This was my 12th cruise. Fourth to Alaska. First on Holland.
We chose this cruise because I love Alaska. The scenery is amazing; the excursions can be great, and, if you get great food, service, entertainment and accommodations, it can be blissful. There were things I really like about this cruise that lift it to an overall rating of 3 stars. There were things that were poor, which brought the overall experience down.
We stayed in a Neptune Suite -- 6109. There were 3 of us, and we needed the space.
Let me begin by saying embarkation and disembarkation were flawless -- probably the best I ever experienced.
Our Suite. The room and verandah are wonderful. The room was clean. We had space to roam and enjoy the sights from inside the suite or out on the balcony. Our room attendants, Heru and Tri were excellent. They represent HAL so well and did a great job for us all week. The suite, however, was tired. The carpet and couch were tattered and worn. The furniture was old and in need of replacement. . Some of the wood was chipped or scraped. At the price of a suite, I did not expect that.Despite that, Heru and Tri were great and keeping our room feeling fresh and tidy.
One major complaint was the sofa bed. On the first night, after the bed was open, I sat on it. The mattress was completely worn and you felt springs on your bottom, on your back, every where. No one could reasonably be expected to sleep or even rest on that uncomfortable mess.If you are going to charge for a suite you should deliver a suite. Fortunately, that night I ran into Heru and asked for a mattress pad. fortunately, he installed it when we were at dinner.
Meals. As suite customers we were able to eat breakfast at the Pinacle. The staff there was awesome and we had the best service there and the best dining experience there bar none. We ate there 6 mornings. They were fantastic. We felt special.
Dining in the Main Dining Room and in the Lido Buffet are another story. The MDR is noisy, chaotic, rushed, and the food is not that great. They seemed under staffed.The portions are smaller than I would like. Salads were scarce. They rushed around. They some times rushed us. Every dinner we had there was not served hot. Every meal was warm or cool. They are disorganized and it should be better. Even though we purchased three drink packages, we struggled to get a wine steward to get us a glass of wine or even a drink from the bar before we were being hawked by the waiters to give our order -- and this was before we got to examine the menu. This happened every night. it made me feel they wanted us in and out of the MDR as fast as possible
We took a shore excursion in Juneau that was outstanding. We got back late, dropped our belongings in the room, went to the rest room and got to the MDR at 9:05 pm. The maitre'd would not seat us. He said it was closed. There were plenty of diners still eating. We explained we just got back from the excursion (it was a HAL excursion) and could they please seat us. He told us they close at 9 PM We were denied and told to go to the Lido. The stations in the Lido were mostly closed. The one small portion that was still open had a line of about 50 people and it was moving slowly. Very frustrating. I noticed a few items in the Lido market. I put 4 pieces of cold poached salmon on my plate and went to the back deck to eat it. My wife joined me and our adult daughter went back to the room and went to bed with no dinner. When I sat to eat, I discovered that all 4 pieces of salmon were RAW, disgusting and inedible.I had no choice but to push them away. My wife and I then waited 45 minutes to be served a pizza. This was such a bad experience -- to be denied seating -- then to be directed to an over crowded understocked location that served RAW fish was just incredible on a premium cruise line. nothing like this ever happened on my other cruises where it seems the staff cannot do enough for you.
One more note on the Lido. It is jammed packed all the time. The lines are long and the aisles are not clear. It is bumper cars with your fellow passengers. We never once found seating all week in the Lido. When chairs were empty, the tables were not been bussed and were messy and probably full of germs. we occasionally bussed and wiped our own table after 2 PM when things calmed a bit -- all while carrying our plates. One time they ran out of an item I wanted at that time. Lido is chaotic and messy. I felt like cattle
Two nights after we were denied service in the MDR, the maitre'd in the Club Orange (not the one who would not seat us) just happened to ask us how the cruise was going. I told him how disappointing the night in Juneau was. He was great. Highly professional and apologetic.
For me, dining is such a big part of a cruise and HAL fell way short of my expectations.
The concierge in the Neptune room as great
Glacier Bay was fantastic and the park ranger(s) were amazing. The comedian and magician were good too, I really liked the Lincoln Center and BB King rooms at night although there was very little variety -- same stuff every night -- but they were good. Dueling pianos were boring and the first dance show was disjointed so I walked out after 15 minutes.
The gym was well equipped and clean. Used it 5 times.
The kayak excursion in Ketchikan from the ship was good. I would have loved another hour in the water.
I am not sure I would give HAL another try given the experience this time and the experiences I have had elsewhere
Tired space. Nice room. Awful sofa bed with uncomfortable springs. Needed mattress pad. Thankfully we were only three people, The mattress over was only good enough for one person