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.
Standard interior cabin. Good storage, shower only.