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After dreaming about visiting Alaska for years, we East Coast frequent travelers took the plunge when my brother & sis-in-law, veteran cruisers, suggested this trip. We planned & conferred for almost 2 years on the details before booking with HAL. The experience has become one of the most memorable travel experiences we've ever had. Our sole complaints were right at the start & right at the end - at Vancouver's Canada Place, so I'll dispense with them: once our bags were dropped off, there was absolutely not a soul, nor even signage, to direct us where to begin the embarkation process. After approx. 90 minutes of confusion & waiting in seemingly endless lines, we finally stumbled into 'priority boarding' & breezed through the last 5 minutes. Once again, during disembarkation, which we managed fine on our own, confusion reigned, followed by more long lines. Let me note that we're more than accustomed to Customs & Immigration requirements, having lived in Europe for many years, & continue to visit family there regularly. But it was the total lack of direction at Canada Place we found disconcerting. Finally, at first glance, the taxi line seemed endless, but actually moved along at a good clip, efficiently orchestrated by real people in neon vests, with whistles! From cabin to MDR to Neptune Lounge, I cannot say enough about the staff & crew aboard the NA, who all worked long hours to make our sailing special, always with a smile & greeting. The beautiful NL was stocked with snacks, fruit, juice, coffee/tea & water most of the day. At one point, during a family emergency at home, on a sea day when we had no service on our phones, the concierge in the Lounge put a call through to our room at no charge! Her kindness during a difficult situation will remain with us always. As for dining, we could have opted to have breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill each AM, but were initially unaware that meals take longer there, & my husband was on the clock to make an early excursion, for which he then had to hustle. As a result, we preferred to eat breakfast & dinner in the MDR, never needing a reservation, where my food allergy was accommodated with specially prepared (yummy) meals I'd selected from a printed menu the night before. Bottles of sparkling water I purchased at dinner were taken back to our room to use later, but all the water on board was perfectly potable. As the sole-but-modest drinker in our party, I also purchased a bottle of Prosecco, which the sommeliers re-corked & brought to me on subsequent nights, chilled & still bubbly! Due to my food issue, we had only a couple of plain sandwiches, fruit, or sweet snacks at the buffet - all good. During the height of lunch rush, seating at the Lido deck can be difficult to find, unless you find folks willing to share or about to leave a table. There are three premium & two light-meal restaurants in addition to these. We treated ourselves to dinner in the Pinnacle Grille on our final night at sea - again, delicious. Additionally, my husband requested seating at an officer's table one night, which the four of us enjoyed. He is the IT officer, a tremendously interesting family man from whom we learned so much about his home country of Croatia. As mostly early risers, we didn't linger all that late, but took in a magic show & a brief stint at BB King's Blues Club. They earned passing grades, but we didn't feel they were exceptional. There was also a fascinating & beautifully shot wildlife film shown in the Mainstage. We took part in four excursions between us & highly recommend them all: Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer, Gastineau Guiding Whales & Glacier (Small Group) Photo Safari out of Juneau, White Pass Summit Railway out of Skagway, & for something literally off the beaten path: Adventure Kart expedition out of Ketchikan. We aren't big-time shoppers, so although we'd like to have had more time & energy to check out Juneau & Ketchikan, our experiences were priceless & unforgettable, especially as we had near-perfect weather. Our first view of the evening twilight sky in the Crows Nest was so gorgeous we were all at the windows, cell phones in hand. Need I mention that Glacier Bay up on the front deck was a memorable day? The week on board Nieuw Amsterdam went by way too quickly! Luckily, we were able to ferry across to Victoria for 4 days after the cruise, one of which was Canada Day,then finishing up in Vancouver. Given the time, I highly recommend Butchart Gardens outside Victoria, Capilano Suspension Bridge near Vancouver, & the scenic area surrounding Whistler, north of Vancouver. As an amateur photographer, I had a blast! Some of the most spectacular shots I got were right from the balcony - in bare feet & pajamas late into the evening or early in the morning. To say we'd cruise the Inside Passage on HAL again is a given, next time with a land portion. We're hooked now & can't wait!

Beginners' Luck & Then Some

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by keltz53

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2019
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Pinnacle Suite with Verandah
After dreaming about visiting Alaska for years, we East Coast frequent travelers took the plunge when my brother & sis-in-law, veteran cruisers, suggested this trip. We planned & conferred for almost 2 years on the details before booking with HAL. The experience has become one of the most memorable travel experiences we've ever had.

Our sole complaints were right at the start & right at the end - at Vancouver's Canada Place, so I'll dispense with them: once our bags were dropped off, there was absolutely not a soul, nor even signage, to direct us where to begin the embarkation process. After approx. 90 minutes of confusion & waiting in seemingly endless lines, we finally stumbled into 'priority boarding' & breezed through the last 5 minutes. Once again, during disembarkation, which we managed fine on our own, confusion reigned, followed by more long lines. Let me note that we're more than accustomed to Customs & Immigration requirements, having lived in Europe for many years, & continue to visit family there regularly. But it was the total lack of direction at Canada Place we found disconcerting. Finally, at first glance, the taxi line seemed endless, but actually moved along at a good clip, efficiently orchestrated by real people in neon vests, with whistles!

From cabin to MDR to Neptune Lounge, I cannot say enough about the staff & crew aboard the NA, who all worked long hours to make our sailing special, always with a smile & greeting. The beautiful NL was stocked with snacks, fruit, juice, coffee/tea & water most of the day. At one point, during a family emergency at home, on a sea day when we had no service on our phones, the concierge in the Lounge put a call through to our room at no charge! Her kindness during a difficult situation will remain with us always.

As for dining, we could have opted to have breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill each AM, but were initially unaware that meals take longer there, & my husband was on the clock to make an early excursion, for which he then had to hustle. As a result, we preferred to eat breakfast & dinner in the MDR, never needing a reservation, where my food allergy was accommodated with specially prepared (yummy) meals I'd selected from a printed menu the night before. Bottles of sparkling water I purchased at dinner were taken back to our room to use later, but all the water on board was perfectly potable. As the sole-but-modest drinker in our party, I also purchased a bottle of Prosecco, which the sommeliers re-corked & brought to me on subsequent nights, chilled & still bubbly! Due to my food issue, we had only a couple of plain sandwiches, fruit, or sweet snacks at the buffet - all good. During the height of lunch rush, seating at the Lido deck can be difficult to find, unless you find folks willing to share or about to leave a table. There are three premium & two light-meal restaurants in addition to these. We treated ourselves to dinner in the Pinnacle Grille on our final night at sea - again, delicious. Additionally, my husband requested seating at an officer's table one night, which the four of us enjoyed. He is the IT officer, a tremendously interesting family man from whom we learned so much about his home country of Croatia.

As mostly early risers, we didn't linger all that late, but took in a magic show & a brief stint at BB King's Blues Club. They earned passing grades, but we didn't feel they were exceptional. There was also a fascinating & beautifully shot wildlife film shown in the Mainstage. We took part in four excursions between us & highly recommend them all: Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer, Gastineau Guiding Whales & Glacier (Small Group) Photo Safari out of Juneau, White Pass Summit Railway out of Skagway, & for something literally off the beaten path: Adventure Kart expedition out of Ketchikan. We aren't big-time shoppers, so although we'd like to have had more time & energy to check out Juneau & Ketchikan, our experiences were priceless & unforgettable, especially as we had near-perfect weather. Our first view of the evening twilight sky in the Crows Nest was so gorgeous we were all at the windows, cell phones in hand.

Need I mention that Glacier Bay up on the front deck was a memorable day? The week on board Nieuw Amsterdam went by way too quickly! Luckily, we were able to ferry across to Victoria for 4 days after the cruise, one of which was Canada Day,then finishing up in Vancouver. Given the time, I highly recommend Butchart Gardens outside Victoria, Capilano Suspension Bridge near Vancouver, & the scenic area surrounding Whistler, north of Vancouver.

As an amateur photographer, I had a blast! Some of the most spectacular shots I got were right from the balcony - in bare feet & pajamas late into the evening or early in the morning. To say we'd cruise the Inside Passage on HAL again is a given, next time with a land portion. We're hooked now & can't wait!
keltz53’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Pinnacle Suite with Verandah
Cabin PS 7073
Once on board in a paid upgrade Pinnacle Suite, we met our cabin stewards, drank in the sights & made ourselves at home, wide-eyed & excited! Complimentary water, champagne, fresh fruit & cut flowers awaited us. In addition to the comfortable bed, multiple pillows, long desk, double window, seating for 6, flat screen TV, dressing room, large bathroom (with double sinks, shower stall plus tub), numerous closets, a generous balcony with loungers & table/chairs, the meticulous cabin was well-outfitted with: clock, binoculars, hangers, plugs, USB ports, coffee maker, mini-fridge, deluxe hair dryer, makeup mirror, toiletries, laundry bag, safe, robes, AND adorable towel animal buddies plus chocolates every night. Needless to say, our excursion tickets & all activity schedules, info, etc awaited us or were updated daily, along with complimentary freshly hung & folded laundry. Huge bonus!
Rotterdam Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Whale Watching
    Gastineau Guiding Small Group Photo Safari was fantastic, with just ten guests, an extremely knowledgeable guide Kristin & experienced captain James. Could easily have spent another few hours out on the water photographing orcas & humpback whales, bald eagles as a bonus!
    View All 824 Whale Watching Reviews
  • Adventure Kart Expedition
    This was literally off the beaten track, & something unique in our experience. We drove 'Tomcat' karts up a mountain, which had beautiful views at the top, stopped for water, snacks, & a short hike to view a waterfall. Our guide Marcus Lee was terrific, bright & enthusiastic. For this excursion, be prepared to get dirty (or dusty) & enjoy the ride, albeit a bit bumpy, but lots of fun.
    View All 31 Adventure Kart Expedition Reviews
  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    Vast beautiful scenery in all directions, so the ride was worth taking for that experience. However, the regular train cars were extremely basic, seats weren't comfortable & only bottled water was distributed. One could pay much higher fares for the deluxe car, which served food & beverages.
    View All 1,085 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
  • Capilano Canyon
    If you can get to Capilano, it's unique & exciting, if crowded in summer. Food wasn't terrific but we didn't go for fine dining.
    View All 33 Capilano Canyon Reviews
  • Stanley Park
    Vancouver traffic can be nightmarish, but the city is welcoming. Friends took us to the park at twilight & it was the perfect ending to the day!
    View All 41 Stanley Park Reviews