This was our second cruise (my wife and myself) and we anticipated an enjoying week. For the most part it was,if a little boring, mostly due to the dearth of shipboard activities and the ports of call that mainly catered to those wanting to buy souvenirs (most of which were made in China) from tourist "traps." The most interesting Port, we missed due to, ostensibly, the ship's inability to dock because of windy conditions. We say ostensibly because we saw other cruise ships in port from our anchorage outside of Victoria, BC. We believe, as many fellow cruisers did, that the Captain was over an hour late in arrival to Victoria, which was to be a short stay of 4 hours anyway and chose to use the excuse of high winds and unsafe conditions. Neither of these conditions was experienced by many of us onboard and obviously not by the Captain of the Golden Princess who was able to safely dock his ship in Victoria for all to see. The Holland American Line would not reimburse anyone for missing 1 out of 4 ports. I think a voucher for a couple of hundred dollars off our next cruise would have been a nice gesture.
The best way to experience Alaska would be to purchase excursions (not from the cruise line) from the vendors on shore or those running the excursions themselves (save a bunch of money that way).
The cabin was a little cramped but clean and well taken care of. The food was mediocre and repetitious; frequently calling the same salmon dish by a different name does not change it. The serving staff was good and attentive but the ability to select a desired table was difficult as they frequently closed off sections of the dining room until they filled every seat of another section so getting a desired location was more a question of probability rather than trying to please. Many of our fellow cruisers complained of overflowing toilets which, thankfully, was a problem we didn't have but felt badly for them as they frequently had to wait long times to get it fixed, some more than a day. They were told to use the public rest rooms until repairs were done, not very helpful at 3 in the morning.
To first time cruisers beware; they nickel and dime you for everything on this cruise. The drinks were expensive and we rarely saw a winner in the casino.
Disembarkation at ports was a little chaotic especially at ports where passengers had to be tendered and at final destination in Seattle. They first said they were going to use numbers in Sitka but then soon abbreviated the process by having a first come first serve process and thus long lines in tight corridors to board tenders. It took us 3 hours to get off the ship in Seattle, then a good deal of time finding our luggage and our son threading his way through the smallish area to pick us up. The entire process left one with a haphazard feeling.
Our advice is if you want to cruise Alaska, choose another cruise line with a different set of Ports. Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan are nothing more than a bunch of shops for buying foreign made souvenirs and sweatshirts. At these ports, skip the shopping in deference to shore excursions if time and the wallet allows. Victoria is a very nice city as we've been there before and it would have been a very nice place to spend a few hours in but, alas, we sat at anchor just a few miles off shore of this grand city. We drank and/or walked the deck with the winds and sea unusually calm at this time, contrary to our Captain's pronouncements.
We were in 3386 which was a little cramped and was also too close to the view of a wall, so 3388 or 3390 and corresponding cabins on the other side of ship would have been better.