more limited in what they offered. Glacier Bay - Gorgeous!! Bring your camera and wear layers! The water was so beautiful and the scenery cannot be missed! Plan to spend the majority of time on the front decks and be ready to be captivated for hours. Ketchikan - Offered a great fishing experience with Baranof Fishing Excursions. We shipped the halibut we caught home and have even ordered fresh fish from them since for a reasonable price. Also had a beautiful park we visited at Settlers Cove where we saw beaches, waterfalls, and lush forests. Sitka - By far our favorite!!! This quaint island-town quickly became the highlight of our trip with the help of Paul Davis of Gallant Adventures! His boat is small which allows for a private tour specific to your family's interests for a great price! In addition, he was extremely personable and had great knowledge and experience to share about Sitka and its inhabitants. We came home with photos we'll always treasure and memories we'll never forget. The BEST excursion offered in Sitka by far! Victoria, B.C. - We walked down to the docks which were beautiful. The eclectic 'house-boats' were so unique and the dungeness crab was scrumptious! We were also visited by harbor seals while we enjoyed our meal and then stopped at a coffee cart and exchanged some US bills for 'loonies' and 'toonies' -- Canadian money, I kid you not. We returned to Seattle and ate at the Space Needle -- definitely worth the experience and the views! We also visited the aquarium which had a great diversity in its inhabitants but was somewhat disappointing after what we had seen in the wild in Alaska. The cruise itself, again, was okay. When we return to Alaska, we plan to fly and go into the ports of our choosing at our own pace so we can thoroughly enjoy it and not feel so rushed with a mere 4-7 hours in each port. BUT I will give a rating of 'very good' due to the ports and the excursions we experienced which made our trip Wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Great Cruise. We live in W. Oregon so we drive to Seattle. We used the cheap parking and worked great. Quite a bit cheaper than the other. We lucked out & the shuttle was right there to pick us up. Lot was manned and then gated at ... Read More
Great Cruise. We live in W. Oregon so we drive to Seattle. We used the cheap parking and worked great. Quite a bit cheaper than the other. We lucked out & the shuttle was right there to pick us up. Lot was manned and then gated at night. We showed up about 10:45-11 am and embarkment was really quick & easy. We were able to go to our room to put our carry on bags inside. Went to the Lido got some food and relaxed. Everything was really, really good. Excellent service on the Lido & MDR. The only con we had was we never saw our steward until day 4. We've always met them 1st day and they always knew our name. Not the case here. Room was always kept very nice, usually had a towel animal & chocolates. Disembarkment was really quick & smooth & very easy. This was the smallest ship we've been on. Yes the entertainment isn't quite as good but what we loved is how friendly crew & passengers are. I think not having to fight so many people for anything you wanted to do, people were in a lot better moods. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Since this was my first cruise and my wife and I were sort of celebrating my 65th birthday during the cruise. Service in the Lido Dining room was good however the portions were sort of small and if you wanted soda with meals they cost ... Read More
Since this was my first cruise and my wife and I were sort of celebrating my 65th birthday during the cruise. Service in the Lido Dining room was good however the portions were sort of small and if you wanted soda with meals they cost extra. And at every place you could get a soda they have to put it in a glass instead of giving you the can. Cabin steward told us when we got on that we should unpack our bags and he would stash them for us. He never came back so we stashed them under the bed. The greeters/schedulers at the spa were very rude. Maybe because we are not one of the "beautiful" young people in their eyes. After our massages the sales pitch comes on as they try to get you to buy high priced items for your stress. I thought that what the alcohol they sell all over the place was for. The two excursions we took were good-one in Juneau that went to the temperate rainforest that you walked through for about 1/4 of a mile, the glacier outside of town and then to the tramway overlooking Juneau- the Ketchican excursion to the Misty Fjords was very interesting-saw orcas, otters,etc. Overall I am glad I went but not sure I would use HAL again. What I did like was that the ship only has 1900 people and there were few kids on it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We have been to Alaska before on a land trip, so we did not feel the need to do many excursions. What we did need was a relaxing trip, beautiful scenery, and everything taken care of by someone else. In that respect, the trip was a big ... Read More
We have been to Alaska before on a land trip, so we did not feel the need to do many excursions. What we did need was a relaxing trip, beautiful scenery, and everything taken care of by someone else. In that respect, the trip was a big success. We took the train from Portland, where we live, to Seattle and spent the night at the Maxwell Hotel which had a good pre-cruise special. We are not very experienced cruisers - this was only our fifth - and our previous cruises have been on small ships. We were concerned about being on a larger ship,but other than crowds on the first day in the dining areas, we did not feel much impact from a large ship. Embarkation was not as bad as I thought it would be and disembarkation was handled very well. Also getting on and off the ship in ports was never crowded. We upgraded to a Signature Suite and were very pleased with the cabin. It is the first time we have been on a cruise where we did not struggle to find room for all of our belongings. We really enjoyed the large veranda. Our cabin service was fine, but we did have trouble with the bathroom plumbing four times!!! during the cruise - this was our biggest complaint about the entire week. Each time it was fixed quickly, but still….four times!! Not just our cabin, but apparently the whole section of the ship that we were on. We thought the Lido dining was average - we only used it if we were pressed for time. The Pinnacle Grill was lovely and we also enjoyed Canaletto enough to dine there twice. We usually ate in the Vista dining room and had good meals there. The "formal tea" was a little disappointing - no table service. Just serve yourself from a buffet. Wouldn't bother with that again. The salmon bake poolside on Ketchikan day was nice. Since our previous cruises had been all-inclusive, it took a little getting used to having to pay for drinks. Probably a good thing that I had to limit myself! We enjoyed the BB King Blues Club band and singers, the Recycled Percussion, and Amy Abler shows in the Vista Lounge. We did not participate in any of the enrichment activities onboard. I had brought along lots of books, so that was my enrichment activity! The fitness center was very nice, I only used it on sea days. Other days we got our exercise in ports. I did participate in the OnDeck for a Cause 5K walk to benefit cancer research. This was on the Victoria day - 9 laps around the promenade deck. Excursions and ports: Juneau - We signed up for the Mendenhall Glacier and City Tour. Not really a city tour - there is not much to see in Juneau from a bus. Our guide said the Alaska State Capitol building is ranked 50 out of 50 in the nation's most beautiful capitols. I would have to agree! Very plain building for such a beautiful state. We enjoyed the glacier and visitor center, which was included in this tour. It was a warm day and we were really overdressed! I hiked some of the trails and my husband enjoyed the visitor center. I wouldn't bother to get the combo tour that includes the tram as it is right next to where you disembark and you can easily do that on your own. We split a large crab roll at Tracy's King Crab Shack near the pier and it was really good. This was the only time we ate off of the ship. Sitka - We did not do an excursion in Sitka. The bus took us downtown to the visitor center. There was a beautiful quilt show being held there at the time. We watched the Archangel Dancers and really enjoyed their show. Took a stroll to St. Michael's Russian Orthodox church and did some shopping for the grandkids. My husband went back to the visitor center while I walked down to Totem Park. A lovely walk past the marina on a simply stunning day. Wish I had more time there for hiking. Next time I would head straight for Totem Park (you can tell I like to hike - my husband, not so much!) We saw a lot of bald eagles in Sitka and also on the Sitka Island which we could view from our deck. Glacier Bay - Another beautiful day. Cold on deck - which is a good thing. If it is too warm in Glacier Bay,then the planet is really in trouble. We enjoyed the pea soup and the talks by the naturalists who came on board. Best photo ops of the trip. Ketchikan - The ship docks right in town, so walking about is easy - if you can get up and down the extremely steep gangway! We walked down to Creek Street and popped in a couple of shops. Another gorgeous day - rhododendrons in bloom. Lots of totem poles in city parks - salmon were not yet running. Victoria - We had been to Butchart Gardens on a previous trip, so we chose the excursion to Abkhazi Garden and Teahouse. We loved this "Secret Garden" and the story behind it. After a guided tour of the beautiful gardens, we enjoyed delicious scones and tea. Seattle - We had planned an extra night in Seattle, this time staying at Hotel Five. We went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, right next to the Space Needle. I highly recommend it! The next day took the train back to Portland. An entire vacation without driving - no rain, no mosquitos, and no visits to the ship's doctor. Just what we needed! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was my first cruise (ever) to Alaska in early September with my parents and sister. I'm in my late 20s and most of the passengers on the ship were over 65. As we quickly realized, the food and activities were definitely catered ... Read More
This was my first cruise (ever) to Alaska in early September with my parents and sister. I'm in my late 20s and most of the passengers on the ship were over 65. As we quickly realized, the food and activities were definitely catered towards an older crowd. I'll take old people over screaming kids any day though and most of the kids were sequestered in Club HAL (Holland's day care center) or the pool so we avoided them the majority of the time. Embarkation was fairly fast and smooth. We were already being plied with cookies and refreshments at the check-in area. Much more pleasant than the airport. Had an unmemorable lunch in the Lido, but the view of Seattle and the Puget Sound was lovely. We really lucked out on weather this trip as it had been raining in Alaska before we arrived and was sunny most of our cruise. Our luggage was in our room after the Muster drill but in the future I would just carry it myself as it would have been easy to roll all the way to your room from the dock. We did this when we disembarked and even my 80-something year old dad had no problems. What HAL does best in my opinion is service. I wasn't expecting much but found 99% of the crew to be very friendly and helpful. Everyone greeted you throughout the ship and I could've sat back and let them wait on me hand and foot if I wanted to. Our room stewards were especially great about magically remaking our room (twice!) every day and I loved the towel animals they left us every night. Food was average overall but maybe that's a good thing so you don't gain as much weight. The Lido breakfast was better than lunch. They had different stations such as waffles, eggs benedict, omelets, etc. Breakfast was pretty similar everyday but the lunch menu changed daily. I found the Pizza/Pasta station to be most consistent in terms of taste. The Asian and American stations could be hit or miss. The salad bar had lots of different toppings and was fresh. The Terrace Grill made decent hamburgers but the chicken burger was disappointing. We didn't try the MDR for breakfast or lunch so I can't say if it was much better. We had afternoon tea once but it wasn't spectacular enough to return, plus we were perpetually full. Food quality and presentation was better in the MDR where we had our dinners. We went with the flexible seating option and arrived around 7:30 most nights and were seated fairly quickly. Salmon in the MDR was always overcooked. Poultry seemed to be the best bet when it came to protein. We had dinner in the Pinnacle Grill once and the food was more up to par with restaurant-standards. I found the food overall on the ship to tend toward being overcooked and bland. There were lots of on-board activities, especially on the days spent entirely at sea, but I found most of the activities to not be interactive enough, once again designed for an older clientele. The Culinary Arts Center, which I was looking forward to, turned out to be just watching the host and a chef cook on screens. I enjoyed playing trivia in the Crow's Nest but that was about it. There were some wine and cocktail tastings and mixing classes but you had to pay extra for those. I spent most of my free time working out in the the gym, which had your basic machines, but at least there was a nice view. The musicians that played every evening were alright except for the guitarist, who sounded half asleep. The comedian and Recycled Percussion were fun shows, but the other HAL shows were a little too cheesy for me. The activities and entertainment just weren't meant for us youngins' and was probably my least favorite part of the cruise. The ship had an older feel to it due to more traditional decor but was well-maintained and very clean for the most part. The Lido dining room floor could get pretty dirty during peak hours and the staff could be slow to clean-up tables. There were hand sanitizers almost every where. Two days after I got back though I had a cold so be very viligant about what you're touching and washing your hands. Alaska is beautiful and we were fortunate to have great weather most of the time. Our first stop in Juneau we booked a whale-watching and Mendenhall glacier trip online through Dolphin, a local company. Saw lots of humpback whales in Stephens Passage--pretty cool and would recommend them. Plus it was cheaper than the same excursion offered by HAL. In Sitka, my sister and I went kayaking with Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures. We had also booked them online before our cruise. They were great, and we saw lots of wildlife thanks to our observant guide. We had time afterwards to walk around downtown Sitka and up the hill at the park (can't remember name) to get a panoramic view of Sitka. My parents went on a cruise excursion to the Raptor Center, Fortress of Bears, and salmon hatchery. They said it was ok, with the Fortress being the best part. We didn't book any excursions for Ketchikan as it was the shortest stop so we just walked around downtown and shopped. Had lunch at the Alaska Fish House near the dock, which had good fish and chips and yummy salmon chowder. We got to Victoria in the evening and since we'd already been there many times before we took our time disembarking and ended up just strolling along the path near the waterfront. There were lots of tours guides standing on the dock trying to get you to take their tour, which was annoying. Downtown Victoria is only a 30 minute walk away and there's a nice path so it's very doable if you're in decent shape. We always waited a while before disembarking so there was never a long line of people.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our first Holland America cruise; second cruise to Alaska; and fourth cruise overall. GOOD: [1] We did the "as you wish" dining, and would highly recommend it to others, so long as you are comfortable with talking with ... Read More
This was our first Holland America cruise; second cruise to Alaska; and fourth cruise overall. GOOD: [1] We did the "as you wish" dining, and would highly recommend it to others, so long as you are comfortable with talking with strangers. Most evenings we went to eat in the main Vista Restaurant between 5:30 and 6:15; we had no reservations and we never had a wait. We never tried the specialty restaurants (which charged extra). [2] The hamburgers (and portabella mushroom burgers) on the Dive In (9th floor) were amazing! Very highly recommend. They open at 11:30 am. [3] The ice cream was better than the homemade ice cream on some other ships. [4] Smaller ship seemed to create more comraderie among fellow passengers. [5] There appeared to be less gambling overall, and less emphasis on it, than on other ships we have been on. [6] The photographers were decent; some were excellent. Do not purchase the first photos -- keep them all together and decide near the end of the cruise which ones you want. [7] We enjoyed the free sitting for the "Black Label" (black and white premium photo shoot). The resulting photos were amazing, and very expensive. [$170 for a 8 x 10; and $595 for a package of 5 of these photos]. They do not publicize the price ahead of time, so be warned. We ultimately did buy some and do not regret it, but we had been warned about the price. [8] They have "shipflicks" (a wide selection of DVDs) which they will deliver to your room. If there is a wait, you can go get one yourself from the guest services area. [9] On the trip to Alaska, there are extra wool blankets on decks for wrapping around yourself. [10] Our room attendants were okay, but not remarkable in any way. No personality and minimal English skills. BAD: [1] The first night, we could not get the air conditioner to cool enough to keep us comfortable (cabin 7004), and we were told that we could not leave our verandah door open. This made for a miserable night for me. I have no idea how this air conditioner will function in tropical climates. [2] The Asian food section of the buffet (9th floor, Lido deck) has a very strong smell, which was distasteful to me. Someone said it was curry, but it did not smell like the curry I am familiar with. In any event, I could not enjoy a meal in that area of the buffet due to the very strong unpleasant smell. [3] Smoking is permitted on verandahs. Our cabin was near the front of the boat, so we had no issues, but we met others who could not use their deck due to others smoking cigars nearby. [4] The hours for the buffet food service are somewhat limited, compared to other ships we have been on. [5] The Vista restaurant steaks are not that great. Always ask the waiters what they recommend -- they will tell you the truth. The Surf and Turf was superior; the crème brulee as well. [6] Overall, the food was not quite as good as the three Celebrity cruises we have been on. Less variety, less quality and shorter hours. [7] As with other cruise lines, keep your wits about you when you are solicited to purchase items (art work, jewelry, etc.). The "freebies" and raffles are intended to draw you in and get you to buy/ In sum, for the same money, I would cruise on Celebrity instead. If Holland America had a real discounted deal, I would cruise with them again; otherwise not. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Our first time to Alaska, second cruise with Holland America's Westerdam. This remains a quality cruise line, and we have enjoyed it both times. On this trip we found the entertainment in the showroom to be "OK" but lacking ... Read More
Our first time to Alaska, second cruise with Holland America's Westerdam. This remains a quality cruise line, and we have enjoyed it both times. On this trip we found the entertainment in the showroom to be "OK" but lacking in variety, although technically extraordinary - LED video screens create fabulous sets. The food was plentiful and good, but we felt they were trying too hard to be "elegant" or gourmet with menu choices. The majority of the offerings were things we would not order at a restaurant - maybe we are too basic, but doing basic food in a quality manner would go a long way. Our favorite meals were on shore, not on the ship. But ... our objective was to see some of Alaska, and we did that quite well! This trip is highly recommended - it makes you see how glorious this earth can be in its unspoiled status. And don't be frightened off by the economical late season - we went in mid-September and it rained only ONE day (Ketchikan). Temps were easily tolerable in the 40's and 50's and the scenery was amazing! And bonus: lots of port stores were having excellent discounts as the season was ending. We especially enjoyed our cabin choice ... a back balcony cabin - highly endorse that! Cabin review elsewhere ... Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Cruised Seattle RT inside passage just after Labor Day. Incredible weather and post-breeding season timing allowed us up a couple of fjords that the line hadn't visited in years. Only one day of sprinkles in Ketchikan where it rains ... Read More
Cruised Seattle RT inside passage just after Labor Day. Incredible weather and post-breeding season timing allowed us up a couple of fjords that the line hadn't visited in years. Only one day of sprinkles in Ketchikan where it rains 300+ days/yr. Truly blessed with the weather but lots good about ship too. We were in a large inside cabin and did not miss window or balcony even though we usually have one or the other, because there is so much private deck space available once you survey the ship. It was cool enough not many people were using private verandas. Random notes: - Laundry pkg a bargain. Let's you travel with a rollaboard and go home with almost everything clean. - ThermoPool pkg not a bad deal at $249/couple for whole cruise. They limit number they sell so it is never crowded and a great alternative to $150/hr massages - Watch for wine specials in room. We had some nice Penfolds for $22 delivered - Excellent house chardonnay - $14/carafe; $22/bottle in restaurant - Crows Nest is pretty packed all the time because of views, espresso bar (fair $1.95 for double-shot), library, computing, and Happy Hour bar. Happy Hour a great deal $6.95 first drink; second $1 - Good staff. Had younger, newer staff with weak English but stewards and supervisors stepped up when needed - GREAT fitness center - Nice decor considering age of the ship, comfy bed, very small TV. Great bath amenities, towels, robes - Since it was after Labor Day only about a dozen kids on board so this is the time to go to avoid the summer family crowds - Catholic Mass every day - Good internet speed so you get good value from lower cost internet pkg - Mini bar beer prices same as at bar - Fresh-squeezed OJ available at express breakfast. Nice 'Design your own Benedict' station, omelets OK - they tend to overcook and brown them so ask for them lightly cooked - Corned beef hash hands down best I've ever had at sea; good hash browns too - Burgers & hot dogs are good and the separate grill station stays busy - Great idea on the 'no self-serve' for first 48hrs to limit cross-contamination - Nice salad and sandwich stations, decent pizza - Glasses in buffet too small (4-5oz) forcing you to take 2 just to get a real glass of water or juice. Whatever they save in drinks for the rare person who takes one, they waste on extra glass washing - The Vegetarian Specialty pre-order menu in the main dining room is truly dreadful. We thought we'd give it a try one night, cherry-picked what sounded like the best dishes, and there was no redeeming feature of any of the food. Right out of a frozen bag or can. The pasta fagiole didn't even have beans. Skip this even if you are vegetarian as the vegetarian offering on the main menu are far superior. - Asian buffet is also not good. MSG bomb. Lots of Asians on this cruise out of Seattle and after first day they all seemed to give it a wide berth except for stir-frys where you could specify ingredients - Absolute highlight of the food was Canaletto specialty Italian restaurant. At $15/pp suppl it is by far the best value of the special venues and those that tried them all said Canaletto was best. We own an Italian restaurant and found the veal, beef carpaccio, meatballs, and pappardelle all excellent. This would be quite a good Italian restaurant ashore. Fun trip made sensational by weather and itinerary. We booked tours on line for Juneau and Ketchikan and they were good value compared to HAL tours. Would definitely sail HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Enjoyed the upper veranda cabin, although quite narrow. I fell over the step to the balcony when I first arrived, so be careful and look down. The beds are smaller than twin size, so not comfortable for tall or larger people. The staff on ... Read More
Enjoyed the upper veranda cabin, although quite narrow. I fell over the step to the balcony when I first arrived, so be careful and look down. The beds are smaller than twin size, so not comfortable for tall or larger people. The staff on the ship was excellent. Always a Hello, and have a good day! Certainly, as good, if not better than other cruise lines.. A veranda cabin is necessary on this particular cruise, as Alaskan scenery is the main focus. Room service was free, just gave a tip. Very nice dinners with exceptional staff. The food was okay. some meals better than others. By the end of the week, the meals repeated and had a similar taste. The Presentation was excellent . Our particular wine steward/waitstaff on table 7 was over the top. Anticipated our needs, attentive, and fulfilled all whims and wants. Gave them a double tip at the end of cruise. I do feel sorry for the crew, as many haven't been home for 7 months or more. I do wish the outside balcony glass was cleaned often during the trip, as other cruise lines continually do. They were not cleaned during my cruise at all. There was a slight problem with smoke in the engine room, and thankfully the Captain kept us informed. Bravo to him. There was plenty to do on-board. Something for different interests. Off boat excursions, tended to be expensive.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Enjoyed the upper veranda cabin, although quite narrow. I fell over the step to the balcony when I first arrived, so be careful and look down. The beds are smaller than twin size, so not comfortable for tall or larger people. The staff on ... Read More
Enjoyed the upper veranda cabin, although quite narrow. I fell over the step to the balcony when I first arrived, so be careful and look down. The beds are smaller than twin size, so not comfortable for tall or larger people. The staff on the ship was excellent. Always a Hello, and have a good day! Certainly, as good, if not better than other cruise lines.. A veranda cabin is necessary on this particular cruise, as Alaskan scenery is the main focus. Room service was free, just gave a tip. Very nice dinners with exceptional staff. The food was okay. some meals better than others. By the end of the week, the meals repeated and had a similar taste. The Presentation was excellent . Our particular wine steward/waitstaff on table 7 was over the top. Anticipated our needs, attentive, and fulfilled all whims and wants. Gave them a double tip at the end of cruise. I do feel sorry for the crew, as many haven't been home for 7 months or more. I do wish the outside balcony glass was cleaned often during the trip, as other cruise lines continually do. They were not cleaned during my cruise at all. There was a slight problem with smoke in the engine room, and thankfully the Captain kept us informed. Bravo to him. There was plenty to do on-board. Something for different interests. Off boat excursions, tended to be expensive.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We decided to return to Holland America after an absence of a few years. We booked early and got a good deal on an outside cabin, and then got it upgraded to a Veranda by special invitation. We flew Jet Blue out of Long Beach, arriving at ... Read More
We decided to return to Holland America after an absence of a few years. We booked early and got a good deal on an outside cabin, and then got it upgraded to a Veranda by special invitation. We flew Jet Blue out of Long Beach, arriving at 1pm and were on the boat by a little after 2pm. Embarkation was a breeze. The ship and this design is one of my favorites. It is aesthetically pleasing, has a great deal of public space, and feels warm and inviting. We were on her sister ship the Oosterdam a couple of times. Love both of them. Get a day pass to the Thermal Suite and check out the Hydropool. That is a blast! Food was just okay. Dining Room fair on most cruise lines used to be 5 star luxury. Now, it's pretty bland and not that exciting. All cruise lines these days seem to be cutting back on that department. The only exceptions are the luxury lines like Oceania and Crystal, where the food is INSANELY good in all areas. Maybe we were spoiled in the past and on our recent trips with those two lines. The Pinnacle LUNCH was great. I really enjoyed the Nathans hot dogs by the pool area. Poppy seed roll, sauerkraut and bacon. Hold the special sauce and put on some deli mustard instead. Note: Coffee in the buffet area is better on HAL than Celebrity, but the specialty coffees are better on Celebrity. The Ship is immaculately clean. I mean SUPER CLEAN. I'm up early every morning and there is an army of vacuums and scrubbers going all over before most people wake up. One bummer however is that they were hosing off the outside decks practically every morning, which made walking out there a bit treacherous, to say the least. They really need to SQUEEGEE those puddles as a lot of us like to do laps around the Promenade Deck! But otherwise, the ship was clean, clean, clean. Service was excellent, although I could tell some cost cutting was in place, so it would take a little longer to get served etc. Our room stewards could not have been lovelier, and did a fine job. I gave them a little extra for the outstanding work. The new production shows were quite good and a little more innovative than the standard fare. They invested millions in a new light and visual display which you must check out. we did the backstage tour, just because I was interested in the technology behind the structure. Recycled Percussion, IMO, was the highlight of the entertainment. It is not for everybody, but if you like drums, this is your show. We also liked the Dancing with the Stars production and the House Band (HAL Cats) was EXCELLENT. They played some jazzy renditions of Steely Dan and other 70's groups, that was far better than almost any other house band we have seen on a ship. They also had a Ukrainian pair (Piano and violin) that played beautiful Classical music. The entertainment was very good to excellent overall. Overall I would rank this cruise a 4.5 star. Not Quite 5 but better than a 4. Again, we have been spoiled in the past. Great value however. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Hands down, Alaska is probably the most stunning place I have ever been. You are surrounded by natural beauty wherever you go. So... :) Background: Solo traveler, but I was with a group doing a staged marathon throughout the cruise. ... Read More
Hands down, Alaska is probably the most stunning place I have ever been. You are surrounded by natural beauty wherever you go. So... :) Background: Solo traveler, but I was with a group doing a staged marathon throughout the cruise. Previously cruised on Disney twice. Hotel: I stayed two nights at the Hampton Inn Seattle/Southcenter, and it was fine. Standard Hampton Inn, which is fine with me. Ship: Being accustomed to Disney's "neighborhood" approach to layout (not to mention their little tricks like arrows hidden in the carpet pointing forward and fish mail holders on port side/starfish or seahorse nail holders on starboard), it took me the better part of the week to figure out where some things were on the Westerdam. Overall she's a beautiful ship, but there were points of obvious wear - especially where differing carpets met and on stair edges that were surprising to me on a ship three months or so out of dry dock. Be aware, smoking is allowed in the casino and it is not in any way enclosed. In fact you have to walk through the casino from the forward section to the dining room if you are entering on the second deck - I generally opted to walk aft on the third deck and go downstairs at the last possible moment, but the smell does permeate anywhere close to the casino. There is an expansive observation deck, and the Crows Nest also has wonderful views - BUT the glass is all tinted, making it useless for taking pictures. In my opinion, that makes the observation deck pretty useless. Activities: On ship, I only participated in the Alaskan Beer Tasting and the Polar Plunge, both of which were fun. My group activities took up most of the rest of the time. Service: Service was good. My cabin stewards were friendly. Dining room service was hit or miss depending on which table (our group had 8-10 tables and we rotated among them) I was seated at for the evening. Some servers were amazing and others struggled to get the orders correct (there is an obvious difference between French Onion Soup and Escargots, yet he had great difficulty figuring that out for one example). Ports and excursions: We had runs in each port, so our excursion time was limited, but I did a great whale watching excursion in Juneau and a fun 4x4 excursion in Sitka. Glacier Bay was incredible - because of fog, we went towards Johns Hopkins glacier first, and I believe I heard someone say we were the first ship to get to the glacier all season. Margerie glacier is as beautiful as you hear. So inspiring to see. The hop on hop off trolley with luggage service in Seattle was good, BUT there was no notification in advance that we would be required to go to the airport at 4pm if we were using the luggage service and not luggage direct - not cool when you have a flight that leaves at 9:20pm. The shot excursions rep I spoke with when asking if I could go to the airport on my own (yes, but luggage had to be picked up right with the 4pm shuttle) indicated this was an ongoing issue - could be easily solved if they corrected the description but as of this writing it still reads "hourly Shuttle Express service", Travel to embarkation: I handled this on my own. Took Shuttle Express from the Seattle-Tacoma airport and had no issues. I am accustomed to giving my luggage to a porter curbside and then waiting in line to check myself in, but at Seattle we had to walk our luggage all the way into the building, waiting in line to check that in and then waiting in another line to check ourselves in. That seemed to be a Port of Seattle thing though and not a HAL thing. Cabin: I'd opted for a balcony cabin, not being fully aware that HAL still allows smoking on the balconies. I got lucky, however, in that while there was a smoker next to me, it was in the cabin aft of me, so I only smelled the smoke once or twice if we happened to be on the balconies at the same time while in port. One night I did smell pipe smoke from below, but for whatever reason pipes don't bother me the way cigars or cigarettes do. It was slightly smaller than the cabins I've had on Disney, but not tiny. I definitely miss Disney's split bathroom thing - so amazing even for a solo traveler as the sink and toilet area doesn't get steamed up from the shower. The bedding situation is two twins which are pushed together if requested - fine, but there is the little dip with bumps where the beds meet. There is really no privacy curtain between the bed and the sofa (which could be made into a bed for a third person), so that could be awkward for families. There is a curtain there, but it barely goes to the end of the sofa. There was some rust (to the point of a hole at one place) on the balcony, which surprised me as again, the ship is recently out of dry dock. And as on the observation deck and in the Crows Nest, the glass was tinted, making it necessary to stand for a clear view and taking pictures. Dining: Limited hours for breakfast and lunch - there would generally be an hour or two with limited to no food between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner. Challenging for a group with activities that make you hungry but timing-wise doesn't fully match with those times. The Dive-In did provide a bridge, but you do get tired of burgers and hot dogs. Food in the lunch buffet (really more cafeteria as even after the mandatory 48-hours of "thou shalt not touch anything" was past) was often much fancier than I like for lunch and I actually found myself craving chicken fingers - likely because I simply couldn't find them on the ship anywhere. Dinner was generally good - the prime rib was tough the first night, and the Baked Alaska hadn't really been baked that time (after that, no one in our group dared to order it, so I don't know if it got better) - not fantastic, but good. I didn't eat in the Pinnacle Grill at all. I would have considered Canaletto, but they really make it solo unfriendly by flat-out stating that the food is intended for sharing. Children's Clubs: n/a I don't have children and no one in our group had children old enough for the clubs. Entertainment: I only went to a tiny bit of the Dancing with the Stars at Sea final cruiser competition - enough to see the entry number by the ship entertainers. I've seen better shows at Six Flags theme parks. Not too sorry I missed the other offerings on board. Disembarkation: Fairly easy as I had an excursion (discussed above). The only issue was that when I cleared my account, the guest services rep didn't click the button I'd been cleared, so I had to dash back to the front desk and wait in line for them to click the button. Summary: This trip was really all about destination and the running group I was with. The ship was merely a way to get there. While HAL would not necessarily be my first choice of cruise line, if the itinerary was right or a group I was traveling with was on it, I would not say no to a return voyage. But given a similar itinerary and choice in ships, I'd likely choose one that's a little more "me" than HAL is. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Our Alaska cruise was positive in many ways but there were also several shortcomings. Our room was very nice and clean, with a balcony. Only problem was an early morning leaking toilet that flooded the bathroom. It was solved in a timely ... Read More
Our Alaska cruise was positive in many ways but there were also several shortcomings. Our room was very nice and clean, with a balcony. Only problem was an early morning leaking toilet that flooded the bathroom. It was solved in a timely fashion. Our room attendant was very nice, polite and efficient. He was a wonderful addition. The food was average, and it was bothersome to have to pay for soft drinks and speciality coffees. House wines were low quality and should have been free with dinner orders at the speciality restaurants. The Lido restaurant was average and often crowded and hard to find a table. Some staff were friendly others seemed like they were bored with their jobs. The most bothersome part was having to walk through the pool area to access the food area. High chlorine smells, noisy kids in the pool, and a wet floor didn't exactly make for a delightful eating experience. The excursions were pretty well organized and we had little trouble getting to the correct locations or returning to the ship. Lines were relatively small which was really nice. It was also nice to find several locations on the ship where you could sit quietly and watch the ocean. They were away from the bars and congestion. The ship also offered good variety of activities onboard from bingo, dancing, and the casino. The spa was very good for massage and other relaxing endeavors. The ship is a bit old and weathered, and we had only one code red warning, which made us all wash our hands every few minutes. Another irritation was that the final bill did not come until you were about to disembark the ship. You had no time to review or check for mistakes and the front desk line was pretty long with those questioning their bill. Overall a fifty/fifty experience.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I sailed with a large family group on June 7, 2014. We left from and returned to Seattle and took advantage of the pre and post cruise hotel and transfer package with the Sheraton Seattle Downtown. The ship was small but spotless. The ... Read More
I sailed with a large family group on June 7, 2014. We left from and returned to Seattle and took advantage of the pre and post cruise hotel and transfer package with the Sheraton Seattle Downtown. The ship was small but spotless. The crew and staff were extremely friendly and polite, although many of them do not speak English. Our room (an outside window cabin, 1962) was clean and well designed. Although it was on the small side, there was tons of storage and we never felt cramped. The activities on the ship are geared toward an older crowd and we felt rather bored after almost three full days at sea at the beginning of the itinerary. The glacier was worth the "drive" however. Our teenaged daughter loved the Loft and Club HAL was a hit with my young nephews. The photographers were an unexpected highlight (I usually don't buy any cruise pictures, but ended up selecting the "gold" package for this cruise). The food, with the exception of Canaletto (which we loved) was abysmal. Sitka was our favorite port, and our favorite shore excursion was the Sled Dog Camp in Juneau. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I've now taken 5 cruises to Alaska in the past decade, thanks to my wife's fascination with the place--three on Princess, and now two on Holland America. Regardless of the cruise line, I recommend that rookie cruisers aim for ... Read More
I've now taken 5 cruises to Alaska in the past decade, thanks to my wife's fascination with the place--three on Princess, and now two on Holland America. Regardless of the cruise line, I recommend that rookie cruisers aim for Alaska first, as the amazing vistas can make even an average cruise seems pretty wonderful. If somebody is ever going to drag me to the Caribbean (a third-rate Hawaii for the unsuspecting) that ship better darn well be spectacular...not so critical here. This was my first trip on the Westerdam, and I found it to be a (mostly) pleasant experience overall. Positive impressions included the overall professionalism of the operation; outstanding, spacious cabin (deluxe verandah suite) and decent amenities commensurate with the price point. Given the size and scope of all the Alaskan cruise operations, anything short of that would have been somewhat surprising. None of these lines are new at this. The Fitness Center is always a big deal to my wife and I, and this one was ok. The usual enthusiastic crowd overwhelming the place on the first sea day ("I'm going to work out EVERY day, for sure!") and then just a few regulars after that. Crowds not an issue. Note to HAL: It wouldn't hurt to touch up the rust spots on some of the machines. White paint is cheap, and the concept of painting is customary on most vessels. BTW, I also learned the Australian pronunciation of "water" from the staff: "WAR-tuh." Just a side note. Entertainment was decent, the shows were not bad. I even liked the 'Dancing with the Stars' show, probably because my wife won it. (I taught her everything she knows. Not.) The food...was, um, plentiful. A wide variety of the usual average everything. I'm fine with that, it's to be expected, and the Italian "surcharge" restaurant was actually pretty good--attentive staff, solid quality and nice portions. Didn't try the "steakhouse" surcharge place. The main dining room was ok--but I had some issues with the buffet and the grill, both worth noting: First, the buffet. As you may know, HAL ships do not allow buffet self-service for the first 48 hours of a cruise, ostensibly to reduce the risk of illness. That slows the lines down considerably, and is extremely irritating. Ah, you may say--but that fact is more than offset by the reduced risk! Except that I did extensive research and found NOTHING that indicates HAL has a lower rate of gastrointestinal illness than, say, Princess. Imagine the wonderful irony at work--HAL has a policy that guarantees bad buffet service and successfully positions it as a marketing ASSET. Awesome. Even after the initial 48 hours, my teeth were on edge--if the buffet servers had worked any slower the ship would have sailed backwards. Of course, part of that is the (lack of) communication between picky eaters and Indonesian employees. As Prince Charles once said, "The international language is bad English." In any case, it was the slowest buffet line I've yet experienced at sea. Now, the grill. This is a small thing, but small things add up. On four, count 'em, four separate occasions I distinctly and carefully ordered a "medium rare" cheeseburger from the "cook to order" grill. The first was well done but edible...the next three were increasingly charred as to be impressively inedible. How difficult is it to under cook a cheeseburger? Heck, it's the default mode in a slammed kitchen. (But room service compensated by delivering doughy muffins and raw scrambled eggs. I soon passed on room service.) Saw Sitka for the first time, lovely. Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria comprised the other ports of call, with a trip to Glacier Bay, all worthwhile. Embarkation/debarkation professional and courteous. Weather worked out, usual mix of rain and sun, 65/35. It's Alaska, and there's a reason for all that greenery. So, Princess vs HAL? My clear winner is Princess. HAL tends to carry fewer passengers than the Princess ships, but that doesn't necessarily mean it feels less crowded--the ship is smaller. The net result is you get the same 'small city' feel as on, say, the Grand Princess, but the larger Princess ships deliver better/broader dining and entertainment options. I believe the prices are comparable, but you'll decide that. Whichever cruise line and itinerary you choose, you'll enjoy Alaska. The amazing mountains, ports of call and the WAR-tuh, too.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our first cruise in 7 years, so things have changed a bit. We have sailed with Holland America before and been quite happy. This time we did Alaska, round trip out of Seattle (we live in Western Washington). Left our car at the ... Read More
This was our first cruise in 7 years, so things have changed a bit. We have sailed with Holland America before and been quite happy. This time we did Alaska, round trip out of Seattle (we live in Western Washington). Left our car at the SeaTac Masterpark lot and caught Shuttle Express from the airport to the cruise terminal. Saved some hassle going, but coming back we had to stand in line with everyone else who was trying to take Shuttle Express, whether they had a reservation or not (we did). Ended up waiting about 15-20 minutes to get on a shuttle that was totally full, but it could have been a longer wait. At the cruise terminal, we stood in line about 20 minutes to get signed in and then headed to the Lido for lunch. We had been told our cabin (4101) wouldn't be ready until about 1-1:30. It was indeed ready then, very neatly made up and clean. It is supposed to be a "larger" cabin, but was smaller then I expected, though when I saw a "standard" size cabin later, ours was bigger. We had great staff taking care of our room, only had to ask for something to get it. I love getting fresh towels 3 times a day. Food in the Lido was ok, though I admit I loved the soft serve ice cream at lunch. Trying to find a seat was a pain most days and for anyone paying extra to eat in the Italian restaurant, be warned it is only part of the Lido dressed up with linen napkins, glassware and waiters. Dinner in the Vista dining room was inconsistent in quality, tho never bad. One night filet mignon was wonderful, two days later it was just so-so. A lot of confusion sitting people, I'm not sure why. Also, I know I'm not continental, but I think 1 1/2 - 2 hours every night for dinner is a bit much, especially when some of the dishes brought out were wrong. Entertainment wasn't bad, definitely not professional quality, but the shows were bright and lively and I don't think Las Vegas quality on a ship should be expected. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Recycled Percussion, which is a LV show, that was performing one night. Casino was adequate, but I had never gambled on a cruise before and found it a slightly confusing system at first to play the slots. One of my biggest complaints, and looking back it really isn't that big of a deal, but there was never anything but luke-warm water in the bathroom after 7 at night. I don't know if it was just our deck or everywhere, but I found it very annoying not to have my hot shower in the evening. Mornings and afternoons were always ok. Getting off the ship for shore excursions was awful. Everyone crammed their way into the disembarking area. There was no organization at all, if you had an early excursion, you had just better get there at least 30-45 minutes early or you wouldn't make it off on time. Holland America REALLY needs to work on this problem, it was extremely irritating and quite possibly hazardous having so many people stuffed into a small area. I felt very sorry for the people in wheelchairs who were completely surrounded by people. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our cruise was lovely. Our cabin steward was wonderful as well as all the staff we came in contact with. The food was lacking both in the main dining room and the lido deck. The main dining room food was cool when it arrived at our table. ... Read More
Our cruise was lovely. Our cabin steward was wonderful as well as all the staff we came in contact with. The food was lacking both in the main dining room and the lido deck. The main dining room food was cool when it arrived at our table. My braised beef tasted like it has been soaked in laundry water. The lido deck food had great flavor but they put condiments.. on EVERYTHING. Why not have condiments on the side. Not everyone enjoys.. fancy mayonnaise or the various dressings available. I spent a lot time scraping ranch and mayonnaise off my food(even after requesting some without) Our normal time is 6 hours different from Alaska time restaurant schedules were not accommodating to our difficulty adjusting (we kept some snacks in our cabin to take with meds). Breakfast was much later than we would have liked. There was no power outlet near the bed for a CPAP machine. Very inconvenient to run and extension cord across the room( why have cruise lines not listened to the millions of CPAP users!) The entertainment was great.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Pros: cabins, food and crews were great, loved being at sea. Experienced ships officers inspired confidence in ship handling. Plenty of things to do to keep busy. Entertainment was generally adequate. Enjoyed meeting fellow passengers. ... Read More
Pros: cabins, food and crews were great, loved being at sea. Experienced ships officers inspired confidence in ship handling. Plenty of things to do to keep busy. Entertainment was generally adequate. Enjoyed meeting fellow passengers. Mario was fabulous as compere of various activities. Relaxing way to travel. Professionally managed and efficient staff overall. Cabin was excellent, comfortable and sufficient room and storage. Very well serviced. Only one problem: We had to tape up three sides of the air conditioner vent due to cold, dry air dropping straight onto the bed and causing us breathing congestion the first night aboard. We could see traces of where thisnhad been done before by others. We did not appreciate the unhelpful Front Desk female staff who initially dismissed this problem and was stiffly reluctant to assist - when we asked to borrow gaffer tape, they made us sign a $40 deposit to ensure we returned it. The day after we returned tape, she rang to complain my husband had not responded to a phone message she left (he had given feedback to the desk staff direct) so clearly some inefficiency occurs at Front Desk. Cons: Totally inadequate seating in the cinema. Difficult getting a seat for theatre shows and computer lessons unless you turn up half an hour earlier. Not long enough time ashore (due to port fees?) and what possessed captain to bring ship through marvellous Sydney harbour heads when most passengers are still asleep! Frequent sales pitches for future cruises and tours are acceptable (though the tours are grossly overpriced) but we felt irritated that some of the seminars were disguised sales pitches for dubious and exorbitantly overpriced products and services. Before boarding I selected a spa offering, a one hour session for 'body composition' assessment and advice on nutrition and exercise to get me off to a good start on the ship - on arrival for my appointment at the gym I was asked what I wanted - when I said 'what the online advert offered' I was then told this session would be, in fact, three hours and a lot more expensive. After some confusion and poor management of the situation by the gym manager, I was given an hour as booked .... but the first 25 minutes turned out to be a sales pitch for their detox pills (see elsewhere on this site for negative reviews)! The body composition involved a bio electric impedance machine with no other physical or health status assessment other than brief questionnaire. (http://consensus.nih.gov/1994/1994bioelectricimpedancebodyta015html.htm). The rest of the hour involved a cursory run through gym equipment - at my request, as staff did not have a session structure as advertised online! Not good value and false advertising for this service. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Having sailed on several Holland America ships previously (Prinsendam, Ryndam & Veendam), the Westerdam is the largest of the HAL ships I've sailed on thus far. Crew unfailingly pleasant and helpful, cabin stewards very attentive ... Read More
Having sailed on several Holland America ships previously (Prinsendam, Ryndam & Veendam), the Westerdam is the largest of the HAL ships I've sailed on thus far. Crew unfailingly pleasant and helpful, cabin stewards very attentive and somehow managed to keep everything "ship shape" despite the large number of cabins they had to oversee. Noticeable on this voyage was the "nickel and diming": breakfast cappucino and dinner espresso in dining room now offered with extra charge, formerly offered at no charge; option now offered to purchase water with meals; at Mariner's Brunch refill on champagne not offered; port/city maps and overview now in a booklet not convenient to take ashore for quick consultation. I blocked out/didn't listen to the heavy sell of onboard shopping, port shopping, art auctions, shore excursions, etc. Linda provided several good lectures about Alaska, its history and geology and good port advice. I took one HAL shore excursion (Juneau) and was pleased with the option for getting to the Mendenhall Glacier, plus two other sites. Ship furnishings and finishes have a worn air. Given the time of year, many multi-generational families traveling and appeared to be enjoying the various options on board. The Lido food was well presented with a large variety of options, however, i only dined in the Lido a couple of times finding the passenger jostling and grabbing to not be very relaxing. Main dining room very accommodating when I requested a table by myself at breakfast. Main dining room had a variety of menu choices, food nicely presented and very good. Wait staff very pleasant, professional and attentive. I dined in the Pinnacle Grill one evening and that was a pleasure although the menu is the same on each ship. It would be great if each Pinnacle Grill chef could offer a "special dish" on each voyage tailored to local ingredients or local cuisine. The Le Cirque theme on "special" nights is a bit tired. The US park rangers who came aboard during our day cruising Glacier Bay really added to the experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I recently took an Alaskan cruise with my extended family. 6 adults and 3 children (3-9 years old). We were all on the Navigation deck, almost right next to each other. I will try and break this down a bit. Keep in mind I did this cruise ... Read More
I recently took an Alaskan cruise with my extended family. 6 adults and 3 children (3-9 years old). We were all on the Navigation deck, almost right next to each other. I will try and break this down a bit. Keep in mind I did this cruise as a way to see Alaska. I considered the ship to be simply a floating hotel to get me to where I was going. Alaska as a destination: Wonderful! Absolutely beautiful even in the rain (of which there was very little). Would go again in a heartbeat. Wish I could have stayed longer. Westerdam: And old style boat. Very much and older crowd. Kids did not like it much, nothing to do. Two pools, but no slides, etc. Too cold to really use the outdoor one anyway. I knew that going in, but didn't know it was quite so boring. Basketball court was actually pretty cool, but everyone was there, so it was crowded. Kids, stay away. Even the ping pong tables looked like they were stored in a garage for decades. Man, spend a couple of dollars and get new paddles! This isn't a prison! Rooms: All on Navigation deck. Smaller than I expected, but very close to stairwell and very quiet and comfortable bed. Movies can be rented for free and that helped the kids a bit. Balcony was awesome even though the furniture looked ratty. This cruise was all about the view, so the balcony is a MUST. Not too cold or windy either, I must say. Holland America: What can I say? They were 100% polite in every way. When I argued about a charge, it was taken care of right away. In fact, the only real problem I had was when we disembarked in Seattle and they wouldn't let me off the boat and said I had to go to the main office, but wouldn't say why. Turns out I had $3 left on my account they wanted to pay me! I knew I had it and I figured it wasn't worth sitting in line to take care of. I wish they would have let me off the boat. Took 30 min to get my $3! But at least it shows they are honest. Crew: Works very hard, did a very good job. Dinners in the Vista dining room were very busy and they were understaffed as the service was poor. This is not the fault of the workers who were never at rest. It is the fault of HA for under staffing the area. We left a very hefty tip (a couple of hundred) for our room stewards because they were excellent to me and my family. They remembered all our names from day 1 and they were open to answer questions about their life on the boat (which I found to be fascinating). I made a comment that I hated having to go to the Lido buffet at night just to carry 4 glasses of water back to the room in case I got thirsty (they are very small glasses). It was a flight of stairs and at the other end of the ship. He suggested I call room service. I said no way, even if it is free, would I call room service just for water. He said absolutely no problem, we are happy to do it. That makes him my #1 favorite employee of HA! I did it every night forward and they always seemed happy to do it. I used room service for breakfast as well a couple of times, but the room is really too small to enjoy it that way. Best for just some juice and milk to get you ready to go to breakfast! Food: Lido buffet is maybe 1 step above Hometown Buffet, which to me means it is graded a C (HB should not remain open as far as I am concerned). Nothing was excellent about it except maybe the iced tea and ice cream (and eggs benedict). But, what can you expect on a floating hotel? Vista dining was a bit better, but not by much. I would grade it a B. There were a couple of dishes that I was very happy with, but overall I left a bit disappointed. I didn't know what to expect since I never cruised before, but I was hoping for better. I have heard that food is the best on HA, but if that is the case, I am in trouble. Wife felt the same way. She loves to watch food network and such and had high hopes on the cruise. It broke my heart to see the disappointment in here eyes after the first dinner. Son loved the pastas. Best thing was breakfast, Eggs Benedict with salmon and crab meat....yum! Wish I could order them for lunch. Reminds me of an old joke, I got good news and bad news. Bad news is that all we have to eat is junk, good news is that we have plenty of it. As a side note: The final barbeque I thought was pretty good, but everyone else in the family gave it a thumbs down. Can't go wrong with fruit either, always fresh and good. It was the "Bistro" section that was the biggest let down. Ports: The reason we came. Food is not going to bring us down, it is used as fuel to keep us going. In Juneau we did the helicopter to the glacier tour. Perfect. Well worth the money. Glacier Bay is among the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Sitka did the wildlife tour and saw tons of things. Ketchikan did the fishing trip and landed my limit! Victoria didn't have much time but went to the museum next to the Parliment building and they had a bunch of totem poles which I found to be super cool. Wish we had more time at each port. Entertainment: Casino was nice, won some money, the magician and comedian were OK, but the dancers, etc. was simply not designed for my age group. Didn't do much else in that regard. Again, this is a retirement type cruise ship. So, would I do it again? Yes, I would go to Alaska, and Yes I would cruise again and Yes I would do Holland America again, but not this way. Next time I go to Alaska I need to do it on my own so I don't feel rushed. Next time I cruise will be on another line that is suited for the kids (Disney perhaps). Next time I take Holland America will be in 30+ years when I retire! I highly recommend however, for people to go no matter which line takes you, Alaska is excellent!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a ... Read More
As this was my very first cruise, I was very excited and looking forward to cruising on the Osterdam. However, my excitement was squashed when I showed up and discovered that the regular paying passengers were going to be outnumbered by a southern gospel group that would take over the ship, and create a second class status for those who weren't part of the group. I knew things were going to be bad when on Sunday, the elevator door opened and a woman thrusted a bible in my face. At one breakfast, a gentleman asked me what religion I was and when I told hin I was Catholic, he implied that I was going to hell. Many activities were canceled for the regular passengers and the only time for shows was 930pm. A veteran's group meeting was canceled due to this religious group occupying the meeting room and over extending their time. Several times the Crow's Nest and other venues were closed to regular paying passengers. Yet, it was strongly enforced that passengers who were not members of the group were not welcomed at any of their events. Nighttime was dead and the ship was a ghost town after 900pm since all the holy rollers went to bed!!! Instead of showing previews of the cruise's trip DVD, they showed previews of the gospel group activities. This is very much ashame as the ship and crew were fabulous. It was a very speedy check-in that took less than 20 minutes from taxi to opening the door of my room. Looking over at the Princess line that looked like hours long, I was very thankful for this. There were two lines for embarkation photos, one for the regular passengers with a blah background, and one for the gospel group with a fancier background. The food in the dining room was excellent. The lido deck buffet was so-so. The entertainment, although abbreviated because of the gospel group, was superb with fantastic broadway style shows. I especially liked the Movie theme night and the Garage show. Because of the holy rollers, all the dance floors were DEAD. There were a few in the piano bar. My biggest disappointment was the late night buffet. It was served from 1030pm until 1130pm. The food wasn't all that great. There was never any ice sculptures and no chocolate fountin night. My room was the best part!! I was upgraded to an obstructed view . The room wa very big and tastefuly done. This is a wonderful ship and very elegant. The glass elevators were the iceing on the cake!! The ship was always spotless. The Indonesian crews, whether it be the cabin stewards or the waiters in the dining room, worked tirelessly and always with a smile. It's aashame that Corporate HAL had to be decitful and greedy. They should have booked the entire ship for the gospel group (like they did the following week for the gay cruise) or innformed all passengers so they could reschedule. Most of the regular paying passengers that I spoke with are very upset and said they'll never sail HAL again. If I had been warned in advance, I would have changed my travel date to a different cruise. It's ashame because the ship and frontline emplyees were topshelf. HAL Corporate turned what could have been a A+++ first time cruise to a C-. Feeling cheated and scammed by HAL, next time I will travel Princess!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Embarkation: Was a breeze. We were on the ship and our suite was ready within about 20 minutes arrival to the terminal. Room: We paid a premium and booked an SA Category Deluxe Veranda Suite. A very nice size room (no separate bedroom), ... Read More
Embarkation: Was a breeze. We were on the ship and our suite was ready within about 20 minutes arrival to the terminal. Room: We paid a premium and booked an SA Category Deluxe Veranda Suite. A very nice size room (no separate bedroom), with a very large veranda. Room has a California King size bed (very nice). More than enough storage and closet space. Bathroom has a tub with a shower and a separate individual shower, dual sinks, and plenty of storage here also. Suites come with access to the Neptune Lounge which is open from about 7am until about 8pm. Very nice place to get online if you need to stay "connected", via separate internet package. I was disappointed that individual rooms do not have wifi access, you must go to the Neptune Lounge or other public area's of the ship. Neptune Lounge also has snacks and drinks always available. Also a personal concierge there for restaurant bookings or shore excursions. Ship: Overall was clean and nice. I didn't find it tacky as other reviews have mentioned. Staff: Seemed readily available. We rarely saw our room steward but room was always cleaned in the late morning and turned down during dinner time. Towel animals were on the bed every night. Casino: Friendly dealers, and generally machines were open. I even won the slot tournament. Champaign, glasses, and a HAL robe were the prize. Restaurants: Were generally good, but nothing special. Vista (main) dining room was generally good. No complaints. Pinnacle Grill (which everyone seems to rave about), seemed very average to us. Very nice setting, but we all found the food just OK and nothing that special. Service was just average here also. Ordered iced tea when sitting down and waited about 15 minutes to see that iced tea. We complained to the waiter twice about waiting so long for a tea. We also tried Canaletto (Italian restaurant). This was good. It's basically "large tapas" style dining. Family style if you will. Food here seemed better than Pinnacle Grill. Very large portions to share. The Lido Buffet was also good, but nothing real special here. Entertainment: We were on a private charter which brought on their own entertainment. The piano players in the lounge were good and always had a nice crowd. Spa & HydroPool: As expected, very expensive services, but nice to do on a cruise. HydroPool was nice, but wish they would change out that water more often. Main pool area is great and they usually keep it covered so its warm and can lay out at the pool in your swim suit or sit around in shorts and t-shirt and watch Alaska go bye. Alaska: Juneau was nice and typical port shopping. Sitka was very interesting with it's Russian heritage and history. Ketchikan was our favorite, but very short port time. Arrived at 7-8am and departed at noon. Was our favorite stop but so short, there was no time to do anything. Victoria was very nice. Overall: Tracy Arm Glacier was just beautiful. We saw whales, eagles, sea otters, etc. I would LOVE to return to Alaska but would probably change routes and do Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, etc. HAL was good, nothing to complain about to much, but nothing that overwhelmed us either. I would recommend HAL and the Oosterdam based on a price point. I think if you can afford the extra cost that a Celebrity Cruise would be a step-up in quality. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
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