211 Holland America Amsterdam Cruise Reviews

First off, overall the service and attention to detail was excellent. The names of the dining room staff people who impressed us with their professionalism and friendliness and excellent service were Presty Sumitra, assistant dining room ... Read More
First off, overall the service and attention to detail was excellent. The names of the dining room staff people who impressed us with their professionalism and friendliness and excellent service were Presty Sumitra, assistant dining room manager - he was everywhere helping guest and his team members without taking a break - and always smiling; Ali Mansur, our waiter and assistant Leika Patrya, they were excellent to put it mildly; Benjamin Schutte, Pinnacle Grill Maître d'hôtel - again, always friendly and helpful and managed a superb serving staff; Intan Rosmalia - La Fontaine hostess who always smiled and expertly defused a situation where an irate passenger who was upset with his cabin was taking out his frustrations on Intan - she smiled, took notes, thanked him and told him she would contact the front desk to remind them of his concerns - incredible customer service; Aleksandre Gruaz, masseuse in the spa who not only gave excellent massages with a friendly smile but also suggested other treatments to help my badly knotted leg muscles; Clifton Bolton, on-board acupuncturist who was able to provide me relief from my restless leg syndrome and suggest follow up treatment back on land. And we cannot forget the Front Desk staff who always smiled and were very professional and were able to defuse and calm down some passengers who were having problems (of their own making). The ship was always spotless and the housekeeping staff were always visible keeping things shipshape. The public rooms were very comfortable and the staff always helpful and smiling. The food was excellent in all venues at all times. The La Fontaine main dining room has excellent food, well prepared, not overly large servings and the menu did not repeat itself in the 19 days we were on board. The Pinnacle Grill was exquisite - the La Cirque night was well worth the extra charge and is among the best restaurants at which we have dined, if not the best. The Lido restaurant was buffet and for the most part the choices mirrored those in the La Fontaine dining room. The Dive-In Grill was by the pool and had excellent hot dogs and a super small buffet with a Mexican theme - build yourself tacos and burritos and any combination you wanted to try. They both were and excellent break from La Fontaine. And the ice cream in the Lido Restaurant was always appreciated. My wife tried room service for one meal when she was feeling a tad seasick. almost every morning we did have rolls and coffee in our cabin before getting out and about. Having a Catholic Priest on board was one of the reasons we choose to sail with Holland America. Being able to go to Mass daily was a highlight of the cruise. Holland America is the only cruise line that I have been able to find that has a priest on board all of their sailings. A couple of small issues in the La Fontaine dining room. Being served instant hot chocolate at breakfast was a bit of a disappointment. I would have preferred the hot chocolate from the Explorations Café - it was very tasty and made with a sauce instead of mix. And the consistency of the coffee was a bit erratic. Sometimes it was exceedingly strong and needed to be watered down to be drinkable and at other times it was just about perfect. One waiter explained that when it was brewed the amounts of coffee going in might vary from time to time. This could stand a bit of consistency. And on to the fitness center. Overall it was excellent. Good aerobic equipment with enough to handle the people who wanted to use it. The weight training equipment was also very good with no waiting needed to use it. Pawal or Paul (the personal trainer and Pilates "instructor") was excellent as far as personal training is concerned. However, his Pilates approach was a bit off the wall in my opinion. I have been a student of Pilates for about seven years now. When I talked with Pawal and showed him some of the exercises that my instructors at home wanted me to do he did not know what the Pilates Hundred was - and this is the basic exercise that Joseph Pilates based most of his exercises on and is taught by almost every Pilates certifying agency in the United States and most worldwide. If you are going to advertise Pilates classes in the North American market it might be best if the instructors were vetted to insure they were familiar with classic Pilates. Pawal did what he characterized as "callisthenic Pilates", not really Pilates as taught by Joseph Pilates and his students. The spa itself had a few problems. The men's sauna was not working for the entire cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle. There was no sign posted and no alternatives were volunteered to passengers. After I talked with guest relations about this I was allowed to use the steam room as a part of my massages and acupuncture treatments. I should not have had to talk with guest relations. The steam rooms were excellent and hit the spot. Cleanliness was not always consistent. One morning when I went into the fitness center to do my Pilates exercises on a mat on the wood floor the floor was dirty and had bits of something on it. The showers in the men's locker room were not properly cleaned each day. On one occasion I found a used bandage that was in there for 2 days and on another occasion I found an piece of body plaster tape that remained for over 24 hours. Not acceptable. And the grout between the tiles on the shower floors was partly clean and partly black, I did bring these to the attention of the guest relations manager twice over a two week period. Having three different groups of entertainers in the theatre provided plenty of variety that appealed to all age groups. But most of the evenings we were in the Explorer's Lounge where a duo of a pianist and a violinist were playing classical music ever day from 6pm to 10pm. Two delightful ladies, Linsey Rogers and Rhonda May, respectively, kept a small group of 15-20 devoted listeners entertained daily. The Holland America name for the duo was Adagio and the Adagio duos appear to be on board all of their ships. Overall, an excellent voyage. Five star would be how we would rate it. We will be back on board either the Amsterdam or another of the ships in the R or S class within a year. That good. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our second world cruise on HAL and it was excellent. We enjoyed everything about the cruise but some of the things were more enjoyable than others. For example the night at Ephesus was outstanding. The preparations, ... Read More
This was our second world cruise on HAL and it was excellent. We enjoyed everything about the cruise but some of the things were more enjoyable than others. For example the night at Ephesus was outstanding. The preparations, transportation, food, and entertainment was extraordinary. The trip to Petra was well coordinated as was all of the tours. The food is always outstanding. It is well prepared, the servers were excellent, and the GIS was handled as well as could be expected. The captain kept us well informed about everything, especially the GIS status, and the reasons when we were not able to port because of tides and/or high winds. The alternative ports provided proved to be great. Another nice feature was the notice of all shipboard events. This way my spouse and I were able to pack to enjoy the on board events. The ambassadors from Tahiti, Aboriginal Australia, belly dancers and others provided a great lift to the trip. I would like to especially give a shout out to Christel Mensink, customer service representative. She was always available to resolve any concerns and make our trip fantastic. You can rest assured that we will be aboard for another world cruise in the near future. Finally, the appearance of Orlando Ashford, the new CEO was great. He provided a vision of the future and his Q&A session was very informative. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This was our second World Cruise on HAL Amsterdam, but not our last. Our favorite cruise line is Crystal, but HAL is a better deal. 80% of the quality for 60% of the price. So when we can save up enough shekels we go on Crystal, when we ... Read More
This was our second World Cruise on HAL Amsterdam, but not our last. Our favorite cruise line is Crystal, but HAL is a better deal. 80% of the quality for 60% of the price. So when we can save up enough shekels we go on Crystal, when we get to antsy to wait, HAL here we come. Back to this cruise. Wonderful ship, great food, friendly people, fantastic itinerary. Our main activities on board include eating, playing bridge, reading, evening shows, and just generally relaxing. The food in both the main dining room and the Lido buffet is very good. Not always perfect, but the friendly and helpful serving staff will do everything humanly possible to satisfy us. Great variety. The staff is excellent, with a particular shout-out to Presty. Cooked to order breakfast items are the best on any ship we've been on. Bridge lessons and afternoon play were first rate with Karen and Dave. And almost all of the players are friendly, and tolerant of differing skill levels. There were no cut-throat players on this cruise. One of the best libraries at sea. We only brought one book for the flight down and another for the return, got the other 4 dozen books we read from the library. There's live music scattered all over the ship, and the evening shows are generally very good to excellent. We were unable to attend most of the lectures, as they conflicted with bridge classes in the morning. Shore excursions on HAL are a disappointment. The quality and selection is on par with other ships, but the prices seem to be outrageous. With the exception of Indonesia, where local traffic mandates a police escort if you want to get back to the ship on time, we hired a taxi, booked a local excursion in port, rented a car, or rode off on our own bicycles. And at most it cost us 1/2 of what the ShoreEx cost, for the same quality. Yes, we took our bikes with us. Great fun! Previously we've kept them in the cabin, but this time the wonderful Hotel Manager Henk volunteered a place to store them. With the exception of Sydney they're not much use in the big cities, but on the islands they can't be beat. One other person that deserves special mention is Cristal, the Guest Services Manager. No matter what the issue, she would step up and solve it, with a smile. Henk and Cristal are the best in their respective jobs of any cruise we've ever been on. One of the most memorable ports was in the Azores. I don't know if it's like this year around or just the day we were there, but it was the most verdant land we've ever seen. Car rental for $30/day right in the port made it even better. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Although we cruised the Panama Canal westbound with HAL several years ago, we decided to repeat the cruise going eastbound for several reasons. Our main reason was to avoid the expensive flight home from San Diego to Orlando at the ... Read More
Although we cruised the Panama Canal westbound with HAL several years ago, we decided to repeat the cruise going eastbound for several reasons. Our main reason was to avoid the expensive flight home from San Diego to Orlando at the conclusion of our ms Amsterdam's 78-day Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage. The 14-day Panama Canal cruise was back-to-back with our Grand Voyage. For just a few hundred dollars more, we would avoid the hassle of the west coast flight, the jet lag, excess luggage concerns and could simply drive home from Fort Lauderdale. Fifty passengers decided to do the same thing. Our 14-day Panama Canal Cruise departed San Diego on December 8, 2014 visiting the ports of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Huatulco, Mexico, Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, Corinto, Nicaragua, Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, Cartagena, Columbia and Fort Lauderdale. We even remained in the same stateroom. We spent embarkation day in San Diego doing some independent sightseeing that included the Midway Museum, Little Italy, and Seaport Village. The destinations were within walking distance of the ship. Embarkation for us involved simply showing our stateroom key card and a special card alerting the personnel that we were already on the ship then putting personal items through security. It took just about a minute. We bypassed the usual boarding process. The Panama Canal cruise had a completely different feel to it than our previous cruise. Half the crew departed and new staff came on board. The number of passengers increased; they were much younger and there were more children. The music around the pool changed as did the activities around the ship. Darcy and the HALcats replaced the Amsterdam Orchestra and did a nice job. Even the lounge entertainers were different. The room service menu was shorter and the choices on the MDR menu were different. Some things did not change. Service in our stateroom was just as attentive. All of our special requests were attended to daily without fail. Arif & Made always greeted us with smiles and engaged us in short conversations. They were very professional and efficient. Our comfortable ocean view stateroom #2595 was cheery and well stocked; it even had two hair dryers. It was fairly roomy by industry standards. We had a sitting area with a large end table, lamp and adjustable coffee table, a desk, a safe, a comfortable queen (two twins) size bed, good bedside lighting and two end tables. The magnifying mirror came in quite handy every day. The one thing that I did miss in the room was a mini fridge. HAL generously sent to our stateroom a vase of flowers that stayed fresh almost the entire cruise. There was also a complimentary bottle of champagne and a plate of sweets, rewards to us for taking the back-to-back cruise.. We chose to use the captain's Complimentary Dinner for Two in the Pinnacle Grill on Embarkation night. We were treated royally and service was professional and leisurely. We saw several other tables of guests from the previous cruise. Soon after being seated, we were served the captain's complimentary appetizer; it was a delicious scallop. Our (Jumbo) Shrimp Cocktails were truly jumbo and delicious. Filet Mignons with Béarnaise sauce and garlic butter were cooked exactly as ordered - rare and were very tender. Sautéed mushrooms and jumbo baked potatoes complemented the entrees and were scrumptious as was the bread. Although by this time we were full, we did manage to take a few bites of our desserts. I highly recommend this specialty restaurant. We definitely will come again on another HAL cruise. The only thing lacking in this restaurant are windows. We requested the same servers and same table #330 near the windows in the La Fontaine Main Dining Room. Our servers, Adi & Fosil, always smiling, did an exemplary job catering to our needs and spoiling us. Assistant Dining Room Manager, Pandi not only kept an eye out making sure everything went well, he also stopped by twice nightly making conversation and helping the servers in various ways. Our wine steward was always punctual, reliable and helpful. Although Jumbo Shrimp cocktail was no longer on the menu nightly I found plenty of other choices to keep me happy. We found the food to be great and the chefs continued to accommodate my husband's meal restrictions. We also received excellent bar service in the lounges and poolside from Enrico, Ann Marie and Mary Jane. Without asking, they often anticipated our requests for ice water. Several times we took advantage of the Drink of the Day for $5.95 and Happy Hour: Buy 1 Drink, Get the 2nd Same Drink for $1 for Select Beverages. Happy Hour was the best deal on the ship. The selection of food in the Lido also changed somewhat but was still good. For example the large selection at the sushi station was now significantly reduced but there was still plenty of other choices. The same ice cream station was still there so I was a happy camper. Be sure to check both sides of the buffet as a few selections are only offered on one side. For the best fries on the ship, visit the Dive In poolside. We enjoyed all the nightly entertainment, especially the Amsterdam Singers & Dancers Shows: Variations, Can't Stop the Music and I Write the Songs. The singing was excellent and the dancers were talented and energetic. For us, these shows were repeats but still enjoyable. A few of the other entertaining shows that I recall were vocalist Jacqi Michaels, Comedian and magician Nick Lewin, Pianist, Singer, Marty Henne and Live wire (Celtic music and spirit.) Jeff Burghart did funny impressions. Other Queen's Lounge (theater) shows were the lounge entertainers Adagio, Dancing with the Stars and the lively Ole, Ole flamenco with a difference. I missed the crew show on this cruise since it was performed at 11 PM, too late for us to stay up. I had seen the two crew shows on the previous cruise that were performed at 3 PM, a better time for us. We enjoyed many of the activities on the ship especially the very interesting talks by On Location Guide, Alanna. She made learning about the history and culture of the area fun and educational at the same time. Alanna had a easy rapport with the passengers. We were very impressed with Alanna's knowledge of the workings of the Panama Canal and the port of calls even though this was her first visit to these ports and the Panama Canal. Her research was thorough and she answered all the questions asked of her. All the on board computer Digital Workshop classes that I attended were easy to understand and helpful. I enjoyed the several cooking shows and brought home the printed recipes. Board games, crosswords and Sudoku are available in the Exploration Cafe. Just as an aside, the sweets in the cafe are complementary. One night there was a lively Mexican Fiesta BBQ with live Mariachi music and a selection of grilled favorite. That night was the Lido Pool Party with a night of fun, music and dancing under the stars as we sailed from Puerto Vallarta to Huatulco, Mexico. Carlos, the Cruise Director was wonderful in getting passengers involved and up dancing. Be sure to take the interesting Kitchen Galley Tour and learn interesting facts about how the kitchen operates on the ship. HAL offers daily religious services and is one of the few remaining cruise lines that still does that. Movie buffs will enjoy the movies shown in the Wajang Theater 3 times daily. Popular ones were, If I Stay, The Maze Runner and Jersey Boys. The One Hundred Foot Journey was shown on a large screen in the Queen's Lounge. The ship's public areas are stylish without being trendy. Their decor is subdued with an air of quiet elegance. When not in use for live entertainment or presentations, the lounges with their lovely fresh flower arrangements, fine art and antiques are inviting places for reading or writing. They are well used by passengers. Of course, the biggest excitement on board was the daytime full transit of the Panama Canal. Although this was our second full transit, it was just as much fun and equally interesting. HAL permits passengers access to the bow so you are close to the action; there is plenty to see all day starting at sunrise. HAL provided a continental breakfast of juice and Panama rolls as well chilled lemonade and water throughout the day to keep everyone hydrated. Alanna gave a talk over the loud speakers that reached the public areas. Her talks were supplemented by a local canal lecturer who provided commentary from the bridge, heard on the outside decks, the Lido Restaurant, the Crow's Nest and on TV in staterooms. Unfortunately the speakers weren't working properly even though they worked fine when tested the previous night. These things happen and HAL worked around the problem. We were outside on the bow as we passed under the Bridge of America, passed through the Miraflores Locks, the Pedro Miguel Locks and entered Gatun Lake and the Gatun Locks. We also saw where the new locks were being built. This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Historic Panama Canal. The ship celebrated with a Panamanian Market, authentic foods, drinks and live music poolside. Your friends and family can even watch your ship sail through the locks in real time online by the live webcams located in the Panama Canal. Ship photographer, Birdie was out and about taking candid shots throughout the transit. Throughout the cruise she always seemed to be everywhere - in the MDR, on the pier on shore excursions and in general around the ship where something was happening. She offered her services but never push them which everyone appreciated. Her photos were so wonderful that we purchased all our candid shots at the conclusion of the cruise. Although they are expensive purchased singly, $20, as a package they are most reasonable. They bring back happy memories every time I share them with family and friends. The shore excursions that we purchased through HAL in each port of call were all worthwhile and enjoyable. The guides were knowledgeable, interesting and spoke English well. We were most impressed with our Huatulco (Mexico) By Land & Sea tour and Colonial San Sebastian in Puerto Vallarta. Our tour guide in Nicaragua had us all laughing when he tried to convince us that our tour would be in Spanish. Not only did we enjoy his tour and antics but we all learned lots of Spanish words. Although our tour in Cartagena was a repeat of our previous HAL shore excursion, we visited different sights around the city and it actually ran an hour longer than scheduled. We felt that we got our money's worth on all these excursions. One of the nicest features on the ms Amsterdam is the dome over the mid-ship swimming pool. While it is especially useful when the ship sails Alaska, it also protects passengers from wind gusts and sudden, brief thundershowers in the warmer climates as well. One poor element about the ship is that the comfy couches in the Queen's Lounge are lower than the theater chairs, which makes seeing the performers, especially the dancers' feet much harder. I also missed the stage sets and back drops at the shows. However, the excellent service, big smiles of the crew and the good food more than makes up these shortcomings. All too soon our 14-day Panama trip was over. We watched as all the dazzling Christmas decorations were put up (there was a menorah lit each night of Hanukkah, too) in preparation for the Christmas cruise. Hopefully another great cruise with HAL is in our future perhaps on their new ship, Koningsdam a Pinnacle-class of vessel scheduled for delivery in 2016. This will be HAL's sixteenth ship in its fleet. Before I end the review I want to mention the Bonus Days that HAL offers for every $300 spent, which includes prepaid beverage packages and shore excursions, gratuities as well as onboard purchases. I do not know of any other cruise line that does this. Through this perk, we are now only eight days shy of reaching the Four Star Level when they offer free laundry service.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
For many years, my husband & I discussed visiting the Far East and South Pacific. With our 50th wedding anniversary soon approaching, we started researching cruises to these destinations. Since Holland America's 2014 Grand Pacific ... Read More
For many years, my husband & I discussed visiting the Far East and South Pacific. With our 50th wedding anniversary soon approaching, we started researching cruises to these destinations. Since Holland America's 2014 Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage was a perfect match for us, we decided not to wait for our 50th Anniversary. A major selling point for us was that there were no long flights to and from foreign airports involved. There would be little jet lag also. Two days prior to the cruise, we flew from Orlando, FL to Seattle, Washington for some independent sightseeing. On September 21, we boarded the ms Amsterdam in Seattle for our incredible 78-day journey. For us it was the trip of a lifetime. For many others on the cruise, this was their forth or fifth + Grand Voyage. Our Ports of Call were Seattle, Washington, Kodiak, Alaska, Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Kushiro, Japan, Tokyo, Japan (2 overnights,) Nagasaki, Japan, Jeju, S. Korea, Incheon (Seoul,) S. Korea (2 overnights,) Xingang, China (2 overnights,) Qingdao, China, Shanghai, China (3 overnights,) Hong Kong (2 overnights,) Phu My, Vietnam, Singapore (2 overnights,) Tanjung Priok (Jakarta,) Indonesia, Bali, Indonesia, Slawi Bay (Komodo Island), Indonesia, Darwin, Australia, Port Douglas (Cains,) Australia, Sydney, Australia (2 overnights,) Nomea, New Caladonia, Kuto (Ile des Pins,) New Caledonia, Lautoka, Fiji, Suva, Fiji, Apia, Samoa, Hilo, Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii (2 overnights,) Lahaina, Hawaii and San Diego, California. If you have never taken a Grand Journey or World Cruise, perhaps you think these cruises are just like other cruises only longer. These cruises are so much more than that; they are very extraordinary experiences. Passengers on our voyage bonded together immediately because we knew that we would be together for 78 days. We soon became like a family. The "precious" (HAL's word) staff, which for the most part is hand picked by Holland America for these cruises is even more attentive and friendly for the same reason. Service is far superior, more personal, although always wonderful on all HAL cruises. The passengers were mainly seniors, American for the most part but with some Australians and Canadian; there was only one child on board for the complete cruise. Other children did join the cruise for a segment and more children were on board for our Indonesian stops (crew families.) There were so many extras for every passenger. Among the most notable were, a Travel Journal (I used mine daily,) a strong zippered lined shoulder bag including a smaller matching toiletries bag with a leather stateroom/ ID holder and lanyard, a HAL-Steiff Teddy Bear Sailor, Grand Voyage Tiffany mug, ceramic Royal Goedewaagen Grand Voyage Plate plus a sturdy roll along piece of luggage to carry all the gifts home. Everything was of the highest quality. Passengers also earn unique Grand Dollars throughout the cruise by participating in various activities. I turned my dollars in for a flash drive, two compact umbrellas, HAL cosmetic case and ear phones. MP3 Players were a quite popular choice. Many evenings there were special Gala Celebrations and formal Theme Nights such as the elaborate Black & Silver and Black & Gold Grand Balls. Other events were equally unique only more casual such as the Halloween Monster Mash Party, Alaska Salmon Bake, Kimono Night, Tropical Paradise Dinner and Hawaiian Cookout. Three of my other favorites were the exciting Masked Ball (I loved my gorgeous complimentary hot pink mask,) Oktoberfest and the Red Lantern Formal Dinner. HAL went to great expense elaborately decorating the venues for all the planned themed events. All the servers wore themed costumes. Of course we had the usual Captain's Welcome Reception and Mariner's Appreciation Night that are always lovely and well-attended. Two other themed events were the Chef's Farewell Dinner and the Grand Show Buffet. Other exciting optional events were extra cost. Everyone who attend these thought that they were worthwhile. There were a total of nine formal nights on the 78-day cruise. As we departed each port there was a Farewell Party with complimentary hors d'oeuvres, sometimes even complimentary cocktails and live band. Although we always regretted that we didn't have longer port stays (are they ever long enough?) we all looked forward to the farewell parties. The ship had the usual daily Afternoon Tea at 3 PM; I only attended the most elaborate themed ones, Royal Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino and English High Teas. I photographed each lavish display of pastries. A more unusual high tea was the Cupcake High Tea. Speaking of food, on our Grand Journey there were better choices at all three meals. For example Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail was always on the MDR dinner menu. For breakfast crepes were an unusual offering. At lunchtime we could always choose from a whole section of sushi, sashimi, mussels and clams in addition to other selections. Even the room service menu had more choices. Since the food is always good on HAL, I never was tempted to try the specialty restaurants or extra cost dinners although I had plenty of onboard credits to spend. I was told that HAL allots more dollars per passenger for food costs on Grand or World cruises which would explain the greater variety and quality. MDR service was uniformly well-paced. We always finished dinner in about an hour or so (really, I know it's hard to believe.) We were encouraged to linger and savor our wine. Our servers, Adi & Fosil, always smiling, did an exemplary job catering to our needs and spoiling us. Assistant Dining room Manager, Pandi not only kept an eye out making sure everything went well, he also stopped by twice nightly making conversation and helping the servers in various ways. Noel our wine steward was always punctual, reliable and helpful. Grand Voyages passengers have a unique package option of a glass of wine each night and it is very reasonably priced; we took advantage of it. We also received excellent bar service in the lounges and poolside from Enrico, Ann Marie and Mary Jane. Without asking, they often anticipated our requests for ice water. Service in our stateroom was just as attentive. Our room was often made up sometimes even before we returned from breakfast. All of our special requests were attended to daily without fail. Arif (Lukman, earlier in the cruise) & Made always greeted us with smiles and engaged us in short conversations. They were very professional and efficient. Our comfortable oceanview stateroom #2695 was cheery and well stocked; it even had two hair dryers. We requested and promptly received extra wooden hangers. HAL also provided us with a power strip that we used daily. A suggestion to HAL is that they install bathroom nightlights. After being disturbed early in the morning on several occasion from crew working on the deck above, the noises stopped after passengers mentioned the problem during a Q & A session with the officers. Other minor problems were also fixed after this session. HAL did listen. The Queen's Lounge (theater) entertainment was diverse and professional although lacking stage sets. There was always a main nightly show except when there were port night excursions or when a movie on a big screen was shown in the theater. We usually had matinee shows if there was no evening show scheduled. Entertainers often appeared twice with a different show each time. I enjoyed the talented singers and dancers even when they repeated their three shows on another segment. They were always energetic. Just about everyone on board attended the fabulous Indonesian & Filipino crew shows. The theater was packed for both 3 PM shows and the crew was so proud of their performances - so were we. The shows really helped to bond the crew and passengers. HAL should schedule these shows at 3 PM on their other cruises as well. I know that my husband, I and others do not want to stay up until 11 PM to attend the late shows. I also enjoyed the nightly live entertainment in the various lounges. Adagio in the Navigation Lounge performed beautiful classical music on the piano and violin. We were regulars at their pre-dinner performances. Debbie Bacon performed in the Piano Bar; we attended her nightly show at 7 PM. It was always fun & games with her. One night she invited her husband, Ron to join her on guitar; it was the highlight for all of us. When we were in ports overnight, Debbie performed outdoors on deck under the stars. How romantic was that! We enjoyed the Adagio guys and Debbie so much that we purchased several of their CDs, which they autographed. When these performers were off, we enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar and Larry in the Crown's Next. They were very entertaining as well. Although we had a couple of long stretches of sea days, I was never bored. There were so many daily scheduled activities that I couldn't attend them all. My favorites were the wonderful Port Talks by Travel Guide Barbara who was so knowledgeable and well travelled and the Kitchen Galley Tour. I attended most of the quality computer classes by Craig who made learning fun and easy. There were plenty of history, military history and talks on the culture of the foreign countries that we visited. I attended all the culinary demonstrations (with printed recipes and samples, of course) and a couple of movies. A big thanks goes to HAL for providing various religious services throughout the cruise. Few cruise lines do this anymore. By far one of the most unusual activities on board was the special Neptune Ceremony when we crossed the equator. What fun the crew, passengers and officers all had poolside. Complimentary specialty drinks, costumes and decorations added to the festive atmosphere. The exotic Ports of Call were the main reason we booked this cruise and each was exciting and memorable. My favorite, and it is difficult to pick just one, was perhaps Shanghai. We docked right in the center of the action facing a beautifully lit skyline complete with a laser show. The city has a lot to offer visitors. My husband's favorite was Ile des Pins with its stunning beaches. We both thought that the most unusual port was Komodo Island to see the Komodo Dragons. How many other cruises stop here? We enjoyed all of the HAL Shore Excursion and found them to be very worthwhile. One disappointment, though, was that the scheduled Tokyo stop was cancelled due to the eminent arrival of a typhoon. The captain anticipated the problem, substituted two other exciting ports, Kanazawa and Fukuoka (Hakata) on the opposite side of Japan. We did not encounter rough seas or rain perhaps just a bit of wind. Those who had previously visited Tokyo said that these were even better ports. Special for the Grand Voyages, HAL arranged complementary shuttles in the ports whenever it was feasible. This was a huge help especially for those touring independently. In only one port did I have a problem with the shuttles. That was in Dutch Harbor where there were only two buses in service and no HAL shore excursion offered. Many passengers resorted to roaming taxis. There were a few other port challenges mostly out of HAL's hands but with a trip this long no one expected perfection. HAL did their best to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for us all. HAL provided us all with a plethora of pre-cruise documentation and throughout the cruise. We received plenty of port information sheets, maps, ship logs and multi-page Explorer Guides to the ports with things to See and Do, shopping info, dining, sightseeing suggestions etc. At each foreign port we receive an extremely handy card listing essential foreign words, phrases, and a currency conversion charts that I used in every port. It also listed emergency phone numbers of the ship in port. I made a few minor suggestions to HAL at the end of our cruise. For the Lido Buffet, I suggested adding lemonade as a beverage. I enjoyed it in the mornings poolside. Ice tea is provided but the caffeine makes me feel wired. Tall glasses are needed as it was hard to fill water bottles using juice sized glasses. I missed having no fat milk available at breakfast. I suggested more variety of music poolside. Embarkation was very slow (45 minutes,) which surprised me but we were offered cold water or lemonade. It was just hard to drink the beverage while moving along the line with jackets and hand luggage while trying to complete the health sheet. A more serious problem was the fact that the very comfortable couches in the Queen's Theater are lower than the chairs. If you sit on a couch, it is difficult to see over the heads of people on chairs in front of you. The main problem for us, though, was the absence of flex time dining. In ports, it was a rush to make it to the MDR for our 5:30 Early Dining Time. I have to say that Pondi was always accommodating to our late arrivals. Only once did we have dinner in the Lido Buffet. Many of the excursion buses in Beijing were delayed two hours returning to the ship due to evening traffic jams. We were all treated royally in the Lido restaurant which stayed open late to serve us. It was nice not to have to change clothes for dinner. What I enjoyed most about the ship was the dome over the pool area. We could sit poolside even in Alaska where the temperature was cool. Although we experience very few rainy days, whenever it got a bit windy or cool, the dome was closed. Also HAL adjusted time zone changes eastbound at 2PM instead of the usual 2 AM so we didn't lose any sleep - great idea! The well-maintained ship was comfortable although there were several plumbing problems on the long journey. The ship was just the right size to get into the smaller ports and it was easy to find my way around the ship. Hopefully another HAL Grand Voyage is in my future - what a spectacular way to cruise and be pampered. One unique and valuable bonus offered by HAL is that for every $300 you spend on board, even pre-booked shore excursions and drink packages, you earn credit for a sailing day. We reached three star level a week early due to this bonus and are now only 8 days shy of level 4 stars when you receive complementary laundry service. We booked the Back to Back HAL cruise to the Panama Canal, keeping our same stateroom. So, our vacation lasted an additional 14 days. Due to the high cost of our return flight from San Diego, it was only a little more money to cruise back to FL on the ship and simply drive home. But, that is another review.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We always wanted to cruise to Alaska so finally decided it was time. We chose Holland America because their ships are smaller, allowing us access to several areas that the larger ships can't get to. We were able to go into several ... Read More
We always wanted to cruise to Alaska so finally decided it was time. We chose Holland America because their ships are smaller, allowing us access to several areas that the larger ships can't get to. We were able to go into several beautiful fjords with incredible glaciers and get "up close and personal"! Holland America caters to an older crowd, so the entertainment and night clubs are not wild and crazy. Food is incredible! The ships are clean and well maintained and staff is a cut above perfection! Always willing to do the extra for you. Our cabin was typical size but the verandah made it so lovely. I like that there are 2 chaise lounges on the verandah. Shore excursions are varied and affordable so be sure to check them out. Gym and spa are great as are the two pools. We took several classes while on board, computer, camera and a cooking class. We did not travel with children. Holland America does have a children's area, clubhouse and although there were quite a few children on board we did not see them much as the crew working there kept them quite busy! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My husband and I cruised on the August 10 sailing on the Amsterdam to Alaska. It was intended to be a complete relaxation cruise as we had been to the ports before though had not cruised the Tracey Arm Fjord. Embarkation was a dream. Even ... Read More
My husband and I cruised on the August 10 sailing on the Amsterdam to Alaska. It was intended to be a complete relaxation cruise as we had been to the ports before though had not cruised the Tracey Arm Fjord. Embarkation was a dream. Even though we arrived at “prime time” around 11:30, it took us about 15 minutes from the time the car dropped us off to arriving in our Stateroom. We took advantage of bringing our own wine onboard paying the corkage fee up front for our additional bottles. This was included in our 15 minutes to board time! While we mourn the passing of unlimited wine for the stateroom, we quickly got over this. A quick stop to the Neptune Lounge to introduce ourselves to Jersey and her team and we were off to the Mariner’s Lunch in the MDR. The choices for lunch were somewhat limited and we were surprised to see that there were no wines by the glass that met our $7.00 cap for our beverage cards. We met very nice people at our shared table. It is true that once you meet on board, you will meet many times after that. Our bags were delivered to our room by 1:30 (possibly earlier, but we weren’t there!) and we were unpacked by 2. Plenty of storage space with multiple closets, drawers, etc. (note to others, make sure to check all of those spaces before you leave as the prior tenants left several t-shirts and things from the shop in the room). We had one of the Neptune suites (Deluxe Verandahs) located at mid-ship. It was perfect. Nicely maintained, close to the midship elevators which we NEVER heard. Only when you were on the balcony could you hear anything from any of the other rooms and only when they were on the balcony. Note to fellow passengers: If you want to play your saxophone on the balcony and you are not particularly good at playing, please don’t do it! We were very lucky as no one smoked in the adjacent rooms. We only smelled smoke once on the balcony and it was very faint. Even the casino was not overly smoky. The ship was in excellent shape, with little evidence that it had been some time since its last refurbishment. Beds were comfortable with great sheets and pillows. I’m always somewhat amazed by the whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms: Does anyone really ever use them? Walk in showers would be more productive, but that’s just MHO. The Main Dining Room had good food and amazing service from all from the water guys through the waiters to the wine stewards. All were knowledgeable about the offerings and very good about special requests (salad dressing on the side, an order of chile relleno as a shared side) were accommodated with a smile. Make sure to try the cheese plates for dessert, keeping a few pieces of bread from dinner. The cheeses were great, the Saltines and Wasa were OK. Jacques, the Sommelier for the ship, was very well educated and was able to take his knowledge and share it on many levels. We attended his more extensive wine seminar where he even opened bottles of champagne with a saber. We consume a lot of champagne, but had never actually seen anyone do this (not once but twice!). We were quite impressed. The wine selection was very nice and there were several Pacific NorthWest wineries represented including the LongShadows wineries. Prices were about 2 to 2 ½ times the wine store rates. Don’t forget the 15% service charge for all beverages. Oh, the Pinnacle Grill. Service was exquisite, with the tableside Caesar salads. We had three dinners and one lunch there. The first time we did the add on for the crab legs. They were yummy, but not sure worth the $20 upcharge. The caviar appetizer was amazing (since I didn’t know I liked caviar!) and we received a very healthy portion for the $45 upcharge. Jacques and Noel helped with wine choices which were spot on. Try the cioppino. You won’t be disappointed. We had the filet, the porterhouse, the bone in ribeye, the halibut and the salmon (obviously not the same meal!) and loved each one of them. We were just sorry not to have been able to try the other items! My husband loved the chocolate grand Marnier lava cake. I mentioned that I was sorry to miss the grand Marnier souffle in the MDR, and was delighted that the PG brought in the dessert for me. We enjoyed Diane in the Piano Bar. Very entertaining, never took a break and kept us laughing and singing throughout the evenings. Pat and Anne Marie held down the bar which was quite busy most evenings. Service was always with a smile. Other than the individual artists, we weren’t overly impressed with the big venue entertainment. We do like having the movie theater available and saw a film that we had not seen before. The Exploration Café served a very nice latte and by the second day, we were called by name and our order started before we got up to the counter. Their evening beverages were really good and a nice mid point on our evening. We chose this cruise for Tracey Arm and we were not disappointed. The weather was cool and cloudy, but dry. We were awed by how close we were to land on each side of us. There were hundreds of harbor seals near the glacier which provided us with amusement. We saw lots of whales during the trip, including on our first morning at sea, with one coming right up along side the ship. Plenty of bald, golden and immature eagles as well. Sigh, we didn’t see any bears in the wild. The Juneau and Sitka ports had solid rain. We got off the ship just to putter around (and Sitka, to avoid the all crew safety drills). We would have liked additional time in Ketchikan as we find it to be a really cute port. In reality, there is only about 2 hours there as we arrived quite early in the morning and were heading out by 1. We were late arriving into Victoria (tides and wind?) and there were two other larger ships already docked. We decided to stay on board, again because of the shorter time there. We arrived back in Seattle and took our time getting up and off the boat. Again, it was amazingly quick. We got off the boat around 9 am and were waiting, with our luggage for the car service by 9:25. I think it took longer to walk the gangplank than anything else! All in all, a delightful cruise and we look forward to another trip on HAL.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I took my first cruise, my wife her second on the Amsterdam. Overall, the cruise was about what we expected. The food was generally very good, occasionally stuff that should be hot was barely warm or cold. The dessert selection was ... Read More
I took my first cruise, my wife her second on the Amsterdam. Overall, the cruise was about what we expected. The food was generally very good, occasionally stuff that should be hot was barely warm or cold. The dessert selection was fantastic, it's a wonder we didn't put on any weight on the cruise. We found the bed to be rather stiff, I woke up with back aches a couple days. Our stewards kept our cabin spotless. Only have a few gripes. We reserved a large cabin but it was at smallest of the range given. We did have plenty of storage for our stuff though. Our cabin was under the Queens lounge, we could hear the music from the lounge at night. Not loud enough to be disturbing though. Our dinner at the Pinnacle Grill was ruined by a large boisterous party of 13 seated in the same room. Lastly, the gal that worked the gift shop couldn't care less about the guests. She refused a simple request to find a shirt in my size then ignored customers in the shop while a couple of the ship's officers looked around. The last gripe is the lack of trash receptacles on the ship. It wasn't uncommon to see trash left abandoned around the ship. I often carried empty paper cups all the way back to my cabin for disposal. The very good was the food in the Pinnacle Grill and the Canneletto. The staff (except for one) was very friendly. The entertainment was top notch. The gal that did a black and white photo shoot for us went above the call of duty. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was our 5th cruise on HAL, and our 7th cruise overall. This was our 3rd cruise to Alaska. We are in our early 70s, active and in good health. In brief, this was our best cruise experience overall. In fact, we would like to repeat this ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise on HAL, and our 7th cruise overall. This was our 3rd cruise to Alaska. We are in our early 70s, active and in good health. In brief, this was our best cruise experience overall. In fact, we would like to repeat this cruise in 2 years or so. The Amsterdam is a first-class ship, well-maintained and well-run. We particularly liked 2 of the public areas on the ship, the Crow's Nest and the Library. During daylight hours, both were places where you could chat, read and simply observe the passing scenery and wildlife. Our cabin was clean and had more storage space than we needed. The cabin and the bathroom had excellent air circulation and A/C. The food on the cruise was quite good. We ate most evening meals in the main dining room and enjoyed both the quality of the food and the variety of offerings. We especially liked the fish and vegetarian choices. The food in the Lido, where we had most breakfasts and lunches, was very good. We ate twice in the Canaletto, and thought the food and the service were vastly improved compared with past HAL cruises. And the Pinnacle Grill is exceptional, well worth at least one dinner during a cruise. We were very impressed with cruising in the Tracey Arm and Hubbard Glacier area. Our favorite ports were Ketchikan, Kodiak and Sitka. Our best shore excursions were the Misty Fjords trip out of Ketchikan, the whale watching trip out of Juneau and the sea otters and wildlife trip out of Sitka. In addition to the shore excursions, we were able to see many whales, both humpbacks and orcas, while cruising. The room stewards and dining room personnel all provided us with excellent service. They were uniformly pleasant and attentive, and a few made it a point to learn our names during the cruise. Our only criticism was the shortage of wine stewards in the dining room. Entertainment is not high on our list of reasons for cruising. But we appreciated the addition of the 6:30 PM shows, which allowed us to go to dinner around 7:30 PM after the big dinner rush. The on-board entertainers were energetic and generally well-received. The embarkation and disembarkation procedures were somewhat improved over prior cruises. The disembarkation process was especially smooth and efficient.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We arrived at pier 91 in Seattle at Noon and were immediately met by a porter who promptly took our luggage. Despite the loading of a Princess ship at the same pier, the porters were clearly identifiable. The boarding process was very ... Read More
We arrived at pier 91 in Seattle at Noon and were immediately met by a porter who promptly took our luggage. Despite the loading of a Princess ship at the same pier, the porters were clearly identifiable. The boarding process was very quick and we were in our rooms within a half hour of arrival at the dock. We were in Neptune Suite 7052 where a bottle of sparking wine awaited us. We went to the MDR for the Mariner lunch, where our waiter was also our regular waiter for our dining room seating. When we returned to our state room, all of our luggage arrived before 2pm. After unpacking, we paid a visit to the Neptune lounge to meet our very pleasant concierge. Prior to the sail away, there was a safety drill on deck three after which we explored the ship. Amsterdam is a mid-sized ship with very nice public areas that never seemed crowded. I was apprehensive about the small size at first, but it was more than adequate. I was very pleased at the size of the stateroom. My main negative would be regarding the noise from the deck above. The dragging of deck furniture was very much evident throughout the day.and early evening. I have a feeling that if the weather was rainy most of the time, it would have made matters even more difficult. It would have made enjoying the spacious balcony not too relaxing. We chose second seating for dining and were not disappointed. Our two waiters did everything they could to make our dining experience exceptional. Once they knew our likes, special items were always ready for us when we arrived. We sat with friends at a table for 4. Extras were always provided when requested. For breakfast and lunch, we generally ate in the lido. We found the staff to be generally very helpful. A couple of times we tried the Dive In at poolside and were disappointed that the burgers and hot dogs came out cold. We had an exceptional meal in the Pinnacle Grill on the last evening. It was well worth the surcharge. I found the entertainment in the Queen's Room to be mediocre at best. I thought the singers and dancers to be on the same level as many high school productions that I have witnessed. The entertainment in the ships lounges was of good quality. By the way, do you really need the shopping advisers? This was my third Alaskan cruise, so I had been to all of the ports visited. I still found them fun and exciting. The trip through Tracey Arm was very beautiful. Disembarkation was the smoothest we have ever experienced. We walked off the ship at 8am and were through immigration and in a taxi within 15 minutes despite the fact that there was another ship unloading at the same time. This was my fourth HAL sailing and I will certainly be sailing on Amsterdam again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Our family (14 of us) just returned from a cruise on the MS Amsterdam to Alaska's Inside Passage. We had such a wonderful trip! The ship was beautiful and clean. We had great service throughout the ship. All of the crew were friendly ... Read More
Our family (14 of us) just returned from a cruise on the MS Amsterdam to Alaska's Inside Passage. We had such a wonderful trip! The ship was beautiful and clean. We had great service throughout the ship. All of the crew were friendly and welcoming. The food on board was plentiful and delicious. The La Fontaine restaurant was beautiful and elegant. The staff there were wonderful! The Pinncale Grill was absolutely a treat! We ate there the first night on the ship and it was a perfect way to start our cruise! We had balcony rooms that were spacious and clean. Our rooms also were spacious and clean and provided plenty of privacy. We enjoyed being able to use the Neptune Lounge and the young lady there at the desk was so helpful to us the entire time on board. Our kids liked going to Club Hal to get away from us at times and they also enjoyed the swimming pool on deck. The food at poolside was delicious! Burgers and Taco salads were enjoyed by many of us. Holland America was a wonderful choice for a trip to the Inside Passage of Alaska. The photo lab was a great way to capture family photos! I was taking plenty of pictures myself, but with the on-board photographers we were able to have family photos (including me)! The embarkation and disembarkation ran smoothly and was hassle-free. The crew on this ship was fantastic! We really felt like we were on vacation on this ship! I would definitely sail with Holland America again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We were on the Amsterdam for the 14-day trip June 22 - July 6th. We had a great time! Cabin: 3431. This is a handicapped accessible cabin on the stern of the ship - lower promenade. The shower was wonderful and the room was very spacious. ... Read More
We were on the Amsterdam for the 14-day trip June 22 - July 6th. We had a great time! Cabin: 3431. This is a handicapped accessible cabin on the stern of the ship - lower promenade. The shower was wonderful and the room was very spacious. The door was wide enough for the scooter to enter and exit easily. There was a closet with shelves as soon as you came in the door. Directly opposite the door was another closet with a shelf and hanging room. Next to the door area was another double closet - one for hanging clothes and the other had the safe and shelves. There were 3 large drawers in the desk area. We left the beds as twins and had a large empty space between the beds. The nightstands were in front of the window which meant we could stand there and look out. The views off the stern of the ship were breathtaking at times and it was nice to see where we'd been! We'd book this cabin again in a heartbeat. Ship: The ship was in great shape. She is our favorite and we enjoyed her yet again. The ship is easy to get around and there are many places to get away. Staff: Everyone was super nice and so accomodating. I did the Meet and Greet and several officers attended. The CD was Michael Harvey and he was very good. He did a nice presentation for Canada Day. As a Canadian who has lived in the US for 35+ years I learned a few things from him. Lisa, the Beverage Manager, was so easy to work with and so personable. Our room stewards were great! Food: I'm definitely not a "foodie" and I can say that we never went hungry or wanting for food. We tried the Dive-In a few times. My hubby loved the fries but found the burgers to big and messy for his liking. He found he preferred the hot dogs. The Lido was always well-appointed. We ate all but 2 evenings in the dining room. We had As You Wish Dining, a reservation for 5:15 and, after day 4, sat at the same table, with the same tablemates for the rest of the cruise. Some have said the portions seem smaller and I can see that but I look at that as a positive. I can have all the courses and not come away stuffed. Both Canada Day and Independence Day were formal nights and the dining room was well-appointed for both holidays. On Canada Day there were a few dishes with a Canadian theme and we all agreed that the French Canadian Tartiere was to die for! We all wanted it as a main dish and not as an appetizer. Some people I knew even ordered it again for dessert! Itinerary: All the ports were wonderful. We had rain in Juneau and Ketchikan but it was spotty and didn't hamper us from getting off and exploring. My hubby uses a scooter for mobility and the crew was great at helping us on and off the ship. We tend to do things on our own which makes for a more interesting time to us! In Icy Strait and Sitka the crew toted the scooter down the stairs to the tender - we contributed to their crew fund as a "thank you". All the ports were fun to walk around in and we'd love to go back to them (even if this was our 3rd time on this itinerary). Excursions: We did two through HAL - The Rain Forest Tram in Icy Strait and, in Anchorage, the Aviation Museum. Both were very nice and we enjoyed them a lot. The museum in Anchorage is small but the people in charge are very friendly and worked hard to be sure we had a good experience. They even had a couple of the men who had helped with the plane restoration come in to give us guided tours. Every other port we got off on our own and walked everywhere we could! Entertainment: We only had 2 shows, plus the first night overview, from the singers and dancers and many people commented that they wished we had seen them more. There were a number of special acts including Chad Chessmark (comedian and magician - ok), Jeff Burkhart (comedian - ok), Paul Pappas (pianist - excellent); The Unexpected Boys (quartet - excellent); Lee Bayless (comedian - excellent) and Barnaby (comedian and juggler - ok). Meet and Greet: We had 92 on our roll call and about 1/2 came to the Meet and Greet. Lisa, the beverage manager, did an awesome job of setting everything up for us. I had asked for a ship's photographer to attend and Vladimir came. It took some doing but he got a very nice picture of all of us. We had several officers there including Lisa, Michael (CD), Clinton (Events Manager) and a few others. The captain did not attend because it was an extremely foggy day and our event was punctuated with the fog horn going off. We were very glad he was on the bridge taking care of business! Again?: We would do this itinerary again in a heartbeat. We love the ship and 2 weeks is a great time frame. We love the ports and had a great time getting off and walking. My pedometer, by the last night of the cruise, had logged over 550,000 steps and over 130 miles. We had on our walking shoes!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and had recently cruised Princess to Hawaii, I was looking for a last minute deal out of San Francisco because there would be no airfare involved. After looking and evaluating that it was a 11 day ... Read More
Since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and had recently cruised Princess to Hawaii, I was looking for a last minute deal out of San Francisco because there would be no airfare involved. After looking and evaluating that it was a 11 day cruise with only four port stops and one day in glacier bay, I decided that was too many sea days after doing the 15 day R/T to Hawaii recently. I started looking at the Holland America Oeosterdamn from Vancouver to Seward and the return from Seward to Vancouver. The Airfare was expensive so that didn't work. I then noticed that the 14 day R/T sailing on the Amsterdam had gone down in price to where this might be doable if airfare was decent. Found a great deal on Alaska Air going into Seattle and was able to get a good fare coming home from Seattle. Found a great basic hotel called the sleep inn with great reviews. I went to cruise critic to see if anyone had stayed there and got great remarks back. This is where I found out about the Seattle Express, a shuttle Service that serves some hotels in the Seatac Area. The shuttle will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the pier and pick you up at the pier and either take you to the airport or back to the hotel after your cruise for $12.00 each way. A reservation is required but you don't pay til you actually use the service. Sleep Inn is very basic. Our room had two beds and included a microwave. There is an IHOP on the property. I would definately stay there again. The morning of our cruise, Seattle Express came to pick us up. We got to the cruise terminal and got checked in pretty fast and than got on our ship to find our Stateroom. The luggage arrived about 30 minutes after we did. We went to the Lido to have lunch and came back to unpack. We had an HH obstructed view cabin on the Lower Promenade deck. Allot of storage. Our cabin Stewarts pretty much kept the place up. Place was always clean. This ship did not seem to be full. We had anytime dinning and we never once got a pager the whole trip. Service was slow in the dinning Room. We would go at 6:30 and would get out til 9:00. The food was good to very good. Remember food is very subjective. We would eat either breakfast or lunch in the Lido. The food in the Lido was good. We were always able to find a place to sit. The crew was constantly working on the ship to keep it in shape. This is a very hard working and most professional crew of all the HAL ships I have been on. In Ketchikan it rained in the morning and this was the only rain we had during the trip. Since I had sprained my leg three weeks before, I was just getting around to sorta normal so we walked through town up to creek street, went to a museum to get out of the rain and back to the ship. Tracy Arm glacier Sun was shinning and we had a great day of glacier and waterfall viewing. In Juneau the morning was overcast and I did a whale watching tour. The water was very calm and we saw lots of whales and sea lions. By afternoon the sun was shinning so we took the tram up to Mt Roberts. Awesome view. I have been to Juneau once before where it was cloudy and rainy and would not be able to see anything if I went up Mt Roberts. Icy Strait Point we have been here before so We stayed on the ship. I took advantage of doing laundry. The laundry was$2.00 to wash and dry each load. Anchorage - we took a ships tour to Portage Glacier and the wild life refuge park where we saw bear, caribou, mouse etc. followed by the glacier tour. Homer - Took the ships tour Homer highlights - We went to the Pratt museaum, an art gallery that is located on the artist's property. Some really fantastic art work of Alaska landscape. We also went to the Ocean Center and than finally the spit. I was so glad did this tour because I saw so much more than taking the ships shuttle buses to the spit. We were there memorial weekend and saw lots of people camping on the beach. We were greeted in Homer by hundreds of seagulls. Kodiak - Neither one Of us felt good so we did not get off the ship. Sitka I found a sort of hop on hop off bus at the pier at he information center by tribal tours. The shuttle took you around to several places in Sitka for $10.00. I went to the raptor center and to totem pole forest. Still recovering from the sprained leg so could not do allot of hiking. I walked a little in the downtown area. Victoria - I have never been to Buchart Gardens I booked a tour with the ship. I was very careful because my elderly father was with me so I made sure this was a one man walking tour. I had booked this before I sprained my leg online at home. There were many slopes in the gardens and my father could not walk some of them. When we got back to the bus we found there were allot of the older folks that were having a hard time with it too. Disembarkation went like clockwork, we did the walk off met the seattle express and were at the airport by 8:30 and ended to wait an hour before we could check our luggage for our 1:25 flight. This trip was blessed with real great weather. I have been to Alaska before when it rained the whole time and it it's still fun. It sure is allot more fun with some sun and no rain. The evening shows were hit and miss. Although I will say that the dancers and singers were better than I have heard before. I did miss " Love in any language song"'they sing at the end do the cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our third cruise to Alaska, second time on the Amsterdam. Embarkation in Seattle was a breeze, and luggage was in our cabin in less than 2 hours. Room steward was solicitous & hard working, as was all of the Amsterdam crew. Never saw a ... Read More
Our third cruise to Alaska, second time on the Amsterdam. Embarkation in Seattle was a breeze, and luggage was in our cabin in less than 2 hours. Room steward was solicitous & hard working, as was all of the Amsterdam crew. Never saw a frowny face, or encountered anything but a pleasant, helpful attitude. Waiters in the Lido were top notch and hard working. The ship is kept spotless, and there seems to be almost always somebody cleaning, varnishing, polishing. Only 2 complaints about Amsterdam: they took the laundry room off the main deck, (even though it still shows on the deck plan they handed out) and only have 2 now, one on the 3rd & the 6th decks. The cooked food in the Lido is almost always luke-warm to cold. I've complained about this to HAL numerous times. Cooked food needs to be kept hot. Dining room food is beautifully presented, but only tastes so-so. We only booked 2 shore excursions with HAL, Icy Strait tram and Anchorage city highlights & aviation museum. The others we bought in port. Most of the ports were enjoyable except for Anchorage. It's just another big city, and we were there Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.........boring!! The Aviation Museum was mildly interesting, but it's just an airplane hangar, unheated, and we were there way too long - they allowed us 2 hours & you can see everything in 20 minutes. We went looking for our driver after about 45 minutes. He made up the allotted time by driving us to the outskirts of the city. In Sitka loved the parks & quaint downtown shops; in Juneau we spent most of the day at Mendenhall Glacier & hiked to the waterfall; loved Homer's rocky beaches; at Icy Strait Point we took the tram through the rainforest to the beach. Tracy Arm and Hubbard were breathtaking. Hubbard Glacier calved several times while we were there. Except for a little rain the morning we were in Ketchikan weather was perfect and the seas always calm. The Indonesian Crew Show was enjoyable; and Cruise Director Gene and Show Host Jazzy made our sea days fun. Love the Amsterdam & will probably do this itinerary next year, but they really do need to do something about their food - quality is starting to slip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This is the reviewer's second cruise. The first was on the Nieuw Amsterdam (same line, western Caribbean), and I enjoyed it so much I booked this cruise on board. The Amsterdam is a beautiful ship, with marvelous artwork throughout. ... Read More
This is the reviewer's second cruise. The first was on the Nieuw Amsterdam (same line, western Caribbean), and I enjoyed it so much I booked this cruise on board. The Amsterdam is a beautiful ship, with marvelous artwork throughout. Pluses of the ship experience: Immaculate cleanliness throughout, the artwork, easy to find things. The ship is well-designed so that families with young children and older people such as myself can both enjoy the cruise and "not get in each others' way" either physically or psychologically. Cabin spacious, well-appointed, and expertly and courteously serviced daily. Water in shower almost instantly hot -- no waste of water! Meals excellent, perfectly cooked (I ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido, dinners in the upper promenade deck. Superb variety of selections (appetizer, soup or salad, main course, dessert) for dinner. Lovely light fluffy omelets cooked to order for breakfast while you watch. Unexpectedly (not advertised in advance) this cruise had a bridge instructor/director who, on all sea days, gave a lecture at 10am and ran a duplicate tournament at 1:30pm. He was Armand Grassi. My previous and first cruise was with Audrey Grant in this role. Armand is her equal in expertise, and surpasses her in patience and clarity of explanations. A Ukrainian duo "Adagio" (pianist and violinist) played lovely classical music almost every evening, a highlight leading up to my 8pm dinner seating. One sea day Eddy deGroot (male) gave a fascinating tour of the lovely flower arrangements he makes for the ship, providing insight into his artistic themes and talents. Lovely music and dancing, showcasing Indonesian culture, on a sea day near the end of the cruise. Excellent shops, wide variety, lovely Faberge eggs (I can't afford one, but I enjoyed admiring them). Library quiet, extensive selection, Internet available (not too terribly expensive if package deal chosen). Daily news leaflets available (US, Canada, UK, Spanish, German, Dutch). Cruising through Panama Canal fascinating and expertly narrated -- narration was informative and interesting without ever being "overmuch" TMI [too much information]. Minuses of the ship experience: Evening dining (our table was in exact center aft of upper promenade deck) area too hot. Incompetent cruise shopping information person Chris Langley. He gave talks, in the theater, on where to shop at each port. These talks were too much "rah-rah" (like high-school cheerleading) and too little information. Very seriously, he never warned people about Cuban cigars (he touted their availability in Cartegena) vis-a-vis the United States. What if an Australian or European buys some, and then disembarks in San Diego or Seattle, or disembarks in Vancouver and then flies home via a US transfer? Prison! He promised to answer my question about post office in Cartagena and never answered it. The day before Costa Rica, he told me a museum would be open; after a long hot walk I found it closed. On Holland America's site (they requested review) he is the specific and only reason I gave the overall rating 6 instead of 7 (highest). Occasional service flaws (slow and/or interchanged entrees) at dinner. I flew into Fort Lauderdale the morning of the cruise and was very favorably impressed with the courtesy and efficiency of the SIX Holland America employees, stationed in baggage claim and responsible for helping passengers transfer to the ship. Embarkation smooth, comfortable, and well-organized. US Customs inefficiency and discourtesy combined to make disembarkation (I disembarked in San Diego; some passengers went on to Vancouver or Seattle) a slow, exasperating mess (Holland American NOT to blame for that!). After the tour, I stayed one night before flying home to the Midwest. I stayed in the San Diego Airport Hilton: superb hotel, immaculately clean and quiet, excellent restaurant, superb service throughout. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
My husband and I had a wonderful time. It was an excellent way to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.This is a great itinerary, and we love this ship. It is a perfect size. The Amsterdam is a beautiful ship, with marvelous artwork ... Read More
My husband and I had a wonderful time. It was an excellent way to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.This is a great itinerary, and we love this ship. It is a perfect size. The Amsterdam is a beautiful ship, with marvelous artwork throughout. You can get a printed description of it, or an iPod tour. We really enjoyed our cabin. It was very comfortable, with excellent cabin stewards. See my cabin review. Shipboard life: The cruise director, Gene Young, was great and the entertainment enjoyable. The HAL singers & dancers were okay, but they had two dancers who were fabulous. Those two dancers did a special show, not usually on the entertainment line up. The guest performers were varied and not too good to excellent. (We walked out of a couple) The HALcats on the deck were fine and the acoustic guitarist/singer was excellent. We enjoyed movies in the Wajang theatre, complete with popcorn. Team Trivia: All but one session, cruise director Gene Young was the host, and a very entertaining host he was. The prizes were much better than usual, probably because the ship was coming off the World Cruise. A Ukrainian duo "Adagio" (pianist and violinist) played lovely classical music almost every evening, which we enjoyed as ever. We remember though when "Adagio" was a 4-person ensemble before cost-cutting. Crew shows with lovely music and dancing, showcased Indonesian culture then a few days later Filipino talent, on a sea day near the end of the cruise.Library quiet, extensive selection, Internet available (not too terribly expensive if package deal chosen). Emily, the librarian/Internet tech was great. She also ran the Book Club, which I enjoyed. Food: Most of the meals were excellent. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Lido, though a couple of times we ate breakfast and lunch in the MDR. Lido: We were happy with the Lido, both in food quality and service. We did not experience long lines, cold food, or multiple trips from the line to our table. Several times we enjoyed light fluffy omelets deftly cooked to order while we watched. MDR: We were at a table for 10 though we had requested a table for 6. We decided to stay anyway since our table-mates were pleasant, as were the waitstaff. One negative: our table was almost always among the very last to get served. This was due I believe to there not being enough wait staff, and the very size of the table. Our waitstaff was great, though overworked. Ports: Barbara, the Port Specialist, was not all that informative compared to the wonderful Lisa we had on the Westerdam's cruise to the South Pacific. Her talks were only okay because there was not as much content as we would have liked, and she did not have any tips for independent touring as well as ship excursions. Lisa's talks were so informative, so entertaining, and so helpful to make the most of our time in ports. We enjoyed geo-caching, finding at least one in most of the ports, and even a virtual cache in the Panama Canal. We did a combination of ship's excursions, private shore excursions arranged with other CC members, and doing our own thing in ports. Ship excursions “Antigua on Your Own” at Puerto Quetzal , Guatemala, and “Banana Plantation and Rural Community" near Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, were both very enjoyable.” As usual, we LOVED Half Moon Cay. Our van tour in Cartagena was quite good with Dora’s company, though the van was too full. The tour with Ricky Riccardo in Costa Rica was excellent through out. It helped that we docked at Puntarenas instead of the originally scheduled Puerto Caldera, a container port. Cruising through Panama Canal fascinating and expertly narrated, informative and interesting with just the right amount of information. It was endlessly fascinating. We also saw a yellow-blossomed tree in bloom that only blooms for a week, and then is done. The tour of Leon I arranged with Julio’s Tours at the Corinto/Leon stop was outstanding! I recommend him with no hesitation. Other CC members who went on a Julio's Tours to Cerro Negro were also hugely impressed. Some cruise ship passengers have advised just staying on the ship in Corinto. I disagree. Sure, the country is poor, but all the people we met were very nice, and there is a lot of history in the area. Puerto Quetzal: The dock is not near the town, but the cruise port is a wonderful facility with a performance area, and fine shops/stalls. My husband and I are not normally big on shopping but on our return from the ship tour, "Antigua on Your Own" we had fun shopping, and made several purchases. We also chatted a bit with the one shop keeper. We really enjoyed the tour. The guide, Roger, on the bus was very informative about the people, the economy, the natural history the area, etc. In Antigua, he gave an excellent briefing about when and where to meet him and the bus. In the Jade Shop we were all given free samples of coffee, and more information about touring the town, as well as an excellent map. Jerry and I loved that town! The buildings are so historic, the Arch of Saint Catherine scenic as well as historic, most of the street vendors were nice and even helpful, and yes, we did some geo-caching. One of our cache hunts took us up to the Cerro del Cruces (Hill of the Cross). There is a neat pedestrian path to get up there, as an alternative to the cobblestone road. There are also great views of the town and the volcanoes. We also were pleased that when we got out of what I will call the sightseeing core, almost everyone we met said a friendly "Hola" as simply one person to another. In Astoria, some old friends drove down from the Portland metro area to spend a few hours with us. Our friends took us up to the Astoria Column, so we were able to have a more leisurely visit up there than ship tours provide. It is easy to do independent touring in Astoria because so much is within walking distance of where the ship docks. Also, the excellent volunteer cruise hosts ashore give a lot of suggestions. Then there is the historic trolley that goes up and down the town. In Vancouver, Canada where many people disembarked, and quite a few embarked for the one day cruise to Seattle, Jerry and I did our own thing. We rode the Hop On Hop Off bus, which interestingly enough was exactly the same cost as if we had booked in on board the ship. We enjoyed the ride on the double-decker bus, and narration very much. Among the many highlights were Stanley Park, Brockton Point, and Prospect Point. After the tour, we chose to walk the short distance back to the pier, stopping at a kind of indoor mall, and at some other shops on Water Street. We strolled around Canada Place for a little while before getting back on the Amsterdam. Embarkation/Disembarkation: We flew into Fort Lauderdale the morning of the cruise and were favorably impressed with the courtesy and efficiency of the Holland America employees, stationed in baggage claim and responsible for helping passengers transfer to the ship. In the terminal, we waited in a reasonably fast line for about a half hour. I quickly was embarked; my husband was not. We spent 3 anxious hours because at first HAL was not going to let my husband board. He was the last passenger to embark, with an escort. Put it this way: never play “musical passports” but instead have each person carry their own with easy access. Many passengers embarked/Disembarked in San Diego and in Vancouver, Canada. For disembarking passengers, and for those of us with plans in San Diego for the day before continuing the cruise, the process in San Diego was a time consuming disaster due to U.S. Customs & Immigration, and a handful of very rude people who did not promptly report for inspection. It did not help that on the ship things were not well organized, which is unusual in our experience. The hallways were clogged with a mixture of disembarking guests and in transit guests. We were an hour late getting to a geo-caching event we had organized. I shudder to think how many people missed flights or at the least had a tense time wondering about making flights. In Vancouver everything was well-organized though a bit hectic as there were several other ships at the cruise terminal. Disembarkation in Seattle was well organized and swift.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
After a very uncomfortable flight from Australia, considering the time difference, we finally neared the cruise terminal and spotted Amsterdam, among 5 other ships and felt at home immediately. She was just as beautiful as she was in ... Read More
After a very uncomfortable flight from Australia, considering the time difference, we finally neared the cruise terminal and spotted Amsterdam, among 5 other ships and felt at home immediately. She was just as beautiful as she was in 2011.It was almost like coming home to a favorite place. Embarkation was very well organised, and we were in our stateroom within minutes with one of our two cases. The other case was onboard (somewhere). After an hour or two I looked out our door and down the length of the corridor, and lo and behold, there was one case sitting there all by itself, people were walking around it. It was our missing suitcase. I walked up and dragged it home to 2628.We had booked first sitting because 2nd was a bit late. We utilised the wonderful Lido on many occasions, where the food and service was excellent. We celebrated our anniversary in Peru and had a table for 2 that night. We were pleasantly surprised to be serenaded by the the stewards with the Indonesian song of goodwill, and a small cake which was a lovely touch. They are things only friends do, right? .We were reminded how courteous and helpfull the stewards were, and it was genuine.It didn't matter whether they had overalls on or officers uniforms, we were greeted like welcome guests. Our room was more than adequate with more than enough storage. The bathroom is more spacious than Princess. The television still has the same problem with it's placement and ability to conrol it. You must stick your arm straight up towards the ceiling to change the program. Otherwise the room was kept immaculate by our stewards ,and they did everthing that we asked. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
The HAL Amsterdam is a midsize ship carrying 1380 passengers and 615 crew. She is 62,735 gross tons, 760 feet in length and has a top speed of 22.5 knots. The CDC rated her 94 points in a recent inspection. She survived the long voyage ... Read More
The HAL Amsterdam is a midsize ship carrying 1380 passengers and 615 crew. She is 62,735 gross tons, 760 feet in length and has a top speed of 22.5 knots. The CDC rated her 94 points in a recent inspection. She survived the long voyage without a case of Noro-virus which is amazing and rare with HAL ships. This is our seond time to board the Amsterdam. What attracted us had been her unique itinerary. She offered ports like Manila Philippines,Rabaul, Papua, New Guinea,Guadalcanal,Solomon Islands, Vanuato and the Marquesas, new countries by sea for us. The Americans and Japanese fought intensely for Henderson field in Guadalcanal during WW2. Part of the field is now occupied by the Honaira airport and the rest is rusty barbwire and razor grass. Vanuato is the source of prime kava root. The natives here still practice cargo cult where they create airplane replicas wth straw and worship them for material wealth. Paul Gaugin is buried in the Marqesas where Herman Melville and Thor Heyerdal wrote their their first book. The port of Manila gave the ship a grand reception. Folk dancers in lavish custumes danced to the music of native musicians and welcoming crowds waved Filipino flags. A group of Filipino orphans perform[ng at one of the ship lounges brought the house down to a sro audience. Captain Fred, Master of the Amsterdam stood in line at the Lido with the passengers for his favorite lunch of sushi,sashime(raw fish) and rice. Captain Fred a tall unassuming man is no stranger to the sea. As a young man he had sailed with his father also a sea Captain. The Lido is a causal buffet style cafeteria that serves hot and cold food. The stations offer oriental stir-fry, a sandwich, omelet.a cutting board and hot international foods. The dining room cuisine has superb choices like ribeye, lobster, baramundi and escargo. Shrimp cocktail and salmon are always available, Filipino and Indonesian dishes are part of the menu. Various desserts and pastries are elegantly served. The wait staff come from Indonesia. The cooks,pastry bakers.beverage, technical, security and office workers come from the Philippines. The ship's crew is very friendly and make it a point to remember your name. They often anticipate your food preferences. Our cabin located amidship had a good view of the ocean despite overlooking the lower promenade deck. Budi and Raschid our Indonesian stewards kept the room squeaky clean. The library had a full time librarian and confortable seating. Most of the passengers had i-pads and kindles loaded with e books. Internet cost 75 cents per minute and 25 cents per page for printing. It was not only pricey but unreliable at best. Once the ship docks passengers make a beeline for WiFi that cost a dollar per hour or free from most coffee shops ashore. After flying 20 hours to Singapore, we waited 4 hours for a paid transfer to the ship that did not arrive. We finally took a taxi to the pier that cost us less than the one arranged by the cruise line. The passengers are served breakfast at the Lido and the main dining room before disembarkation. They are also allowed to use their cabins while waiting to depart Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
My husband and I have been on 14 cruises through our 41 years of marriage. Our very first cruise was for our honeymoon and we have been hooked on cruising ever since. This cruise was a gift to my mother for her 90th birthday. Cruising to ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 14 cruises through our 41 years of marriage. Our very first cruise was for our honeymoon and we have been hooked on cruising ever since. This cruise was a gift to my mother for her 90th birthday. Cruising to Alaska was one of her dreams. Traveling to port and back: We flew to Seattle the day before the cruise, and stayed at the Best Western on Taylor Avenue. This is the pick-up site for Quick Coach, which provides transfer services to Vancouver (Canada Place Pier) and back. It is a no-frills hotel, but clean. The staff is friendly and courteous. We went to Alaska last year and picked this hotel again because of the convenience of being the pick-up point for the transfer service. For a one-night stay, before and after the cruise, it is fine. There are no porters (you have to take care of your luggage yourself), but there are at least luggage carts you can use. There is a small restaurant that serves a decent breakfast buffet. They also serve dinner, with a varied menu. Last year and this year our room had the view of the Seattle Space Needle - stunning! Quick Coach is efficient, on time, and drivers are courteous and helpful. I highly recommend them. Going through Customs entering Canada was a breeze. Staff were friendly and there was no hassle. Entering the US on our way back was another story. Agents are rude, not helpful at all. Out of 6 stations there were only 3 processing 55 people, and sometimes only two, with an agent leaving his station, or another one staring at his screen for what seemed like hours. We were all tired and ready to get on with our trip back home and did not need this inefficiency and apathy. If you are going to Alaska for the first time, and if your cruise leaves from Vancouver, I suggest you fly to Seattle the day before the cruise and book a late return flight for the day you return (after 6pm), or stay one more night in Seattle. I mention Seattle because if you live in the US it is cheaper to fly to Seattle than to Vancouver. Taxi service from/to SeaTac will cost you about $40-$45 plus tips but it is efficient. Embarkation: Holland America knows how to treat their passengers when it comes to embarking and debarking. At Canada Place there were three ships at the same time, so the lines were long, and what seemed to be endless. A Holland America agent saw my mother with a cane, came to us and pulled us out of the line to expedite our embarkation. She was an angel! Stateroom: Our cabin was #6162, a Verandah Suite (A). It was midship, close to the laundry and the elevators. The cabin had plenty of storage space, more than we needed, which is not a bad thing. A few things I have to mention: our luggage did not fit under the beds. The carry-ons fit but not the larger ones. This is the first time we have encountered this situation. It could be that our suitcases, which were new, had the expandable section, making them a bit higher. I made sure the expandable sections were zipped up and they still did not fit. I stored the large suitcases next to the door to the balcony. They were not in our way. The cabin seemed a bit tight. If one of us wanted to walk to the bathroom and the other was in the closet area or on the foot of the beds, one had to move aside so the other could walk through. If you wanted to use the vanity you had to move the table in front of the sofa so you could move the chair to sit down. There was only one electric outlet in the entire cabin. It had both 110 and 220 outlets. Now that we all have phones, cameras, IPads, etc that have to be charged, having just one outlet is kind of inconvenient. Ship Info: The Amsterdam is an elegant ship throughout. All public spaces are tastefully decorated. We felt special just by walking the Promenade and going to the lounges. There is some rust in the lifeboats' brackets and some windows look like the insulation has been damaged and not repaired properly, with unsightly clumps of sealant showing. I guess since the Amsterdam is due for dry dock in December 2013 maintenance has gone to the wayside. Dining: First, the Pinnacle Grill. We ate there on two nights. What an experience! The service, the food, the ambiance, are all better than any gourmet restaurant we have been to. You feel special the moment you are greeted. The Spicy Chicken Coconut Soup was a delectable surprise. Not spicy at all, but so flavorful. My filet mignon was the best I ever had - no knife needed, and cooked to perfection. My mother had the Lobster Mac & Cheese, exquisite. It is hard to choose a side dish because of the large selection, but you will not be dissapointed with whichever you order. For dessert we had a decadent chocolate cake brought to my mom with a candle to celebrate her birthday. I also had the best Baked Alaska ever! This is definitely worth $25 per person. The second night at the Grill was when it is converted to Le Cirque, a partnership of HAL with the famous Le Cirque restaurant in New York City. This happens only once per cruise, so we were lucky to get a reservation for this one evening. The menu, the decor, the china, all resemble the original Le Cirque. And what a menu it is! My mom's Caesar Salad was prepared at the table as it should be. Fantastic! My Lobster Salad "Le Cirque" was a culinary treat. Not the salad we might expect. This is a work of art. The Chilled Yogurt and Melon Soup, out of this world! My Chauteaubriand was again cooked to perfection and exquisite. My mom had the Three Cheese Ravioli, and it was amazing. For dessert we both had their Creme Brulee - yumm! This evening cost a bit more, $39 per person, but it is also worth every penny. Kudos to the Pinnacle Grill staff: Elvira the hostess, who by the way, came to us at every course to see how everything was, with a genuine smile and friendly conversation; Servers Dhana and Sarah, Coffee server Tri, wine master Eric. Now, for the Main Dining Room, LaFontaine: What a dissapointment! Our first dinner there was on the second night of the cruise, since we dined at the Pinnacle Grill the first night. I asked the dining room staff member who greeted us where our table was (Table 50). Instead of escorting us to our table he pointed to it. Someone saw us wondering about and took us to the table. Our waiter greeted us and introduced himself, but never introduced his assistant. Service was OK but not impressive. The food is bland, no seasoning, unattractive, not up to par to a cruise line of this caliber. On two nights our dishes had rice as a side dish. Once it was a lump of tasteless white rice, and another night is was a lump of tasteless yellow rice. My mom had roast turkey one night and the pieces of turkey were slopped on top of the cranberry jelly, just like food from a buffet line, and a bad one at that. The turkey had no flavor and it was dry. Steaks were generally hard and dry, lacking seasoning. Fish fillets were unappealing. The "Shrimp and Avocado Tower" is a clump less than two inches tall (no tower here). The avocado pieces were microscopic and the shrimp was nowhere to be found. Most of the time two of us at the table ordered the same thing and had the same opinion of the food. Dessert was no better. Most memorable was the "Volcano Cake" ( I don't remember the exact name, but the name had Volcano in it.) Thinking this would be the classic Lava cake (per the description) I ordered it. I got some clumps of chocolate that were supposed to resemble the boulders at the base of the volcano. They tasted like dark chocolate for cocoa before it is cooked. Two of us ordered this and had the same reaction. We ate because we were hungry (8pm seating) and because if we returned anything we would have missed the shows. The first time we were on HAL meals were to die for. This has been our experience on all cruises we have been on. This time the Amsterdam really dissapointed. Kids acitivities: - not applicable since we did not need this service. There were not many kids on board though. Service: Excellent service on the Lido Deck at every meal. Staff were friendly and so helpful. Whenever they saw my mom with a plate in her hand they would carry it to the table and get her a drink or anything she needed without her asking. Service at the Shops was great, although they seemed under-staffed at times. They were still courteous. Photo: This has always been our one bad experience on any cruise, and this one did not dissapoint. At least they are not as aggressive as, say Carnival. An 8x10 is $19.99. I believe this has not changed much from the last time we purchased photos. But, there are no 5x7's anymore. What they do is add a cute decorative "souvenir scene" on a larger paper, beneath your photo. Now the paper is larger, so they charge $14.95 for these. I recall 5x7's were $9.99. Now, "portraits" are a different animal. They advertise portrait sittings as a separate service and for a higher fee. On a formal night my mom and I wanted to have our photo taken, of course, being a Mother/Daughter cruise and celebrating her birthday. Two photographers on the Promenade called us over and took our photos. The photos turned out beautifully, and we chose three. When we went to pay, these are $39.99 EACH! They put an 8x10 with a 4x6 and two wallets in one sheet and charged as a portrait. We did not ask for a sititng. THEY called us. Prices are not posted, so you do not know what you will pay. We were not happy. Instead of buying three photos we only bought one. If they thought they are making more money by charging $40 for those "portraits', this is counterproductive because we spent less than we would have if the photos had been $19.99. To add to the bad experience, we had been told that if we purchased 5 photos we would get the digital file. We purchased 5, but were told we did not qualify for the digital file because the five photos had to be of the same category. Talk about a rip off! And there is all that paper and toner that are wasted. This is not only annoying but not ecologically friendly. Entertainment: As per ship's activities, the ones we enjoyed the most were the demos by the Culinary Arts department. This has been the best program I have seen; informative and entertaining. A joy to attend! The movie theatre is a plus! Comfortable seating and a big screen. What a treat! The onboard "Locations Guide", Kianoa, was excellent. His lectures on the topography of Alaska and the glaciers were an education. The guy is a walking encyclopedia! The shows left a lot to be desired. The first night's show was an introduction to all the entertainment aboard the ship. One mini act after the other, so we got to know the performers. Nice idea, but it did not give you the WOW! you are used to on other cruise lines, or on our first cruise with HAL for that matter. The dancers were sub-standard and the shows looked like they had been put together by an amateur choreographer. The singers were fantastic though. The last night was the Finale of the "Dancing with the Stars at Sea", where a winner was voted on by a panel of judges and the audience. This was a lot of fun, and original. The cruise director was OK. I was not impressed. Port and Shore Excursions: Glacier Bay: gorgeous views! On our last two cruises to Alaska (yes, this was my third time), we visited the Hubbard Glacier, once on HAL and last year on Celebrity. This glacier is spectacular, majestic, incredible! There is a lot of calving activity. The glacier ice is blue, and its expanse of 7 miles in width makes it breathtaking to look at. The Amsterdam stopped at Margerie Glacier, one mile wide, dirty on its sides, and with no calving activity. We were stopped in front of Margerie for over two hours and nothing happened. I know calving is not a programmed event, but something should have happened in the course of two hours. I was dissapointed that my mom did not have the same exciting experience we had with the Hubbard on two occasions, 16 years apart. Being in front of that glacier, although a treat, was not exciting. Skagway: Did the "Best of Skagway" excursion. Fantastic! First we had a tour of Skagway (does not take long), then we boarded the White Pass and Yukon Summit Railroad for a ride through the Yukon and White Pass Summit crossed by the gold prospectors in 1898. Spectacular views and interesting narrated history. Then we went to Liarsville, a quaint town set in the campsite used by tired prospectors. Here we had a lunch of smoked salmon with all kinds of side dishes that was absoutely delicious. There was a show by local artists with stories, anecdotes, and poems, very witty and entertaining. We "looked" for gold and found some nuggets that need a magnifying glass in order to see them, but gold they are! Our tour ended at the Red Onion Saloon, an actual bordello circa 1989-99. Here "madams" gave us an informative talk on how the bordello was run. Interesting! Juneau: After a very informative chat by our driver, we visited the McCauly Salmon Hatchery and learned how salmon is being hatched and processed. Fascinating! We then visited the Mendenhall Glacier. This is spectacular, a must! After the glacier we visited Glacier Gardens, the most unique gardens I have seen. The developer acquired trees downed by an avalanche and put them in the ground upside down with the roots on top. The roots form a type of basket that hold plants, forming gorgeous hanging planters. The beauty is hard to explain in words. We had a tour on a cart inside the expansive garden grounds and parts of the Tongass National Forest. I highly recommend this tour. Ketchikan: Went to the Totem Heritage Center and Potlatch Park. Both are fascinating places. All drivers were excellent and knowledgeable. They were on time and courteous. We booked all excursions online through HAL. Disembarkation: Again, smooth and efficient. Summary: Although you cannot go wrong with a cruise to Alaska, I would research in more depth if I go again. (And I might - I love this cruise so much!) Visiting Hubbard Glacier has to be a priority. The Margerie was such a downer. The Amsterdam is an elegant ship, and the staff and crew were great. She needs some TLC though. The "negatives" I expressed here did not hinder our cruise experience. Having said that, I might consider HAL again, but would be weary of the Amsterdam because of our bad experience at the main dining room and the inferior entertainment at the Queen's Theatre. All in all, a great cruise. I say that if you like cruising, every cruise is a great cruise. The "glitches" have to be addressed, but the big picture is always great.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We traveled on the Amsterdam on several Grand cruises after we retired. We live in Colorado and both had full time and responsible jobs -it seems FOREVER. So when we retired we decided cruising was "The" way to see our ... Read More
We traveled on the Amsterdam on several Grand cruises after we retired. We live in Colorado and both had full time and responsible jobs -it seems FOREVER. So when we retired we decided cruising was "The" way to see our World". And we began with slower/less LONG flights etc - but to enchanting places. We'd "done" Alaska - the Panama Canal - Islands off Florida north AND south......WHERE was our next cruise but Australia and New Zealand in 2002 on Volendam. We flew into Singapore and decided; "NEVER fly when you can cruise!" after a 27 hour travel day[s]. So here we are in 2013 on a Grand cruise itinerary into Asia. On the Amsterdam. We travel by ourselves because most people say "You WHAT? You cruise for OVERRRRRR two MONTHHHHHS?" However the people who actually DO cruise -OFTEN cruise just like we do and we have made solid friendships on these cruises. And we ALWAYS look forward to them -understanding that EVEN cruising has it's limits and we feel we've been given "A Window of opportunity" to learn about "our" world; after careers and BEFORE death! The Amsterdam is a favorite ship amid other favorites MOST in the Holland America fleet; the ships aren't SO huge you get lost for over 24 hours AND not SO small you can hang your feet in the water as you catch fish! Most are between 1200 and 2000+ passengers; COMFORTABLE. Making it even MORE comfortable AND the main reason we ADORE HAL - the CREW! Some 600 PLUS people -on EACH of the ships - are crew from Indonesia and Philippines -and many know us or remember us from cruise to cruise; we sail WITH friends! There IS no better experience! THIS particular itinerary was a World War II theme - with places LIKE Hawaii [ Pearl Harbor] Guam & Saipan, Manila, Philippines - Guadalcanal - Japan [Kobe] -China [ Shanghai and Hong Kong] ALL places involved in a war that began IN Asia around 1931 and was over in August,1945; Those are the big names and the bigger numbers -but what you also see on this KIND of cruise is the HUGE area "WAR" covered and the mileage in the South Pacific covered. It is AMAZING and to relate THAT way to TODAY'S wars [ or the sabre-rattling] is also amazing. Holland America ships are immaculately clean, the crew ALL smile a lot and are friendly, the dining rooms are magnificent, the public areas inviting, the more private areas delightful, and we keep coming back again to Holland America and specifically THIS ship's longer cruises. One other thing I might remark on was the subtle way the Captain [ Fred Everson] and his crew maintained OUR safety thru the Typhoon[s] in the mid pacific that devistated the Philippines but also threatened Japan's seas below the main Islands; IF anything we were in exceptionally CALM seas but headlines told us that extreme weather was less than a day away -for over a MONTH [ mid SEptember to mid October] And of course there ARE cruisers who think "I paid $$$$ I can do as I please!" well- sorry folks, you can't. There are pick-pockets out there -bad weather patterns - over 6000 people died in the Philippines; there are STILL over 1000 missing/unaccounted for -THINGS happen when you cruise! I can HONESTLY say that in 700 days on Holland American I have NEVER felt "Fearful" ; They take care of us whether we like it or not -Frankly I APPRECIATE That! And so- another wonderful cruise where much was learned -and probably TOO much eaten [ although you may tell your waiter in the diningroom you want smaller portions AND they'll DO that to HELP....me!] The cruise experience for us is NOT the evening's theater productions -we go to bed early - it is the cruise "Experience" and that is what YOU make it for YOURSELF. In this case Dick and I read 12 books [ WWII] in preparation before the cruise -and at least a dozen more as we exchanged ideas/books with friends JUST as excited as we were! And just as I told you - Retirement CAN be a whole NEW world of learning. Just do it on a cruise ship with wonderful experiences -and you'll NEVER forget what learning IS! Anne Salberg, Longmont, Colorado Read Less
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
Sail Date September 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
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 July 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
Sail Date June 2013
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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