A couple of years ago, my husband and I went on our first cruise for out 40th anniversary to the Baltic - on Oceania. Maybe starting at close to the top wasn't the best idea! :) . We loved all of it. This summer we wanted to do Alaska and our agent recommended Holland-America because we wanted to go to Denali and they are among the few lines that offer the Denali experience as a seamless part of the cruise. We knew our ship, the Noordam, was a few years past new, but decided to go for it. We really wanted a king size bed on the cruise and to get that had to have a suite. And, the suite was lovely and large with a fantastic deck. The stewards were amazing, too. That being said, this ship is ready to go into dry dock next year and it needs it. Nothing is worn or frayed, but it just feels middle-aged - a little saggier than before and not quite as glitzy! We departed from Vancouver and sat on our lovely, large deck all that afternoon as the weather was quite pleasant. Concierge service was good...first time I had used this. I'm not totally sure it was worth the extra money, except, again, we wanted the large deck and king bed and they were a combo. Food on the ship was okay - perhaps we were spoiled by the food on Oceania. This food was okay, but not outstanding, but then, they are feeding 2000 people. We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants for dinner, as there was a substantial upcharge - again on Oceania 1 dinner at each specialty was included. However, with a concierge suite, you get to eat in a specialty restaurant for breakfast and that was VERY lovely! (although it was a little unclear to me at the start....I thought it was one day, but it was every day...much better than room service with free mimosas!). Back to food - there are two "seatings" - something like 5 and 7:30.....we wanted to eat in-between, of course, and then we sometimes had to wait. Best food surprise - the hamburger stand on the Lido deck. GREAT burgers! All the amazing excursions we did through Holland America were well worth it (I'll review them separately). Entertainment was enjoyable - especially the piano bar near the casino. A not to miss is the Lincoln stage - 30-40 string quartet concerts at various times of the day. Just wonderful to sit that close and listen and relax. Also wonderful (if you are a cook) were the America's Test Kitchens demonstrations. The comedians were good, but you have to get there early to get a seat - it fills up too fast. The talk on the Iditarod was also fascinating. Do not get in the line for the free charm bracelet - poorly organized and the darn bracelet doesn't work well at all (and the charms are extra...plus the "free" charm doesn't fit the bracelet!). The day at Glacier Bay was awesome - get out on the deck and drink it all in! Other activities - we are early risers and were sad to learn that the hot tubs are not open until 8. Actually, they are drained every night (good news, bad news) and so really aren't ready at the time we would have liked - 6am with a cup of coffee! Also, the fitness center is adequate, but classes cost extra - if you use the ship's app to see what's going on that day, they don't tell you there is an upcharge for the class unless you actually click on it. If you just see there's a class, you won't know...and the yoga class was just very okay. In addition, on Oceania, guests can use the sauna, steam room, and quite room without a spa booking. Not true here...and the price for a message ($60 at home) is crazy ridiculous....how could I relax paying those prices! :) Finally, Holland America did a terrific job of moving people - after we docked in Seward, they got groups on a bus to Denali (us), others on buses to the airport, others on buses to Fairbanks, etc. Well done. We had a similar experience in Denali - well organized.
Lovely and large. A whole bathtub to soak in. Deck is beautiful. As I wrote in my review, like a well-maintained middle-aged person, might still need a "little work." In fact, it's due to go into dry dock at the end of next year.
The glacier is fascinating - wished we had had more time.