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An immersion in Alaska’s stunning scenic beauty and small-town charm! Arriving at Seattle’s Pier 91 on boarding day in late August 2016, we saw the terminal pier flanked by two ships, the M/S Amsterdam and the Ruby Princess. Our first impression was the striking contrast between the two vessels, operated by different cruise lines. The gargantuan Ruby Princess stretches 951 feet in length and 19 decks tall, looking like a high-rise building that fell on its side, and not the least bit inviting. Then we looked over at the M/S Amsterdam and gave a sigh of relief. It’s a REAL ship, with a classic graceful bow and wood-planked promenades. At 780 feet long and ten decks, the M/S Amsterdam is a medium-sized cruise ship with a passenger capacity of 1380, as compared to the Ruby Princess with over 3,000 capacity. We soon congratulated ourselves on making the right booking, because the megaship’s terminal check-in area was slammed with long waiting lines, and those crowds watched us enviously as we race-walked through the terminal to board our charming mid-sized ship! Our cozy cabin-for-two had comfy beds and just-right pillows that I liked so much, I wanted to take them home because we slept like floating logs as the ship’s gentle movement lulled us to sleep. Quickly adjusting to the motion of the ocean, we found it quite smooth most of the way, and for the brief time that it wasn’t, we found it to be an adventure. We enjoyed the great diversity of race and nationality on board, and socialized with many interesting folks from near and far. Everyone was very jovial and friendly. We liked the casual atmosphere of seeing some people wearing the provided white terry robes over swimsuits, from cabin to pool to the Lido Deck buffet! All precautions are taken to ensure cleanliness and sanitation for every aspect of the ship, and amazingly, there was not a cough or a sniffle to be heard for the entire trip. I think the medical office staff might have been bored on this ride. As a traveling mini-resort, the Amsterdam features a remarkable array of amenities creatively fit into their own kiosks; such as the art gallery, photo studio, mini-theater, and the piano bars. With two Jacuzzis, a larger indoor pool and a smaller outdoor pool on the stern, we always had the feeling of being on an extravagant vacation. The sumptuously-sized library is a great place to chill out for whale watching on big chairs next to view windows. The ship was easy to find our way around on, and after the first day of exploring all the decks with a map in hand, we had it wired. And then there’s the FOOD! Cruise cuisine is the ultimate indulge-till-you-bulge tradition. Having left all willpower at home, I dived into a freshly-made paleo breakfast every morning at the Lido Restaurant; poached eggs Florentine with extra Hollandaise, all the bacon I could eat, and hold the bread. Looking forward to the daily breakfast buffet at the Lido was like being a kid at Christmas, every day! So many delicious choices to heap on our plates while taking in views of beautiful scenic coastlines and listening to the cheerful background Muzak. We also loved the themed dining events on the Lido Deck, and convenient poolside taco bar with made-to-order hot dogs, hamburgers, and fries. Elegant cruise-style dining in La Fontaine restaurant tempts with a delectable and creative menu which changes daily. The upscale Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto restaurants beckoned, and we gladly answered. At this point, I was already trying to figure out how I could become a full-time passenger. As we headed up the Alaskan coastline, what should we see a mile off our port side? The unmistakable Ruby Princess on the same route, struggling to match the speed of the smaller and faster Amsterdam, which soon left her in the distance as we were first to arrive and dock at the best berth in each port. Shore excursions at our stops in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria B.C. were expertly handled by tour operators. Sitka’s pretty charm has stayed with me…how does one fall in love with a town after a half-day visit? Many thanks to Linda, our Sitka-born bus driver. Each of these towns has its own special character. Juneau features the spectacular (retreating) Mendenhall Glacier and its visitor center, waterfall, hikes, and salmon creeks. Ketchikan is a great spot for walking around to all the souvenir and gem shops, and there’s an interesting museum in a pretty park just a short walk up the hill. As we pulled out of port in Ketchikan, I was on the Sky Deck’s outdoor viewing rail when the ship suddenly gave its deafening departure blast, catching me completely unawares. It’s a good thing I don’t have a heart condition, but I do believe my vocal cords went overboard. On Victoria Island, we were fascinated by the narration of Ed, our bus driver and seasoned storyteller who described the stranger-than-fiction scandals of architect Francis Rattenbury, designer of Victoria’s Parliament building and other notable structures in the early 1900s, whose murder remains forever unsolved. As the Amsterdam’s passengers efficiently disembarked in each port ‘o call, the gargantuan cruisers had to offload and load nearly triple our numbers. As these people stood waiting, I felt sorry for them. Nah! Daily onboard events offered an enormous variety -- yoga, Pilates, cooking and bartending classes, travel and health lectures, art auctions, casino gambling, contests, games and poker, bingo, movies, spa pampering, gym workouts, piano bar sing-along, dancing to oldies, magic shows, comedy, matinee shows, deck-walking for charity, happy hour, and more than I can list here! In addition, onboard location guides provide presentations on fascinating histories of coastal Alaska and things to see and do in port. In the spacious, gaudily-decorated Queen’s Lounge, the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers entertained with mesmerizing top-notch shows featuring professional vocalists, superb dancers, creative costumes, and exceptional choreography, music and lighting. My top fave with onboard activities was the Digital Workshop classes by Microsoft trainer Tony Brunning, who downloads his impressive repertoire of computer and digi-cam knowledge in layman’s terms with a Brit accent that locked our attention to every word. While his leisurely-paced classes allowed time for amusing anecdotes, his fast-paced ones made Tony a taskmaster. Professional instruction and Q&A time for Windows OS is valued in the thousands of dollars, and this inclusion in the trip was a fantastic perk! At our cruise’s turnaround point, the Amsterdam brought us up close and personal to spectacular Hubbard Glacier. Every passenger was out on deck for the once in a lifetime experience of viewing this living, moving carry-over from Earth’s Ice Age. The glacier cliff’s aqua-blue hues shone over the water on the sparkling clear day, providing ideal conditions for camera geeks, as well as amateurs taking selfies-with-glacier. All eyes were riveted on the icy cliffs to witness a “calving,” if we could be so lucky. And something did happen…a car-sized chunk of muddy ice from the water’s edge of the glacier broke off and made a little splash. Someone yelled, “It calved!” We appreciated the warm hospitality of the staff and crew, including Hotel Director Henk Mensink who graciously goes the extra nautical mile to oversee passenger comfort. Pay close attention to public announcements by distinguished Captain Jon Mercer and you’ll catch his charming Brit-wit! Cruise Director Sabine and Show Host Verity shared their great sense of fun and spontaneity with audiences, and a tour director named Ingrid kindly assisted us at the Ketchikan port. As for our deck’s cabin stewards Dewa (dee-wah) and Made (mah-day), these two multi-taskers could be doing ten different tasks at blurring speed and still have a smile and friendly greeting for every passerby. The dining staff were multicultural and multi-talented too. Indonesian wait-staff in La Fontaine grouped together to sing a rendition of “happy birthday” in their language to delighted diners. Cheery Filipinos manned the Lido Restaurant, and an ample, jolly East Indian man could be found behind the counter doing everything from serving ice cream to flipping pancakes. Returning from this entire enriching experience and getting back into my daily routine at home, I feel myself suffering from a peculiar malady – homesickness, for the good ship Amsterdam!

M/S Amsterdam’s Alaska Cruise: an absolutely perfect trip!

Amsterdam Cruise Review by virginiastephens661

16 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2016
  • Destination: Alaska
An immersion in Alaska’s stunning scenic beauty and small-town charm!

Arriving at Seattle’s Pier 91 on boarding day in late August 2016, we saw the terminal pier flanked by two ships, the M/S Amsterdam and the Ruby Princess. Our first impression was the striking contrast between the two vessels, operated by different cruise lines. The gargantuan Ruby Princess stretches 951 feet in length and 19 decks tall, looking like a high-rise building that fell on its side, and not the least bit inviting. Then we looked over at the M/S Amsterdam and gave a sigh of relief. It’s a REAL ship, with a classic graceful bow and wood-planked promenades. At 780 feet long and ten decks, the M/S Amsterdam is a medium-sized cruise ship with a passenger capacity of 1380, as compared to the Ruby Princess with over 3,000 capacity.

We soon congratulated ourselves on making the right booking, because the megaship’s terminal check-in area was slammed with long waiting lines, and those crowds watched us enviously as we race-walked through the terminal to board our charming mid-sized ship!

Our cozy cabin-for-two had comfy beds and just-right pillows that I liked so much, I wanted to take them home because we slept like floating logs as the ship’s gentle movement lulled us to sleep. Quickly adjusting to the motion of the ocean, we found it quite smooth most of the way, and for the brief time that it wasn’t, we found it to be an adventure.

We enjoyed the great diversity of race and nationality on board, and socialized with many interesting folks from near and far. Everyone was very jovial and friendly. We liked the casual atmosphere of seeing some people wearing the provided white terry robes over swimsuits, from cabin to pool to the Lido Deck buffet!

All precautions are taken to ensure cleanliness and sanitation for every aspect of the ship, and amazingly, there was not a cough or a sniffle to be heard for the entire trip. I think the medical office staff might have been bored on this ride.

As a traveling mini-resort, the Amsterdam features a remarkable array of amenities creatively fit into their own kiosks; such as the art gallery, photo studio, mini-theater, and the piano bars. With two Jacuzzis, a larger indoor pool and a smaller outdoor pool on the stern, we always had the feeling of being on an extravagant vacation. The sumptuously-sized library is a great place to chill out for whale watching on big chairs next to view windows. The ship was easy to find our way around on, and after the first day of exploring all the decks with a map in hand, we had it wired.

And then there’s the FOOD! Cruise cuisine is the ultimate indulge-till-you-bulge tradition. Having left all willpower at home, I dived into a freshly-made paleo breakfast every morning at the Lido Restaurant; poached eggs Florentine with extra Hollandaise, all the bacon I could eat, and hold the bread. Looking forward to the daily breakfast buffet at the Lido was like being a kid at Christmas, every day! So many delicious choices to heap on our plates while taking in views of beautiful scenic coastlines and listening to the cheerful background Muzak. We also loved the themed dining events on the Lido Deck, and convenient poolside taco bar with made-to-order hot dogs, hamburgers, and fries. Elegant cruise-style dining in La Fontaine restaurant tempts with a delectable and creative menu which changes daily. The upscale Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto restaurants beckoned, and we gladly answered. At this point, I was already trying to figure out how I could become a full-time passenger.

As we headed up the Alaskan coastline, what should we see a mile off our port side? The unmistakable Ruby Princess on the same route, struggling to match the speed of the smaller and faster Amsterdam, which soon left her in the distance as we were first to arrive and dock at the best berth in each port.

Shore excursions at our stops in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria B.C. were expertly handled by tour operators. Sitka’s pretty charm has stayed with me…how does one fall in love with a town after a half-day visit? Many thanks to Linda, our Sitka-born bus driver. Each of these towns has its own special character. Juneau features the spectacular (retreating) Mendenhall Glacier and its visitor center, waterfall, hikes, and salmon creeks. Ketchikan is a great spot for walking around to all the souvenir and gem shops, and there’s an interesting museum in a pretty park just a short walk up the hill. As we pulled out of port in Ketchikan, I was on the Sky Deck’s outdoor viewing rail when the ship suddenly gave its deafening departure blast, catching me completely unawares. It’s a good thing I don’t have a heart condition, but I do believe my vocal cords went overboard.

On Victoria Island, we were fascinated by the narration of Ed, our bus driver and seasoned storyteller who described the stranger-than-fiction scandals of architect Francis Rattenbury, designer of Victoria’s Parliament building and other notable structures in the early 1900s, whose murder remains forever unsolved.

As the Amsterdam’s passengers efficiently disembarked in each port ‘o call, the gargantuan cruisers had to offload and load nearly triple our numbers. As these people stood waiting, I felt sorry for them. Nah!

Daily onboard events offered an enormous variety -- yoga, Pilates, cooking and bartending classes, travel and health lectures, art auctions, casino gambling, contests, games and poker, bingo, movies, spa pampering, gym workouts, piano bar sing-along, dancing to oldies, magic shows, comedy, matinee shows, deck-walking for charity, happy hour, and more than I can list here! In addition, onboard location guides provide presentations on fascinating histories of coastal Alaska and things to see and do in port.

In the spacious, gaudily-decorated Queen’s Lounge, the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers entertained with mesmerizing top-notch shows featuring professional vocalists, superb dancers, creative costumes, and exceptional choreography, music and lighting.

My top fave with onboard activities was the Digital Workshop classes by Microsoft trainer Tony Brunning, who downloads his impressive repertoire of computer and digi-cam knowledge in layman’s terms with a Brit accent that locked our attention to every word. While his leisurely-paced classes allowed time for amusing anecdotes, his fast-paced ones made Tony a taskmaster. Professional instruction and Q&A time for Windows OS is valued in the thousands of dollars, and this inclusion in the trip was a fantastic perk!

At our cruise’s turnaround point, the Amsterdam brought us up close and personal to spectacular Hubbard Glacier. Every passenger was out on deck for the once in a lifetime experience of viewing this living, moving carry-over from Earth’s Ice Age. The glacier cliff’s aqua-blue hues shone over the water on the sparkling clear day, providing ideal conditions for camera geeks, as well as amateurs taking selfies-with-glacier. All eyes were riveted on the icy cliffs to witness a “calving,” if we could be so lucky. And something did happen…a car-sized chunk of muddy ice from the water’s edge of the glacier broke off and made a little splash. Someone yelled, “It calved!”

We appreciated the warm hospitality of the staff and crew, including Hotel Director Henk Mensink who graciously goes the extra nautical mile to oversee passenger comfort. Pay close attention to public announcements by distinguished Captain Jon Mercer and you’ll catch his charming Brit-wit! Cruise Director Sabine and Show Host Verity shared their great sense of fun and spontaneity with audiences, and a tour director named Ingrid kindly assisted us at the Ketchikan port.

As for our deck’s cabin stewards Dewa (dee-wah) and Made (mah-day), these two multi-taskers could be doing ten different tasks at blurring speed and still have a smile and friendly greeting for every passerby. The dining staff were multicultural and multi-talented too. Indonesian wait-staff in La Fontaine grouped together to sing a rendition of “happy birthday” in their language to delighted diners. Cheery Filipinos manned the Lido Restaurant, and an ample, jolly East Indian man could be found behind the counter doing everything from serving ice cream to flipping pancakes.

Returning from this entire enriching experience and getting back into my daily routine at home, I feel myself suffering from a peculiar malady – homesickness, for the good ship Amsterdam!
virginiastephens661’s Full Rating Summary
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