Overview: My husband (age 30) and I (age 30) booked this cruise to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. This was our very first cruise. We booked with Holland America Line because of their reputation of providing great service and not being a party ship.
Embarkation: We arrived at Pier 91 around 11:15 AM and were eating in the Lido by 12:15 PM. When we received our cabin keys, we did not receive our Daily Program.
Public Rooms: No complaints. The ship was well taken care off. The crew was constantly cleaning or touching up areas of the ship.
State Room: We stayed in Cabin # 5014, a deluxe veranda outside stateroom. Our room stewards were Ratno and Alus. We only spent the first few days on the balcony because the weather turned very wet and cold. The bed was very comfortable. The room stewards kept the room very clean and tidy, even when we retreated to our cabin for an afternoon nap. The bed would be made a second time and turned down for the evening when we returned from dinner.
Dining: The Lido - We had a few meals in the Lido. Breakfast consisted of waffles, ham, hash browns, fresh fruit, pastries, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Lunch was always grilled sandwiches or hamburgers, which were fine. We tried the taco bar, but did not enjoy it. My favorite dessert of the entire cruise was on the first day, Dutch Chocolate Cake. It was so yummy! We also had ice cream every day around 2:00 PM.
The Main Dining Room - We had late dining. Our dining stewards were Didiet and Dika, both were very personable and provided great service. We enjoyed most of our meals in the MDR. My favorite dinner was southwestern manicotti with fontina cheese (and I don't even like cheese.) We were at a table for six, but only one other couple was ever there. Upon exiting the MDR after dinner there is a gentleman, Jetro, serving after dinner mints and ginger. He would ask for use to sing song to him, "yummy, yummy, good for your tummy" before we received our mints. He was a riot. Breakfast and lunch service was slow at times, but the food was never cold. It was fun meeting new people at every breakfast and lunch. There was only one awkward meal conversation that got a little heated between a few other guests.
Pinnacle Grill - We did not have a good experience at the Pinnacle Grill. Our server was not very friendly or attentive. We both ordered the filet mignon cooked medium plus and they came out very rare. We tried to eat them, but it was nearly impossible. The server took the steaks back to the grill and they were brought back charcoaled on the outside and medium rare on the inside. The sauce that was served with the steaks did not taste good and the texture was off. They maitre'd offered to comp our meal and bring us dessert, but our server never brought the dessert menu. The area where the Pinnacle Grill is located is by a main traffic area and was very noisy. Based on our experience, we would not spend an extra $40 to eat at the Pinnacle Grill.
Entertainment: We only caught a few shows, a comedian named Max Elliott and an illusionist named; both shows were great. We did not see any show by the onboard singers or dancers.
Spa Services: On embarkation day, we went to the spa open house. I wanted to sign up for a pedicure, and we also ended up signing up for a hot stone massage and a facial. I would not recommend the hot stone massage. The pedicure was fine, but expensive considering the service was not that of a high-end salon. The facial was relaxing.
Staff: Overall very friendly, courteous, and warm. Our cruise director, John, was funny and the Captain was informative.
Sea Days: We experience very rough seas on our first day at sea. We would highly recommend taking less drowsy Dramamine for departures out of Seattle. I took it from day one and didn't have any seasickness. My husband was seasick for four hours, but once his pills kicked in he was fine. There were many open seats in the MDR that night.
We cruised Glacier Bay. It was a beautiful, albeit cold day. Before we entered Glacier Bay we saw humpback whales. After entering Glacier Bay we saw sea otters, harbor seals, and glaciers. The glaciers were interesting. We saw the Johns Hopkins Glacier since the weather was cooperating. It calved many times.
Disembarkation: We chose the expedited self services to get off the ship as quickly as possible since we wanted to take full advantage of the day. We had about six pieces of luggage (various sizes). It was manageable, but I would only recommend it if it is absolutely necessary to get off the ship first thing.
Overall Experience: We had a wonderful time. We missed being on the water so much that we booked a second cruise, with HAL, less than a month after we disembarked the Oosterdam. We will be cruising the Eastern Caribbean on the Eurodam in December 2010.
Cabin 5014 was great. We didn't hear anyone outside the hallway or in the rooms next to us. We loved the location, port forward. The balcony was fine for two people to enjoy. There was plenty of storage for our clothes and luggage. The electrical outlet in the bathroom is for electric razors only. It would not power a hair dryer or curling iron. The electrical outlets at the vanity worked great for the hair dryer and curling iron. The bed was comfortable.
We booked the "Photo Safari by Land and Sea" excursion. It was amazing. We met Stacy, our tour guide, at the pier. There were only 11 other passengers on this excursion. We boarded a van that took us to Auke Bay, where Captain Gary and the "Mariner" were waiting for us. Stacy provided photography tips and shared local history the entire time and Captain Gary positioned us for some great photos. We saw bald eagles, harbor seals, humpback whales, and steller sea lions. We spent half our time on the water. We boarded the van a second time for a short drive to Mendenhall Glacier. We walked the Trail of Time and took more pictures. We saw lots of flora and a few salmon. During the ride back to the ship, Stacy gave us a quick photography overview. We would have preferred to have that before we started taking pictures, but in the end it was still helpful. A few things to think about before booking this trip: 1) part of the excursion is a hike through the Trail of Time near Mendenhall Glacier, and it may be raining; 2) there is a marine head (bathroom) on the boat, but it is very tiny and you cannot stand up straight; 3) this is a photo safari, bring extra batteries or fully charged batteries so you can take lots of pictures; 4) have a good time. We didn't spend a lot of time touring the town.
We booked the “Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest” excursion. The boat picked us up at the ship. The seas were rough and the boat was rocking, but we safely boarded the boat. The crew took us around Sitka and we saw sea otters, bald eagles, and humpback whales. We got some amazing pictures during this excursion. The crew was very informative and friendly. After our excursion we walked through town to the Tongass National Forest and back to the pier. Sitka is a quaint town and has not been overrun with tourist attractions. This was our favorite port.
We booked the “Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer” excursion. It was not what we expected. It was a long journey to Misty Fjords and we only saw a few bald eagles. If you are looking for wildlife viewing opportunities this is not the excursion to book. The staff was very friendly and informative. It was very cold in the top deck, however it was nice and cozy in the main deck and the chairs were much more comfortable.
We arrived late into Victoria due to rough seas. A few excursions were cancelled. We attempted to walk into town, but the cold, rainy weather prevented that. We ended up back on the ship without seeing much of this port city.