12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
When I first started talking to my friends about taking my first ever cruise, they all said the same thing: Holland America would be a great fit for me. They also said that to get the best cruise experience, I should go for at least 7 ... Read More
When I first started talking to my friends about taking my first ever cruise, they all said the same thing: Holland America would be a great fit for me. They also said that to get the best cruise experience, I should go for at least 7 days, longer if possible. And they all suggested finding an Alaska itinerary since Holland America pretty much wrote the book on cruising Alaska, and I live about halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, the two ports used by most Holland America Alaska cruises. I found the 14-day Great Alaska Explorer, and contacted Holland America via their website. That put me in touch with my fabulous Personal Cruise Consultant, Crystal. And so, in Mar 2017, I booked my first ever cruise: September 11-25, on the Amsterdam, 14 days cruising Alaska. I'm writing this now, two weeks after returning from my cruise. First -- my friends were absolutely right: Holland America is a perfect match for me! The ship size couldn't have been better: I have some limited mobility issues (mostly breathing related), and I was still able to get around with minimal problems. I liked the fact that there were entertainment options available, but it wasn't necessarily the primary objective. I attended a couple -- and they were very good -- but I'm not really an "entertainment" person -- I live and travel alone, so I'm kind of used to entertaining myself, and that's easy to do onboard. Second, the accommodations: I had a Neptune Suite -- I have a slight tendency for claustrophobia and I didn't want to risk that having an impact on my initial impression of cruise travel. The room was even better than I expected. I loved having the extra room to move around, and the room stewards couldn't have been more gracious and accommodating. The towel critters that appeared each night were a hoot! They kept me stocked with grapes, too -- they soon figured out that I never eat bananas or apples, but LOVED grapes and pears -- so they started augmenting my daily fruit dish with more grapes and pears. I didn't have to say anything (never dawned on me to ask anyway). Those little touches were greatly appreciated, and I think speaks well for HAL's service level. The food: a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!!! Honestly, the Main Dining Room served some fabulous meals, beautifully presented by staff who were committed to providing a great experience. I had requested "anytime" dining/willing to share, and that worked out well -- never had to wait at all. I tend to eat earlier (between 5:00pm and 5:30pm), and over the 14 days I found familiar faces at the table many meals since we all tended to eat at the same time. I liked eating with a different mix of folks each meal -- made things interesting! The only downside was having different servers nearly every night, since seating was sort of random in different areas of the room. It's a trade-off between having a dedicated server for the trip or having a variety of personalities, but always providing the highest quality. I did have the same sommelier for all but 2 evenings that I ate in the MDR, and he was fantastic. I had purchased a wine package, so was able to select from the list with his assistance. Super experience! I ate two meals in Canaletto and was super impressed with it as well. Service was outstanding -- I was a "single," so had a table to myself, and was never made to feel "out of place" in a restaurant that includes as a concept the idea of sharing plates. The food was simply fabulous. Every dish was perfection on a plate. Would gladly eat there many more times. I didn't do many shore excursions as I wasn't sure how easy/difficult getting on and off the should would be until I got into port, and by then it was too late to book an excursion onboard. Although quite a few excursions were rated "easy," it doesn't help if getting off the ship requires a 1/4-mile walk or lots of stairs or ramps. I'll have a better idea next time what to look for in terms of challenges. I wanted this trip to focus mostly on getting around onboard, and I was able to accomplish everything I wanted to do. We did have some rough seas between Hoonah (Icy Strait Point) and Anchorage -- I was fine, no hint of seasickness at all, but moving around was a tad treacherous until things calmed down. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first cruise, enough that I've already booked three more cruises over the next 18 months! Two will be with Holland America (a 38-day North Atlantic roundtrip from Boston, and a 28-day Hawaii-Tahiti-Marquesas) and one with Oceania (an 18-day cruise from San Francisco to Miami via the Panama Canal). And eventually, I want to take this cruise again. There's so much to see in Alaska! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This is the only cruise line that has the itinerary we were looking for. We wanted that itinerary and to be able to be quite. The weather was great with some light rain and some overcast days. Smooth sailing and a lot of sunshine. ... Read More
This is the only cruise line that has the itinerary we were looking for. We wanted that itinerary and to be able to be quite. The weather was great with some light rain and some overcast days. Smooth sailing and a lot of sunshine. On cruise critic someone mentioned that the Cpt. Had a blog one should look at it because it was very interesting. They were right he had many interesting things to say. The cruise before ours was really rough, so we were very lucky that ours was beautiful. At most ports there was a shuttle to take you into town that was free and where there'was a long walk off the pier there was golf carts to help. So if you have a handicap that should not stop you from going. We found that from our room steward to our waiters to anyone we came in contact with were very friendly and helpful. We didn't use a lot of the options on board that was our choice and I am sure it was good. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
Since I don't like to fly, I chose this cruise over a land, sea cruise. I liked that we went to ports that most people don't get to see. The weather was not the greatest at times, but they have no control over that. I thought the ... Read More
Since I don't like to fly, I chose this cruise over a land, sea cruise. I liked that we went to ports that most people don't get to see. The weather was not the greatest at times, but they have no control over that. I thought the entertainment was terrific, except for the so-called comedian the first night of the cruise. The steward was great. Our waiter was phenomenal. I gained 10 lbs., so the food must have been great. Overall, I was very happy with the cruise and have no complaints. I was traveling with 2 friends, so being in one room together was kind of challenging, but we made it work. The bathroom was very nice and quite roomy. There was way more closet space than I had expected. We took turns sleeping on the sofa, and it was quite comfortable. No complaints. I would definitely cruise Holland America again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was an offer we couldn't refuse! Have been to Alaska before and It's been a long time since traveling on HAL but we got an incredible offer. Usually travel with NCL and have been on all the major lines.. But this was a great ... Read More
This was an offer we couldn't refuse! Have been to Alaska before and It's been a long time since traveling on HAL but we got an incredible offer. Usually travel with NCL and have been on all the major lines.. But this was a great trip. I saw complaints that ship was old, but it was actually very nice. Ship was clean! Restrooms were always clean! Cabin was spotless! Eating areas were clean! Food in dining room was very good, even lobster and king crab which you don't get on NCL any more. And, if you wanted more, just ask. Buffet was like any buffet, a buffet is a buffet is a buffett. Did enjoy hamburger eatery on pool deck. Made fresh while you wait. And wait was maybe 3 mins. No upselling constantly like on many ships which was nice. No constant barmen trying to push drinks. Shows were just OK in my opinion, but they were crowded every nite. Small casino with friendly personnel. Boarding and debarkation smooth, no hassle, but only 1400 guests. Havent been on a ship that small in a long time so it was a pleasure. Had room Neptune Suite 7010 which was perfect. Hosts were wonderful. Always ready to help. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Review of Amsterdam Alaska cruise from August 28 to September 11, 2017 We took this trip out of Seattle pier 91. The trip to and from the ship was by Link to/from Westlake Center and then Uber to/from the ship. This system works ... Read More
Review of Amsterdam Alaska cruise from August 28 to September 11, 2017 We took this trip out of Seattle pier 91. The trip to and from the ship was by Link to/from Westlake Center and then Uber to/from the ship. This system works pretty well and saves enough money to make the hassle worthwhile. The food on HAL continues to be great, much better than RCL or CEL and the service by the staff is great as well. Except for two occasions the staff was helpful and friendly. The exceptions were somewhat major because they both happened on disembarkation day when my wife fainted while getting off the ship and the two staff members I asked for help walked off and never returned. Midwesterrn self-reliance got us home though. A significant number of passengers contracted some kind of cold, sore throat, vomiting sort of disease but the ship did nothing publicly to help. I purchased some Day Quil in the ship shop for $18 and when I returned home I priced this item at Target for $8. The ship charges a markup of over 100% above retail for medicine. Smokes and liquor seem cheaper on the ship but medicine to help passengers is a rip off and that’s just not right. Passengers who visited the medical office reported similar gouging, for example, using the O2 sensor on one’s finger cost $10 each. At Target a O2 sensing unit cost $34 to own. The mini size bottle of cough medicine they issued, smaller than Day Quil was $20. Purchasing cruise insurance, even through HAL was of no use because the medical unit won’t accept it. One must file a claim with Medicare (which will deny it), then submit the claim with the secondary carrier. The weather was bad, but this is September in Alaska so that is what to expect. Tons of rain and one evening when pulling into Anchorage the ship was hit by a rogue wind of 135 MPH that was unexpected and the ship acquired a 12 degree list for 10 to 15 minutes. Fortunately, the captain had ballasted the ship as a precaution because at 27 degrees the ship falls over. Glasses, plates, bottles all went flying but I didn’t see or hear of any passenger injuries. The captain made no announcement because he didn’t want to aggravate the situation, he said. There was no announcement regarding this issue by the captain until several days later during the usual Q and A when a passenger raised it The ship had to cancel the Kodiak stop because of bad weather too. All passengers got a free glass of sparkling water or a soda as compensation. That’s not much but that’s cruising for you. The floor in our bathroom and shower was in terrible condition because most of the grout was missing. This has permitted water to seep underneath the tile and it has bubbled up creating an uneven service. Also bits of grout continue to break off and stick to one’s feet. The port of Seattle has a great free service called Pier Valet which we used and it went surprisingly well. The way it works is that a passenger can complete the forms on board and the port will pick up your luggage on the last night of the cruise, just like the ship does. Pier Valet then delivers the luggage to the airline and one picks it up again at the destination airport. Really! The only snag was that the boarding pass issued and delivered to the cabin won’t scan at TSA security check. Please stop at your airline kiosk when arriving at SEA and get a new boarding pass first We will continue to cruise with HAL but not to Alaska for a while. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Whilst not the best weather for Alaska scenery viewing, the warmth and friendliness of the crew on MS Amsterdam certainly made up for the weather. We had extremely wet weather, but as it is Alaska, and mostly a temperate rain forest, ... Read More
Whilst not the best weather for Alaska scenery viewing, the warmth and friendliness of the crew on MS Amsterdam certainly made up for the weather. We had extremely wet weather, but as it is Alaska, and mostly a temperate rain forest, what did I expect? Possibly cruise in an earlier month in future? However, we did manage to see lots of whales in Juneau, a Sitka black tailed deer, a brown bear and a red squirrel in Icy Straight Point, sea otters, seals, lots of salmon, and bald eagles in Ketchikan, so a success in our view! The ship is small but perfectly formed! It doesn't take long to get to where you need to be. There are 2 laundry rooms, at $2 including wash soap, conveniently situated on decks 3 and 6. There are several lounges which are nicely appointed and very comfortable. The Crow's Nest in particular has wonderful views, and great for a pre dinner drink! Amsterdam's best feature, however, the Lido Swimming pool area. It has a large retractable roof, which in the wet, ensures the warmth needed to take a dip in the very warm pool, or a pleasant drink at the bar! We had an inside cabin, which was very good. Aft position, and whilst it stated it could be noisy during the day, it was actually very quiet. Stewards were excellent. The evening entertainment wasn't to my liking, however the Amsterdam singers and dancers were excellent. We only did 2 ship's excursions - in Icy Straight and the Seattle tour transfer to airport. Both were good, if a little expensive. An excellent cruise! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Loved the ports. It rained every day except in Victoria but we didn't mind. Bought a rain coat.The ship is tired, furniture in Crows Nest frayed and faded, bathroom wall vinyl coming loose, grout peeling, sofa springs sprung. Most shows ... Read More
Loved the ports. It rained every day except in Victoria but we didn't mind. Bought a rain coat.The ship is tired, furniture in Crows Nest frayed and faded, bathroom wall vinyl coming loose, grout peeling, sofa springs sprung. Most shows overall were lame. Piano bar guy,Van, could really play the piano but couldn't sing worth a darn. The food was excellent. Loved the new salad bar on Lido. The crew was exceptional! We got laundry done on the unlimited plan and it was better than my home laundry. Breakfast in room delivered everyday on time. Someone mentioned banging and we noticed that too. Loud noises coming from the bottom of ship. I just think the Amsterdam needs a face lift. I enjoyed the cruise but the ship is definitely not up to HAL standards. Enjoy the "as you wish dining" and never had to wait for seating. The food was varied and excellent. Again, the staff was the best but the ship needs attention. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
I love Alaska and its beautiful scenery, people and wildlife. The more days cruising is a definite plus for me. A little different itinerary going to Icy Strait Point, Homer, and Kodiak. Unfortunately we did not get to Kodiak because of ... Read More
I love Alaska and its beautiful scenery, people and wildlife. The more days cruising is a definite plus for me. A little different itinerary going to Icy Strait Point, Homer, and Kodiak. Unfortunately we did not get to Kodiak because of weather. That was okay since I will just have to do the cruise again another time. The weather in Alaska is definitely not the norm, and you just have to go with the flow. The captain is the man who knows best. Captain Jonathan is the greatest! The weather did not stop us from going on tours or just going out on our own. The food in the dining room and lunch at the Pinnacle was great. Breakfast in the Lido was very good. Piano Man Van was entertaining and played to the crowd. The entertainment was good, especially Hyperion Wright, who was excellent. The comedian Paul Morrisey(??) was awful. Liked seeing the 6 dancers actually dancing. The cruise director, Jorge, was not very visible, and there were not many activities other than trivia a few times a day. Would love to have had music during the happy hours. Music was played after happy hours were over. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
Very good itinerary. We had awful weather and one port eliminated. Very little activity on ship. Minimal trivia and no games such as liars club. Only one show in the evening plus lounge acts. Lounge acts were not very good. When ... Read More
Very good itinerary. We had awful weather and one port eliminated. Very little activity on ship. Minimal trivia and no games such as liars club. Only one show in the evening plus lounge acts. Lounge acts were not very good. When asked if the ship would add a knitting group to activities, I was told it did "not fit the image of HAL". After a number of requests it was finally added, probably by the activities director, not cruise director. Had up to a dozen attend, at no cost to HAL. Pickle ball court. Best food we have had on a ship. Lots of places to sit during the day and read. A real smoke problem in the lounges near the casino. Very poor ventilation. The ship singers and dancers were some of the best we have seen on a cruise. 4 review shows. Show every night including the last night. A very old croud. Very few under 50, lots of walkers and scooters. Staff wonderful and helped get food for people who needed help in lido restaurant. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
I was just on the World Voyage with Holland. Things were different on the Alaskan cruise, subtle little things that were lacking. But Hollands staff is wonderful. Some of the passengers were annoyed that Captain Mercer made the decision ... Read More
I was just on the World Voyage with Holland. Things were different on the Alaskan cruise, subtle little things that were lacking. But Hollands staff is wonderful. Some of the passengers were annoyed that Captain Mercer made the decision to by pass Kodiak due to the storm, but it was a GREAT decision. Some things are to be considered UPGRADES during a GRAND VOYAGE. Cruises are the least expensive way to take a vacation. Have been cruising since I was a child in the 1950's so well understand that in today's market, with the number of Shipping Companies, and the number of ships, the prices are low. Although people who are new to cruising do not think so but it is true. Where else can one go visit different cities, receive entertainment, food, lodging and have fun at such a low price. Now with the hurricane damaged islands, it will be worse for the Cruise lines. I love cruising and Holland is one of my favorites. The Alaskan cruise is always a great one and the 14 day is exceptional. Read Less
Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.2

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