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This was our first Holland America cruise and though it wasn't a poor experience, we'll definitely stick with other cruise lines in the near future. We were with a group of about 20 people ranging from teenagers to seniors. The cruise line is definitely focused on an older crowd therefore not too much going on that interested us - in terms of ship activities. The details that Holland America focuses on - fresh flowers, etc - definitely set a different atmosphere. Enjoyable. Just not things that make us go wow! But I'm sure many people appreciate this. Embarkation was hit and miss. We arranged for the transfer through HAL from the airport to the ship. We waited at the airport for about 40 minutes before our bus arrived. This was a tad bit frustrating. We could have taken a taxi and avoided the wait and with two people the cost would have been equal. Fast forward to debarkation. Outstanding! I love that HAL assigns a time and you're off the ship quickly. Plus there weren't hundreds of people crowding the door to get off. There were a few people lingering but not like our past experiences on other cruise lines. Embarkation, the actual check-in process was great! With the debarkation, we used the express baggage service. Loved putting our luggage out for pick up and then not seeing it until we arrived at our home airport. I was a tiny bit nervous that it wasn't actually on the plane but that's just a sign of my failure to not be in control. Ha ha ha. Let's see. What next. The food was quite good. Equal if not better than other cruise lines we have been on. The lido deck attendants were constantly offering extra attention - delivering plates to your table or getting drinks. The dining room was great as well. There were a few nights where I wasn't thrilled with the selection and I am far from picky. Maybe I wasn't hungry enough? The Pinnacle grill was outstanding!!! I had the lamb chops, my husband had the ribeye - both amazing. Do make the time and funds available to eat here. Make your reservations early! They are not joking that the restaurant gets booked up. Though somehow they booked us for two different days and three different times. Maybe this is why they were so booked? As a group, we ate in the Italian restaurant on the Lido deck one night. How nice! Probably my second favorite night of eating. You must try the tiramiso trio. I was tempted to sneak up there nightly for dessert. One of my favorite desserts. The lido deck also serves a bread pudding with vanilla sauce. Yummm. Entertainment. We went to a few shows. I wasn't impressed. Actually I fell asleep. Not the fairest of reviews as we went to 2 shows, I believe. Now what we throughly enjoyed was the piano bar. The pianist was Diane. Definitely our choice of a nightly hang out. She was great about requests. Plus the bartender that works with her, Ogie, was terrific!!! He even sings along. GREAT time!!! A couple in our group decided to renew their vows while sailing. This was done very nicely. Everyone was served champagne and appetizers (there is a cost for the couple as well as all guests). Oh and cake! My favorite cake on the ship. The Captain handled the ceremony and it was very nicely done. Especially his toast! I need to take lessons on better toasts. I'll review the ports in the port review section. Overall we enjoyed our ports. The weather wasn't perfect but it wasn't terrible either. The Hubbard Glacier was amazing. We found a table on the Lido deck and sat there the majority of the time. Then we went outside towards the end of the trip. Perfect as most guests had gone inside. It was chilly! Be sure to check my review on Victoria! There were two ROUGH days at sea. I've decided this was a combination of two factors. The first being that the ship is quite small. Never have we experienced anything like it. The ship did a great job of trying to help those that were sick. Thankfully neither of us had a problem. You could never that by far the majority of the guests were not doing so well as the ship was like a ghost town. The other thought is that the rough seas were due to the change in seasons. Not sure. But had it have been my very first cruise, I probably would never cruise again! The last night of the cruise was a little disappointing. I'm sure the cruise line has done their research but the ship was dead on the last night! The piano lounge didn't have a bar open - you had to head over to the Ocean bar. It was apparent that people get to their room a little early on the last night but this isn't quite our style. We were ready to celebrate the last night of our vacation - not get to bed early. We were pretty much forced to call it a night. Overall we had a good time! Much lazier than our normal vacations. From this aspect, we were very relaxed when we got home!

Not quite what we expected

Amsterdam Cruise Review by sbettencourt

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2009
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Large Interior Stateroom
This was our first Holland America cruise and though it wasn't a poor experience, we'll definitely stick with other cruise lines in the near future. We were with a group of about 20 people ranging from teenagers to seniors. The cruise line is definitely focused on an older crowd therefore not too much going on that interested us - in terms of ship activities. The details that Holland America focuses on - fresh flowers, etc - definitely set a different atmosphere. Enjoyable. Just not things that make us go wow! But I'm sure many people appreciate this.
Embarkation was hit and miss. We arranged for the transfer through HAL from the airport to the ship. We waited at the airport for about 40 minutes before our bus arrived. This was a tad bit frustrating. We could have taken a taxi and avoided the wait and with two people the cost would have been equal. Fast forward to debarkation. Outstanding! I love that HAL assigns a time and you're off the ship quickly. Plus there weren't hundreds of people crowding the door to get off. There were a few people lingering but not like our past experiences on other cruise lines. Embarkation, the actual check-in process was great! With the debarkation, we used the express baggage service. Loved putting our luggage out for pick up and then not seeing it until we arrived at our home airport. I was a tiny bit nervous that it wasn't actually on the plane but that's just a sign of my failure to not be in control. Ha ha ha.
Let's see. What next. The food was quite good. Equal if not better than other cruise lines we have been on. The lido deck attendants were constantly offering extra attention - delivering plates to your table or getting drinks. The dining room was great as well. There were a few nights where I wasn't thrilled with the selection and I am far from picky. Maybe I wasn't hungry enough? The Pinnacle grill was outstanding!!! I had the lamb chops, my husband had the ribeye - both amazing. Do make the time and funds available to eat here. Make your reservations early! They are not joking that the restaurant gets booked up. Though somehow they booked us for two different days and three different times. Maybe this is why they were so booked? As a group, we ate in the Italian restaurant on the Lido deck one night. How nice! Probably my second favorite night of eating. You must try the tiramiso trio. I was tempted to sneak up there nightly for dessert. One of my favorite desserts. The lido deck also serves a bread pudding with vanilla sauce. Yummm.
Entertainment. We went to a few shows. I wasn't impressed. Actually I fell asleep. Not the fairest of reviews as we went to 2 shows, I believe.
Now what we throughly enjoyed was the piano bar. The pianist was Diane. Definitely our choice of a nightly hang out. She was great about requests. Plus the bartender that works with her, Ogie, was terrific!!! He even sings along. GREAT time!!!
A couple in our group decided to renew their vows while sailing. This was done very nicely. Everyone was served champagne and appetizers (there is a cost for the couple as well as all guests). Oh and cake! My favorite cake on the ship. The Captain handled the ceremony and it was very nicely done. Especially his toast! I need to take lessons on better toasts.
I'll review the ports in the port review section. Overall we enjoyed our ports. The weather wasn't perfect but it wasn't terrible either. The Hubbard Glacier was amazing. We found a table on the Lido deck and sat there the majority of the time. Then we went outside towards the end of the trip. Perfect as most guests had gone inside. It was chilly! Be sure to check my review on Victoria!
There were two ROUGH days at sea. I've decided this was a combination of two factors. The first being that the ship is quite small. Never have we experienced anything like it. The ship did a great job of trying to help those that were sick. Thankfully neither of us had a problem. You could never that by far the majority of the guests were not doing so well as the ship was like a ghost town. The other thought is that the rough seas were due to the change in seasons. Not sure. But had it have been my very first cruise, I probably would never cruise again!
The last night of the cruise was a little disappointing. I'm sure the cruise line has done their research but the ship was dead on the last night! The piano lounge didn't have a bar open - you had to head over to the Ocean bar. It was apparent that people get to their room a little early on the last night but this isn't quite our style. We were ready to celebrate the last night of our vacation - not get to bed early. We were pretty much forced to call it a night.
Overall we had a good time! Much lazier than our normal vacations. From this aspect, we were very relaxed when we got home!
sbettencourt’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Rates
Service
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Cabin Review

Large Interior Stateroom
Cabin L 2531
Inside cabin. Great room - especially for the price! We booked several months in advance. There was a ton of closet space. I don't think I used all of it. I'm careful to look what is above us when booking a room. I've heard/read some bad experiences about being below or above the club. Our room was quiet as can be besides the creaks when the weather wasn't behaving. The bathroom was perfect for us. Just a shower - no tub. I don't like having to blow dry and curl my hair at the dressor, by the bed. But I'm forced to do so because there are no electrical outlets in the bathroom. This seems to be standard with all cruise lines. I like to let my husband get a few more zzzz's while I get ready. This isn't possible when I'm blow driving right next to him. Oh well. We were satisfied with our room!
Lower Promenade Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Juneau
    Such fun! We booked the helicopter tour of the glaciers. We figured since we were making a trip to Alaska we needed to do it right. Definitely not a mistake! We booked online through Era Helicopters. I believe the savings was about $100 a person versus going through the ship. There are several helicopter operators so check it out. I cannot even describe the glaciers. Amazing! Then you land on one and get an even better grasp of the nature you set foot on. Truly an activity not to be missed! When we got back to Juneau we took the tram up and enjoyed the beautiful views. I'm not sure it's worth the ~$25 per person. But we did enjoy the trip. We walked around town a bit then headed back to the ship.
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  • Ketchikan
    Again in Ketchikan we had decided not to schedule any activities - mainly due to us only having about 5 hours in port. I had done quite a bit of reading and wanted to search out a place to eat. The majority of our group went on the zipline tour and had a blast! They raved about their day. When we got off the trip we were in search for either Burger Queen or Annabelle's. We walked around town for a bit then found Annabelle's. We had the fish and chips which were fairly good. Can you tell that we like to eat? Walked around a bit more, did some shopping then it was back to the ship.
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  • Sitka
    We choose not to do any organized activities here. Instead we walked around town then stopped in at a restaurant to eat. I cannot remember the name of the restaurant. The restaurant wasn't anything to write home about. We both had clam chowder - it was average. We also had an order of their onion rings which were amazing. Not much help here since I don't know the name of the restaurant. Average port. We heard several people talking about the sea otter tours and how great they went. One even had great luck spotting all types of wildlife - eagles, bear, whales and sea otters.
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  • Victoria
    Our favorite port! We booked the brewery and pub crawl. There were about 20 people in our group. I was a little concerned that my hubby and my girlfriend's hubby were going to overwhelm our travel partners but they fit right in! Thank goodness. Everyone was on the bus early so our driver took us for a mini tour of Victoria. What a nice surprise! Especially since it was still light out. We had 3 stops on our tour. They served 3-4 samples of beer (about an 8oz) glass at each stop as well as light snacks at each stop. I believe the tour was $79 a person and well worth it! We had a wonderful time. The party continued back on the ship. Definitely take this tour if you are a fan of trying out different breweries!
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