I sailed with my mom, our first trip to Alaska, and her first cruise. It was a last-minute decision, due to the cancellation of another planned trip. We booked via Costco.com, which could not have been easier. It looked like we got the last balcony stateroom available. We selected this particular cruise line/date because it left from Seattle, returned to Seattle, and fit into our available vacation window. Neither of us had ever sailed with Holland America (HAL) before. We were dropped off at the dock by a family member. Our luggage was quickly whisked away while we entered the terminal (no line to enter, yay!). We got to the terminal around 1130am, earlier than our appointed time per tickets. We waited in line about 30 minutes; by noon, we were on the ship and our room was already available. The terminal attendant who checked us in said HAL is one of the few cruise lines that gets people on their ships early with their rooms available immediately. I would consider this embarkation a better than average experience, compared to the 10+ other cruises I've taken. After dodging the annoying photographers (on every cruise line, sadly), we were met by Ship's staff , smiling upon our entry, standing nearby with maps and offering directions to oncoming passengers. Atrium was clean and not clogged with people, making it easy to make our way to our room. For dining, we tried the Lido Market (Casual), Dining Room, and Pinnacle Grill (steakhouse, specialty dining). Food in all locations was good. Lido was difficult to navigate; so many people and all fighting for a window seat. By the time you found a table your food was cold (so we learned quickly to find a seat and then take turns getting food). Some lines there were quite long. I liked that we did not serve ourselves (hygiene), but it did take longer. Food variety was good and quality was good. Dining Room was used for dinner, lunch, and breakfast. We had open seating, but never waited more than 5 minutes to be seated whenever we went. Food was good; better quality and presentation than Lido. Nice variety too. We especially liked the filet/lobster dinner! All desserts were great. Pinnacle Grill was a dining event. Food quality/presentation was a step up from the dining room. I am not sure it was worth the extra $35 per person we paid, though. We did not purchase any drinks, so cannot comment on bar service. Entertainment and Activites: EXC provided several talks and included a naturalist, who provided information on flora/fauna along the way. We enjoyed all talks and learned a lot! We especially enjoyed the Glacier Bay day (at sea all day), as National Parks rangers boarded our ship for the day, gave talks and had materials to share/purchase. The best part though, was the ranger talking throughout the day via ship intercom about the glaciers we were seeing/sailing by. It was not incessant, but pretty regular throughout a several hour period. While some may have been annoyed by it, but we really liked it. Theater shows were good. Singers/dancers/musicians all very talented. Comedian Jim Short was very funny, and we enjoyed the illusionist too (Joseph Reohm) . There were other activities on the ship that we did not partipate in (America's test kitchen, Lincoln Center Stage, BB King's Blues Club). Service was excellent. Friendly staff, always smiling. All spoke impeccable Engish. If you had a frown on your face, someone was right there to ask how to make things right; you didn't even have to verbalize a complaint. Ports included Juneau, Sitka, Ketchitkan, Victoria (Canada). Juneau: A very rainy cold day, but we made the best of it. Easy off ship with 1 block walk to shops (3 other ships in port, so it was crowded). Many chain stores (similar to Caribbean islands), which we avoided. A few local shops, but we wondered how local the merchandise was. One purchase (fabric at a quilt store). Back near ship in time for our HAL-purchased Gold Panning/Alaska Salmon Bake excursion. "Tundra Tom" collected us and took us to a creek for gold panning. We all found a few flecks (retained in small vials) and boarded the bus after admiring the creek and nearby waterfall. Next stop was the salmon bake, an outdoor venue in the woods (also with a creek). Rain moved off, but they had covered picnic tables and portable heaters. Salmon cooked on wood planks and sides served buffet style. Not gourmet by any means but all was tasty. Coffee and dessert were lacking, with help slow to replenish. Marshmallows were offered for roasting over a campfire, but that was a challenge given the recent rain (we just had smoke). A quick tour of creek and waterfall and we were in line for the bus, which took us right back to our ship. Sitka: warmed up and no rain; yay! Again off ship was easy (shops across the street). Shops less chain-oriented. Purchased a specimen of Pyrite and some local yarn. Toured the Russian Orthodox church (gave donation). Back at port to meet our HAL-purchased Tongass National Forest Hike. This was advertised as a moderate 2-4 mile hike, depending on the group. Well, this was a STRENUOUS hike that was 4 miles.

Awesome Alaska

Eurodam Cruise Review by rlholdham

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
I sailed with my mom, our first trip to Alaska, and her first cruise. It was a last-minute decision, due to the cancellation of another planned trip. We booked via Costco.com, which could not have been easier. It looked like we got the last balcony stateroom available. We selected this particular cruise line/date because it left from Seattle, returned to Seattle, and fit into our available vacation window. Neither of us had ever sailed with Holland America (HAL) before.

We were dropped off at the dock by a family member. Our luggage was quickly whisked away while we entered the terminal (no line to enter, yay!). We got to the terminal around 1130am, earlier than our appointed time per tickets. We waited in line about 30 minutes; by noon, we were on the ship and our room was already available. The terminal attendant who checked us in said HAL is one of the few cruise lines that gets people on their ships early with their rooms available immediately. I would consider this embarkation a better than average experience, compared to the 10+ other cruises I've taken.

After dodging the annoying photographers (on every cruise line, sadly), we were met by Ship's staff , smiling upon our entry, standing nearby with maps and offering directions to oncoming passengers. Atrium was clean and not clogged with people, making it easy to make our way to our room.

For dining, we tried the Lido Market (Casual), Dining Room, and Pinnacle Grill (steakhouse, specialty dining). Food in all locations was good.

Lido was difficult to navigate; so many people and all fighting for a window seat. By the time you found a table your food was cold (so we learned quickly to find a seat and then take turns getting food). Some lines there were quite long. I liked that we did not serve ourselves (hygiene), but it did take longer. Food variety was good and quality was good.

Dining Room was used for dinner, lunch, and breakfast. We had open seating, but never waited more than 5 minutes to be seated whenever we went. Food was good; better quality and presentation than Lido. Nice variety too. We especially liked the filet/lobster dinner! All desserts were great.

Pinnacle Grill was a dining event. Food quality/presentation was a step up from the dining room. I am not sure it was worth the extra $35 per person we paid, though.

We did not purchase any drinks, so cannot comment on bar service.

Entertainment and Activites: EXC provided several talks and included a naturalist, who provided information on flora/fauna along the way. We enjoyed all talks and learned a lot! We especially enjoyed the Glacier Bay day (at sea all day), as National Parks rangers boarded our ship for the day, gave talks and had materials to share/purchase. The best part though, was the ranger talking throughout the day via ship intercom about the glaciers we were seeing/sailing by. It was not incessant, but pretty regular throughout a several hour period. While some may have been annoyed by it, but we really liked it.

Theater shows were good. Singers/dancers/musicians all very talented. Comedian Jim Short was very funny, and we enjoyed the illusionist too (Joseph Reohm) . There were other activities on the ship that we did not partipate in (America's test kitchen, Lincoln Center Stage, BB King's Blues Club).

Service was excellent. Friendly staff, always smiling. All spoke impeccable Engish. If you had a frown on your face, someone was right there to ask how to make things right; you didn't even have to verbalize a complaint.

Ports included Juneau, Sitka, Ketchitkan, Victoria (Canada).

Juneau: A very rainy cold day, but we made the best of it. Easy off ship with 1 block walk to shops (3 other ships in port, so it was crowded). Many chain stores (similar to Caribbean islands), which we avoided. A few local shops, but we wondered how local the merchandise was. One purchase (fabric at a quilt store). Back near ship in time for our HAL-purchased Gold Panning/Alaska Salmon Bake excursion. "Tundra Tom" collected us and took us to a creek for gold panning. We all found a few flecks (retained in small vials) and boarded the bus after admiring the creek and nearby waterfall. Next stop was the salmon bake, an outdoor venue in the woods (also with a creek). Rain moved off, but they had covered picnic tables and portable heaters. Salmon cooked on wood planks and sides served buffet style. Not gourmet by any means but all was tasty. Coffee and dessert were lacking, with help slow to replenish. Marshmallows were offered for roasting over a campfire, but that was a challenge given the recent rain (we just had smoke). A quick tour of creek and waterfall and we were in line for the bus, which took us right back to our ship.

Sitka: warmed up and no rain; yay! Again off ship was easy (shops across the street). Shops less chain-oriented. Purchased a specimen of Pyrite and some local yarn. Toured the Russian Orthodox church (gave donation). Back at port to meet our HAL-purchased Tongass National Forest Hike. This was advertised as a moderate 2-4 mile hike, depending on the group. Well, this was a STRENUOUS hike that was 4 miles.
rlholdham’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin V 5124
Cabin 5124 (port side) was our assigned location. Twin beds already arranged, curtains opened to view the balcony. Bathroom included a tub instead of shower stall (yay!) with adjustable shower/wand attachment. Toilet seat was a bit worn/scratched, but all clean and in functioning order. Supplied bar soap, lotion, shower cap, shampoo. conditioner, body wash. All items were good and smelled nice (but not strong). Plenty of storage space for our 2 large suitcases and clothes. Beds small, but comfortable (we both slept better than at home). Small loveseat seemed new; table and vanity were worn with some wood chipped off. In general, the room was showing it's age (I think the ship is about 10 years old). Bed covers were clean, however duvet cover exposed an underlying comforter that was quite stained. Balcony included a small table and 2 chairs with footrests. Chairs were comfortable. Television included menu options that were a challenge to navigate. Once we figured it out (not very intuitive on how to "scroll" through the options), we were able to get to what we needed. We found our online statement and watched some BBC Earth (very nice documentaries), but otherwise not much tv.
Upper Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Glacier Bay
    natl park rangers on the ship were awesome!
    View All 747 Glacier Bay Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Glacier Bay Cruise Port Review
  • Gold Panning
    HAL-purchased Gold Panning/Alaska Salmon Bake excursion. "Tundra Tom" collected us and took us to a creek for gold panning. We all found a few flecks (retained in small vials) and boarded the bus after admiring the creek and nearby waterfall. Next stop was the salmon bake, an outdoor venue in the woods (also with a creek). Rain moved off, but they had covered picnic tables and portable heaters. Salmon cooked on wood planks and sides served buffet style. Not gourmet by any means but all was tasty. Coffee and dessert were lacking, with help slow to replenish. Marshmallows were offered for roasting over a campfire, but that was a challenge given the recent rain (we just had smoke). A quick tour of creek and waterfall and we were in line for the bus, which took us right back to our ship.
    View All 47 Gold Panning Reviews
  • Ketchikan
    Docked across the street from town, so no bus or taxi needed. Shops closest to port were mostly chains (similar to Caribbean islands). Step in a few blocks and you find the true Alaskan shops. Creek Street was great to see, a few blocks from the ship (easy walk). Saw salmon spawning and many cute local shops. We purchased a small totem pole, quartz with gold specimen, more yarn, and some small animal carvings from local rock. No shore excursions this trip, as we were only in port from 8am to 12pm.
    View All 1,784 Ketchikan Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Ketchikan Cruise Port Review
  • Sitka
    This was advertised as a moderate 2-4 mile hike, depending on the group. Well, this was a STRENUOUS hike that was 4 miles. We enjoyed the area, but had to work so hard to keep up with the group we could not stop to admire our surroundings. We had to look down most of the time so we would not step on living creatures and had to keep our balance on boardwalk planks and hiking uphill (my watch registered 6 floors!). My mom tripped and fell, but was not seriously injured. We enjoyed hearing about the flora and did not see much fauna. Dripping with sweat, I had to shower and change clothes upon our return to the ship. I wasn't expecting a workout! HAL should update their description of this item.
    View All 13,036 Sitka Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Sitka Cruise Port Review
  • Victoria
    We boarded a nearby bus and waited, and waited, and waited for a 35th person who never showed up. By the time the bus left, it was nearly dark out, making our very brief city tour hard to see. Guide was talkative, but bus ride was very jerky. We got to Pendray "Mansion" in about 20 minutes. It was not a mansion at all, but an old house turned into a hotel. HAL photos used the Empress Hotel for a picture, which does indeed look like a mansion. Unfortunate and disappointing! Tea was fair. We were seated with a mom/dad couple also from our ship. Half of us did not care for the tea and no other drinks were offered. 2 3-tiered trivets with sandwiches and cakes were provided. Menu also mentioned scones with clotted cream. What was provided was more like a muffin with butter. Guess I've been spoiled by true English traditions? Bus drive did not tell us where/when to meet him, which he acknowledged once we were all back on the bus. He tried to make up for the short bus tour and spin us through more of town, but it was dark by this time and all we saw were lights in windows. More jerkiness in the bus ride (I thought I might vomit!) and we finally returned to the ship. This excursion was our most-looked-forward to and greatest disappointment. Not enough time to see the city.
    View All 13,036 Victoria Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Victoria Cruise Port Review