18 Seward to Alaska Holland America Oosterdam Cruise Reviews

What a huge disappointment this cruise has been. We usually cruise with Norwegian and we made a mistake by trying Holland. I would rate this ship with a low level grade similar to a comfort inn. There are too many really good cruise ships ... Read More
What a huge disappointment this cruise has been. We usually cruise with Norwegian and we made a mistake by trying Holland. I would rate this ship with a low level grade similar to a comfort inn. There are too many really good cruise ships to waste your money on this one. We are currently cruising Alaska, but even the itinerary can't make up for the low grade offerings of this ship. Food: Horrible. The buffet had the same unappetizing selections every day. The bowls or trays of food are dried out on the edges and mostly empty, as if the food was prepared over a week ago. Their "cheese trays" have a few small pieces of cheese left over from WHAT?? I just picker a hair off of a piece of cheese. The eggs are runny and oozing some kind of liquid. The omelets are ok, but again, the vegetables to fill the omelets are limited and the containers are always empty. The main dining room is slightly better, but still only below average food. The staff were very nice, but could not get an order correct. They keep brining us dinners that we did not order, rather than what we asked for. Order a glass of wine and you probably won't get it at all. As another passenger noted, you were not allowed to order anything that was not on the menu, which had limited selections and always the same day after day. On good cruise ships, you can order off the menu and they are glad to accommodate you. There is not such thing as good beef, lobster or any other food you normally expect on a ship. If you are use to fast food joints or chili's type of menus, you'll be fine. Otherwise, run as fast as you can to another cruise line. The Pinnacle Grill was good, but of course you had to pay extra per person for the "privilege" of dining there. What is customary on good ships, is an added cost on this ship even though we paid over $3k for this cruise. Appalling. Our cabin was clean and the stewards were fine. The ship needs upgrading as it is old and smelly. The corridors smell of mold and must. There is a constant garbage smell on the promenade deck and at the pool side bar. The odor is so bad, you can't stand in these two areas. The staff doesn't seem to notice. Young people should not take this cruise. It is a senior ship and the itinerary is appropriate for that age group. The "shows" were tacky and comparable to a high school glee club. If you are looking for fun & entertainment, this is not the ship for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
After my 3 day land tour and torture of the 10 hour bus ride from Denali I was looking forward to just relaxing on the ship. I was not disappointed. The cruise was everything I wished for - relaxing, good food and plenty of things to hold ... Read More
After my 3 day land tour and torture of the 10 hour bus ride from Denali I was looking forward to just relaxing on the ship. I was not disappointed. The cruise was everything I wished for - relaxing, good food and plenty of things to hold my interest. We landed in Anchorage and spent an extra day before heading to Denali. Stayed at the Hilton which was very nice. The train to Denali was wonderful- make sure you wait and eat breakfast on the train. Our guide was very entertaining. Our only issue was that my husband and brother in law booked a jeep excursion at Denali and we arrived at the hotel (Chalet) only 15 minutes before the excursion. 8 hours on the train and then a 4 hour jeep tour made a long day for them. The next morning was the 8 hour Tundra tour. Remember to order a box lunch at the lodge the night before the tour. 2 people can actually share 1 lunch as the wraps are large and filling. Sunday morning it was back on the bus for the 10 hour ride to Seward. This was torture. 10 hours with very few stops and the air conditioner in the bus died. We had no trouble getting onto the cruise ship and all our luggage was there waiting for us. After a nice meal we explored the ship then settled in for a well deserved sleep. We opted for breakfast most mornings on the Lido deck. One of the servers, GoGo became a fave. What a personality! My husband found the Exploration Lounge on the 10th deck and really enjoyed sitting there looking at the ocean while reading or doing his crossword while having a coffee or beer. I enjoyed the short films in the screening rooms on the ports in Alaska. I also enjoyed listening to the native speakers who came aboard. The casino was a fave for my in laws as well as the piano bar. We participated in a few of the games they had after dinner. What fun! The BB King band was wonderful. We did a whale watch in Juneau after seeing the Mendenhall Glacier. What a wonderful day - so many whales. We also did the Bering Sea Crab Tour in Ketchikan. That was so much fun. Our own "deadliest catch". The meals were good in the main dining room. I did find however if you do not drink wine it was sometimes quite a while to get someone to bring you an ice tea. We did the open seating making reservations each morning as we let breakfast. We never had a problem getting the time we requested. Disembarking went quickly. We were spending an extra day in Vancouver so we left the ship, went through customs and then walked across the street to get our rental car. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Never having been on a cruise before We listened to many people rave about Holland America and selected them. We really enjoyed the trips off the ship and listening to the tour guides. The tour guides were very good but the bus rides ... Read More
Never having been on a cruise before We listened to many people rave about Holland America and selected them. We really enjoyed the trips off the ship and listening to the tour guides. The tour guides were very good but the bus rides are killers, no room for legs, even in 60 degree weather air conditioners need to run so windows did not fog! Our first night was in the Anchorage Hilton and that Hilton is not up to Hilton Standards! After Denali the over ten hour ride to Seward was terrible! The ship part was so so! When we got to our stateroom it needed vacuuming, sofa bed was so dirty I would not even put a suitcase on it, there were lumps in the floor under the carpet. We used the john, it over flowed and later that night, it would not flush (plumber came about 11:30 pm). Having floor to ceiling windows and a balcony was great for viewing. My favorite part of the ship was the Explorations Café and Crow's Nest on the top deck. We were set up for 5:30 pm dinner and changed it to open seating (that was great). We met quite a few different couples from, Canada, US and Australia. The fish dishes were excellent the other selections were not as good! The food was OK, but from the amount people were eating they must have thought it was great! Not being drinkers or gamblers meant about 1/3 of the ship was unnecessary for us. The ship is showing its age, worn carpets, shabby appearance in a lot of areas, but the bars, the shopping venues and the casino were well taken care of. They definitely want you to spend money while you're aboard. The crew were all very friendly and attentive, our cabin stewards were very friendly and unobtrusive. At the end of the cruise disembarking was not handled well, the group responsible showed up late, was not organized and seemed to be totally flustered! I am not sure we would ever take another cruise on Holland America the value in my opinion was not there! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We have been on several Holland American cruises and I must say this was the worst ever. The room stewards were great as was the captain but the cruise director and the chef left a lot to be desired. First I will take on the food. ... Read More
We have been on several Holland American cruises and I must say this was the worst ever. The room stewards were great as was the captain but the cruise director and the chef left a lot to be desired. First I will take on the food. We always enjoy going to the dining room each evening but found the food selection was awful. There are 9 of us in our party and none of use were impressed with the selection. On all the other ships, if you did not care for the entrees of the night, you could ALWAYS get a steak or chicken or a Caesar salad, but not on this ship. And who ever heard of having the surf and turf night (formal night) on a night we are in port and have not left yet? Never heard of such a thing. We were all so disappointed in the selection of foods we only went to the dining room twice. I must say, the Pinnacle Grill was wonderful the night we went and tried to go several other times but they were booked. No wonder, no one liked the food in the dining room or lido. The cruise director was non existent except for a message on the intercom and to introduce the acts at night. Horrible. I will have to think about going on Holland America again to Alaska and I always suggest HA for friends who are going to Alaska. Will not do that again. If this would have been our first cruise, I would never go again but since we have several to compare it to, I must say, it was a disappointment for the money we paid. All 9 of us were shocked at the lack of anything. The captain was the only saving factor, he was wonderful and let us know when things were happening or when wildlife was spotted. He also opened the bows to we could go there. Thanks captain. it was appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We began our cruise tour in Fairbanks. I must say that the land and sea portion were done very well by Holland. We stayed at the Westmark in Fairbanks, the McKinley Chalet and the Westmark in Anchorage. All of the accommodations were ... Read More
We began our cruise tour in Fairbanks. I must say that the land and sea portion were done very well by Holland. We stayed at the Westmark in Fairbanks, the McKinley Chalet and the Westmark in Anchorage. All of the accommodations were very comfortable and well maintained. We had good service and good food if you eat in their places that are available. Loved the Riverboat tour and lunch tour in Fairbanks. The wilderness tundra tour in Denali was fantastic! Some our group enjoyed white water rafting in Denali. Transportation from Fairbanks to Denali was on a coach, had a great driver and guide. The ride on the McKinley express from Denali to Anchorage was such a great and fun train ride. The ride from Anchorage to Seward was alright, a very long ride and it is not very comfortable. Make note on the train rides you are assigned a seat or table to sit at. Make sure that you go out and stand on the outside platforms, it is a lot fun! Once we boarded the ship in Seward we had two days to cruise and relax and one of the days we enjoyed the amazing National Glacier Bay Park. We attended some of the on board ship activities, many to choose from. Then we had 3 straight days of ports. Loved all 3 ports--Haines (took the fast ferry to Skagway for the day), Juneau and Ketchikan. The food on the ship on the lido deck, main dining room were very good. We ate at the Pinnacle grill, it was alright. We had the drink package included which was a very nice addition. This included coffee, hot cocoa, soda, beer, wine and mixed drinks. Entertainment on the ship was very good--singers, dancers, comedian, illusionist, bands, and piano player. We had no problem with embarkation or disembarkation. One nice thing to note about Holland, when you arrive at each destination before you get off the bus or train you are given a packet of information that contains your itinerary, important information and your room keys. Holland is doing something new--if you ride the train to Seward the register you on board the train. You get packet and stateroom keys before you get off the train. Your bags are waiting for you in your room. Our shore excursions I personally chose to book them independently with private companies. We did not have children with us, but there were several on this cruise. They seemed to be very happy and well entertained by the clubs they had available for their age groups. The entire staff on the Oosterdam were wonderful. They went out of their way for everyone! We loved our wait staff and stewards!!! We highly recommend this trip for anyone. Loved Alaska and love the Ooosterdam!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We are experienced cruisers (both in our 60s) with our two grown children and thier spouses. To review this trip you really have to look at two separate things - the land portion and the cruise portion. We did the land portion first. ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers (both in our 60s) with our two grown children and thier spouses. To review this trip you really have to look at two separate things - the land portion and the cruise portion. We did the land portion first. Definitely a good idea. It was a lot of travelling and pretty exhausting - with not overly comfortable accommodations or very good food. It was good to do it first, and then be pampered during the cruise. We stayed at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage for two nights. I would give it a C minus. Adequate but nothing more. It was in a good location. Anchorage is small enough that you can see virtually everything on foot. The train to Anchorage lived up to its expectations. Great scenery, interesting and fun narration, nice drink service upstairs and pretty good food downstairs. It was a comfortable ride, but it was LONG. every bit of nine hours. No alternative of course, but After 4 or 5 hours, there are only so many trees and mountains you can look at. We stayed at the Chalets in Denali. Very unimpressive. Those that like camping will think it is luxury. Those - like us - used to higher end properties think it was pretty rustic. Service was not great either. Trying to get a straight answer about times for the shuttle were impossible. Coffee shop for was supposed to be open for breakfast at 6 - staff showed up at 6:15 and said they would open " in a little while". (This on a day we had a tour leaving at 7:15. The included tour into Denali was very nice. But again, I wish an 8 hour bus trip lasted 4 or 5. We also did a tour to the Iditarod puppies (a very nice and interesting time) and the raft trip down the river (wonderful!) The bus trip down to Seward was a mystery, I had no idea what to expect. Here is what I posted after the trip: "You are assigned a time for your bus from Denali to Seward once you get to Denali. It can be anywhere between 7 AM and 9 AM. Our time to leave was 7:15 The trip is approximately 10 hours. The bus is a nice tour bus. Comfortable seats, smooth ride and a small but adequate bathroom. The driver also acts as a narrator. I found him annoying, others liked him. There were a couple of travelogue type videos shown on TV monitors which I ignored. There is one rest stop about 2 hours in. It is a highway rest area with portapotties. Not very nice. There is a very meager snack bar. About 5 hours in, you stop at a restaurant. A lunch buffet is set up in a side room. It is free and all you can eat. It includes breads, lunchmeats, salads and cookies. Soft drinks are also provided. There is also a bar where you can buy other drinks. The total time of this stop is about an hour. The food is decent and the bathroom facilities are clean. You find an open table to sit and eat. There is a very nice outdoor patio with tables if you want to take your food outside. After lunch, there is about 4 hours to Seward. There is another rest area stop planned about 1 hour from Seward. The driver asked if we wanted to stop, but everyone said keep driving. The scenery for the first 4 hours is just trees. We did see a couple of Moose running along the side of the road. The second half of the trip you ride along an inlet (on the right side of the bus). But really, not much to see. We pulled into Seward about 4:30 and were dropped off right by the front door of the embarkation building. Basically, this trip is something to be tolerated. Not much fun at all. " Once on Board, the cruise was excellent. Room was a typical veranda cabin and service was efficiently invisible. Food in the main dining room was consistently good (B plus to A minus). My daughter in law had significant dietary restrictions and the worked with her every evening to plan her menu for the following night. My only complaint about the dining room is the drink (wine) service. I would give it a c at best. Slow. We also had one dinner in the Pinnacle grill - excellent - as well as the LeCirque dinner in the Pinnacle (very good, not over the top great). Only complaint about the Pinnacle was an obviously scorched lobster bisque that was virtually inedible. Four of us agreed about that on the next morning, but none of us wanted to send it back. We should have. We ate most mornings and lunches at the LIDO. I am not a buffet person by any means, but I really did enjoy these meals. Fresh, served nicely, nice variety no trouble finding seats. We loved the piano bar and the player Jimmy. Incredibly talented and we closed the piano bar down at midnight each night. I enjoyed the casino while my wife and others went to the shows. No rave reviews, but they report they were enjoyable. Our cabin (5077) is a great location - just about equal distance from the bow and the back. Typical balcony cabin. I liked having the tub /shower - much better than the small shower stalls. Adequate storage for a week's cruise. Lifeboats are one deck down, so no obstruction looking out, but you can not see straight down to deck below or ocean. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Wow, After reading some of the recent reviews, we were a bit concerned. But no need. Has cruising changed in 20 years, absolutely, is it for the better? Mostly not, so let me tell you what we liked and what we feel could have been ... Read More
Wow, After reading some of the recent reviews, we were a bit concerned. But no need. Has cruising changed in 20 years, absolutely, is it for the better? Mostly not, so let me tell you what we liked and what we feel could have been better. Could have been better, The ship, Oosterdam is old, it has been painted and varnished, updated etc., but she shows her age. It is not as clean as as newer ship, not as many neat features, etc. This is the main knock on this ship. The help on the ship isn't as friendly as we have seen in the past. I believe much of this is the culture of where the people come from. Nice enough, just not outwardly friendly, kind of quiet, keep to themselves. The boarding process was painful, the embarkation was a mess, they tried to get everyone checked in on the train, this worked well enough, but all it succeeded in doing was creating a massive traffic jam at security, where we waited for an hour anyway. Since we were traveling with my 85 year old parents, it was not a pleasant experience. We were staying in a Neptune suite and would have boarded much faster by refusing the train check in, taking the suite check in line at the port, much, much faster. As many people have noted, there is not much entertainment on this ship, but it wasn't what we were here for anyway. We were a bit disappointed that B.B. King blues club never seems to actually play any blues, the band was decent, just a bit loud. And lastly, they lack a bit of common sense, when it is raining, and it is close to all aboard time, maybe they could find a way to speed up the process? Hundreds of people standing in the rain, there has to be a better way to make sure the ship is secure, and the passengers are dry. Maybe two security check points? What we liked. The Neptune lounge, unlike the previous review, we loved Steph and Roxy, they were awesome, patient, and willing to help at any time. We had them change many of our reservations and every time they came through with a smile. One of the big advantages of being in a Neptune suite, is the lounge, food available all day, Roxy and Steph to help you, and much better coffee available here than elsewhere. A side benefit is you get to eat breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, fresh, brought to you, excellent menu and service, we ate there almost every morning. Our waiter was Francisco and he was amazing, on the spot, always with a smile, a great way to start the day. Loved the food in the Grill, night or day, it is very good. We liked the crew in general, the Captain was very good at communicating where we were, what was going on etc. We liked our room, huge balcony, and it was nice to have 2 sinks and room to shower in the garden tub. We loved the Crows Nest lounge, up front, on top, spectacular view. We spent a great deal of time just watching Alaska go by as we sailed along. We enjoyed the main Vista dining room, two formal nights, two regular nights, food was good, true, it was not overly spiced, but they are cooking for 2000 mostly older adults, and I suspect they have learned to be easy on the spices. My parents are fussy eaters and they loved the food, we thought it was just typical for a cruise ship. The service was faster than many ships we have been on and we were thankful for that. We do not want to take 2 plus hours to eat. I have read about the south bound week having issues with fresh fruit and vegetables towards the end of the cruise, but there were no issues on this trip, plenty, right up to the day we got off. We bought most of our excursions from Holland America and they were all well managed, and we were happy with them. Getting off the ship went very well. If you are getting off or on for that matter in Vancover, the train station is right across the street, $2.75 to go to or from the airport, about 20 minutes, quick, clean trains, highly recommended. There is a luggage service at the port that will take your luggage for the day and you can then pick it up at the airport, very easy to use and to find. Summary, HAL is not the HAL of the past, particularly the food. More like NCL or Carnival, so I would not pay more to be on HAL, as you should know, it is an older crowd, quiet at night, and they can be a bit more demanding, service wise than younger passengers. Very few children on this ship, maybe 20 if that. I would recommend the Oosterdam to my friends and family, we have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This review is for the Oosterdam Ship of Holland America, for our August 2014 cruise. A couple of things to note while reading my review. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to. I'm 28 years old, easily one of ... Read More
This review is for the Oosterdam Ship of Holland America, for our August 2014 cruise. A couple of things to note while reading my review. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to. I'm 28 years old, easily one of the youngest people on board the cruise ship. Overall, we had a very nice time on the cruise. The room was a decent size, with a surprisingly "large" bathroom. We did select a room on the port side (4014), so we had a balcony that had a solid color rail that we could not see through. We honestly didn't see any reason to select port side vs. starboard. The captain turned the boat around in Glacier Bay so that you could see from both sides. Most of the other rooms have a glass balcony that you can see through. I shared the room with my parents, so I had the "luxury" of sleeping on the pull out sofa. It was super uncomfortable and was definitely a bit broken because it never folded completely down. We LOVED the food in the Vista Dining Room each night. It was prepared to order and was also hot and delicious. I'm also a vegetarian and they have a separate menu you can order off of each night, or they have at least two vegetarian options on the menu each night. We also loved our dining room servers. Now the Lido is a completely different story. I hated the Lido. There were never enough seats in the Lido - you had to push through people to find a table and to get food. The good quality was definitely less than I would have liked as well. I would recommend staying as far from the Lido as you can get. This cruise was old. Meaning that the average age on the ship was around 75. I knew that typically these cruises were an older crowd, but I thought there would be a good mix of younger people too. I was wrong. There were maybe 20 people in my general age bracket. Therefore, I didn't meet a whole lot of people while on the trip. The entertainment was pretty weak. I wasn't expecting greatness, but the cruise's performers were lacking. We did enjoy the comedian, magician and the violinist/pianist at one of the bars. Otherwise, don't expect much. The one thing that I did not enjoy either, was that I always felt like I was being sold something, even during the magician's routine! People were constantly hassling me to buy wine, buy photographs or merchandise from the gift shop. I want to relax and not be bothered while I'm travelling. If I want to buy something, then I will let you know. I thought that embarking/disembarking was actually quite easy. We didn't experience any issues with it. I would recommend that if you take this cruise, that you plan a trip before/after the cruise to see the real Alaska. My family and I got to Anchorage before our cruise and rented a car for 9 days. We stayed in Anchorage, Seward, Talkeetna and Denali on our own. We got to see so much more of Alaska then we ever would have had the opportunity to do so on the cruise. The cruise was relaxing and we wouldn't have been able to see Glacier Bay, Haines, Juneau and Ketchican without it, but you don't get enough time in the Ports to really get to get a feel for Alaska. Even if you add on what the cruise ship offers, it is better than nothing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
First, allow me to say that my wife and I have been huge fans of HAL and the Oosterdam since our first cruise in 2006 with HAL! This cruise started with a three night land portion to Denali National Park! It was overall excellent ... Read More
First, allow me to say that my wife and I have been huge fans of HAL and the Oosterdam since our first cruise in 2006 with HAL! This cruise started with a three night land portion to Denali National Park! It was overall excellent beginning with our one night in Anchorage at the beautiful Hotel Captain Cook! The next day we were transported by bus to the McKinley Explorer Train (owned by HAL), had a beautiful escorted train trip to Denali with great service and hosts onboard. Even the food on the train was great for a tourist attraction. our luggage was picked up at the hotel by truck arriving at the Princess Denali Lodge and in our room before we were. Our keys and directions were all given to us aboard the train! I was surprised how well coordinated it was. the Lodge and grounds were very pretty and well maintained. both nights we chose to dine in the Hard Tack Lounge. Our server, Tyler from Ct. by way of Denver, was excellent and friendly. The food was good and priced as you would expect in a resort in Alaska. The tundra tour was very good, and we saw moose, caribou and eagles! We also did a tour of Jeff King's Alaskan Huffy Kennels and training facility. He has won the Iditarod five times! On the very nice motor coach trip to Seward, we had several photo stops with spectacular views of Mt McKinley, apparently a rare treat for only about 30% of the visitors to the region. The lunch stop a sandwich/salad buffet was very nice in a beautiful area of Wasilla. From the arrival in Seward to disembarkation in Vancouver the following Sunday, things went downhill! This was our fourth Oosterdam cruise since 2006! The Seward cruise port building is a steel warehouse building! Check in was like a rat's maze with several busses arriving in close proximity. There were probably 800 to 1,000 people trying to get checked in and to board after 5pm! It was a real "cluster", poorly managed and all boarding the Oosterdam.!!! From this point forward the sales pitches started from photography, wine, shore excursions, art work, etc.! Our baggage had all arrived in our cabin by an hour after boarding. The biggest changes were in the quality of food and service in the Lido buffet, the Main Dining Room and the Pinnacle Grill. Breakfasts in the Lido were as always crowded, but the rudeness of line servers and the quality and selection was the worst. Scrambled eggs looked like slop; bacon was almost raw and the lines were usually closed early and were running out of some items! never before seen on HAL. At our table #69 in the MDR, the service was okay, but the girl wine steward was not knowledgeable about all the wines and only interested in hurrying to sell more bottles. Dinners in the MDR were more often disappointing because of the selection, quality or quantity in some items. My escargot were overcooked and only offered once! On the final night, the usual and fun parade of servers with baked Alaska was deleted! There was no more "chocolate extravaganza" around the pool as usual before one evening. The Pinnacle Grill cover charge formerly $20is now $29/person. That nearly 30% increase would be okay, but they eliminated lobster tails from the entrée choices and put an additional $20/person upcharge for King Crab legs! I ordered a 10oz filet mignon, medium rare, and it arrived well done. Reorder came medium well but ate it anyway! The manager seemed to make reservations difficult, but there were always a few empty tables! The singers and dancers were live and good especially Angela, the light haired male singer and the piano player, Mario in the Halcats band. the magician was mediocre and not friendly to guests off the stage and around the ship with his four dogs, child and wife. the comedian, Julie Barr was funny and entertaining. Our cabin stewards did a good job except when our fruit was ripe and ready to eat, they removed it and left not so ripe. Finally, disembarkation was another "cluster" and absolutely horrible regardless of what you had put on your form regarding post cruise travel arrangements, etc. We were supposed to disembark between 8:15 and 8:30am, but it ended up being about 9:15am? If these issues are not fleet wide, they may be related to the new Captain Bos since such problems run downhill! In conclusion, if we don't hear anything positive from HAL and not token, this will be our last HAL cruise! One final comment regarding ports on this cruise concerns the port of Haines! It is very disappointing, and must be free of any port charges to HAL. Only one shuttle bus was running to town because the other had broken down a few days before! Skip Haines and do Skagway! In summation, enjoy Alaska and Denali; but don't sail the Oosterdam, and maybe choose another cruise line! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We will not recommend this trip to friends. It was not what we expected. The pictures in Holland America's brochure were spectacular - Glacier Bay was amazing. But in fact when our ship pulled in to the bay on one of the very few ... Read More
We will not recommend this trip to friends. It was not what we expected. The pictures in Holland America's brochure were spectacular - Glacier Bay was amazing. But in fact when our ship pulled in to the bay on one of the very few sunny days, the Glacier was small and not even stunning - not at all the picture in their catalog. In two of the ports, Juneau and Ketchikan we were greeted with more of the same jewelry stores that were already on board ship with salesmen pressuring us on the sidewalks to enter and buy. Not the wilderness we expected to see. Upon embarkation in Seward we were "herded" into a warehouse where all 2000 guests were signing in to board. We were in line for hours, even though we had booked a Neptune Suite and were suppose to have special embarkation status - there were no Holland American agents working the line as you entered it to help you navigate to your correct spot. In addition when we did go up the gangplank and boarded our ship, despite what we paid there was no one to help us find our deck, elevators, or stateroom. We were surprised to see that everyone's luggage was being xrayed as well before being allowed on our ship. We all had previously been through TSA, and Customs - why the x ray - to find if you carried on your favorite bottle of scotch or wine. We heard from other guests how their bottles were taken and would not be returned until the disembarked the ship at the end of the cruise - unless they paid and $18.00 corkage fee per bottle! To us that was their personal property......! We had been looking forward to the food as we had heard it was wonderful. Again, we were disappointed Out of 5 stars the best we could give it is 3 and that was even with the evening in Le Cirque thrown in. I would not recommend the Pinnacle Grill or the evening in Le Cirque - they were overpriced for what you got. Our Stateroom on the other hand was very nice, and very well taken care of by our Stewards who were constantly available to help. Service in any of the restaurants was excellent as well as the bars. We were surprised though to hear the wait staff push whole bottles of wine on guests when they tried to order just a glass. Also, we overheard several Holland America staff pitching future cruises to several of the elderly guests. Disembarkation was as unorganized as embarkation - We will not recommend this trip . Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We arrived in Seward a few days early and took advantage of the many amenities offered. Stayed at the Windsong Lodge, highly recommend eating at Chinooks, Used Exit Glacier Guides for a Helicopter Ice Hiking trip and did the 6 hour fjord ... Read More
We arrived in Seward a few days early and took advantage of the many amenities offered. Stayed at the Windsong Lodge, highly recommend eating at Chinooks, Used Exit Glacier Guides for a Helicopter Ice Hiking trip and did the 6 hour fjord tour. Embarkation was absolutely painless. Took about 5 minutes just to walk through the cavernous building and get to the ship. There were no lines and we arrived around 4:00 p.m. Our balcony room was great. Offered a full shower and spa level toiletries. My only complaint about arrival is administrative. We wanted to use the unlimited laundry feature and you had to go in person to the front desk to sign the paper. (Even though the ticket indicated a box you could check for that feature.) Then, if you wanted to drink anything in the mini fridge, you also had to go to the front desk to activate that feature! Entertainment was good. Only made a few nights due to busy schedule on port days. Food was excellent. Service excellent. We had a meet and greet from our Cruise Critic roll call which was lovely. Unfortunately, not very many showed up for that and the ship laid out teas, coffees and light snacks. In addition, we met the Captain and most of the heads of department for the ship that night. One unsung gem that we completely enjoyed was the spa pass for the hydro whirlpool, heated/tile loungers and sauna. Totally worth the investment. We prepurchased a soda card at a discount...you can't use it for canned soda, only fountain. However they are also only $1.50 per drink, so the money went a long way. We encountered some rough seas (typical) and bad weather (fog), but the captain was good to slow down when the sun came out or the fog cleared. The ship also did a great job bringing any whales/wildlife to our attention and slowed for us to watch as well. We ate one evening at the Pinnacle Grill (Upcharge restaurant) and it was definitely worth the money. Our waiter even snuck us a small portion of one of the Vegetarian entrees for us to try. Dessert souffles were picture and taste perfect! Small nightclubs and piano lounge seating areas. Wasn't uncommon for us to sit in a less desirable place and move to more desirable as people left. Definitely an older crowd on the ship. There were some teens and younger children, but they were few and far between. Excursions: Haines - Wilderness adventure safari, Eagle preserve float Juneau - Taku Glacier Flight Seeing and Meal Ketchikan - Snorkeling I would give all of them excellent ratings. Debarkation was smooth as well. Not the cattle call at the dock that I am used to seeing and experiencing. It appeared that passengers actually waited for the tag to be called before they left their rooms. I would definitely sail Holland America again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
After very busy few days in Denali, we were really looking forward to boarding the ship for a little slower pace and some R and R.. After a long bus trip to Seward from Denali we were greeted by a long line waiting to obtain the necessary ... Read More
After very busy few days in Denali, we were really looking forward to boarding the ship for a little slower pace and some R and R.. After a long bus trip to Seward from Denali we were greeted by a long line waiting to obtain the necessary ship cards This took almost an hour and a half but then were able to embark and go to our cabin-- by this time it was after 5 We quickly went to the Lido for something to eat and then waited to play sardines for the much anticipated boat drill. Then we were finally able to take a deep breathe and enjoy the next six days. We had the most amazing room steward by the name of Komang, who couldn't do enough for us with the biggest smile. The Oosterdam has one of the nicest crews that we have had the pleasure of sailing with on the "dam"ships. The ship was extremely clean and well-maintained and easy to find your way around. There were numerous activities available and always something of interest to do. We especially like the computer and digital picture presentations. We had plenty of time in each port to experience at least one shore excursion or even two and time to shop. The transfer from the ship to the airport was well organized and went very smoothly. Just wish United Airlines was as organized! All in all we were pleased as usual with our Holland America experience---just tired when we reached home-and lots of laundry--and yes, nobody picked up the dirty towels on the bathroom floor so I had to do it! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We had the pleasure of visiting Alaska for 20 days, June 5th to June 24th. Included was the one week land tour with HAL - Fairbanks to Seward, and cruising on The Oosterdam - Seward to Vancouver. Let me say that the land tour was ... Read More
We had the pleasure of visiting Alaska for 20 days, June 5th to June 24th. Included was the one week land tour with HAL - Fairbanks to Seward, and cruising on The Oosterdam - Seward to Vancouver. Let me say that the land tour was outstanding although the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage was far below average compared to the hotels in Fairbanks, Denali, and Alyeska. The day long trip on The Mt. McKinley Explorer was worth the whole cost of the trip!! The other primary highlight was our time in Alyeska and naturally Denali too. We arrived by bus at Seward, were very quickly, and I do mean quickly, processed in, given cabin "key" and were onboard and in our room in no time. We were in cabin # 5168, balcony, port side, aft which is where we always like to be, location wise. Cabin was in great shape, plenty of closet and drawer space and our room stewards were outstanding, as always. We had plenty of time to grab some early lunch in the lido and disembarked and spent the whole afternoon exploring Seward. Nice little downtown area and a free shuttle to drop you off and pick up at different places around town. When we came back to the ship we noted a long line for people just arriving, but it also was moving quickly. Went to the muster drill, and then just explored the ship since we had anytime dining, which we like. I must tell you, after reading some negative reviews about this ship, we found The Oosterdam to be lovely, well maintained, well run, friendly crew and staff. We saw a little carpet wear on some of the steps but we also saw carpeting on these same steps being replaced during the cruise. We've been on a few cruises (29 to be exact, on 4 different lines) and The Oosterdam certainly meet our expectations. We ate all our breakfasts in the cabin, always delivered on time and nice and warm. We usually ate a small lunch in the lido which was always crowded at normal meal times, but we just "went with the flow" and had no problems. For dinner, anytime dining worked great for us. We were always asked if we wanted to sit with others or by ourselves and our fellow passengers, who we often sat with, were delightful. All the meals we ordered were very good, served hot with only an occasional delay in service, which didn't bother us at all. We're too cheap to eat in the speciality restaurants, so cannot address them. We were, as mentioned, very pleased with all the meals we ate in the MDR and the service. The evening productions shows were good although Northern Lights was much better than the Country/Rock show. The comedian and illusionist were both outstanding. We know that HAL is not known for late night partying and this cruise is somewhat itinerary intense, so we like most everyone else usually turned in around 2230 hrs! :) Glacier Bay cruising was outstanding and it was wonderful to be able to go in and out on the balcony. We actually enjoyed the stop at Haines and explored the TINY town before taking two tours with HAL. In Juneau we took a private tour to Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching. I knew that we HAD to walk down to the waterfall and back at Mendenhall and the HAL tours didn't seem to leave enough time for this. Our tour (Dolphin Jet Boat Tours) allowed us 90 minutes at Mendenhall, which was prefect. Whale watching with only 12 others was also great. We loved Ketchikan, and had beautiful sunshine almost all day too. One must walk over to Dolly House and the old red light district (now all shops) just for the beauty of the area and to see all the artists painting it. In the late afternoon we took the HAL Bering Sea Crab Tour. This tour is absolutely phenomenal. I cannot say enough good things about it and if you want pictures of bald eagles too, take this tour!! We were very pleased with The Oosterdam and salute all the crew member and staff on this beautiful and well operated vessel. :)   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Let me preface this with the admission that I know this review is long but I prefer to think of it as comprehensive! About us: My husband and I are in our 60’s and this was my fourth Alaskan cruise (his third) but our first land ... Read More
Let me preface this with the admission that I know this review is long but I prefer to think of it as comprehensive! About us: My husband and I are in our 60’s and this was my fourth Alaskan cruise (his third) but our first land journey. We are self-employed and were a little hesitant to be away from the office for so long but it all worked out well. Because we need to stay in touch while traveling I may include more info re internet access than you might need. In 2005 when we first cruised to Alaska with HAL we did most of our “must do” excursions figuring we would never return. Since we loved it so much and keep going back we only did a few excursions since most of those that interest us have been done at least once before. All of our cruises (8 for me/7 for him) have been on HAL. We liked it when we started in 2005 and see no reason to switch. There are parts of most cruises that we might like to change but for us the positives of HAL far outweigh to negatives. TAMPA TO ANCHORAGE: We began our journey on Wed. June 25 flying SWA from Tampa to Atlanta then on to Seattle. On the Tampa flight we were joined by a team of teen girls on their way to Seattle to a national soccer tournament. In Atlanta we picked up another team of teen girls. They were obviously excited about their adventure but were not annoyingly noisy. Flights were uneventful. In case you are wondering, when I accompany my husband on SWA I fly free so that had bearing on our flight choices. We stayed at the Marriott SEA/TAC Wed. night and ate dinner in their restaurant and got a complimentary breakfast buffet the next morning. Our Delta flight to Anchorage wasn’t until early afternoon so we were not rushed. Delta’s baggage scale was not calibrated to my luggage scale so there was some shifting of items between bags at check in but that was easily accomplished. We arrived in Anchorage and as soon as we reached the baggage claim area we saw the HAL reps. They tagged and gathered our carry-on bags then asked us to claim our checked ones and then took those as well to transfer to the hotel. After only a short delay to gather other passengers we were bussed to the Westmark Anchorage. I admit to some trepidation about the hotel after reading reviews calling it “utilitarian”, “average”, etc. but was pleasantly surprised. The room was very clean and roomy with a separate sleeping alcove with a king bed and a living room area with plenty of seating and a usable desk. We were given a welcome packet with all info for the trip to Denali. I had made a reservation through Open Table at the Glacier Brewhouse across the street. Very smart move as when we arrived for our 6:30 pm time we heard many, many people leave in dismay when told the wait without a reservation was over an hour. Dinner was good. In the welcome packet we were given a choice of either traveling with all of our luggage or having some held in Anchorage to be delivered directly to the ship. We chose to travel with just our carry-ons so I juggled items around as the bags going directly to the ship had to be outside the door before retiring. I’ll admit to my only screw-up of the trip here: I forgot that my nicely laminated Oosterdam luggage tags were in the inside pocket of one of our large bags; a fact I would not realize until we arrived in Denali. It all worked out but I did have some worries due to my forgetfulness! ANCHORAGE TO DENALI: Thursday morning we had to be downstairs to board the bus to the train station at 7:15 AM so we opted for Starbucks from the location in the Westmark lobby. The hotel has a breakfast buffet but we had heard great things about the lunch on the train so we decided or normal coffee would be enough. (More on that theory…). The Westmark holding area was very congested as people determined which bus they belonged on but after a brief delay we were on our way. We arrived at the Anchorage train station in about 15 minutes and there they were…the McKinley Explorer domed rail cars! Boarding was quick as seats were pre-assigned. Seats were comfy and visibility was great. Our carry-on bags were collected and I believe they were trucked to Denali. Each rail car holds about 48 passengers and has a tour guide and bartender. The bar is located on the top level with the main seating while the lower level has the dining room and restrooms. After only a brief safety/procedures review we were on our way. We were given our Denali welcome packets that included our hotel room keys. Guests were given the option of going down for breakfast and perhaps half did and reported the food was good. The bar was open and I recommend the Bloody Mary made with Alaska Frostbite Vodka! The ride was smooth and the guide and bartender both offered scenic information and amusing stories. Guests were soon asked if they wished to plan on lunch downstairs and we signed up. Lunch service began around noon but due to “sharing a kitchen with 2 rail cars” the service was slow and guests had to wait until they were instructed it was their turn to go down. Unfortunately our turn did not come until 3PM! There were snacks available for purchase so we didn’t starve but boy, we were hungry! Two observations: it would have been nice to know in advance that breakfast was available on the train and also been advised that lunch might be as late as 3PM. Both bits of information would have altered out decisions. Lunch was great once we got it. I had a crab melt sandwich and husband had “award winning“ reindeer chili. Too many scenic spots on this route to mention but we thoroughly enjoyed it and we arrived at the Denali train station around 5PM. We were bussed to the McKinley Chalet Resort. We were in one of the ground floor cabins located at the back of the area where the main lodge is located. We found our carry-on bags in our room when we arrived. Our room had 2 sleeping areas each with a queen size bed and the bathroom between. This was fine for us and we each picked a bed. The couple assigned the unit next to us took exception and was successful in being reassigned to a room with a king bed. DENALI: I had planned on dinner at Prospector’s Pizza across the street but once we got organized and trekked over there in the drizzle/mud we found the wait to be 1 ½ hour so we returned to the McKinley Chalet and got on the list for the nicer of their 2 restaurants Nenana View Bar & Grill. The wait was only slightly shorter than if we’d opted for pizza but we enjoyed a beverage in front of a roaring fire while we waited. After a pleasant meal we turned in due to our early call for the Tundra Wilderness Tour. Because we were still on east coast time we were up early and had breakfast in Sourdough Trading Company casual restaurant then met in the lobby for our 7:15AM tour start time. This tour is a parks department tour and the transportation is on refurbished school buses. The seats are comfortable but there is nothing fancy about the buses. We received a snack box containing cookies, chips, crackers, cheese, gummy candy, hummus, etc. and a bottle of water. The Starbucks at the McKinley Chalet prepares box lunches for those that pre-ordered the night before but we were fine with the snack box as well as some other snacks I brought along. Our driver was a naturalist as well as a professional photographer and he was wonderful! We were lucky to see many caribou, several moose, squirrels, dall sheep and grizzly bear. There were many stops for wildlife viewing and the driver also had a video camera with screens located throughout the bus so we could get close up looks. Those screens also offer a great way to get close up photos. Our bus went to 62 miles into the park which was still 35 miles from Mr. McKinley. The highest elevation we were at was 3,940 feet. Due to clouds we were not among the 30% that get to see the entire mountain from the tour. We arrived back at the Chalet around 3:15 PM. At 3:45 PM we were picked up by ERA for our Denali Helicopter Tour. This tour was amazing! We’ve done the heli/dog sledding in Juneau and thought that was great but this was even better since in that tour the helicopter is more transportation to get to the glacier dog camp and today we had a 40 minute helicopter tour with fantastic view of the mountain and the surrounding magnificence! We were treated to bright clear skies and even saw a group of caribou cooling off on a snow bed. After our long but amazing day, we headed to the casual Sourdough Trading Company casual restaurant for a great dinner. Returning to our room to prepare for Sunday’s trip to meet the ship in Seward I realized that I didn’t have our luggage tags so I visited the tour desk in the hotel and they gave me tags that said Seward on them and I filled in the ship name, our cabin number etc. Luckily the Oosterdam was the only HAL ship in port that day so the bags made it there without a hitch. DENALI TO SEWARD: After breakfast in the Nenana View Bar & Grill we bid goodbye to Denali and boarded the HAL Explorer Coach for what should have been a 10 hour trip. The driver gave brief scenic comments but not nearly to the extent as the train staff. Our delays began with our first rest stop. We arrived to find 4 other buses already at this location so the lines were long. Also, know that these facilities are rustic, and odorous. Luckily I had on a sweatshirt that I pulled over my nose and it was bearable but not at all pleasant. The next stop was complimentary lunch in Wasilla at Settlers Bay Lodge. They have a sandwich buffet with potato and pasta salad, cookies and beverage. There were several buses but service was fast and efficient and lunch was good. We all took advantage of their bathrooms. There is a convenience store adjacent which has a large liquor/wine selection and I pick up 2 bottles of wine as our no corkage in-cabin bottles. After lunch we were stuck in an hour long construction delay when 3 lanes of traffic went down to 1 lane. After a final rest stop which was pretty much the same as the first one, we finally reached the ship in Seward around 6:30 PM. BOARDING: Because we were one of several buses that had been delayed the boarding area was very congested. We were glad that we could go to the Suite passenger line and even happier with our greeting there. As I reported on Cruise Critic earlier we had booked a Neptune Suite but had been offered an up-sell to one of the 2 Pinnacle (Penthouse) Suites. Once checked in, we were escorted through the security line, then to the wine check in table and onto the beautiful Oosterdam. Once on board we were escorted to the suite and given a complete tour with brief instructions of how things work/where things are located. The suite was even better in person than it looked on the HAL web site. We especially appreciated the powder room. We had booked with the Explore 4 package for our beverage cards were waiting for us as well as our complimentary Pinnacle dinner (scheduled for the following night at 8 pm). Our luggage that had been stored was there when we arrived and our carry-ons from Denali arrived shortly. Muster drill was at 7:30PM and we went immediately from there to our 7:45 dinner. There was a captain’s welcome reception but we decided not to attend. Dinner was great with a good table for 2 and attentive servers. Because we had the beverage cards we had wine by the glass so the beverage server never even visited us. AT SEA DAY & GLACIER BAY: We enjoy breakfast in the Pinnacle and had wonderful service every day. We spent most of our sea day in our suite. Although on vacation, my husband had work to do. As is often the case, the internet was slow and expensive but for us that’s a necessary cost of cruising. We enjoyed daily visits to the Explorations Café, had lunch in the dining room one day where they were very apologetic that since it was close to the end of the serving time they did not have a window table available for us. We assured them it wasn’t a big deal! I usually visited the Neptune Lounge to get snacks for our in suite happy hour. The concierge volunteered that we could have hot and cold hors d’oeuvres delivered to our suite so we tried that one night and were amazed when an ample portion arrived along with a white tablecloth and fine china and silver as my husband’s work table was transformed into a fine dining table. Our Pinnacle dinner was perfect both food and service. Our day at Glacier Bay was brilliant and sunny and we had great views as well as a few instances of calving that we witnessed. HAINES: Our first order of business in Haines was to find internet. There is a free shuttle bus in town so we hopped on and were told the closest spot was “The Rusty Compass” where for the price of a cup of great coffee we got the password for an hour of free internet. Amazing how much you can get done when the internet speed is as quick as normal! We had a great excursion here: Nature & Wildlife Expedition. We were bused to Chikoot Lake State Park. One the way there was a great stop for bald eagle viewing. They placed scopes out and focused them on eagle’s nests. Just as one of the guides was showing me how to put my I-phone camera up to the scope lens to take a photo the eagle took off so I got a great in flight shot. On the way to the park we passed the Salmon Counting Station which is a fence with a small opening where a Fish & Game guy was counting (by variety) every salmon that passed through. These counts determine the number of salmon fisherman and their length of fishing time for the following week. At the park we took a guided forest hike with stops to discuss flora and fauna we saw. This was a very informative and fun excursion. JUNEAU: No need to seek out internet in Juneau because once docked all our electronics had clear signals right from our suite. We ventured into town briefly to buy gifts for the grandkids. After lunch we left again to go on our Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest with Allen Marine. We have been on several whale watching trips before and had always seen whales but never like this! Soon after we left we encountered 6 whales bubble net feeding. We stayed about 30 minutes and got great views. When we left we went to a buoy where Stellar Sealions were gathered. After all passengers got a good look at the sealions we were on our way again and came upon another group of bubble net feeding whales, twelve this time! According to the guides this feeding only happens a couple of weeks a season so it’s pretty rare to get to see it and very rare to see it twice in the same trip. KETCHIKAN & INSIDE PASSAGE CRUISING: Because we have been to Ketchikan many times and it was July 4th with 5 cruise ships in town and a local parade, we opted a day of R & R on board. There was a Captain’s Reception held on Friday night in the Crow’s Nest. We attended and it seemed to us that there was a higher number of officers present. We’ve been to these when only a very few came but that was not the case this time. During the night Friday night the seas were rough and we woke up Saturday to rain and white caps. Once we were to the Inside Passage things calmed down although it remained overcast and wet. This had been the day we planned to try out the hot tub on our balcony. The weather dictated that we could have done that as a photo opt but decided not to bother. We had been told we needed to let the concierge know if we wanted the hot tub filled so rather than bother the staff we decided to forego the hot tub experience. The Mariner’s Brunch was on Saturday and we missed it but the concierge delivered our tiles to our suite. The remainder of the day/evening was uneventful and everything was packed and ready to go outside before bedtime. VANCOUVER TO TAMPA: Disembarkation was smooth and we took a cab to the downtown Avis location to pick up our rental car. Because we had time to kill we told our navigation that we wanted to avoid interstate highways as we headed to the border. This gave us a nice scenic drive and only about 30 minutes to cross the border at the Peace Arch station. The reason we opted to take the “slow road” was because we wanted to stop for a special lunch. When we did this trip in reverse in 2005 we had lunch at The Oyster Bar on the Chuckanut Drive and it was so great we wanted to repeat it this trip. They opened at 11:30 AM so we stopped several times at scenic Pacific overlooks along the route. Lunch was divine and we decided to continue with our backroads trek to Seattle. Once in town we stopped at Pike Place Market and walked around but it was very hot and very crowded so we went ahead and checked into the SeaTac Marriott and after resting went back to Elliott’s Oyster House on the pier for a great end of vacation dinner. No issues checking into our 8:50 AM Alaska Air direct flight to Tampa and although slightly delayed we arrived in Tampa only 20 minutes after our original 5 PM arrival time. GENERAL INFO: We both agreed that the stars aligned to make this the best of all our trips to Alaska. Of course the penthouse played a major role in that but all excursions were terrific, the weather was better than we had experienced in the past. This trip it was generally cool and although not sunny everyday it didn’t rain too much either. When you live in Florida it’s a treat to get to wear sweatshirts for a week in summertime! The Explore 4 beverage cards were a great plus! We are not big drinkers but ended up drinking more than our norm as well as getting bottles of water and coffee drinks daily. I don’t think we maxed the cards out a single day but we sure had fun trying! Food is very subjective but we give thumbs up to all of our food choices. We had dinner in the Pinnacle twice…once for our free Explore 4 dinner and again on the last night after being asked by the Pinnacle manager several times to please come back again. Only food issue was lack of spinach! Eggs Florentine is one of the breakfast choices and on day 2 or 3 I ordered it only to be told there was no spinach on board. I continued to ask every morning and was told that they went to Walmart in Ketchikan to try to buy spinach but were unsuccessful. Oddly when we had our second dinner at the Pinnacle I inquired if in fact they had the spinach that is on their menu and was told yes. I didn’t order it to find out if it would truly show up. Lack of spinach was not an issue but rather became a running joke between my husband and I. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I will start with the bottom line, one of the more expensive vacations we have taken, Holland America provided the least value of any cruise line or vacation package we have ever purchased. I fell for the pitch Holland America has been ... Read More
I will start with the bottom line, one of the more expensive vacations we have taken, Holland America provided the least value of any cruise line or vacation package we have ever purchased. I fell for the pitch Holland America has been doing Alaska package the longest in the Alaska area and were the best. They cannot stand up to Royal Caribbean or Disney Cruise Lines. We take 2 vacations a year and usually I plan each one a year in advance to ensure we can participate in the activities we are interested in. Biggest mistake, I left the planning to Holland America. One week on land, one week on the water. We travel as a family of 4, 2 teenage boys included. Won't bore you with a novel, just bullet statements to share the comedy of errors Holland America laid on us. - When arranging rooms at hotels for land package, we were separated as a family by being assigned rooms apart from each other. I booked this vacation months in advance, you think they could get a clue and notice the same last name on the reservations? -rooms had no AC. I understand we were in Alaska, but the rooms were stuffy. We were told to open the windows. One hotel, The Chalet in Delani was set up in separate building. We were in the last building in the "loop" therefore the shuttles were always filled. We had to run to make our excursion. No ironing board or iron in the room. Overall, hotel selection was average at best throughout the trip. Exception- The Alyeska Hotel and Resort, very nice. -bus driver "William" did not know how to operate the lift to assist an ADA individual, wasting close to an hour to figure it out. Then instead of allowing all to board the bus or get off the bus, William made everyone wait until he was able to service the ADA individual. Because of this, we were last in line for all activities, again, not allowing us to enjoy the activity as a family. We could not get seats together. The whole trip, Holland America drivers seemed to be last in line. Our family is up and out early to avoid these types of situations. -from transfer to transfer, new baggage tags had to be filled out with detailed information in order to get your bags to the next stop. Come on Holland America, it is 2014, pre-printed labels would be nice. A number of items in the baggage were damage during transit, worse than the airlines if you can believe it. -the stateroom my wife and I had on the cruise ship had defective or broken throughout. Reported immediately and none were ever resolved. Stateroom attendants were great, as usual. Rooms were smaller than any other ship we have been on, but yet were the most expensive. We had a verandah room, curtains were torn therefore you could not keep the light out (Alaska had 22 hours of light during the day while there). -attitude of staff on board the ship, the worst we ever experienced. they seemed angry they were working there. outside of the stateroom attendants, we found 2 bartenders that had a great attitude and were fun to be around. -food, average at best, if you get any. We are average size people who do not gorge ourselves at meals. Half way through the serving period, the servers would run out of many selections and just shut it down. I have never seen anything like it on a ship before. This included coffee! When ordering a soft drink with our meals, we never received the drink until we were completely finished with our meals. Service was terrible throughout. Servers were very slow. -ship was replacing carpet while cruising. Give me break, they only have 3-4 months to travel in this part of the country, have the ship ready. Many other flaws in other areas, ship not up kept properly. -captain never shut up. once on the speaker, he loved to hear himself talk. -laundry service, one day folded everything in a basket, the next time everything thrown in the basket leaving it totally wrinkled with no iron to press. -purchased a DVD package (3 DVD's for $65) of "our" cruise. Not quite sure what cruise we got, but wasn't ours. Just some clips of the different stops from a different time. -we had 4 hours to catch our flight after receiving our time to get off the ship. Due to the poor transfer system Holland America practices, we barely made out flight. Terrible system. Slow and unorganized. -I could go on and on. Terrible experience. When you spend a good amount of money on a vacation, you expect a bit more. Surprised people travel Holland America, they have not experienced other cruise lines that do a much better job. Extremely sorry I allowed them to coordinate the land package. Many other cruise lines in Alaska, I would try any of them in place of Holland. By the way, I completed their survey, they got back to me and told me if I wanted to discuss the concerns further, call them. That should tell you something. They should have made that call. Alaska is beautiful, go see it, just do not do it with Holland America at the helm, you will be sorry. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Just got back from a 12-day HAL Denali-plus-Oosterdam trip (Seward-Vancouver cruise) and here are my thoughts. I’ve read all the comments on this board and I’m an intense observer once on the ship. There were six of us who went on the ... Read More
Just got back from a 12-day HAL Denali-plus-Oosterdam trip (Seward-Vancouver cruise) and here are my thoughts. I’ve read all the comments on this board and I’m an intense observer once on the ship. There were six of us who went on the trip together. Overall – Best cruise I have been on in six years covering 6 cruises on three different cruise lines. Well run ship. But HAL still has some dining staff issues to address. Oosterdam Appearance – I had read a bunch of negative comments on this board about the condition of the ship being shabby. I really saw none of that – in fact, the ship looked 99% great to the point I went “wow.” I would assume they pulled it out of service and/or really worked on it this past month because much of the carpeting looked brand new, furniture mostly in good shape, and paint looked fine. It looked so good, in fact, it put an extra spring in my step! Our interior room was fine -- clean, well kept. Oosterdam Staff -- The non-dining room staff was energetic, smiling and focused on getting work done. Cabin steward fine. Front desk staff and general management fine. But the staff in the Lido area and in the dining room was sub-par in my estimation – waiters and cooks. In the Lido, even though I pointed out the Hollandaise sauce was borderline cold, let alone lukewarm, nothing changed during the week. In the main dining room, service was sluggish – one night I had to get the supervisor’s attention to get our meals delivered to our table – they had forgotten about us! Pinnacle restaurant staff was mediocre, too – not up to snuff for a five star meal presentation, and downright clumsy at some points. HAL does a great job in many areas, but for some reason they continue to let food areas staff -- Lido, Pinnacle and main dining room -- to be their cruise Achilles heel and prevent them from being very good. I don’t get it. HAL needs to get the message across to its restaurant staff that they, and their company are in competition with others; and people do make cruise decisions based on dining staff effectiveness as well as the food! Another issue – the infirmary. My wife was diagnosed with no more than a cold but she really had a sinus infection which now has lasted a miserable two weeks! Mis-diagnosis for the $105 doctor visit fee! Not happy. Food – Lido food has decent variety, but is very bland. I loved the salad bar. The pizza wasn’t too bad! They serve you the soft serve ice cream, which is an OK process. Ice cream was usually sugar-free and good. In the main dining room, the overall quality of the food and variety on the menu was superior to the last two cruises I was on – Carnival and RCL – but overall the quality of food on cruise ships ain’t what it used to be. At least the lobster deal was decent – our table asked for seconds. I found the meat and veal to be average, but acceptable. The ladies rated the desserts as decent, but not spectacular tasting. Pinnacle Restaurant – All six of us had a great, great meal. The halibut with shrimp was amazing. One of our team said the salmon was the best she had ever eaten, and she eats it all the time. Steaks were done right. But the fantastic food was offset by the non-enthusiastic service of the wait staff. We had a couple celebrating their honeymoon and the wait staff managed to partially bungle the presentation of the cake dessert and didn’t have the staff sing to them, as they told me they would do. Entertainment – HAL seems to get a lot of criticism for on-board entertainment, but I thought the singers and dancers on this cruise were good. Also enjoyed the HAL Cats pop group and Adagio, the violinist and pianist, although I think the Moscow-based Adagio duo on this cruise could do more to interact with the audience. Larry the piano bar man was fine. Although some said his choice of music should be more upbeat. We had a very active cruise director – more so than recent cruises. Ports of Call – Glacier Bay was amazing. Attend the ranger presentation – very informative. For Glacier Bay, sit in the Crow’s Nest or go out on deck where they keep warm blowers on and it’s not as cold as you think it will be. Good job, HAL with the on-deck blowers! Haines is pretty, but pretty much a waste as a stop. Juneau has so much to offer – great whale-watching tours and the tram to Mt. Roberts and subsequent movie, show and hiking trails activity atop the mountain were fantastic, a trip highlight. The Alaska String Company family folk group is an absolute gem, a must see. I was stunned how good they are and learned they travel internationally and have a PBS special. Scenery – Amazing views coming down the passage on the water, especially the last day before hitting port in Vancouver. Sitting in the Crow’s Nest with my binoculars, I saw five humpback whales put on quite a show for us. We also had dolphins and seals around us. Overall, didn’t see as much wildlife as I expected. Sit in the Crow’s Nest your last day and enjoy the views. Play bridge or watch sports when you get home! Embarkation and Debarkation – Very smooth, well done HAL. Denali Land Tour Before the Cruise – The sites in Denali are amazing, but HAL needs to re-work the logistics for passengers from the time they arrive by plane in Anchorage till they depart Denali by bus for Seward. What a mess. We had pre-paid a ride on a HAL secured bus to the hotel in Anchorage and the whole process was a mess. Much easier with a taxi. Passengers had many problems understanding luggage instructions – what goes to Seward what to take to Denali. The baggage handling instructions we got before the trip did not match what we saw on the ground in Anchorage and at Denali. Poor communication by HAL that luggage wouldn’t reach many McKinley Chalet rooms until 8. People fretted for several hours till they got their luggage, spoiling their initial evening at Denali. The train trip to the McKinley Chalet in Denali was very good and the food was even better. I strongly suggest the crab salad/sandwich for lunch. At McKinley Chalet, we were placed in a cabin way back from the main cabin and didn’t have WiFi access from there or access to ice and soda machines. Poor. I thoroughly enjoyed the Wilderness Tundra trip that comes free with the Denali HAL package as we went 62 miles into the park. Some harrowing, twisting roads but incredible vistas in this rugged country. Tour guides/drivers reall yearn their pay, believe me. But the “snack” they included was totally inadequate . We learned about the minimalist “snack” prior to the trip, and many of us were angered we had to expend the time to stand in line and buy our own box lunch to have a sandwich for this 8 hour trip. Poor on HAL’s part not to include a nice box lunch – just add on $10 to the trip cost for heaven’s sake! Saw some wildlife, including a close encounter with a grizzly, but all in all didn’t see anywhere near the quantity of wildlife we hoped to see. But the whole Denali landscape is worth seeing. Be prepared for chilly weather like we experienced in mid-June -- it may not be cold when you go but you ,may regret not taking warm layers of clothing. You will see Mt. McKinley in its glory about 30% of the time. It’s hidden majority of the time. Bus trip from Denali to Seward was long, but went faster than expected thanks to our great driver/guide.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers with 20+ cruises under our respective belts, both in our mid-50's. We traveled as a party of eight with our adult children aged 24 to 41 years. This is the fifth time we've visited Alaska, third time we've sailed with HAL, and second time on the Oosterdam. The train from Anchorage to Seward was spectacular, with good food and comfortable seating. We missed the track wash-out by one day, thankfully. The ship is very pretty and well designed in her layout with an incredible amount of intriguing art. We never had a problem getting around and found all public spaces quite easily. The demographics onboard this particular sailing veered towards the over-70 crowd. There were very few young people and virtually no small children sailing this third week of June. We were a bit surprised by this as we typically have seen more families on cruise ships in Alaska. Surprisingly there were only two cruise directors onboard and a very limited number of activities day and night. There were daily trivia games, two karaoke hours for the week, some dancing, one hour of disco each night, a few production shows, and a VERY old and tired out piano bar set-up. We were (jokingly) asked to leave when we requested something a bit more rock-and-roll. We did leave. This ship tidied up and shut down by 10:30 or 11pm each evening. Oh, the magician and comedian were both excellent. If you're looking for night life... you won't find it here. That being said - the food was absolutely delicious, the service in the MDR was gracious, and our cabin steward was phenomenal. One food regret for me was the Pinnacle Grill. I had so looked forward to this and my steak was chalky and dry. Yuck. The chocolate dessert was an oily bowl of soup with no consistency. Very out of character. I also had a bit of trouble in Explorations Cafe. They just couldn't get the hot chocolate right and told me they were out of chocolate syrup. We found staff for the most part to be accommodating, friendly, and vivacious in most areas. Check out the Pinnacle Bar and Ocean Bar for some light-hearted fun with the bar staff. We didn't shop or use the computer at all so I can't comment to those areas. The spa was gloriously serene and the Thermal Suite/Therapy Pool areas were pure bliss. Passenger services were on top of the few issues we had and Captain Boss kept us well informed throughout the voyage. The aft balcony cabins we booked were amazing with very little jiggle.  We had four aft cabins on Deck 7 and loved them. The balcony doors were opened the entire time so we could visit and relax together. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of room with a smallish sofa, table, and extra storage seat. Our verandah had two wicker sitting chairs and one chaise lounge. There was plenty of hanging closet space and storage for everything we brought. We could easily have stored a few weeks' worth of clothes, shoes, etc. in this cabin. You may think there'd be noise in the back, but inside the cabin it was silent. The sound of the ocean and ship's wake were only heard on the balcony. Loved the bathtub/shower combination too - you won't find that on many other cruise lines in a lower category balcony cabin. Weather at this time of year was a bit rainy out of Anchorage, but the sun came out most every afternoon. Passing through Seymour Narrows at midnight was very cool. Would I book HAL again? Maybe for the food and service, but if I wanted to have a little more fun in the evenings, I might check out one of my other favorite cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I'm not at all a cruise person. I generally travel with no plan and float from place to place. I only went on one because I was the companion of my elderly grandfather. There were times I felt a bit too much like I was part of a ... Read More
I'm not at all a cruise person. I generally travel with no plan and float from place to place. I only went on one because I was the companion of my elderly grandfather. There were times I felt a bit too much like I was part of a cattle heard. I also wish I'd gotten to see more of the less commercial parts of Alaska. Despite the above though there were parts I liked. The staff were all, with few exceptions, really great people who seemed to care that the passengers were having a good experience (or at least faked it convincingly). As odd as it might sound some of the best parts of my experience came due to starting off with an injured back. I went to an acupuncture consult with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised to find the professional working there, Justus Verre, was incredibly skilled, in addition to being personable and dedicated to helping his clients. I did 5 sessions with him, which included learning stretches and exercises for home. I felt they were worth every penny. My only regret is that I won't be able to continue seeing him for treatment off ship. He recommended I use the thermal spa and I did daily. It has a mineral soak, steam room, and heated ceramic lounge chairs (with great views). It both helped my back and turned into my favorite place to relax. Another thing I found particularly enjoyable was the art gallery and events. I wasn't a collector when I went on and honestly attended the first event for free champagne. I stayed because the auctioneer, (I think her name was Heather) and her assistants were welcoming and made learning about art fun. While I didn't purchase on board, I am seriously considering starting to collect and will remember my first experience with Park West as positive thanks to them. The photographers also did a great job, were friendly and fun. One of the best pictures I have with my grandfather is from the ship. I'm a bit of a foodie and my grandfather preferred the more casual dining option. I found the meals good but not exceptional. Our one meal at the lido was also good. The service everywhere was GREAT! I took a fun mixology class, but was disappointed that there weren't more people there. Our steward, Riyadi was also wonderful. My grandfather infrequently left the cabin and wasn't the easiest to deal with but Riyadi worked hard to make sure he stayed happy. He also taught me to make a towel monkey!! The entertainment was good but I found it a bit corny at times... I don't think it was aimed at my demographic. I particularly enjoyed the guitarist in the crow's nest. The nature programs were very good and Kelly (?) who did excursions really seemed to know her stuff (I'm jealous of her life/range of experiences). I also used the library often and appreciated the place where you could take/leave paperbacks. We did multiple excursions which all met our expectations. Downsides included feeling like many of the activities were either at an additional cost or seemed designed to sell you something. The front desk staff must have a very challenging job but I found them the least friendly and least helpful. We had an issue with the drain in our cabin the first night. Our steward looked at it and tried to fix it and couldn't. He said he'd call maintenance. I followed up twice with the desk before they sent someone to look at it (14 hours later). When I went to let them know about it, I felt like my bringing up the problem was an inconvenience for them. I don't recall them ever saying they were sorry for the inconvenience to us. Traveling with my grandfather who has lower mobility, I was surprised at how little was done for accommodating those with challenges. It was particularly an issue during the life boat drill when he couldn't get positioned where he could hear or read lips. We also weren't able to locate an option for him to both see and hear the presentation at Glacier Bay (which was a particular disappointment). They did have servers who helped him get and bring his meal back to the table though which was great. Overall it was the best options for the two of us to see multiple destinations in Alaska. Were I traveling with him again I might do something similar, it isn't what I'd pick on my own.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Oosterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.5 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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