The cruise was a last minute decision and we were excited about it. We had been to Alaska twice before but this took us to two places we had not explored. The food in the lido deck buffet wasn't very good. By the second week I was tired of it, not enough variety and the desserts were for the most part dreadful. We liked the ice cream, fruit crumble and the bread pudding the best. The pie pastry was like shoe leather.
The dining room food was much better and I really enjoyed being waited on and many of the meals were really delicious, perfectly cooked lobster!
The Grill area by the pool had Mexican fare and pizza every day and was pretty good.
We were last time to Alaska on the Celebrity Infinity and the food in their lido deck was amazing, but Celebrity it a higher priced cruise.
This is the 5th Holland America ship we have been on and I'm not a fan of these smaller ships except that for an Alaskan cruise the sliding roof over the Lido pool is a real bonus in bad weather. Other ships lose the use of this area when it's cold or rainy. We prefer about 2400 passenger ships and that gives more space, more venues and more shopping on board. Not a huge difference, on Holland it's 4 times round the deck equals 1 mile whereas on the slightly bigger ships it's 3 times around.
We felt that is was the friendliest ship we've been on. All the staff were amazing. This attitude has to come from the top down. The captain was a young man and the crew said he'd often wander around the ship and eat in the Lido deck and make himself visible to guests and staff. That was a good thing a happy atmosphere.
We had so many invitations to luncheons and receptions with free drinks it was amazing. Must have had occasions where champagne or cocktails were supplied at least 7 times in two weeks!
Yes the ship is older but most of Holland America Ships are but they are constantly being well maintained. We had an inside cabin midship on main deck. It is due for a refitting in Oct. 2013. We find the bow to have the most motion so try to avoid a cabin there. These smaller ships tend to have more motion, but our cruise was like glass!
The ship shore excursions tend to be expensive and we don't usually go on them from the ship but others were raving about helicopter rides and whales watching experiences. Check ahead by going on line and see what excursions are available privately. Sometimes (most of the time) they are cheaper and better and the people giving them are really enthusiastic, not just using you as a 'meal ticket'.
We had a wonderful excursion with Kenai Fjords Tours in Seward, a 6 hr. boat trip and we saw Orcas, humpbacks, dolphins, seals, sea lions and glaciers.
I also recommend Halibut Hole fish and chips in Ketchikan, at the end of Creek Street overlooking the water (we saw seals swimming by). After seeing Creek Steet, take the tram ($2.00 for all day) up to the Cape Fox Lodge and see the Native art work in the lodge and the totem poles outside. Take the path to your left and walk through the forest (trail, walkway and steps) back down to where you started.
Didn't try Tracy's Crab shack in Juneau but sure wish we had, it's right next to the big parkade near the dock.
I liked the amount of time that we were in the ports, no rushing.
All and all it was a wonderful relaxing cruise great ports of call, magnificent scenery and who doesn't enjoy unpacking once and being waited on!
2609 Zaandam Midship inside. Clean and spacious, well ventilated, but it did have a constant noise. I think we were near something like water or sewer plant on the ship and there was a constant hum even when the ship was docked. We slept through it but it was slightly annoying. However we were on a ship and it has various parts to it that makes it unlike a hotel and that I guess is part of the experience. Cabin steward were wonderful.
Cute little town. You can just walk off the boat and tour the town on foot if you desire. Creek St. is historic and famous, don't miss that. Great Fish and Chips at the Halibut Hole (locally owned)on an outdoor patio overlooking the creek it's located at one end of Creek Street. Take the Tram up to the Cape Fox Lodge (2.00 for all day) You get a view back over the city, a chance to look at their collection of Native are work and beautiful totem poles. You and walk back down to the bottom of the hill (fairly easy walk) trails, stairs and boardwalk by taking the trail beside the lodge just across from the totems. To the right of the lodge if you are looking at it from the totem area.You can also take local excursion just off the dock when you arrive. Check out on trip advisor.
We don't find this Capital city very interesting. Next time I'd take a tour. Lots and lots of chances to take a tour as you get off the ship. Walk around and look at the sites. Tracy's Crab Shack looked yummy, did not try it out, it was too lake when I finally found it. It's beside the big parkade next to the dock. Tons of jewellery stores etc. etc., most with connections to the cruise ship lines.
Cute little town, the first few blocks most stores are connected to the cruise line. The Bonanza restaurant it owned by Holland America according to the locals. Go down to the far end of the main street and you will start to find the locally owned businesses (we like to support these) with lots of good actually made in Alaska!!On another cruise here we did take a tour (not on the ship) from a local operator and we were driven in a 'airporter' type bus up to the top of the pass. Great experience, think it was about $35.00pp a couple of years ago.Look for tours on line before you go.
We booked a wonderful tour on line before we took our cruise. Kenai Fjords Tours, at 8 am we took a 6 hr. boat tour (covered with lunch 150 people - comfortable with good viewing) and we saw Orcas, humpback, dolphins, sea lions, seals, glaciers and incredible scenery. It was fabulous I will remember it forever. Highly recommend it to everyone. The early hour gives a better chance of seeing wildlife.Town itself was tiny but they have a marine centre that is supposed to be wonderful, we didn't get to see that.