This review will be lengthy..hoping to assist future cruisers (as I was helped). Did much research before choosing Land Explorer. My major goal was to SEE Alaska. This two week itinerary logged over 3000 miles and had 9 ports. I looked ... Read More
This review will be lengthy..hoping to assist future cruisers (as I was helped). Did much research before choosing Land Explorer. My major goal was to SEE Alaska. This two week itinerary logged over 3000 miles and had 9 ports. I looked at the Alaskan Marine Highway as possible transportation and could not do the trip cheaper then an inside room on the Amsterdam. Our dollars were spent on excursions and in those, I was not disappointed.
Suffice it to say, we are not your typical crusers. It was our first experience cruising. Being ill with sinus/respiratory infections did not help. Add to that 3 long Sea days, that first Monday was "Rough" according to more seasoned veterans. Between anti-nausea patches and cough medicine, we "hacked" and slept our way through. Two nights of Husband unable to lie down to sleep and temperature greater then 102 was scary enough to consider potential medical treatment. I learned that insurances are not accepted and all is put on one's charge card. A "Medical Evaluation" runs $95 if obtained during office hours, $145 during day non-office hours and $195 at night. A simple chest xray was $75, but must add send out reading fee of $275! One can then independently attempt recouping paid charges after the cruise. NyQuill and DayQuill were $18 per small bottle. It is in your best benefit to anticipate potential illnesses and come prepared. What one cannot anticipate is the massive amount of perfume/colognes these elderly Cruisers wear. One's sense of smell decreases with aging and scent dousing was at all time high on Sea Days aka "Gala Nights"! If you have a respitory illness, cruising is ill advised unless you wish to stay in your cabin the whole cruise.
Speaking of cabins, we were in Cabin 7048 (K level)..one of three inside rooms on the Navigation deck. The location was convenient, one flight of stairs up to the Lido And two flights down to the Library. It is Aft and there is sway and rocking present, making us seek out a midshop location on Sea Days. Because it is high, foul smells were at a minimum (Upon passing through lower decks, noted fans drying out hallways. Also, could smell mold in the back of the Queen's Lounge). There was plenty of space, enjoyed the couch and extra chair and did not feel claustrophobic.
The crew were outstanding! Always smiling, pleasant, polite and genuinely nice. Our cabin steward Amin and his helper were great. Most workers are Indonecian or Fillipno. They are on the ship 9 to 10 months at a time, leaving behind families. How they can tolerate it is beyond me.
Dining/Food not that great. Very difficult to get anything well done. We gave up at the Hamburger Grill: "The Dive In"...How hard is it to make a burger well done? Despite numerous requests, red cool meat repeatedly served. Just left it. Italian food mediocre, sauce was like Chef Boyardee. The pizza was disgusting. Any fried halibut, fish swam in grease. Pretty much same same foods main dining room and Lido. We ate at the upscale Canaletti Grill one night..Crab dried out, shrimp cocktail good and Baked Alaska good. The other decent night was lobster tail night..they served a well done pork chop Normally, their foods had way too many sauces, were just a mixed up mishmash without a theme like they were serving left overs. Guests lined up for ice cream..it tasted normal. We skipped meals, opting for peanuts and goldfish crackers with drinks in lieu of dinner. Communication deficit was a problem, don't think they could totally understand us.
Entertainment OK..enjoyed the Location Naturalist's talks. Most entertainment revoved around buying something, jewelry, artwork, etc.
Ports and Excursions were why we went! Very glad that we had booked and prepaid..Made us go (we felt so lousy, wouldn't have booked it with current state of health).
It is the good that we take away from our two week cruise.
Ketchikan: Commercialized. Ship owned Diamond Stores,etc. We booked Allen Misty Fijord's Boat Tour. Well done, Real Alaska. Well worth the money. After the tour, plenty of time to see Creek Street and run around the 6 blocks of town.
Juneau: Holland America Mendenhall Glacier, 2.5 hour tour with plenty of time for hiking. Was supposed to include City tour..Guide from Florida and just arrived in Juneau in March! "Stacy" said " I can tell you there are no alligators"! She also talked down to the elderly guests. The immaturity of the 19 year old college student! Would have been well served to pay for shuttle to glacier and skip Holland America fees. Glacier and hike very worthwhile. Walked Juneau: Governor's Mansion, Unable to enter state capital,still in session, talked with shop owners (nothing good to say about Sarah Palin). Very interesting to see totem pole at the Mansion and the very modest homes surrounding it.
Tracy Arm: Captain announced "Unable to view"as too much ice. Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier substituted. Had read this is common practice and really seems more the norm, not to see Tracy Arm. Still, Dawes Glacier very neat.
Anchorage: Turn Again Arm, Portage Glacier and Conservation Center tour through Holland America. Rated as one of the top drives in the United States. The trip was worth it for the drive alone! So scenic. Glacier was nice though Conservation Center with penned animals "Not so natural ". Saw parts of the city also. Impression was a large city that supplies Alaska, utilitarian .
Homer: HAL Highlights of Homer. Homer was my favorite port! Guide "Joy" resident lived up to her name. Loved this tour.
Kodiak: Russian Tea. Enjoyed the bellalika players and viewing the churches.
Sitka: Historical Sitka Tour through HAL. Another worthwhile tour
Hubbard Glacier: Very nice that HAL had two included glaciers in their itinerary The captain allowed each side of the ship viewing time.
Victoria: My second favorite port! Took HAL's Buchart Gardens tour, which included City Tour. The bus driver was informative and funny
Seattle: Spent two days prior to cruise in order to see this "Progressive Urban City". Very much a waste of time and money. Saw the usual attractions, Market, etc. plus some very horrible sights ( willl not into graphic detail). The Homeless and filth of "Freeattle" were distressing. If there is a way to see Alaska and avoid Seattle would advise it! But fellow cruisers say VanCouver is no better. We decided up close and personal Seattle was too much and thus viewed from afar, by taking a trip to Bainbridge Island. The Island was beautiful. Mount Ranier visible and weather delightful! Stayed at the Mayflower Inn which was a welcomed oasis in the downtown section.Built in the 1920's, Mayflowers Hospiality was outstanding. Read Less