The Shore Excursions manager was hopeless, especially at Guam, where no shuttles had been organised, so people spent up to $70 for taxis to downtown (we did our own thing, near the ship, finding a beautiful hidden beach), but the pathetic ... Read More
The Shore Excursions manager was hopeless, especially at Guam, where no shuttles had been organised, so people spent up to $70 for taxis to downtown (we did our own thing, near the ship, finding a beautiful hidden beach), but the pathetic Yankee GI Joe security guards armed to the teeth were just as bad if not worse. One said, "We're stopping you from getting off, there's 200 of you out there already and God knows what might happen." Did he think one of the elderly one's zimmer frame was loaded? The GI Joes (not the ship officials) even confiscated a German gentleman's beer. I peered at him and said, "Ah, you killjoy." Must have had an effect on the peanut, because the gent told me later he thinks I shamed them into giving it back.
Were served a compensatory glass of champagne (well, bubbles) by dining room staff, "from the Captain", it should have been from the Shore Excursions manager. It's like giving lollies to children, quite pathetic really. I felt like finding the Captain and telling him what to do with it. We missed out on Chuuk Lagoon which was due more to mismanagement than misfortune. Again another glass of bubbles plus port fees and $50 each. Big deal. May never get there again, a missed opportunity. The room towels were absolutely filthy - after being so called washed. The pool towels stunk. As usual, the staff were more friendly and happier than a lot of the passengers.
As usual on cruising, dropped off at the equivalent of industrial areas. Actually won't do another cruise. I wonder if somebody was to build a structure like a ship, on land, give you a 3.5 x 4.5 metre box to sleep in, put a moat around it with the same number of people in it as one of these ships, with 2 tea & coffee stations, a mile from your cabin and have this structure plonked in the middle of an industrial area of a second rate town eg. Blacktown, Sydney, Australia and say, "You're stuck in this place for 30 days, we'll let you out every 3rd day." Wonder how many customer they'd get.
Lastly, on travelling across the International Date Line they gave us certificate with information which was 20 years out of date, which was humorous. Brought it to their attention, that next time they're in Samoan waters, their records of the date line would be wrong. This may be a small issue, but it is a shipping line and I think that other lines would find it amusing that HAL didn't know where it was. What's with people thinking that 2nd rate Vegas shows from the 1950s are entertainment? Likewise, thinking that foul mouthed comedians are humorous? Read Less
We are long-time members of the Princess family but have always heard wonderful things about Holland America. We found a 14-day Alaskan cruise, round-trip Seattle that visited some ports we've wanted to see so we booked and looked ... Read More
We are long-time members of the Princess family but have always heard wonderful things about Holland America. We found a 14-day Alaskan cruise, round-trip Seattle that visited some ports we've wanted to see so we booked and looked forward in anticipation to our sail date.
Our first night out we elected to eat in the Rotterdam Dining Room. My first negative indication was when I asked for a shrimp cocktail and was told they weren't available. But, if I put in a request perhaps I could get one the following evening. I ordered the "signature" french onion soup, Caesar salad, and salmon. the soup came lukewarm, the salad was wilted, warm, and the lettuce was old. The salmon was way overcooked and could have been used as a hammer. To say the food was mediocre would be giving a real stretch. The dinner, in fact, was the worst meal I've had in 13 previous cruises.
And, it didn't get any better during the remainder of the cruise. In the Lido buffet restaurant one had to line up to be served. That took time. Their was little selection; the food was never hot and always bland. We talked to many other cruisers and everyone we spoke with was disappointed with the food. This was Statendam's last cruise with HAL prior to going to P & O and many thought perhaps the galley was trying to use whatever available food was left. I don't buy that story but if that's the norm when it comes to HAL's food service perhaps they should contact Golden Corral for a franchise
We're sorry Princess. Can we come back. Read Less
We went on a two-week cruise to Alaska, aboard the Ms Statendam. We had sailed with several other cruise lines before, but this was our first time with Holland America. In comparison, Holland America was below average. Our ocean view ... Read More
We went on a two-week cruise to Alaska, aboard the Ms Statendam. We had sailed with several other cruise lines before, but this was our first time with Holland America. In comparison, Holland America was below average. Our ocean view stateroom was equivalent to a two-star hotel; the bathroom… maybe one-star. The ship had a stale smell throughout, and our stateroom was poorly ventilated as well. The bathroom smelled. The shower did not drain properly, and we would be standing in a pool of water. The toilet did not flush very well. The sink was cracked. The stateroom, itself, was in a general state of disrepair.
Apparently they didn’t have enough seating for the number of passengers on board. We had to wait half an hour for a table in the main dining room. Several other people were waiting as well. We endeavored to reserve a table and were told that we could only make reservations for either 5:30 p.m. or 7:45 p.m. Otherwise, all the tables would be in use.
Holland America’s customer service orientation was deplorable. In every case, the staff chose the convenience of ship administration over that of the guests. The entertainment wasn’t that good, and the food was not amazing. However, the wait staff did serve quite well.
The average age of guests on board was about 80. No disrespect intended, but potential clientele need to be aware of this. It means negotiating with walkers, wheelchairs, and folks with various other impediments. Youths may feel out of place. Activities are geared toward an aging crowd. Single people might also feel awkward. There were mostly couples with many years of marriage behind them.
Upon departure, they wanted us to leave the ship early. So, there was no time to reconcile the final bill from the cruise, which was issued that same morning. One has to rely on them to get it correct. They didn’t! We were double charged for some things, overcharged for others. We had to gather facts, email, then call and cajole them into changing the bill. It was not easy doing it after-the-fact. As far as they were concerned, that ship had sailed.
Frankly, I expected more from Holland America Line. They have a good following and loyal customers, our parents included. And, I hesitate to say that we would never sail with them again. It might depend on the destination and ports of call. On the other hand, given the choice between HAL and some other cruise line, with a comparable itinerary, we would probably choose the latter. Read Less
This review won't likely help future cruisers of the Statendam, as HAL is transferring the ship to P&O Australia. But it may help future cruisers on HAL's 14 night Alaskan voyage - which we really enjoyed!
This review is ... Read More
This review won't likely help future cruisers of the Statendam, as HAL is transferring the ship to P&O Australia. But it may help future cruisers on HAL's 14 night Alaskan voyage - which we really enjoyed!
This review is in a log format. If you just want the summary, scroll way down to the bottom!
Statendam 8-24-15 Alaska Explorer
We traveled to Seattle on US Air / American on Sunday, August 23. This was a six hour non-stop flight from Philadelphia. Domestic air travel has sunk to a new low. 90 minutes into the flight the flight staff finally came around with beverages. I asked for a can of Sprite Zero (something I always do on Southwest with no issue). I was told they could not provide cans as they don’t have enough, but they would be around again with beverages (three hours later).
In any event, we reached Seattle on time and met our friends 45 minutes later who flew to Seattle on Southwest from Denver. We had prearranged with Seattle Shuttle a transfer to our hotel for one night, the Marriott waterfront. The driver was very nice but we did need to wait about 15 minutes for the pickup and as they were tracking our flights this was disappointing.
We reached the Marriott just before 9:00 and after checking in it was after 9:00. Who would have known that Seattle rolls up the sidewalks at 9:00 (or earlier) on a Sunday evening? We ended up with a late dinner at the Marriott as nothing else nearby was open. The food was very good but at Marriott prices it was no bargain.
Monday morning we rode the elevator and walked the few short blocks to Pikes Place Market. We paid a visit to the “Original Starbucks” and the two ladies enjoyed a cup of the Pikes Place brew. The Market was just getting into full swing for the day and we were very impressed with the floral arrangements available at reasonable prices. We saw lots of fish and other seafood, enjoyed several complimentary samples, and bought a few things at a bakery that ended up appearing much better than they tasted.
We had arranged for the 10:40 shuttle to the port and our driver was the same as the previous evening. He was waiting for us as we checked out at 10:30 and we were at the port well before 11:00. Statendam is the only ship in port and this was the fastest check-in we recall. Our keycard holder was stamped with an “E” as we were given boarding group E.
Embarkation began at about 11:20 and group A was rather large. Once the “A” crowd was through the letters went very fast. We were onboard with the carry-ons in our cabin well before noon. We quickly found that no “Mariners welcome back lunch” was offered in the dining room. We received invitations to a “Mariners reception” at 2:00 in the crow’s nest, but that would not work with our planned schedule. We searched out the dining room host who was not very helpful; he just kept repeating the mantra that “Everyone wants early dining.” On the way to the lido, we ran into the dining room manager while waiting for the lift. He took our name and cabin info. We had a light lunch in the lido. The roast beef was quite good. By the time we finished lunch the lido was getting very crowded.
We returned to our cabin to change to swimwear and enjoyed the pool and hot tubs. We were surprised to find our luggage had already been delivered! The pool is nicely heated and while no “Bathtub” it is refreshing but not too cold even for our Florida friends. We returned to the cabin to shower and change into dinner clothes before the 3:15 muster drill. The drill seemed to take a long time (while standing still in a crowd, 30 minutes is a long time!). We completed unpacking the suitcases and stored them under the bed. We also prepared our first laundry bag to send out.
Earlier we met our cabin steward, Dhana. We went to the dining room at 5:15 to find lines for those with reservations (very long) and those without (not so long). We had no reservation and were seated at table 171, a four-top in moments. The “As you wish” dining host stopped by near the end of our meal and offered to reserve that table for the four of us for the rest of the cruise. We liked our dining room waiter Hari and gladly accepted. The first night’s dinner was good. I had the Prime Rib and it was very tasty and DW had the “Everyday” Salmon which was ‘all right.’ The men each had several desserts as the selections were excellent.
We enjoyed the Neptune’s (still in existence on Statendam) at the Ocean Bar. We also found some clearance deals at the shops and the two ladies obtained a great bargain on “Alaska” jackets. These sold very fast and the ladies were glad they found these when they did. Soon we were very tired and called it a night.
Tuesday, August 25:
Tuesday is a welcome sea day, sailing north along the Vancouver Island coast before heading in the evening into the inside passage. We were up early and enjoyed the pool and hot tubs before breakfast. After showers we arrived at the Rotterdam dining room for breakfast at 8:30. There was a short line to be seated. Our orders were taken quickly but it was apparent they were very busy. Soon we noticed that reinforcements were called in from the lido to help with service. We waited fifty minutes for our main course and then mine was wrong. It took over ten minutes for a ‘corrected’ Omelet to arrive and that was also not proper, but at least it was edible. On my way out of the dining room I spoke with one of the hosts who took all the information and said someone would get back to me.
I attended the port talk (excellent) at 10:00 while DW attended a culinary center presentation on smoothies. At 11:00 we met at the crow’s nest for our cruise critic meet and greet. We had a very large turnout and certainly did not meet everyone, but we did meet those we are later touring with.
We found a table near the pool to listen to the guitar soloist at noon. It was a pleasant way to enjoy a light lunch from the Dive-in grille. After lunch we tried to take a nap but a great deal of noise seemed to originate in our cabin walls. A visit to the front desk made a note of the situation and asked that we call them immediately if the noise returned.
The Royal Dutch Tea was enjoyed today. Those Dutch pastries are superb. After the tea I ventured out on the promenade deck for a short time and spotted a fishing vessel in the distance. With my new camera with 1200MM zoom, I got a few nice photos. Afterwards it was time to get ready for the first of three “Gala nights.”
The dinner menu seemed uninspired, but we were wrong. We all ordered the steak and shrimp entrée and the steaks were superb. The men ordered seconds, they were that good. The shrimp was also a very nice size and perfectly cooked. We enjoyed dinner!
The show tonight was “Bob Mackie’s Broadway.” We thought we had seen the show before, but as it was preceded by the captain’s welcome aboard, we attended. We enjoyed the show (Bob Mackie’s Broadway) and did not recall seeing it before. We were pleased to see that there are five vocalists and two dancers in the company. That reminds us of the Prinsendam, and I assume this is because of the relatively small stage area.
After the show we called it a night, but not before changing our clocks as tomorrow we are in Ketchikan!
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Sunny Ketchikan, AK.
With the hour time change we were up early. As the webcam showed we were sailing between mountains, I quickly went up on deck and got some great photos of the sail in. Working my way to the aft deck, I spotted two whales in the distance. With the super-zoom lens I took a few photos but I missed the spouting.
I headed back to the cabin and found DW was ready to head out. The bridge cam showed that the bow was open to we headed out to the bow for a short time. The crystal clear sky made for a beautiful sail in. We went to the Lido restaurant and found our friends, who had just sat down. Breakfast was enjoyed while passing the Ketchikan Coast Guard base.
After returning to our cabin to change into shorts and a t-shirt (Yes, this IS Alaska!) we went out on the promenade deck for a few photos. We noticed passengers disembarking so we joined them. We walked around part of downtown while waiting for our 8:45 scheduled pick up by Mountain Air Service to enjoy the Misty Fiords national monument.
This was our first experience with a float plane (or any small plane). With the incredible weather we could not have asked for a greater morning! The Misty Fiords were anything but “Misty” on this fine day, but we sure enjoyed seeing the incredible granite cliffs and the fiords as well as the many fresh water lakes and waterfalls. We landed on one of the lakes as our pilot noticed that all of the larger commercial “Ship’s tour” flights were headed to land on one of the fiords. We had this lake all to ourselves and the quietness is something we don’t often experience.
While I explored quite far on foot, I could always hear the others talking near the plane as sound travels without hindrance when there are no competing noises. All too soon we were back in the plane heading towards Ketchikan. We flew a different route back and greatly enjoyed the different scenery.
We returned to the dock and thanked our pilot. The driver offered to take us anywhere in town we wanted to go to so we opted to have him drop us at the Wal-Mart. To be honest, it wasn’t worth the detour. The Wal-Mart van took us back to town and we returned to Statendam for a quick lunch. Roast Turkey was offered in the Lido so I took full advantage of turkey, gravy, and red skin mashed potatoes!
After lunch we walked around town as well as the length of Creek Street. We did peruse several shops but didn’t make any purchases. Back on the ship, the men headed to the pool and hot tub for a time. We went to the sail away party in the crow’s nest which was quite nice. DW’s happy hour order of smoothies took a very long time to be delivered.
Dinner was enjoyable and we skipped the show by “Tuck,” who we have seen before and did not enjoy. We did enjoy the Neptunes at the Ocean Bar until succumbing to the call of sleep. It was an exciting and enjoyable day!
Thursday, August 27:
Today we were scheduled to cruise up Tracy Arm to visit the Sawyer Glacier. With forecast of 40 Knot winds later in the afternoon, the Captain decided to cruise up Endicott Arm instead. Endicott arm is wider and less challenging to maneuver a cruise ship around! We very much enjoyed our sailing up the arm and the long time at the glacier. We saw seals on the ice flows and while still approaching the glacier there was significant calving. We were out on the bow from about 10AM until 12:15PM and made the most of our time there.
The departure from the glacier was very slow as Statendam was certainly in no hurry as Juneau is not far away. We found a window table on the lido pool deck to watch the sail away from the glacier while enjoying lunch. After all the fresh Alaskan air we enjoyed a rest before the evening began. Dinner in the dining room was very enjoyable and our waiter had “Special desserts” for the two ladies in the form of gluten free chocolate cake. They really appreciated the extra effort!
We attended the show but left after a few numbers. Seems like we had previously seen Tricia Kelly and we recall now the same reaction the first time!
Friday, August 28 – Rainy Juneau:
We had a long port call in Juneau with an 8:00 arrival and 10:00 PM departure. We left Statendam to a cool and rainy morning at about 8:30. Our intention in Juneau was to go Whale watching and also to visit the Mendenhall Glacier. We found the tour sellers on the dock, and found one selling tours on “Juneau Whale Watching,” a top rated provider on TripAdvisor. After coming to agreement on a price, we were told to return at 9:20 for a 9:30 departure for the 25 minute ride to Auke Bay and our boat.
We reached the marina and were told we were going out in their newest ship, just a couple of months old. This was a 50+ passenger catamaran. The tour seller assured us this was a ‘smooth ride’ due to the catamaran design. I’m sure that is so, except when moving at 40 knots and sailing into wind driven waves coming off the north Pacific! We had chosen seats in the front row and that was a mistake as the shock when coming down onto a wave began to hurt my back (which has never hurt like that before).
At the first stop we saw a number of whales, or at least them breathing out their blow hole. We saw one tail. We moved to a second stop a long distance at great speed. We moved to seats near the back as the front seats were much too rough. At the second stop, we saw very little and moved a short distance to a third location. Here we again saw some blowing but little in the way of actual whale. Despite the crew’s best efforts we found the whale watching to be quite a disappointment. Adding to that the unexpected rough ride that affected us for several days, and we regret taking the tour.
As promised, they did take us to the Mendenhall Glacier. We walked the short “Steep creek trail” to see the sockeye salmon running up the stream. We enjoyed the vantage points of the glacier and waterfall. We toured the visitor center ($3.00/pp national park fee) and watched the movie. The first several minutes of the movie contains fantastic photography of flying over the Juneau ice field. All this time, it’s been raining and we were ready to return to town. We waited at the assigned place and the bus picked us up. We were offered a drop off at the Red Dog Saloon (only two blocks from the ship) so we stopped in there. They were packed (as usual with several ships in port) so we walked towards the ship and checked out several shops but did not make any purchases.
Back on board, we were hungry and ate too much for the hour, with dinner only two hours away. There was just enough time for a short rest and refresh before preparing for dinner. Dinner was very good this evening and again Hari has a special dessert for the ladies. I made the show, Street Singin’ which featured the four male vocalists and thought the show was quite good.
Saturday, August 29 - Icy Strait Point (Hoonah)
Tender tickets for Icy Strait Point were made available on Thursday afternoon. We had our choice and obtained tickets for tender “G” with an estimated time of 8:10 – 8:30. We were ready about 8:05 while “E” was being called. It was about 8:20 that “G” was called and we were soon on the tender. The Statendam tenders are much more comfortable than the tenders on the newer ships, but they don’t hold as many people. For some reason, the Statendam was stationed across the bay, so it was a rather long (but pleasant) tender ride.
Upon arrival we walked around the local shops and museum and bought tickets ($5 ea.) for the shuttle into the town of Hoonah. Hoonah is said to be a ‘typical native Alaskan town.’ That is likely close to the truth. Our driver was very informative and pointed out bald Eagles on our way into town. He also told us where an Eagle’s nest was located. Sure enough, it was an active Eagles nest and I made full use of the zoom features of my camera. We stopped in a small coffee shop and DW enjoyed a specialty coffee.
After a while we caught the shuttle back to Icy Strait Point. DW wanted to peruse the shops and I took a walk to the end of the zip line hoping to catch a photo of some brave people coming down. I did not get that photo but I did get photos of a humpback whale meandering near the shore. I’ll take the whale any day! There is a very pleasant boardwalk/paved trail along the waterfront any many Statendam passengers were taking advantage of it.
I found DW and tried to show her the whale but my humpback friend was not cooperative. We returned to the Statendam on a tender at about 11:30 and enjoyed an afternoon on board. The sail away from Icy Straight was very pretty all the way to the open waters of the bay of Alaska.
Dinner was again most enjoyable. Attendance in the dining room has been on the decline and conversely the service has been speeding up. We attended the beginning of the show but the juggler/magician entertainer Steve Carte was about the worst entertainment we’ve seen on a ship in years so we didn’t last very long. We’ve enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar and they continue to play even when the main stage show is on so that gives us an alternate.
Our towel friend tonight was a very quiet Wolfie (dog).
Sunday, August 30 – Sea day!
A sea day this was! Crossing the Gulf of Alaska head on into 40 MPH winds made for one of the roughest sea days we remember. The rocking did let of sleep as we did not wake until after 7:00! We were fine however, although at time walking around the ship for DW with her cane was a bit of a challenge. We went to the Rotterdam dining room for breakfast at 8:00 when they opened. Afterwards we attended a port talk on Anchorage, Homer, and Kodiak.
Today we experienced something completely different! The crew of the Statendam put on a gala “Fair” on the pool deck. There were various games of skill and chance allowing all guests to accumulate “Statendam bucks.” The top five guests won prizes. We even learned how to make a few towel animals as part of the bargain.
As the dining room lunch menu had a chicken wing appetizer which was not available in the lido, we visited the dining room for lunch. One and a half chicken wings was the serving! I ordered a steak sandwich but the steak strips were tough and the bread was strange. Poor choice to go there for lunch but we learned.
At 1:30 the computer class was an introduction to Windows 10. We went a half-hour early to make sure we were able to get seats, and sure enough, the room was over filled at 1:15. The class was interesting.
The rocking of the sea seemed to be calling for a Sunday afternoon nap, so we did exactly that. This was also our second formal night so we prepared for that. Dinner was very enjoyable and as the views outdoors had become most enjoyable we spent the evening in the Ocean bar watching the Kenai Peninsula pass by.
Monday, August 31 – Sunny & windy Anchorage.
We had coffee & tea delivered at 6:30 and the door knock woke us up. We met our friends for a lido breakfast as we completed the sail in to Anchorage. We were a little late docking and then, for unexplained reasons, we did not get the okay to disembark until a bit after 8:40. With an original itinerary arrival time of 7:00 and an on-board stated arrival of 8:00 that was very late. Many waiting in line were concerned with missing their Alaska Railroad train to view glaciers.
We had reserved a car rental from the downtown Avis location. Although on the first bus from the port, upon arrival downtown the staff gave us completely wrong directions to Avis. By the time we reached them, there were eight to ten parties in front of us with only one agent handling all the pickups. It took us another forty minutes before we were in our car heading out of town.
I had downloaded a “Turnagain arm driving tour” before the trip. With a goal of the Portage Glacier lake cruise we made a few stops along the way. The views are incredible and the highway follows right along the shoreline. While driving towards Portage the seas were very disturbed and the tide was in. During the day the wind lessened and we had a very delightful cruise on Portage Lake. Being on a smaller ship coming up to a smaller glacier, we were able to get very close to the glacier. Everyone has a wonderful time on the cruise.
After the cruise, we followed instructions to a Salmon viewing area and it was excellent. There were many salmon struggling upstream to their spawning grounds. We also stopped at a great ‘underlook’ to look up at the Explorer glacier, a “Hanging glacier.” We drove to the Ayleska tram but with no parking near the tram station we were discouraged from attempting the ride. Being well after 2:00, we began to look for a place for a light lunch and found a Subway.
We slowly headed back towards Anchorage making a few more stops from our driving tour. One stop was railroad related and included an old rail snow plow – the kind that could deal with 15 feet of snow at once! While driving back we were amazed at the difference of Turnagain arm – many areas were completely dry with no water over the mud flats. The tidal difference here is intense and we would have loved to see the incoming “Bore tide” (a wall of water about six feet high) but the timing did not work out.
We stopped to fill up the car and returned it to Avis. We visited a few shops on 5th avenue in Anchorage before boarding a shuttle back to the Statendam. While we were late, Hari was happy to see us and we finished our meal at about the normal time. As we are in port until 11:00, there is no show tonight. What there is, is great music in the Ocean bar where I am writing this. Tomorrow we visit Homer, AK.
Tuesday, September 1 – Blue skies in Homer, AK.
I’ve read that people who live in Alaska consider September 1 to mean that autumn has arrived. This was not the case in Homer on September 1. Statendam arrived to cloudless blue skies and brilliant sunshine. In fact, I got a bit of sunburn. For some reason docking took an extremely long time and it was 10:40 (rather than 10:00) before anyone was allowed to leave the ship. By this time, there was an extensive line. No announcements were made with any reason for the delay. Being the second day in a row that Statendam was significantly ‘late’ was annoying for sure.
We did not stand in the line but once the line was gone we exited the Statendam. In retrospect, I give kudos to the town of Homer as they assigned plenty of school buses to move guests for free to the ‘Spit’ or for $15.00 to town as a hop-on, hop-off option. Based on advice from posters on cruise critic, we took the free bus to the spit and bought tickets for the town trolley. The problem was that the trolley didn’t move, waiting for passengers to fill it up. Two couples left, another person left, and we left. All received a refund of their fare. Then the person selling tickets told the driver he was going to lose all the passengers if he didn’t leave right away so he did.
We went back to Statendam with plans to take the Ho-Ho to town; but by now lunch was being served so we thought we’d have a quick lunch first. I will say that lunch was wonderful. The lido had friend Halibut, and it was terrific. When we went back out to go to town there were no Ho-Ho buses, nor taxis, to be found. So back to the ‘spit’ it was. With my friend we explored the mud flats as the tide was out while DW looked through some of the shops on the spit.
After a while we headed back to the ship finding our stop in Homer to be a disappointment. Lesson for future cruisers who go to Homer and do not take a ship’s excursion – take the Ho-Ho bus into town. Talking to others who made it to town it seemed they had a nice time.
One word to the Homer port authority – something needs to be done to clean off the dock before cruise ships arrive. I’ve never seen so many flies in one place. The flies are there because of all the bird waste from the seagulls. Clean it up and make the initial impression positive.
Dinner service was very prompt this evening while the menu was one of the less inspiring. It seemed the dining room was perhaps half full. The show was “Unforgettable” but regretfully after three numbers that were quite forgettable we left for the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar.
Wednesday, September 2 – A dry day in Kodiak
Our stay in Kodiak is from 7:00 AM until 1:30 PM, what the cruise director called a “Whistle stop.” Despite that, we had a very nice day. Lido breakfast was fine and we were part of a cruise critic private tour with “Memory Makers tours” We were met on the dock at 8:00 AM and whisked away in their two very nice full size vans to the south of town where our guide did his best to find bears. He told us that the prior cruise tour group did see a bear and he looked long and hard in that area. We did see signs of recent (since the tide went out) bear activity, but no bear.
What we did witness was a multitude of Salmon running in the Salonie Creek. We even witnessed two Salmon engaged in a territorial battle. We next headed up a gravel road to the top of the ridge overlooking the town of Kodiak. On this ridge there are five wind generators. Combined with hydro-power, the electricity on Kodiak Island is 100% renewable. The old diesel generators have been unused for five years. Outstanding photos from the ridge were taken and a call from my cell phone came in while there from our son back home.
Next we drove through town to Abercrombie State Park. At the park we marveled at the moss-covered tree branches and walked a short trail to see several fortifications from World War Two. In addition the views of the bay and waterfront were very pretty. We felt a bit rushed at the park and were rather surprised when the tour ended in town at 11:00. Somehow we thought the tour was supposed to be a little longer. In any case, we did enjoy the time to walk the town and explore the various shops. We even found polo shirts! After ninety minutes in town we caught the free town-provided shuttle back to the Statendam for a great lunch in the dining room.
A sail away party with the Halcats was held in the Crow’s nest. Regretfully we could not find seating. However, this presented an ideal opportunity to use the pool, which was now at bathtub temperature. We spent most of the afternoon at the pool before getting ready for dinner. Dinner service tonight was the slowest of the cruise this far. It appeared every seat was taken in the dining room and the staff was certainly stretched.
After dinner we attended the show Duncan Tuck. We did stay for the entire show as he is a very talented musician who reminded me a little of Glen Campbell. However we did not think his humor was very good. The show was followed by the movie, Furious 7, which we enjoyed.
Thursday, September 3 – Sunny Hubbard Glacier
This is a day of scenic cruising and was greatly enjoyed. We went to the dining room for breakfast at 8:00 after which we gave a walk-through of the deck sale. We then changed into swimwear and were in the pool literally the rest of the morning. We watched as the mountains became larger and larger. We had lunch in the lido and noticed we were approaching the bay and Hubbard Glacier.
We went up front on deck nine and took a few photos but realized we were still an hour or more from arrival. We found a great window front table in the lido pool area and settled in to watch the approach. We walked around a few times to take photos but until we were quite close we kept returning to the table. It was a very pretty day viewing the glacier. We could see all the mountains surrounding it and took many different photos. As we turned away from Hubbard DW asked me to get her a hot dog from the Dive-In. This is when I found out they had gluten-free hot dog rolls!
We became very busy and I didn’t update the log for a few days, so likely miss some details. As I recall, dinner the night of Hubbard was one of the weaker ones of the trip. I enjoyed the Alaskan Cod, but others at our table thought this meal was a bit lacking. We skipped the comedian Frank King and later found that he was well enjoyed. Our friends met him in the lido between shows and attended the later show and had a great time. We went to the movie “The woman in Gold” and highly recommend it. We stayed up for the Indonesian crew show as several of our wait staff were involved. The hand dance was a lot of fun, especially if you know a few of the performers!
Friday, September 4 – A great day in Sitka!
I was originally booked on a ship’s tour in Sitka, the “Volcano coast by ocean raft.” But after the experience in Juneau and a careful review of the ticket warnings, I canceled well in advance. Our friends did this tour and thought it was great, but confirmed it was very bumpy.
We woke to coffee and tea being delivered and had breakfast in the dining room. We had acquired tender ticket “E” with an estimated tender time of 8:40. This was exactly on target and we settled in for the long tender ride to the tender dock.
Upon arrival at the dock we found many tour opportunities but we knew what we wanted, the $5/pp shuttle bus to the Fortress of the Bear followed by the Alaska Raptor Center. The bus left promptly at 9:30 with about 14 on board, allowing everyone an entire school bus seat. We drove the few miles to the Fortress of the Bear and our driver pointed out some of details of what we drove past. Upon arrival at the Fortress we were underwhelmed by the outside appearance. Sometimes first impressions are not valid and this was one of those cases!
We were directed to a small building (a large shed, really) where we could pay our admission fees. From there we had a choice of climbing steps (my choice) or a long ramp (DW’s choice) to the viewing platform. Well, what a treat this was! The Fortress is situated in large (50 yard diameter?) concrete walled circles. This was originally a paper processing plant closed in the 1970’s. Inside each of the three enclosures they have created a natural environment for the bears including running streams with salmon, a pool, and lots of tree stumps, grassland and beach. The resulting photos truly appear to be taken in the wild as there are no fences and little artificial inside the enclosures.
The naturalist who told us all about the bears and the facility obviously loved his work. As there were a number of mosquitos in the area we were even provided with ‘Deep woods OFF’ to help keep them away.
After an hour or so that passed all too quickly we returned to the shuttle to the Alaska Raptor Center. There we viewed a short introductory film and were taken to see the enclosed facility for bird rehabilitation where they could begin flying again after recovery. Again, we were very impressed with this place. Outdoors are a number of Eagles and other raptors that due to their injuries are not able to be released into the wild. Again the facility is as natural as possible with the Indian creek cascading down the hillside right behind it this was very enjoyable to visit.
We did not take the shuttle back to town as we wanted more time at the center. As we were ready to leave with our gift shop purchases, the cashier told us that a group was coming in and a naturalist with an Eagle was going to give a stage presentation. We stayed for this bonus!
With another cruise critic member from the ship we walked back to the main road, through the Sitka National Historic Park, over Indian Creek and the many salmon, past many totem poles, along the waterfront and into downtown. The entire waterfront walk was delightful with many flowers and nicely manicured lawns. We perused several of the shops but other than the Raptor Center we did not make any purchases. As we were walking back to the tender landing we received a call from our son at home. All is well but it was great to hear from him!
There was a line for the return tender but we did make it on to the next one. In fact, only a few people behind us made it so we were seated right in the ‘exit row’ and were one of the first off when back at the Statendam. We took the elevator straight to the Lido and had a light lunch. After lunch we enjoyed the pool before getting ready for dinner. We had time to enjoy the Ocean Bar at the end of Happy Hour for a few smoothies.
The show tonight was fantastic. Paul Pappas is the most entertaining Pianist I have heard. After the show we listened to the Neptunes for a short time before calling it a night.
Saturday, September 5 – Sea day heading south
What a relaxing and enjoyable sea day! A dining room breakfast began the day and we got ready for pool time. There was a sale on the lido deck (no surprise there) but we actually bought a few items. We were invited to a “Mariner’s reception” where we received our copper 100 day Medallions. This is a very nice touch and we were given a photo of the two of us with the captain and hotel manager presenting the medallions. I was surprised by the number of people who did not attend (at least half!) We went straight from the reception to the Mariner’s lunch which has improved menu choices since our last experience.
After lunch, we enjoyed the still warm (but much cooler) pool and hot tubs. Poolside music was provided by the piano man (on guitar) from 1 to 2. We were still very tired from the previous two days so a Saturday afternoon nap was welcome!
This was the last formal night and our dining room team of Hari and Nada treated us right. I asked for double “Surf” on the surf and turf dinner and was not disappointed. When I was finished, Hari brought me two additional lobster tails. Wow! The Lobster was very good too, not soft or chewy. This was also my birthday and many of the waiters came over to sing the celebration song and also brought a small cake.
We stopped in to the show and quickly realized we had seen “The Stardust lounge” before and also we didn’t really enjoy it. We headed up to the Crow’s nest for Movie Sound Bite trivia. We got 13 out of 25 and the winning team got 17. At the same time, I was loading photos onto my computer and making copies for our friends. We stayed in the crow’s nest for a “Pre-party” and then for the 10:00 “Captain’s champagne ball.” By 10:30 or so we called it a night. While the crow’s nest on Statendam is a nice and mostly wide-open area, it is not well suited to a ball such as this and it quickly becomes quite warm with so many people there.
Sunday, Sept. 6 – Sunny Victoria, BC, Canada
Sunday began as a sea day as our arrival was scheduled for 1:00 PM. A nice dining room breakfast was enjoyed followed by a “Final clearance” deck sale (same items, nothing bought). We used some of the morning hours to do most of our packing. One suitcase was filled with nicely folded clothes direct from the laundry service. The captain announced that the Statendam answered a late-night distress call and rescued a lone fisherman. Due to this, we would be about an hour delayed getting into Victoria.
We had a really super lunch in the lido – the Alaskan lemon cod was superb. And we found out (the last day of the cruise) that they were happy to specially cook some of the cod without the bread crumbs for those who need a gluten-free meal. DW really appreciated that!
We finally docked and were off to explore Victoria. The ship offered a shuttle service into downtown for $10/pp. We found that the taxi rate was $10 per taxi, so the four of us took a taxi to the Empress hotel. We walked around and went into the Empress as well. The clouds were gone and it was a very pretty sunny day. We found that there was an antique boat show at the marina (no charge) and enjoyed looking at the old wooden boats.
We wondered the town and visited many of the souvenir shops. They all had mostly the same things, and the ones that had anything “Authentic” were very costly. We found a 7-11 and enjoyed a latte and big gulp before heading back to the ship at about 5:00.
For the last night on board, we had reservations at the Pinnacle Grille. We had a fantastic meal and find this is a super way to wrap up the cruise. We went up for the final party at the crow’s nest and stayed until about 10:00. Then it was back to the cabin, get the luggage out for transfer to the pier, and we called it a night.
Monday, September 7 – Disembarkation and home!
We set the alarm for 6:45 and were heading to the lido for breakfast just after 7:00. We sat with our friends for a few minutes until it was announced that self-disembarkation was open when they left to head out to tour Seattle. We had “Red 1” at 8:15 so we enjoyed our breakfast and a second cup of coffee/tea. At about 8:10 with our carry-off we headed to the gangway. Many ship’s crew were lined up to bid us farewell, a very nice touch.
Seattle Shuttle picked us up promptly and it was just the two of us in their van to the airport. Our US Air (American) flight back to Philadelphia left a little late yet arrived early. We touched down at 7:30 and were home in 9:20 PM.
All in all, we really enjoyed the Statendam. In some ways, we are sorry to see her leaving the HAL fleet. There is something about these smaller ships that is just appealing. The food was consistently good to excellent, with a few superbs. I think this is an area that sets HAL apart from some other lines.
We had occasional noise in our stateroom (784), which was apparently right above an elevator to the engine room. A few days into the cruise we were offered an option to move but did not want to leave our traveling friends (next door) and just wanted to avoid the hassle of moving. Our friends had the same noise (786). Our stateroom attendants were great. All laundry (we buy the package) returned within a day and always with a smile!
I have to say that the “Showroom at sea” is the worst-designed showroom we’ve ever experienced on a ship. Sightlines are poor and the majority of balcony seats cannot see the entire stage. If we really wanted to see a show, you needed to arrive very early (40 minutes) to get a decent seat. This is very different from our typical HAL experience of walking in as the lights dim.
In some of the public spaces the furniture was certainly more than due for refreshing. As an example, after 2 ½ hours in the Pinnacle Grille, one could feel the wooden frame of the chairs beneath the cushions. At the same time, normal ship maintenance was ongoing and we witnessed varnishing and polishing constantly being done.
While the quality can be debated, Statendam still had both the Halcats (show band) and the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar. Entertainment options are much better with both. I understand the Halcats & Neptunes have been mostly phased out in the fleet with just “The band,” but this of course limits options during main show times.
Except for the last sea day, the captain (Vincent Smit) was not to be seen. We did see him several times on that last sea day.
On our May cruise on Zuiderdam the tea (Fields & Selects) was horrible. Statendam had Bigelow which is a very good premium tea. As a tea drinker, I really appreciated that.
When the main pool was refilled after being emptied during the very rough (first) crossing of the bay of Alaska, it was really warm – bathtub warm. That was unexpected and delightful! It certainly cooled off over the next few days, but the pool remained very usable despite cool Alaskan temperatures outdoors.
In conclusion, we had a really nice cruise. This 14 day Alaska adventure was, for us, just the right mix of busyness and relaxation. Good food, good to great service, and an attractive price made for a winning combination. In conclusion, I rate this cruise as 4 out of 5 stars for the third to final cruise of the Statendam. Read Less
The crew was mostly exceptional other than I ordered two omelets (one for wife and one for myself) and cook prepared mine and then went to another passenger seemingly forgetting the wife's omelet. By the time i had hers prepared (he ... Read More
The crew was mostly exceptional other than I ordered two omelets (one for wife and one for myself) and cook prepared mine and then went to another passenger seemingly forgetting the wife's omelet. By the time i had hers prepared (he forgot it a second time) mine was cold so I guess it went to the fish-I went back for scrambled eggs. They seem to be in a hurry being the LIDO food line in that they quickly put your order on your plate and it sometimes hangs over the edge of the plate. The Room Steward was slow but did keep the room clean with his buddy assisting him.
Food: Both in the Main Dining Room and LIDO was basically lousy and one passenger said it was horrible! Braised Ox Tail? Who in the world has that during the week? Sometime during Formal Nights one could see people coming to the LIDO to eat rather than the Rotterdam (MDR), that reflects that the food in the MDR was not suitable. The waiters int he MDR were working their tails off literally running to the kitchen to obtain the food. The guy the was doing the running returned with perspiration flowing-he could wipe it off with a towel. But back to the food-it appeared as if they were using leftovers in the LIDO, greasy and in the vernacular it looked like something a farmer would feed his hogs. The condiments at the Hamburger place by the pool were usually at the bottom or near empty as if a strong wind hit the area. Dried out, lack of eye appeal so needless to say we didn't eat there.
One particular day we went into Anchorage and returned hoping to obtain some food since we were hungry and the food in the LIDO was dried up and didn't look appealing so we did without as we did on a few other meals opting for desert which looked far better than it tasted.
In Summarization, I wasted over $3500 on a vacation and the only redeeming value and the reason for this cruise was Sitka and Kodiak but the stay in Kodiak was only a few hours. I think IF we ever cruise again we'll stay with Celebrity. It's one of the last few good cruise lines. The amount of money spent on this cruise would have gone further if we had flown to Europe and enjoyed the culture there. Read Less
14 day Round Trip from Seattle
Holland America Line
27 July to 10 August 2015
Introduction: In picking a cruise, itinerary is paramount. A good cruise line and ship are a close second. This cruise ... Read More
14 day Round Trip from Seattle
Holland America Line
27 July to 10 August 2015
Introduction: In picking a cruise, itinerary is paramount. A good cruise line and ship are a close second. This cruise was in celebration of our 50th Wedding Anniversary, 31 Jul and my birthday, 73rd on 8 Aug. We had a choice: do something radically different or go back to Alaska, our favorite cruise destination for the sixth time. We chose this specific itinerary because it included Kodiak. This was our second go around for this itinerary which is exclusive to HAL. It rained in Kodiak the first time we visited and we wanted to see the town when the sun was shining. In was raining in Kodiak this time too. We probably will not do this itinerary again. It did include Homer and Sitka which are our favorite ports. We chose the dates to correspond with our anniversary and to see the salmon run and maybe more wildlife than our normal time of May-June.
The Ship: The Statendam is in its last season as a HAL ship. It has been sold to P&O Cruise Line so I will not say much about the specifics of the ship. Our cabin was located on deck 5 (main deck) just aft of mid ship. It was a good location for us. Long walks were held to a minimum.
HAL: Unlimited laundry service for a set fee is exclusive to HAL among the mass market cruise lines. My wife loves it because she does not have to wash clothes during the cruise and we do not have to pack as many clothes. We had one problem with the laundry, it pressed a second crease in my dress slacks.
The soda card on HAL is a straight discounted debit card. You pay $25 for a $50 debit card. With the card you get discounted sodas from the bar for yourself or anyone else for whom you wish to buy. There are no ethical conflicts in using this card. It usually works well, but I had my first problem with the card on this cruise. I ordered a coke in the dining room one evening. I gave the waiter my soda card. He came back and asked for my room card as well. He ran both cards so I paid twice for one coke. It took two trips to the front desk to get the coke deleted from my ship account. The only drawback to the soda card is that it does not run out even. Sodas are $1.73 each with the tip. The card ends with $1.43 left on the card. HAL should have a policy where you can get the last drink for the balance left on the card.
The Crew: The crew people we dealt with were a happy lot, but they seemed overworked. We had anytime dining for the cruise and one night at a table for eight, we only had one waiter. We were not his only table so service was slow.
Hotel staff: Our travel agent comped us for the surcharge at the Pinnacle Grill, but the ship staff never notified us of this gift so we missed out. The money paid to the ship was refunded to our credit card at the end of the cruise.
Entertainers: The entertainers were the best we have seen on any cruise ship. The show singers were all excellent with big good voices capable of singing anything asked of them. The music was well suited to older passengers. That said, the last show featured Las Vegas show standards and was of no interest to us. The hit of the cruise for us was Diane Fast at the piano bar. She was good. She was funny. She sang us a port song in honor of each port we visited. She sang stuff that came out of her own funny head and she sang requests. Judy and I are not piano bar people. We usually ignore the piano bar, but Diane hooked us the first night of the cruise. As we were walking by, she was singing a Tom Lear song-the one about the Irish maid who killed her family. We stopped to listen. We stayed and we came back every night but one. She inspired me to write my own lyrics for a Homer port song, and she pulled me into her open mike night to sing a medley I put together. I had sung it in my head dozens of times but never out loud until this cruise. It was a hit. By popular consensus, this nameless medley is now known as Ode to Dixie. Simply said, if given a choice of two similar cruises and Diane is the piano bar feature on one, we will go with Diane. She inspires loyalty. Off stage, she seems rather shy.
Embarkation: We got on the transfer bus at 9:40 at SeaTac airport. We got to the port at 11:11. We were on board by 11:30. Things went smoothly in the boarding process and cabins were ready when we boarded. We did not have to worry about carryon bags while we were eating. The Lido was ready for us. There was no problem in finding a table or getting our food. The dining room was closed.
Our lunch was good. We had a wide selection. The wait staff was attentive. After lunch we went back to our cabin #640 to retrieve our cameras and went topside to take some pictures. Packing our cameras and gear is down to a science, but the problems loom a little bit bigger for every cruise. For this cruise, Judy had her camera and two lenses. I had one camera, four lenses and a monopod. We also had a small laptop for viewing pictures and backup storage of image files.
The “real” cruise started with the lifeboat drill at 4:30. It was relatively painless. It was a little longer than it needed to be. Some passengers had to be located wherever they were hiding and escorted to their lifeboat station. The rule is simple: be at your boat station for the drill or you will be escorted off the ship at the first opportunity. Sail away followed close behind. We met a few Cruise Critic friends at the sail away. We got some good pictures of Vancouver Island and amazing cloudscapes. The wind chill at cruising speed was a factor, but we came well equipped for “dressing in layers” so it was no problem for us.
We each took our first showers before dressing for dinner in the dining room. We had a tub in our bathroom. Grab bars were well placed for getting into and out of the shower. It was a blessing to not have to worry about water all over the floor of the bathroom, but tall people would have a problem with this shower. From tub floor to ceiling was about 6’7”. We saw a lot of guys taller than that roaming the ship.
Dinner in the dining room was a pleasant affair with some good food. Judy had the “always available” roast prime rib. She said it was good. I had shrimp and grits. It was the first time I have ever had okra in shrimp and grits. It was thick, tough and slimy. I picked it out and put it aside. The rest was good. Overall, the dining room menu ran to the exotic with an emphasis on raw protein. I would have preferred a menu a little less exotic, but I found something each night that was acceptable. As to taste and texture, it was acceptable to good, but nothing struck me as something to rave about or even to order again.
After dinner, we took pictures of a beautiful sunset and went to the first production show. The singers showed off their big voices with no flat or pinched off notes. After the show we met Diane. By the third night we had our regular seats.
Rise and shine at 6:30AM. We had a snack in the Lido and breakfast in the dining room. I recommend the Denver omelet. We made it on time to the Cruise Critic meet and greet at 10:00. The conversation was lively, but overall we had less contact with the Cruise Critic people than we had on some previous cruises.
We had lunch in the dining room. The artichoke dip and the onion soup were very good. Service was quick. I played duplicate bridge all afternoon. The play was at a fairly high level but everyone was nice to each other. No one was out for blood. The players were about evenly divided between pick-up partners and husband and wife pairs. The pairs well known to each other had a significant advantage over the pick-up pairs on the first day. By the end of the cruise, this advantage was not so pronounced.
Judy played trivia with a pick up team. That first day, before she joined the team, the team got four points out of 17. Things got better as days went by.
We got our first laundry back before dinner and I got my shined shoes back. This is a nice feature on HAL. Leave your shoes in the basket before bed turn-down at night and get them back shined before dinner. My dress shoes looked good for formal night. These shoes are 20 years old. I wear them to church, weddings and funerals during the year. They get polished about once a year. So to get them done on a HAL ship is good.
Formal night got us a little extra quality in the dining room. Pineapple Boat, Arugula Salad, and chocolate soufflé were all good.
After dinner we went to the show and finished the evening with Diane.
Breakfast in the Lido was pretty good. We wanted to get a little earlier start than we would by waiting for breakfast in the dining room.
The town was much the same as ever except there were no eagles in town. This proved to be a trend for the trip. All of our other cruises to Alaska were in May and June. On these trips eagles were everywhere. Now in the summer, eagles were a rare sight. I think we saw four on the whole trip.
Our preliminary plan was to check Creek Street to see if the salmon were running, and they were. For once we could go by plan A. We took lots of pictures of the creek and the fish. We were surprised to find Harbor Seals in the creek feeding on the salmon. For the first time, we climbed the Married Man’s Trail taking pictures as we went. The creek got prettier the further upstream we went. We spent a lot of time on the creek. Once we had enough of pictures and dead salmon, we headed toward Annabelle’s in the old hotel on Front Street. On previous visits we found it to be a nice place to have a delicious and quiet lunch. Before lunch, we made one stop at the local book store. We had to search to make sure we had the right store. On our last trip, we found it in an out of the way location. Inside there were few customers. I bought a book just to help keep the store open. This time the place was in a prime location on the busiest block on Creek Street.
When we got to Annabelle’s the line was out on the sidewalk. We considered not waiting, but the couple in front of us invited us to share a table with them. This act of hospitality helped us to get a seat quickly. Except for the lively and pleasant conversation with our new best friends, the experience was a disappointment. I came, primarily for the crab cakes. These have been, on past visits, genuine Dungeness crab cakes. On this trip, they were described as Pacific blend crab cakes. They were not as good. The first cakes were burned. They brought another serving which was edible, but not the “meal of a lifetime” quality that I remembered from past visits. We finished the day with a little shopping and went back to the ship. We were back on board by 3:00PM. Resting and napping filled the time before dinner.
Dinner was the best meal of the trip. Judy had veal tenderloins. I had salmon. Mine was very good. Judy said her dinner was the best meal she had ever had. Conversation was lively and pleasant which proved to be the norm for the cruise.
We went to the theater after dinner to see Don Horn, the ventriloquist. He was good. We did not linger in the theater. We left immediately for the piano bar.
Breakfast in the Lido as usual on any day with activity planned. After breakfast we dressed for on deck viewing of Tracy Arm and the glacier. We have two things to consider. The ship’s movement creates a significant wind chill factor and close proximity to the glacier equals pure cold. I’m sensitive to cold. It has an adverse effect on my chronic pain so I dress carefully. Tee-shirt, thermal long sleeve wool undershirt, heavy flannel shirt, light jacket and Gore-Tex hooded shell for the top half and thermal long-johns and lightweight pants for the bottom half do the job. I was not cold at all on deck. The Gore-Tex shell does nothing for insulation, but it stops the wind penetration.
Tracy Arm is the most beautiful place I have seen on this earth. Glacier Bay is bigger and has more glaciers, but foot for foot Tracy has it beat. We have not been to Misty Fjords so I cannot speak for it. Maybe on our next Alaska Cruise we will take a Misty Excursion. Sawyer glacier is the smallest of the tidewater glaciers which we have viewed directly from the cruise ship. It is easily the most beautiful. We tried on two earlier cruises to get to the glacier, but the captains would not risk the ships in the early season ice. This experience justified the peak season cruise. The overcast brought out the blue color in the glacier. Judy and I spent the whole time on deck to see this beauty and when the ship left, we hurried aft to watch it fade away.
We had lunch in the dining room. We ordered from the express menu. Service was quick and we had plenty of time to get to duplicate bridge for me and trivia for Judy.
The rest of this wonderful day is a blur. Even my day-book notes say nothing about the evening. I do remember giving Diane a heads up that the next day was our 50th Wedding Anniversary. She asked if we had a song. I said Edelweiss.
Our original plan for Juneau was to rent a car and do things on our own. The itinerary change which eliminated our Icy Strait whale watching sparked a change of plans. Conventional wisdom is that peak season whale watching is more spectacular than springtime watching. So we wanted to see whales this trip. We repeated an excursion from an earlier cruise and booked the Juneau Photo excursion through the ship. This jaunt combines a close up view of Mendenhall glacier with whale watching.
The tour was fun. We went whale watching first with one preliminary stop to see fireweed with a small glacier in the background. It was a beautiful photo op. Next we set out to find some whales. The boat is a beauty. It was designed for photography. Everyone on the tour had a prime seat. The only problem was that the whales were not co-operating. We saw some humps and some flukes but not much else.
Be the time we got to Mendenhall a light rain had set in. We went on our photo walk anyway. We had a good time. The tour company provided large micro clothes to dry off our camera equipment as needed. I decided this year to bring my monopod along in lieu of a tripod. It was helpful on the walk. It was easy to carry hooked to my belt, helped to stabilize the camera when needed and when the trail got steep, I used it as a walking stick. We also got some homemade snacks.
We got back to the ship in time for lunch. It was still raining. After lunch, we walked about the waterfront looking into whatever seemed interesting.
Dinner in the dining room included good conversation at our table for six, good food but nothing to rave about and an anniversary cake. The waiters gathered to sing the Indonesian song they always sing. It was fun. Our table mates helped us eat the cake.
The highlight of the day came at the piano. Diane led everyone in singing Edelweiss which is our song. I saw Judy playing in the snow 54 years ago and knew she was the one. Diane asked us if we had any advice for marriage. I said, “If you find yourselves not liking each other as much as you once did, stop and regroup. Work on liking each other again. Without like love soon dies.”
This was supposed to be our bonus day, our upgrade itinerary day from Icy Strait to Glacier Bay. It did not happen. There was a suspicious sheen in the wake of the ship. We could not go into the bay. We spent the day at sea while the captain and HAL worked out the details of having divers examine the ship. HAL sent us to Seward. So now we lost a port day and had another itinerary change from Anchorage to Seward. No-one was happy about this, but we accepted it with minimal fuss, especially when the captain announced that every passenger would receive a $250.00 shipboard credit. He also announced that the excursion desk would be open to arrange excursions from Seward. We opted to book a six hour boat tour of the Kenai Peninsula.
Just before dinner, the captain announced that everyone could get a free drink from any bar on the ship, and we would get a free glass of wine at dinner.
Dinner was exceptional this night. It was a happy circumstance considering the ups and downs of the day. The peach soup and the cheese soup were both good. Getting the drink was interesting. At first, the free drink was limited to a short list of alcoholic drinks. After lots of phone calls between bartenders and others, it was changed to “if you serve it they can have it.” This made everyone a lot happier. Judy said, if she had known that, she would have ordered a virgin margarita instead of ginger ale. I stuck with coke.
Later in the day the Captain announced that the divers found nothing wrong with the ship. We will resume our scheduled itinerary tomorrow.
We started late. We slept late working off all of yesterday’s excitement. We ate breakfast if the dining room. I had the made to order omelet. It was very good, better than what I had been getting in the Lido.
I went to the bridge lesson in the morning and played duplicate in the afternoon. Judy did her thing which included computer lessons. These were surprisingly good. We finished the afternoon with trivia.
The show was good that night. The singers were in control of the music. Vibratos were noticeable but not offensive.
This day was beautiful. Blue skies and white clouds. We took the boat tour. We took the six hour tour, because we know what happens on three hour tours. The six hour tour also has more leeway to do some unexpected things. We saw the beauty of the water, the shore, the glaciers (one up close) and the wild life. We took pictures of sea otters, orcas, humpback whales, Steller Sea Lions, horned and crested puffins, murres, gulls etc. Lunch, included in the price, offered a chicken salad wrap, chips and cookies. The captain and the crew were knowledgeable and helpful. It was a fun day.
At the end of the tour, we went back to the ship to shed excess clothing and pounds of camera gear and then went to town. We rode the free shuttle. The driver/guide was funny and full of local facts including the best place to get pizza. Judy and I love pizza and we have good pizza here in Virginia. Cicero’s in Seward not only serves pizza as good as we get here at home, it serves a bigger pie (12” vs 10”) at a lower price. We were truly satisfied with the quantity and the quality of our dinner. We went back to the ship after dinner and were in bed by 9:30. It was a very good day.
Homer Port Song
Give my regards to Homer
Remember me to that old spit
Tell all the gang at city hall
That I have had a ball
Sailing the bay with all those whales
Really made my day
Give my regards to Homer Town
And tell her I’ll be back some day.
Diane entertained us each night with songs about each port. As we sailed in search of the Best of the Bay, these words came to me as my take on Homer. Homer is set in a beautiful location with a spit of land on the waterfront which provides space for all the tourists and shops for campers and cruise passengers to buy much of what they want and some of what they need without straining the town proper. The spit also has several restaurants specializing in fresh seafood. Judy and I like good fish and chips made with halibut. We found some here after our tour for only $48 for two servings. It was very good, but I am not sure it was $48. When the price board says market price be prepared to pay. Still I would do it again on our 75th anniversary if we find ourselves alive and in Alaska.
The tour started with a surprise. The gangway to the boat has a free floating end that rises and falls with the tide. At low tide, as it was for us, it is very steep. Access to the boat is challenging but not impossible for the mobility impaired. The boat is fairly small with roomy seating for all. The crew is knowledgeable and worked with us to try to fill our wants for the ride. The bird expert asked me what I wanted most from this ride. I told her I wanted good pictures of puffins. If I could get one I would be happy. If I could get pictures of both crested and horned puffins I would be extremely happy. I got both along with common murres, pelagic cormorants, eagles (we saw two), harlequin ducks, oyster catchers, Pidgeon guillimotsl and black legged kittiwakes.
This was our second trip to Kodiak. I rained both times hard enough to discourage tourists. We did not get off the ship and did not go out on deck except for a brief time to get a few “I was here” shots. We played bridge most of the morning.
Hubbard Glacier did not disappoint us. It is still big and still awesome. Being near that much ice, seven miles wide and towering over cruise ships at its face, it exudes cold. Dress in layers. The day was overcast. The ice had a blue tint. An artist known for her mastery of color was asked to describe the blueness of glaciers and icebergs. She thought about it for a few minutes and answered, “Windex Blue.” That’s what it is. There was some calving from the face of the glaciers, but we could hear constant booming from back of the face. Hubbard is truly a river of ice. From the deck, we could see the two glaciers which came together to form one big glacier just before meeting the sea. Further back we could see other glaciers which either join Hubbard or, as hanging glaciers, dump ice onto Hubbard. The booming we heard may have been calving from hanging glaciers.
More trivia was the highlight of the afternoon. Our team was dead last after the first session. There were at least a dozen teams competing during the week. Our team rose in the standings day by day.
What could be better than to be in beautiful Sitka on a beautiful day? This is my favorite port in Alaska. In the spring, there are eagles on every tall post and mast in the harbor. On this day there were none.
We had a free excursion courtesy of our travel agency. The tour packed every seat on two large buses to tour the best of Sitka. Unfortunately the tour was on a tight schedule. Drive to a place, hurry off the bus, see the featured sight, and rush back to the bus, repeat and repeat. We saw salmon in the creek at the national park, we saw eagles, hawks and owls etc. at the raptor center and bears at the Fortress of the Bear. The raptor and bear centers are rescue/rehab places with a secondary mission of education of human beings about the wonders of nature. Both places do good work, but the bear place pens the bears into a junkyard and the raptors look like caged birds. We did not have time to get much of an idea of what we were looking at, but I can recognize a caged neurotic bear when I see one and these bears exhibited classic captivity neurosis. Unfortunately, bears cannot be release back into the wild. The best hope for these bears is that they be sent to a zoo with a breeding program. They will still be captives, but at least, they could see beyond the fence. In this place they can only look up to see humans looking down.
The excursion was free, at least to us, and it was not worth what we paid for it. If we ever again have the choice between a “free tour” and a $10 per person all day hop on hop off bus ticket, I will spend the $10. For this I can see the National Park for free, walk the totem pole trail and see the salmon. Then I can get back on the bus and ride to the Bishop’s house. The tour hear is covered by my Golden Age pass to all national parks. Then I could ride to the center of town and tour the Russian Orthodox Church (which we did anyway). The church is unlike any other I have ever entered. The artwork is interesting. The church burned to the ground years ago, but the people of the town rescued the art and the historic furniture (like the bishop’s seat). The whole town participated in the rescue which makes the currant church even more precious. Since the church is on the national list of historic places, the measurements and specs complete with pictures are in the national archives. This made an accurate reconstruction a relatively simple task. Photo tip: the best location for taking a picture of the cathedral requires some advance planning. Make sure your wide angle lens is on your camera. From the side closest to the tender dock, cross the street at the marked crosswalk prepared to stop for a literal second when you reach the center line of the street. Take your picture. Wave a thank you to the nice locals who stopped for you and move quickly across the street.
Unfortunately Mt. Edgecombe was being shy and hiding behind a veil of cloud so we did not get a chance to get a clear picture of Sitka’s most famous natural land mark.
The rest of the day is a blur. My day book has no entry for the day.
Trivia and bridge were the main activities of the day. Our trivia team finished fourth overall. Not bad. On one round, we got 16 out of a possible 17 points.
I got birthday cake and the song at dinner. I never thought I would reach 73, but I have.
On our last stop here we took the Burchart’s Garden and Butterfly Center excursion. At the end of the tour we were too worn out to spend any time walking around the waterfront area looking at the things for sale watching the people entertaining the people. This time, we decided to stay on the waterfront. This was probably not the best way to spend our time in Victoria. Relatively speaking, it was hot as the hinges of hades (compared to Alaska), and we wilted quickly. It was a long enjoyable cruise, but at the end we were feeling every joint in our old bodies. The next time we are in Victoria, we will go directly to the Gardens and spend all of our available time there.
We started our trip with four goals:
Have a good time-We did
See Salmon run-we did
Get some good whale pics-we did sort of. We did not get the pictures of which we dreamed, but we got good pictures of what we saw.
See Sawyer Glacier-we did and it was good.
Southwest Airline has mort seat space for its cheapest seats than any other airline. That makes it a good choice for us. That being said we do have some problems with Southwest.
We have tried on two separate occasions to sign up for direct through luggage service. HAL say it is available for Southwest. We were rejected both times. This time we asked the ship’s people why this happened. They did not know. They just know that it happens occasionally. This time when we got to the airport (SEATAC), we asked the Southwest agents. The agents said it was a computer glitch. Those people who have any kind of a senior ticket will be rejected. This makes no sense. If there is any class of traveler who needs the opportunity to put their suitcases in the hall on the last night of the cruise and not have to worry about their luggage until they get off the plane at their final destination, it is senior citizens. The most onerous part of the trip was running around the airports towing three suitcases and two camera bags.
The second problem we had with southwest was in getting our boarding passes. On the return flight, we stood in a long line, towing our bags until we got to a ticket agent. This was before going through security. The people in front of us did not have a flight code. The agent took care of them and gave them a real boarding pass. The agent asked us if we had our flight code. She said yes. Then the agent ignored us until Judy spoke up again. The agent got us started on the machine. She asked us if the machine had printed our boarding passes. Judy said yes. The agent took our bags, stapled our baggage claim checks to the envelope, put our boarding passes into the envelopes and said, “You are all set.” When we got in line to board the plane and got to the gate keeper, he looked at the boarding passes and said, “These are not boarding passes.” You have to see the ticket agent at the gate to exchange these for boarding passes. To say that we were incensed would be an understatement, but we had no choice but to comply. Our $25 to get us into an early slot in the seat line was wasted. Lesson learned: Read everything at the earliest opportunity. The plane was on a weather delay so we had plenty of time to get this done. Read Less
Although there were a few glitches in this trip, (smoke in an elevator right after embarkment and an oil sheen on the water that prevented us from cruising Glacier National Park) all in all, the staff and the care we received was ... Read More
Although there were a few glitches in this trip, (smoke in an elevator right after embarkment and an oil sheen on the water that prevented us from cruising Glacier National Park) all in all, the staff and the care we received was excellent.
To compensate for the change in plans (we went to Seward for ship inspection instead of Anchorage) each passenger was given $250 in shipboard money. My mother and I used part of it to take a bus trip to Anchorage since I was meeting a longtime friend there. The road between Seward and Anchorage was spectacular. (A moose and mountain sheep were spotted and the driver hilarious)
The room we had was ample (we were in the cheap 'rowing section'), and the care perfect. We couldn't have asked for more.
Thank you again, Holland America Cruise Lines for making this a memorable trip. Read Less
Holland America is the only cruise line that offers this 14 day experience. It visits small ports such as Homer, Kodiak and Icy Strait Point. These three ports offer what the real Alaska is like. There are no chain jewelry stores There are ... Read More
Holland America is the only cruise line that offers this 14 day experience. It visits small ports such as Homer, Kodiak and Icy Strait Point. These three ports offer what the real Alaska is like. There are no chain jewelry stores There are local folks selling their crafts and local fishermen. You can walk trails through the forest at Icy Straight and the shore at Homer. The restaurants sell fish caught that morning.
The MS Statendam is still a lovely lady. Even though she is being transferred to P&O lines, also owned by Carnival, she is in good shape. The crew has done a great job of keeping her maintained.
The service is what we expect from HAL. It far exceeds the service by other cruise lines. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled extremely well.
HAL needs to work on the speed of food delivery at the Dive-In grill. It is extremely slow. We ate there twice. The second time was slower than the first. The food does not warrant the wait.
The only coffee available for early risers, before 6am is at the Lido buffet. I hesitate to call it coffee. I struggled to wait until the Explorations lounge opened at 7am. Maybe it is part of their marketing strategy to encourage the purchase of better coffee. Read Less
The Statendam is incredibly well maintained and the crew is constantly working on it. While it has been 5 years since its last dry dock update, you would never know by walking around the ship. The crew is skilled, proud and enthusiastic ... Read More
The Statendam is incredibly well maintained and the crew is constantly working on it. While it has been 5 years since its last dry dock update, you would never know by walking around the ship. The crew is skilled, proud and enthusiastic about their work in taking care of passengers. No member of the crew disappointed us. Unlike most passengers, we took a 10 day land tour through Alaska Railroad prior to sailing - visiting Anchorage, Seward, Kenai , Resurrection Bay/Fox Island, Denali National Park. So we had seen lots of natural beauty and wildlife pre-cruise. The night before the cruise, we stayed in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Downtown Seattle, which allowed us to visit the Seattle Space Needle pre-cruise. The HAL transfer from the hotel to Pier 91 was convenient and went smoothly. Our luggage went directly to our cabin, sparing us the hassle.
A week before the departure, we were offered an upgrade from our balcony cabin on deck 9 (130) to a Neptune Suite which doubled the size of our stateroom and balcony and afforded us many extra services, including the use of the Neptune Lounge , breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill every morning a, free laundry/dry cleaning every day, priority embarkation, tendering and disembarkation. If you get the chance to buy this upgrade, take it. The service is phenomenal.
Fellow Passengers: varies with each cruise but on our sailing over 900 of the 1250+ passengers were repeat customers (Mariners) with many in their 80's and many in wheelchairs, scooters or on oxygen. Most were in good spirits but many seemed to resent the presence of children aboard "their" ship. I suspect that our sailing was "older" than most and certainly older than two prior sailings on HAL. Be patient and considerate and you will enjoy yourself. I am 63, my wife is 48 and our son is 12.
Necessities: pack whatever you need because the shops onboard do not sell basic toiletry articles or hygiene products. Some ports offer shopping but you did not book this cruise to shop.
Shore Excursions: The port advisor (Wallis) offered many good suggestions in her presentations about the ports. If you miss them in person, watch them on television later. Sophie, Lammy and the other shore excursion staff were very helpful in selecting excursions for my family. We also purchased independent shore excursions from www.memorymakersinak.org for Kodiak as well as www.ToursByLocals.com for Victoria (Darwin is a great tour guide and driver who knows Victoria, its sights and Butchart Gardens very well).
Movies: each day in the Wajang Theater, current movies are shown multiple times. If you miss it, they are repeated the next day on the television in your cabin. In addition, ShipFlicks offers 1,000 movies on DVD that you can watch on the DVD player in your cabin. Plenty to choose from.
Spa: my wife enjoyed three massages in the spa during the cruise. She is recovering from a neck injury and greatly benefitted from these massages. The staff cares and works with each person to address individual needs. Fitness Center: plenty of equipment to deal with most needs. Rarely crowded but never empty. Open 24 hours a day.
Main Dining Room: The Rotterdam Dining Room offers a wide variety of food at lunch and dinner. Our waiters - Yussef and Aries at table 304 were excellent. They both are parents and made origami figures for our son each night. Even a few magic tricks were taught by them. Simply stated, they cared about all of their guests and showed it. They knew the menu well and made good suggestions for both starters and entrees each evening. As a diabetic, I had some dietary needs and the menu made good selections possible. Each night they offer salmon, steak and baked chicken. Another 10 entrees cary each day but there are always good options available, including seafood and shellfish. Lamb entrees were especially good. The surf and turf on the third formal night was a big hit as my wife and son love lobster tails. They also offer No Sugar Added desserts and fresh fruit daily. Lunch in the Rotterdam is limited to 12 noon - 1 pm most days.
Lido Buffet: not our favorite place to eat. The food is slightly better than cafeteria food. We found the Asian and Italian sections to be most reliable. The sandwiches and salad selections are also decent. The Late Night Snacks (10:30-11:30 pm each night) are subpar and not worth the trip upstairs. Better to order room service from a broad menu available 24 hours a day without charge.
Dive In: this burger, hotdog and Mexican food option on the Lido Deck is open 11:30 am- 5:00 pm daily. It is far better than Lido despite a limited menu.
Pinnacle Grill: we had breakfast there each morning but it is limited to Neptune Suite guests only. It is available to all at lunch for a $10 upcharge and for dinner for a $29 upcharge except on Le Cirque nights when it is a $49 upcharge. Both breakfast and dinner were excellent.The entire staff (lina, Joko and the maitre d') are highly professional.The steaks are of the highest quality as are the sauces and vegetables.
Entertainment: The shows varied in quality and appeal - but that is why they offer a different show and talent each night. The first night show called Listen to the Night is a nice variety show that we had enjoyed aboard the Ryndam in December. Bob Mackie's Broadway was also a repeat. but worth seeing if new to you.We did not see the Don McEnery Show. Tricia Kelly is a talented vocalist and comedy impressionist - do not miss her show. most impressions are a hit. The Frankie Valli Street Singin Show was fun if you like that music. Benji Hill is a comedian who first appeared on the Statendam some 22 years ago but his act is current and funny. Duncan Tuck is a country singer who did not appeal to us. Ryan Ahern is a talented pianist who has performed in las Vegas for 15+ years. Talented beyond description.
Ports: pick your own favorites. The Tracy Arm and Hubbard Glacier cruise by days were nice but not as good as visiting the glaciers on excursions. Magic can happen any day- our son got to hold a two week old husky puppy at an Iditarod training facility - the picture we took captured the pure innocence of youth in awe of nature. Expect to see whales, Dall porpoises, harbor seals, sea lions, puffins, eagles , Dall sheep and much more. Read Less
I am an avid reader of Cruise Critic, and although we have taken ten cruises, I learn something new almost every time I log onto this site. Even though with ten Holland America cruises, I rarely give an opinion as there are so many of you ... Read More
I am an avid reader of Cruise Critic, and although we have taken ten cruises, I learn something new almost every time I log onto this site. Even though with ten Holland America cruises, I rarely give an opinion as there are so many of you who express yourselves so well. I also enjoy the reviews of other cruisers, and I wish I possessed the knowledge and time to include pictures in this review, as it makes a review so much more interesting.
We took the 14-day Holland America Statendam Alaskan Cruise from Monday, June 15 to Monday, June 29, 2015. This was our fourth Alaskan cruise.
There seems to be disagreement about the quality of service and dining on Holland America, but we thoroughly enjoy the size of the ships, the friendliness and attention of the staff, and the wonderful cuisine and service. We have not found anything going “downhill.”
We spent Saturday night in the Kansas City Airport Hilton. It is a great place to stay before a cruise, and the restaurant is excellent. We flew Southwest to Seattle with a layover in Denver. We took the hotel shuttle, with an excellent driver, to the Seattle Airport Hampton Inn. The driver also took us to the Copperleaf Restaurant in the Cedarbrook Lodge. This restaurant was outstanding and was in a beautiful setting.
We ate the hotel’s breakfast and boarded a van that was arranged by the hotel. This was not a pleasant trip as we were very crowded on the small van. Next time we will definitely order our own transportation to the pier.
Embarkation did not take long and went very smoothly. There was no waiting to get our key cards. Our cabin was ready, so we left our carry-on bags and went to the Lido for lunch as the MDR was closed. The Lido was a zoo, but the sandwiches and salad bar were very good. We are just not Lido fans and avoid it except for breakfast.
Our luggage had arrived, so we unpacked. We signed up for Internet minutes in the Exploration’s Café; signed up for the Navigator’s Wine Package; attended the muster drill; and dressed for dinner. After dinner, we went to the Explorer’s Lounge and listened to the Adagio Duo and then to the Showroom at Sea where the Statendam singers and dancers performed.
Our day-to-day schedule was very routine. My husband and I do not take many excursions as the cruise ship is our destination. We cruise to enjoy the relaxation, cuisine, and entertainment. We like to read, attend the lectures and demonstrations, walk on the deck, go to wine tastings, play trivia, meet new people, dine, go to the shows, and watch the ocean.
A short review of the ship follows:
EMBARKATION: The best ever! Went very smoothly.
THE STATENDAM: We found the ship to be in excellent condition. Some of the furniture and carpet need replacing, but since it has been sold to P&O, I’m sure Holland does not want to put a lot of money into refurbishing items. Of course, there was cleaning going on all the time.
STATEROOM: We were in an inside stateroom on the Main Deck (5) in the middle of the ship - #603. I think, from now on, we will get an outside cabin as I do like to awaken and see the condition of the weather and ocean. There was plenty of closet and drawer space plus two small cabinets, with locks, beside the bed. There was also a safe in the closet. The bathroom had a shower and plenty of counter space. The bed was excellent with nice linens and the towels were huge. We did not experience any plumbing problems and the a/c worked perfectly.
We very seldom saw our cabin stewards, Wan and Budi, but we cannot say enough good things about them.
DINING: We were able to get early fixed seating (5:30 p.m.). Our table for four was by a window #19, so we had an excellent view of the ocean. Our outstanding dining room stewards were Ardi and Lukman and the excellent wine steward was Allan.
Every meal in the MDR was superb. We so enjoy trying different items and my husband always looks forward to the chilled soups. Contrary to many comments on Cruise Critic our service and food was beyond outstanding. The prime rib, beef tenderloin, and lobster were excellent.
Maybe because it was a long Alaskan cruise, the dress attire seemed more relaxed than on previous cruises. Passengers were dressed nicely, but on formal nights, the sport coat or suit recommendation was not followed. The dress code is now called Gala Attire. We love to “dress up” as we don’t get many opportunities to do so in our area. I try not to let other passengers’ attire bother me, but I do think many of them should just go to the Lido or have room service.
We chose to eat breakfast in The Lido since we are early risers and the MDR did not open until 8:00 a.m. Personally, I do not care to ever eat in The Lido, but the food was good, and it was not very crowded at 6:30 a.m., so I could tolerate breakfasts there.
ENTERTAINMENT: We went to the Explorer’s Lounge after dinner every evening to listen to the Adagio Duo, Robert, the violinist, and Livia, the pianist. They were fantastic!!
The other lounge entertainers had good followings also: Solo Guitarist Michael; The Neptunes; and Piano Bar Diane Fast.
We also enjoyed all the shows in the Showroom at Sea: The Statendam singers and dancers performed “Listen to the Music”; “Bob Mackie’s Broadway”; “Street Singin’”; “Encore”; “Unforgettable”; “Stardust Lounge”; and “Dancing with the Stars” (did not attend). The costumes, dancing, and singing were well done. We were so glad the sound system was not overbearing and there were no strobe lights.
The other entertainers were also excellent: “The Comedy Magic of Fred Becker”; “Jim and Anne Curry’s tribute to John Denver”; “The Comedy of Benji Hill”; “Vocalist & Comedy Impressionist Tricia Kelly” (did not enjoy this act); and “Comedian Don McEnery”.
EXCURSIONS: As I stated before, we do not do many excursions, but we do walk and explore each town. Ketchikan: We love Ketchikan and the weather was beautiful. We took the funicular to the Cape Fox Lodge and had a second breakfast, and then did some shopping for our four teenage granddaughters.
Tracy Arm: It was too foggy to attempt Tracy Arm, but we did go to Endicott Arm which was quite nice, but very cold on the deck. We walked four miles while viewing the glacier.
Juneau: We have always taken the Mt. Roberts Tram and did so on this trip. It is always a thrill to look down on the Harbor and see our ship. We then walked around town and I bought the most comfortable pair of shoes at Shoefly Alaska. I can never find a pair of shoes in my size, so I was ecstatic to find these.
Icy Strait Point: This is a tender port and we chose to remain on the ship. Our friends went in to town and enjoyed the trip.
On the Sea Day, we went to the Premium Wine Tasting: North Pacific vs. Old World. This was a fantastic wine tasting event. The Cellar Master, Jean Francois, had interesting, unique presentations of wine, and we thoroughly enjoyed all three that we attended. One might say that this is our “excursion” while cruising.
Anchorage: We went into Anchorage early; walked around; enjoyed the beautiful flowers and clean neat business district. There was a very nice, large mall downtown, and we decided to eat at Sullivan’s instead of going back to the ship and then into town again. We had an excellent meal, and best of all, avoided eating in The Lido. I really shouldn’t run The Lido down, as the food and service are great, but we would rather sit at a nice table and be waited on in a quieter atmosphere.
Homer: We rode a school bus over to the Homer Pit. There were several little bars, restaurants, and shops; and we did see fishermen cleaning halibut. Homer is the Halibut Capital of the World. After lunch, we took the ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’, Homer Hop On, Hop Off Shuttle (school bus) to downtown Homer. Homer does give one a feel for a real Alaska town, and it was bigger than I had imagined. There were four stops along the way. Sorry to say, we did not get off the bus, but did enjoy seeing the town.
Kodiak: This archipelago is the second largest island in the U.S. – about the size of Connecticut. I didn’t talk to anyone who saw a Kodiak bear as they were just coming out of hibernation. A better time would be in July, August, and September. We rode the shuttle, another school bus, into town, although many people walked. We enjoyed walking around Kodiak although it was quite cool, and I was glad to have a warm coat and hat. We visited the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral, with its blue cupolas – very interesting. We then went to the Alutiiq Museum which was wonderful. Luckily, there was lunch in the MDR, and then we attended another wine tasting: Around the World Wine Festival, where one could enjoy a variety of twelve wines from six different countries. Excellent.
Hubbard Glacier: This is a large glacier and I did get to see a “calving”.
Sitka: We took the tender to Sitka. This is a very interesting town and we enjoyed walking around. We also walked to the Sitka National Historical Park and enjoyed the hike through the tall trees and the totem poles. Since there was no lunch in the MDR, we had clam chowder and crab cakes at the Westmark Hotel. Very nice.
Another Sea Day: Another relaxing day. We attended the Mariner’s Lunch and then went to our last Team Trivia. We did Team Trivia every day and also did some of the Food Trivia. I must mention our cruise director, Ross McTaggart. He was the best CD we have ever had. He was very professional, witty, and kept things on time. I would love to see him on another cruise.
Victoria: We did the Butchart Gardens Tour. It was just as beautiful and interesting as we had been told. We had been to Victoria on other cruises so we did not go downtown. The finals of Dancing with the Stars was held that evening, but we did not attend.
DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation went very smoothly.
This was a fantastic cruise and we highly recommend it, and would take it again. Luckily, we had smooth seas (with only one day of high white caps). Once again, the food, service, entertainment, lectures, and ambiance were outstanding. We are looking forward to our next cruise in December. Read Less