Sail Date: August 2019
We chose this as we had never done a B.I. cruise. The weather was pretty good overall as we only used an umbrella once. The ship was good but the crew was great! We ate in Blu and wee very surprised at the quality of the food and the ... Read More
We chose this as we had never done a B.I. cruise. The weather was pretty good overall as we only used an umbrella once. The ship was good but the crew was great! We ate in Blu and wee very surprised at the quality of the food and the outstanding service. We have eaten in other Blu restaurants that were not nearly as good. The cabins are dreadfully small but they are functional. The overall entertainment was average. When the DJ gets more people to show than the live acts there is a problem. One nice touch was a sign in every elevator showing the disembarkation deck at every port. I have been waiting for this change for 20 years. Finally! However, some of the ports had ridiculous 2 and 3 deck slopes to get off. This was a definite weak spot for this cruise especially for handicap folks. A real challenge. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2019
Alaska is always a great destination, even when it was cold and rainy. But my concern is that the food on NCL seems to have gone downhill rapidly since our last cruise on the Jade last September. It was bland. Buffet looked like they ... Read More
Alaska is always a great destination, even when it was cold and rainy. But my concern is that the food on NCL seems to have gone downhill rapidly since our last cruise on the Jade last September. It was bland. Buffet looked like they had thrown together and mashed the food together from the night before on several occasions. Even the meals in the dining room sub par. My daughter had to remind the waiter on 3 occasions about missed things and one night a waiter got the orders wrong 4 different times. He just wasn't listening. Nodding his head and off he went. That happened more often then usual from our past cruises. We were Mid ship 5067 and 5069. Inside. But don't ever book anything in that area because the bars are above you and all you get until 2 in the morning is banging, sliding of equipment and noises I never knew existed. Sleep was challenging to say the least. If you have any mobility problems don't do the Thermal Spa. Trying to get in and out of the hot tubs was difficult. I wasted $186 and could only go there once. I was terrified I'd fall trying to get in and out. I was not the only one who felt that way. Others had the same concerns. Unfortunately when they refurbished by the Jewel and the Jade they left the seats in the Stardust theatre with no upgrades. When you sit down it is almost like falling onto the floor and the seats are slanted downward so it is uncomfortable. Unless there is a destination only NCL does at a decent price, I am not sure I would cruise with them again. The specialty restaurants were okay but found the ones on the Jade better. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We were a group of 3 couples & a travel agent recommended this cruise & itinerary. In addition to the cruise we also booked a 3 day land tour. Our trip didn’t start very well, as we all flew out of Chicago O’hare Airport for ... Read More
We were a group of 3 couples & a travel agent recommended this cruise & itinerary. In addition to the cruise we also booked a 3 day land tour. Our trip didn’t start very well, as we all flew out of Chicago O’hare Airport for the land portion to Anchorage. Our initial departure of 9:35am turned out to be 10:20pm, due to a brief storm early that morning. The delay was awful. We finally arrived at our hotel in Anchorage about 3:30-4am. We had to have our luggage out at 6am with a full day Glass Dome Train Ride to Denali. We were obviously exhausted. The train ride was really nice with dining facilities on the 1st level of each car & reserved seating on the 2nd floor with all Glass Dome to view the beautiful landscape. Unfortunately there was a family of 21 people in our car with about 6 of them children 6-12 years old. They were understandably noisy as kids would be, but it made for a very disturbing ride, especially with how tired we all were. We had breakfast in the dining level which was very good & peaceful. Our waiter suggested taking a walk to the last car where we could be outside looking at the scenery. It was a great suggestion, although we were in the first car & there were 9 cars. We had to traverse up and down two sets of stairways in each car to get back to the 9th car caboose. The reason was each car had their own kitchen so we couldn’t walk straight through. It was interesting to see how peaceful all of the other cars were without the young kids. In hindsight we should have asked if there were 6 seats available in a different car. We finally arrived in Denali where we checked into our room at the Chalet Lodge, which is owned by Holland America. Our luggage was already in our room. I will say Holland America is unbelievably well organized & ALL of their staff on land & sea were outstanding. Always had a welcoming smile even when just passing by. The next day we did the included Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour through Denali National Park in a somewhat modified school bus. Not real comfortable. The tour was about 8 hours. Our driver & tour guide, Steve, was a great driver, especially when going along the edge of the narrow roads way up high. He was very knowledgeable but unfortunately he had no personality. His narrations throughout the tour came across monotonous which made for a very boring day. Others on the bus had the same sentiment. We did stop along the way several times & saw some bears, moose & bald eagles that made the trip somewhat interesting. But it didn’t make up for Steve’s demeanor. He seems like a really nice guy, but he doesn’t have the ability to make a tour like this interesting. It made for a very long day. That night we went to The Music of Denali, combination dinner & show. The all you can eat food was very good but we were rushed & it felt like the food was being thrown at us. The waitstaff also were the actors in the sophomoric music show that followed. It was a fun time & was at extra cost, not included in the land package. In the Denali Chalet Resort there is a small square area that had a restaurant & some shops. There also was outside seating with a guy playing guitar & singing popular songs. It was very relaxing & entertaining to sit outside & listen to his music each night while in Denali.The next day was a full day motor coach ride to Seward where we started the cruise. Our driver/narrator, Mike, was just the opposite of Steve. He kept us engaged with his enthusiasm, knowledge & humor. He made the drive very interesting with several stops along the way. We were fortunate to be in the 30% that were able to see Mt. Denali/McKinley. When we arrived in Seward at the port our embarkation was amazingly smooth & fast. We soon were in our cabin. Our luggage was in our cabin too. We didn’t have to wait for it which was very nice. We soon met our two cabin stewards who were very nice & did a great job always keeping our cabin fresh. We opted for a cabin with a balcony & the other two couples did an ocean view without a balcony We were very glad we did the balcony. It gave us a little extra room to chill out with beautiful views. Unfortunately for our friends their cabins were just below the dining room kitchen which every morning had loud noises of carts rolling above them & often could hear loud banging noise starting at 5-6 every morning. When they complained to Guest Services they were each provided a bottle of wine, hardly reasonable compensation. The next two days we were at Sea, one of which was cruising around Glacier Bay. It was beautiful & relaxing. It was nice having a vantage point from the bow of the ship, which is normally closed to the public. They served pea soup & hot chocolate was also available. We had open seating for the evening dining which did work out & gave us lots of flexibility for our evening dinners. The cuisine overall on the ship I would rate a strong 7, it was very good. One night we ate in the Pinnacle Grill, one of the specialty restaurants. It was excellent. I had a huge order of king crab legs & my wife had a steak. The service & staff on the entire cruise were extremely friendly & welcoming, always with a smile! The entertainment was excellent as well. The band in the BB King Lounge were fantastic as well as the piano players/singers playing dueling pianos. The Lincoln Center had a nice orchestra too. Also every night there was a show in the Main Showroom with a nice variety of talent, singers, comedian, illusionist & more. Very entertaining. We took some excursions, in Haines we went on a Jet-boat Tour. The driver/narrator was egotistical & there wasn’t much wildlife that we saw. Not a great tour. In Juneau we went on a Whale Watching Cruise on a smaller not crowded boat that was excellent. We saw Killer Whales & lots of Pods of Orcas. Great excursion. Afterwards we did a Helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier with Dog Sledding. That was the highlight of the trip. Worth every penny & an amazing experience. Next stop was Ketchikan where we did The Misty Fjords Wilderness Cruise. It was 4.5 hours & unfortunately very boring. The staff was excellent & very safety conscious although the naturist speaking throughout the tour, very nice, was too monotonous sounding & not very interesting to listen to. She had no enthusiasm or engagement with us passengers. Half way out we did see quite a few beautiful waterfalls that were running due to the recent rain. Other than that the tour was really boring. Our last day on the ship was at sea. Our wives all had massages that they seemed to enjoy. Although they were all over pitched on buying their products. Which they didn’t! The next day we arrived in Vancouver & the disembarkation was extremely well organized as was the entire HAL experience, with a very quick exit from the ship as well as through customs. My brother & his wife live in Seattle. They drove up to Vancouver & we spent one night there & then drove back to Seattle with them for two days followed by our flight back to Milwaukee. We had a very memorable trip with lots of laughs, good cuisine & unforgettable excursions. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Alaska has been on our bucket list for years, and when Viking announced they would be sailing to Alaska we jumped at the opportunity, having experienced a Viking River Cruise in 2014, the Romantic Danube. The Viking Orion had not yet been ... Read More
Alaska has been on our bucket list for years, and when Viking announced they would be sailing to Alaska we jumped at the opportunity, having experienced a Viking River Cruise in 2014, the Romantic Danube. The Viking Orion had not yet been completed when we made our reservations, so watching her development was exciting. Viking truly has transported the finest of their river cruise ships into their ocean cruise ships, and it felt like coming home when we boarded at Seward. One aspect of the cruise that was attractive to us was the specific itinerary that included more of Alaska than just the fabled Inside Passage. We did the pre-cruise extension in Anchorage, where Viking picked us up at the Anchorage airport and transported us to the Anchorage Hilton for 2 nights, then onward from Anchorage to Seward to join the ship. The weather was not always cooperative and in Seward it was raining and chilly outside, but warm and welcoming onboard. Embarkation was smooth and fast, and the primary downside was the distance we had to walk from the point where we cleared security to the ship itself mostly in the rain. From then on the weather was either cloudy and cool or clouds and sun. Valdez was beautiful, sunny and clear; overcast at Hubbard Glacier and Icy Strait Point and Skagway, sunny and warm at Juneau, mostly sunny at Sitka, cloudy at Ketchikan, and gloriously sunny on arrival at Vancouver. Of the many attributes offered by Viking, having all outside cabins with balconies was a definite plus, the small size was wonderful with just 930 passengers, and perhaps the one consistent comment we heard was how thankful our shipmates were that there were no children (us included). Folks, this is not a party ship, yet it packs in more entertainment options than are possible to sample in the 11 days we had available. We would definitely cruise again with Viking Ocean and River Cruises. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose the Jewel to Alaska for several reasons. Entertainment, good food, Alaskan ports to visit, and the NCL family. Entertainment on the ship is always available. Our favorite venue is the Stardust evening shows. The cruise ... Read More
We chose the Jewel to Alaska for several reasons. Entertainment, good food, Alaskan ports to visit, and the NCL family. Entertainment on the ship is always available. Our favorite venue is the Stardust evening shows. The cruise performers put on three outstanding shows. The first was Velvet, a music and dance production with many costume changes and a fantastic light show set to the music. The second was a collection of songs and dances. It also had the wonderful voices, lights, dancing, along with the stage band. The last performance showcased the acrobatic abilities of the cast. Amazing!!! Other nightly shows included a very funny comedian with a late night bonus. He could really work the crowd. There was a Russian couple that performed feats of strength and balance, as well as aerials. Good food was found everywhere. Our favorite was the Garden Cafe. Rowen Luna, an assistant chef, was at a carving station. His salmon was the best on the ship, and I tried a couple different salmon dishes. He always greeted us and wished us an enjoyable cruise. He also took the time to explain how the meats were prepared in the big ovens. His roast suckling pig was a work of art and flavor. Of course, NCL strives to make everyone feel welcome and part of their family. That is the main reason we prefer NCL over the other cruise lines. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We have cruised with Azamara several times. After a very disappointing cruise in March, we decided to give it one more try. Azamara is no longer a luxury cruise line. The food was very disappointing and mediocre. The only decent meal ... Read More
We have cruised with Azamara several times. After a very disappointing cruise in March, we decided to give it one more try. Azamara is no longer a luxury cruise line. The food was very disappointing and mediocre. The only decent meal we had in the main dining room was the sea-day buffet. The dinner buffets in Windows cafe ranged from outstanding to terrible. Although this was an Alaska cruise, we were never served crab and were offered Alaskan salmon only once. The food is better on Celebrity, and in a different class altogether on Oceania. Our cruise was originally scheduled to dock in Haines, but the port was eliminated. We did not get a price adjustment from Azamara or an alternate port, just another sea day. We had less than optimal dock sites in Icy Strait Point (tendered), Juneau and Ketchikan. Juneau had a free shuttle. The internet was incredibly slow. Also, due to their “upgraded” system, there was no way to tell how many minutes you used each time you logged on and off. Your minutes disappeared with no documentation of where they went. The White Night was a joke. No more grilled lobster tails. Instead, lukewarm seafood kebabs with a small piece of lobster, a shrimp, a scallop, and large chunks of fish. It was very windy, and many folks opted to eat inside. We were in Victoria on Canada Day, and the fireworks were supposed to be an added attraction to the White Night festivities. However, they were difficult to see from the ship. The liquor brands included in the complimentary package are low end. You get better choices with the Classic package on Celebrity. The cruise director, Ernest, was excellent. All of the ship’s singers and dancers were very talented. The entertainment was very good. The ship excursions we took ranged from average to excellent. We especially enjoyed the Sitka raptor center and Sitka tour and the Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon Bake. The salmon was grilled over coals with a maple glaze. Best food we had on the cruise. Our room was a standard balcony cabin. The bedding was great. Our shower had mold on the floor when we first got to our cabin. It was not removed until we complained to Guest Relations. Other than that, the cabin was very good. The service in the main restaurant was very poor. I always had to ask to get my water refilled. The menu was uninteresting. The daily chef’s specials were the same as the entrees served at the dinner buffet in Windows. Azamara used to be our favorite cruise line. It no longer is. The brand has been cheapened and it’s no longer a luxury cruise line. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We did the 7 day Land tour before our cruise. With the exception of Denali Village which we found our room not cleaned they moved us to a new room only to open door and find it already occupied. Rooms small had no hot water just a bad ... Read More
We did the 7 day Land tour before our cruise. With the exception of Denali Village which we found our room not cleaned they moved us to a new room only to open door and find it already occupied. Rooms small had no hot water just a bad experience! Our tour guide Kacie was amazing and tried to resolve everything! She took time and care with each of us and made sure we had the best time! On board the balcony cabin we had was spacious and perfect for to people. The staff from our steward to the bartenders were the best. The food not so much main dining room food was ok but nothing special! We ate at the Chophouse it was terrible both steaks were full of fat and gristle and was unedible! Thankfully the appetizers and salads were filling! The windjammer is same old same old but good for breakfast and lunch! The day of disembarking was a nightmare going into Vancouver airport is an experience let alone with the ship getting you off late shuttle bus lanes are ridiculous we got to the airport 1 hour before our flight and made it to our gate 10 minutes before boarding. My advice do not take shuttle take a taxi! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
My husband and daughter always wanted to go to Alaska. Chose Viking because we had a previous trip with them from Amsterdam to Budapest which was awesome. Small ship, great service and beautiful sites. Already booked this May 2020 for ... Read More
My husband and daughter always wanted to go to Alaska. Chose Viking because we had a previous trip with them from Amsterdam to Budapest which was awesome. Small ship, great service and beautiful sites. Already booked this May 2020 for Homelands Trip. Customer service was excellent and provided us with updates on our luggage which was lost on airlines. Meals were excellent with a variety to choose from and coffee bar available throughout the day. Explorers lounge had a wonderful view and service was outstanding Cabins were cleaned twice a day and Daily bulletin was delivered every night. Morning Room Service was delivered on time each morning with a hot cup of coffee and whatever we ordered the previous night. Highly recommend Viking Cruises and would not travel anyt other way. Beautiful ship, clean with excellent staff of people. Great rooms with excellent views from balcony and easy access on board ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Alaska was on our "bucket list" so we started out with a 6 day NCL Land Tour from Fairbanks, ending in Seward. That trip alone was well worth it...but on to the cruise! Embarkation from Seward was a piece of cake. The first ... Read More
Alaska was on our "bucket list" so we started out with a 6 day NCL Land Tour from Fairbanks, ending in Seward. That trip alone was well worth it...but on to the cruise! Embarkation from Seward was a piece of cake. The first meal in Azura was bit slow and clunky but the food was good and we weren't in any big hurry! Overall the meals were fine, particularly the specialty restaurants. The food in the main dining rooms was "good", and the service was more than adequate. Specialty restaurants were SUPERB, especially Le Bistro and La Cucina! Our mini-suite was perfect and our Room Steward, Rolando did an excellent job keeping it clean and tending to any of our requests...kudos to Rolando! The extra USB ports were a nice add. Overall the refurbished ship was clean and redecorated nicely. I was a bit disappointed that the seats in the Stardust Theater were not replaced during the refurb. They were low and uncomfortable two years ago and they are the same now. We were so busy, we managed only one show..."Rock You Tonight". It was GREAT...wonderful singers, dancers and band. An awesome production! I do like the smaller ships like the Jewel where you do not need to make reservations to get into every event. The ship entertainment was good...some very talented folks. Lots of pop music & jazz. I do wish there was some "Classical" music on board, maybe in the main lobby. It might give the ship kind of a "high class" feel. (There is a grand piano there which I have never seen used.) The gym was clean and all the machines seem to be working. The bar service was spot on. I will say the wine in the wine tasting event was a step lower that those I've been to in the past...and believe me I am not a wine snob. But I did pay extra for some GREAT wine in the specialty restaurants. Of course you go to Alaska for the spectacular views and scenery. The glacier viewing was excellent. I did spot humpbacks on three occasions from our balcony. Lots of good "Kodak Moments". Just staring out the balcony at the snow capped peaks was awe inspiring (especially for a couple from "flat" Florida!) The best part of the cruise were the ports and excursions. We did the Zip Rider/Wale watching tour...WOO HOO, what an adrenaline rush! We did the Helicopter Ride to the Glacier and Dog Sled Mushing, which was probably the best shore excursion we've ever been on! We also did the Wilderness Glacier trip where we canoed up to a glacier...also an outstanding trip! Between my camera and my Go-Pro I took over 2100 pics...many great memories. Overall the ship, crew and cruise met all of our expectations. Kudos to General Manager Steve for running a tight ship. Kudos to Jenny, Group services Coordinator for coordinating the Meet & Mingle and kudos to Dilip our Concierge who was always ready to assist us! Now that Alaska is crossed off the bucket list, it's time for French Polynesia/Hawaii in 2020. THANKS NCL! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. ... Read More
Loved the Westerdam. Great cabin 10018 with excellent location. Good viewing when on a southbound cruise. Entertainment great and went late into the night. BB Kings good. The 2 piano players in the Billboard Bar were also great. Food good. Only disappointment was lunch in the Pinnacle Restaurant. Not worth the extra $. Not sure why a Coconut Trifle would gave 2 layers of rich chocolate that overpowered the taste of anything else...inedible. Strawberry pavlova...better pavlova in the Lido. Crab cakes for appetizer were excellent. Entrees (mains) pretty ordinary. Dinner may have been better. Santos and Otto did a great job in looking after us in our stateroom on Deck 10. Recommend this Stateroom, in particular location. Great service with a smile everywhere. Plenty of updates from the Captain. Smooth sailing. Embarkation was easy and we were able to board earlier than designated. Disembarkation needed more signs for lines of group colours. Easy to look up everything on TV in cabin, e.g. account and dining menus for the day. Good movies too. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
The Holland American Alaska Land & Sea Cruise was a marvel in it's organization from Fairbanks to Seward on land and Seward to Vancouver at sea. The hotels, ground transport, buses and train moved us with without any problems. ... Read More
The Holland American Alaska Land & Sea Cruise was a marvel in it's organization from Fairbanks to Seward on land and Seward to Vancouver at sea. The hotels, ground transport, buses and train moved us with without any problems. The weather was exceptional for May. The Panning for Gold, Steamboat Cruise, The Denali Outback was 102 miles filled with moose, brown bear, caribou, sheep was great. The sea excursions the White Pass Train and Salmon Fishing was outstanding. The transfers from airport and to ship were again very On the ship the Neptune Lounge, staff, the stewards, our waiters, wine steward, and the entire crew were helpful and friendly. They tried their hardest to improve the food that was being served and it did improve a little. The quality of menu was terrible. The managing chef his menu lacked any inspiration. His plate pairings were off the wall. His line chefs plaited the food poorly and no one was tasting the food or were uneducated with what good food should taste like. The quality of the food has been reduced to the level of it's parent company Carnival. It was not like this on my previous sailings with Holland American. Even the cafe was dull and tasteless and the specialty restaurants were only slightly better, just OK that's all we can say about the food. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise a we wanted to go back to Alaska and wanted to go on the Azamara Quest for the second time. It didn't disappoint. The food was excellent and the itinerary was good although we missed Victoria because on high wind. ... Read More
We chose this cruise a we wanted to go back to Alaska and wanted to go on the Azamara Quest for the second time. It didn't disappoint. The food was excellent and the itinerary was good although we missed Victoria because on high wind. We were able to get closer than the larger ships and only had to tender one time. The smaller lounges on board were very nice to meet and converse with other cruisers. The elimination of the Casino was disheartning, however probably saved me some money. The Captain was one of the most outstanding officers I have seen on a cruise ship, very personable and visible to keep us informed on every phase of the cruise. Hope I get another chance to go on the Quest and cruise with him. Embarkation was the quickest and easiest I had ever been through in nearly 20 cruises. Disembarkation was also easy with our luggage removed from the ship the night before and were close to our transportation. Canada and US Customs were very professional and smooth. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
t had been nine years since we sailed HAL,and twenty since sailing the Inside Passge on HAL. There add-on land tour of Denali National Park, and sailing from Anchorage sealed the deal. In the dining room, we noticed a drop in the ... Read More
t had been nine years since we sailed HAL,and twenty since sailing the Inside Passge on HAL. There add-on land tour of Denali National Park, and sailing from Anchorage sealed the deal. In the dining room, we noticed a drop in the choice of meal selections. More average than top end, but the food was very good and the table service was excellent, after a blip on day 1. Having taken the four-day land tour beforehand, embarkation was a doddle, as we were the last coach in. All pre-checked luggage was already in our stateroom to meet us. Others who took the land tour had a ten hour coach journey from Fairbanks to the ship. Somehow, we had an internal flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage then a 3.5 hour coach trip. Much better. Not sure why Fairbanks included, as there is very little there to see in late September, if ever! Disembarkation was also very good. Noordam was in superb condition throughout and probably the best cruise -ship we have been on,in over 20 cruises. Happy smiling crew faces throughout the ship Alaska from North to South is the way to see the State. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise because we had been on Silversea twice before and enjoyed the complete luxury as well as the intimacy of a small ship. We had never been to either Alaska nor Japan so we thought that it would be a great experience. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had been on Silversea twice before and enjoyed the complete luxury as well as the intimacy of a small ship. We had never been to either Alaska nor Japan so we thought that it would be a great experience. Knowing that there would be several sea days we thought that we would play bridge on those days ( or read). What was a real treat for us was the enrichment lecturers; each of them was very well prepared and so elevant to our cruise. The first lecturer was a professor of Migration economics who lectured about each destination in great detail before we arrived there. He went into detail about the history as well as the economy and demographics of our destinations. The second lecturer was a professor of the theater. Each sea day he would discuss a different show about East meets West. He went from the Mikado to South Pacific to The King and I and Miss Saigon. In each of these he discussed how the show portrayed the West meeting Eastern cultures. As an added treat on the last sea day he discussed Hamilton in detail. As always on a Silversea cruise the food was fantastic (as were the bar selections). While we could have dined alone at each meal we chose to sit with others each night at dinner, thereby meeting many others all of whom we thoroughly enjoyed dining with. I do have some problems with a few foods but the Maitre D' took care that each of our waiters were aware of my food allergies and I never hhad problems The ambience on the Silvershadow makes you think of the Italian influence on Silversea. This was especially evident in the bar which makes one think of an intimate European living room. Here we would enjoy cocktails and canapés as well as lovely piano playing each night before dinner. Our suite was lovely ( and very well located mid ship). As on all Silversea ships we were served by a butler as well as a steward. Needless to say, we wanted for nothing. The ports were interesting, especially the Japanese Northern most islands, which we would never have visited but for this cruise. The island of Hakodate is well known for its fantastic sushi but which we enjoyed. However, a real treat were the peoples themselves. Our first port, Kushiro, is a tiny port on the bottom of the island. Here the people went out of their way to treat us to a cultural show with Japanese dance, music and origami. As we sailed away those of us on port side were treated to Japanese music and dancing. ( We also had this at another Japanese port, Aomori. All in all, we could not rave about this cruise enough My only complaint is that my husband has mobility issues and there were very few shore excursions that he could do. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
To see the glaciers and Alaska it was more than I expected The shows were all great except the magician was so bad he should be doing children's birthdays no cruise shows The cabin had no room to move around and was really ... Read More
To see the glaciers and Alaska it was more than I expected The shows were all great except the magician was so bad he should be doing children's birthdays no cruise shows The cabin had no room to move around and was really dusty The menu in sit down dining could improve to increase choices and variety The hotel in Anchorage was a bad experience my room was not available and they booked us in a hotel next to the airport. It was so dirty.carpet teared tile cracked, mold in Bathroom, it was a half star dump not the 4 star hotel I booked.to be downtown not by the airport The second day they called and informed me that my room was ready and we had to wait one hour for the van to pick us up. The crew on board was ferry friendly and helpful with there information, including all it was a great cruise Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The bottom line is that we loved Alaska, loved our cruisetour, and loved the Radiance. It was a fabulous vacation! Because I was dealing with a first time cruiser and two elderly people, I wanted everything to be as easy as possible so ... Read More
The bottom line is that we loved Alaska, loved our cruisetour, and loved the Radiance. It was a fabulous vacation! Because I was dealing with a first time cruiser and two elderly people, I wanted everything to be as easy as possible so we chose to do a pre-cruise tour with Royal Caribbean (the 1B Wildlife Express). And I'm not gonna lie, it was a great choice! Everything ran smoothly, we had great weather, a wonderful guide and driver and there was nothing I could fault. Getting there was rough (hello 2am) so I definitely recommend going in a day before the day before (we had some folks who didn't join us until Denali!). Arrival and getting to our hotel could have been better and I blame RC for not communicating with us what we needed to do even though we specifically told them we were arriving the day before. Luckily the local folks who work for the other cruise lines (and maybe RC?) were extremely helpful and got us to our hotel relatively quickly. The Anchorage Marriott is a beautiful hotel in downtown and within walking distance to pretty much everything, but wi-fi is not included and the options for food and drink are limited. Luckily, so many better options are within walking distance. I do think there are better values to be found, especially if you opt for something outside of downtown. For us, I'm glad it was part of the package. We ate a late lunch on the patio at the 49th State Brewery. The food and drink were plentiful and very good and the view was fabulous! After meeting our tour guide and getting the scoop on our land tour, we did a mini pub crawl hitting two nearby places, both of which were worth the stop. Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse had a Belgian flight with good beers and tasty appetizers. We then went across the street to Williwaw Social to sit on the top deck and watch the sun go down. The next morning we boarded a large, chartered bus and set off. I think there were about 20 of us altogether, so it didn't feel so much like being in a herd. I'm really glad we started with the bus and then got to board the train in the middle instead of the other way around. The Wilderness Express train ride was a highlight with a bright sunny day. It was almost hot in the upper deck with all that glass warmed by so much sun. We definitely got to take the "better half" of the train ride, from Talkeetna to Denali instead of from Anchorage to Talkeetna. And it was gorgeous scenery. Breathtaking. Eating lunch on the train was a plus. In Denali Park Village we were put up in the Miner's Village in relatively new rooms. Great location in the large complex. Then we opted for an excursion to visit sled dogs. The RCI tour took us to Jeff King's place and it was informative and fun. Who doesn't love active, happy puppies and dogs? The next morning was the trip into Denali itself. It was raining, but that didn't lesson our enjoyment of it, especially as it wasn't overly cold. The half day tour was plenty since the Denali buses are pretty much basic school buses and my parents really didn't need to ride for eight hours on one of those. Then we were back on our charter bus and headed back down. We stopped in Talkeetna to stay at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge which was beautiful. It's a wooden lodge with a huge indoor fireplace and large outdoor terrace with a breathtaking view. The town of Talkeetna is tiny and unique. We had one of the best meals I've ever eaten at Wildflower and I managed a very rapid shopping stop. Then we enjoyed the rest of the evening watching the sunset from the lodge. Wonderful! The next day was a fairly long bus ride from Talkeetna all the way to Seward to embark on the ship, but it was broken up with an early lunch stop in Anchorage and then a visit to the Wildlife Conservation Center which was the only place we could see bears and moose up close. Worth a stop! Embarkation was smooth and quick. Because it was already after 4pm, our rooms were ready and most of our bags had already arrived. My parents were in a balcony while my brother and I were in an inside cabin. Because I'd been on two of the Radiance's sister ships, I knew what to expect and nothing was jarring. We had anytime dining, but requested the same table every night as the service and attention we received was outstanding. We all enjoyed every meal there. I know the radiance class ships don't have all the "activities" that the larger ships do, but there's something about this class of ship that, to me, makes it almost perfect. It manages to be completely full yet never feels crowded or hemmed in. It's definitely "sea" focused with most everything having views of the water. And the service just seems to be that little bit friendlier and attentive. The Radiance's itinerary and size made it perfect for Alaska. The ports were the reason we were there, so I don't have that much to say about the on board entertainment. The disco was dead every night and a couple of the broadway style shows were so-so. I didn't really like the comedian at all. The jugglers/comedians were funny. We had nice long days at every port. And I noticed that other cruise lines would be there and gone while we still had hours to explore. That's why we came to Alaska and this itinerary really delivered. We had an incredible day to see Hubbard Glacier. It was sunny and relatively warm and we were so very close to the glacier. It was so cool to see it calving. In Juneau we took a Harv & Marv's whale watching excursion and had a fabulous day on the water. It was sunny and mild and it was a delight to see the whales and sea lions all while surrounded by mountains, sky, water, and even views of few glaciers. Then we had to eat at Tracy's King Crab Shack! It was amazing and an experience worth standing in line for. Lastly we took the tramway up the mountain to see the views. All in all, Juneau was a great first stop, with twelve hours in port and incredible weather. Skagway was the next stop and we did a Chilkoot Rail tour. We opted to take the train down so had a "short bus" on the way up. It was nice to be in a smaller group. We could stop more often and didn't have to dodge crowds for photos. Again we had incredible weather, a sunny warm day, and the train ride down was breathtaking. Plus, because it was the end of the season we made out like a bandit on souvenirs. The town itself has a lot of character with a lot of old buildings preserved for the tourists. In Icy Strait Point, the day started foggy and drizzly, but it all burned off into another beautiful day. We did a ship tour which was informative about the local culture and entertaining. This was an early departure, especially compared to any other port, but we still had plenty of time to see what we wanted to. The port was especially nice since they had these little extended golf cart shuttles for those who needed extra help getting into the port proper (which is a bit of a walk). Last port was Ketchikan and rain. But it dried out and the Saxman village was interesting and it was great to learn about the totem poles and Tlingit culture. We spoke to a famous carver a little bit before shopping, which was a great place to get Native souvenirs. Lastly, Vancouver Port was the nicest, most efficient port I've ever arrived in. Seriously, we were off the ship, turned to our left and there were our bags. A porter arrived a minute later and the next thing I knew we were loaded onto the bus for the airport! All in all it was worth every penny. Everyone had a great time and we'd definitely do it again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We have just finished a 19 day Seabourn adventure to Alaska and as we anticipated it was what we have come to expect from Seabourn. For both of us it was our second visit to this wonderful state. The first 5 days were a part of the ... Read More
We have just finished a 19 day Seabourn adventure to Alaska and as we anticipated it was what we have come to expect from Seabourn. For both of us it was our second visit to this wonderful state. The first 5 days were a part of the Seabourn expedition program. We were met at the Anchorage airport and then whisked off to the Thomas Cook hotel where we met David the tour guide, coordinator, and all around handy guy. That evening we had a group dinner with 26 cohorts, soon to become friends. The next morning it was off to Denali via an 8 hour train ride through some gorgeous country. Wednesday was a free day for us to rest and take in the lodge. Excursions were available although Dee and I just took the day off. Thursday’s we were off into the park, not just a panoramic view but deep into the park. Where most tours go in about 15 miles our excursion went in about 63 miles. During that wonderful drive we ran into ptarmigans, caribou, grizzly, doll sheep, magpie, and the preverbal snow hare. Every minute of the 8 hours trip was fun and exceptionally interesting. Our guide had been leading these expeditions for 30 years and knew the park like the back of her hand. Our last day was a busy one as well. The alarm jolted us awake at 6:00 AM, we put our bags out, got breakfast then, on the bus for a three hours drive to Talketna. There our intrepid group boarded three planes to fly to Anchorage. The reason for the plane ride was to give us the opportunity to see the Alaskan back country and get a great view of a number of glaciers. We were taken aback by the beauty of the mountains and glaciers from a birds eye view. After an hour and a half of flying we landed in Anchorage and it was off to lunch, then on to the ship. In short the expedition was more than we expected in terms of quality, and the wonderful companion ship of our travel mates. It was truly a Seabourn experience. There is a lot to be said about knowing a group of people before you get on the ship. The companionship of the expedition group continued on into the cruise. If you are visiting Alaska via Seabourn and they offer this pre cruise adventure, take it. We have been on the Sojourn before, and like its sister ship the Quest it was a great cruise experience. Once on board we saw cruise members we had sailed with before and believe it or not they remembered us. Like previous trips the crew was very attentive and after a short period of time knew our names and our preferences. One of the surprises on this trip was the fact that our suite was upgraded from a veranda suite to a penthouse suite. Our joke was that it was so large that Dee and I had to carry gps devices to find each other. In truth the suite was fantastic. It had a separate bedroom, living area, a dining area, a two room bathroom, and a huge veranda. The itinerary was excellent as we were able to go places larger ships could only dream of. Add to that the off ship excursions via kayak and/or zodiac really made these excursions up close and personal. The picture opportunities were plentiful including glaciers, whales using bubble netting to get their lunch and a female grizzly with her two cubs just to name a few of the opportunities. The food, as in the past, was excellent. We are Colonnade people as we like the more casual dining experience. Our one complaint is that consuming this food seems to shrink our clothes. . As is our way we continued our “May We Join You” philosophy. We share a table every night with different people. On this trip we met lawyers, entrepreneurs, a gentleman and his wife who lived in South Africa, New Zealanders, Australians, and Germans. The most impressive couple however was the couple who exuded tremendous courage and strength in the face of health issue. As we have written before and will again, Seabourn knows how to make a cruise special. We love cruising with Seabourn so much that in 2019 we will be returning to the Quest to venture to Antarctica and the Amazon. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
NCL knows how to treat their customers. The entire staff was wonderful and tried to please us in every way. The entertainment was outstanding! The food was the best. So many selections that I liked in the dining room, even though I am ... Read More
NCL knows how to treat their customers. The entire staff was wonderful and tried to please us in every way. The entertainment was outstanding! The food was the best. So many selections that I liked in the dining room, even though I am a very picky eater. I loved O'Sheehan's Bar and Gill with the best menu and a booth to look out of the ship. The ports were fantastic, free shuttle bus to Juneau which was very nice. I have cruised on over 50 other cruises, and this was the first time that boarding was so fast and getting off the ship was very organized and not very long at all. I was impressed!!!! The Cruise Director did a great job. The not so Newlywed Game Show was outstanding, The comedians were so funny! I would go on this cruise again. Alaska is beautiful and NCL knows how to treat their customers. I am a very happy customer!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We traveled with another couple and although we all have cruised before, never on a high-end ship such as Silver Seas. Personally, I enjoyed the itimacy of a smaller crowd. Crew was thoughtful, attentive and courteous the entire trip. ... Read More
We traveled with another couple and although we all have cruised before, never on a high-end ship such as Silver Seas. Personally, I enjoyed the itimacy of a smaller crowd. Crew was thoughtful, attentive and courteous the entire trip. Food was excellent, except for The Grill, where the service was a bit slow and food was sometimes luke warm (especially, side dishes). However, in all restaurants we dined at, food was delicious! I had trouble with my room key card not opening my door and had to have a replacement key made-up on a daily basis. The embarkation process went smoothly as well as disembarkation, although we needed a van after disembarking, but one was not readily available. The pros have definitely outweighted the cons on this voyage, but due to the cost, I would probably think twice before travelling on such a high-end ship, but that is not to say that I would rule it out due to the cost. As previously stated, I enjoyed the smaller amount of guests and the food and service was superb! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise for the smaller size of the ship. We really enjoyed the cruise. The staff are excellent! You feel pampered. I gave four stars overall as we found the food to be generally very good but not always consistent. The La ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the smaller size of the ship. We really enjoyed the cruise. The staff are excellent! You feel pampered. I gave four stars overall as we found the food to be generally very good but not always consistent. The La Dame restaurant was excellent. You need to call on the first day possible to get in. I did not like the fact that all the restaurants booked out early. I thought there should have been a more equitable system. Overall liked the boat very much and Alaska is beautiful. The scenery was gorgeous from our balcony. The ports of call are pretty. Sometimes wished there was a little more time at each. The Hubbard glacier is a highlight. We were lucky to have good weather all the way. I would recommend this cruise to others. It seemed like mostly seniors on board but some young people as well. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Holland America reviewed well for our selection with our 2 friends and we wanted to go to Alaska. We booked the Westerdam on the southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver with strops in glacier Bay, Haines/Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. ... Read More
Holland America reviewed well for our selection with our 2 friends and we wanted to go to Alaska. We booked the Westerdam on the southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver with strops in glacier Bay, Haines/Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. HAL has priority over the vessels to cruise glacier Bay where 2 boats/day are allowed and docking privileges for a once a week ship at Haines. We booked the Neptune Suite and selected the drink package, upgraded restaurant 1 night and shipboard credits. We pre-cruised with 3 days in Anchorage and the pre-cruise train from Anchorage to Seward. Our introduction to HAL was minutes after the easy boarding process and entering our awesome stateroom. Absolutely WOW and a large balcony and enough closet/drawer space form many large luggage pieces. Our service stewards throughout the week gave us many WOW moments, from the afternoon snacks to towel animals greeting us in the afternoon. Service aboard was incredible from our stewards, concierge, bartenders, and dining room staff. Most notable is the Pinnacle Grill which serves breakfast to Neptune guests. The best food we experienced was clearly the Pinnacle Grill and then fooled by our lunching at the Dive-In hot dog and burger bar. Dining room and Lido buffet food was decent but nothing to WOW about and we would give it a C+ with some food much better. Never without an opportunity for food. The shipboard atmosphere was relaxed and only required pants and a collared shirt for men in best dining evenings...So no Tux needed! The wildlife experts aboard and the Crows Nest public area was fun as we constantly spotted some form of wildlife or a notable attraction. We loved the wildlife interaction and the day on glacier Bay was memorable with bears, otters, eagles, etc...and the glacier. Our onshore tours were very good with the Juneau helicopter to the glacier and2 mile sled dog mushing being a real 10+...expensive and worth the money...Our first day in Haines with the fast ferry to Skagway and helicopter to the glacier was interesting although not too exciting with a "wrote" pathway there/back and a limited opportunity on the glacier...at the end of that trip their helicopter service bus dumped us in town and told us to walk back to the fast ferry...poor. The third land tour was a fast boat to Misty Fjords and floatplane ride back...pretty nice. The cruise was everything se expected and more and everything we made it to be. We saw some show, listened to blues at BB King club and danced...and explored the entire ship where allowed. Some issues arose with our final night in the dining room whereby our sommelier ordered drinks and charged us overage for those that had been OK as we had asked/been answered by bar staff throughout the ship...A lively discussion with the beverage Manager was fruitless and not very nice...However one rotten apple....and we loved the cruise. Off-boarding in Vancouver and 2 days of sightseeing was wonderful and a great finally to our memorable cruise on Holland America...We will return. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
My husband and I, an elderly couple, took the Norwegian Jewel Alaska cruise August 13-20, departing from Seward and arriving in Vancouver, B.C. ; this was our fourth cruise with Norwegian and first on the Jewel. We cruise with NCL ... Read More
My husband and I, an elderly couple, took the Norwegian Jewel Alaska cruise August 13-20, departing from Seward and arriving in Vancouver, B.C. ; this was our fourth cruise with Norwegian and first on the Jewel. We cruise with NCL primarily because of “Freestyle Dining.” Many years ago I accompanied my mother on various Princess cruises and enjoyed dressing formally for dinner, but set dinner times, company-selected table companions and dressing up hold no appeal for us, so Norwegian suits us perfectly. We began our cruising career with an obstructed-view outside cabin and have worked our way up to a balcony; having read the cabin would be supplied with a coffee-maker, we brought our own brew. Sitting on our balcony, drinking Peet’s French roast with the gorgeous Alaskan landscape slipping by - pure bliss! For those who spend little time in their cabins, a balcony may be a poor choice, but now we wouldn’t cruise any other way; my husband is an avid photographer and appreciated being able to use a tripod without being surrounded by hordes of people jostling for a view of the glaciers. Our experience on the Norwegian Star (Dubai to Venice, March 2017) was in some respects superior though I don’t know if this is due to differences between the ships or to some fleet-wide degradation. I’m referring to O’Sheehan’s, which was wonderful on the Star, much less so on the Jewel. Aboard the Star we took all our breakfasts and lunches at O’Sheehan’s and were looking forward to the same on the Alaska cruise. Our first breakfast aboard we headed to the restaurant and were disappointed to find that instead of an à la carte meal, the venue offered only an “express breakfast,” which included some gross scrambled eggs (made from a mix?) and watered-down orange juice. Since it was a cruising day, I don’t know why anyone would feel the need for an “express” meal. Aboard the Star the Reuben sandwiches and chipotle chicken sandwiches were perfection; aboard the Jewel, a Reuben isn’t offered and the chicken sandwiches and Caesar salad were mediocre. We didn’t go back. With the exception of three specialty dinners, we took most our meals in the Tsar’s Palace; the food was excellent as was the service. We never had to wait more than five minutes for a table and were usually seated immediately. Our package included unlimited alcoholic beverages. I don’t drink, but my husband enjoys a glass of wine at dinner and was pleased with the selection. We had one dinner at Chin Chin, the Asian restaurant, which was average as was its counterpart on the Star. We ate at La Cucina (good), Teppanyaki (fun experience and very good) and Cagney’s (outstanding and the best filet mignon we’ve ever eaten). The Garden Cafe was a zoo and noisy to boot. Because the weather was cool, most people didn’t want to eat outside, which would have distributed the diners better; the one lunchtime we went up there, on a cruising day, passengers were eating their meals standing up for lack of seating. No thanks. I read recently that Cruise Critic rated Norwegian’s internet service as one of the best in the industry; whoever wrote this obviously hasn’t cruised on the Jewel. Our package included 250 minutes of internet service as it did on the Star. Our Latitudes level also included an additional 30 minutes; aboard the Star we went to the internet cafe where the attendant added the extra 30 to our account. When we tried to do this on the Jewel, we were informed that this offer was only valid if the passenger had purchased the initial 250 minutes. I checked on NCL’s website; this is correct, and the young woman who attended us (who was very polite) was right, but this policy seems just plain cheap. In any event, the internet connection was terrible and many of our minutes were eaten up waiting for a page to load. Despite a $50 credit toward a cruise-sponsored tour that our package included, we decided to make independent arrangements. On the internet I reserved a float plane flight in Ketchikan for my husband with Southeast Aviation, a company recommended by Lonely Planet. Miraculously, the weather was perfect and the flight exceeded his expectations. The Norwegian iConcierge app is a joke; at least aboard the Star it was possible to make tour reservations, an option unavailable on the Jewel. Since the dining hours can change slightly from day to day, it would be helpful to post them on the app. Menus for the day? Nope. On returning home we received an email from NCL asking us to evaluate the cruise. One question asked if we were familiar with Cruise Critic and, if so, were we planning to write a review. I replied yes to both, hoping this indicates the company reads the reviews and is interested in their passengers’ opinions. Although my negative comments may give the impression that we didn’t enjoy the cruise, I would like to stress that the negatives were minor compared with our overwhelmingly positive experience - the food, the itinerary, the staff, the state of the ship, our cabin. Within days of our return I reserved another NCL cruise for January of next year. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America ... Read More
A quick way to read this review: Find the heading and skip to the bottom where you will find a letter grade for the service/experience on this Holland America Ship. WHY THE WESTERDAM? We chose this cruise because Holland America provides easy access to Denali National Park via the Alaska Railroad. We were transported by a special train to the McKinley Resort at Denali National Park and to the ship in Seward via comfortable motor coach. Both trips are lengthy and are narrated. Brace yourself for the usual bad puns from time to time. The better guides limit themselves to a wealth of information of the area you are in. The best guide was the guide for the chartered Wilderness Tour, a 7.5 hour narrated ride on 60 of the 90 miles of two lane gravel road into the park. The return trip is on the same gravel road as it's the only one in the park. Those exploring on their own must ride the National Park shuttle. We saw the following mammals: Grizzly bear (a couple singles and a sow with 2 two-year-old juveniles); 3 wolves; about 10 Dall sheep, red fox, snow-shoe hares, and caribou. I'm not going to give a grade since the three transports are so different in scope. The Wilderness Tour should not be missed. BOOKING From conversations on-board, we got the impression that we spent less for some of the same amenities since we booked through Costco's travel agency. At the very least the large added on-ship credits added by Costco allowed us to skip paying for the drink plans which seem somewhat reasonable, but the idea of having access to 10-15 drinks per day was not something we would use. Through cruise-critic, we found out that our price went down about 4 months before the trip. Through the travel agency, we saved $500, keeping the same reserved cabin in the middle of the ship. However, we ended up with about $750 in combined on ship credit. No money is used on board, it's all part of your room key/credit card. Make sure you check your balance daily which is easily done on a machine near guest services. You can view it electronically or have the machine print the record. There is also access through the on-board app which runs on the free portion of wifi. You can purchase the slow, expensive Internet access if you wish to degrade your vacation time by being online when you "should" be enjoying the scenery. Grade: B+ CABIN I'd read reviews on cruisecritic.com saying the rooms were outdated. It appears that the Westerdam has gone through a recent upgrade. The photos on this site were no longer accurate. The condition of our room was quite good. What to ask for when greeted by your room stewards who will ask you if there's anything additionally you want after first viewing your room: Ask your room steward to explain how the shower works AND to put the single beds together as a (queen-sized) larger bed. By booking a half year early, we were able to reserve a cabin mid-ship and one level below the lido deck where the buffets are available nearly 24/7. Our cabin was smaller than a hotel room, but since you don't spend much time there, that is hardly a problem. There were two single beds that the room stewards put together as a queen sized bed on the first night by request. The head has a toilet, bathtub, sink, and shower. There was a 3-shelved medicine cabinet for storage. The balcony was a bit bigger than I expected. The suite includes 2 end tables with two drawers for storage, bed with able storage for suitcases below, love seat with small table, desk with small refrigerator and two more small shelves. One includes a hair dryer for your use. The room stewards automatically clean twice a day and replace towels during those two visits. More visits may be done by request. Grade: A DINING The buffet area on the lido deck is very clean. It's easy to access hand disinfectant at various places near the food service. Used dishes are quickly picked up by friendly staff. Tables are also cleared quickly so it's not difficult to find a place to sit near the buffet or near the pools. Most areas have attendants preparing made-to-order items or simply ladling food into bowls and onto plates. This isn't your average buffet. It's mostly fine dining quality food which is easily accessible. You could easily take all your meals here, but I'd suggest using the dining room most evenings and as often as possible for breakfast. You will be seated with others on-board unless you request otherwise. I'm not much on meeting new people, but I'm glad we chose to eat with new acquaintances each time we went for breakfast in the dining room. We were seated with the same couples at night, but if someone chose to eat in the specialty cafe or lido buffet, their seats were empty. Gala nights are a step up in quality of environment, but the the food is always exquisitely prepared and served. Meals in the dining room last about 2 hours, which surprising goes quickly if you simply talk about what you did during the day with your table-mates. On those evenings we ate at the Lido Market (buffet) we made separate trips for appetizers, salad, main course, and dessert, much like those served in fine dining. Drinks are served by request in all areas. The dining room attendants are numerous and very attentive learning your name quickly. You will most likely find that nearly every person associated with the dining room make your voyage amazing. From our viewpoint, the small added cost dining areas, such as the Pinnacle Grill, are not necessary. However, those we talked to reported being very pleased by their meals there. Grade: A+ ENTERTAINMENT VENUES The entertainment venues that we attended after dining: BB King Stage (Rhythm and Blues and Soul), Lincoln Center Stage (violin, cello, viola, and piano), and Main Stage which included hour long performances a comedian, illusionists which we attended as well as some song/dance variety shows (which we didn't but heard were good). Drinks are served by request. During the day there are various activities available from card playing to trivia to afternoon concerts. The BB King Stage was transformed to a cooking show by PBS's America's Test Kitchen, now in its 18th season(see episodes at https://www.americastestkitchen.com/episodes or teasers on youtube such as the following: https://youtu.be/mpnshdmtE2Y ). Carla, from the youtube link was the host on this ship. This cooking show was very well done. I loved Carla's dry sense of humor. The technicians could do away with the canned applause, though. Even if you don't prepare meals, make it a point to get to at least part of a 45-60 min. presentation. You are given the recipes to the items prepared so you can follow along. Get to the Main Stage show about 20 minutes early or you may not find a seat. It's ok to send one of your party to save 3-4 seats while others wait to enter spending $$ in the nearby casino or have a drink in a nearby lounge. We were surprised to find a lack of interaction between audience and musicians in the BB King Stage. However, the quality of the music was quite high. The classical musicians at the Lincoln Center Stage were quite accomplished in many different styles of music (not just classical). There was a small contingent of hearing impaired guests. An ASL interpreter was at the Main Stage. I don't think the ship supplied interpretation, but the signers did a good job for those they served. I appreciated that the comedienne interacted with the interpreter and indirectly with those they served. Grade: B+ OVERALL SERVICE One of the supervisors at the guest services mentioned that Holland America is not for the rowdy and you won't find lots of children. There were families with with children, but the kids had an access area on the 10th deck all their own and could play basketball, paddle ball, table tennis and have other activities without being bothered by adults. It sounds like Carnival (corporate owner of Holland America) is more of a ship for kids/young families. We found that on a ship of over 2000 people, we did not feel crowded until disembarkation morning and that's only because breakfast was only available on the lido deck. Still, the staff did an excellent job keeping tables available for those later arrivals. If you abhor cigarette and cigar smoke, stay off the aft area of the lido deck. That's the only place for smoking. Generally, the smoke is blown off the back of the ship while moving. In short, the diverse staff, representing some 80 different countries and regions, was outstanding. If you are on board, you are treated like family (except for the family squabbles). Grade: A OVERALL EXPERIENCE We imagined our first cruise would be very good with some pitfalls due to not having cruised before. It was much better than we could have imagined. The Westerdam's crew and staff's grade: SUPERIOR. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
If you want to relax and get away from your regular life...don't cruise Norwegian! From the moment you board the ship you are up-sold constantly. We bought the beverage package yet coffee and water were not included but a 15.00 ... Read More
If you want to relax and get away from your regular life...don't cruise Norwegian! From the moment you board the ship you are up-sold constantly. We bought the beverage package yet coffee and water were not included but a 15.00 glass of wine was. ..are you kidding me? They even had a presentation to sell you a discount for a future cruise which made you feel like you are missing out now and you don't have the best value. The service people were awesome. However our room smelled like a locker room of men and it took 4 days for the smell to dissipate. The food was not very fresh in the buffets but very good in the other restaurants.The entertainment was awesome. The most aggravating thing of all was the constant up-selling of everything. From on the boat to on the shore one big tug at getting more money out of you, very disappointing and not relaxing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Just finishing our Alaska to Eastern Russia and Japan cruise on the explorer. Probably the worst cruise of my life. The ship was very nice, crew and ship's staff great. The expedition team for the most part was good with the exception ... Read More
Just finishing our Alaska to Eastern Russia and Japan cruise on the explorer. Probably the worst cruise of my life. The ship was very nice, crew and ship's staff great. The expedition team for the most part was good with the exception of the expedition leader, who was dysfunctional. The expedition staff members failed to work together, we booked this specifically for the chance to see Bears and wildlife in Alaska and Eastern Russia. No Bears seen on the entire trip. Saw more wildlife in the short visit to Dutch Harbor than any of the Zodiac excursions. The zodiac excursions were about an hour long at most, in the morning when it was foggy, then back to the boat with nothing to do but use the gym, eat, drink and nap. The expedition team attempted to fill the "down" time with a few lectures some were good, most were boring and not very informative. The weather didn't help, we skirted a cyclone off of Alaska and had to miss some excursions there, We were told that they were not allowed to use the Zodiacs for excursions in Alaska anymore, just as tenders. In Russia the excuse was that the Russian authorities would not let them land or get close to any wildlife. Many others onboard felt the same way, a good deal of people had multiple trips on the Explorer and said this was unusual and poorly run. They said most of the other trips were better with multiple excursions each day and actually saw wildlife up close. The hot tubs were closed for most of the trip and only opened after I complained to the hotel manager. Room was nice, service was good. food good, most of the time the outside restaurant was closed due to "weather" Transfer from Anchorage was about 3 hours by motor coach, no stops, no water, no food. On arrival about 2 PM an incredibly slow check in process with no food available. We were told to call room service when we got to our room or get something ashore but be back onboard by 4PM when the ship sailed. We called room service and were told it was not available. Read Less

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise