We were a group of three, 2 daughters and their mother. This was my 8th cruise, my mother's second and my sister's first. None of us had ever been to Alaska before.
We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, which we booked throught HAL. It was such a convenient location and a really nice hotel. One nice thing about it was that the hotel takes care of transferring your luggage to the ship, making it so much easier for us.
We decided to treat ourselves to a Neptune suite and we loved everything about it. There was tons of space, lots of storage, a large balcony, wonderful cabin stewards and all the perks of a Neptune Suite including the Neptune Lounge. Our concierges were welcoming and friendly and took good care of us.
The Zaandam was in great shape and we found the crew to be friendly and eager to please.
The food was excellent. The service in the dining room was quick and attentive.
We ate once in the Pinnacle Grill and quite enjoyed it. We only ate in the Lido a few times - it was good but we prefered the MDR.
We booked 3 excursions through HAL and enjoyed them all. The weather in Juneau was awful - rainy and very foggy, but the whales we saw on our whale watching excursion didn't seem to mind the bad weather.
The White Pass railway excursion in Skagway took us through beautiful scenery and the guide was full of knowledge about the area and it's history.
In Ketchikan we went on the crab feast - first we saw how they fish for the Dungeness crabs. Then we got to eat as much as we liked. They were delicious.
The best part of the cruise we all agree was Tracy Arm. The scenery was breathtaking, and when we were lucky enough to get all the way to the glacier we were in awe. It was a magical day with stunning scenery and beautiful weather.
Embarkation and disembarkation were both organized and easy.
I would recommend this itinerary, HAL and especialy the Zaandam to anyone.