396 Holland America Amsterdam Cruise Reviews

We took the SoundTransit (light rail to downtown from airport)) 2 blocks from the hotel. The next morning rideshare was 15 mins to pier. Be warned after the Seattle cruise rideshare pickup is way past the regular pickup. Keep walking. ... Read More
We took the SoundTransit (light rail to downtown from airport)) 2 blocks from the hotel. The next morning rideshare was 15 mins to pier. Be warned after the Seattle cruise rideshare pickup is way past the regular pickup. Keep walking. Getting on was smooth and getting off was a pleasure with Port Valet. Thank you Seattle Port Authority. Cabins, Dining, Service, Ship Condition, Entertainment, Activities and Ports were all good to great. Where I felt Holland hit it out of the park was the diversity of offerings on board. We met a couple at dinner and hung out throughout the adventure, each enjoyed very different activities in addition to our shared interests. Cruiser 1 - Thermal Spa, Windows Classes, EXC Port Album Cruiser 2 - ShipFliks, Happy Hour, Movie Theater, Port Tours on TV Cruiser 3 - Stage Shows, Bridge, Vegetarian Dining Cruiser 4 - Library Recliners, Northern Lights, Stage shows and the Movie Theater. Notable food observations: The omelet bar starboard 5 stars, the DiVE IN Mushroom burger was extra special and all 14 days the Soups and Sauces were fabulous. We all loved scenic cruising, seeing whales and bumping into an iceberg. Favorite Excursion...rented a car in Juneau and drove to Mendenhall and the Hatchery. Favorite walkabout... walked to Sitka Raptor Center and took the Historical Park trails back to the Visitor Center, Science Center and then port shopping. Our Advice: need some sort of water bottle filling station and longer Happy Hour :) In Ketchikan early morning we enjoyed watching many float planes take off next to ship. Seriously, given the funding and open calendar, We would have gotten right back on board for another 14 days! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Absolutely everything in this two-week cruise was amazing from the moment we entered the cruise terminal in Seattle to the moment we exited the same terminal upon return. We got a last minute, inexpensive upgrade to a Lanai stateroom ... Read More
Absolutely everything in this two-week cruise was amazing from the moment we entered the cruise terminal in Seattle to the moment we exited the same terminal upon return. We got a last minute, inexpensive upgrade to a Lanai stateroom and were so glad we did! Thoroughly enjoyed the door taking us out to the Lower Promenade deck and allowing us to see out to the ocean and ports we visited as well as the scenery and wildlife. The reserved deck chairs outside our cabin were awesome (although a little hard to get out of) and perfect for the at sea days and drifting through Tracy Arm Fjord and toward Hubbard Glacier. We have decided that we would like to try and always get a Lanai stateroom (five of the HAL ships have them) because it offers the freedom to view what's happening outside and being able to enjoy the fresh air, ocean, and scenery as it goes by without the extra cost of a private veranda. We also very much enjoyed watching people walking by (and knowing they couldn't see inside) and visiting with our Lanai "neighbors". The staff who took care of the room for us were awesome and attentive to our every need and want. Room service was great for the times we didn't feel like heading out to eat and the morning pre-ordered breakfast was nice to take advantage of when desired. Cabin was spacious enough, bed that was supposed to be a queen actually was more in the king-size range and quite comfortable. Laundry service! We can't recommend buying the laundry package enough! Out in the morning, back in the evening and so nicely done. We were across from the laundry room but didn't want to stress over laundry and waste time doing it. The $100 we spent for the service was well worth the price of not having to worry about clean clothes. Pinnacle Grill... wow - what a great restaurant. We loved our experience there and will be doing it again on our next two cruises in 2020. Main Dining Room was very nice, we loved the food, menu selections available, atmosphere, and service. Lido Buffet was where we did most of our meals. Can't express enough how we loved the selections, variety, quality, and non-crowded lines. The wait-staff (especially Monica and Apicha) were fabulous. Never had a bad meal or experience there. We also loved that they had no sugar added dessert selections. Dive In restaurant at the Lido Pool was very good - the taco bar and selections from the grill were great! Crow's Nest Happy Hour and trivia rocked! Can't beat the view from there, either. We loved the ambience of the entire ship - I was amazed and thrilled with the Faberge Egg collection (have wanted for all my adult life to see Faberge in person) as well as the museum quality antiquities on display. Very nice! Music in the lounge areas was nice and not annoying (which is always a plus when you want to just chill and drink). We did not go to any of the shows, but heard the comedian was very good. Simone, the ship's photographer, was amazing and did such a great job taking our photos on one of the gala nights. We were happy to purchase the photo package as our pictures were very professionally done - they will be used for Christmas cards this year. Quality of the excursions was as described. We didn't feel we paid too much for anything. Will definitely use HAL for our excursions on future cruises. Guest services desk had wonderful, very helpful and courteous staff - always ready to provide exactly what was requested. Maybe it's because the Amsterdam was our first cruise ship, but we will always look for HAL cruise itineraries with this ship first when planning future vacations. We are incredibly impressed with Holland America and plan on cruising with this line from now on. Looking into Seabourn now (another Carnival/HAL line), as well. Thank you Holland America and MS Amsterdam for making our first cruise the most memorable vacation we've had up to now! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We are a couple in our early 60’s. We traveled with another couple. We stayed at the Homewood Suites downtown. We took an Uber to the port which was very close to the port at around 10:00 AM. We were on the ship by 11:45. We were ... Read More
We are a couple in our early 60’s. We traveled with another couple. We stayed at the Homewood Suites downtown. We took an Uber to the port which was very close to the port at around 10:00 AM. We were on the ship by 11:45. We were able to go straight to our rooms. We had a nice quiet lunch in the main dining room. The Amsterdam is an amazing ship! Very clean and nicely decorated! Smaller ship but easy to get around. Since our cabin was on the 3rd floor it was very easy to get to the main dining room which was one floor up. Love being in the back of the ship. Dining: We went to the Pinnacle Grill three times. Love the menu and the waiters and waitresses. Lobster bisque, shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, lobster tail and filet were all so amazing! Also had the scallops, candy bacon and porterhouse! All were amazing. Wahyu and Kay were so amazing in the Pinnacle. We also went to the Canalleto one night. Liked their menu also. Mira and Carla were amazing and always friendly and nice when ever we saw them! The main dining room was great. We ate most of our meals there including a couple of lunches and breakfast. Amazing Amin, was one of our favorite waiters! Always had a smile on his face. The last at sea day they served surf and turf and shrimp cocktail in the dining room. Very good! The Lido serves an awesome breakfast. Lots of different juices. Egg making station, pancakes etc station. Lunch they have a great salad station. Ports: Awesome itinerary! Picked this cruise for all the amazing ports! Ketchikan: Bering Sea Fisherman Tour was excellent. We did this tour 11 years ago and couldn’t wait to go back. It was rainy and cold but they provided raincoats and they had heaters on the boat. We watched them catch fish and crabs in the pots. You could hold rock crabs etc. They threw herring and we watched the eagles fly down and catch them . An awesome shore excursion not to be missed! The boat docks right in town. Lots of nice shops etc. Sawyer Glacier at Tracy Arm was beautiful. Nice relaxing day. Juneau: We took the Jeep Wrangler 4 Door Jeep tour. We booked through the ship. We went on our own to the Mendenhall glacier and hiked to Nugget Falls. So nice to take our time and explore at our own pace. We also went to Saint Therese Chapel which was beautiful location in the woods. Amazing area! Then onto the Fish hatchery. Very cool to see that many fish! Icy Strait Point: TOK River Outfitters is a company we found on line. They were awesome! We went halibut fishing! Between the six of us we caught about 25 halibut! The boat was in pristine shape and Nick the captain and Tammy were so amazing! They baited our lines and released all our catches for us. They went out of their way to make our day so awesome! It was a rainy and cold day but we were having so much fun catching fish we didn’t even notice the weather. Anchorage: There is a free shuttle to town. We booked the Glacier Quest Cruise through Phillips 26 Glacier Cruises on line. We actually called direct and got a AAA discount for the cruise. We booked the motor coach for transportation to Whittier which is where the tour begins. The glaciers we visited were beautiful! The lunch was great! This excursion takes all day but it was so amazing to get up so close to the glaciers. We chose the glacier quest which was a shorter cruise because we worried we would not have enough time for the longer 26 glacier cruise. As it turned out though, there was just enough time for the time we had at port to take either cruise. Homer: We took the free shuttle to the Spit. Nice area for souvenir shopping for some unusual things. We booked a private tour through Bay Excursions for a Marine Wildlife Tour. The tour was right down by the water at the spit. We saw puffins and otters and eagles. Very Knowledgeable guys on board our boat. The captain was great! Kodiak: We took the free shuttle to town. The guys booked a Bear Viewing tour through Island Air Service. Expensive but the best tour! Up close to see bears in the wild. They flew them to Fraser Lake in float planes and you are very near where the salmon are. The bears were very close to where they stood and watched them. My friend and I booked a floatplane tour with Andrews Air. We were so close to the mountain peaks that I felt like I could touch them. The take off and landing on the water was so smooth. We highly recommend either place, which were next door to each other, for floatplane trips. Hubbard Glacier: Amazing day to see the Hubbard Glacier up close. The ship offers an excursion to get off the ship to go see the glacier even closer. We didn’t do it though since we had been very close to glaciers in Whittier when we were there. The scenery is just undesirable at the passage into the glacier. Sitka: We took the shuttle to town. We booked a tour on our own with Captain Gary’s Sitka Adventures for a Whale watch. Gary met us in town and took us out on his pristine boat. It was just the four of us. Gary was amazing! We saw so many whales. We saw otters. Beautiful area! Gary was the best! Victoria: The shuttle offered by the ship is $15.95/pp to town. We took a taxi directly to the Butchart Gardens on our own. Way cheaper. The Gardens are about 40 minutes from where the shuttle drops you off at the Empress Hotel in town. The gardens are the most amazing gardens we have ever seen. Highly recommend going there. Embarkation: The Port Valet offered by SEA/TAC is an awesome way to go. Put your bags out at midnight and you don’t have to deal with them until you get to your baggage claim at your final destination. FREE too!!! This itinerary was so awesome! We hoped to go to these same ports next year but they changed them. No Kodiak or Sitka! We hope they bring them back. This was our 16 cruise. 6th cruise with Holland America. We really love Holland!! One big plus for us is that Holland America Line has a priest on board for all their cruises. We really love that they do this! All in all, we can’t say enough how wonderful this cruise was. Alaska is an awesome place to visit! So much untouched amazingly beautiful scenery!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This July the family decided to go on a cruise to Alaska on the Holland America Amsterdam. We had 7 people in our group and had 2 rooms. Everything on our cruise was absolutely perfect. The ship was very comfortable and up to ... Read More
This July the family decided to go on a cruise to Alaska on the Holland America Amsterdam. We had 7 people in our group and had 2 rooms. Everything on our cruise was absolutely perfect. The ship was very comfortable and up to date. The food was excellent and the service was perfect. Holland America gave us a perfect 7 day vacation and we’ll be looking forward to our next cruise on holland America’ We frequently hear how Holland America is the over 90 crowd but this trip the ship was filled with families and lots of kids. We had 2 18 year olds in our group and they enjoyed Holland America so much that they have been next summers family trip on Holland America. We decided Holland America gets the over 90 reputation from their world cruises as the only people that can take a 100 day cruisr are retired. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We did an Alaskan cruise 6 years ago and loved it so we wanted to return. Alaska is a great destination for us to escape summer heat and experience beauty. We traveled to and from Seattle. Our cabin was 2715 and a great location for us. It ... Read More
We did an Alaskan cruise 6 years ago and loved it so we wanted to return. Alaska is a great destination for us to escape summer heat and experience beauty. We traveled to and from Seattle. Our cabin was 2715 and a great location for us. It is at back of boat where there were only 2 cabins so there was no traffic. It was quiet. A hidden gem was a small deck on the back, almost private with access through the hall. We went to the shows every night and enjoyed them. There were 2 Gala nights, however we decided to be a bit more casual so did not attend. We ate dinner in dining room a few times as well as lunch. Loved the Lido for breakfast and the Crows Lounge for relaxation. Ports were great with the exception of Victoria which we were not a fan of. We chose to purchase excursions in the port as the prices were better and even got discounts too. My favorite port was Skagway as you are able to take a tour out of the town and experience natural beauty. We traveled with Frontier Excursions. The vehicle size allowed for better tour as there were only 9 of us on the tour. Guide was very familiar with history and area and also helpful in taking pictures. We stopped many spots and went to Yukon and the suspension bridge. In Juneau we went on the whale watch tour with Juneau Whale Watch Company. The boats were small and comfortable. The guides had a lot of information. Out of Seattle we were offered a special program through the Port Authority for free. Our luggage was picked up outside our cabin and put through to our final destination and our boarding passes were printed and delivered to our cabin. This was our second cruise with Holland America and we love them. They seem very professional. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
A Grand World cruise is a bucket list thing. We loved every day of this. The trip from Aqabah out to Petra was breathtaking. Tahiti was a disappointment...just a big dirty city. Bantry , Ireland was a serendipitous stop...Bantry House ... Read More
A Grand World cruise is a bucket list thing. We loved every day of this. The trip from Aqabah out to Petra was breathtaking. Tahiti was a disappointment...just a big dirty city. Bantry , Ireland was a serendipitous stop...Bantry House was amazing, as well as the impromptu Irish dance and music at Ma Murphys Pub. Snorkeling at the Pink Beach in Komodo, Indonesia..outstanding! But the best of all was having the President of the cruise line treat us ALL to a private reception at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam! What an awesome privilege! Travelling around the world , from east to west means lots of extra hours as we turn our clocks back through all time zones! Music was wonderful, for easy listening or dancing. Captain Jonathon Mercer took us through some stormy seas, we were never nervous. Service was top notch. There’s just something incomparable with a Grand World on HAL! Class act all the way. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Panama Canal Cruise 2019 January 7th – 22nd ~~~Departure from Los Angeles, January 7th~~~ Having planned this cruise for many months I was dismayed - to put it mildly - when about an hour before my scheduled pickup time by ... Read More
Panama Canal Cruise 2019 January 7th – 22nd ~~~Departure from Los Angeles, January 7th~~~ Having planned this cruise for many months I was dismayed - to put it mildly - when about an hour before my scheduled pickup time by SuperShuttle to take me to the World Cruise Center in San Pedro I received a telephone call from SuperShuttle informing me that at they had NO vehicle available to me and that they were cancelling my ride! My next thought was to try to get an Uber ride instead but, not having any experience with Uber, I was not sure how to pursue it. With the minutes fleeing by I went next door to ask Nina who I knew had used Uber for advice. It seems that Uber relies totally on the use of cell phones, which I do not have. Nina immediately found me an Uber ride, arriving within 10 minutes, just enough time to turn off my TV and lock up my house. An Uber arrived very soon and I was off only a few minutes later than my original departure time of 9 am with SuperShuttle, arriving at the World Cruise Center and my ship, Holland America’s ms Amsterdam, at about 10:30 am. Almost no one else was checking in this early and I was checked in with no wait at all by 11 am, going into the waiting room until my group numbered 7 was called to board, which occurred just before noon. Very quick process! I easily found my upgraded room, 2633, on the Main Deck 2 and it was as to be expected - almost. About 2/3 back from bow of the ship, its location is about the best possible. One change I immediately observed on entering was the bathroom that had been substantially upgraded with the old-fashioned tub and shower combination now replaced with a beautiful and large glass-enclosed shower. My room on the ms Zaandam last July on my Alaskan cruise was identical - except for the bathroom. Since my luggage would not be delivered for a while I went to the Dining Room for a casual lunch, and a glass of wine - of course! Then I stopped by the Pinnacle Grill to schedule my two evenings’ dining at this specialty restaurant, pre-purchased beforehand online. Departure time for our voyage was to be at 5 pm and occurred shortly thereafter. With my luggage now having been delivered to my stateroom I proceeded to begin my unpacking, delayed by my 8 pm dinner in the Dining Room where I had requested a table of 4. However, it turned out that I was the only one at this table so the Maitre D’ suggested that I might prefer a smaller table for 2, which I gladly accepted. Unlike other cruise first nights, prime rib was NOT offered! Too bad! Expecting rough seas because of the recent stormy weather in Southern California, I was pleasantly surprised by the absolutely smooth seas and had no difficulty at all falling asleep in my very comfortable double bed on this, my first night aboard the Amsterdam, headed for the Panama Canal. ~~~At Sea, January 8th & 9th~~~ The seas continue to be smooth as glass, much to my surprise but not to my disliking. With all of the stormy weather in Southern California, I had expected rougher seas. So far, so good! Being the first day at sea this was the first of three “gala”, or formal evenings during this cruise, so out came my coat and tie to wear. The day had been very relaxing with little to do except to complete my unpacking so I was ready for my dinner scheduled for 8 pm and it was not disappointing. I do not recall my menu choices but they were very good in any case. Then it was another early to bed; I am not the night owl I once was! On Wednesday, our second day at sea, I spent most of the day in my stateroom after enjoying yet another breakfast delivered to my room, which will be my normal habit, I think. Although yesterday I did go to the dining room for breakfast, it is so easy to just order in. I know I am missing all of the interplay with the rest of the passengers but, after 53 cruises, I quickly grow tired of hearing all about their grandkids, health problems, recent surgeries, etc., etc. Enough! Fortunately the TV in staterooms has my favorite MSNBC channel which I watch most of the time. With the government shutdown I am beginning to become concerned about my return flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles on January 22nd, by way of Charlotte, North Carolina, a major hub for American Airlines. I am hoping that the wait time for TSA Security check is not unreasonably lengthy when I get to the Ft. Lauderdale airport for my 1 pm flight. Also the weather is of concern. We shall see... That’s about it so far; I will have much more to report after tomorrow’s stop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. ~~~Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - January 10th~~~ After another night of calm seas, our arrival in Puerto Vallarta was right on schedule, at 8 am. There was another Holland America ship, the ms Eurodam, also in port. It has been a few years since I was last here and I was amazed at the recent growth: new port facilities, numerous new high-rise buildings stretching all along the shore of Banderas Bay. My choice of tour for the day was “Best of Puerto Vallarta” departing at 9 am. This is a repeat from the last time I was here, and involved a walking tour of old downtown PV including a walk along the Malecon, or bay front, with all of the many bronze statues present there. The street along here is now restricted to a pedestrian one which was a wise change. We then had a short visit to the famous Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral that incidentally was my first there. Then it was back on the bus for the Tequila Factory part of our tour. The drive out of Puerto Vallarta, past the busy International Airport, was farther that I recalled, but soon we arrived at the familiar Hacienda Dona Engracia for our tour of tequila making, followed by tasting - yeah! - followed by a nice buffet lunch - including choice of beverage - beneath a large tent. My choice was a Margarita, of course! New this time was a performance by a talented group of two couples of fiesta dancers, performed on a center stage in the middle of the tent. Their dances were both quite active as well as exquisitely costumed. There was even a very talented ropedancer performing during a costume change for the dancers. All in all, a most excellent addition to this popular tour. Oh, did I mention the unlimited supply of Margaritas? A good time was had by all! Leaving the Tequila Factory, we returned at 2 pm to our ship, the ms Amsterdam, concluding a wonderful visit to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Tomorrow is another day at sea until we reach Huatulco, Mexico, on Saturday, so there probably won’t be too much to report. ~~~At Sea & Huatulco, Mexico - January 11th & 12th~~~ Another day at sea on remarkably smooth waters, I spent most of the day in my stateroom, again enjoying my breakfast delivered by Benny, in exchange for a customary $2 tip: black coffee, cranberry and orange juices, ham and cheddar cheese omelet along with hash brown potatoes and English muffin. I can wear my sweat pants and sweat shirt in the privacy of my room - all very laid-back and relaxing. I forgot to mention my dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, a specialty restaurant aboard, on the evening of the second day at sea, Wednesday, January 9th. Online I had purchased for $62 two dinners here, each regularly priced at $35. Starting with a shrimp cocktail of three enormous shrimp - easily the size of small lobster tails, my entree was a 10-ounce filet mignon steak, expertly cooked to medium rare and so, so tender! Dessert was a chocolate soufflé that was incredible. Enjoyable, to say the least! My other dinner here will be on our last evening at sea before arriving at Ft. Lauderdale on January 21st. Huatulco is our second port of call in Mexico, which I had visited on a previous Princess cruise years ago. Today my choice of tour was a “beach break” at one of the many new resort hotels now populating this once-small port, the Secrets Resort. After a small coach ride of about 30 minutes, we arrived at the resort’s gate and were temporarily delayed from entering until proper identification was made. An enormous new resort with many levels leading down to the perfect, crescent-shaped Conejos Bay, the open lobby with high ceilings greeted the 12 of us in our group. After a brief explanation of the facilities and what was available to us, we were allowed the use of all of this inclusive resort’s offerings, including restaurants, pools, beach, and bars. My first choice was a trip to the Castaways Restaurant, located at some distance from the lobby and accessed by means of a small shuttle. I was about 5 minutes early for their 12-noon opening but was soon seated at a table in this open-air luxurious establishment. Ordering a Margarita on the rocks I relaxed immediately for a leisurely lunch. The menu was presented on a large billboard placed near my table and my choice was a rib-eye steak following delicious guacamole and salsa dip with chips. The steak was prepared to perfection as medium rare, and was absolutely delectable! A dessert of coffee flavored mousse topped off my “lunch”. A short shuttle ride brought me back to the lobby where I began looking for the pools. An elevator took me down to the lower level where a variety of beautiful pools were located and, unfortunately, the lounges were already fully occupied. So I sought out a nearby beach bar and ordered more Margaritas. After the two I had enjoyed with lunch, I enjoyed two more here! On the way back up to the lobby I stopped for yet another drink at another open-air bar, enjoying the coolness of it all. We were to meet in the lobby at 3:30 pm for our return trip to the ship, so I went back up to the lobby just after 3 pm, not wanting to be late. There I found yet another bar offering me yet another Margarita while waiting. Others in our group began to appear and 3:30 pm came and went with no sign of our coach back to the ship. Finally, around 4 pm, one arrived - not the same one in which we had been brought here. Evidently through some mix-up, our original coach had been cancelled and another replacement made. Never the less, we were delivered back to our ship, almost on schedule. All in all, a very enjoyable - and liquid! - day in Huatulco, Mexico. Tomorrow we are to be docked at Puerto Chiapas, Mexico a first visit for me. ~~~Puerto Chiapas, Mexico - January 13th~~~ Being my first visit to this small port of call, I had chosen a tour to the Argovia Express: Coffee Tasting and Botanical Gardens for the day. Nothing much else exists at this port except for a new elaborate cruise center. So I was dismayed to be informed the evening before that, due to low participation, this tour had been cancelled! Other tours were offered in replacement but none to my liking, so my visit to Puerto Chiapas was aborted; I chose to stay on the ship all day. Thus, my day was spent much the same as a sea day, relaxing in my stateroom. With ports of call for each of the next three days, the loss of this day was not too great. ~~~Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - January 14th~~~ Originally I had booked a tour just to the old city of Antigua but, having my previous coffee tour cancelled, I decided to change to a tour that would also include a visit to a coffee plantation: “Coffee Estate & Antigua”. Leaving the ship around 8:30 am we traveled on a very new coach for 90 minutes to the Filadelfia Coffee Estate on the outskirts of Antigua where we were given an informative tour of different portions of the estate: nursery, drying areas, mills, and packaging. Then we were invited to a lunch at the estate of an expertly prepared strip steak along with guacamole, black beans and rice, followed by a delicious coffee flavored mousse. Of course, a cup of their finest coffee accompanied this substantial meal. I heard NO complaints at all! Then we were given the opportunity of shopping in their small shop; for me, a bag of their coffee! Switching to two smaller vans, now required in the city instead of the large coaches, we then proceeded into the center of Antigua where we were given a somewhat lengthy walking tour, ending at the city square and the large cathedral. My legs are still crying out in pain! Finally, back again on our large comfortable coach, we spent another hour or so returning to the port and our ship at 4:30 pm, a long, enjoyable albeit energetic day. It was so good to return to my comfortable stateroom for a rest before preparing for dinner. ~~~Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - January 15th~~~ My tour today was first to the ancient ruins of the original capital city of Leon, destroyed by a volcano and seismic activity in 1610, covering it completely, and becoming the “Pompeii of Central America”. Rediscovered in 1967 it is now a World Heritage Site. It involved walking around the several acres observing walls or parts of walls still existing. The destruction was so severe that it was decided to relocate the new city elsewhere. All very interesting if you are into archeology but with all of the walking with not too much to see, my boredom reared its ugly head - in addition to my also sore legs. Returning to the entrance we were treated to an enjoyable and delicious Nicaraguan lunch in a local restaurant, consisting of chicken, steak, rice and beans, along with crispy fried plantains (bananas). A welcome relief from our walk! We then proceeded on for another hour to the modern city of Leon, traveling through very interesting and scenic country, including many volcanoes, most dormant but some still active. Mount Momotombo is the largest volcano and steam clouds could be seen coming from its cone-shaped summit. In the “modern” (really colonial) city of Leon, we were let off our coach near the city square and given a tour of the monumental cathedral there; it is immense! The interior is quite impressive with the many arches, altars and artwork. We were given the opportunity of climbing the 85 steps to the bell tower from which a magnificent view is possible. OR, if not, visiting a nearby restaurant for a cooling beverage; I chose the later! Finally it was back on our comfortable coach for the hour-long drive back to the port and our ship, arriving again about 4:30 pm along with several other buses at the exact same time. Getting back aboard became a lengthy process. Again, it was SO good to be back in my stateroom to rest my weary legs. Tomorrow in Costa Rica there will be MORE walking! ~~~Puerto Calderas, Costa Rica - January 16th~~~ This will be my 5th visit to Costa Rica and it remains one of my favorites. Seeking to try something different as far as excursions, the one entitled “A Walk in the Clouds” caught my attention, and it did live up to my expectations, although my poor legs might disagree. Leaving the ship at 9:30 am our coach departed the port of Calderas, one of the two Pacific ports for Costa Rica, the other being Puerto Arenas, about 20 miles away, and began our slow but gradual climb up into the range of mountains, their tops covered by clouds. Eventually we will have climbed to over 4500 feet above sea level and be right among the “clouds”. The drive was quite pleasant with the vistas right out of a picture book. We drove through several small towns, coffee plantations, and past many luxurious homes. Finally arriving at our destination, the Finis Nature Conservatory, amid a thick cloud cover, our first stop was for the rest rooms. Then after a short orientation talk by our tour guide we were separated into two groups for our trek. The group I was in was assigned a young enthusiastic naturalist student who was excellent in his knowledge of everything we would be observing. Our first stop was a nearby butterfly enclosure into which we entered and saw dozens of the fluttering insects. One in particular was a very large butterfly with bright blue wings, and whose name escapes me. Our guide explained all of phases of a butterfly’s life that I found most interesting. Next we came upon a suspension bridge, one of many that we would be crossing, high above the canyon and definitely a bit scary! We then proceeded to hike down and down along a trail marked with many stair steps, toward the small river below. A thick cable alongside the path aided tremendously in steadying our progress. More suspension bridges were encountered and eventually we reached the creek at the canyon’s bottom. A spectacular waterfall could be seen nearby and it was here that we encountered the other group having traveled in the opposite direction. Then came the hard part: going back UP the other trail, back to our starting point. My legs screaming out to me, my main problem was breathing and exhaustion but with several rest stops, I made it to our stop near the top where many hummingbird feeders were located. Hundreds of these tiny and colorful birds flittered all around, helping themselves to the feeders. Our guide then explained a lot about the different kinds of hummingbirds present, their habits, and aspects of their lives. Then it was only a short distance farther to our starting point where our lunch was waiting in a large open-air building. Lunch consisted of a buffet offering chicken and beef along with salads, rice and black beans. A delicious berry drink completed our hard-fought-for repast. Then it was time to reboard our coach for the trip back down to our ship. In one of the towns through which we had passed, a brief stop was made for shopping at a large store that offered many souvenirs of Costa Rica, including many coffees for which this country is famous. I purchased a bag of Cafe Britt Dark Roast coffee beans for $17; rather expensive I thought. On previous trips to Costa Rica I had toured the Cafe Britt Coffee Plantation in San Jose and had purchased coffee from them there and on their website. I don’t think I paid so much then! Our tour guide decided to take us by way of a different route back to the port and our ship and we passed through many small towns on the way. In each, he pointed out the presence of a Catholic Church, a school, and a soccer field. Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates of any country in the world, largely in part to their elimination of a military many years ago, the resulting emphasis then being placed on education. Right on schedule at 4 pm we arrived back at our ship, this time being the only tour getting back. There was an ambulance at the gangway, most probably some passenger had had a medical emergency; I never found out. As always, it was a relief to get back to my stateroom for a rest before dinner at 8 pm. ~~~At Sea & the Panama Canal Transit - January 17th & 18th~~~ Another full day at sea was required for our travel on to the Panama Canal from Puerto Calderas, Costa Rica, and about the only significant activity of the day for me was the “Gala” or Formal Night. As usual I enjoyed my in-stateroom breakfast, delivered by Benny - who gladly accepts my daily $2 tip: ham and cheddar cheese omelet with hash browns, coffee and juices (cranberry and orange). Finally, our Gala Dinner included “Surf & Turf”, fillet mignon and lobster tail, all very good with my steak grilled to medium rare perfection. Dessert was a Peach Crisp, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum-yum! Our approach to the Panama Canal started quite early on Friday morning with our passing beneath the Bridge of Americas occurring around 6:30 am. With the many towers of the very modern Panama City visible in the distance to the right, and the cranes of the port along side our approach in the channel, we reached the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks, about 7 am. Passing through this set of two locks took about an hour putting us in the small lake leading to the second lock, the Pedro Miguel Lock, about 8:30 am. The new set of locks recently opened are located to the left and consist of a set of three locks, much larger at 1200 feet long and 150 feet wide, than the original locks at 955 feet long and 106 feet wide. Once past these locks we entered the portion of the Canal called the Culebra Cut where the majority of the construction excavation took place. A relatively new bridge spans the Canal just before this entrance, and is a stunningly beautiful modern structure. Materials removed for this Cut were used to build the Gatun Dam across the Chagres River, creating the Gatun Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Western Hemisphere, and supplying the constant source of fresh water used in the locks. At around the middle of the Canal, before entering the Gatun Lake, we passed by the port of Gamboa at about 10:30 am where much of the maintenance equipment for the Canal is located. Then it was on into the large Gatun Lake for the lengthy passage across to the final set of locks, the Gatun Locks, arriving there around noontime. With three locks, the transit of the Gatun Locks took almost 2 hours. The newly opened set of three locks is located to the right side of the original Gatun Locks, and the super structures of the immense cargo ships using it could barely be seen over the trees. While in the midst of our ship being lowered from one lock into the next, we observed huge cargo ships being raised in the adjoining locks, some stacked so tall with containers as to strain one’s imagination! And yet they were able to use the original locks! One last such cargo ship entering the Canal southbound through the Gatun Locks appeared to be a car transporter because of its huge solid side walls and a ramp on its rear. Gigantic! After returning to the sea level of the Caribbean Sea, we further transited a channel into the Sea, passing beneath an almost-completed new bridge across the Canal, a beautiful new modern bridge not unlike the one crossing the Canal just prior to the Culebra Cut. Entering the Caribbean Sea, the port city of Cristobal was just off the right side. Once we took a cruise on the Grand Princess that, being too large to transit the Canal, ported us here; we then took the train across the Isthmus to Panama City. This railroad predates the Canal by many years and only takes an hour or so to make the trip alongside the Panama Canal. Our entrance into the Caribbean saw the end of our smooth seas; that evening was quite bumpy, a indication of rough seas to come. One good finale to the day was the serving of delectable prime rib in the restaurant that evening. My slice of prime rib was one of THE BEST I have ever enjoyed! Tomorrow: Cartagena, Columbia, our last port of call. ~~~Cartagena, Columbia & Day at Sea - January 19th & 20th~~~ After a night of active sea action, our noon arrival in the huge bay of Cartagena was a relief from the bumpy ride from the Panama Canal. The newer part of this ancient city is resplendent with high towers, mostly residential. On the other side of the bay is located the remnants of the old walled city, walled for protection from the pirates of old. Our ship docked at the main pier to the right of this section, next to another ship, the Monarch, one of Pullmantur’s fleet. The tour I selected for our afternoon in Cartagena included first a catamaran ride from near where our ship was docked, requiring a somewhat lengthy walk, around the bay past the towers on the peninsula to the left and the older section to the right, passing the Colombian Navy installation, finally docking alongside a dock near the walled city. Disembarking the catamaran we were immediately besieged by hordes of street sellers, selling everything from jewelry to hats to T-shirts to water, ... Having been here twice before, I was prepared for the constant barrage, just saying “NO!” repeatedly. Crossing a busy street we came alongside a proportion of the old wall, to an opening that we entered and proceeded with our waking tour of this older part of the city, around the very narrow streets and visiting several plazas. One special plaza was dedicated to Simon Bolivar whose statue adorned the center of the square. A cooling breeze largely compromised the reported high temperatures for the afternoon. Otherwise it would have been miserably hot. Much shade was also provided by the buildings being so closely packed together. We passed by a very elaborate building that had been the one time home of Sir Francis Drake, now available as a high rent hotel. Most buildings facing the narrow streets contain central courtyards with trees and fountains. Also observed was the old cathedral although we did not get to enter. Proceeding around several blocks we eventually returned to our original entrance where a tour of an emerald museum was offered. Entering we were presented with a mock-up of an emerald mine and a museum guide told us all about emerald mining. According to him, Columbia is the largest and best source for emeralds in the world. Of course we were eventually lead into their showroom where emerald jewelry could be purchased. I bought nothing! We were then given an hour or so of free time and, when I asked our tour guide for a good place to get a beer, he indicated a stairway leading to a very nice restaurant just above the emerald museum, where I found a table on their balcony overlooking the square below. Excellent location! After two beers I felt hungry so I ordered a shrimp dish that turned out to be absolutely delicious! And a third beer, of course! When the check arrived, the total - in pesos - was 69,000! Putting it on my Alaska Airlines Visa, this huge total amounted to just over $20. Rejoining our tour group at 4:15 pm, we all then proceeded back to where our catamaran was waiting and boarded for the return boat ride back to our ship. Upon arrival we were offered a free shuttle back along the dock to our ship’s location, fortunately! My poor legs were complaining! As always it was good to again be back aboard and in my stateroom. The ms Amsterdam departed Cartagena at 6 pm. Once past the harbor entrance, the sea action began again and continued through out the night. The next day was another sea day, one of two until our arrival in Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday morning. My day was as usual, having breakfast in my room, and writing some more on my cruise journal. As the last of our “Gala” nights, I again dressed for dinner in coat and tie. It was a surprise that we again were presented with the same menu as for our previous formal night, “Surf & Turf” which I gladly enjoyed once again, beginning with a generous shrimp cocktail. Staying up way past my bedtime, I waited up to observe the lunar eclipse of the “Super Moon” that occurred around 10:30 pm. My location on the ship for viewing was in the Crow’s Nest Lounge on Deck 8. The full moon was directly overhead as I sat near the front of the lounge. Very cool! Tomorrow I am invited to the Captain’s Reception at 12:30 pm for the Mariners Society, Holland America’s loyalty group of repeat customers, to be followed by a special luncheon in the Dining Room at 1 pm. We will no doubt be receiving the traditional Delft tile from HAL. ~~~Last Day at Sea & Return Trip Home - January 21st & 22nd~~~ The seas had calmed down quite a bit during the day and I went to the Main Stage Theater for the Captain’s Mariners Society Reception at 12:30 pm where I encountered a huge crowd; Holland America has a great repeat business. After struggling to receive my free glass of champagne - I didn’t sit in the right seat! - I did enjoy viewing the many awards to several passengers, mostly quite old, for their unbelievable numbers of cruises taken. My 10 cruises and 129 days had already received a Bronze Medallion on a previous HAL cruise, so I was not individually recognized. Following the Reception we all moved to a special area of the Dining Room for our Mariner Society Luncheon, including wine! Luckily I sat at a table with my new friends, Pat & George, from my many visits to the Ocean Bar on Deck 5. My menu choice was a delectable filet mignon, cooked to perfection - medium rare, and so, so tender! The Captain spoke once more and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves a lot. Dessert was a delicious berry cheesecake that was outstanding! All in all, a very nice experience. Then it was the most dreaded time of any cruise - packing up to leave! However, over my 54 previous cruises I have become adept in the accomplishment of this duty so my luggage was almost completely packed by late afternoon, needing only the clothes and dopp kit required for getting ready for my second evening dining at the specialty restaurant, the Pinnacle Grill at 7 pm. I had delivered extra tips to my waiters and wine steward in the dining room the previous evening, so only remaining were my favorite bartenders in the Ocean Bar, and my two room stewards that I would deliver tonight. For a cruise of this length - 15 days - I usually give them each $20; this is in addiction to the automatic tip of $13.50 charged daily to my shipboard account that is distributed to all service staff - they say! I often wonder how much of this substantial amount actually reaches the intended people! As usual I went to the Ocean Bar before dinner where I said my goodbyes to both Suvit and Mervin - both from the Philippines, as well as to Pat & George from Virginia with whom I had become good friends. Then it was off to the Pinnacle Grill for my last meal aboard. My appetizer again was a cocktail of HUGE shrimp - 4 of them, and almost as large as small lobster tails. SO GOOD! And again I chose the 10-ounce filet mignon, grilled to perfection at medium rare, accompanied by side dishes of creamed spinach, mushrooms and grilled asparagus. I ate every bit of it! For dessert I enjoyed a berry Baked Alaska, sufficient size to serve two, but again I finished it off! What a final dinner! Then it was reluctantly back to my stateroom to finish my packing that was done quickly, adding my dinner clothes and dopp kit to my luggage, being careful to leave out clothes to wear in the morning. In addition to my one suitcase I also use a Princess tote bag to carry my iPad, head phones for the airplane, passport, and a SuperShuttle confirmation sheet, along with American Airlines boarding passes which I had earlier printed in the ship’s internet center. All done, I placed my locked and tagged luggage in the hallway for pickup before midnight; mine was out by 10:30 pm. Special tags indicating departure group from the ship had been issued - mine was Yellow 1, and I left right on schedule at 8:30 am for the Ft. Lauderdale Airport and my 1 pm flight to Charlotte, NC, there changing planes for Los Angeles. Of course I missed my usual breakfast room service on the morning of departure, but waiting in my stateroom until my group color was called allowed me to sleep in until around 7:30 am. Departure was through the forward exit door on Deck 2 so it was most convenient for me since my stateroom was 2633, on Deck 2. A special parting touch of this cruise was the lineup of crew members at the exit as we left the ship, all bidding us farewell and thanks for choosing Holland America. I don’t recall anything like this on previous ships. Very nice! After the long walk in the terminal to the baggage collection hall, I found mine quickly and showing my passport to the emigration control agent allowed my exit to the awaiting airport bus located at the entrance. First telling the driver my flight airline - American Airlines, I went aboard and relaxed for the short drive to the airport, very nearby the cruise ship terminals at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale. Arrival at the airport was around 9:30 am and, after a short walk from where the bus dispatched us for American Airlines to the terminal, I quickly checked my luggage with an outdoor agent, not having to pay the $25 fee since I have an AAdvantage Visa card. Inside I found NO lines for security check in and rapidly made way through TSA Pre Check with no delay. Then it was off to find my departure gate E5 and then a nearby restaurant to eat breakfast. Luckily there was a Jack Nicklaus restaurant right next to Gate E5 and, after a short wait for a table, I ordered an immense 3-egg omelet loaded with mushrooms, onions and sausage, served with hash browns and wheat toast: and coffee, of course. Since my flight was not until 1 pm with boarding at 12:30 pm, I had a very enjoyable and relaxing breakfast, sitting there watching all the hordes of people now passing by; the terminal had gotten quite crowded since my arrival. With my Main Cabin Extra Seat on American Airlines, I receive early boarding so just on schedule I boarded Flight 1924 for Charlotte and found my assigned bulkhead seat 5C with no delay. Then I got to watch as the plane filled, all passing right by me. After a bit of bumpiness on take off, the rest of the 2-hour Flight was remarkably smooth and our arrival was almost 30 minutes early, which caused some delay in finding an open gate; the one originally assigned was still occupied. Deplaning in this very large and busy terminal of Charlotte, a hub for American Airlines, I located my departure gate for Los Angeles and was dismayed to find it to be Gate B14; our arrival gate had been at Gate C5. So away I went, riding the many moving sidewalks, until finally I reached Gate B14, at the very end of B concourse. Upon arriving I read that boarding would begin in 15 minutes! Very close connection with the gate change. Boarding was actually delayed by our aircraft arriving late and our eventual departure for Los Angeles was not until 4:20 pm. Again I boarded right away and got to my seat 5C right away. The flight was in fact overbooked and the boarding agent was asking for volunteers to take a later flight; I did not do so! An almost 5-hour flight, I enjoyed a Chardonnay wine twice during the flight that was really quite smooth with only few short periods of minor turbulence. Sleep for me occurred in short patches during the flight and I was happy when our final descent into LA began. There was some turbulence as we passed over the Banning Pass moving our plane about, but the landing was smooth. We landed on LAX’s north runway and had to circle the airport, around the new construction area, past Bradley Terminal, until finally reaching our Gate 42B. First stopping at the nearest bathroom, I then proceeded to locate our baggage carousel that turned out to be Number 4. I was lucky to see my luggage come around very soon and, with a struggle to get it off the carousel, I was then off to find SuperShuttle’s dispatcher for my prepaid ride home. I found the dispatcher’s desk vacant and waited for the next SuperShuttle van to come along. With some confusion, the van for John Wayne Airport eventually took me aboard, along with 4 others seeking transfer to Orange County, so I expected it to be another lengthy trip; I was actually the third one delivered, at about 9:15 pm. The end of a long, exhausting day of travel. Struggling to find the right keys to open my front door, finally I was inside and immediately turned on my heater. Everything looked just fine after 15 days of absence, and it was so, so good to slip into my own bed last night. Today, Wednesday, it could not be more beautiful outside and I put the garbage cans out for their regular collection. My luggage full of dirty clothes will just have to wait! I am home! ~Ron Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
MS Amsterdam Grand Pacific & Asia Cruise from Sept 30 – Dec 21, 2018 Our background: Couple in our early 70s, well travelled, cruised on 15 different lines including HAL. We pick cruises for their itineraries. This 82 day cruise ... Read More
MS Amsterdam Grand Pacific & Asia Cruise from Sept 30 – Dec 21, 2018 Our background: Couple in our early 70s, well travelled, cruised on 15 different lines including HAL. We pick cruises for their itineraries. This 82 day cruise was the longest we had ever taken and we are pleased to say that it was also one of the best. Fellow passengers: Not surprising on such a long cruise, more than two thirds were 66 and over. Most were avid HAL cruisers and many I spoke to like long cruises on the Amsterdam. Ship: In good shape; frequent cleaning going on inside and maintenance outside. Crew: The hotel staff is definitely the best we have ever encountered. On other ships, it is often just a few members who go out of their way to be helpful. On the MS Amsterdam, the warm and friendly service was consistent. Everyone in the Lido buffet restaurant, the dining room, and the Neptune Lounge went way beyond what we are used to from other ships, including the Hapag Lloyd luxury line. Nothing was too much for our waiters, tea and honey when I had a cold, spicy sambal when I thought an Asian dish needed more pep, crispy dinner rolls, and you name it. Food: I believe the food budget was higher on this cruise than on our previous 14 day b2b cruises on HAL ships. We are picky about authentic taste. We were happy with the European dishes that tasted just like in the Old Country. There was daily sushi and an Asian counter in the Lido, but also all the American favorites. Daytime activities: There were so many to choose from that every passenger could find several to enjoy. I went to water color, arts & crafts, and Tai Chi taught by Master Cathy Chen, but there were many more options. My husband played bridge organized by a bridge instructor. All the presenters were interesting with topics on the regions where we travelled. Port information speakers were excellent. We had wonderful cultural ambassadors in Australia and from Fiji to Hawaii. Courageous passengers learned to dance the hula and to play the ukulele. Conclusion: We are looking into booking another HAL grand cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was my 4th cruise to Alaska.(HAL) This time on Amsterdam. She is a lovely ship with many beautiful greek statues. Layout of the ship was very easy. Embarkation and disembarkation was amazingly smooth and fast (as compared to 3 ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise to Alaska.(HAL) This time on Amsterdam. She is a lovely ship with many beautiful greek statues. Layout of the ship was very easy. Embarkation and disembarkation was amazingly smooth and fast (as compared to 3 prior cruises). Cabin was inside with a view on lower prom. deck. Only noise was 9:30 PM approx. when cleaning the deck. We ate all meals in the Lido and the food was outstanding. Entertainment was piano bar (very good) and "On Tour" singers, dancers and musicians was very good. Husband attended all Windows workshops and rates A+. He used the gym and movie theater daily. The service from our cabin to the Lido was excellent (as always in past cruises). Every crew member was happy, smiling, and very courteous. Only shore excursions this time was Fortress of the Bear (Sitka) and the Raptor Center(Sitka) - SO GOOD. In all other ports we walked around on our own. First cruise we had time to enjoy shipboard activities. "Ask The Captain" virtual bridge tour was excellent, as was America's Test Kitchen shows daily. Enjoyed the casino. We have booked a 14 day Alaskan tour onboard Amsterdam in June 2019 and looking forward to it! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We booked this cruise on a whim as we had never been on a cruise and found a great deal. Seattle isn't far from Vancouver BC Canada (about 2.5 to 3 hour drive) so having this embark and return to Seattle was convenient. We drove ... Read More
We booked this cruise on a whim as we had never been on a cruise and found a great deal. Seattle isn't far from Vancouver BC Canada (about 2.5 to 3 hour drive) so having this embark and return to Seattle was convenient. We drove down in the morning at 7:30AM and parked at Seattle Cruisepark by 10:30 (we had enough time to stop for coffee). They have shuttles that take you to and from the terminal every 15-20 minutes so it was quite convenient. Embarkation was great and straight forward. A porter took our bags before hand and they were already in our room by the time we got on board. Our room was configured in a twin-bed setup, and after our concierge introduced themselves we asked them if they could change it to a single-bed setup while we roamed the ship. They happily obliged. We went straight for the Lido deck to eat as our morning drive and check in left us starving. It did not disappoint as there were plenty of foods ready for everyone as soon as the boarded. The ship itself wasn't particularly huge, but you didn't feel confined either. Memorable for us were the variety of shows on the main stage every night. You could gamble at the casino, go to some cooking demonstrations, watch movies in a theatre, swim, relax in hot tubs, drink in the birds nest or on the Lido rear deck; plenty to do. The main dining room is surprisingly elegant and huge, and the food was delicious there as well as the Lido Buffet. One night we had dinner at the Pinnacle grill. I swear, I had THE BEST 18 oz Ribeye Steak that i've ever had in my life (and this is from a guy who has eaten a fair share of steak!). One night we danced as the Birds Nest turns into a club with dance floor and nearby bar. Alaska cities were beautiful, and the time of year we went (1st week of September) happened to have warm weather at all of our stops. Juneau was 26 degrees celcius!!! Hubbard Glacier was nice as the boat engines were turned off and the only sounds were the calving of ice into the bay. The tradition of Pea Soup served to those on deck was neat, as I don't often have pea soup. In Ketchikan I got to see the Time Bandit (a boat from the show, Deadliest Catch) in port. Sitka Alaska didn't have much to do in town and we didn't book any excursions, so we took the day to relax while everyone went off-ship as well as do laundry so that we didn't have to do so much when we got home. Onboard there are a few laundry rooms with several washer/dryers. Washers cost $2.00 a load, and you can get change from the Front Desk. Soap is free, as well as the Dryers. We popped our clothes in and went to eat with plenty of time before going back to swap the clothes in the dryer and go back to the Birds Nest for some Pina Coladas. For a 7 day cruise near our home and for our first time, this cruise was excellent and we are itching to book our next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was our 5th cruise first trip to Alaska and on Holland. We booked last minute and ended up with a cabin on the main deck 2647. It was quiet with a walk in shower! We bought the spa pass and felt it was our own spa for the cruise. ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise first trip to Alaska and on Holland. We booked last minute and ended up with a cabin on the main deck 2647. It was quiet with a walk in shower! We bought the spa pass and felt it was our own spa for the cruise. We used it in the morning after our exercise in the gym and it was empty. The service was top rate from room Stewart to dining to ocean bar. Everyone referred to us by name and were very attentive. The food was the best I have experienced on all cruise lines(carnival, celebrity,norwegian and royal caribbean). We were in the dining room for lunch and dinner and it was fantastic. We did 2 excursions: In Juneau we did the whale watching and Mendenhall glacier. The whale watching boats so crowded 150 people? Too many! In Sitka we did an ATV which was fantastic. There was only one other couple. We took a small boat to a volcanic island and saw 3 whales, sea otters and bald eagle. The ATV was fun and beautiful scenery. Afterward we went to town and the totem pole park. Hubbard glacier was breathtaking. In Ketchikan just walked the town. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our 9th cruise, first time on HAL, first time to Alaska. Excellent cruise all around. We spent a day in Seattle the day prior to boarding, Having seen the wine prices listed on HAL online, we decided to bring a case of wine ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise, first time on HAL, first time to Alaska. Excellent cruise all around. We spent a day in Seattle the day prior to boarding, Having seen the wine prices listed on HAL online, we decided to bring a case of wine onboard and pay the $18 per bottle corkage fee. We found a nice selection of wines for under $20, 15% discount on a case, at Pike’s Place Market wine store (Pike and Western Wine Shop, 1934 Pike Place). We used Lyft from the airport to our hotel (Homewood Suites Downtown – pretty good), from Pike’s Place to the hotel, from the hotel to the port and from the port to the airport. Very easy. If you are a new customer, look for a Lyft discount code displayed at baggage carousel when you land. Embarkation was super easy. No lines to wait in at noon, and so many smiling faces. One of our party forgot his passport – we were directed to a lovely woman who assured us that the colored copy we had was sufficient! I have carried copies of our passports for years, and this is the first time I had to use it. Disaster averted. Before we went to check in, we were directed to a table where corkage fee was charged to our room and stickers were put on the bottles, assuring that we could drink it anywhere on the boat. We were told at check in that our rooms were ready! So nice to go right to the room and be rid of carry-ons and wine. We were in rooms 6102 (ocean view – front of ship) and 6116 (port side verandah). Good location for ease in getting around ship. Each room had 2 robes, 2 pair slippers, 2 wool throw blankets. The verandah room had binoculars. 6102 had a tub, 6116 had a shower stall. 6102 had a sloped ceiling, which made the room seem smaller, and reduced the closet space somewhat. Both rooms had wonderful views. We really felt the ship movement the first night from Seattle towards Juneau. Other times, we felt movement/vibrations, probably due to the smallness of the ship and the Pacific Ocean. Not a major issue – did not see any seasick people. Room 6102 was above the theater and on some late nights the noise was annoying. The combo of movement, noise, and sloped ceilings would keep me from booking this room again. Weather was mostly cloudy, with highs in the 50’s and 60’s. We did not have any pelting rain while on shore. In Sitka, the sun even came out! For excursions/walking outside decks, layers were key. Two of our party wore long underwear. I wore a long sleeved wicking shirt, then a polartec fleece hooded sweatshirt, a lightweight down jacket and covered it all with a raincoat. Combined with a hat and light gloves, that took care of the coldest day – at the Hubbard Glacier. Low hiking boots were perfect for everywhere. On our kayaking excursion and our jeep/canoe excursion, raincoats/waterproof pants were offered. The interior of the ship was very warm. We were fine in short sleeves, and never needed sweaters or shawls at dinner. The Amsterdam is a lovely ship, with great service from everyone. There is a huge library, lots of public spaces with expansive views, and a card room with playing cards, chess sets, mahjong and many games and puzzles. The staff is very low key – you won’t be pestered to buy anything, or pose for photos. We really appreciated that aspect. The clientele does skew older. There were some children onboard, but mostly as part of large family groups. Our mid-twenties kids were perfectly happy with available activities. The food was very good in the dining room and the Lido. I am a vegetarian and each night at dinner, I was offered both the menu for the next day and the special vegetarian menu so I could choose the next night’s meal. We had second seating but were able to switch to first seating on our last night so we could visit Victoria at the 6 pm docking. We enjoyed the America Test Kitchen demonstrations – it was standing room only most of the time, so arrive early. I booked two of our excursions (Glacier View Kayaking in Juneau and Canoe and Jeep Adventure in Ketchikan) through Costco and the Sitka Marine Adventure directly at their website (sitkawildlifetours.com). We were joined by people from our ship who had booked directly from HAL, and there was no issue about getting back to the ship on time was not an issue. Liked all the excursions, highly recommend the Sitka Marine Adventure! Debarkation was painless and quick. We managed our own bags, and exited about 8 a.m. We made it from the stateroom to the airport in under an hour. Sea-Tac was very busy, with long lines for checking baggage and TSA screening. We had no trouble making our 11:20 a.m. flights. Definitely planning to cruise with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I just submitted my review for our recent cruise. I rated it 5 stars out of 5: This is a quick and concise review compared to most of my previous ones. We have been to Alaska several times so I will not share the port reviews. The ... Read More
I just submitted my review for our recent cruise. I rated it 5 stars out of 5: This is a quick and concise review compared to most of my previous ones. We have been to Alaska several times so I will not share the port reviews. The Wife and I were looking for a relaxing getaway and we chose this Alaskan Cruise based on timing and price. 4th of July fell on a Wednesday this year and business-wise, it made a lot of sense for us to take this cruise during a very slow work week. When we shopped around for cruises during this time period, several months ago, we noticed that the Alaska Cruises were quite a bit pricier than past Alaskan seasons. Good economy? Lots of demand? Who knows. But Travelocity seemed to have quite a good deal and gave us $200 On-board Credit. Our Cruise price was a real bargain in comparison.. We chose an outside cabin in the front of the ship on the lower deck. Stateroom 1805 is designed for handicapped people but is about twice as big as a regular OV (DW is disabled) The stateroom was excellent in our opinion. Odd shape but well over 300 square feet. Plenty of storage space. Excellent room! We had an excellent stateroom attendant (Yusaf) and his assistant. They did a great job. As an example, we needed the beds rearranged and told them before the Muster Drill. We get back from the Muster Drill and the room is totally made up! We are earlyy diners and without telling Yusaf, he knew and made our rooms up quickly every night. Spotlessly! They both deserved the extra tips we gave them at the end of the cruise. Food and service was excellent. We stuck primarily to the Lido Buffet. There was fresh Salmon every day. They are also serving little Tapas style plates for dinner that were great...couscous salad, marinated vegetables, prawn salad and the like. Pinnacle Lunch is a great secret. Do not miss it. I'm telling you. Apparently the Rudy's Special Meal for $49pp for only one night is also a winner. We unfortunately did not get a chance to try it though. Amsterdam was spotless. Service was outstanding. Approx 1350 passengers are easier to manage than the massive megaships that abound. Our last Cruise was Emerald Princess over Thanksgiving with over 3500 pax and 700 children. Enough said on the comparison to this cruise! Tip: Do not try using the ship's internet while in port. For some reason it slows to a crawl. Works better out at sea. DW was on for 10 minutes in Ketchikan and could not even get into her e-mail account. It was that slow. We brought it up to the front desk who immediately re-credited her 10 minute session. No questions asked! Satellite works fine while we are not in port. Tip for you all! Embarkation and Disembarkation were a breeze. All in all, a great cruise and we got what we wanted. Relaxation and a reboot before going back to work the a day after disembarkation. Let me know if you have any questions. -Curtis Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I'm tired of all the mega ships, lack of service and employees with attitude. I've always considered Holland America a step above and they didn't disappoint. Accommodations were good and food was very good in the dining ... Read More
I'm tired of all the mega ships, lack of service and employees with attitude. I've always considered Holland America a step above and they didn't disappoint. Accommodations were good and food was very good in the dining room although I did visit the Pinacle Grill. I was really pleased with the entertainment for a smaller ship. The staff was very accommodating and seemed to genuinely enjoy their work. I appreciated the lack of long lines on and off the ship. The trip to Hubbard Glacier was amazing. Being a smaller ship we were able to get very close with much calving of the glacier. The entertainment was very good with entertainers who could actually sing! I've been very disappointed of late at the quality on the mega ships . Getting on and off the ship were a breeze. I loved the service of having my luggage tagged all the way to my home airport once it was placed in the hallway. I always heard Holland was for old people but found many single, families and middle aged couples. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Definitely would use Holland America again. Wanted to go to Alaska with 2 friends who had it on their bucket list. Needed wheelchair and they were so accommodating, helping me lift w/c when it was hard for me. We did bring our own fold up ... Read More
Definitely would use Holland America again. Wanted to go to Alaska with 2 friends who had it on their bucket list. Needed wheelchair and they were so accommodating, helping me lift w/c when it was hard for me. We did bring our own fold up wheelchair. Room staff very helpful for our situation. Everyone who worked on the ship really seemed to like their jobs. Very happy people. Plenty of hand sanitizers everywhere they put the ship which to me said they cared about keeping us healthy. The cruise food was a10/10 especially the two dining areas but even the food on top level was very good. The dog sledding on land was interesting, the timberland thing was a bit quirky-silly fun. Weather was great. Victoria is so beautiful should have longer time there. Can’t thank them enough for the wonderful trip we had. Booked with AAA. Thank you Holland America Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was my third Holland cruise, and 3rd Alaska cruise. Alaska is all about thhe scenary and is a must do. This was a roundtrip out of Seattle and did 2 stops we had not done befioire. Sitka & Hubbard Glacier. Overall a nice ... Read More
This was my third Holland cruise, and 3rd Alaska cruise. Alaska is all about thhe scenary and is a must do. This was a roundtrip out of Seattle and did 2 stops we had not done befioire. Sitka & Hubbard Glacier. Overall a nice trip. We had 18 in the group ranging from 1.5 years old to 80 years old. The Amsterdam was only 3 weeks out of refurbishment and some little details still needed polishing. Dinging folks at 1st did not have our 3 tables together, but after my mothher talked with them the 3 tables were then next to each other. Pinnacle Grill was so-so service, 1st time in many years (and in 14 cruises) I ever had to send a steak back for being under done. We had 4 Neptune suites (deck 7), and 4 balconies (deck 6). I lucked into an SB cabin toward the rear of the ship and it was great. We enjoyed dinners at Canelletto & Pinnacle Grill. Everyone went their own way in ports, while meeting for dinner & echange of stories. We (the group of 18) had great luck on drawings, winnning a spa certificate, 3 raffles, 1 bingo, and the slot tournament. Neptune service cannnot be beat. Juneau - whale research vessell tour, got whae tail photos, and really nejoyed thhe hermit crabs. Sitka - disappointed in my 1/2 day fish excursion, not 1 single salmon caught, captian said season was running late & admitted taking us to same spot he had been day before with no bites? A waste of my money. Hubbard Glacier - best day, great photos, and calving photos. ship gets real close, and turns for viewinf on both sides. Ketchikan - just walked aroound, no tour, visited a stone gallery and they will bargain with you. Got some carvings for 30-50% off, which are being mailed to us. Small afternoon rain shower. If I ever get back to Alaska it will be for land tour that includes Denali. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Our 21 Day Cruise aboard HAL's Amsterdam from Singapore to Cape Town was our best cruise ever. We have cruised many times on multiple cruise lines and have Elite Status on multiple cruise lines - so this is a significant statement. ... Read More
Our 21 Day Cruise aboard HAL's Amsterdam from Singapore to Cape Town was our best cruise ever. We have cruised many times on multiple cruise lines and have Elite Status on multiple cruise lines - so this is a significant statement. We knew prior to the beginning of our cruise that the Amsterdam would be going into dry dock in May, 2018 so we were very afraid that the condition of the ship would be poor. To our great surprise, the Amsterdam was quite the opposite. The Hotel Director, Henk Mensink (Dutch) is the best Hotel Director I have ever seen and takes great pride in his efforts to have his Team keep the Amsterdam in pristine condition at all times - even just before going into dry dock. Most of the ships we have sailed on which were about to go into dry dock had declined in condition - with several ships having very horrible conditions such as sewer problems, flooding problems, ratty carpeting, etc. This is why we were so pleased with the great condition of the Amsterdam. We were also favorably impressed with the Captain: Jonathan Mercer (British). The food on this cruise was excellent every day - as was the service, especially in the Lido. The quality of the entrees and desserts was great. Many options were available and never long wait lines in the Lido. The ship décor is classic and quite impressive. We are looking at more cruising opportunities aboard the Amsterdam and highly recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
The American Holland, New Amsterdam Cruise was excellent. Starting with arrival and checking was a great experience for anyone looking for a great time.The variety of the food and the picnic at half moon cay was amazing. We did not use ... Read More
The American Holland, New Amsterdam Cruise was excellent. Starting with arrival and checking was a great experience for anyone looking for a great time.The variety of the food and the picnic at half moon cay was amazing. We did not use the cruse excursions but others and they were very good. Everything, was quiet impressive but Arsana services and care was my highlight, The guys that took care of the cabin were amazing, I ask for ice for my back one day and for that point on Arsana had ice for me every day. Arsana and Konang were absolutely above and be on expectations taking care of us. Enrike in the dining room was exceptional as well, all service areas were impressive.The cruise was excellent, almost everything, I though that all entertainment was targeting one age group but other than everything else was amazing. I highly recommend this cruise for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Actually it was a little less than 19 miles an hour, 18.9 mph or 16.4 knots as I reckon it. Nineteen miles an hour seems like a leisurely pace to circle the planet. But on a human scale it’s really pretty hectic. To put 19 miles an ... Read More
Actually it was a little less than 19 miles an hour, 18.9 mph or 16.4 knots as I reckon it. Nineteen miles an hour seems like a leisurely pace to circle the planet. But on a human scale it’s really pretty hectic. To put 19 miles an hour into perspective, the average speed of a runner in the Boston Marathon is 8.8 mph, an average human walks at about 3.1 mph, an average horse’s walk is 4 mph. If you were on a sailing ship on a good day you could travel at 8 knots or 9.2 miles per hour. At times we felt that hectic pace. We are we wanted to see as much as possible at each port. When there’s a port call on the very next day details of the first port get lost. Sea days are a time to reflect, write and sort pictures while memories were still fresh. Many of my cruise mates said things like “I really enjoyed Napier, or was it Dunedin; I can never keep them straight.” Or “I think we were here on a past cruise, but I can’t remember.” That could easily have happened to me so I pondered, sorted and wrote. Many evenings I skipped the entertainment to process my experiences. You would think that on a long cruise I’d get a lot of reading done. I read fewer than half the number of books that I usually read in 4 months. On sea days I tried to spend an hour sitting in a deck chair on the promenade deck “reading.” I didn’t get through many pages. Reading time became thinking time while looking out at the ocean. Other important times for processing were walks around the promenade deck and my daily swim. People ask “What was your favorite port?” Difficult to answer but here is an attempt. I loved each of the New Zealand ports but Mt. Maunganui was the happiest place we visited. I had not heard of it before the trip. It’s the small port for bigger attractions just a short bus ride away. We never got on that bus. We walked off the ship with no expectations, and wandered with no agenda. We enjoyed the beach, the bay and the Saturday crafts market with its booths, music and conversation. Hobart, Tasmania was the highlight of the “The lucky country” (Australia) because of an encounter with the owner of an art gallery who curated aboriginal art. He brought out a bottle of good wine and we had an enjoyable evening of conversation laced with laughter. The “Wow” moment came at Namibia’s sand dunes. The surreal moment was the tourist convoy in Luanda, Angola which included mini buses, police motorcycle outriders, a pilot car, a police SUV filled with armed guards and an ambulance. The guide assured us he would make sure we didn’t get arrested for taking pictures. The romantic highlight was Hong Kong where Suzi and I had spent time 30 years ago. We wandered around looking at what had changed and what was timeless. Who would have thought this hectic city could become our romantic touchpoint? The “experience” that rises to the top is snorkeling and with sharks and sting rays in Bora Bora. Cape Town is where I want to return to explore further. And Cape Verde was my unexpected love affair. I thought it would be kind of a throwaway port, nothing planned, a place to stop in the Atlantic between Africa and America. I loved it. There was only one stop that I really didn’t like, Georgetown, Grand Cayman. I can only take so many t-shirt shops, Jimmy Buffett songs touting margaritas. In his final talk Captain Mercer said a trip like this changes anyone who takes it. It’s too soon to tell how this trip will change me. We traveled far and wide but not deep. How can you when you are in a place for between 8 and 58 hours? Holland America did their best to add depth with lectures, foods from the countries we visited and cultural shows. In the past we have traveled deep, living abroad for almost two decades. Traveling far and wide does not give you that type of experience, but it does paint a panorama that allows me to see relationships between different parts of the world. On board lectures on Indian Ocean trade or Pacific migrations while we were sailing those waters helped me better understand (and look for) similarities in culture, language and religion in very diverse parts of the globe. We learned how trade and fisheries enabled the exchange of not only goods, but of religion culture and genes. Out of this came some intriguing hybrid cultures. I loved the Cape Verde Islands because of the mix of Africa, Brazil and Europe touched with a little bit of Yankee whaler. I spoke with a “Cape Colored” man in South Africa of Malay -- Moslem – German -- Ashkenazi heritage named Rosenberg, educated Lutheran, who is raising his children Catholic. Place names in New Zealand, Australia, Alaska and Canada are the same; Cook, Vancouver, Bligh, Malaspina, and Turnagin. Perhaps the epiphany of this trip will be greater understanding of the interrelationship of peoples and lands. Or perhaps the life changer from this cruise will be the friends we made. I was surprised by the folks who take world cruises. They are not necessarily members of the upper classes, not necessarily bankers or lawyers (although some are.) Many are teachers, nurses, social workers, librarians, production line workers or retired military. Perhaps the epiphany of this trip is that we live in a “lucky time.” a fleeting “golden age” for the middle class when teachers, nurses, social workers, librarians and production line workers are affluent enough to take this type of vacation. Will the next generation of teachers, librarians, nurses, social workers and production line workers be able to do this as trade and professional unions wane in influence and wealth concentrates at the top? My cruise mates were engaged, hard-working and committed people. Will their children, our children, be able follow their parents and enjoy an experience like this? By the numbers: • We sailed 34,128 Nautical Miles, 39,274 statute miles or 63,205 KM • The Cruise lasted 113 days • We visited 39 ports in 26 countries or territories • We missed one port due to weather and substituted one port because of the bubonic plague. • We used 18 currencies (20 if you count the Panamanian Balboa which is the same as a dollar and the Namibian dollar, which is the same as the South African rand.) • I took 16,916 pictures and posted 3,504 on either my blog or Facebook (not counting this post.) • We broke three cameras. • This cruise blog has 143 posts including this one. I didn’t count words. • I lost about 5 pounds. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Great Wall in China was wonderful . Must make it a two day trip as forbidden city is a long walking tour. Be prepared for the massive crowds of people at the temples & cities. It was a special religious holiday & schools were on ... Read More
Great Wall in China was wonderful . Must make it a two day trip as forbidden city is a long walking tour. Be prepared for the massive crowds of people at the temples & cities. It was a special religious holiday & schools were on summer breaks. Most ports had free bus service to local area of interest & Starbucks for wifi. Be prepared for no Facebook or phone service in China & Japan. T mobile seamed to be a better service. My Verizon was not good. Several local groups were brought on ship for shows, crafts, dancing & exercise classes. Ports where crew families lived everyone had signs on cabins "no service" enjoy your family's. Pretty special. I packed way to many summer clothes. Much cooler then expected & of course air conditioning very cold in dining,show rooms, & movie theater. In Australia we used water taxis to vist fishing villages & guess what free wifi on dock & excellent fish lunch. Hop on buses were ok but expensive. Local buses were a fun experience if you had time. Polynesian islands easy to book trips on shore. A must to swim with sharks & huge sea rays. Most evenings we had late dining at a table for 8 (53) & our Waite staff was excellent. The decorations & themes according to the country we were visiting were grand every night. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
When I first started talking to my friends about taking my first ever cruise, they all said the same thing: Holland America would be a great fit for me. They also said that to get the best cruise experience, I should go for at least 7 ... Read More
When I first started talking to my friends about taking my first ever cruise, they all said the same thing: Holland America would be a great fit for me. They also said that to get the best cruise experience, I should go for at least 7 days, longer if possible. And they all suggested finding an Alaska itinerary since Holland America pretty much wrote the book on cruising Alaska, and I live about halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, the two ports used by most Holland America Alaska cruises. I found the 14-day Great Alaska Explorer, and contacted Holland America via their website. That put me in touch with my fabulous Personal Cruise Consultant, Crystal. And so, in Mar 2017, I booked my first ever cruise: September 11-25, on the Amsterdam, 14 days cruising Alaska. I'm writing this now, two weeks after returning from my cruise. First -- my friends were absolutely right: Holland America is a perfect match for me! The ship size couldn't have been better: I have some limited mobility issues (mostly breathing related), and I was still able to get around with minimal problems. I liked the fact that there were entertainment options available, but it wasn't necessarily the primary objective. I attended a couple -- and they were very good -- but I'm not really an "entertainment" person -- I live and travel alone, so I'm kind of used to entertaining myself, and that's easy to do onboard. Second, the accommodations: I had a Neptune Suite -- I have a slight tendency for claustrophobia and I didn't want to risk that having an impact on my initial impression of cruise travel. The room was even better than I expected. I loved having the extra room to move around, and the room stewards couldn't have been more gracious and accommodating. The towel critters that appeared each night were a hoot! They kept me stocked with grapes, too -- they soon figured out that I never eat bananas or apples, but LOVED grapes and pears -- so they started augmenting my daily fruit dish with more grapes and pears. I didn't have to say anything (never dawned on me to ask anyway). Those little touches were greatly appreciated, and I think speaks well for HAL's service level. The food: a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!!! Honestly, the Main Dining Room served some fabulous meals, beautifully presented by staff who were committed to providing a great experience. I had requested "anytime" dining/willing to share, and that worked out well -- never had to wait at all. I tend to eat earlier (between 5:00pm and 5:30pm), and over the 14 days I found familiar faces at the table many meals since we all tended to eat at the same time. I liked eating with a different mix of folks each meal -- made things interesting! The only downside was having different servers nearly every night, since seating was sort of random in different areas of the room. It's a trade-off between having a dedicated server for the trip or having a variety of personalities, but always providing the highest quality. I did have the same sommelier for all but 2 evenings that I ate in the MDR, and he was fantastic. I had purchased a wine package, so was able to select from the list with his assistance. Super experience! I ate two meals in Canaletto and was super impressed with it as well. Service was outstanding -- I was a "single," so had a table to myself, and was never made to feel "out of place" in a restaurant that includes as a concept the idea of sharing plates. The food was simply fabulous. Every dish was perfection on a plate. Would gladly eat there many more times. I didn't do many shore excursions as I wasn't sure how easy/difficult getting on and off the should would be until I got into port, and by then it was too late to book an excursion onboard. Although quite a few excursions were rated "easy," it doesn't help if getting off the ship requires a 1/4-mile walk or lots of stairs or ramps. I'll have a better idea next time what to look for in terms of challenges. I wanted this trip to focus mostly on getting around onboard, and I was able to accomplish everything I wanted to do. We did have some rough seas between Hoonah (Icy Strait Point) and Anchorage -- I was fine, no hint of seasickness at all, but moving around was a tad treacherous until things calmed down. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first cruise, enough that I've already booked three more cruises over the next 18 months! Two will be with Holland America (a 38-day North Atlantic roundtrip from Boston, and a 28-day Hawaii-Tahiti-Marquesas) and one with Oceania (an 18-day cruise from San Francisco to Miami via the Panama Canal). And eventually, I want to take this cruise again. There's so much to see in Alaska! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This is the only cruise line that has the itinerary we were looking for. We wanted that itinerary and to be able to be quite. The weather was great with some light rain and some overcast days. Smooth sailing and a lot of sunshine. ... Read More
This is the only cruise line that has the itinerary we were looking for. We wanted that itinerary and to be able to be quite. The weather was great with some light rain and some overcast days. Smooth sailing and a lot of sunshine. On cruise critic someone mentioned that the Cpt. Had a blog one should look at it because it was very interesting. They were right he had many interesting things to say. The cruise before ours was really rough, so we were very lucky that ours was beautiful. At most ports there was a shuttle to take you into town that was free and where there'was a long walk off the pier there was golf carts to help. So if you have a handicap that should not stop you from going. We found that from our room steward to our waiters to anyone we came in contact with were very friendly and helpful. We didn't use a lot of the options on board that was our choice and I am sure it was good. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Since I don't like to fly, I chose this cruise over a land, sea cruise. I liked that we went to ports that most people don't get to see. The weather was not the greatest at times, but they have no control over that. I ... Read More
Since I don't like to fly, I chose this cruise over a land, sea cruise. I liked that we went to ports that most people don't get to see. The weather was not the greatest at times, but they have no control over that. I thought the entertainment was terrific, except for the so-called comedian the first night of the cruise. The steward was great. Our waiter was phenomenal. I gained 10 lbs., so the food must have been great. Overall, I was very happy with the cruise and have no complaints. I was traveling with 2 friends, so being in one room together was kind of challenging, but we made it work. The bathroom was very nice and quite roomy. There was way more closet space than I had expected. We took turns sleeping on the sofa, and it was quite comfortable. No complaints. I would definitely cruise Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Whilst not the best weather for Alaska scenery viewing, the warmth and friendliness of the crew on MS Amsterdam certainly made up for the weather. We had extremely wet weather, but as it is Alaska, and mostly a temperate rain forest, ... Read More
Whilst not the best weather for Alaska scenery viewing, the warmth and friendliness of the crew on MS Amsterdam certainly made up for the weather. We had extremely wet weather, but as it is Alaska, and mostly a temperate rain forest, what did I expect? Possibly cruise in an earlier month in future? However, we did manage to see lots of whales in Juneau, a Sitka black tailed deer, a brown bear and a red squirrel in Icy Straight Point, sea otters, seals, lots of salmon, and bald eagles in Ketchikan, so a success in our view! The ship is small but perfectly formed! It doesn't take long to get to where you need to be. There are 2 laundry rooms, at $2 including wash soap, conveniently situated on decks 3 and 6. There are several lounges which are nicely appointed and very comfortable. The Crow's Nest in particular has wonderful views, and great for a pre dinner drink! Amsterdam's best feature, however, the Lido Swimming pool area. It has a large retractable roof, which in the wet, ensures the warmth needed to take a dip in the very warm pool, or a pleasant drink at the bar! We had an inside cabin, which was very good. Aft position, and whilst it stated it could be noisy during the day, it was actually very quiet. Stewards were excellent. The evening entertainment wasn't to my liking, however the Amsterdam singers and dancers were excellent. We only did 2 ship's excursions - in Icy Straight and the Seattle tour transfer to airport. Both were good, if a little expensive. An excellent cruise! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
The Amsterdam is a smaller ship of 1400 people and we sailed to Alaska for two weeks. The weather was mostly very good. We had a Vista Suite which was more than adequate. The cabin stewards were wonderful. We booked several excursions ... Read More
The Amsterdam is a smaller ship of 1400 people and we sailed to Alaska for two weeks. The weather was mostly very good. We had a Vista Suite which was more than adequate. The cabin stewards were wonderful. We booked several excursions through Holland America and they were all very well done. We ate the majority of our meals in the main dining room at the 8 pm seating and had absolutely no issues at all. The meals were all excellent and I do not see any reason to pay a surcharge to go to the specialty restaurants. The entertainment was mostly very good. The HAL singers and dancers were some of the most talented that we have seen on any cruise ship (we have sailed Disney, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian). Jim Curry did a tribute to John Denver and did an excellent job. Amy Lee was a violinist who was very talented. We particularly like America's Test Kitchen with Kathleen. She demonstrated various menus and dishes throughout the cruise. We picked up some great hints and recipes. We really felt that Holland America was a step above the cruises that we have previously been on. However, we still feel strongly that Disney presents the best entertainment. I would urge you to do this two week Alaskan itinerary, we saw whales, bear, eagles, otters and orcas. The embarkation and debarkation were excellent and very well organized. Seattle was an excellent pre and post cruise city. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
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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