Sail Date: September 2013
Booked the Amsterdam for my husband's birthday, because we have spent quite a bit of time on her and know a lot of the crew and officers. We were a little nervous, because we haven't done anything but "Grand Voyages" on ... Read More
Booked the Amsterdam for my husband's birthday, because we have spent quite a bit of time on her and know a lot of the crew and officers. We were a little nervous, because we haven't done anything but "Grand Voyages" on Holland since 2004, and we know they put on extra hand-picked crew and bump up the menus for these. Our fears were unfounded. The service and food were just as good as on the grand cruises. We were in an outside cabin and our cabin stewards were excellent. Love the outside cabins, because they have one more closet than the balcony cabins. We had a lot of luggage because we were staying on for 32 more days of the Grand Asia/Pacific. Everything was in working order in our cabin. Plenty of room for luggage under the bed. The only thing I miss that you have in a balcony is the little refrigerator. I think you can get one, but it has to go in the knee-hole under the desk. Our waiters were some of the best we've ever had. The food was outstanding. I had the best pork chop I have ever eaten, very tender and flavorful. We had snails, which I love, on a formal night. Lobster, prime rib and beef tenderloin were also featured during the cruise. This was our third time to Alaska, so we didn't get off at every port, but we had a couple of friends with us who had never been and they enjoyed the ports. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2013
My family (9 of us - 4 seniors, 2 adults, 3 kids) went on the 7-night Alaska Inside Passage Cruise on HAL Amsterdam in early September. The Southeast Alaska scenery was breath-taking and the weather was quite pleasant. However, the ... Read More
My family (9 of us - 4 seniors, 2 adults, 3 kids) went on the 7-night Alaska Inside Passage Cruise on HAL Amsterdam in early September. The Southeast Alaska scenery was breath-taking and the weather was quite pleasant. However, the experience with HAL Amsterdam was just so so. Pre-cruise: We stayed a couple of nights in Vancouver (Richmond area) prior to the cruise. Before cruise, we were worried how we would transport a large group like us in Vancouver. It turns out the Vancouver public transportation was adequate. We used Skytrain & Bus and found those to be quite good. The Skytrain is especially helpful since it stops at or around all major city sites tourists need to access, including the airport, Vancouver downtown, Richmond area, etc. We went to Stanley Park the day prior to cruise - it takes a bus ride from near Waterfront Station so not too hard. Once in the park, it's actually quite difficult to get around the park since it is so big. We walked around the park and spent sometime on the seawall which is very nice. The hotel we stayed in is in Richmond and close to a lot of Asian shops and restaurants, so very convenient. Vancouver / Richmond has outstanding Chinese / Japanese food! Boarding: we boarded the ship from Canada Place Terminal around 12pm. Boarding was relatively smooth - apparently we were early so the line was short. The only thing was that I forgot to print out paper copies of the cruise documents. That caused some delay but overall not too bad. Overall it took us about an hour to get on the ship. The rooms were ready and the luggage delivered shortly after. We ate at the buffet (not impressed, more on this later) and the drill went smoothly. Room: We had 4 ocean view rooms. 2 of them were connected and used by my wife and myself, plus the kids (3). In the past cruises the 5 of us tried to stay in one large family room. It was hard to find but we thought it would be a better arrangement than 2 connected rooms. We found that wasn't the case! The 2 connected rooms worked out really well for us - giving us some privacy and allow my youngest kid to take afternoon nap in one room while two older ones hang out with us in the other. The rooms are sufficiently sized for 2 or 3 people. Room was cleaned at least twice a day. No complaint there. Food: We heard HAL food was good. But our experience wasn't so positive. There were very limited choices onboard - the main dining room, the buffet, and two specialty restaurants (Canaletto the Italian and Pinnacle Grill the steak house). We had dinners mostly in the main dining room, except one night in Canaletto. For breakfasts / lunches, we dined mostly in the buffet, except one lunch at Pinnacle Grill. Also had a breakfast as room service - the quality was really not good. Main dining room: The food in the main dining room was just OK, comparable with Royal Carribean / Norwegian main dining rooms. Service was a little on the slow side. Our waiter was friendly but not very talkative (also due to him being busy all the time). Buffet: The buffet was very disappointing. Amsterdam is not a large ship, with under 1,400 guests. However, the Buffet was always busy with long lines, and it was really hard to find tables. Being a smaller ship, the buffet station area is quite small, and there was not much variety. The other factor is because HAL insists on having the crew serving the food instead of allowing the guests to pick up what they want. This seriously slow down the whole operation and the serving crew was seriously stressed. I understand the reasons are probably hygienic as well as HAL cruises have high portion of senior guests, but the slowness really hurt the dining experience. The food variety was very little and doesn't change from day to day much. I'd say this is perhaps the biggest low light of the ship. The buffets on the much larger Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Sea and Norwegian Epic was much superior on quality and serving speed. Canaletto: This specialty restaurant is located in a corner-offed area in the buffet. It really doesn't feel very special. The food was decent, but nothing to rave about. Pinnacle Grill: This restaurant is nicely decorated. We had just lunch there, and found that to be a good value ($10 per person vs. $25 per person for dinner). The food was decent, but not any better than the high-end specialty restaurants on RC / Norwegian ships. Overall the food experience was just so so. I feel HAL needs to do a better job to catch up with other cruise lines. Ship: The ship is fairly small, hosting ~1,400 guests (compared to ~4,000 for RC / Norwegian ships we cruised on previously). The atmosphere does feel more relaxed due to the smaller size, and overall the ship doesn't feel crowded (except at the buffet and the day at the Glacier Bay - everybody was at the bow!). The activities on ship were most geared towards seniors so we didn't go to that many. With the nice weather / view, we spent a lot of time on the Lower Promenade and the Sports decks - these decks have outdoor loops. With a large party like ours and no way to communicate (should have brought walkie talkie!), we also spent a lot of time walking up and down stairs just to find people. The elevators are very fast, but difficult to get on (again due to the large senior crowd). The ship is small so stairs are generally adequate. Most activities are located between 3rd & 8th floors (3rd floor - outdoor loop, 4th/5th floors - auditorium, library, theater, shops, etc, 8th floor - the buffet and pool). The ship does feel a bit old but generally clean. The library area is very nice - quite spacious and equipped with many books and nice chairs. It's much nicer than the libraries found on the larger RC / Norwegian ships. Again probably a reflection of the focus on the senior guests. One thing that HAL needs to be commended on is that their casino is relatively small and smoking is not allowed there - this is very refreshing as the casino smoke was a major nuisance on RC / Norwegian ships. Kids Program: Surprisingly this is the highlight of the cruise. We cruised in early September, so many schools have already begun so there were very few kids onboard. With the few days there, we probably saw less than 30 kids total! As a result, the kid's clubs are sparsely populated, and all of my kids reported that they enjoyed the clubs very much, and said the kids program here beats the ones on RC & Norwegian. What a surprise! A very commendable job done by the kids staff on Amsterdam! Ports and Excursions: We didn't book any excursion through HAL. Instead we booked those directly with the on-shore vendors. In Skagway we booked the Skagway Van Tour with Matt - an outstanding experience and highly recommended! In Juneau we booked the Harv and Marv's whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier trip - the boat was really nice but overall not very impressive experience (feels rushed and commercial). In Ketchikan we just hopped on a bus to the Totem Bight State Park - a small but beautiful park to kill a couple of hours. Other than that we shopped and sampled various salmon products. Overall all three ports are lovely, small and tourist-friendly. The Alaskan port shops are actually quite nice with a good variety compared to Caribbean port shops. Disembarkation: Getting off the ship was quite smooth. HAL did a pretty good job there. Overall it was a memorable trip. I do feel HAL needs to try harder to catch up with other cruise lines in a number of areas, however. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
We took a 7 night Alaska cruise a few years ago and loved it so much that we wanted to experience more of this exciting destination. For some reason there are almost NO reviews of Alaska Cruisetours - it's unfortunate because those of ... Read More
We took a 7 night Alaska cruise a few years ago and loved it so much that we wanted to experience more of this exciting destination. For some reason there are almost NO reviews of Alaska Cruisetours - it's unfortunate because those of us who research before planning our trips would really appreciate more information about this popular Alaska travel option. So here's my review -- the good and the not so good -- about our experience on a cruisetour. Embarkation at Canada Place in Vancouver was a bit different than many of our cruises because we first needed to clear immigration. Nonetheless, it went quite smoothly and we were onboard after about 1/2 hour. The Amsterdam was a much smaller ship than those we've sailed in the past. It was nice to be able to navigate the whole vessel in a short amount of time. Our stateroom was a Category A Verandah Suite. The room was spacious and well decorated, the balcony had room for two loungers which was nice, and the bathroom had a real bathtub, something I think HAL has on all of their ships if this is important to you. We had a good lunch in the main dining room which was a welcome option from the crowded buffet. Muster drill was more involved than some we've attended, and also seemed a bit disorganized. MEALS: The first night dinner was disastrous! We chose the select dining time option and went to the dining room around 6:00. We were seated with 3 other couples. Between the 8 of us, just about all of the menu choices for entrees were covered, and all of us had a complaint!! The dining room manager came to our table and made note of all the complaints and promised the next night would be better . . . and it was! In fact, the food from that point forward was really good. We did avoid the buffet because it seemed disorganized and crowded, so I can't comment on the food there. This was our first HAL cruise and we had heard so much about their excellent food, so we think the first night was a real glitch. The second night was formal, and since we only had 3 nights on the ship and would be dressed VERY casually for our land adventure, we did not bring formal wear. I checked with HAL's office to see if my husband would be allowed in the dining room with just a dress shirt and tie and was told he had to have a jacket or we wouldn't be allowed in the dining room. So on formal night we ordered dinner from the regular dining room menu and had it delivered to our room. Keep this option in mind if you don't want to dress up, but don't want to have dinner in the buffet either. ENTERTAINMENT: We attended the main show the first night. The seating is rather informal with small seating groups at tables - kind of a lounge feeling rather than a big showroom with auditorium seating. The floor is not sloped, so unless you sit right in the front you might have difficulty seeing. We also attended the main show on the second night. The singers were excellent, the dancers were not the best we've seen, but certainly not the worst either. The Amsterdam has several lounge areas where you can dance or listen to music, and we loved this about the ship. There was a trio playing jazz standards and 1940 pop music in one lounge with a nice dance floor. They were excellent. They also have a piano bar, and there was a special show on the 3rd night which was highly recommended. We enjoyed that one too, so overall we think HAL offers really good entertainment. ON BOARD ACTIVITIES: We attended a couple of cooking demonstrations - they were just ok. We also played trivia a couple of times. And we took a couple of dance lessons as part of HAL's Dancing With the Stars competition. They were really fun and a couple of passengers were chosen to perform in a show on the final cruise night. I hope we see a review from someone who saw that show because we wished we could see it. CRUISETOUR: After 3 nights we arrived in Skagway where we met our group of 32 travelers and Tour Director Chad and began our tour into the Yukon Territory. We did not purchase the HAL meal plan, so we were on our own for most of our meals. A few were included with the cruisetour, mostly because we were somewhere too remote to find a restaurant. You will hear that food in Alaska is expensive, and it is. The HAL meal plan was about $840 per couple for the 8 nights. On our own we spent about $700, and we ate quite well. SKAGWAY: We took the train from Skagway and saw some beautiful scenery. After the train, we hopped on our Explorer Coach in Fraser and rode up to the town of Whitehorse where we spent the next 2 nights. WHITEHORSE: There were no activities included in Whitehorse, so we booked a couple of excursions through HAL before we left for our vacation. One included a visit to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve which we would highly recommend. We saw lots of wildlife up close and many animals we never saw in the wild, so it was well worth the time and money. We also took a Yukon River Adventure and saw lots of bald eagles - that was a real treat. We stayed at the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel, which is owed by HAL. The rooms were not fancy, but clean and good sized. The biggest issue was that there was no air conditioning so we slept with our window wide open, and it was light out until at least 10:30 pm! BEAVER CREEK: After all day long on the bus, we arrived in Beaver Creek just in time for dinner. The tour included a brief lunch stop in Haines Junction, and dinner and show in Beaver Creek. The dinner was served family style, and everyone especially liked the Baked Alaska dessert. The Westmark Beaver Creek was pretty rustic. If you've ever been to a summer cabin furnished in castaways, you'll get the idea. This was our least favorite stop, and we understand that HAL is not going to include Beaver Creek on their cruisetour itineraries next year. It's just as well - we really couldn't recommend it. FAIRBANKS: Another full day of bus riding was required in order to get to Fairbanks where we spent 2 nights at the Westmark. This was by far the nicest hotel we stayed in, although the neighborhood didn't have much to choose from in the way of dining options. Our tour included a really nice trip on a riverboat which included a stop at the Aleyeska Pipeline (interesting) and an Indian village. Family style lunch was also included, conveniently right next door to the gift shop. After lunch we headed to a goldmine where we panned for gold - and yes, everyone in our group did find some gold. Ours was weighed and valued at a whopping $11.00, but it was fun. DENALI: A 4-hour train ride in a dome car brought us to Denali, the highlight of our tour. We booked a couple of excursions before we left home, and our favorite was the Husky Homestead visit to champion musher Jeff King's camp. The Tundra Wilderness Tour (part of the cruisetour package) was both good and bad. The good: we saw Mt. McKinley several times which apparently only 30% of Alaska visitors see, we saw lots of caribou, a few moose, one bear, and lots of Dall sheep. The bad: we were on a not-real-comfy bus from 2:00-10:15 pm! It was an incredibly long day and we were exhausted (and really hungry) by the time we finally got back to the hotel. We stayed at the McKinley Chalet Resort and our room was very comfortable - at least until an electrical fire broke out at 9:00 pm! Everyone evacuated and we were finally able to return to our rooms at 11:30. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the entire incident was very poorly handled. See my review on the Port boards for details. At 1:30 a.m. we got a Northern Lights wake-up call as requested, and ran outside to see a truly spectacular sight. ANCHORAGE: We spent 8 hours in a dome railroad car traveling from Denali to Anchorage. Lunch and dinner on the train were excellent. Our cruisetour officially ended upon our arrival at the Anchorage Westmark Hotel. Anchorage is a nice, interesting city and very easy to get around on foot. SUMMARY: A cruisetour is a very smooth, easy way to travel. Absolutely everything is taken care of for you, especially if you have a tour director as excellent as ours was. We saw some beautiful scenery and wildlife, met some really nice people, and generally had a very good time. The people who live in Alaska are interesting, resilient and self-reliant and we enjoyed meeting them. Would we take another cruisetour? Never in a million years! We learned that we really don't like living out of a suitcase, and we don't like riding buses for hours on end. If you are thinking of seeing Alaska this way, just be prepared that the distances you'll travel are very long because Alaska is a huge state, and the scenery just doesn't change all that much. Our recommendation would be to take a 7 night (or longer) cruise with a 3-day Denali extension. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
We had a good time, but it was definitely not up to standards with other shipslines I have cruised with. I would not recommend this to seasoned cruisers looking for "that little something extra", you will be disappointed. ... Read More
We had a good time, but it was definitely not up to standards with other shipslines I have cruised with. I would not recommend this to seasoned cruisers looking for "that little something extra", you will be disappointed. (however, knowing what to expect, with simply relaxing in mind, it is an inexpensive holiday...we paid $2500. for a Verandah Suite, one week, all in, for 2 adults) But for first-timers, or young people looking for a new adventure, you will have fun. Embarkment: In a word, excellent. We got there early, right at noon, and walked through the different check ins with ease. The staff were efficient and smiling. First Impressions: Once we had boarded the ship we were offered a glass on wine. We have cruised before and know most ships offer champagne but that yet to happen. The server was friendly and talking to us. We only realized that the drinks had been poured and the bottle left on the table when he was gone. The charge? $40.00. Not cool. The same "wine stewart" was pushy at other times too, and I witnessed a person at our table having to say several times he only wanted a glass of wine, before he left him alone. However, he was one person and we in no way let that sway our opinions of the cruise in general. Cabins: We had a Verandah Suites, an upgrade offered to us for an additional $200. total. (these are balcony rooms renamed "suites", as told to me by the booking agent) Well worth it! It was more than roomy enough for my hubby and I, with a nice sized, (big enough for a lounger), very private deck. The housekeeping staff were amazing, we left "the boys" an extra gratuity, they added so much to our overall experience. The rooms were well stocked and very clean. Beds were extra comfy. Good water pressure for showers. Tip: we were on the starboard side and seemed to always have the sun at the right time of the day. Also when in port we had excellent views. Perfect! Dining: Main Dining Room: We chose flexible dining times. The service was painfully slow. I don't know if it was the serving staff or the kitchen, but more than once it took almost 3 hours from start to finish. (a long time when there are set Show times in the theatre) Because we went with the flexible times, we didn't have the same waiters. I would rethink that next time, it wasn't the same as getting to know the people at your table and your servers. At times the waiters seemed confused, but perhaps that was because of the situation with getting the food out. The food itself was good, (and of course you can order as many appys, entrees etc., as you like) Not much of a selection though. They have a few options on a set menu which include chicken and steak, but we found their changing menus offered little variety and we soon tired of the offerings. Pinnacle Grill: We decided to try the Pinnacle Grill; exceptional value at $25.00 per person. Wow!! It was awesome! Delicious steak and lobster. Huge portions, anywhere from 10-20 ounces of steak, I kid you not! (we couldn't believe it either!) We returned the next day, the last day of our cruise, and again were not disappointed. Sarah, our head waitress was exceptional. In addition we had two other helpers so that we were never wanting for anything. You could also order more than one of anything with the exception of entrees, but you won't need to! Beautiful decor. Fine dining. Dress code of the dining room also applies at the Pinnacle. An absolute must! Canaletto Restaurant: Didn't go, but it is basically a cordoned off area of the Lido Deck Buffet area. Not sure what the food was like, the setting put us off trying it. Lido Deck: (outside area) Mexican and American food. Tacos, all the toppings, fresh salsas, salads etc. Burgers with fries and fresh pizza. The food was quite tasty and I especially enjoyed the fresh salsas and fajita chicken. Didn't try the burgers or pizza, but hubby said the pizza was also good. (inside area) This is where the buffet meals are served. Good all round buffet both for breakfast and lunch. Endless options. Dinner is the same offerings as the dining room (plus extras), but self serve. No long waits. (the outdoor area on the Lido deck is a great, fun, active place to hang out and have lunch or a late afternoon snack) The buffet is also open from 10:30-11:30pm for late night cravings. Room Service: Good selection until 10pm, after that they do have 24 hour service, but limited menu. Staff always courteous and friendly. Prompt service. Tasty food. Entertainment: Main Showcase Theatre: Definitely lacking. It was so poor we opted out two nights when usually we take in all the shows while cruising. They really do pale in comparison with other lines. (all others seem to exceed in this area) The first night was singing and dancing. Colourful & enjoyable, but average. A "not so funny" comedian, a dance competition among staff and cruisers, a singing and dancing show by their staff and house band, just very boring...we did really enjoy one night with a magician/comedian, but that was about it. Small Venues (in the lounges): Great. A pianists, girl on a string violin, singers, guy on the sax. House band just okay, (musicians good, tired singer), but we went dancing one night in the Crow's Nest with the band, and had a good time. Pools: Great. They have a retractable roof over the Lido deck, (very handy when the winds come up), that houses the main pool and two very nice, hot, hottubs. We were always able to get a chair, even if it meant having to get it ourselves. (which happened once)Towels readily available. There is also a ping pong table, but it was usually busy with kids, as well as a small stage for musical acts.(sometimes there was live music sometimes piped) I didn't use the sea view pool at the bow of the ship, no hot tubs there and at the front of the ship the breeze was quite cool. I did notice a bar there though and it was very quiet. Maybe a nice "get away" for couples not wanting to be around the kiddies all day. Service: Mixed. Housekeeping, awesome. Pinnacle Grill, with one exception, awesome. Dining room, average. Lido deck, average. (staff confused and unsure some of the time when asked questions or requests. One bartender didn't know what was in the bar and what wasn't. Staff often referred us to other staff or went and got someone who could answer our questions) Activities staff, average. Sometimes late or no show. Room service, awesome. Casino staff, awesome. Shop staff, awesome. Spa Staff: didn't go. Front Desk: attentive and efficient. Stores: What you would expect. Wait until you have been to a few ports and compare prices. All merchandise went on sale the last two days at enormous savings, so wait to buy. The only exception is alcohol at the duty-free. Buy early to avoid disappointment, once it is gone it is gone. Spa: Didn't go, but people who had, raved about the massages. Kids/Youth activities: We're past that now! However there were more kids & teens than I expected on this cruise, perhaps due to summer holidays, and they all seemed entertained. Excursions: Booked our own when we got there. (saved $50.00 by doing this) When you get off the cruise hip, there will be many kiosks set up with companies selling their excursions. If you are not a "have to have a reservation" type, and are flexible, you can buy direct, or as we did, get the information ahead of time at home online, book on arrival, and definitely save money. (or even book online for greater savings...we wanted to hike so opted to wait and see weather conditions and booked once we arrived in Skagway) Tip: The weather can make or break an excursion. I went once and paid over $500. for a ride on the White Pass Railway, only to go on a day that was foogy and rainy! We couldn't see anything! Check weather ahead of time or book on arrival. (either on your own or the cruise line, depending on comfort level) Ports: Excellent. Try Tracey's Crab Shack & the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Shop til you drop in Ketchikan, (the Pirate Saloon is also good for lunch), and lots of time for excursions in Skagway. Try the city bus, it's cheap and fun talking to locals. In Ketchikan they have free shuttles to "downtown" as well as the city bus. Disembarkment: Great, flew through in record time. Tip: we carried our luggage off the ship to avoid big line ups for collecting luggage. Don't bother, they have everything separated by numbers and colours. I was impressed with how everyone needed only a glance to find their belongings.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2013
This was the first time cruising for my 14-year-old son and me. Alaska was the dream cruise for me and I looked forward to beautiful scenery, great photo ops, relaxation, good food, and comfortable, undisturbed sleep. Everything was as I ... Read More
This was the first time cruising for my 14-year-old son and me. Alaska was the dream cruise for me and I looked forward to beautiful scenery, great photo ops, relaxation, good food, and comfortable, undisturbed sleep. Everything was as I had hoped. CABIN: I booked us for a midship, lower level, inside room. (I was worried about motion sickness, but there was no need for that, at least not on this trip I could barely tell the ship was even moving; it felt like we were on solid ground. We cruised on the east side of Vancouver Island and very much on the inside all the way up, so there was little wave action.) On arrival I was surprised to find that I had been upgraded to an outside room, still midship, lower level, just down the hall a little ways. Our baggage was rerouted to our new location. The room was clean, the cabin stewards were very friendly, helpful, and always asking if anything was needed. Because of my bad back, I was happy to see that the beds were very comfortable and I had no trouble sleeping in our quiet, comfortable room. I wasnt sure when booking how roomy our cabin would be, but found it to be quite adequate. We had our sleeping area, a lounge area, closet storage, and the bathroom. The seating area had an upholstered loveseat and single seat, a small coffee table, a desk/counter area with three dresser drawers, large wall mirror, and another small upholstered stool. There were five (possibly six, but I dont remember for sure) closets measuring about 36 wide; all but one had hanging space, of which some also had a shelf or two, upper and lower, and one was all shelves. Plenty of hangers were available. One of the closets had a safe (Im told all the cabins had a safe). While the safe was not large, I managed to fit in it the following, without cases: 11 netbook, DSLR camera, two lenses for the DSLR, camera flash, iPod Touch, 7 tablet, various small electronics, medium-size point and shoot camera, wallet, and important documents. Before arriving, I doubted that what I needed to lock up would fit, but I was able to safely fit everything I needed to. (Things that dont fit can be secured with the purser.) The closet storage was more than adequate, with room to spare . . . and we brought a LOT OF STUFF! We were even able to stow our luggage in the closets, but there was room at the foot of the bed for a couple of pieces of luggage. I left out one piece that I could lock so that I could easily and readily access certain large, expensive items such as tripod, etc.) The very clean bathroom was much larger than I expected--room on the countertop, a shelf underneath, and three shelves in the corner medicine cabin. There was something that possibly could be used as a hair dryer in the bathroom, but it got a bit hot to hold within a few minute, so perhaps it was to dry the mirrors. A hairdryer was available in one of the dresser drawers. There was plenty of floor space to move about, hooks on which to hang robes/clothes, and a tub/shower of comfortable size. The showerhead was very nice and the water was always hot, which is saying a lot since we both tend to take long, hot showers. I suspect that there was an instant hot-water tank between the rooms, since the hot water came quickly. NOTE ABOUT ELECTRONICS: A U.S. (110/120v) voltage hairdryer will need to be used in the seating area there are no outlets in the bathroom. And the outlet that is available only accommodates one 110v electrical item, the other is for the 220v hairdryer. You may even want to bring a small adapter because if youre plugging in an item that is boxy (plug with battery holder), it doesnt or may not fit very well because theres limited space between the bottom of the mirror and the top of the table. HAL is concerned about fire, so I think thats why the options are limited so dont plug in more than one thing at a time and ask your steward for assistance if your needs cannot be adequately met; there is probably a solution available. We were able to charge all our many electronics without issue, but we did have one that barely fit. MEALS: We had breakfast in our room on all but two mornings. We selected our desired items from the varied menu the night prior, having to place the menu card on the door handle by a certain time (I believe it was by 1 a.m., maybe 2). On the card you select your items and a choice of several half-hour time slots when you want your breakfast delivered. We dined two evenings, the first and last, in the main dining room on the open-seating option. We never waited more than a few minutes to be seated. The food and service was very good, and we enjoyed the quiet, comfortable dining experience in a beautiful setting. The remainder of the time we ate in the Lido for lunch and dinner. While we enjoyed the buffet selection of foods, it was a little awkward juggling plates. No trays were available, so you had to just select a few items that would go on two plates/in bowls, go to your table and eat, or return for more plates of food and to get your non-alcoholic drinks (stewards served the alcoholic beverages). Juices were available free, but were not for the taking you had to ask for it and the dining steward would go to the kitchen to retrieve what you wanted. Tea, coffee, and water were available near the buffet area. I never saw any milk, though I think it was available, too, somewhere. If youre dining alone, though, which I sometimes did while my son was off with the teen group, leaving your plates of food on the table unattended might mean that the table will be cleared by the efficient steward staff before you return with your drink or other food. So I found it was necessary to notify the steward that I would be returning or leave some personal items at the table to make that obvious. The Lido is the preferred place to eat for the majority of passengers, so seating can be a little challenging sometimes if you dine at the busiest times when it can also be a bit noisy. So if you want a more peaceful, relaxing dining experience, I would recommend you dine in the main dining room. We ate there only two nights, with the second one being the last evening, after which I had wished I ate there more frequently for dinner. But for families and people who want to quickly grab something to eat, the Lido is the place to be! Food is available in the public areas much of the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snack, which included more cooked food as well as deserts! Then, of course, 24-hour room service was available, with a decent selection of foods from the room menu. We got back late one evening from our Skagway adventures, just missing dinner and so ordered room service (it arrived within 30 minutes!). This was actually quite nice since we were very tired and didnt want to have to get cleaned up and dressed for dinner. We didnt plan to participate in formal night, but we found smart casual to be easily accommodated. If you dont wear blue jeans and just dress in slacks or colored jeans and a nice shirt or top, youll be fine. Just be respectful of the formal night atmosphere and all will be well. I wore black jeans or slacks and a nice sweater or top. I did see a few inconsiderate people who were slobbed out a bit, but I dont know if anyone spoke to them or not. The non-formal passengers ate in the Lido or their room on the two formal nights. After dinner I roamed freely in my smart casual wear inside and out on the promenade. CHILDREN/TEEN PROGRAM: My 14-year-old son LOVED the teen program. There was a core group of about 25 teens that hung out together in The Loft where various activities and social opportunities were ongoing from about 10 a.m. until midnight or 1 a.m. He was able to come and go as he pleased. I had him check in periodically with me, and I could also call to The Loft and speak with him when I needed to do that. He loved having all that freedom and social opportunity. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We didnt sign up for any, and just roamed the streets of Juneau and Ketchikan. In Juneau we also took the Blue Bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. (Pick-up point is right off the docks and the price was $8/person each way.) If you take the city bus, its a little cheaper, but it involves a bit of a walk uphill to the visitor center area I believe its a half mile.) It was a rainy day and a bit chilly bring a warm coat to the glacier where its much colder than in town. In Skagway we rented a car and drove up into the Yukon. A smart move on our part we had considered taking the steam train ride up and bus tour back, but on our port day the fog was very thick from just outside of town and all the way up to where the train turns around. We would have seen nothing and wasted a lot of money. Instead, we drove on in our rental car and then broke out of the fog into some very beautiful scenery and had a great day with many photo ops. We even had the delightful experience of seeing a brown black bear and got some nice photos of him. ENTERTAINMENT: I didnt participate in much of it, but there wasnt all that much offered anyway, unlike what other cruise lines seem to offer. However, it worked for me because I wasnt interested in much of that anyway. I went on the cruise to primarily see the beautiful Inside Passage and experience some relaxation and good food. I also like the small ship size which meant lots of elbow room and getting closer to the glaciers than other cruise ships can. My expectations were met. But if you want a lot of onboard entertainment, HAL is probably not your best choice. EMBARKATION: Quite a breeze once we got through the long security lines. Do check your large luggage and only bring on a small piece with you through the check-in. I think it took us about 45 minutes from arrival to get on the ship. DISEMBARKATION: Impressively well organized. Luggage that you want taken off the ship for you needs to be placed outside your room in the hallway no later than midnight. You fill out a form many days prior answering questions relating to your post cruise plans. You have several options for getting off the ship: carry all your own luggage unaided and get off on the first time slot; select from several time slots to disembark if youre traveling independently; or the cruise will make arrangements for those who have post-cruise plans and are meeting tours or have a scheduled flight time. We were traveling independently, chose a time of 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. We are given colored tags for our luggage and a corresponding group number; on the morning of departure our color and group number was called when it was time to leave the ship. I expected chaos in the luggage area not so in Vancouver B.C. It was well organized and took us about two minutes to locate our luggage and be on our way through Customs, which was a fast experience, too. Then off to the shuttle to the hotel to pick up our car which we left at the hotel for free parking as part of our cruise-and-stay special. SUMMARY: I was very satisfied with the cruise experience with Holland America. I do have a standard of expectations and found nothing of any consequence to complain about or regret. All staff were very friendly and helpful, always asking if you need help with anything. The ship was very clean. Theres a 48-hour period in the beginning when only staff handles/serves food to help prevent the spreading of any diseases that anyone may have brought onboard. After a few days sailing, the entire ship is again thoroughly disinfected/cleaned. There are lots of places about the ship to sit and relax, read, look out the window or sit on deck to watch the beautiful scenery go by. I expected the outside deck area to be crowded and difficult to get a good spot to take pictures, but that was not the case. There was only one day for a short period of time when it was a little crowded along the rail, and that was when we spotted a large group of whales when entering Glacier Bay. Even then it was only two deep on the one side and everyone was very considerate and exchanged places with each other so everyone had opportunity to see and take pictures. Great job HAL!!!   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
Just returned from 7 day Alaskan cruise on Holland America Amsterdam and had a great trip. Our cruise was in and out of Vancouver and stopped at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We have not sailed with HAL before so were curious how it ... Read More
Just returned from 7 day Alaskan cruise on Holland America Amsterdam and had a great trip. Our cruise was in and out of Vancouver and stopped at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We have not sailed with HAL before so were curious how it would compare to other cruises we have taken on Disney, Costa, and Royal Caribbean. Our group of 8 was a mixture of middle aged adults and seniors with no children. Vancouver is a beautiful port to leave from, very clean and safe downtown we stayed at the Delta Suites the night before disembarkation and then just walked the 2 blocks to the cruise terminal the next morning. Embarkation was a breeze. Amsterdam is the smallest ship we have ever sailed on with only 1400 passengers. On the plus side there were very few lineups for anything and the ship was very easy to find your way around which seniors appreciate. The downside of the small size is not as many amenities such as full size sports courts and climbing walls etc. but as we did not have any children is our group this was not an issue. The other thing I observed is the ship was not as stable as the bigger ones we have been on but once again on this cruise which was on mostly protected waters it was not a big issue. I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the ship considering it is 13 years old. Both the cabin and public areas were in excellent condition and very clean HAL should be commended.Our fist stop was Juneau where the ship docks right in the middle of town so everything is easy walking distance. We went on the "Pilot Choice Helicopter" excursion which was a blast as we flew over the Juneau ice field and made two stops on top of the Herbert and Mendenhall glaciers. The flight was about an hour and 20 minutes long and was worth every penny. Back it town I would recommend everyone check out Red Dog Saloon, and have a "Duck Fart". It is a fun place with great atmosphere and not to be missed. In Skagway we did the White Pass train up to the summit then rode bicycles back down to Skagway. It was quite rainy and miserable at the summit when we started but cleared up on the way down. The tour company gave us rain suits for the ride down. The train ride is not to be missed and they offer a variety of combinations and tours with it. In Ketchikan we went on the snorkelling tour to Mountain Point as I wanted to tell everyone at home I went snorkelling in Alaska. The water temperature is around 60'F or 13'C but I must say with the wetsuits they have, complete with hoodie and gloves, I was never cold. I have never snorkelled anywhere but the Caribbean so I was curious how it would compare, the reefs were very similar just there were a lot less fish. The highlight was when a humpback wale surfaced about 200ft from where we were snorkelling. The guides were very good (Snorkel Alaska) and gave lots of info on wildlife you were seeing. Overall a very unique experience.The highlight of the trip was the one day we cruised up the Tracy Arm up to the base of Sawyer glacier. We literally spent 8 hours standing on our balcony as we slowly cruised up the fjord. I was amazed the ship could navigate up the fjord with icebergs the size of houses floating around. They literally pulled right up to the glacier, which calved several times when we were there, and parked with the port side facing the glacier then after 20 minutes turned around so the starboard side was facing the glacier. It was truly a memorable experience, thanks HAL. We later heard that only 3 ships per day are allowed up the Tracy Arm and HAL has all the rights. We signed up for HAL bus transfer to airport and it was it was well organized and painless. Overall we had a great experience with HAL and I would say they exceeded our expectations. I think the Amsterdam is well suited to middle aged and senior travellers but it you are travelling with children your may want to consider a bigger ship with more amenities for them. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
Our one week cruise of the Inside Passage aboard Holland America's "Amsterdam" was perfect from the time we checked in to disembarkation. Our stateroom was in a great location and we were greeted with a floral bouquet to ... Read More
Our one week cruise of the Inside Passage aboard Holland America's "Amsterdam" was perfect from the time we checked in to disembarkation. Our stateroom was in a great location and we were greeted with a floral bouquet to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary courtesy of our family. We also received a lovely bottle of wine from friends. The entire week was sunshine and blue skies, this was our 5th time on this cruise and the best weather yet. We had a table for 4 on the stern, so enjoyed a fabulous view every evening. The meals were delicious and we had great service. The night of our anniversary we took our son and his fiance to the Pinnacle Grill. Dinner was amazing, and the service impeccable. We were presented with a delicious Chocolate Mousse cake from the cruise line. The following evening, we had dinner in the dining room "La Fontaine". The staff decided to have us celebrate once again, and sang "Happy Anniversary" and presented us with a delicious Carrot Cake. Happy Hour in the Ocean Bar was enjoyed each afternoon. The drinks and service were lovely, and the complimentary appetizers were enjoyed a great deal.Glacier Bay was gorgeous as always, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan had lots to do and see. We popped into Annabelle's at the Gilmore Hotel in Ketchikan for the first time and enjoyed the Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip...fantastic!Everything was wonderful about this cruise, the ship, the crew, the food, and the entertainment. We couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
This cruise completely exceeded our expectations and gave us an amazing mother daughter experience. Here is a breakdown of the MS Amsterdam and what we thought of HAL. Pre-cruise arrangements-We flew into Vancouver the day before the ... Read More
This cruise completely exceeded our expectations and gave us an amazing mother daughter experience. Here is a breakdown of the MS Amsterdam and what we thought of HAL. Pre-cruise arrangements-We flew into Vancouver the day before the cruise and stayed in the Victorian Hotel. This is a very cheap hotel considering it's downtown location. I would definitely recommend it, its within walking distance of the port and many other attractions. The bathrooms are shared, but we found them very clean and we never had to wait our turn. Embarkation-We got onto the ship very quickly and efficiently, the staff was friendly, absolutely no problems. Staterooms-We had an exterior stateroom, midship on the dolphin deck. It was always very clean, and we found the entire room; sleeping area, closet space, and bathroom, included to be very roomy. The only complaint was that their was only one outlet so be sure to bring a power strip. Activities/ Entertainment-The nightly entertainment was expected, nothing jaw dropping, but nothing bad by any means. There was lots of live music offered and there were always staff available to answer any questions about Alaska, or basically anything you needed. Very helpful. Service-We were surprised at how well the staff remembered us. They frequently called my daughter and I by name, and they were very kind and willing to drop everything to be at our service. They carried our plates, were very apologetic for their few mistakes, and on day 2, when the sea was a bit rocky, they did everything possible to comfort seasick guests. (We went through a storm that day, but if you get seasick easily, Alaska is the place to go, very calm.) Port and Shore Excursions-Glacier Bay- The captain did a great job getting us a view of the glaciers. Keep in mind HAL is one of the only Cruise lines able to enter Glacier Bay because it takes special licensing. Definitely a great stop.However, we did not book our shore excursions through Holland America, so we can not speak for them, but definitely consider looking into the following excursions-Skagway- Frontier Excursions Yukon Tour Juneau- Juneau Whale Watch & GlacierKetchikan- We mainly went shopping in this port, but we also added a short duck tour. It was informative, cheap and worthwhile. Dining-Dining was very good, but on some nights, service got pretty slow. Food was up to par on most occasions, again, not outstanding, but still very good. Childrens clubs-If you are bringing children on this ship this is a MUST READ. My daughter, age 14, recently came with me on a carnival cruise, which had over 400 children her age. This ship had 23 teenage children and she loved it way more! Having a smaller group, she felt like she got to know the people more and activities were easier to participate in. She knew everyone's name, and everyone knew hers. At first, it was a worry because HAL is known to be focused on older age groups, but that paid off for my daughter. Disembarkation- Disembarkation was very easy, we were off the ship in less than 20 minutes.Hal did a great job giving us a dream vacation. Every single part was flawless including the weather. If you are considering a cruise, Alaska is the place to go. The experience is truly indescribable, and you will be glad you went. If you choose to go HAL is the cruise line to take and the MS Amsterdam is your ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
This cruise was a "bucket list" cruise for my mother. I pushed my family into booking this cruise and I am so glad I did. I did lots of research before choosing Holland America for our Alaskan cruise (lots of research here on ... Read More
This cruise was a "bucket list" cruise for my mother. I pushed my family into booking this cruise and I am so glad I did. I did lots of research before choosing Holland America for our Alaskan cruise (lots of research here on Cruise Critic--thank you everyone!). It was my parents (ages 81 and 82) and my sister (55) and myself (50). From the first to the last the Amsterdam and her crew exceeded my expectations. The food, the ship, the rooms and room stewards--all fantastic. We had fantastic weather the entire cruise--in Juneau we even sunbathed on the Lido deck. The staff really made the cruise--from the dining room staff to the Lido buffet staff (who knew that at this buffet they actually carry your plate and find you a table?) to the room stewards (who I swear are lurking in the hallways just waiting to service your room) this cruiseline is fantastic. I was not expecting this level of service ( I have become accustomed to less than stellar customer service anywhere except Disney) and I was so amazed. To be fair, the evening entertainment was not as good as DCL or Princess but on an Alaskan cruise, you aren't there for the entertainment and most nights we were either turning in early or watching the late night sunset.This was an excellent cruise and I would cruise with Holland again. Thanks again to all the Cruise Critics who answered my questions and help me plan for each port. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Hello Friends at Cruise Critic, We were passengers on board the Holland America Amsterdam Pacific Northwest cruise. The cruise departed from Vancouver Tuesday May 21, 2013. Ports of call Port Alberni May 22, 2013 and Seattle May 23, ... Read More
Hello Friends at Cruise Critic, We were passengers on board the Holland America Amsterdam Pacific Northwest cruise. The cruise departed from Vancouver Tuesday May 21, 2013. Ports of call Port Alberni May 22, 2013 and Seattle May 23, 2013.My husband and I are in our late 30's we do not drink alcohol. We have taken dancing lessons and enjoy dancing.Tuesday May 21, 2013 there were many activities to keep passengers busy until 11:00 pm, after 11:00 pm there was very little to occupy your time. It was nice that there were DVD's to watch in the cabin.Wednesday May 22, 2013 the town of Port Alberni really tried to entertain the passengers by having a farmers market and there were signs welcoming the cruise. The cruise was very rocky Wednesday night we decided to order room service for dinner. Beware there is no menu for room service, the person on the phone said they were between menus. Very poor service and makes it hard to order room service. Wednesday evening we did not take part in any evening activities again there were limited options after 11:00 pm.Thursday May 23, 2013 the Seattle was beautiful as usually, we decided to walk to the city centre from the port it took about 45 minutes.We took advantage of the shopping and enjoyed the day. We boarded the ship around 2:30 pm attended the afternoon tea at 3:00pm.The table we were seated at 4 other passengers who told us that the tea on May 22, 2013 had over 150 people who showed up, the staff were not prepared and were throwing scones at people and most passengers did not get tea. We did not experience any service issues at the tea there were only about 40 passengers whom attended.After tea there was a power outage that lasted about 5 hours we went to the disembarkment meeting and the cruise director advised that the power outage was due to mechanical issues and that he was committed to keeping us updated about when the power was restored. There were announcements every 1/2 - 45 minutes until 6:30 pm then there was no communication at all around 10:00 pm the cruise pulled out of port with no announcement.A lot of the passengers were quite upset an elderly man went to the buffet at closing 8:00 pm, the curtains had just come down and the staff just started clearing away the food the passenger moved back the curtain and advised he was late and wanted dinner the crew member told he was going to call security and the spectacle became very loud both the crew members and passenger became very loud. I personally thought this could have been handled very differently. I think the crew member should have either advised the passenger where he could go and get something to eat or offer to make him a plate of food with what was left over.A lot of the passengers were very upset about the power outage and little customer service failures became major issues. There were limited activities Thursday evening and the stores did not open at all.When we left port it would have been nice to have had the stores open for a few hours. When we left port it would have been nice to have had the sail off party. Instead of having all of the activities cancelled for Thursday evening it would have been nice to have them postponed.Friday May 24, 2013 disembarkment was smooth.We were home a few days and were talking about our cruise with friends and it came up that it would have been nice to have received an apology from Holland America about the power outage either on their website or on Facebook or by email.If the power outage would have been caused by weather or something else uncontrollable I would not expect an apology.I sent a message to Holland America on their Facebook page.Advising it would have been nice to have had an apology for the power outage 23May13.I received some negative feedback and a call from Walter who is in Holland America's guest relations department.Walter told me from a management stand point they do not believe a 5 hour power outage justifies an apology.There are many options in the cruise industry. I think that if a cruise ship has a 5 hour power outage due to mechanical issues or a controllable irregular operation there should be a public apology or an emailed apology. I do not recommend Holland America. Read Less
Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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