1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We booked a signature suite on this cruise which showed on the HAL website as being a newly refurbished suite with new couch and chairs,marble top counters ,big screen TV on the wall and bright fresh interior but what we actually got when ... Read More
We booked a signature suite on this cruise which showed on the HAL website as being a newly refurbished suite with new couch and chairs,marble top counters ,big screen TV on the wall and bright fresh interior but what we actually got when we came onboard is a tired old suite with marks all over the walls,an old bathroom with old grubby shower curtains, an old TV that you couldn’t make out what was on the screen due to the fuzziness on it. boy were we disappointed! They have since replaced the TV but have stuck paper serviettes under it for whatever reason which looks terrible but at least we have a clearer picture, . We have complained to the customer relations desk onboard who were really disinterested and said we should have read the fine print that says the photos of the cabin are not necessarily representing the actual cabin!!!! That is false advertising as ok the layout may vary or the colour scheme but not when the photos are actually under the Noordam and showing a new cabin and not a dinghy old cabin that is desperate to be refurbished. A number of suite passengers have complained as it is all suites and cabins that have not been fefurbished, The Noordam overall throughout the vessel is very worn with old grubby carpets throughout the dining rooms,stairwells and quite a bit of the public rooms. Around the covered pool area they have set up long trestle tables with plastic chairs which has made the whole area overcrowded and very tacky looking. The room service has delivered us cold toast and cold water for tea so now on day 4 we have despaired with room service and will have to tackle the throngs of people in the Lido. We are 4 star mariners and are very dissatisfied with what is happening with HAL and the standard of the ship as it once was a fantastic line to sail with. On a positive note the Staff are always a pleasure but with the cutbacks on staff they are working twice as hard and consequently the tables in the pool area are not being cleared and no delivery of water or tea and coffee any more but of course you can still purchase a beer because that creates revenue. If you are booking the Noordam for travel before I understand November 2019 just bear in mind you are not getting the cabin as shown in the pictures or on the website As there are a lot of disgruntled passengers onboard. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose the cruise for the itinerary and the timing. One friend could only travel this week. We really wanted to experience Alaska, the glaciers, and the Inside Passage. The food aboard Noordam was outstanding in all areas of the ship. ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the itinerary and the timing. One friend could only travel this week. We really wanted to experience Alaska, the glaciers, and the Inside Passage. The food aboard Noordam was outstanding in all areas of the ship. The Lido restaurant offered a large choice for breakfast. I really enjoyed the Filipino bread for breakfast which was more like a donut with a buttery spread served beside the Miso soup pot. I had one each morning. The Vista dining lounge was also a big hit. The food was tasty, presented beautifully, and the service was friendly and professional. We were always certain to receive well-timed service - if we ordered baked potatoes, the sour cream and fixings were always offered right away, if you ordered lobster, the waiter was right there to help shell it for you, etc. Exceptional food service, variety, and presentation. The entertainment also exceeded our expectations. There was a comedian and a magician on board and both were very entertaining. The singers/dancers were typical of a cruise ship. The sets and costumes were colourful, well-maintained, and artistic. We really enjoyed the BB Kings Blues Band. The band played all kinds of music despite the name (which would have kept us away except we walked by one evening and was drawn to the music and energy of the room). It was extremely entertaining - the brass of the saxophone and horn really made the room come alive. The singers were incredible and had an amazing repertoire of several kinds of music from the oldies to Bruno Mars. The female sang a Whitney Houston classic and everyone had to stand it was so amazing and the male singer could sing the pages of a dictionary and be entertaining. You could always get snacks at the café but unfortunately if you just wanted a regular coffee or tea you didn't need to pay extra or you still had to go up to the Lido. Not much is offered during the day to do though when at sea and we would have liked to see much more activities or interesting venues offered (although you could go to a presentation on how to use your binoculars!) We did not take part in any of the ship's excursions but did take shuttles offered on land. In Juneau we took the shuttle to Mendenhaul Glacier which is highly recommended. We also walked to the waterfalls which is only an easy 30 min walk. Make sure you take the walk off of the parking lot by the creek where you may be lucky enough to see bear. We saw a mom and her 2 cubs. We enjoyed a beer at the Red Dog Saloon. Worth a stop as you feel like you are back in the Gold Rush era with costumed servers, sawdust on the floor, and lively, era music from a gentleman on a keyboard. In Skagway we hiked up to the lower Dewey lake. This is a beautiful hike up a mountain path to a mountain lake. It is about 1 1/2 hour return and is well-marked and groomed. It offers a fairly strenuous hike through a pretty forest and offers a viewpoint over the ships docked and a pretty lake. You can also walk around the lake but we felt that would take quite a long time. After lunch we took a Smart bus to a historical cemetery. The walk from the bus stop was still over a mile but the cemetery is worth a look. There is a board with stories of some of the people buried there and is very interesting. There is a very short walk to a waterfall which is beautiful. We walked back to the ship from the cemetery which took about an hour. In Ketchikan we walked up to the fish hatchery. At this time it was the pink salmon that were running. Turns out there were no bears or eagles as they find this type of salmon to be unappetizing. Bears and eagles are salmon snobs - who knew? This was disappointing but we did see lots of fish and seals by Creek Street. The hatchery didn't offer a lot but the girl working there was a fountain of knowledge and readily shared her insights and passion for the fish. We finished by walking back to town along Creek Street. We stopped at the Fish House for chowder and a beer sampler. We saw lots of dolphins on the cruise, some otters, and we did see some whales but unfortunately the whales weren't very close and really just saw the blowholes or a flash of black. I think if we went earlier in the month we would have seen more wildlife. We unfortunately had to turn back in Glacier Bay due to a medical emergency so we didn't get to go see the glaciers. Will definitely have to return there is so much we didn't get to see. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
t had been nine years since we sailed HAL,and twenty since sailing the Inside Passge on HAL. There add-on land tour of Denali National Park, and sailing from Anchorage sealed the deal. In the dining room, we noticed a drop in the ... Read More
t had been nine years since we sailed HAL,and twenty since sailing the Inside Passge on HAL. There add-on land tour of Denali National Park, and sailing from Anchorage sealed the deal. In the dining room, we noticed a drop in the choice of meal selections. More average than top end, but the food was very good and the table service was excellent, after a blip on day 1. Having taken the four-day land tour beforehand, embarkation was a doddle, as we were the last coach in. All pre-checked luggage was already in our stateroom to meet us. Others who took the land tour had a ten hour coach journey from Fairbanks to the ship. Somehow, we had an internal flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage then a 3.5 hour coach trip. Much better. Not sure why Fairbanks included, as there is very little there to see in late September, if ever! Disembarkation was also very good. Noordam was in superb condition throughout and probably the best cruise -ship we have been on,in over 20 cruises. Happy smiling crew faces throughout the ship Alaska from North to South is the way to see the State. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
First large ship cruise. It was better than expected. Very organized as to getting on and off ship. Went into Fairbanks a day early so we could see sights on own. Enjoyed the Fountainhead Car Museum, caught MAC local bus, and the ... Read More
First large ship cruise. It was better than expected. Very organized as to getting on and off ship. Went into Fairbanks a day early so we could see sights on own. Enjoyed the Fountainhead Car Museum, caught MAC local bus, and the University of Alaska free shuttle from car museum, along with walking along the Chena River in morning. Westmar k Hotel was nice. Bus to Denali, stayed McKinley Lodge, nice. Ate at local Pizza/beer joint for lunch and Moose-Aka's Serbian restaurant for dinner, both great. Took free shuttle to Park and hiked, then took free shuttle to Savage River. Actually saw Denali! Next day long drive to Seward on motorcoach. Great driver, made good time and stopped for photos of Denali and nice lunch in Wasilla. Embarktion at Seward went smoothly, took shuttle to view small town. We liked going to the local saloons before getting back on board to be with locals. Cruise was great, no rough seas, sunny everyday, no high pressure to purchase anything. Food was good, met many nice people at meals, we had open seating. Waiters were fantastic!! Enough time in ports to hike and take excursions of our own. Free shuttles in each town and libraries in port were great to catch up on wifi. Happy hours were great buy, although didn t mind paying $10 with tax for Lemon Drop. Got many great photos of Glaciers, not too crowded on deck. Great art throughout ship. Lincoln center Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We did a fifteen day land and sea journey that started in Fairbanks and loved every minute of it. The Westmark hotel in Fairbanks was terrific, we stayed in South Tower, how anyone could complain about these rooms is beyond me. We went ... Read More
We did a fifteen day land and sea journey that started in Fairbanks and loved every minute of it. The Westmark hotel in Fairbanks was terrific, we stayed in South Tower, how anyone could complain about these rooms is beyond me. We went on the River boat cruise and did the Gold Dredge eight which was a lot of fun, a great way to get started. Denali was awesome, we spent two days there before moving on. Rode ATV and did the Denali Tundra wilderness tour, which was eight hours but had the most amazing sights and we saw a decent amount of wildlife along the way. The weather was perfect for most of trip, rained first day and last day, other than that we had tons of sunshine and warm temperatures. The two lodges were very nice with a rustic feel, we really enjoyed them. Then we took the train to Talkeetna and the train was fun with great views, and good hosts pointing out highlights as we passed them. Saw two moose along the way as well. Bartender on board to make sure everyone had a good time, we certainly did. After spending the afternoon in Talkeetna a great little quaint town with fun people, from there we went to Mt. Mckinley Princess Wilderness lodge which gave us some amazing views of Denali as well. Off to Anchorage on a tour bus to the Westmark Anchorage, an older hotel but kept up nicely. Spent the evening, morning exploring Anchorage which is a very nice city on the inlet. In the afternoon we went to the wildlife preserve where we say many of the native animals up close. Then we went to Mt. Aleyska Resort to spend the evening in the town of Girdwood. The resort was fantastic, very beautiful, high end with endless scenery. Many chose to go into town, we to the tram to the top of mountain and spent the evening eating dinner up there and enjoying the view. Then we went down and spent time exploring the hotel and it's many bars. After an enjoyable evening at Mt. Aleyska we boarded a bus for ride to Seward to board the ship. We got to explore Seward for a few hours before we boarded the ship which was easy and painless. We had a Verandah room with balcony on port side. Nice room, loved view from balcony, had lots of storage for luggage and clothes. Suitcases fit under bed and closets held a lot of cloths. Our room stewards Anom and Novi met us upon arrival and were great guys who did and outstanding job. Wonderful guy and people. The entire staff on the ship were top notch not a complaint on anyone, polite, friendly, helpful and boy do they keep this ship clean. We had great weather and smooth seas as we left port heading for a day at sea before Glacier bay. Glacier bay was phenominal being on port side we saw everything, Captain did a full two rotations at Margie glacier so everyone could see the glacier, I know we saw some calving it think everyone did, what a great day. Most of the cruise we had breakfast in suite with room service, it was hot an delivered on time. We enjoyed sitting on balcony having breakfast while we docked or pulled into port. Our first port of call was Haines, we had an exscursion planned, Portage glacier so we only had a few hours to tour area around ship. The excusion had a wonderful boat ride to the area of the glacier a bus ride to a camp where we suited up with life vests, boots and an oar (boy was my wife suprised) and hiked a half mile to ten man canoes. We only had to paddle about fifty yards before they could use trolling motor on back of boat. then we went ashore about a hundreds yards from portage glacier for pictures etc. Decent tour not sure wife would do it again, it was rustic, the outhouses were terrible. Juneau was our next port we had time to explore before and after our Whale watching excursion, with Mendehal glacier tour. I wish we had more than an hour at the glacier, theres a water fall Nugget falls thats walkable but its a two mile walk, I got pictures but I would've like a closer view. We saw five whales on our cruise to Orca Lodge for a great lunch and shopping (yes more shopping & the only place they don't have gift stores is the bathrooms in Alaska). It was a nice excusion, very well executed and narrated. We went to red dog saloon, I had five Duck fart shots which were very good, wife didn't care for them. Walked around Juneau for the rest of the day before heading back to the ship for dinner. We only ate in the main dining room once and it was very nice and good. Most of the time we were busy and just hit the Lido buffet which had similar items as main dining room, but finding a seat was a chore sometimes. Food was getting cold by the time we sat down. From Juneau we headed to Ketchickan where we saw first day of rain in some time. We had two hours to look around before we went to Neets bay for bear watching via floatplane. I was worried they may cancel flight but it went off without a hitch. The plane ride was great on the way to Neets bay. At neets bay we saw three bear up close and personal at the hatchery, evidently we were at the end of one salmon run and very beginning of another. The bears were within 20 yards but we were on observation deck. On the flight back to Ketchikan our pilot took us over some of the Misty Fjords and then thru some spectacular scenery, saw seals on rock, Dall sheep on hillside it was a wonderful flight back. Once back on ship we watched two adult eagles with a juvenile down on the shore line. Upon leaving Ketchikan we headed towards the inside passage in the rain and some rough seas. Once we got to the inside passage the seas smoothed out. Woke up saturday morning watched us pull into Vancouver which is a beautiful city for disembarkment. We had breakfast in room as we waited for our group to be called, we had a 9-9:30 time and we were at the airport by 10:15ish very easy. Overall it was a marvelous trip, I'd do it again in a minute. Holland America was very organized and terrific. The Noordam was well maintained, clean and the right size. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Noordam was a great choice for us. The size and number of people made getting around the ship easy. Staff were very pleasant and always helpful. Cabin 8085 was comfortable, quiet and very well kept up (Thanks Esha & Nougy!). Lots of ... Read More
Noordam was a great choice for us. The size and number of people made getting around the ship easy. Staff were very pleasant and always helpful. Cabin 8085 was comfortable, quiet and very well kept up (Thanks Esha & Nougy!). Lots of choices on on the Lido deck, the dining room was great with good menus and service, room service was terrific. We had a wonderful experience. Recommend booking a meal at the Pinnacle Restaurant-wonderful food, service and decor. We sat on our balcony most of the first day of the cruise watching the changing landscape which was a great introduction. All excursions were excellent. Ketchikan's Misty Fiords Monument, Juneau's helicopter to walk around on the Mendenhall glacier and then an evening whale watching, Skagway's Street Car Tour-a must!- and the luxury White Pass railway was well worth the price. Of course the day at Glacier Bay was spectacular. We ran out of superlatives! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
I traveled with my 13 year-old daughter and 3 other relatives northbound to Alaska from Vancouver, departing mid August. After reading a few of the other reviews, I kept my expectations of the ship and its amenities/entertainment fairly ... Read More
I traveled with my 13 year-old daughter and 3 other relatives northbound to Alaska from Vancouver, departing mid August. After reading a few of the other reviews, I kept my expectations of the ship and its amenities/entertainment fairly low and was just looking forward to spending time with family and seeing the beautiful scenery. I was very pleasantly surprised with everything about the ship and its activities. The best part was, I didn't pay extra for Wi-Fi, so my teen daughter was deprived of her I-phone all week and forced to interact with us!! First of all, I cannot say enough about the ship's amazing staff! The Noordam's Filipino staff were the most pleasant, friendly, organized group of people I have ever come across. Every single person would smile and greet you. The dining and cabin service was top-notch. We loved the folded towel animals they left in your room every night! When I ordered a goat cheese omlet to the room for breakfast, someone actually called the room afterwards to check whether I enjoyed it or not. Unbelievable service. The Noordam itself is a very classic, elegant ship. Some reviewers complain about things like "worn carpet" but I didn't notice or pay attention to that - the ship was very clean and decorated with artwork and sculptures everywhere.The trivial things people gripe about amaze me. It's not like the ship can replace thousands of square feet of carpet but every so often. The cabin was very nice, we had an oceanview room on Deck 1. It was adequate for the 2 of us. It was pretty small, but I expected it to be. The shower was great and beds were comfy. I had coffee delivered to the room every morning and sometimes breakfast. In-room dining service is included with the price which was a nice surprise. Room service food was excellent (we only tried breakfast). The Lido Deck had a big buffet every day for all 3 meals, with some varying selections and certain items you could get every day. As expected, it is crowded. I have to laugh when people complain about this - you are on a ship with almost 2000 people trying to eat at the same time. I really enjoyed the ethnic lunch selections- they had Indian, Asian, etc that altered daily. The ship did a great job providing variety and appealing to diverse tastes in food. Yes, some things were bland or overcooked but that is often the case with mass quantities of food. Other items were very good. The main dining room food was presented beautifully, though the entrees often lacked flavor. Desserts were excellent, however. Dinner at the Pinnacle Grill (specialty restaurant) was fantastic. We had the lamb, salmon and a steak - all were top notch. I disagree with the reviewers complaining about the lack of entertainment - there were plenty of choices of activities. No, it's not a Carnival "Party Ship." We had no interest in that anyway. But we did see the comedian and magician evening show twice - both were very good. We went to the "America's Test Kitchen" and enjoyed the demonstration there. I went to the gym and did other things, wasn't expecting the ship to entertain me constantly. Disembarkation was as smooth as it could possibly be. Everything on this ship is extremely well organized. I highly recommend this trip. We were very lucky with the weather and it didn't rain. But it often does during late summer, so be prepared for that. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I do not want to come across as sounding negative about this, since we did enjoy ourselves on this Alaska cruise/tour. We have cruised most frequently with Celebrity, but as first time HAL guests it's hard to avoid comparisons. Of ... Read More
I do not want to come across as sounding negative about this, since we did enjoy ourselves on this Alaska cruise/tour. We have cruised most frequently with Celebrity, but as first time HAL guests it's hard to avoid comparisons. Of course people have different impressions of things. Many people here have said that the Noordam is showing wear. We didn't really see much evidence of that. The outside decks are all gleaming white and look as though they've just been painted. All areas inside and out appear to be very clean and well maintained. Some of the negative comments may be due to the fact that a lot of the decor looks dated, although it's certainly not very old. Common areas: We found the Noordam to be thoughtfully designed and decorated in a mostly sophisticated fashion. There is some glitz but it's well placed. The ship was launched in 2006 and I think I've read that it was dry-docked for an overhaul in 2015. Much of the decor is tasteful and traditional, while in many places it looks like 1985 -- which obviously is not the case. There's a lot of dusky rose color and polished brass, well done but reminiscent of 30 years ago. The dark reds and rose shades, particularly in the otherwise attractive Vista Dining Room, make it feel a bit claustrophobic. If the ceilings were lightened up it might make the whole area seem more spacious. The ship features a lovely and interesting collection of European art pieces. There are some spectacular fresh floral arrangements around the ship. Certain details are pretty wonderful (like the elevator doors). All these features should make the Noordam feel somewhat classier overall than it does. I think this may be due to the otherwise dated and sometimes claustrophobic color schemes and traffic inefficiencies in certain areas. The ship's decor lacks a certain continuity and is somewhat disjointed. The ship has two pools. If only the Noordam were large enough to have an 'adults only' pool. Both pools were overridden with splashing, running kids the whole time; not particularly inviting for grownups desiring a peaceful poolside experience. Cabin: Our cabin was on Deck 1, the Main Deck. It had a window rather than a balcony. It was comfortable and the bed was good. The decor might have been a little frumpy but it was perfectly acceptable. Unbeknownst to us, our part of Deck 1 is beneath the BB King Blues Club. Don't plan to go to sleep early because the loud thumping music from the Club doesn't end until around 11:15. The cabin's layout where the closets are located makes for a particularly awkward area. That little hallway is always going to be tight, but the way the closet doors open, two people cannot easily access the closets at the same time. There are no lights in the closet and to see your things properly, you must turn on the hallway light, which is on the same circuit as the main ceiling lights in the cabin; not good if it's dark and someone is trying to sleep. I was surprised that the in-cabin TV did not have a channel where you can check on your bill to monitor expenses. I learned at the guest relations desk that they do not automatically provide a summary of your bill, you must request one. While the bathroom functioned just fine, what a dreary little place it is. A ship's bathroom is essentially one big plastic module and probably not easy to update. The color of these bathrooms is a peculiar tan, which reminded me of the color of panty hose; and the tub, sink, and door are that strange greenish-tan like degrading plastic computer components. Again, everything worked fine, but who ever chose the colors? Our mirrors were ready for replacing due to humidity damage around the edges. Lido Buffet: The Buffet is not self-serve, so there are big crowds at the serving areas. The kitchen crew serves everyone, order by order, so it can be slow-going and extremely cramped. I imagine it is not self-serve in the interest of preventing norovirus, which is admirable, but it makes for very inefficient service and crowding. The Vista Dining Room is not open at lunch, so the whole ship is at the Buffet, which is a mob scene at times. We occasionally escaped to the taco bar out by the pool. The Lido Buffet opens to a big aft deck, which has a lot of seating, but if the weather is inclement, everyone is crammed into the inside dining area. We are by no means foodies, but the Lido Buffet food was largely disappointing. Many of the offerings did not seem fresh and sometimes tasted leftover or of refrigerator. Some turn-offs were fat, grisly lamb shoulder; tough, stringy, overcooked asparagus; bleu cheese dressing with absolutely no flavor whatsoever; pre-made sandwiches in bags; and flavorless ice cream. All it has going for it is that it is cold. Of course the ship's cooking ingredients are not supermarket house brands, but it sure does taste like it. Coffee and cookies are excellent, as are the made to order salads (with an alternative dressing choice). Vista Dining Room: Service was excellent and the layout of the dining room is multi-level and interesting. We were seated in a different area for each dinner, which was nice. The food in the Vista Dining Room was head and shoulders better than that of the Lido Buffet, with a few exceptions. Buttermilk pancakes were rubbery and chewy; beef stroganoff was topped with two dry, stringy chunks of beef, and a few other items were lackluster. But most everything else was good to quite good. We never had dinner in the Buffet because the service, food, atmosphere, and stress level is so much better in the Vista Dining Room than in the Lido Buffet. Traditional afternoon high tea is also served in the Vista Dining Room. It's pleasant and the tea is good but many of the attractive-looking small pastries taste like supermarket house brand. A civilized tradition but sort of disappointing. Entertainment: First and foremost (and possibly tempting us to book with HAL again) is their Lincoln Center Stage. It's a chamber music venue that is too small for the number of people it attracts. The room opens to the hallway where clueless loudmouths often make hearing the exquisite music difficult, and is probably a distraction for the musicians as well. The quintet on board were brilliant musicians, accomplished and degreed, with delightful stage presence. We did not attend the BB King Blues Club since it's not our preferred type of music -- and as stated above, we were treated to a free show in our cabin every night. There were two production shows in the main theater during the week we were on the ship. The singers, dancers, sets, and effects are absolutely flawless and professional. The shows we saw were very loud, raucous rock-themed productions. No reflection on the performers, by any means, but I'm not sure if this type of show would be the choice of many of the guests on the ship. The comedian and especially the magician were excellent. My impression is that HAL, or at least this particular ship and cruise, is at a difficult crossroads as far as how to present its brand. I was expecting to find what its reputation is known for: catering to a fairly well-heeled mature clientele that prefers a traditional, rather sophisticated, classic cruise experience. The Noordam exhibits elements of a classic cruise liner, e.g., the teak steamer chairs, certain Deco details, railings and deckings; but is mixed with elements that make me fear that HAL may go the way of Carnival (I realize that's the parent company) and other lines which attract a more brusque, partying crowd. Of course any cruise line must update and reinvent itself to appeal to its current demographic, but HAL should take care not to lose its niche. Land portion: Our cruise began in Vancouver and we disembarked in Seward. A ten-hour motor coach ride (thankfully, with several stops and lunch) brought us to Denali National Park. HAL is to be complimented on how well they've accomplished handling enormous crowds, all working like clockwork. Our room in the Denali McKinley Lodge was comfortable and very attractive; we were in Building O, which seems to be within a fairly new enclave of buildings. And the train back to Anchorage was beautiful, spotless, and roomy. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
My DH and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. This was our 6th cruise with HAL. We brought two teens with us. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC before boarding the ship for our cruise. We really liked Vancouver - it's ... Read More
My DH and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. This was our 6th cruise with HAL. We brought two teens with us. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC before boarding the ship for our cruise. We really liked Vancouver - it's such a clean city. We stayed at an AirB&B and it was great. Much cozier than an impersonal hotel and we had more room, too. I'll review that on Air B&B later. I rate from a 5 star and reduce based on several things. My review would have been a 3.5 star if possible but that wasn't available and I do not feel that bumping it up to 4 stars would be right so we went down to the 3 star. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth - HAL has this figured out - the only thing is wear comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking involved on embarkation day. Now, lets talk about everything else: The ship overall is looking a little tired. Brass and fixtures that used to be shiny and bright are now somewhat dull, paint in places is worn off and things just look worn. This reduced the star rating by 1/2 to 3/4 of a star. The cabin, on the other hand was in good shape and the beds were comfortable. The cabin stewards did a great job. I can say that you rarely see them yet your room does get attention several times a day. I got the feeling that overall for the entire ship, the crew was not as large as it once was. It seems that the room stewards have more rooms to take care of then on previous cruises and this applies to the wait staff in the Lido and Dining rooms. I'll address that later. Perhaps steam cleaning the carpets in the cabins could be done at a better time. We have never encountered a cruise ship cleaning carpets in the cabins while we were on the ship - my hubby ended up with wet sox from walking on the still wet carpet. I would think this would be done at the end of a cruise when peoples cloths and belongings are not out on the carpets. It just seemed an odd time to clean carpets - at least to us, otherwise he cabin was fine. Dining: The dining was good but not excellent. The service was okay but nowhere near as good as on prior cruises and this reduced my rating by a full star. On prior HAL cruises the food was almost always excellent - this time it was good to average. The dining room menu the the first night had selections on the left side of the menu that said they would be available every night but this turned out not to be true. One night was devoted to selections from up and coming chefs or winners of some kind of culinary competition. Most of it was not particularly appealing. Items were fancied up for fancies sake and not necessarily appealing to the average eater. Teenagers were not thrilled with some of the selections - if they didn't know what it was they weren't going to eat it. I can't say that the food in the dining room was any better than the Lido market. Sometimes steaks were cooked the way I like them (med-rare) and sometimes it was a crap shoot. Some steaks were beautiful, lean and easy to eat - other times you had to trim off parts and cut out gristle and other tough parts. By the end of the cruise the ship was out of a lot of food - it looked like Asian selections were way down, fruit was hard to find - our last smoothie had to be made with a mix and I was told they were out of strawberries and pineapple. Some items seemed old and dried out sort of like eating heated up left over roast which is now dry and chewy. The folks working in the dining room and the Lido Market really tried to take care of everyone but you could see they were very busy and never just standing around but getting service for refills or even first fills of things like iced tea and coffee was difficult. I was disappointed with the eating facilities we visited. Due to a stroke, my DH drinks his liquids through a straw yet some of the staff on the Lido told him they did not have straws available while others found him one quickly - this appears due to a lack of training on HAL's part. Entertainment was okay but we don't go to much of it because my DH has a hearing problem. We do love the Explorations Cafe for puzzles, games and coffee, and the Observation area (Crow's Nest?) for watching the glaciers and great views. The teenagers loved the Loft and spent a lot of time at the pool, playing ping-pong and chess with the giant chess set near the pool. This trip I avoided the Spa - their prices are just astronomical. $70 for a pedicure is crazy - especially when the going price in my neck of the woods is $25 for the same services. It seems like a lot of nickle and dime charges and very expensive charges for things. I'm thinking of trying a Viking cruise next time - they may be more expensive initially but they do include more - including one land tour at each stop. As for Port and shore excursions, we did one on our own - in Ketchican we hired a taxi for an hour ($75.00) to give us a tour of the town. The teens loved this - we stopped and saw some of the local flora and fawna - they got to pick and eat Salmon Berries which they loved and heard about other things the Indians used for food and medicine. We saw the town and met some people. It was a fun little tour before we went shopping in town. We also did the White Pass Train Ride in Skagway - that was fun and interesting but not as much fun for the kids - one slept the whole way - that was an expensive nap, trust me. That was not the fault of the cruise - it's hard to tell what kids will and won't like but it's hard when the zip line tour requires an adult to accompany the kids and the adult is 72 and not into zip lining so it's hard to find an excursion that everyone can do and enjoy. I'm not saying we didn't enjoy our trip - we did. I'm rating in comparison to other cruises and see a downward slope in the quality of services and and upward slant in increased costs. We do notice this stuff and it does cause us to think about taking our business elsewhere. We have booked 2 back to back cruises totaling about 51 days for next fall and are seriously considering looking at other cruise lines to see if we want to change this - I don't know if this was a fluke in the dining and service and do I want to do this for 51 days in a row? Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Embarked from Vancouver's Canada Place. Very confusing entrance to building, very long walk to the ship. Disembark at Seward was very quick. Ship: looks very worn in some places. Crew spent a lot of time polishing the bottoms of ... Read More
Embarked from Vancouver's Canada Place. Very confusing entrance to building, very long walk to the ship. Disembark at Seward was very quick. Ship: looks very worn in some places. Crew spent a lot of time polishing the bottoms of columns, stool pedestals, restaurant glassware, while Lido deck restaurants were very understaffed. Ship diagram signs signifying fore and aft, venue locations, etc were poorly placed, poorly designed (muted color), and thus difficult to read, resulting in crowds around them trying to figure out were things were and where to go. Suggestion: not sure why HAL couldn't have paper diagram maps at main desk, and in rooms and in library, as well as these hard to read ones. Suggestion: how about having the carpets in front of elevators having "fore" and "aft" designations woven into them (part of problem solved)! Two swimming pools were each too small. And the placement of the hot tubs was poor (too exposed to Dive-In tables). Also hot tub hours were too short (opened at 10:00, closed in early evening; hot tubs are best when it's cool, like in early morning and at night, not in the middle of the day, and who want's to expose their fat bellies to diners, anyway!). Also, the so-called maps they put in the cabins before each port are worthless as town maps. All they show it jewelry stores. Why can't they give us usable street maps that show locations of coffee shops, ice cream stores, pharmacies, restaurants, etc? BTW: they had very nice bouquets of fresh flowers everywhere, which is kind of nice, but seems like a poor use of money when they seem to skimp on crew (more on this follows below) Cabin: ours, with vestibule, on deck 5, was smaller than we've experienced with our other (NCL and RC) cabins. Toilets are too low to the ground, and with no grab bars (hard for me, with bad knees to sit down and get up, they were so low...how about installing ADA-sized toilets!). Also labels on the shampoo/conditioner/soap dispenser bottles had type too small to read, for someone who doesn't wear their eyeglasses while showering. HAL, how about a big S,C and BW on each bottle. Also the ship channel on the in-room TV has a static presentation. Takes forever for it to shift from one screen to another. And why does one screen reveal the hot tub and pool temperatures, when they never change? And why can't HAL include on those static screens the ship diagram. And in these modern times, why can't they make that channel interactive from the remote control device. Get with the times, HAL! Dining: Big sore spot, for many reasons. Lido buffet restaurant food was poor, stations placed to close to one another, lines were too slow and long, seats and table insufficient, dining hours short, station staffing sparse and staff impolite, wording on menu signs too small to read until right on them (thus slowing down the line) and some not even there. When food and drink ran out it sometimes took 5 minutes to replenish items. Also, Dive-In Grill hours too short (and fries weren't as great as Cruise Critic review says). Vista restaurant food was better, a was it's staffing. Canalito Italian restaurant not very "Italian." Room service food reasonably good. Entertainment: Pretty good. Main theater nicely designed. Side room for Lincoln Center entertainment open to corridor, so too noisy. But Lincoln Center chamber group was great!! I heard several people them their musicians they made the trip worthwhile for the. I second that opinion. Also comedian on main stage was excellent. Ships house singers/dancers were pretty good, though one of their night was hoky. Room service: fine. Ports and excursions: I can't remember which port was which, but I recall that the White Pass bus trip was a waste of time. Tundra tour was good. Rail to Denali was good. All tour guides were good. HAL hotels were pretty bad (old, lots of noise transmission between floors). The one in Fairbanks was a nice one. though, but it's wi-fi wasn't working, and staff said it hadn't been working for several days (they said Seattle office "was working on it"). I complained to front desk and they said "sorry." I said "sorry" wasn't good enough, that they had to compensate me. They gave me two free drink coupons. I said "not enough for two days without wi-fi." They then gave me two free meal coupons for their restaurant. Used just one. Meal was surprisingly good for a hotel restaurant. SUMMARY: I think HAL cheaps-out and also has it's eyes closed to what it offers. Do HAL executives ever take their own cruises? Is their vision clouded by what they've designed for us? Why don't they hire some independent "mystery shoppers" to take cruises and turn in independent reviews. Bases on my one experience with HAL, I'll think twice before I use them again. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.9
Family 2.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 3.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.3

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