Make no mistake. The star of this trip is Alaska, not the Noordam.
We left from Seattle for a bus trip to Vancouver to meet the ship. Embarkation was a tad frantic at Canada Place, but reasonable. The Noordam was in fine shape and the crew worked hard to please, but I have had better experiences on Royal Caribbean. The ship was simply a means to an end. Holland America came highly recommended by our travel agent, plus they had the cruise at the time we wanted to go, so we used them. While we we not disappointed, we were no blown away either. Our veranda cabin was clean and comfortable. Our room stewards were attentive without being bothersome. Dining room staff was fun. More to say about food later. The best spot on the ship was the Crow's Nest. The views from there were fantastic. Holland America offered us a free beverage card (15 drinks per day, up to $8 max). That was very useful. As a recovering alcoholic, I did not use the alcohol drinks, but my wife enjoyed the different wines. We were also "given" a free dinner at the Pinnacle restaurant. Save your money if you are paying extra to eat here. We were disappointed. In a fancy place like that I expect a steak ordered medium rare to come that way, not well done. We ordered room service breakfast most days. They usually got the order right, but not always. The Lido restaurant is frantic and a place I would avoid if I could, but sometimes it is the only food choice. Food in Vista dining room was varied and fine, although I thought some portions seemed small.
Entertainment was just so-so, but the crowd was mostly seniors and seemed to enjoy the offerings. The cruise Director Kelsey was lot of fun as was "Jazzy" the DJ. The lady who "explained" debarkation in Seward was so confusing that many passengers had no idea after her presentation what we were to do.
Our shore excursions included salmon fishing in Ketchikan. We caught only one one as the salmon run had not yet begun. In Juneau, we took the spectacular Tracy Arm Fjord tour. Clearly this was the best tour we took - right to the base of the glacier, where we watched 6 icebergs calve, and saw all sorts of wildlife including whales and seals. In Skagway, we took the train ride. Just lovely on a rare sunny day. After arriving in Seward, we headed to Danali for two nights, then back to Anchorage. In Danali, the recently renovated McKinley Lodge was excellent. The Westmark hotel in Anchorage, however, is shopworn and weary and in great need of an update. While in Denali, the tundra wilderness tour was great. We left at 3 PM, not returning until after 11 PM, but saw lots of caribou, Dall sheep, and spectacular scenery. After Anchorage, Holland America flew us back to Seattle. They even paid the luggage fees.
All in all, I rate the experience as very good.
multiple cruise ships leaving from the same terminal make for big crowds and waits.
Captain worked hard to find fish that were not yet running.View All 100 Fishing Reviews
Spectacular. Spent an hour at the face of the glacier. Watched 6 icebergs calve. Mate even collected ice from the water and put it in our drinks! Saw whales and seals. Just amazing.View All 50 Tracy Arm Fjord Catamaran Reviews
fun trip. Beautiful mountain sceneery.View All 1212 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
Captain got "up close". Spent 45 minutes at the face. Wonderful.