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In 2015, we did our first Alaska trip, which was an HAL Land/Sea Tour, where we did a land based tour of the Yukon first, and then did a short (4 night) cruise on the Volendam to finish off our tour. This week long cruise on the Westerdam, from Vancouver to Anchorage, paled in comparison to that experience, for a number of reasons. On this trip, my husband and I also brought along my mother in law, who had never been on a cruise or to Alaska, and who stayed in an inside cabin across from our balcony cabin. See detailed cabin comments, below. FYI, if you have never cruised out of Vancouver, there is a pretty extensive "check in" process. Not only are you checking in for your cruise, but if your cruise is heading to Alaska, your first port is the US = customs. So, you actually go through the US Customs process in Vancouver, before you even leave the cruise terminal!! This saves time when you do get to your first US port (which probably doesn't have the capacity to handle customs for so many arriving passengers at once). So, plan for extra time before boarding the ship in Vancouver - you can get to the port around 10:30 or 11:00 am and not be early! The public interior areas of the ship appeared to us to have been recently refurbished. The carpet appeared newer; the seating in the theater was actually comfortable (we have been on several cruises where we had backaches getting up after a show in the theater!). The refurbishment did not seem to extend to the artwork/walls of the hallways and lobbies of the ship. As a matter of fact, that was one of the weirdest parts of this ship - I couldn't figure out the "theme" of the decor - what it was trying to be: a classic elegant cruiser; a ship that featured Greek or Baroque type of art/display; an Asian inspired vessel (there was some brightly colored Asian furniture in the lobbies of the elevator bank closest to our room). It needs some cohesiveness in design. Also, there were no activities or entertainment in the atrium area, as there are on many ships - and again, there was a modern light fixture/chandelier hung above the area, but the rest of the atrium looked more traditional. But, the "artwork" on the walls in our hallway was especially atrocious - it looked like prints that had been installed on the wall when the ship was built and never updated or changed since then, no matter what new carpet was put down, etc. Like prints my grandmother might have framed as "art" in her house. So, we could never get a handle on what the vibe of the ship was supposed to be, which has typically been pretty easy to figure out on any other ship we've cruised on. The exterior of the ship looked fine, to us, and the refurbished parts of the interior were also nice - but there was no consistency in decor, which just made it weird. The theater itself was more intimate feeling than other ships we've been on - not sure how many it seated, but we got good seats for the shows we saw, and had a good view of the productions. Unfortunately, the number of theater shows on this particular cruise was disappointing. We saw one production show with the onboard singers/dancers on night 2, and nothing afterwards. I found out on our last sea day that there were some technical and staffing issues with backstage/tech crew, which meant the normal shows could not go on - which was really disappointing for us, as that is one of the things we look forward to most on cruises - the onboard entertainment. They had also brought onboard an illusionist (who focused on sleight of hand magic) and a pianist/singer/comedian who was a very talented piano player. The illusionist did two shows one night; the piano player did two shows one night, and they did a show together one afternoon or evening (I think to make up for the lack of a second or third production show by the onboard singers/dancers). I am not a huge fan of either of their type of entertainment, but I went to the first magic show (he is very talented at what he does) and the first piano show (again, excellent pianist) but skipped their joint show - just didn't need to see more of either one. The first night we skipped the show in the theater - there was only one at 7 pm, and it was an introduction to Alaska preview (movie?) hosted by the cruise director. The fourth night was a BBC Earth movie about Alaska, with live music playing as accompaniment to the movie - again, only one show that night, at 7 pm. The fifth night was an EXC presentation about Iconic Whales of the Northwest - I think it was a talk by the cruise director - again we skipped it. So, this was, unfortunately, not enough "entertainment" in the main theater for us, and was a major disappointment. We barely heard/saw anything from the Cruise Director onboard. This has not been our experience with other cruises we've taken, so not sure if this is an HAL thing, or if it's just because he is new at the job & with HAL. However, the entertainment in the smaller venues was a highlight for us. The quintet that performed in the Lincoln Center Stage were all young people (20's or 30's) and very accomplished musicians. That small venue was full every time they performed, I think, and they also had a unique themed set of music for each performance - I think their performances were each approximately 45 minutes long (maybe an hour). The Billboard Onboard venue featured the "dueling pianos" concept which I love, and there were even some opportunities for sing-alongs with the crowd. I also liked those two performers and thought they were talented, as well. The BB Kings Blues Club was where we spent almost every evening - there was a great band in there, fronted by both a male and a female lead singer. We really enjoyed their sets, and cruisers were often dancing, too. However, the band themselves seemed to have a lot of technical issues with the sound techs - I think sometimes their monitors weren't working, sometimes a keyboard wasn't working, sometimes a mike or two wasn't working - they just seemed extremely frustrated with the tech crew. It didn't affect the sound quality/performance for the audience, fortunately. And, I know, from walking by in the afternoons, that the band rehearsed earlier in the day, so I'm not sure why the tech team couldn't get the sound right when it came to performance time. But, again, BB Kings was a highlight of entertainment for us on this cruise - we often stayed for all 3 sets they played nightly! For dining - we ate all but our first night's dinner in the Main Dining Room on the "Anytime Dining" program. We were fortunate to be assigned a table that was in the back of the dining room (so, at the back of the ship) with a gorgeous view of the wake of the ship out the huge window. It was a perfect location for us, and we had the same waitstaff each night, who were outstanding and remembered our preferences for drinks, etc. We thought the dinners in there each night were delicious, and had everything from apps through dessert almost every night. I would give the dining room 5 stars! We also enjoyed eating lunch either in the Lido (buffet) or out at the Dive In or the Taco Bar near the main pool. For some reason those burgers and fries just taste better than at home! In the buffet, they offer a pizza/pasta bar, as well as a custom made salad bar - which we chose several times - they prepare it for you, and then add the dressing and mix it up for you, if you like. There was also a dessert area that featured about 5-6 ice creams, frozen yogurts, gelatos, etc. per day, in addition to other individual dessert selections. We also ate breakfast in the Lido each morning, mostly because of the omelet stations - made to order omelets each day, along with many other buffet options (Eggs Benedict, etc.). Our first night, we decided to treat ourselves to the Pinnacle Grill at the special "first night" pricing (note, you need to book this in advance when you board - don't just show up for dinner there and expect to get the discounted price). Although my mother in law and I both had excellent dinners featuring perfectly cooked filet mignons, my husband's entire dinner there was a "fail". He had been wanting King Crab Legs forever, so went for that; but his crab was so awful that he asked to have it replaced with a filet mignon like we had. Then, they brought him his steak, and it was uncooked in the center - like not even warm. So, he asked for it to be cooked more, and they instead brought him a different steak (looked like NY strip) which was tough and overcooked. They also make a big deal about their lobster bisque, which features one tiny piece of lobster in a bowl, then poured over with the bisque - which, as my husband observed, tasted a little bit like gravy. But, the worst part of the meal was that our server was continually looking at other tables he was waiting on, even when he was taking our orders/serving us! And, he never really got the severity of how badly my husband's entire meal service was going. We asked for the manager, who tried to make up for it; but it couldn't really be saved, by that point. We got MUCH better service from our waiters in the Main Dining Room than we did in the Pinnacle Grill. Again, when we went on the Volendam 4 years ago, we had a lovely dinner in the P.C. with excellent service. so, this was a disappointment, and was the reason we couldn't give dining a 5 star rating. The only shore excursion we booked through HAL was in Skagway - the White Pass Yukon RR trip, because the train literally pulls up next to the ship for boarding. I'm not sure it was HAL's fault, but for some reason we had to stand outside for a very long time prior to boarding the train, which was sitting right there! And, each cruise ship is assigned cars, which are labeled for the guests to find! So, not sure why there was such a long delay getting us boarded onto the train and on our way. All other ports/excursions we did on our own. Other random observations: The Lido Pool (under the retractable roof) seemed to be filled with kids on our trip. If you are interested in a more adult pool experience, I would suggest signing up for the Spa experience and using the therapy pool in there - it looked lovely; wish I would have used it at least 1 day onboard! The America's Test Kitchen demos were held in the Blues Club and did have TV screens so you could see what the chef was doing. Unfortunately, there were only 3 demos; one on the first sea day, and two on the last sea day. I had the impression there would have been more. And, I thought the recipes selected were weird - one was Asian Dumplings; one was a take on Tomato Soup and (gourmet) Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I didn't get it...This was something my mother in law was looking forward to, and thought there would be more of throughout the trip. Based on the totality of this cruise, compared to other cruises we have been on (Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival) we probably would not choose to cruise on HAL again (unless it was on one of their newest ships - and not sure why we would choose them over any of these other cruise lines, anyway).

Second HAL Alaska cruise not as good as our first

Westerdam Cruise Review by nfall2010

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2019
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
In 2015, we did our first Alaska trip, which was an HAL Land/Sea Tour, where we did a land based tour of the Yukon first, and then did a short (4 night) cruise on the Volendam to finish off our tour. This week long cruise on the Westerdam, from Vancouver to Anchorage, paled in comparison to that experience, for a number of reasons. On this trip, my husband and I also brought along my mother in law, who had never been on a cruise or to Alaska, and who stayed in an inside cabin across from our balcony cabin. See detailed cabin comments, below.

FYI, if you have never cruised out of Vancouver, there is a pretty extensive "check in" process. Not only are you checking in for your cruise, but if your cruise is heading to Alaska, your first port is the US = customs. So, you actually go through the US Customs process in Vancouver, before you even leave the cruise terminal!! This saves time when you do get to your first US port (which probably doesn't have the capacity to handle customs for so many arriving passengers at once). So, plan for extra time before boarding the ship in Vancouver - you can get to the port around 10:30 or 11:00 am and not be early!

The public interior areas of the ship appeared to us to have been recently refurbished. The carpet appeared newer; the seating in the theater was actually comfortable (we have been on several cruises where we had backaches getting up after a show in the theater!).

The refurbishment did not seem to extend to the artwork/walls of the hallways and lobbies of the ship. As a matter of fact, that was one of the weirdest parts of this ship - I couldn't figure out the "theme" of the decor - what it was trying to be: a classic elegant cruiser; a ship that featured Greek or Baroque type of art/display; an Asian inspired vessel (there was some brightly colored Asian furniture in the lobbies of the elevator bank closest to our room). It needs some cohesiveness in design. Also, there were no activities or entertainment in the atrium area, as there are on many ships - and again, there was a modern light fixture/chandelier hung above the area, but the rest of the atrium looked more traditional.

But, the "artwork" on the walls in our hallway was especially atrocious - it looked like prints that had been installed on the wall when the ship was built and never updated or changed since then, no matter what new carpet was put down, etc. Like prints my grandmother might have framed as "art" in her house.

So, we could never get a handle on what the vibe of the ship was supposed to be, which has typically been pretty easy to figure out on any other ship we've cruised on.

The exterior of the ship looked fine, to us, and the refurbished parts of the interior were also nice - but there was no consistency in decor, which just made it weird.

The theater itself was more intimate feeling than other ships we've been on - not sure how many it seated, but we got good seats for the shows we saw, and had a good view of the productions. Unfortunately, the number of theater shows on this particular cruise was disappointing.

We saw one production show with the onboard singers/dancers on night 2, and nothing afterwards. I found out on our last sea day that there were some technical and staffing issues with backstage/tech crew, which meant the normal shows could not go on - which was really disappointing for us, as that is one of the things we look forward to most on cruises - the onboard entertainment. They had also brought onboard an illusionist (who focused on sleight of hand magic) and a pianist/singer/comedian who was a very talented piano player. The illusionist did two shows one night; the piano player did two shows one night, and they did a show together one afternoon or evening (I think to make up for the lack of a second or third production show by the onboard singers/dancers). I am not a huge fan of either of their type of entertainment, but I went to the first magic show (he is very talented at what he does) and the first piano show (again, excellent pianist) but skipped their joint show - just didn't need to see more of either one.

The first night we skipped the show in the theater - there was only one at 7 pm, and it was an introduction to Alaska preview (movie?) hosted by the cruise director. The fourth night was a BBC Earth movie about Alaska, with live music playing as accompaniment to the movie - again, only one show that night, at 7 pm. The fifth night was an EXC presentation about Iconic Whales of the Northwest - I think it was a talk by the cruise director - again we skipped it.

So, this was, unfortunately, not enough "entertainment" in the main theater for us, and was a major disappointment.

We barely heard/saw anything from the Cruise Director onboard. This has not been our experience with other cruises we've taken, so not sure if this is an HAL thing, or if it's just because he is new at the job & with HAL.

However, the entertainment in the smaller venues was a highlight for us. The quintet that performed in the Lincoln Center Stage were all young people (20's or 30's) and very accomplished musicians. That small venue was full every time they performed, I think, and they also had a unique themed set of music for each performance - I think their performances were each approximately 45 minutes long (maybe an hour).

The Billboard Onboard venue featured the "dueling pianos" concept which I love, and there were even some opportunities for sing-alongs with the crowd. I also liked those two performers and thought they were talented, as well.

The BB Kings Blues Club was where we spent almost every evening - there was a great band in there, fronted by both a male and a female lead singer. We really enjoyed their sets, and cruisers were often dancing, too. However, the band themselves seemed to have a lot of technical issues with the sound techs - I think sometimes their monitors weren't working, sometimes a keyboard wasn't working, sometimes a mike or two wasn't working - they just seemed extremely frustrated with the tech crew. It didn't affect the sound quality/performance for the audience, fortunately. And, I know, from walking by in the afternoons, that the band rehearsed earlier in the day, so I'm not sure why the tech team couldn't get the sound right when it came to performance time. But, again, BB Kings was a highlight of entertainment for us on this cruise - we often stayed for all 3 sets they played nightly!

For dining - we ate all but our first night's dinner in the Main Dining Room on the "Anytime Dining" program. We were fortunate to be assigned a table that was in the back of the dining room (so, at the back of the ship) with a gorgeous view of the wake of the ship out the huge window. It was a perfect location for us, and we had the same waitstaff each night, who were outstanding and remembered our preferences for drinks, etc. We thought the dinners in there each night were delicious, and had everything from apps through dessert almost every night. I would give the dining room 5 stars!

We also enjoyed eating lunch either in the Lido (buffet) or out at the Dive In or the Taco Bar near the main pool. For some reason those burgers and fries just taste better than at home! In the buffet, they offer a pizza/pasta bar, as well as a custom made salad bar - which we chose several times - they prepare it for you, and then add the dressing and mix it up for you, if you like. There was also a dessert area that featured about 5-6 ice creams, frozen yogurts, gelatos, etc. per day, in addition to other individual dessert selections. We also ate breakfast in the Lido each morning, mostly because of the omelet stations - made to order omelets each day, along with many other buffet options (Eggs Benedict, etc.).

Our first night, we decided to treat ourselves to the Pinnacle Grill at the special "first night" pricing (note, you need to book this in advance when you board - don't just show up for dinner there and expect to get the discounted price). Although my mother in law and I both had excellent dinners featuring perfectly cooked filet mignons, my husband's entire dinner there was a "fail". He had been wanting King Crab Legs forever, so went for that; but his crab was so awful that he asked to have it replaced with a filet mignon like we had. Then, they brought him his steak, and it was uncooked in the center - like not even warm. So, he asked for it to be cooked more, and they instead brought him a different steak (looked like NY strip) which was tough and overcooked. They also make a big deal about their lobster bisque, which features one tiny piece of lobster in a bowl, then poured over with the bisque - which, as my husband observed, tasted a little bit like gravy. But, the worst part of the meal was that our server was continually looking at other tables he was waiting on, even when he was taking our orders/serving us! And, he never really got the severity of how badly my husband's entire meal service was going. We asked for the manager, who tried to make up for it; but it couldn't really be saved, by that point.

We got MUCH better service from our waiters in the Main Dining Room than we did in the Pinnacle Grill. Again, when we went on the Volendam 4 years ago, we had a lovely dinner in the P.C. with excellent service. so, this was a disappointment, and was the reason we couldn't give dining a 5 star rating.

The only shore excursion we booked through HAL was in Skagway - the White Pass Yukon RR trip, because the train literally pulls up next to the ship for boarding. I'm not sure it was HAL's fault, but for some reason we had to stand outside for a very long time prior to boarding the train, which was sitting right there! And, each cruise ship is assigned cars, which are labeled for the guests to find! So, not sure why there was such a long delay getting us boarded onto the train and on our way.

All other ports/excursions we did on our own.

Other random observations:

The Lido Pool (under the retractable roof) seemed to be filled with kids on our trip. If you are interested in a more adult pool experience, I would suggest signing up for the Spa experience and using the therapy pool in there - it looked lovely; wish I would have used it at least 1 day onboard!

The America's Test Kitchen demos were held in the Blues Club and did have TV screens so you could see what the chef was doing. Unfortunately, there were only 3 demos; one on the first sea day, and two on the last sea day. I had the impression there would have been more. And, I thought the recipes selected were weird - one was Asian Dumplings; one was a take on Tomato Soup and (gourmet) Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I didn't get it...This was something my mother in law was looking forward to, and thought there would be more of throughout the trip.

Based on the totality of this cruise, compared to other cruises we have been on (Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival) we probably would not choose to cruise on HAL again (unless it was on one of their newest ships - and not sure why we would choose them over any of these other cruise lines, anyway).
nfall2010’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VD 6032
This was a balcony cabin on deck 6, towards the front(bow). The cabin was spacious enough for 2 people, and was clean and had a generous amount of closet/storage space. There was also a loveseat, small coffee table, desk/vanity in the room. And, the balcony had 2 chairs and a small table, and was large enough that we could squeeze the desk chair out there, too, if we wanted to.
NOTE: Being toward the front of the ship worked out great for us on Glacier Bay day - they opened the access door to the bow on deck 6, so we could walk back and forth between our room and the deck 6 bow to get multiple views of the Bay all day long. This was a hidden benefit of having a cabin in this area!
However, the cabin decor was drab - basically gold/beige on the walls, in the bathroom, the bedspread, the drapes, etc. No splashes of color anywhere, except for the small accent pillows on the bed, which were rust/orange color.
The bathroom seemed even older, with a beige tub and brown walls. We had a unique issue in our bathroom because some prior passenger apparently had used the sink to dye hair, clothing, or something, and the dye stains were left behind, which could not be cleaned by the stewards. I don't think this was a passenger immediately prior to our sailing, because our steward (who was wonderful) told us on day 1 that they had tried many products to clean the sink, and they couldn't get it any better. Absolutely not his fault. However, the cruise line needs to REPLACE this entire vanity area, if that's the case - even though it is dye, and nothing that would come off on our hands or anything, it still looked dirty as we used it each day. I would say the bathroom looked dated and probably needs a complete gut/redo.
Even without the sink issue, I would still say that the cabins in general are DATED and lacked style and color - very utilitarian & not elegant.
However, our stewards were excellent, serviced our cabin twice a day, and it was kept very clean by them - and they were so quiet as they came and went!
The bed linens (sheets) were very nice and the bed was comfortable.
We rarely used the TV; I would say the channel selection was limited. And, it seemed to be slow to "load" whatever selection you were making on the onboard system. We were not able to track our onboard charges on the TV; we used the app instead, which worked fast and well.
Rotterdam Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Glacier Bay
    As mentioned, there is access to the bow on Deck 6 (and possibly some other decks) on the Westerdam, which is very convenient if your cabin happens to be located on the forward part of the ship. This is great for taking photographs, in addition to being able to move back and forth from the cabin to the bow easily, whether it's to get warmed up, have some hot chocolate, take pics from a different view, or whatever.
    Glacier Bay is a gorgeous place to see - don't miss it! And, the narration by the National Park Ranger onboard, as well as the talk by the Tlingit native, were both informational and inspirational.
    View All 677 Glacier Bay Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Juneau
    Before I review any of the sights in Juneau, if you have any desire for crab legs while in Alaska, DO NOT MISS Tracy's King Crab Shack, right at the port. Yes, there may be a wait - it is so worth it! Most delicious crab leg ever!!! And, prices are not unreasonable - even for beer!
    Also, right at the port is the Mt. Roberts Tramway. If the weather is good, it is worth the trip. TIP: the ticket price is good to ride ALL DAY! So, if your ship is in port until the evening, you could go up once in the morning or afternoon, and again in the evening! I wish I had known this when we were planning our Juneau day! ALSO - they do give a discount for AAA members - I think it's $5 off, so $31 instead of $36. But you have to ask; they don't volunteer that info.
    There is also a soap shop here that we missed out on - I assumed the shops stayed open until the ships leave, but the soap shop that I had heard about closed at 6 pm; so we missed out on that...
    Also, Juneau is a little tricky to get around on your own. We tried to go to the Mendenhall Glacier "on the cheap" and while it was a bit cheaper, it took a lot longer, and wasn't as cheap as we expected. Just FYI, to go from the Visitor Center to the Glacier is about a 1 mile walk each way, I believe. (Fine for us, but not sure some seniors would be able to make it). It was worth the walk, definitely.
    But, how you get to the visitor center is really the issue. They do have buses (and taxis) that go all the way up to the Visitor Center parking lot. We opted to take a city bus from downtown Juneau (about 1/3 mile walk from the cruiseport) out to the Mendenhall Glacier area - not to the visitor center!!! Two points - the bus ride itself is only $2 per person (exact change), but because it is a city bus, it takes over 45 minutes to get out to the Glacier. And, the buses don't run continuously. So, although we got to the bus depot from the ship quickly, we waited about 10 minutes for the bus to pull up. Then, when he did, he was going on break. So, it was about 20 minutes more, or so, before he was ready to load up and leave. So, it was about 30 minutes from the time we arrived at the depot until the bus even pulled out. Then, the route took 45-50 minutes or more. Then, where the city bus drops you off, as many others have pointed out, is a 1.5 mile walk to the parking lot for the visitor center. Yes, there is a sidewalk. But, it is a LONG 1.5 miles....and if it was raining, it would be miserable (fortunately, we had a non-rainy day). The morning we did it, there was only one other (younger) couple and us that got off the bus and made the walk up there. Once we were done at the glacier - which is really interesting - make sure you see the 15 minute movie in the visitor center first - we were not in any shape to walk 1.5 miles back to the bus stop (with the possibility of a sprinkle) and then wait there up to 30 minutes for a returning bus to come by. So, we hung out in the visitor parking lot and were looking for another couple/family that we could possibly share a cab ride with back to the port. Unfortunately, we couldn't find anyone, and several of the families had pre-arranged with the cab drivers to come back and pick them up at a certain time - so many of the cabs had fares already set. We just got lucky with a guy who drove up and was available. So, the fare back to Juneau was about $35 or more plus tip for the two of us (again, it would have worked out better had we found another couple to split the fare with).
    So, in the end, perhaps we should have just taken the Glacier Express bus, the blue bus, whatever it's called.
    But, we did get in a lot of "steps" that day!
    View All 1,484 Juneau Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Ketchikan
    Ketchikan is a bit touristy, but easy to walk around and still fun. This trip, we made arrangements to see the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show on our own - we had reservations for 1 pm show, but due to weather, walked off the ship first thing in the morning, and asked them if we could change to an earlier show - and they accommodated us easily! Show was entertaining, and the lumberjacks really are athletes! Recommend this show - very short walk from the ship.
    View All 1,719 Ketchikan Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Seward
    The highlight in Seward for us was taking a Major Marine boat tour to Kenai Fjords National park - we were able to take a 7.5 hour tour and it was well worth it - we saw an otter, humpback whales, orcas, glaciers, and just had a great trip. The captain really seemed to communicate with other boats in the area, and knew where the wildlife was active on the day we were there. Also, the onboard meal is also well worth the additional cost - as a matter of fact, you won't really need dinner that night. Very good food, and most passengers did seem to buy it, so you will feel like you are missing out if you skip it!
    We stayed at the Breeze Inn in Seward - which is like taking a step back in time, as far as motels are concerned. I wrote a Trip Advisor review if you want more info on it.
    If you are staying in Seward overnight, know there are 2 hubs of this small town; the harbor and the downtown - which is about a mile away. And, the hotels in the harbor area are actually further away than they appear on a map - it's about 3/4 mile walk from the CRUISE SHIP port to the harbor town area. That isn't bad if you are just walking, but if you have luggage, the sidewalk is gravel, which is hard on those wheels. I recommend calling for either a courtesy shuttle from your motel, or trying to find a cab. It's about the same distance to the train depot for the Alaska RR train from Seward to Anchorage.
    Seward also has a free city shuttle bus/minivan system, too, during their operating hours (may be only 10 am-5 pm - not sure). Anyway, if you are in Seward for the day, just know that is an option for getting around, too.
    The dining options are less plentiful, in my opinion. We didn't have too much success with dinner or breakfast here. We had lunch at the Sea Bean in the downtown Seward area, and that was delicious.
    I think staying in Seward long enough before or after your cruise to take the Kenai Fjords boat trip is well worth the additional time and money - this is the only place on our Alaska trip where we saw otters and whales.
    We also took the Alaska RR evening trip from Seward to Anchorage; which, if you haven't taken a RR trip like that before is really a fun way to go - we got lots of good pics from that 4 hour trip, as well!
    View All 177 Seward Cruise Port Reviews
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  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    The RR trip itself is absolutely terrific and well worth the price. The views are amazing and there are lots of opportunities for pics.
    We didn't understand the loading process by WPYRR. The train pulls up almost next to the cruise ships. And, based on the number of passengers who purchase tickets via the cruise line excursions desk, they assign certain cars to certain cruise ships. So, Princess may have 3 RR cars, HAL may have 2 RR cars, etc., etc.
    So, HAL tells you on your excursion ticket, be outside of the ship at the end of the pier at whatever time in the morning. So, we were out there a few minutes early, and it's well marked - Princess passengers line up here, HAL passengers line up here, etc. For some reason, on the morning we were boarding, after a wait of about 10-15 minutes, they escorted the Princess passengers on first - which is fine. But, it was literally another 15 minutes or so before they got around to escorting the HAL passengers on. And, there is no reason for that delay. They even label each RR car with the ship name - so all of the Princess passengers are in 3 cars, and all of the HAL passengers are in 2 different cars, etc. There was no reason why we were all standing on the pier for such a long time just waiting to be escorted to the cars assigned to HAL. Once we were onboard, it was all fine; I would just say they need to speed up the boarding process, or else don't have cruise ship passengers meet out on the pier so far ahead of the boarding time.
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  • Vancouver
    We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn on Hornby St. - we got a good rate on the room - it was great - big room with kitchenette and gorgeous bathroom and a nice view of the city. Short cab ride from hotel to cruise terminal (about $10 CAD). This area of the city seemed to be "business" and seemed very safe, to us.
    We ate dinner about 5 blocks from the hotel at Earl's Kitchen - great food, reasonable prices, really good drinks - Note: young vibe here and it's pretty noisy, due to high ceilings - didn't bother us middle agers, though.
    Took a 13+ hour tour through Landsea Tours & Adventures to Victoria & Butchart Gardens - if your cruise is not stopping in Victoria, I highly recommend this tour company and this tour!
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