This was our third Alaskan cruise, and definitely the most uneven experience.
Excellent service in the Lido and from housekeeping staff
Extremely poor service from front desk
Problem with Shore Excursion
Very expensive internet plans
Let's start with the good: The Zaandam is a smaller ship which allows it to go to ports the bigger ships have to miss. That made for a great itinerary. The service in the Lido was excellent, the staff there really went above and beyond to make passengers happy. Our steward was also excellent, he made sure my husband's can of Coke (we brought a case onboard) was waiting for him in our room's ice bucket every afternoon. Talk about attention to detail! There was a naturalist onboard who was very informative. And of course, Alaskan scenery never disappoints!
The bad: Our cabin was awful. We had continual noise problems all the way through the cruise. The first was from our neighbor in the cabin next to us (let's refer to them as NN for noisy neighbor). We've never experienced noise from another cabin like this. The TV or music was so loud that we could have sung along. After 11pm one night, we reported it, and the front desk called the room - no response - and eventually knocked on their door and told them to keep it down. Next night, same loud noise. This time the woman at the front desk refused to do anything. So that continued throughout the cruise. In addition, there were mechanical noises (sawing, drilling, and something that sounded like someone tossing metal tools against a metal wall - go figure!) at all hours of the day and night. Sleep became a near impossibility. Front desk response was "oh, if it's work on the ship it will stop at 5pm." It didn't. Front desk staff came to the room to verify the sounds (and the feel; the floor was vibrating because of whatever was going on), but didn't do anything to resolve the issue.
The issue with Shore Excursions was in Kodiak, where the shuttle into the town was a 48 passenger bus. The problem was that there were probably 200+ passengers waiting in the rain and cold to get on that bus and no crowd control by the shore excursions staff. I saw two people nearly get into a fight since it wasn't clear what line to get into - indeed, it wasn't clear that there were any lines at all.
And finally, HAL has changed the way they price internet. We used to be able to pay for minutes used on a per minute basis. No more. Now there is a 3 tier plan. If we wanted to be able to check our email, for example, that was on tier 2. $24.99 per day and you had to pay for each day of the cruise, not just the days you actually used it. $350 to check my email? No, thanks.
Avoid this cabin at all costs. Noise, noise and more noise.
Ketchikan is easy to do on your own which is what we did. This was our third time here, so we walked through town, visited the Tongass Historical Museum, did some shopping.
We took the shuttle into Hoonah and enjoyed some coffee and pastry at The Fisherman's Daughter (good food!), took a walk along the waterfront, saw all the totem poles. Then went back to Icy Point Strait to see the museum, walk the nature trail, and do some shopping. Very nice place.
We took the shuttle from the ship into downtown Anchorage, then picked up the Zoo shuttle to the Anchorage Zoo. They focus on animals that are adapted to the weather, so there are animals like, muskox, Siberian tigers, wolverines, bears, and more. The Zoo shuttle is free and the zoo reasonably priced.
Excellent excursion on very comfortable catamaran. Captain and two naturalists were great, very informative. We saw bald eagles, sea otters, a mama brown bear and her cubs, a humpback whale, and sea lions and well as some astoundingly beautiful scenery.View All 75 Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest Reviews