16 Vancouver Holland America Amsterdam Cruise Reviews

This is our second cruise on the lovely Amsterdam, and we were pleasantly surprised with her face lift! For an 18 year old lady, she is a gem. We stayed in a Lanai Cabin, and there isn't anything better. Ms Amsterdam had an ... Read More
This is our second cruise on the lovely Amsterdam, and we were pleasantly surprised with her face lift! For an 18 year old lady, she is a gem. We stayed in a Lanai Cabin, and there isn't anything better. Ms Amsterdam had an interior makeover in May of this year, and she is just like new. We loved the colors, the decor, and the new stateliness she exudes. The Lanai cabins are new to this ship, and they are the absolute best location for us. We could enter through the hallway on the main deck, or enter and exit through our sliding Lanai door onto our entire 3rd deck balcony. An added plus to this ship is the amazing crew. Everyone was welcome and happy and most pleasant to be around. We understand there is a new Hotel Director, and it is obvious the crew loves him. Leadership matters! Finally, Ms Amsterdam is still my favorite ship! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
I won't deny that HAL crew consisted mostly of Filipinos and Indonesians were a great crew. They gave impeccable service. This is the 3rd time I sailed with a HAL ship. I'm inclined to stop sailing with HAL for awhile for the ... Read More
I won't deny that HAL crew consisted mostly of Filipinos and Indonesians were a great crew. They gave impeccable service. This is the 3rd time I sailed with a HAL ship. I'm inclined to stop sailing with HAL for awhile for the following reasons: 1. I've been over billed. During my first cruise, they claimed I took a $7.10 worth of drinks from my stateroom fridge. It wasn't true because I don't drink. I let the incident pass as for that amount, I'm willing to pay to relieve me of the stressful refund process. 2. On my second sailing, I was over billed. This time I used my debit card. A week later, new charges came off in the amount of $320. This was enough for me to get on the phone and dispute the amount. There was no way I'd spend that amount a week after I've disembarked. The summary statement I paid during disembarkation was all I have to pay, I insisted. It took two weeks before HAL reversed the charges. By then, I had some bills lined up for me to pay and had to get some back funds from my line of credit. 3. I passed on two years before sailing with HAL again and it happened again. An additional charge of over $20 came in long after I've disembarked- a bill that was not included in my final disembarkation charges. So I disputed that. There are not many activities in HAL compared to Royal Caribbean or Princess Cruises where activities and shows/ entertainment are scheduled by the hour. The HAL trip to Panama offered great entertainers but there were several lull moments. It's up to you to read a book or walk along the Promenade, shop, eat, sleep.. gym.. A real vacation for many but for the young and restless, those might not pass. Though cruising with HAL is great, it's after the cruise that could be a nightmare. I've sailed Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Princess and several times I did. I didn't have these problems. I've decided not to cruise with HAL for awhile. As well, HAL destinations for example in the Caribbean mostly include a stop at Half Moon Cay. It's an island owned by HAL. Western Caribbean, for example, offers a lot of excursions to historical sites but none of the HAL ships I know pass by those places such as Roatan and Belize, two places that have a lot of histories. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My husband and I have been on 14 cruises through our 41 years of marriage. Our very first cruise was for our honeymoon and we have been hooked on cruising ever since. This cruise was a gift to my mother for her 90th birthday. Cruising to ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 14 cruises through our 41 years of marriage. Our very first cruise was for our honeymoon and we have been hooked on cruising ever since. This cruise was a gift to my mother for her 90th birthday. Cruising to Alaska was one of her dreams. Traveling to port and back: We flew to Seattle the day before the cruise, and stayed at the Best Western on Taylor Avenue. This is the pick-up site for Quick Coach, which provides transfer services to Vancouver (Canada Place Pier) and back. It is a no-frills hotel, but clean. The staff is friendly and courteous. We went to Alaska last year and picked this hotel again because of the convenience of being the pick-up point for the transfer service. For a one-night stay, before and after the cruise, it is fine. There are no porters (you have to take care of your luggage yourself), but there are at least luggage carts you can use. There is a small restaurant that serves a decent breakfast buffet. They also serve dinner, with a varied menu. Last year and this year our room had the view of the Seattle Space Needle - stunning! Quick Coach is efficient, on time, and drivers are courteous and helpful. I highly recommend them. Going through Customs entering Canada was a breeze. Staff were friendly and there was no hassle. Entering the US on our way back was another story. Agents are rude, not helpful at all. Out of 6 stations there were only 3 processing 55 people, and sometimes only two, with an agent leaving his station, or another one staring at his screen for what seemed like hours. We were all tired and ready to get on with our trip back home and did not need this inefficiency and apathy. If you are going to Alaska for the first time, and if your cruise leaves from Vancouver, I suggest you fly to Seattle the day before the cruise and book a late return flight for the day you return (after 6pm), or stay one more night in Seattle. I mention Seattle because if you live in the US it is cheaper to fly to Seattle than to Vancouver. Taxi service from/to SeaTac will cost you about $40-$45 plus tips but it is efficient. Embarkation: Holland America knows how to treat their passengers when it comes to embarking and debarking. At Canada Place there were three ships at the same time, so the lines were long, and what seemed to be endless. A Holland America agent saw my mother with a cane, came to us and pulled us out of the line to expedite our embarkation. She was an angel! Stateroom: Our cabin was #6162, a Verandah Suite (A). It was midship, close to the laundry and the elevators. The cabin had plenty of storage space, more than we needed, which is not a bad thing. A few things I have to mention: our luggage did not fit under the beds. The carry-ons fit but not the larger ones. This is the first time we have encountered this situation. It could be that our suitcases, which were new, had the expandable section, making them a bit higher. I made sure the expandable sections were zipped up and they still did not fit. I stored the large suitcases next to the door to the balcony. They were not in our way. The cabin seemed a bit tight. If one of us wanted to walk to the bathroom and the other was in the closet area or on the foot of the beds, one had to move aside so the other could walk through. If you wanted to use the vanity you had to move the table in front of the sofa so you could move the chair to sit down. There was only one electric outlet in the entire cabin. It had both 110 and 220 outlets. Now that we all have phones, cameras, IPads, etc that have to be charged, having just one outlet is kind of inconvenient. Ship Info: The Amsterdam is an elegant ship throughout. All public spaces are tastefully decorated. We felt special just by walking the Promenade and going to the lounges. There is some rust in the lifeboats' brackets and some windows look like the insulation has been damaged and not repaired properly, with unsightly clumps of sealant showing. I guess since the Amsterdam is due for dry dock in December 2013 maintenance has gone to the wayside. Dining: First, the Pinnacle Grill. We ate there on two nights. What an experience! The service, the food, the ambiance, are all better than any gourmet restaurant we have been to. You feel special the moment you are greeted. The Spicy Chicken Coconut Soup was a delectable surprise. Not spicy at all, but so flavorful. My filet mignon was the best I ever had - no knife needed, and cooked to perfection. My mother had the Lobster Mac & Cheese, exquisite. It is hard to choose a side dish because of the large selection, but you will not be dissapointed with whichever you order. For dessert we had a decadent chocolate cake brought to my mom with a candle to celebrate her birthday. I also had the best Baked Alaska ever! This is definitely worth $25 per person. The second night at the Grill was when it is converted to Le Cirque, a partnership of HAL with the famous Le Cirque restaurant in New York City. This happens only once per cruise, so we were lucky to get a reservation for this one evening. The menu, the decor, the china, all resemble the original Le Cirque. And what a menu it is! My mom's Caesar Salad was prepared at the table as it should be. Fantastic! My Lobster Salad "Le Cirque" was a culinary treat. Not the salad we might expect. This is a work of art. The Chilled Yogurt and Melon Soup, out of this world! My Chauteaubriand was again cooked to perfection and exquisite. My mom had the Three Cheese Ravioli, and it was amazing. For dessert we both had their Creme Brulee - yumm! This evening cost a bit more, $39 per person, but it is also worth every penny. Kudos to the Pinnacle Grill staff: Elvira the hostess, who by the way, came to us at every course to see how everything was, with a genuine smile and friendly conversation; Servers Dhana and Sarah, Coffee server Tri, wine master Eric. Now, for the Main Dining Room, LaFontaine: What a dissapointment! Our first dinner there was on the second night of the cruise, since we dined at the Pinnacle Grill the first night. I asked the dining room staff member who greeted us where our table was (Table 50). Instead of escorting us to our table he pointed to it. Someone saw us wondering about and took us to the table. Our waiter greeted us and introduced himself, but never introduced his assistant. Service was OK but not impressive. The food is bland, no seasoning, unattractive, not up to par to a cruise line of this caliber. On two nights our dishes had rice as a side dish. Once it was a lump of tasteless white rice, and another night is was a lump of tasteless yellow rice. My mom had roast turkey one night and the pieces of turkey were slopped on top of the cranberry jelly, just like food from a buffet line, and a bad one at that. The turkey had no flavor and it was dry. Steaks were generally hard and dry, lacking seasoning. Fish fillets were unappealing. The "Shrimp and Avocado Tower" is a clump less than two inches tall (no tower here). The avocado pieces were microscopic and the shrimp was nowhere to be found. Most of the time two of us at the table ordered the same thing and had the same opinion of the food. Dessert was no better. Most memorable was the "Volcano Cake" ( I don't remember the exact name, but the name had Volcano in it.) Thinking this would be the classic Lava cake (per the description) I ordered it. I got some clumps of chocolate that were supposed to resemble the boulders at the base of the volcano. They tasted like dark chocolate for cocoa before it is cooked. Two of us ordered this and had the same reaction. We ate because we were hungry (8pm seating) and because if we returned anything we would have missed the shows. The first time we were on HAL meals were to die for. This has been our experience on all cruises we have been on. This time the Amsterdam really dissapointed. Kids acitivities: - not applicable since we did not need this service. There were not many kids on board though. Service: Excellent service on the Lido Deck at every meal. Staff were friendly and so helpful. Whenever they saw my mom with a plate in her hand they would carry it to the table and get her a drink or anything she needed without her asking. Service at the Shops was great, although they seemed under-staffed at times. They were still courteous. Photo: This has always been our one bad experience on any cruise, and this one did not dissapoint. At least they are not as aggressive as, say Carnival. An 8x10 is $19.99. I believe this has not changed much from the last time we purchased photos. But, there are no 5x7's anymore. What they do is add a cute decorative "souvenir scene" on a larger paper, beneath your photo. Now the paper is larger, so they charge $14.95 for these. I recall 5x7's were $9.99. Now, "portraits" are a different animal. They advertise portrait sittings as a separate service and for a higher fee. On a formal night my mom and I wanted to have our photo taken, of course, being a Mother/Daughter cruise and celebrating her birthday. Two photographers on the Promenade called us over and took our photos. The photos turned out beautifully, and we chose three. When we went to pay, these are $39.99 EACH! They put an 8x10 with a 4x6 and two wallets in one sheet and charged as a portrait. We did not ask for a sititng. THEY called us. Prices are not posted, so you do not know what you will pay. We were not happy. Instead of buying three photos we only bought one. If they thought they are making more money by charging $40 for those "portraits', this is counterproductive because we spent less than we would have if the photos had been $19.99. To add to the bad experience, we had been told that if we purchased 5 photos we would get the digital file. We purchased 5, but were told we did not qualify for the digital file because the five photos had to be of the same category. Talk about a rip off! And there is all that paper and toner that are wasted. This is not only annoying but not ecologically friendly. Entertainment: As per ship's activities, the ones we enjoyed the most were the demos by the Culinary Arts department. This has been the best program I have seen; informative and entertaining. A joy to attend! The movie theatre is a plus! Comfortable seating and a big screen. What a treat! The onboard "Locations Guide", Kianoa, was excellent. His lectures on the topography of Alaska and the glaciers were an education. The guy is a walking encyclopedia! The shows left a lot to be desired. The first night's show was an introduction to all the entertainment aboard the ship. One mini act after the other, so we got to know the performers. Nice idea, but it did not give you the WOW! you are used to on other cruise lines, or on our first cruise with HAL for that matter. The dancers were sub-standard and the shows looked like they had been put together by an amateur choreographer. The singers were fantastic though. The last night was the Finale of the "Dancing with the Stars at Sea", where a winner was voted on by a panel of judges and the audience. This was a lot of fun, and original. The cruise director was OK. I was not impressed. Port and Shore Excursions: Glacier Bay: gorgeous views! On our last two cruises to Alaska (yes, this was my third time), we visited the Hubbard Glacier, once on HAL and last year on Celebrity. This glacier is spectacular, majestic, incredible! There is a lot of calving activity. The glacier ice is blue, and its expanse of 7 miles in width makes it breathtaking to look at. The Amsterdam stopped at Margerie Glacier, one mile wide, dirty on its sides, and with no calving activity. We were stopped in front of Margerie for over two hours and nothing happened. I know calving is not a programmed event, but something should have happened in the course of two hours. I was dissapointed that my mom did not have the same exciting experience we had with the Hubbard on two occasions, 16 years apart. Being in front of that glacier, although a treat, was not exciting. Skagway: Did the "Best of Skagway" excursion. Fantastic! First we had a tour of Skagway (does not take long), then we boarded the White Pass and Yukon Summit Railroad for a ride through the Yukon and White Pass Summit crossed by the gold prospectors in 1898. Spectacular views and interesting narrated history. Then we went to Liarsville, a quaint town set in the campsite used by tired prospectors. Here we had a lunch of smoked salmon with all kinds of side dishes that was absoutely delicious. There was a show by local artists with stories, anecdotes, and poems, very witty and entertaining. We "looked" for gold and found some nuggets that need a magnifying glass in order to see them, but gold they are! Our tour ended at the Red Onion Saloon, an actual bordello circa 1989-99. Here "madams" gave us an informative talk on how the bordello was run. Interesting! Juneau: After a very informative chat by our driver, we visited the McCauly Salmon Hatchery and learned how salmon is being hatched and processed. Fascinating! We then visited the Mendenhall Glacier. This is spectacular, a must! After the glacier we visited Glacier Gardens, the most unique gardens I have seen. The developer acquired trees downed by an avalanche and put them in the ground upside down with the roots on top. The roots form a type of basket that hold plants, forming gorgeous hanging planters. The beauty is hard to explain in words. We had a tour on a cart inside the expansive garden grounds and parts of the Tongass National Forest. I highly recommend this tour. Ketchikan: Went to the Totem Heritage Center and Potlatch Park. Both are fascinating places. All drivers were excellent and knowledgeable. They were on time and courteous. We booked all excursions online through HAL. Disembarkation: Again, smooth and efficient. Summary: Although you cannot go wrong with a cruise to Alaska, I would research in more depth if I go again. (And I might - I love this cruise so much!) Visiting Hubbard Glacier has to be a priority. The Margerie was such a downer. The Amsterdam is an elegant ship, and the staff and crew were great. She needs some TLC though. The "negatives" I expressed here did not hinder our cruise experience. Having said that, I might consider HAL again, but would be weary of the Amsterdam because of our bad experience at the main dining room and the inferior entertainment at the Queen's Theatre. All in all, a great cruise. I say that if you like cruising, every cruise is a great cruise. The "glitches" have to be addressed, but the big picture is always great.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Booked the Amsterdam for my husband's birthday, because we have spent quite a bit of time on her and know a lot of the crew and officers. We were a little nervous, because we haven't done anything but "Grand Voyages" on ... Read More
Booked the Amsterdam for my husband's birthday, because we have spent quite a bit of time on her and know a lot of the crew and officers. We were a little nervous, because we haven't done anything but "Grand Voyages" on Holland since 2004, and we know they put on extra hand-picked crew and bump up the menus for these. Our fears were unfounded. The service and food were just as good as on the grand cruises. We were in an outside cabin and our cabin stewards were excellent. Love the outside cabins, because they have one more closet than the balcony cabins. We had a lot of luggage because we were staying on for 32 more days of the Grand Asia/Pacific. Everything was in working order in our cabin. Plenty of room for luggage under the bed. The only thing I miss that you have in a balcony is the little refrigerator. I think you can get one, but it has to go in the knee-hole under the desk. Our waiters were some of the best we've ever had. The food was outstanding. I had the best pork chop I have ever eaten, very tender and flavorful. We had snails, which I love, on a formal night. Lobster, prime rib and beef tenderloin were also featured during the cruise. This was our third time to Alaska, so we didn't get off at every port, but we had a couple of friends with us who had never been and they enjoyed the ports. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
My family (9 of us - 4 seniors, 2 adults, 3 kids) went on the 7-night Alaska Inside Passage Cruise on HAL Amsterdam in early September. The Southeast Alaska scenery was breath-taking and the weather was quite pleasant. However, the ... Read More
My family (9 of us - 4 seniors, 2 adults, 3 kids) went on the 7-night Alaska Inside Passage Cruise on HAL Amsterdam in early September. The Southeast Alaska scenery was breath-taking and the weather was quite pleasant. However, the experience with HAL Amsterdam was just so so. Pre-cruise: We stayed a couple of nights in Vancouver (Richmond area) prior to the cruise. Before cruise, we were worried how we would transport a large group like us in Vancouver. It turns out the Vancouver public transportation was adequate. We used Skytrain & Bus and found those to be quite good. The Skytrain is especially helpful since it stops at or around all major city sites tourists need to access, including the airport, Vancouver downtown, Richmond area, etc. We went to Stanley Park the day prior to cruise - it takes a bus ride from near Waterfront Station so not too hard. Once in the park, it's actually quite difficult to get around the park since it is so big. We walked around the park and spent sometime on the seawall which is very nice. The hotel we stayed in is in Richmond and close to a lot of Asian shops and restaurants, so very convenient. Vancouver / Richmond has outstanding Chinese / Japanese food! Boarding: we boarded the ship from Canada Place Terminal around 12pm. Boarding was relatively smooth - apparently we were early so the line was short. The only thing was that I forgot to print out paper copies of the cruise documents. That caused some delay but overall not too bad. Overall it took us about an hour to get on the ship. The rooms were ready and the luggage delivered shortly after. We ate at the buffet (not impressed, more on this later) and the drill went smoothly. Room: We had 4 ocean view rooms. 2 of them were connected and used by my wife and myself, plus the kids (3). In the past cruises the 5 of us tried to stay in one large family room. It was hard to find but we thought it would be a better arrangement than 2 connected rooms. We found that wasn't the case! The 2 connected rooms worked out really well for us - giving us some privacy and allow my youngest kid to take afternoon nap in one room while two older ones hang out with us in the other. The rooms are sufficiently sized for 2 or 3 people. Room was cleaned at least twice a day. No complaint there. Food: We heard HAL food was good. But our experience wasn't so positive. There were very limited choices onboard - the main dining room, the buffet, and two specialty restaurants (Canaletto the Italian and Pinnacle Grill the steak house). We had dinners mostly in the main dining room, except one night in Canaletto. For breakfasts / lunches, we dined mostly in the buffet, except one lunch at Pinnacle Grill. Also had a breakfast as room service - the quality was really not good. Main dining room: The food in the main dining room was just OK, comparable with Royal Carribean / Norwegian main dining rooms. Service was a little on the slow side. Our waiter was friendly but not very talkative (also due to him being busy all the time). Buffet: The buffet was very disappointing. Amsterdam is not a large ship, with under 1,400 guests. However, the Buffet was always busy with long lines, and it was really hard to find tables. Being a smaller ship, the buffet station area is quite small, and there was not much variety. The other factor is because HAL insists on having the crew serving the food instead of allowing the guests to pick up what they want. This seriously slow down the whole operation and the serving crew was seriously stressed. I understand the reasons are probably hygienic as well as HAL cruises have high portion of senior guests, but the slowness really hurt the dining experience. The food variety was very little and doesn't change from day to day much. I'd say this is perhaps the biggest low light of the ship. The buffets on the much larger Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Sea and Norwegian Epic was much superior on quality and serving speed. Canaletto: This specialty restaurant is located in a corner-offed area in the buffet. It really doesn't feel very special. The food was decent, but nothing to rave about. Pinnacle Grill: This restaurant is nicely decorated. We had just lunch there, and found that to be a good value ($10 per person vs. $25 per person for dinner). The food was decent, but not any better than the high-end specialty restaurants on RC / Norwegian ships. Overall the food experience was just so so. I feel HAL needs to do a better job to catch up with other cruise lines. Ship: The ship is fairly small, hosting ~1,400 guests (compared to ~4,000 for RC / Norwegian ships we cruised on previously). The atmosphere does feel more relaxed due to the smaller size, and overall the ship doesn't feel crowded (except at the buffet and the day at the Glacier Bay - everybody was at the bow!). The activities on ship were most geared towards seniors so we didn't go to that many. With the nice weather / view, we spent a lot of time on the Lower Promenade and the Sports decks - these decks have outdoor loops. With a large party like ours and no way to communicate (should have brought walkie talkie!), we also spent a lot of time walking up and down stairs just to find people. The elevators are very fast, but difficult to get on (again due to the large senior crowd). The ship is small so stairs are generally adequate. Most activities are located between 3rd & 8th floors (3rd floor - outdoor loop, 4th/5th floors - auditorium, library, theater, shops, etc, 8th floor - the buffet and pool). The ship does feel a bit old but generally clean. The library area is very nice - quite spacious and equipped with many books and nice chairs. It's much nicer than the libraries found on the larger RC / Norwegian ships. Again probably a reflection of the focus on the senior guests. One thing that HAL needs to be commended on is that their casino is relatively small and smoking is not allowed there - this is very refreshing as the casino smoke was a major nuisance on RC / Norwegian ships. Kids Program: Surprisingly this is the highlight of the cruise. We cruised in early September, so many schools have already begun so there were very few kids onboard. With the few days there, we probably saw less than 30 kids total! As a result, the kid's clubs are sparsely populated, and all of my kids reported that they enjoyed the clubs very much, and said the kids program here beats the ones on RC & Norwegian. What a surprise! A very commendable job done by the kids staff on Amsterdam! Ports and Excursions: We didn't book any excursion through HAL. Instead we booked those directly with the on-shore vendors. In Skagway we booked the Skagway Van Tour with Matt - an outstanding experience and highly recommended! In Juneau we booked the Harv and Marv's whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier trip - the boat was really nice but overall not very impressive experience (feels rushed and commercial). In Ketchikan we just hopped on a bus to the Totem Bight State Park - a small but beautiful park to kill a couple of hours. Other than that we shopped and sampled various salmon products. Overall all three ports are lovely, small and tourist-friendly. The Alaskan port shops are actually quite nice with a good variety compared to Caribbean port shops. Disembarkation: Getting off the ship was quite smooth. HAL did a pretty good job there. Overall it was a memorable trip. I do feel HAL needs to try harder to catch up with other cruise lines in a number of areas, however. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We took a 7 night Alaska cruise a few years ago and loved it so much that we wanted to experience more of this exciting destination. For some reason there are almost NO reviews of Alaska Cruisetours - it's unfortunate because those of ... Read More
We took a 7 night Alaska cruise a few years ago and loved it so much that we wanted to experience more of this exciting destination. For some reason there are almost NO reviews of Alaska Cruisetours - it's unfortunate because those of us who research before planning our trips would really appreciate more information about this popular Alaska travel option. So here's my review -- the good and the not so good -- about our experience on a cruisetour. Embarkation at Canada Place in Vancouver was a bit different than many of our cruises because we first needed to clear immigration. Nonetheless, it went quite smoothly and we were onboard after about 1/2 hour. The Amsterdam was a much smaller ship than those we've sailed in the past. It was nice to be able to navigate the whole vessel in a short amount of time. Our stateroom was a Category A Verandah Suite. The room was spacious and well decorated, the balcony had room for two loungers which was nice, and the bathroom had a real bathtub, something I think HAL has on all of their ships if this is important to you. We had a good lunch in the main dining room which was a welcome option from the crowded buffet. Muster drill was more involved than some we've attended, and also seemed a bit disorganized. MEALS: The first night dinner was disastrous! We chose the select dining time option and went to the dining room around 6:00. We were seated with 3 other couples. Between the 8 of us, just about all of the menu choices for entrees were covered, and all of us had a complaint!! The dining room manager came to our table and made note of all the complaints and promised the next night would be better . . . and it was! In fact, the food from that point forward was really good. We did avoid the buffet because it seemed disorganized and crowded, so I can't comment on the food there. This was our first HAL cruise and we had heard so much about their excellent food, so we think the first night was a real glitch. The second night was formal, and since we only had 3 nights on the ship and would be dressed VERY casually for our land adventure, we did not bring formal wear. I checked with HAL's office to see if my husband would be allowed in the dining room with just a dress shirt and tie and was told he had to have a jacket or we wouldn't be allowed in the dining room. So on formal night we ordered dinner from the regular dining room menu and had it delivered to our room. Keep this option in mind if you don't want to dress up, but don't want to have dinner in the buffet either. ENTERTAINMENT: We attended the main show the first night. The seating is rather informal with small seating groups at tables - kind of a lounge feeling rather than a big showroom with auditorium seating. The floor is not sloped, so unless you sit right in the front you might have difficulty seeing. We also attended the main show on the second night. The singers were excellent, the dancers were not the best we've seen, but certainly not the worst either. The Amsterdam has several lounge areas where you can dance or listen to music, and we loved this about the ship. There was a trio playing jazz standards and 1940 pop music in one lounge with a nice dance floor. They were excellent. They also have a piano bar, and there was a special show on the 3rd night which was highly recommended. We enjoyed that one too, so overall we think HAL offers really good entertainment. ON BOARD ACTIVITIES: We attended a couple of cooking demonstrations - they were just ok. We also played trivia a couple of times. And we took a couple of dance lessons as part of HAL's Dancing With the Stars competition. They were really fun and a couple of passengers were chosen to perform in a show on the final cruise night. I hope we see a review from someone who saw that show because we wished we could see it. CRUISETOUR: After 3 nights we arrived in Skagway where we met our group of 32 travelers and Tour Director Chad and began our tour into the Yukon Territory. We did not purchase the HAL meal plan, so we were on our own for most of our meals. A few were included with the cruisetour, mostly because we were somewhere too remote to find a restaurant. You will hear that food in Alaska is expensive, and it is. The HAL meal plan was about $840 per couple for the 8 nights. On our own we spent about $700, and we ate quite well. SKAGWAY: We took the train from Skagway and saw some beautiful scenery. After the train, we hopped on our Explorer Coach in Fraser and rode up to the town of Whitehorse where we spent the next 2 nights. WHITEHORSE: There were no activities included in Whitehorse, so we booked a couple of excursions through HAL before we left for our vacation. One included a visit to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve which we would highly recommend. We saw lots of wildlife up close and many animals we never saw in the wild, so it was well worth the time and money. We also took a Yukon River Adventure and saw lots of bald eagles - that was a real treat. We stayed at the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel, which is owed by HAL. The rooms were not fancy, but clean and good sized. The biggest issue was that there was no air conditioning so we slept with our window wide open, and it was light out until at least 10:30 pm! BEAVER CREEK: After all day long on the bus, we arrived in Beaver Creek just in time for dinner. The tour included a brief lunch stop in Haines Junction, and dinner and show in Beaver Creek. The dinner was served family style, and everyone especially liked the Baked Alaska dessert. The Westmark Beaver Creek was pretty rustic. If you've ever been to a summer cabin furnished in castaways, you'll get the idea. This was our least favorite stop, and we understand that HAL is not going to include Beaver Creek on their cruisetour itineraries next year. It's just as well - we really couldn't recommend it. FAIRBANKS: Another full day of bus riding was required in order to get to Fairbanks where we spent 2 nights at the Westmark. This was by far the nicest hotel we stayed in, although the neighborhood didn't have much to choose from in the way of dining options. Our tour included a really nice trip on a riverboat which included a stop at the Aleyeska Pipeline (interesting) and an Indian village. Family style lunch was also included, conveniently right next door to the gift shop. After lunch we headed to a goldmine where we panned for gold - and yes, everyone in our group did find some gold. Ours was weighed and valued at a whopping $11.00, but it was fun. DENALI: A 4-hour train ride in a dome car brought us to Denali, the highlight of our tour. We booked a couple of excursions before we left home, and our favorite was the Husky Homestead visit to champion musher Jeff King's camp. The Tundra Wilderness Tour (part of the cruisetour package) was both good and bad. The good: we saw Mt. McKinley several times which apparently only 30% of Alaska visitors see, we saw lots of caribou, a few moose, one bear, and lots of Dall sheep. The bad: we were on a not-real-comfy bus from 2:00-10:15 pm! It was an incredibly long day and we were exhausted (and really hungry) by the time we finally got back to the hotel. We stayed at the McKinley Chalet Resort and our room was very comfortable - at least until an electrical fire broke out at 9:00 pm! Everyone evacuated and we were finally able to return to our rooms at 11:30. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the entire incident was very poorly handled. See my review on the Port boards for details. At 1:30 a.m. we got a Northern Lights wake-up call as requested, and ran outside to see a truly spectacular sight. ANCHORAGE: We spent 8 hours in a dome railroad car traveling from Denali to Anchorage. Lunch and dinner on the train were excellent. Our cruisetour officially ended upon our arrival at the Anchorage Westmark Hotel. Anchorage is a nice, interesting city and very easy to get around on foot. SUMMARY: A cruisetour is a very smooth, easy way to travel. Absolutely everything is taken care of for you, especially if you have a tour director as excellent as ours was. We saw some beautiful scenery and wildlife, met some really nice people, and generally had a very good time. The people who live in Alaska are interesting, resilient and self-reliant and we enjoyed meeting them. Would we take another cruisetour? Never in a million years! We learned that we really don't like living out of a suitcase, and we don't like riding buses for hours on end. If you are thinking of seeing Alaska this way, just be prepared that the distances you'll travel are very long because Alaska is a huge state, and the scenery just doesn't change all that much. Our recommendation would be to take a 7 night (or longer) cruise with a 3-day Denali extension. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We had a good time, but it was definitely not up to standards with other shipslines I have cruised with. I would not recommend this to seasoned cruisers looking for "that little something extra", you will be disappointed. ... Read More
We had a good time, but it was definitely not up to standards with other shipslines I have cruised with. I would not recommend this to seasoned cruisers looking for "that little something extra", you will be disappointed. (however, knowing what to expect, with simply relaxing in mind, it is an inexpensive holiday...we paid $2500. for a Verandah Suite, one week, all in, for 2 adults) But for first-timers, or young people looking for a new adventure, you will have fun. Embarkment: In a word, excellent. We got there early, right at noon, and walked through the different check ins with ease. The staff were efficient and smiling. First Impressions: Once we had boarded the ship we were offered a glass on wine. We have cruised before and know most ships offer champagne but that yet to happen. The server was friendly and talking to us. We only realized that the drinks had been poured and the bottle left on the table when he was gone. The charge? $40.00. Not cool. The same "wine stewart" was pushy at other times too, and I witnessed a person at our table having to say several times he only wanted a glass of wine, before he left him alone. However, he was one person and we in no way let that sway our opinions of the cruise in general. Cabins: We had a Verandah Suites, an upgrade offered to us for an additional $200. total. (these are balcony rooms renamed "suites", as told to me by the booking agent) Well worth it! It was more than roomy enough for my hubby and I, with a nice sized, (big enough for a lounger), very private deck. The housekeeping staff were amazing, we left "the boys" an extra gratuity, they added so much to our overall experience. The rooms were well stocked and very clean. Beds were extra comfy. Good water pressure for showers. Tip: we were on the starboard side and seemed to always have the sun at the right time of the day. Also when in port we had excellent views. Perfect! Dining: Main Dining Room: We chose flexible dining times. The service was painfully slow. I don't know if it was the serving staff or the kitchen, but more than once it took almost 3 hours from start to finish. (a long time when there are set Show times in the theatre) Because we went with the flexible times, we didn't have the same waiters. I would rethink that next time, it wasn't the same as getting to know the people at your table and your servers. At times the waiters seemed confused, but perhaps that was because of the situation with getting the food out. The food itself was good, (and of course you can order as many appys, entrees etc., as you like) Not much of a selection though. They have a few options on a set menu which include chicken and steak, but we found their changing menus offered little variety and we soon tired of the offerings. Pinnacle Grill: We decided to try the Pinnacle Grill; exceptional value at $25.00 per person. Wow!! It was awesome! Delicious steak and lobster. Huge portions, anywhere from 10-20 ounces of steak, I kid you not! (we couldn't believe it either!) We returned the next day, the last day of our cruise, and again were not disappointed. Sarah, our head waitress was exceptional. In addition we had two other helpers so that we were never wanting for anything. You could also order more than one of anything with the exception of entrees, but you won't need to! Beautiful decor. Fine dining. Dress code of the dining room also applies at the Pinnacle. An absolute must! Canaletto Restaurant: Didn't go, but it is basically a cordoned off area of the Lido Deck Buffet area. Not sure what the food was like, the setting put us off trying it. Lido Deck: (outside area) Mexican and American food. Tacos, all the toppings, fresh salsas, salads etc. Burgers with fries and fresh pizza. The food was quite tasty and I especially enjoyed the fresh salsas and fajita chicken. Didn't try the burgers or pizza, but hubby said the pizza was also good. (inside area) This is where the buffet meals are served. Good all round buffet both for breakfast and lunch. Endless options. Dinner is the same offerings as the dining room (plus extras), but self serve. No long waits. (the outdoor area on the Lido deck is a great, fun, active place to hang out and have lunch or a late afternoon snack) The buffet is also open from 10:30-11:30pm for late night cravings. Room Service: Good selection until 10pm, after that they do have 24 hour service, but limited menu. Staff always courteous and friendly. Prompt service. Tasty food. Entertainment: Main Showcase Theatre: Definitely lacking. It was so poor we opted out two nights when usually we take in all the shows while cruising. They really do pale in comparison with other lines. (all others seem to exceed in this area) The first night was singing and dancing. Colourful & enjoyable, but average. A "not so funny" comedian, a dance competition among staff and cruisers, a singing and dancing show by their staff and house band, just very boring...we did really enjoy one night with a magician/comedian, but that was about it. Small Venues (in the lounges): Great. A pianists, girl on a string violin, singers, guy on the sax. House band just okay, (musicians good, tired singer), but we went dancing one night in the Crow's Nest with the band, and had a good time. Pools: Great. They have a retractable roof over the Lido deck, (very handy when the winds come up), that houses the main pool and two very nice, hot, hottubs. We were always able to get a chair, even if it meant having to get it ourselves. (which happened once)Towels readily available. There is also a ping pong table, but it was usually busy with kids, as well as a small stage for musical acts.(sometimes there was live music sometimes piped) I didn't use the sea view pool at the bow of the ship, no hot tubs there and at the front of the ship the breeze was quite cool. I did notice a bar there though and it was very quiet. Maybe a nice "get away" for couples not wanting to be around the kiddies all day. Service: Mixed. Housekeeping, awesome. Pinnacle Grill, with one exception, awesome. Dining room, average. Lido deck, average. (staff confused and unsure some of the time when asked questions or requests. One bartender didn't know what was in the bar and what wasn't. Staff often referred us to other staff or went and got someone who could answer our questions) Activities staff, average. Sometimes late or no show. Room service, awesome. Casino staff, awesome. Shop staff, awesome. Spa Staff: didn't go. Front Desk: attentive and efficient. Stores: What you would expect. Wait until you have been to a few ports and compare prices. All merchandise went on sale the last two days at enormous savings, so wait to buy. The only exception is alcohol at the duty-free. Buy early to avoid disappointment, once it is gone it is gone. Spa: Didn't go, but people who had, raved about the massages. Kids/Youth activities: We're past that now! However there were more kids & teens than I expected on this cruise, perhaps due to summer holidays, and they all seemed entertained. Excursions: Booked our own when we got there. (saved $50.00 by doing this) When you get off the cruise hip, there will be many kiosks set up with companies selling their excursions. If you are not a "have to have a reservation" type, and are flexible, you can buy direct, or as we did, get the information ahead of time at home online, book on arrival, and definitely save money. (or even book online for greater savings...we wanted to hike so opted to wait and see weather conditions and booked once we arrived in Skagway) Tip: The weather can make or break an excursion. I went once and paid over $500. for a ride on the White Pass Railway, only to go on a day that was foogy and rainy! We couldn't see anything! Check weather ahead of time or book on arrival. (either on your own or the cruise line, depending on comfort level) Ports: Excellent. Try Tracey's Crab Shack & the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Shop til you drop in Ketchikan, (the Pirate Saloon is also good for lunch), and lots of time for excursions in Skagway. Try the city bus, it's cheap and fun talking to locals. In Ketchikan they have free shuttles to "downtown" as well as the city bus. Disembarkment: Great, flew through in record time. Tip: we carried our luggage off the ship to avoid big line ups for collecting luggage. Don't bother, they have everything separated by numbers and colours. I was impressed with how everyone needed only a glance to find their belongings.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This was the first time cruising for my 14-year-old son and me. Alaska was the dream cruise for me and I looked forward to beautiful scenery, great photo ops, relaxation, good food, and comfortable, undisturbed sleep. Everything was as I ... Read More
This was the first time cruising for my 14-year-old son and me. Alaska was the dream cruise for me and I looked forward to beautiful scenery, great photo ops, relaxation, good food, and comfortable, undisturbed sleep. Everything was as I had hoped. CABIN: I booked us for a midship, lower level, inside room. (I was worried about motion sickness, but there was no need for that, at least not on this trip I could barely tell the ship was even moving; it felt like we were on solid ground. We cruised on the east side of Vancouver Island and very much on the inside all the way up, so there was little wave action.) On arrival I was surprised to find that I had been upgraded to an outside room, still midship, lower level, just down the hall a little ways. Our baggage was rerouted to our new location. The room was clean, the cabin stewards were very friendly, helpful, and always asking if anything was needed. Because of my bad back, I was happy to see that the beds were very comfortable and I had no trouble sleeping in our quiet, comfortable room. I wasnt sure when booking how roomy our cabin would be, but found it to be quite adequate. We had our sleeping area, a lounge area, closet storage, and the bathroom. The seating area had an upholstered loveseat and single seat, a small coffee table, a desk/counter area with three dresser drawers, large wall mirror, and another small upholstered stool. There were five (possibly six, but I dont remember for sure) closets measuring about 36 wide; all but one had hanging space, of which some also had a shelf or two, upper and lower, and one was all shelves. Plenty of hangers were available. One of the closets had a safe (Im told all the cabins had a safe). While the safe was not large, I managed to fit in it the following, without cases: 11 netbook, DSLR camera, two lenses for the DSLR, camera flash, iPod Touch, 7 tablet, various small electronics, medium-size point and shoot camera, wallet, and important documents. Before arriving, I doubted that what I needed to lock up would fit, but I was able to safely fit everything I needed to. (Things that dont fit can be secured with the purser.) The closet storage was more than adequate, with room to spare . . . and we brought a LOT OF STUFF! We were even able to stow our luggage in the closets, but there was room at the foot of the bed for a couple of pieces of luggage. I left out one piece that I could lock so that I could easily and readily access certain large, expensive items such as tripod, etc.) The very clean bathroom was much larger than I expected--room on the countertop, a shelf underneath, and three shelves in the corner medicine cabin. There was something that possibly could be used as a hair dryer in the bathroom, but it got a bit hot to hold within a few minute, so perhaps it was to dry the mirrors. A hairdryer was available in one of the dresser drawers. There was plenty of floor space to move about, hooks on which to hang robes/clothes, and a tub/shower of comfortable size. The showerhead was very nice and the water was always hot, which is saying a lot since we both tend to take long, hot showers. I suspect that there was an instant hot-water tank between the rooms, since the hot water came quickly. NOTE ABOUT ELECTRONICS: A U.S. (110/120v) voltage hairdryer will need to be used in the seating area there are no outlets in the bathroom. And the outlet that is available only accommodates one 110v electrical item, the other is for the 220v hairdryer. You may even want to bring a small adapter because if youre plugging in an item that is boxy (plug with battery holder), it doesnt or may not fit very well because theres limited space between the bottom of the mirror and the top of the table. HAL is concerned about fire, so I think thats why the options are limited so dont plug in more than one thing at a time and ask your steward for assistance if your needs cannot be adequately met; there is probably a solution available. We were able to charge all our many electronics without issue, but we did have one that barely fit. MEALS: We had breakfast in our room on all but two mornings. We selected our desired items from the varied menu the night prior, having to place the menu card on the door handle by a certain time (I believe it was by 1 a.m., maybe 2). On the card you select your items and a choice of several half-hour time slots when you want your breakfast delivered. We dined two evenings, the first and last, in the main dining room on the open-seating option. We never waited more than a few minutes to be seated. The food and service was very good, and we enjoyed the quiet, comfortable dining experience in a beautiful setting. The remainder of the time we ate in the Lido for lunch and dinner. While we enjoyed the buffet selection of foods, it was a little awkward juggling plates. No trays were available, so you had to just select a few items that would go on two plates/in bowls, go to your table and eat, or return for more plates of food and to get your non-alcoholic drinks (stewards served the alcoholic beverages). Juices were available free, but were not for the taking you had to ask for it and the dining steward would go to the kitchen to retrieve what you wanted. Tea, coffee, and water were available near the buffet area. I never saw any milk, though I think it was available, too, somewhere. If youre dining alone, though, which I sometimes did while my son was off with the teen group, leaving your plates of food on the table unattended might mean that the table will be cleared by the efficient steward staff before you return with your drink or other food. So I found it was necessary to notify the steward that I would be returning or leave some personal items at the table to make that obvious. The Lido is the preferred place to eat for the majority of passengers, so seating can be a little challenging sometimes if you dine at the busiest times when it can also be a bit noisy. So if you want a more peaceful, relaxing dining experience, I would recommend you dine in the main dining room. We ate there only two nights, with the second one being the last evening, after which I had wished I ate there more frequently for dinner. But for families and people who want to quickly grab something to eat, the Lido is the place to be! Food is available in the public areas much of the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snack, which included more cooked food as well as deserts! Then, of course, 24-hour room service was available, with a decent selection of foods from the room menu. We got back late one evening from our Skagway adventures, just missing dinner and so ordered room service (it arrived within 30 minutes!). This was actually quite nice since we were very tired and didnt want to have to get cleaned up and dressed for dinner. We didnt plan to participate in formal night, but we found smart casual to be easily accommodated. If you dont wear blue jeans and just dress in slacks or colored jeans and a nice shirt or top, youll be fine. Just be respectful of the formal night atmosphere and all will be well. I wore black jeans or slacks and a nice sweater or top. I did see a few inconsiderate people who were slobbed out a bit, but I dont know if anyone spoke to them or not. The non-formal passengers ate in the Lido or their room on the two formal nights. After dinner I roamed freely in my smart casual wear inside and out on the promenade. CHILDREN/TEEN PROGRAM: My 14-year-old son LOVED the teen program. There was a core group of about 25 teens that hung out together in The Loft where various activities and social opportunities were ongoing from about 10 a.m. until midnight or 1 a.m. He was able to come and go as he pleased. I had him check in periodically with me, and I could also call to The Loft and speak with him when I needed to do that. He loved having all that freedom and social opportunity. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We didnt sign up for any, and just roamed the streets of Juneau and Ketchikan. In Juneau we also took the Blue Bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. (Pick-up point is right off the docks and the price was $8/person each way.) If you take the city bus, its a little cheaper, but it involves a bit of a walk uphill to the visitor center area I believe its a half mile.) It was a rainy day and a bit chilly bring a warm coat to the glacier where its much colder than in town. In Skagway we rented a car and drove up into the Yukon. A smart move on our part we had considered taking the steam train ride up and bus tour back, but on our port day the fog was very thick from just outside of town and all the way up to where the train turns around. We would have seen nothing and wasted a lot of money. Instead, we drove on in our rental car and then broke out of the fog into some very beautiful scenery and had a great day with many photo ops. We even had the delightful experience of seeing a brown black bear and got some nice photos of him. ENTERTAINMENT: I didnt participate in much of it, but there wasnt all that much offered anyway, unlike what other cruise lines seem to offer. However, it worked for me because I wasnt interested in much of that anyway. I went on the cruise to primarily see the beautiful Inside Passage and experience some relaxation and good food. I also like the small ship size which meant lots of elbow room and getting closer to the glaciers than other cruise ships can. My expectations were met. But if you want a lot of onboard entertainment, HAL is probably not your best choice. EMBARKATION: Quite a breeze once we got through the long security lines. Do check your large luggage and only bring on a small piece with you through the check-in. I think it took us about 45 minutes from arrival to get on the ship. DISEMBARKATION: Impressively well organized. Luggage that you want taken off the ship for you needs to be placed outside your room in the hallway no later than midnight. You fill out a form many days prior answering questions relating to your post cruise plans. You have several options for getting off the ship: carry all your own luggage unaided and get off on the first time slot; select from several time slots to disembark if youre traveling independently; or the cruise will make arrangements for those who have post-cruise plans and are meeting tours or have a scheduled flight time. We were traveling independently, chose a time of 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. We are given colored tags for our luggage and a corresponding group number; on the morning of departure our color and group number was called when it was time to leave the ship. I expected chaos in the luggage area not so in Vancouver B.C. It was well organized and took us about two minutes to locate our luggage and be on our way through Customs, which was a fast experience, too. Then off to the shuttle to the hotel to pick up our car which we left at the hotel for free parking as part of our cruise-and-stay special. SUMMARY: I was very satisfied with the cruise experience with Holland America. I do have a standard of expectations and found nothing of any consequence to complain about or regret. All staff were very friendly and helpful, always asking if you need help with anything. The ship was very clean. Theres a 48-hour period in the beginning when only staff handles/serves food to help prevent the spreading of any diseases that anyone may have brought onboard. After a few days sailing, the entire ship is again thoroughly disinfected/cleaned. There are lots of places about the ship to sit and relax, read, look out the window or sit on deck to watch the beautiful scenery go by. I expected the outside deck area to be crowded and difficult to get a good spot to take pictures, but that was not the case. There was only one day for a short period of time when it was a little crowded along the rail, and that was when we spotted a large group of whales when entering Glacier Bay. Even then it was only two deep on the one side and everyone was very considerate and exchanged places with each other so everyone had opportunity to see and take pictures. Great job HAL!!!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Just returned from 7 day Alaskan cruise on Holland America Amsterdam and had a great trip. Our cruise was in and out of Vancouver and stopped at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We have not sailed with HAL before so were curious how it ... Read More
Just returned from 7 day Alaskan cruise on Holland America Amsterdam and had a great trip. Our cruise was in and out of Vancouver and stopped at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We have not sailed with HAL before so were curious how it would compare to other cruises we have taken on Disney, Costa, and Royal Caribbean. Our group of 8 was a mixture of middle aged adults and seniors with no children. Vancouver is a beautiful port to leave from, very clean and safe downtown we stayed at the Delta Suites the night before disembarkation and then just walked the 2 blocks to the cruise terminal the next morning. Embarkation was a breeze. Amsterdam is the smallest ship we have ever sailed on with only 1400 passengers. On the plus side there were very few lineups for anything and the ship was very easy to find your way around which seniors appreciate. The downside of the small size is not as many amenities such as full size sports courts and climbing walls etc. but as we did not have any children is our group this was not an issue. The other thing I observed is the ship was not as stable as the bigger ones we have been on but once again on this cruise which was on mostly protected waters it was not a big issue. I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the ship considering it is 13 years old. Both the cabin and public areas were in excellent condition and very clean HAL should be commended.Our fist stop was Juneau where the ship docks right in the middle of town so everything is easy walking distance. We went on the "Pilot Choice Helicopter" excursion which was a blast as we flew over the Juneau ice field and made two stops on top of the Herbert and Mendenhall glaciers. The flight was about an hour and 20 minutes long and was worth every penny. Back it town I would recommend everyone check out Red Dog Saloon, and have a "Duck Fart". It is a fun place with great atmosphere and not to be missed. In Skagway we did the White Pass train up to the summit then rode bicycles back down to Skagway. It was quite rainy and miserable at the summit when we started but cleared up on the way down. The tour company gave us rain suits for the ride down. The train ride is not to be missed and they offer a variety of combinations and tours with it. In Ketchikan we went on the snorkelling tour to Mountain Point as I wanted to tell everyone at home I went snorkelling in Alaska. The water temperature is around 60'F or 13'C but I must say with the wetsuits they have, complete with hoodie and gloves, I was never cold. I have never snorkelled anywhere but the Caribbean so I was curious how it would compare, the reefs were very similar just there were a lot less fish. The highlight was when a humpback wale surfaced about 200ft from where we were snorkelling. The guides were very good (Snorkel Alaska) and gave lots of info on wildlife you were seeing. Overall a very unique experience.The highlight of the trip was the one day we cruised up the Tracy Arm up to the base of Sawyer glacier. We literally spent 8 hours standing on our balcony as we slowly cruised up the fjord. I was amazed the ship could navigate up the fjord with icebergs the size of houses floating around. They literally pulled right up to the glacier, which calved several times when we were there, and parked with the port side facing the glacier then after 20 minutes turned around so the starboard side was facing the glacier. It was truly a memorable experience, thanks HAL. We later heard that only 3 ships per day are allowed up the Tracy Arm and HAL has all the rights. We signed up for HAL bus transfer to airport and it was it was well organized and painless. Overall we had a great experience with HAL and I would say they exceeded our expectations. I think the Amsterdam is well suited to middle aged and senior travellers but it you are travelling with children your may want to consider a bigger ship with more amenities for them. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Our one week cruise of the Inside Passage aboard Holland America's "Amsterdam" was perfect from the time we checked in to disembarkation. Our stateroom was in a great location and we were greeted with a floral bouquet to ... Read More
Our one week cruise of the Inside Passage aboard Holland America's "Amsterdam" was perfect from the time we checked in to disembarkation. Our stateroom was in a great location and we were greeted with a floral bouquet to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary courtesy of our family. We also received a lovely bottle of wine from friends. The entire week was sunshine and blue skies, this was our 5th time on this cruise and the best weather yet. We had a table for 4 on the stern, so enjoyed a fabulous view every evening. The meals were delicious and we had great service. The night of our anniversary we took our son and his fiance to the Pinnacle Grill. Dinner was amazing, and the service impeccable. We were presented with a delicious Chocolate Mousse cake from the cruise line. The following evening, we had dinner in the dining room "La Fontaine". The staff decided to have us celebrate once again, and sang "Happy Anniversary" and presented us with a delicious Carrot Cake. Happy Hour in the Ocean Bar was enjoyed each afternoon. The drinks and service were lovely, and the complimentary appetizers were enjoyed a great deal.Glacier Bay was gorgeous as always, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan had lots to do and see. We popped into Annabelle's at the Gilmore Hotel in Ketchikan for the first time and enjoyed the Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip...fantastic!Everything was wonderful about this cruise, the ship, the crew, the food, and the entertainment. We couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This cruise completely exceeded our expectations and gave us an amazing mother daughter experience. Here is a breakdown of the MS Amsterdam and what we thought of HAL. Pre-cruise arrangements-We flew into Vancouver the day before the ... Read More
This cruise completely exceeded our expectations and gave us an amazing mother daughter experience. Here is a breakdown of the MS Amsterdam and what we thought of HAL. Pre-cruise arrangements-We flew into Vancouver the day before the cruise and stayed in the Victorian Hotel. This is a very cheap hotel considering it's downtown location. I would definitely recommend it, its within walking distance of the port and many other attractions. The bathrooms are shared, but we found them very clean and we never had to wait our turn. Embarkation-We got onto the ship very quickly and efficiently, the staff was friendly, absolutely no problems. Staterooms-We had an exterior stateroom, midship on the dolphin deck. It was always very clean, and we found the entire room; sleeping area, closet space, and bathroom, included to be very roomy. The only complaint was that their was only one outlet so be sure to bring a power strip. Activities/ Entertainment-The nightly entertainment was expected, nothing jaw dropping, but nothing bad by any means. There was lots of live music offered and there were always staff available to answer any questions about Alaska, or basically anything you needed. Very helpful. Service-We were surprised at how well the staff remembered us. They frequently called my daughter and I by name, and they were very kind and willing to drop everything to be at our service. They carried our plates, were very apologetic for their few mistakes, and on day 2, when the sea was a bit rocky, they did everything possible to comfort seasick guests. (We went through a storm that day, but if you get seasick easily, Alaska is the place to go, very calm.) Port and Shore Excursions-Glacier Bay- The captain did a great job getting us a view of the glaciers. Keep in mind HAL is one of the only Cruise lines able to enter Glacier Bay because it takes special licensing. Definitely a great stop.However, we did not book our shore excursions through Holland America, so we can not speak for them, but definitely consider looking into the following excursions-Skagway- Frontier Excursions Yukon Tour Juneau- Juneau Whale Watch & GlacierKetchikan- We mainly went shopping in this port, but we also added a short duck tour. It was informative, cheap and worthwhile. Dining-Dining was very good, but on some nights, service got pretty slow. Food was up to par on most occasions, again, not outstanding, but still very good. Childrens clubs-If you are bringing children on this ship this is a MUST READ. My daughter, age 14, recently came with me on a carnival cruise, which had over 400 children her age. This ship had 23 teenage children and she loved it way more! Having a smaller group, she felt like she got to know the people more and activities were easier to participate in. She knew everyone's name, and everyone knew hers. At first, it was a worry because HAL is known to be focused on older age groups, but that paid off for my daughter. Disembarkation- Disembarkation was very easy, we were off the ship in less than 20 minutes.Hal did a great job giving us a dream vacation. Every single part was flawless including the weather. If you are considering a cruise, Alaska is the place to go. The experience is truly indescribable, and you will be glad you went. If you choose to go HAL is the cruise line to take and the MS Amsterdam is your ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This cruise was a "bucket list" cruise for my mother. I pushed my family into booking this cruise and I am so glad I did. I did lots of research before choosing Holland America for our Alaskan cruise (lots of research here on ... Read More
This cruise was a "bucket list" cruise for my mother. I pushed my family into booking this cruise and I am so glad I did. I did lots of research before choosing Holland America for our Alaskan cruise (lots of research here on Cruise Critic--thank you everyone!). It was my parents (ages 81 and 82) and my sister (55) and myself (50). From the first to the last the Amsterdam and her crew exceeded my expectations. The food, the ship, the rooms and room stewards--all fantastic. We had fantastic weather the entire cruise--in Juneau we even sunbathed on the Lido deck. The staff really made the cruise--from the dining room staff to the Lido buffet staff (who knew that at this buffet they actually carry your plate and find you a table?) to the room stewards (who I swear are lurking in the hallways just waiting to service your room) this cruiseline is fantastic. I was not expecting this level of service ( I have become accustomed to less than stellar customer service anywhere except Disney) and I was so amazed. To be fair, the evening entertainment was not as good as DCL or Princess but on an Alaskan cruise, you aren't there for the entertainment and most nights we were either turning in early or watching the late night sunset.This was an excellent cruise and I would cruise with Holland again. Thanks again to all the Cruise Critics who answered my questions and help me plan for each port. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Hello Friends at Cruise Critic, We were passengers on board the Holland America Amsterdam Pacific Northwest cruise. The cruise departed from Vancouver Tuesday May 21, 2013. Ports of call Port Alberni May 22, 2013 and Seattle May 23, ... Read More
Hello Friends at Cruise Critic, We were passengers on board the Holland America Amsterdam Pacific Northwest cruise. The cruise departed from Vancouver Tuesday May 21, 2013. Ports of call Port Alberni May 22, 2013 and Seattle May 23, 2013.My husband and I are in our late 30's we do not drink alcohol. We have taken dancing lessons and enjoy dancing.Tuesday May 21, 2013 there were many activities to keep passengers busy until 11:00 pm, after 11:00 pm there was very little to occupy your time. It was nice that there were DVD's to watch in the cabin.Wednesday May 22, 2013 the town of Port Alberni really tried to entertain the passengers by having a farmers market and there were signs welcoming the cruise. The cruise was very rocky Wednesday night we decided to order room service for dinner. Beware there is no menu for room service, the person on the phone said they were between menus. Very poor service and makes it hard to order room service. Wednesday evening we did not take part in any evening activities again there were limited options after 11:00 pm.Thursday May 23, 2013 the Seattle was beautiful as usually, we decided to walk to the city centre from the port it took about 45 minutes.We took advantage of the shopping and enjoyed the day. We boarded the ship around 2:30 pm attended the afternoon tea at 3:00pm.The table we were seated at 4 other passengers who told us that the tea on May 22, 2013 had over 150 people who showed up, the staff were not prepared and were throwing scones at people and most passengers did not get tea. We did not experience any service issues at the tea there were only about 40 passengers whom attended.After tea there was a power outage that lasted about 5 hours we went to the disembarkment meeting and the cruise director advised that the power outage was due to mechanical issues and that he was committed to keeping us updated about when the power was restored. There were announcements every 1/2 - 45 minutes until 6:30 pm then there was no communication at all around 10:00 pm the cruise pulled out of port with no announcement.A lot of the passengers were quite upset an elderly man went to the buffet at closing 8:00 pm, the curtains had just come down and the staff just started clearing away the food the passenger moved back the curtain and advised he was late and wanted dinner the crew member told he was going to call security and the spectacle became very loud both the crew members and passenger became very loud. I personally thought this could have been handled very differently. I think the crew member should have either advised the passenger where he could go and get something to eat or offer to make him a plate of food with what was left over.A lot of the passengers were very upset about the power outage and little customer service failures became major issues. There were limited activities Thursday evening and the stores did not open at all.When we left port it would have been nice to have had the stores open for a few hours. When we left port it would have been nice to have had the sail off party. Instead of having all of the activities cancelled for Thursday evening it would have been nice to have them postponed.Friday May 24, 2013 disembarkment was smooth.We were home a few days and were talking about our cruise with friends and it came up that it would have been nice to have received an apology from Holland America about the power outage either on their website or on Facebook or by email.If the power outage would have been caused by weather or something else uncontrollable I would not expect an apology.I sent a message to Holland America on their Facebook page.Advising it would have been nice to have had an apology for the power outage 23May13.I received some negative feedback and a call from Walter who is in Holland America's guest relations department.Walter told me from a management stand point they do not believe a 5 hour power outage justifies an apology.There are many options in the cruise industry. I think that if a cruise ship has a 5 hour power outage due to mechanical issues or a controllable irregular operation there should be a public apology or an emailed apology. I do not recommend Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Embarkation in Vancouver was a disaster with 6,000 passengers in the terminal being herded like cattle from one area to the next. Due to the time factor of separating passengers onto the 6 ships in port we unfortunately missed the ... Read More
Embarkation in Vancouver was a disaster with 6,000 passengers in the terminal being herded like cattle from one area to the next. Due to the time factor of separating passengers onto the 6 ships in port we unfortunately missed the welcoming Mariners' Lunch on board. Apart from this, we thoroughly enjoyed our 7 day cruise this year and could not fault the service on the smaller ship Amsterdam, even though it was a little older than the Noordam which we were on in 2012. A little on the downside was the cabin on deck 1 with only smallish windows, which we knew we would be getting as apparently every other outside cabin was booked, We tried before we left for an upgrade but there were none available. It was still very comfortable, although next time we would be booking a cabin with a balcony earlier in the year. The 2 stewards were super efficient and looked after us really well. Our meals were first class and the staff aimed to please again. We always had our table booked in the Vista Room for the same time each morning and evening. The entertainment on board was excellent. Unfortunately I fell down the stairs at one of the shows, tore my ligaments and the hospital doctor was so caring and attentive to my very swollen ankle. The treatment was excellent and also follow up care. Another amazing memorable cruise which we thoroughly enjoyed and will be booking again for a third one in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am, went through security, and checked in with no issues. This took approx. 20 mins. We were hoping to get right on the ship as we have done in the past. We had to wait till about 11:40 before they ... Read More
We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am, went through security, and checked in with no issues. This took approx. 20 mins. We were hoping to get right on the ship as we have done in the past. We had to wait till about 11:40 before they started to board. During check in, she told us that the repeaters lunch would be in the Fontaine dining room starting at 11:30am and would go until 1:30pm. We much prefer a nice sit down lunch to the chaos in the Lido. When boarding started we were one of the first ones on as we had booked a Deluxe Verandah Suite. The pursers were directing us to the Lido (8th floor) We told him we were going to the repeaters lunch. He responded by saying there in fact was no repeaters lunch and again told us to go to the Lido. Not quite believing him, we found our way to the dining room to see for ourselves and indeed, they were serving lunch. Sat down and had a wonderful lunch of shrimp cocktail, cream of broccoli soup and grilled salmon.After lunch we headed to our suite. Stateroom 7052. It was wonderful. Sitting area, large balcony, king sized bed and pull out couch. Nice sized dressing room w/sink, closets and separate bathroom with a shower. We had fresh flowers in the room and a bottle of champagne from the captain. We headed to the Neptune Lounge where they were serving champagne for disembarkation. We really liked the lounge as they had a concierge, all day snacks, mini sandwiches, cookies, wonderful coffee machine, hot tea, water, ice tea, and cranberry juice always available for those on the Suite/Penthouse level.3:15pm rolled around and everyone headed to the lifeboat drill. Having been through these a few times I was surprised to see they were actually taking roll call to make sure everyone was present and accounted for at their correct stations. If you were not there, you had to leave the ship. It took a bit longer with this process but I understand why they do it this way now considering what happened to the Costa Concordia.5pm exactly we pulled away from Vancouver headed to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Even though it was a rainy day we still used the aft pool as the water temp was at least 100F. It felt like a huge hot tub. Despite the pictures posted here on Cruise Critic for the Amsterdam, there are no hot tubs at the aft pool. The only 2 hot tubs aboard are at the Lido pool.We arrived in Port Alberni and tendered into town. We walked around for about an hour and headed back to the ship. Not much to see there, a fish market, donut shop, some little touristy shops, a few places to eat. But they had a band playing in the square and the town did a really nice job making us feel welcome. We did not do any shore excursions here.We got a letter in our stateroom about going through customs in Seattle. Even though we were not getting off the ship in Seattle, everyone had to go through customs. This was a little irritating (but not the ships fault). We were hoping to sleep in and enjoy a nice relaxing day at the spa. They started calling people by the first letters of their last names at 8am. Since we had a suite we could leave the ship at anytime in the morning, but they would not let anyone back on the ship until everyone was off. We got off at 9:30am (when they were on the "Z"s), went into the building, waited in a bit of aline, got through customs fast, and we were directed to the waiting area to get back onboard. There were about 100 of us there. It would have been nice to have a huge urn of coffee, maybe someone walking around playing a guitar or violin. Something to think about since we were all kind of stuck there. We felt sorry for the people who actually got off at 8am and had to wait till 10:30am to get back on.Had a nice day in Seattle on the ship using the water treatment part of the spa. $20 charge for this. We enjoyed the steam room, rain showers, and mineral whirlpool. The heated loungers are always a nice treat!4pm rolled around and the ship switched from power at the pier to ship power. Well the ship totally lost power. The captain came on and said they were trying to solve the problem and would keep us updated. While waiting we took a walk around the ship to see what everyone was up to. Only 1 elevator was working. We walked up to the Crows Nest and people seemed to be in good spirits, still drinking and chatting. By this time they ship was out of power for about 2 hours. We walked past the front desk and there was a line of people complaining. 2 woman actually wanted off the ship. We heard rumors that sewage was seeping down the walls of some the 5th floor rooms. We had no problems. After about 2 1/2 hours we were plugged back into the pier and power came back on with the Captains apologies. We did not end up leaving Seattle till 10pm as they had to fix the breaker that blew. The power outage really did not effect us. It was not like we were in the middle of nowhere, we just could not flush our toilet, so we curbed our wine consumption for a couple hours. :) Some are so quick to panic.Entertainment on board was awesome. We had a magic show one night that was amazing! There was a movie theater but we didn't partake. We did however enjoy the "guess that tune" at the piano bar for 2 nights. The woman who was playing piano was awesome. She played sax as well! Very talented. And of course we always ended up in the Crows Next for dancing.Dining was wonderful. We did not have a bad meal while on board. We ate dinner in the Fontaine Dining room for 2 nights and on our last night at the Pinnacle Grill. The nice thing about the Fontaine Dining Room is that the portions are not huge, so you can easily enjoy a 5 course dinner. My sister asked for a grilled chicken breast on top of her pasta one night and they did it for her no problem. The waiters are really nice and make a point of getting to know your name. We did not hit the lido buffet once during the trip. We enjoyed room service breakfast in our stateroom every morning and tea sandwiches in the Neptune Lounge for lunch. We did, however, stop by the Lido pool one afternoon to grab some nachos. They have a window at the back of the Lido deck where you can order burgers, hot dogs, turkey burgers etc. Make your own nachos and cheese are an old time HAL fave. for us we couldn't pass up!The food at the Pinnacle Grill was fantastic and WELL worth the $25 charge. We noticed the portions were much larger here. Massive Jumbo Shrimp cocktail, and wonderful Thai coconut soup to die for. They do a ceasar salad tableside. My fillet was cooked perfectly as were the sides. (mushrooms and potatoes) a wonderful chocolate Grand Marnier dessert that was served warm...almost like a bread pudding. A nice touch that we were given a glass of free champagne that night after dinner as an apology from the Captain for the power outage earlier. **Note, plan on a long dinner here. Ours took about 3 hours, but we really liked the fact they were not rushing us and we could relax between courses. Service here was really great too.Drinks were great! On Holland America, you are allowed as much wine and champagne to bring on board as you like. So we did! We also bought a few mixed drinks. I enjoyed the "drink of the day" a few times. It was a dollar cheaper than the regular cocktails. I recommend trying a "Wang Wang" its not on the menu but just ask for one, and they will make it. Wow what a drink! In the main dining room, we just walked in with a full glass of wine from our stateroom and no one said anything to us about it.Disembarkation in Vancouver was well organized. We ordered our last room service breakfast and left the ship at 9:30am. There was no line to get off. Canada Place was especially busy as it was the first day of Alaska season and there were 3 ships in that day including ours.All in all a great little getaway. I wish HAL did this little 3 day cruise more that once a year! We are already planning to make this a yearly girls trip.Thank you Holland America! Hope to be on board again before next year!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our first cruise to Alaska was 27 years ago on the SS Universe (the ship used for the Semester at Sea program). We were in port with a HAL ship. Not meaning to offend anyone; but the HAL passengers we saw were primarily "little old ... Read More
Our first cruise to Alaska was 27 years ago on the SS Universe (the ship used for the Semester at Sea program). We were in port with a HAL ship. Not meaning to offend anyone; but the HAL passengers we saw were primarily "little old ladies with blue hair". So we deduced that HAL was for old people. Fast forward 27 years and we have the opportunity to give HAL a try with a one night cruise from Vancouver to Seattle on the Amsterdam. I have read and heard good things about HAL so we booked an inside cabin. Embarkation--Was a breeze. Canada Place is a great location. It was raining in Vancouver, but the taxi drove to an underground entrance. We stayed dry. We literally walked up to the counter. We were given an upgrade to an outside cabin. Cabin--We have cruised many times on numerous lines; but this was the largest cabin we have been in. The bathroom had a bathtub! Lots of closet space, a leather love seat. It was wonderful. Ship--The ship was lovely. It holds 1300+ but there were only 700+ passengers on board. So it was not just spacious; it was empty. They had a large pool with 2 hot tubs that were covered with a retractable roof--excellent choice for Alaskan cruises. Food--We headed up to the buffet for lunch. Buffet was served to us. There was a nice variety offered and the food was delicious. The drinks were cheaper than some other cruise lines. For dinner we made a reservation and sat by the window with a family from Vancouver. It was difficult to make a choice, everything sounded good. I had ribs that were so tender they fell off the bone. Everyone enjoyed their dinner. Breakfast was at the buffet. once again an excellent variety of choices. I especially enjoyed the fresh squeezed orange juice. We heard that the Pinnacle speciality restaurant was amazing. It was a sell-out. Activities--There were activities: tour the ship, Sail-away party, karaoke, and a late night party. However, there was not a show. A show would have been nice for the first time cruisers to experience. But we did not mind since we were able to eat later and not rush through the meal. Disembarkation--We were able to change our time and literally walk off the ship. We loved our cruise on HAL Amsterdam. Now, we are 27 years older, but I do NOT have blue hair. And the ages of passengers we saw were from babies in strollers to senior citizens with every age represented. We will cruise HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 3.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.2

Find an Amsterdam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click