Second time cruising on HAL in Alaska (previously the Zaandam same itinerary). Booked a week out with "they pick your inside cabin" rate. Got 6022 which is forward inside and aligned parallel to the hallway. Solo traveler just over 65, and fairly active. I chose HAL because they stop in Glacier Bay and Haines on this itinerary. I remember they had an excellent Room Service policy, should I need to take advantage (you can still order anything from the MDR dinner menu during the first hour of service). I also like the Explorations Cafe venue for the free snacks (and btw if you have a beverage card, the coffee drinks there are included, which is not the rule on the other lines which have Starbucks etc for the premium coffees). The cabin I found small but serviceable, except that for some reason I did not have a chair, just a stool that tucked under the desk. I believe if I had realized that I should also have a chair, I could have asked for one to be delivered. The storage was plentiful, and there were sufficient outlets. storage and desk space. Bedding was comfortable, all plumbing worked well and drained properly. No musty odors or issues with cleanliness. Room stewards were excellent as was room service. My first day I made a dinner reservation in the MDR for a table for 2 , which was available at 8pm. That was fine with me, with the long port days. If I was peckish, I would go grab a pre-dinner snack from Explorations or Lido. Service in the MDR (2nd level) also flawless, although the last night it was a little slow but the assistant steward apologized. I was remembered every night and given the same table by the host. I had fish every night except one. All fish was cooked "a point" as they say and the steak as requested medium rare. The waiters checked back on my satisfaction.As far as Lido, it was a bit of a cluster... the circulation is difficult and crowded and the double-sided layout broken up by the Italian restaurant is confusing. My approach was either to go very early, or to grab a few appetizer dishes and then go out to the back deck, if I couldn't get a table out of the circulation pattern... Note that it is permissible for a single person or two people to sit at a big table in the Lido.. you aren't mandated to sit near the coffee service. fortunately the weather was good during most of our cruise. I also kept a stash of plain yogurt, fruit and smoked salmon (in ziplock) in my room fridge. Made use of room service for coffee a few times in the early morning. They came promptly within 15 minutes. (Tip..buy or bring a large insulated travel mug).
As an inside cabin passenger, public spaces are important. Noordam has some good ones, in addition to Explorations, the Crow's Nest has a good forward view and there are lots of interior cubbies with windows on Deck 2. I also like the full circuit covered Promenade on Deck 3 and that aft deck section. The aft deck on 9 was crowded with smokers and loungers and noisy with the pool users. It's a shame they kept closing down the small open platform in front of the gym on 9 as there isn't an equivalent space with clear visibility facing foreward that doesn't have smoked glass with the exception of the bow.
I loved the BB King players, and the Lincoln Stage is good if that's your cup of tea. I thought one of the comedians was awful and walked out after 15 minutes, same with the staff production show (although I am not a fan of that type of entertainment). The Trivia contests run by the South African guy were fun . The "naturalist" also was hit or miss, enjoyed part of his presentation on using binoculars. Watched some of the BBC documentaries on the television during the at sea days. Fortunately there was a NPS naturalist doing a whale survey on the bow and he was a big help to those of us interested in bird spotting in Glacier Bay. Wish the captain had kept the bow open longer, there was really no reason to close it in the good weather and calm seas we had all the way out until the NPS staff were dropped off.
I enjoyed the pea soup service and the Chocolate Surprise "swarm" was delightful. Wish I hadn't had dessert that night.. we should have been warned. Did not like the Tea service with the giant tables and limited choices. Was slightly disappointed in the kitchen tour..too fast vs the much better one of Royal Caribbean.
The gym has a great view but is crowded. I didn't care for the one stretch class I took, or the constant pressure to buy something if you took a class.
As a 5-time cruiser I know better than to go all of the art auction and gym sessions which are designed to sell, sell, sell. I also didn't buy any ship's tours. Pre-cruise I went on the $98 Resurrection Bay boat ride with Major Marine, where we saw bubble-netting humpbacks and a pod of Orca. Also did the train from Anchorage on my own ($108) and used the white shuttle to Mendenhall so I wasn't limited on time. Had time to visit the "SLAM" which is in the center of town and excellent. Haines I just walked over to Mud Bay and used the free town bus to the Brewery. Ketchikan I used the public bus to Totem Bight and Potlach Park.
Embarkation in Seward took an hour. In Vancouver I walked off with my own luggage in about 10 minutes.
This cabin is parellel to the hallway. On feature of being so far forward, you have to walk all the way to the back of the ship for any dining rooms (Explorations and Lido are closest). I don't know why I didn't have a chair, just the stool that tucks under the desk. Everything worked fine although the light switches are tricky. You can find a review of the same layout cabin on Youtube (6034) . These cabins have rooms above and below and are quiet, with no noise from public spaces above or below.
5 hour Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise of Resurrection Bay with Capt. Gary on Star of the Northwest. This cruise has an optional lunch and NPS biologists on board. You spend the entire time cruising. It is timed to meet the morning train from Seward and you finish by 5pm. We saw bubble-netting humpbacks, orcas, puffins and tons of other birds.View All 42 Kenai Fjords National Park Reviews
Go down to the bow when it opens and stay there til they kick you out!
I love small town Haines. Friendly greeting, free shuttle bus into town from the Port. Walked past Fort Seward 1 mile to Mud Bay. Car rentals are an option also. Don't miss the Brewery..half a block from the shuttle stop. 5 ounce tasters are $2-$3.
Shuttle is very overpriced, now nearly $50 return. There is also a public bus (but stops over a mile away). Nice easy walk to Nugget Falls and Visitor Center has restrooms. Other trails may be closed in bear season!View All 971 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
Rode the public bus to Totem Bight and adjacent Potlach Park. $4 round trip. They charge a $5 pp fee at the State Park on cruise ship days but you can sneak in the back side without paying. Ketchikan itself is too crowded when all the docks are full. Note that the museums close at 4pm or 5pm. Ride the public bus for a taste of local life and walk along Park Ave if the salmon are running.