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123 Vancouver to U.S.A. Cruise Reviews

Loved this cruise which sailed from Vancouver ,Washington to Clarkston Washington over 9 days .Not being American we didn’t really know anything about Lewis and Clark ,and mainly picked this cruise for the beautiful scenery, but ... Read More
Loved this cruise which sailed from Vancouver ,Washington to Clarkston Washington over 9 days .Not being American we didn’t really know anything about Lewis and Clark ,and mainly picked this cruise for the beautiful scenery, but learning about the Lewis and Clark expeditions was a bonus ,the Riverlorian was very informative and we enjoyed his commentary .The food ,the staff and the service were exceptional .The day excursions were great and well organised .The Entertainment was most enjoyable,but the standout was Frank in the Paddlewheel lounge ,he is a true entertainer !.Our only complaint was our room # 238.The room itself was really lovely and well serviced but on a couple of nights a ? Generator started up and it was like having a jet engine going in our room,we complained and they offered us a another room to sleep in just for the night but at 10.30pm the last thing we wanted to do was change rooms just to sleep,so we resorted to earplugs and got little sleep .We thought this was a one off thing but no it happened again several nights later when in port .They could not offer us any other rooms that didn’t have the same noise or the paddle wheel noise so we reluctantly stayed in that room.If we had known the noise was bad at the back end of the boat we would never have booked a room at the back end of the boat .The Staff did all they could to help but they need to make people aware that those rooms are noisy ,we couldn’t sit on our verandah as the noise out of the external air conditioning vents on the outside of the boat near our room did not entice us to sit out there.My advice is if you don’t like noise do not pick rooms near the stern of the boat Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We had sailed on American Queen along the Mississippi before and knew and liked the way the Hop-off Hop-On excursions operated. Our cabin onboard the Empress was larger and than what we had before, and we really enjoyed our private ... Read More
We had sailed on American Queen along the Mississippi before and knew and liked the way the Hop-off Hop-On excursions operated. Our cabin onboard the Empress was larger and than what we had before, and we really enjoyed our private balcony. The food has been outstanding--especially the seafood options, and having complimentary local wine with dinner is a nice touch. Having the Riverlorian provide great information about the area is a wonderful feature onboard AQSC cruises. We have learned quite a bit about the Pacific NW on this cruise and remember good topics covered on our Mississippi cruise. The other entertainment onboard is enjoyable-not as big-time showy as onboard the huge cruise ships, but very talented performers. Another nice features of these cruises is the providing of a night's stay in the embarkation city and transportation from there to the boat. This really eases any concerns about flight delays or other problems one might encounter prior to the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We had a great trip. Loved the accommodations, the size of the boat, dining options and quality of the food, high quality entertainment, educational experiences, hop on/hop off option and beautiful scenery. The population skewed to the ... Read More
We had a great trip. Loved the accommodations, the size of the boat, dining options and quality of the food, high quality entertainment, educational experiences, hop on/hop off option and beautiful scenery. The population skewed to the older side, so we were considered younger, active seniors (ages 67 and 69). This was not a problem since the Hop on/hop off feature allowed us to do extra walking and independent touring. The ship had a few bicycles available, which we used several times without any problem getting them when we wanted. We can see how this kind of trip would be easily accessible for older people, but it also suited our more active style. The staff was very friendly and accommodating and made an extra effort to remember everyone's name, which was impressive. The staff was also exceptionally talented and the evening shows were high quality. We also liked the Riverlorian who presented her educational information in an interesting and entertaining style. This was the perfect trip combining beautiful scenery, education and history, excellent dining, the right amount of pampering. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Chose this cruise for the itinerary. Interesting places and wonderful and varied scenery. We were not disappointed. Starting in an area with 100 inches of rain a year and ending where there are just 8 Interesting calls in mostly ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the itinerary. Interesting places and wonderful and varied scenery. We were not disappointed. Starting in an area with 100 inches of rain a year and ending where there are just 8 Interesting calls in mostly small towns but each had several good points of interest. A good jump on jump off coach service included in the cruise fare and the optional excursions were enjoyable and reasonably priced. Service onboard was excellent and the evening entertainment surprisingly good for a small vessel. The cruise directors Mel and Kevin made all guests feel welcome as well as being good singers. Frank the pianist was very entertaining Had a great time but would not probably go again as a day in each of the ports was about the right amount of time to see the attractions Catering was good, excellent service. The quality of the food was high although the included wines with dinner were very ordinary Overall a great experience Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We took this Pacific Northwest river cruise for our 30th wedding anniversary. I really wanted a more intimate experience than a large ship/liner and this 220+ passenger boat was a perfect fit. From arrival to the hotel, to transportation ... Read More
We took this Pacific Northwest river cruise for our 30th wedding anniversary. I really wanted a more intimate experience than a large ship/liner and this 220+ passenger boat was a perfect fit. From arrival to the hotel, to transportation to the airport, to the daily newsletter delivered to our room, the cruise line had every detail covered. We are in our 50's and although we were definitely among the younger couples on board, that didn't stop others from joining us on some of the great premium excursions like zip-lining (which I highly recommend) or kayaking. Our room was spacious and the bed was remarkably comfortable. I do recommend bringing a small night light for the bathroom, as the room can be quite dark and the light switch was outside the bathroom. The halls are all covered in artwork and a self-guided brochure is provided. This was a nice way to get to 'know' the boat. Dining was wonderful, leave your diets at home and treat yourself. The more casual River Grill & Bar was noisier but worked well for breakfast and lunch when time was an issue. One of our favorite on-board experiences was listening to the Riverlorian presentations; Laurence was knowledgeable, friendly, and enthusiastic. We had a wonderful time and I still find myself saying, "I miss my boat." This cruise may have spoiled me for all other cruises and I would definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
My husband and I have taken quite a few cruises on mid to larger ships. We were tired of the big cruise ship/company experience, as every ship seemed to offer the same food/activities, etc, and decided to take a river cruise in the USA. ... Read More
My husband and I have taken quite a few cruises on mid to larger ships. We were tired of the big cruise ship/company experience, as every ship seemed to offer the same food/activities, etc, and decided to take a river cruise in the USA. After doing quite a bit of research and chatting with folks on Cruise Critic we opted to take the American Queen's Lewis and Clark Expedition river cruise on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. We loved it! First, the American Empress is a wonderful, small ship. There were about 120 passengers and a crew of 90 aboard. The ship was refurbished about three years ago and they did a fine job in recreating the steamboat experience. We had one of the smaller cabins on deck 4 - the top deck - and when we first entered we wondered where we would put our stuff. Not to worry...this cabin was so beautifully furnished we did not use all the space. Loved the semi private patio, which afforded wonderful viewing opportunities as we cruised the rivers. Deck 4 is where the promenade deck is located so we got to meet folks as they strolled by. Plus, I was able to get my walking in every day without a problem. The River Grill was down the hall from our room which was very convenient for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I think one of the major pluses of sailing on this ship was the friendly and efficient crew. On the larger ships no one ever knows your name unless you wear a name tag. On this ship crew members seemed to remember our names and there were no name tags! I realize that part of the job for the cruise directors, hotel managers (both were married couples), the Riverlorean and others was to be friendly and outgoing. And, everyone sure was. In fact, we had breakfast one day with the Riverlorean, one of the hotel managers stopped by our table on another morning for a really nice chat, both cruise directors always knew our names and went out of their ways to ask about our day. Kudos to the Empress crew! We found the meals to be very good. The executive chef was always walking around the dining room to make sure everyone was happy with their meal. Lunch was great as you could choose from the buffet and grill in the River Grill or enjoy a sit down lunch in the formal dining room. And the crew paid attention to your needs. For example, I have a dairy allergy. They always made sure soy milk was available for me. On day, I started to take some salad from the buffet when one of the crew stopped me as there was cheese in the salad. After that day, all the salads came without cheese - it was offered on the side. Desserts were excellent and cookies were plentiful. The softy ice cream make was my hubby's favorite; mine was the espresso machine. Great coffee! We wee not aware that there are locks and dams all along the rivers. We went through eight locks and dams and, for me, this was a highlight of the cruise. Most were during the day but the night ones were really great. If you take this cruise make sure you are up for the transits though the locks. Very different than going through the Panama Canal. Entertainment was fun. The two couples - cruise directors and hotel managers - were the nightly entertainment, along with a fellow who played the piano and was very funny in the lounge. They did an awesome job and received several standing ovations. Band was also very good. When I mentioned how impressed we were with the camaraderie amongst the crew I was told they are all like "family". Apparently, many have been working together for the three seasons the Empress has been sailing the Lewis and Clark Expedition cruise. One of the grill cooks told me that she misses quite a few of her daughter's school events as she is on the ship, but is off from December to April. And, she told me she loves her job. There are two hop on-hop off buses that follow the Empress from port to port. There is a local guide at each port and all the stops are included in the cruise cost. This is a terrific feature as most of the ports are quite small so it was nice to have a local person tell about the history of the town. Most of the stops are at museums and interpretive centers. We took two premium tours and enjoyed both very much. I felt the cost of these tours was very reasonable and we saw way more than expected. The only negative feedback I can offer is that the embarkation process is not great. We left from Vancouver WA and a night at the Embassy Suites near the Portland OR airport is included in the cruise cost. Now, that part is great, especially if you tack on another day, as we did. But, once you check out of your room on embarkation day, you sit around the hotel for two - three hours waiting to board the coach for the short drive to the ship. There has to be a better way to do this and I hope the company figures out that out. All in all, this was one of our best cruises and, yes, we would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first time on Princess and first time doing a Pacific Coastal Cruise. We have cruised with Celebrity three times and six times with Holland America. The Star Princess is an older ship, a little tired, but overall very nice. ... Read More
This was our first time on Princess and first time doing a Pacific Coastal Cruise. We have cruised with Celebrity three times and six times with Holland America. The Star Princess is an older ship, a little tired, but overall very nice. The atrium was lovely. Embarkation was not great. They had an outbreak of Noro Virus on the previous cruise, so were doing a thorough sanitizing of the ship, which delayed our embarkation. We would go through security and have to sit in chairs, then go through customs and sit in chairs, and finally we got to boarding. It felt like it took forever. We discovered when checking in they had changed our Early Dining time from 6 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., which meant we had time to go to our stateroom, unpack, go to the Emergency Drill, get a drink and take it with us to dinner. No chance of going to the Sail Away Party...there wasn't time. We had a lovely table in the Amalfi Dining Room each evening for dinner and were seated with a couple from Illinois. Our waiter and assistant waiter were great, very attentive and thoughtful. The food was very good and the desserts outstanding. We did go to the Pub Lunch that was held twice in the Crown Grill during our 10 day cruise. It was casual and the food good. Breakfast in the dining room wasn't anything special, so we did that once and the rest of the mornings either went to the Horizon Court or International Cafe. The entertainment was excellent on the ship. We would say the best we've experienced on all of our cruises. The Princess Singers and Dancers were very good, the costumes and scenery incredible! and Frankie Moreno was amazing! We saw all four of his shows. The Culinary Arts Show with the Head Chef and Hotel Manager was fabulous...so funny and entertaining. The Cruise Director and his staff were good, we took part in many of the trivia sessions and enjoyed them. The bar staff were great, very friendly and pretty impressive how they could remember what we drink. We finished off most evenings in Sky Walkers Night Club with a few drinks and dancing. The ports were good: Long Beach - we took the city bus from the Port of San Pedro and visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and had lunch at Bubba Gumps...enjoyed it very much! Catalina Island - we tendered in and wandered through the town. Santa Barbara - tendered in and took the trolley into downtown. We enjoyed Santa Barbara a lot and would love to go back. Lunch was at Joe's Cafe...great food and service! San Francisco - fabulous, but very crowded. It was Fleet Week and there were an extra 800,000 people in the downtown area, plus President Obama was in town. The cable cars were shut down, so no rides for us. We wandered Fisherman's Wharf and visited Ghirardelli Square the first day. We were thrilled to see the Blue Angels perform over San Francisco Bay and that evening to see fireworks. Absolutely beautiful! The second day, we had booked our own tour to Alcatraz two months in advance online. It is a short walk from where our ship was docked. This was well worth the money and very interesting. We cruised our way home to Vancouver over the next two days. I would definitely recommend Princess Cruises and this itinerary, but it you are prone to seasickness be forewarned and take medication with you. My husband and I don't get seasick, but we did have a couple of pretty rocky days and nights on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Overall we enjoyed our cruise on the Grand Princess. It was not a perfect trip, but in our opinion the positives definitely outweighed all negatives. Embarkation was ok. We arrived later and missed the largest crowd. The ... Read More
Overall we enjoyed our cruise on the Grand Princess. It was not a perfect trip, but in our opinion the positives definitely outweighed all negatives. Embarkation was ok. We arrived later and missed the largest crowd. The condition of the ship, as noted by many other reviews is somewhat worn and there are areas in need of upgrade, but she is still a nice ship. Our stateroom did not have any issues. It was clean and well attended to by our cabin steward. We ate most often in the Horizon Court, the food variety and quality was good. The staff in the buffet were all very attentive. We chose this cruise for its itinerary (California Coastal) we were not disappointed by the destinations (when we finally got to them!). Tendering was incredibly slow, as was customs in San Francisco and the port change from Long Beach to San Pedro was an inconvenience. Most of these problems were generally out of Princess’s control (Weather, port restrictions, etc…). However, we felt that Princess and the cruise staff could have done a better job communicating the problem and done more to accommodate the passengers. With the exception of the excellent MUTS selections and some great guest entertainers, the entertainment and activities were very disappointing. We had heard wonderful things about Princess's enrichment lectures and activities, yet these were noticeable missing from this cruise. Nearly every activity on board was geared toward selling or shopping. With this said, we are already planning on taking this trip again next year and would sail on the Grand again if we had the opportunity. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
A good friend and myself took the first cruise of the season on the American Empress. We were greeted at the dock by a very friendly petite woman (Lyndie) offering to help with our bags. We checked into a lush 2 bed room. Very ... Read More
A good friend and myself took the first cruise of the season on the American Empress. We were greeted at the dock by a very friendly petite woman (Lyndie) offering to help with our bags. We checked into a lush 2 bed room. Very comfortable size, beautiful attention to detail. The beds and bedding were amazing with a private veranda. You'll find extra comfort in your complimentary robes and slippers. Having a room close to the paddle wheel, hummed us to sleep at night. The crew is amazing! The food and wine is top notch! Seriously, I have never liked lamb chops until I tried them on this cruise and omg, delicious! Throughout the cruise the chef showed his talent, all the food was amazing. After having the lamb, I stepped out of my usual and tried a few new things including duck and oysters. There were no disappointments out of the galley. The wait staff was obviously well groomed, very friendly and attentive. My friend and I knew people in a couple of different ports and were asked if we would like to have company for lunch. What a treat for our friends. The American Empress has now gained some future guests due to their impeccable hospitality. The American Empress is the only cruise on the Columbia River that offers a Hop on Hop off tour, providing 3 buses, stopping at different points in town leisurely moving you around town at your will, stopping every 15 minutes. I loved that I could get the feel of the towns and people in them as we visited. Going beyond the tours they offer. The crew kept us entertained on board. Nightly shows and piano in the lounge on top of daily games and movies. We found a lot of joy in riding the bikes they offer around town. One of the things we were enthusiastic about was all the locks we went through. We were enthralled by the industrial end of things running back and forth at most locks (I fell asleep watching as we were going through the John Day Lock) taking photos. We loved Astoria, Or. and The Dalles, Or. with their community welcome at the dock as we disembarked. Stevenson, Wa. had a #GORGEous view all around with shopping a hop, skip and a jump away. In Richland, Wa. we pulled up to a lovely park with shopping only a block away. On the flip side, I did not enjoy our end point in Clarkston Wa. Also I tried to get a good martini on three different occasions and was disappointed with each. Though I must say with my first one the bar tender read me from across the room and offered to take it off my bill. Again impeccable hospitality. This could also be due to having limited space to keep specialty items/mixes. For 2 busy mom's with their careers (me being in hospitality and tourism) and families in full swing, it was just what the Doctor ordered. At first we were apprehensive to be away from it all for a full week but it was really just what we needed. A week of being treated like Empresses. A big Thank you to Captain Andrea and crew. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We just finished a cruise from Vancouver Wa. to Clarkson Wa. And we were impressed with the quality of the product. Everyone was super friendly, no matter the position or rank onboard.. The food was excellent, the entertainment was ... Read More
We just finished a cruise from Vancouver Wa. to Clarkson Wa. And we were impressed with the quality of the product. Everyone was super friendly, no matter the position or rank onboard.. The food was excellent, the entertainment was fun,on shore excursions were well chosen.This was my second cruise with this cruise ship company,and the consistency was apparent between boats. They hire local people, and make it interesting with guests speakers, entertainers,and riverlorian. The guides were well informed. Use local cuisine were possible.Their no. 1 asset is the staff. And Thanks for a lovely week. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My cruise history includes the Grand Princess (in 2000), the Island (2014), the NCL Sun (2013), a few RCCL ships, Holland and Pacific Princess (2014 - Tahiti). The cruise I did on the Golden was from Vancouver to LA. I wanted a one-way as ... Read More
My cruise history includes the Grand Princess (in 2000), the Island (2014), the NCL Sun (2013), a few RCCL ships, Holland and Pacific Princess (2014 - Tahiti). The cruise I did on the Golden was from Vancouver to LA. I wanted a one-way as it would definitely have less children aboard and as a solo traveler, it would have been less expensive since I pay a 200% premium. I usually get a balcony, but here I had a midship ocean view stateroom, which was really great! OK, so how was the ship, you may ask? It was terrific. As you may have read, Skywalkers (the "handle" in this shopping-cart-designed ship) was taken off some of these ships due to structural problems - NOT the Golden! It still had it and the views up there in the daytime were glorious! Embarkation: OMG - Vancouver was just a mess. I arrived via Amtrak Cascades from Seattle but a friend at the time, who had flown in, had the worst embarkation EVER! Ito took me an hour and a half and I thought that was INSANE but it took her four - YES FOUR hours to embark! There was another Holland America Line ship embarking as well with a similar delay. Everyone said it was US Customs that delayed it but it actually forced me to cancel a cruise FROM Vancouver in the future with no penalty! I have sailed INTO Vancouver, which was terrific but sailing OUT of Vancouver was truly a nightmare. Hopefully this was an anomaly! Deck space: Also, the promenade deck is lovely as it pretty much wraps around (front section was closed the whole time) and you can clearly see the wake of the ship, which I like to do to relax. Public Rooms: All very nicely maintained and has a large atrium lobby. The ship felt new and the staff aboard were great! Entertainment: Best on any ship I have ever sailed on. The magician was featured on America's Got Talent and the comedian was a dude who had a role in Coming to America (not Eddie Murphy or Arsenio - lol). I cannot believe I am saying this but I actually saw the magic show twice - it was that good! I am a person who is quite critical and typically I rate ship shows VERY low. Not here! Food: Sabatini's was spot-on. Great and friendly service, delicious food and no wait. Obviously there is an up-charge but it is a fun thing to do for a change. The main dining rooms were typical Princess food (OK to above average). Room service was great! They have wonderful fresh rolls, croissants and even allow you to have rice milk. Also, the room service does not charge an additional fee like other ships do from 12:00 midnight - 5:00 am. It did not feel "nickel and dimed." Afternoon Tea Service: I absolutely LOVE the fact that afternoon tea is a tradition on all Princess ships. They were MUCH better than the Island Princess here. The service was good, the scones were the best of any ship and it was white-gloved! It's not the Four Seasons or the Peninsula but it's such a lovely touch for a ship to offer this. They truly remember their P&O roots on this one! All in all, it was lovely. No waiting in lines and absolutely flawless. I would highly recommend this ship and give it two thumbs up, way up.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
The three day coastal cruise was of an excellent value. Arrived in Vancouver Canada Place at 2 p.m. and was surprised to still see lots of people lining up. But the line moved quickly. Passengers go through US immigrations before boarding ... Read More
The three day coastal cruise was of an excellent value. Arrived in Vancouver Canada Place at 2 p.m. and was surprised to still see lots of people lining up. But the line moved quickly. Passengers go through US immigrations before boarding and the check-in was fast and efficient. Service onboard was aomng the top notch. Staff are friendly, always smiling and adressing passengers when meet in the hall way. Public areas are well maintained. On board entertainment and programs were well scheduled, kept the three night journey (stop at no where) filled. The jaggler, and the show were both of excellent quality. Food in both the dinning room, and the Lido buffet were of great quality. In comparision to my previous cruises (RCCL, Celebrity, HAL, and NCL), it stands out. I am very happy. Both Embarkation and Debarkation are efficiently carried out. Only downside is that if you rent a car from Enterprises at the port, the line for the shuttle is so long, that it can take up to 1 - 1.5 hours standing in the sun (the shuttle is a 10 seater van). After arrival at the car rental (the closest to the port), another 1 hour in line is necessary to reach the counter, and another 20 minutes to get the car. It has nothing to do with the cruise, but car renters in Los Angeles Port, please be aware. Children's program onboard are average. For 3 - 7, it is sufficient and the staff are very friendly. For 8 - 12, the room is very small and it seems boring for kids that age. Overall speaking it is the week point of this voyage, as the children's area seems much smaller than other lines.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Last October 2014 I had the pleasure of taking the American Empress cruise on the Columbia River from Vancouver, WA to Spokane, WA. I have been on several cruises, on both larger and smaller boats and enjoyed them all, but this by far was ... Read More
Last October 2014 I had the pleasure of taking the American Empress cruise on the Columbia River from Vancouver, WA to Spokane, WA. I have been on several cruises, on both larger and smaller boats and enjoyed them all, but this by far was the best cruise I have ever been on. The newly refurbished Empress is in beautiful shape, extremely clean and comfortable. The food was very good, and the entertainment was GREAT! Loved the lounge pianist, who was one of the best I have ever heard. (I never missed a late evening listening to him.), and best of all were Lindy and Greg Pendzick, our entertainers and hosts. Besides being very talented dancers and singers, they made sure everyone had a good time! I can't wait to go on another American Empress cruise!!!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My wife and I are in our mid to late 30's - sailed on Princess and RCCL - 7 on Princess and 2 on RCCL. This was the first time taking our 3 kids on a cruise with us - we thought a 3-night would be a good introduction for them. ... Read More
My wife and I are in our mid to late 30's - sailed on Princess and RCCL - 7 on Princess and 2 on RCCL. This was the first time taking our 3 kids on a cruise with us - we thought a 3-night would be a good introduction for them. We're glad we went and had a good time. Our first cruises were all with Princess, and the two prior cruises to this one, we went on RCCL. Going back on a Princess cruise, we prefer RCCL. Princess is a good cruise line, but RCCL just suites our style better. Here's some of the comparisons: Princess does a great a great job of service in the buffet area, but we think RCCL has more selection to choose from. We like the option of coffee in the promenade on RCCL vs. having to go to the buffet for coffee on Princess. The shows we saw on Princess were quite good - Steve Moris and Motor City in the show lounge, and a juggler in the Atrium. We enjoy the game shows, Quest, and the Ice show on RCCL. And the promenade mall and dining room on the RCCL line (Freedom Class and Voyager Class) are so more grand than that on the Grand class of Princess. The fitness center on the Grand is much smaller than the one on RCCL and the view is blocked on Princess whereas the view on the RCCL Freedom Class and Voyager Class are much non-obstructed. Lastly, RCCL Freedom Class and Voyager Class have the rock climbing wall, miniature golf, and arcades that the Grand Princess didn't have. Other than those differences, the two cruise lines are very similar we think. After being on newer ships, you can tell that the Grand Princess is getting older. Booking Staterooms: We booked 2 interior staterooms close to each other over the phone directly through Princess. They asked if we wanted "Complimentary Automatic Upgrades" and of course we said "yes" - who doesn't like to get upgraded. But beware of this, because they fail to mention that if you have more than one room booked and you want to be close to each other, they do not guarantee that you will be upgraded to rooms close to each other. We were automatically upgraded and notified after the fact via email, and one of our rooms was on deck 5 and the other on deck 14! I called to say we wanted our original rooms back because we could not be split up and they originally denied our request, saying they couldn't. We requested to talk to a manager and he also originally said they couldn't put us back, but after more talking, we were given our original state rooms back. We were on the line with Princess for over an hour to get our rooms back, so beware. We've also heard of others who get "upgraded" but end up in a room with the view of a life boat, or in a noisy area of the ship, so picking "auto upgrade" with Princess is risky business and I think they should stop doing that. Anytime Dining: Like other people have stated, Anytime Dining is not necessarily anytime. We were given 5:30 and 7:30 as our options the first night. We decided to go down at 7 and see if they had an opening and we didn't get in until 7:30. The second night we called and were only given the option of 8:30. So again we decided to go down around 7:00 and we were able to be seated shortly after. I think it's better for a party of 2, but we had our family of 5, plus my wife's parents, so a total of 7 people. The 3-night cruise was long enough to feel like you were on the ship a while and the price was great. The seas were rough the first full day, so the pools were closed that day. We were glad our kids swam the day of embarkation before we left port, because otherwise they would have only got to swim the last day. We didn't register the kids in the programs they had for kids, so we can't comment on those. They played 3 NFL football games on the big screen outside on Sunday, but didn't play the Seahawks - many of the passengers were Seahawk fans, considering we left from Vancouver, BC. Princess wasn't able to switch the game to the Seahawks, so that was a bummer. Embarkation in Vancouver was smooth. We took the skytrain from Richmond to the waterfront. We got there too early (9am), the porters didn't start taking luggage until a little after 10am. We were one of the first in line though, but didn't get on the ship until almost noon. I would recommend coming at 10am or 10:30am if you want to be one of the first on. Disembarkation was late because the rough seas meant the captain couldn't go as fast the first part of the trip. A good reminder not to book your flights too early because you never know what may happen. We like to carry our own luggage off. We didn't get the option to choose what time we wanted off, we were assigned a time via a letter in our cabin. But that was easily fixed with a trip to the Pursers Desk to get it switched to early disembarkation, taking our own luggage off. All in all, it was a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Be aware, what NCL advertises is not what you get on your cruise with the Pearl. Some rather surprising mess-ups included: 1. Tendering back to the ship in Astoria was a 2 hour wait, as only 4 boats were in service to transport the ~2,000 ... Read More
Be aware, what NCL advertises is not what you get on your cruise with the Pearl. Some rather surprising mess-ups included: 1. Tendering back to the ship in Astoria was a 2 hour wait, as only 4 boats were in service to transport the ~2,000 passengers waiting in line to return to the vessel. Later the captain would announce the "distance" from the ship to the shore was "out of their control", but the number of boats they opted to deploy for tendering certainly was a decision they failed to make correctly. 2. A 5:15am ship-wide (i.e. direct-to-cabin) announcement of "code bravo", repeated three times, which we later learnt was code for fire (albeit a small one quickly put out). Again the captain deflected fault (time time to an over-eager crew member), but it was the captain who announced this un-welcomed wake-up call. 3. Specialty dining in the Bistro restaurant, at a $20 per person charge, was an absolute disaster. We watched at least three other tables receive a starter "compliments of the chef" that never arrived at our table. While in the middle of taking our order, another waiter came up to our table and began a conversation with our waiter. The main course, the Fruits de Mer, contained exactly two small cubes of lobster (for which they charged an additional $10), and not much else. Definitely not recommended. 4. All pictures and descriptions of the Pearl note the pool-side waterslide. There is no waterslide on this ship. 5. The daily activity guide referred to the buffet's hours of operation as open until midnight. The buffet closed at 10:00pm. While we certainly had no need to eat between 10:00pm and midnight, don't tell your guests something will be open if it is not. 6. On the first day you can sign up for a spa tour and enter to win a $500 gift certificate for spa services. Even if you don't win, they also give away a number of other $75 gift certificates. Don't be fooled - these certificates only apply to their "specialty" services - which are not defined anywhere. In order to use these certificates, you'll be required to sign-up for a $150+ treatment. If you want a $50 treatment? Too bad, can't use it. To add insult to injury, if your name is drawn for such a certificate they make you dance for it in front of a room full of fellow passengers. I'm not your monkey, NCL. 7. Hot food in the inclusive restaurant was twice served cold and had to be sent back. 8. Drink servers operate like vultures, constantly asking you if you want to order a drink. On one occasion drinks had been ordered from a server and between the time of ordering and the time the drinks arrived, *four other servers* had approached the table inquiring about bar service. Beyond the screw-up in item 1. and the disappointing experience of 3., all of the others were relatively minor and didn't detract from our overall cruising experience. On the whole, though, it does leave me wondering if NCL is the best choice for future cruises and we'd likely select a different cruise line as a result. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My husband and I needed a break so decided to fly to Vancouver and cruise back down the coast on the Norwegian Sun. This was out 5th cruise with Norwegian. The embarkation process was efficient with no problems. The ship is well laid-out ... Read More
My husband and I needed a break so decided to fly to Vancouver and cruise back down the coast on the Norwegian Sun. This was out 5th cruise with Norwegian. The embarkation process was efficient with no problems. The ship is well laid-out but it showing signs of wear. It was spotlessly clean for which I was grateful. Having said that, the continuing problem was the smell of "sewage" in public areas and sometimes emitting from our bathroom drain. It really was disgusting and no one could explain it. However, having cruised as many times as we have, we knew exactly what it was: their sewage treatment wasn't quite doing its job. Our stateroom, 10046, was a balcony and had plenty of room for storage and spreading out. Our room steward, Lorenzo, was terrific and very attentive to our needs (although, we are not demanding travelers but he was there if we needed him). The bathroom is small but adequate. It had plenty of "cubby" space but no drawers or cabinets which I would have preferred for my bathroom toiletries. One word of caution: while a soap dispenser is provided for the sink, and same type of dispensers with shampoo and body wash in the shower, they are not the best products and were very drying to my skin and hair. No conditioner or body lotion is provided. Be sure to bring your own. The bedding was terrific . . smooth and comfy. The beds are quite hard so be sure to ask for a foam topper, which they gladly provided. The food in the Four Seasons dining room was good . . .portions just right for us although, they would be happy to bring you more of anything you want. The service there was good: especially Caeser King (yes, that's really his name). The food and service in the Seven Seas dining room was not acceptable to us. The buffet had many choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, all in all, the roast beef, steaks, and other beef dishes were substandard. Although I am not a beef-eater, my husband is and ordered the ribeye steak, the roast beef and the New York steak and they were all tough. Perhaps you could get a better steak at their "for fee" steak house, Cagney's. We just didn't think it was necessary. The entertainment was quite good, from the Broadway-type of musical variety show to "El Gaucho", a musician, comedian. There always was plenty to do, like games including "Name that Tune" which my husband and our traveling companions won, to the "Beatles Name that Tune". All-in-all, the staff were all very accommodating and cordial. There was a bit of a glitch: the reservation agent at NCL told us we would have 2 certificates for "fine dining" awaiting us on check-in as an added "bonus". NOT. So, we went to Guest Services to inquire. We were advised that we would have to "take it up with the agent" whom I phoned but, he was on vacation and out of the office that very week we were cruising. Good customer service should have prevailed and the Guest Services should have honored that promise. They didn't. We enjoyed the ports: Seattle and Astoria, OR. They were both lovely towns to walk around and enjoy the local sights, scents, and FOOD! Then, there were two relaxing days at sea and back home to Los Angeles. The disembarkation process was a bit problematic. As usual, we tagged our bags and set them out in the hallway the last night of the cruise. The departures were to have started about 8:00 a.m. Our tags were for 9:45 a.m. departure. However, by 10:00 a.m., they were still off-loading the luggage and there was a huge back-up of passengers trying to leave and make tours or plane connections. It didn't matter to us as we live in L.A. We had a great time for 2 reasons: we went with another couple AND, we got a much-needed rest. Remember, though, this is NOT Celebrity quality or pampering but is adequate for a nice get-away and good value for the money.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We are both retired - in our mid-sixties. This was our 42nd cruise - the 23rd on a Princess ship. First time on the Grand Princess. We used to live in California - choose this itinerary simply because we had been to all of the ports ... Read More
We are both retired - in our mid-sixties. This was our 42nd cruise - the 23rd on a Princess ship. First time on the Grand Princess. We used to live in California - choose this itinerary simply because we had been to all of the ports before - just wanted to have a relaxing time on-board (no shore excursions this time !) We cruised in an Aft Suite for the first time about 10 years ago - have never stayed in anything else since ! (Dreaded beam that "obstructs" balcony in the Vista Suites never a problem for us - usually just the 2 of us cruising) Pre-Cruise: Flew into Seattle the day before - took the Seattle Light-Rail from the SEA-TAC Airport to the "Stadium Stop" - (easy !) walked over to our hotel (The SilverCloud) - chosen for location to the ball-park(s) and to the Amtrak Station - went to a Seattle Mariners game that night - easy to walk from Hotel to park - next morning took a $5 taxi-ride over to the King Street Amtrak station (shuttle service at the hotel is free - but doesn't start until 7:00 AM - we wanted to get to train station early enough to check in luggage and get "good" seats) thanks to CruiseCritic for suggestion to take train from Seattle to Vancouver - easy and fun ! - Arrived in Vancouver - took $10 taxi to the Vancouver cruise-port LONG line at cruise-port (3 different ships all boarding at the same time) - but it moved along quickly - we have "priority" check-in - so were on-board the ship by 1:00 PM Decided to try the MDR for lunch - asked for a table for 2 - were seated in a TINY little space - squeezed in among several large tables - menu looked awful (can't remember what was on it now) - decided to leave - and go up to the Lido deck to the Grill for a hot-dog or hamburger FOOD: - Not as many really good offerings on the MDR menu each night - We checked it each morning - never did go back to the MDR for a meal ! Loved (as always) the "Suite Breakfast" in Sabatini's each morning - ordered what ever we wanted - food good, there, as always (see note, however under "Service") Room Service Food was awesome ! - took advantage of it more that any other past cruise - ate several meals out on our balcony. Went to Sabatini's one night for dinner - was just "so-so" - Manicotti for appetizer was the best thing that I had - DH had the lobster - said was "OK" Went to the Crown Grill 2 times (usually our favorite) - Filet was awesome - DH had Chop - said was tough - next time tried the Sea Bass (told him he should have stuck to the Filet !) SERVICE: - As mentioned, we love Sabatini's for breakfast in the morning - but this time the service was REALLY SLOW ! (good thing we were never in a hurry) - others commented also - servers were polite - but not enough of them - had to wait and wait even for coffee - not at all like the absolutely wonderful service that we have had in Sabatini's for breakfast on other ships. Room Service: As mentioned food was great - service was even better ! - Very prompt - food hot and tasty Other: Room Steward was great - very quiet guy - very prompt with all requests. Immigration: - What a mess ! - Everyone HAD to leave the ship in Seattle - to go through US Immigration (since we had just left Canada) - LONG, LONG lines - seemed really, really disorganized - we've been through several other "immigration control" situations on-board a Princess ship - and they went very smoothly (I remember simply walking through the dining room, and picking up our passports on one occasion) - not sure if the decision for passengers to go through the check-in process ashore was the authorities ashore (In Seattle) or Princess - but it sure was a mess ! OTHER: The Grand Princess was the first ever cruise ship to dock at the new cruise-port in San Francisco. Good thing we weren't in a hurry here ! - First - they had trouble connecting the "ramp" to the ship - Captain expressed apology as well as frustration several times over inter-com (nice that he kept us informed) - some passengers really got all upset that they couldn't leave the ship right away (get a grip !) - others appreciated the updates by the Captain - on-shore security both leaving the ship as well as returning was not organized either - 2 people at a table - checking everyone's ID. etc. as they returned - again , good thing we were not in a large group when we left or returned. Hope is that San Francisco gets their act together before next cruise ship docks there !   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
First off, I have to mention how disappointed we were when NCL cancelled the advertised port city of San Francisco shortly after we made our final payment and could no longer cancel. That port was the whole reason we chose this cruise. ... Read More
First off, I have to mention how disappointed we were when NCL cancelled the advertised port city of San Francisco shortly after we made our final payment and could no longer cancel. That port was the whole reason we chose this cruise. They substituted Seattle instead, which meant that we ended up in Seattle twice within a couple of days, since we also flew into Seattle. This was a really big deal to us, very upsetting, and we still believe it was handled poorly. However, because of this change, the prices dropped a lot, and we were able to upgrade to a balcony cabin for what we originally paid for an inside. So that helped a little. With that said, we did enjoy the cruise. Our cabin and cabin steward were nice. The bed was very comfortable. We loved having a balcony. We were able to watch the ship being docked early in the mornings from our balcony, and that was interesting to see. We were able to go on a bridge tour with our Cruise Critic roll-call group, and found that extremely informative. The officer giving us the tour was really great and didn't seem to mind the intrusion. We ate only in the buffet and the MDR's; we did not feel the need to try any of the premium restaurants. We thought the food was good. I think the food is a little better on Holland America line than NCL, but we still found plenty of things to enjoy on the Pearl. I had heard horror stories about terrible service and/or food in the MDR, but that was not our experience. Most of our meals were timely and we thought the service was fine. The only meal that took 2 hours was the time we were seated with some friends as a party of six in Indigo, and we understand that it takes longer for a larger group. Service was faster in the Summer Palace than in Indigo overall. We ate breakfasts in the Garden Cafe buffet and in the MDR's for lunch and dinner. The buffet was great for breakfast. There was always plenty of bacon. :-) I most enjoyed the French toast that I paired with the yummy banana compote. As far as ice cream, the soft serve was not good at all, but the hand-dipped ice cream was good and there seemed to always be someone there available to serve it. Seating was a challenge in the buffet, but there was always room outside in the Great Outdoors. This cruise ended in Los Angeles, and we took an NCL excursion that included an overview of the city, ending at the airport. It was a good idea, but the tour guide was terrible. I guess that's a hit-or-miss kind of thing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
In the last 24 months we have cruised on the Sun, Star and Pearl. In my opinion, the Pearl is the best, closely followed by the Sun and the Star is last. Embarkation: I arrived at the dock too early! People were still disembarking so the ... Read More
In the last 24 months we have cruised on the Sun, Star and Pearl. In my opinion, the Pearl is the best, closely followed by the Sun and the Star is last. Embarkation: I arrived at the dock too early! People were still disembarking so the embarkation process was not open. At 11 AM the embarkation process began and we were on the Pearl by 11:15. Cabin: We chose 9008, an enclosed balcony, as our cabin. The room was exactly as represented on the NCL web pages. Our suitcases easily stored under the bed. We never heard any noises during the night. The a/c worked perfectly, even during some very hot days. Dining: We ate every breakfast in the Summer Palace, lunches were split between Garden Cafe and Blue Lagoon and evening meals were Summer Palace, Indigo, Cagney's, Bistro, Moderno or the Lotus Garden. All of the food was very good and all the service was excellent. We found that if the Summer Palace had a line we could just go to Indigo and get right in. We did eat more meals at speciality restaurants on this cruise than usual. In hindsight, I think the difference in food was not really worth paying extra. Entertainment: There was less variety of entertainment on this cruise than I have experienced on previous cruises. The entertainment on this cruise was heavily focused on comedy. I would , personally, prefer more variety but all the acts were of a good quality. Tendering: Pretty much a disaster! For some reason, the Pearl failed to deploy enough tenders to do the job in an efficiet manner. A 2 hour wait in Astoria to get a tender back to the ship is not satisfactory. Service: I'm always amazed at the excellent service on cruise ships. All service was rendered to us in an excellent manner. I love "freestyle!". Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our first time on a Holland America Ship. We have done many cruises with Princess, Norwegian, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and wanted to try Holland. The Westerdam is a nice ship. It is kept clean and neat except for perhaps the ... Read More
This was our first time on a Holland America Ship. We have done many cruises with Princess, Norwegian, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and wanted to try Holland. The Westerdam is a nice ship. It is kept clean and neat except for perhaps the windows. I never saw any being cleaned. Our mini-suite was clean and neat and kept that way. The Room steward was invisible. We really only saw him once. The room was very nice with plenty of space and very comfortable. The crew was one of the friendliest that I have experienced on a ship. They really seemed to want to be on board and never seemed like any request was a burden. Breakfast was always very good. The Lido buffet had everything I needed including a killer sticky bun. I had one everyday. Lunch was not as good in the buffet. They seemed to haver a problem with running out of food. For example, the salad bar had a great number of items the first day but by the third day the number of items had shrunk significantly. The Vista dining room was very mediocre. I saw someone say in a review a while ago that steaks were overcooked. They still are. Every time. I don't know who thought that you put gravy on a NY Strip steak but I think you only do if you are hiding something. Service was slow and so-so. There was nothing in the MDR that would make me book with Holland America again. They really need to step it up with the quality of food and service in that area. The Pinnacle grill was very good. The blueberry tart was amazing! The muster drill was very disorganized compared to other ships I've experienced. One of the problems with this particular ship is the age and mobility of many of the passengers. I had the feeling that if there was a real problem we were all going to die. Entertainment was professional and fun. There are two different Hal-cats on the ship. One group had been together longer and it showed. Embarcation was smooth. There seems like a lot of steps to get on board. We were from out of country though as we are form the US and leaving from Vancouver. Entering San Francisco was amazing. The captain made sure that they new were coming. The horn blasting as we passed under the Golden Gate bridge was fun.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The cruise was a blast! I've never gone on a cruise before, so I figured this was a great way to get my feet wet. The Norwegian Jewel had just been renovated earlier this year, and I was looking forward to the cruise. The cruise was ... Read More
The cruise was a blast! I've never gone on a cruise before, so I figured this was a great way to get my feet wet. The Norwegian Jewel had just been renovated earlier this year, and I was looking forward to the cruise. The cruise was from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, CA with stops in Astoria, OR and San Francisco, CA. The entire cruise was marked with excellent weather. I traveled to Vancouver the day before and got a small hotel room within walking distance of the ship at Ballantyne Pier. The hotel was an older one in a part of Vancouver where you did not want to be out at night, but it was okay as a transit room. The day of the cruise was uncommonly sunny for Vancouver, so I walked to the ship. My first view of the ship was incredible. I was one of the first people to queue up to check in at the pier and had to wait about a half an hour, but the check-in started right on schedule. Security wasn't as onerous as I was anticipating, so check-in went smoothly. The crew of the Jewel were still getting setup for embarkation, so there was not much going on. The Garden Buffet was open and I had some time to kill before my interior stateroom was ready so I went up to get some lunch. The amount of food was incredible, and it was good quality. The staff was attentive but went about their duties unless called for. I probably ate more than I had intended, but after walking about exploring the ship my stateroom was ready. The view of cruising under the Lionsgate Bridge leaving Vancouver was incredible. The next day, our luck with the weather held crossing the Columbia River Bar and the sea was calm. Astoria is an interesting port; I took the Historic Astoria and Fort Clatsop tour that went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum (a great stop if you're interested in history), the Astor Column (not for those afraid of heights) and Fort Clatsop (where the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered over in 1805-1806 until leaving that spring to return to Missouri). The departure from Astoria was just as calm. After Astoria was the first full day at sea. The first somewhat noticeable waves started today, but the Jewel easily kept steady. There was plenty to do, even if all you wanted to do was walk about the ship and see what was going on. The ship's schedule was provided to each cabin the previous evening, so it was easy to mark out what you wanted to do. I participated in the trivia challenges and attended a display of the cooks form the main premium restaurants. That evening was the Formal Evening for those who wanted to dress up. I did so and had an excellent roast beef dinner in the main dining room. We pulled in to San Francisco early in the morning, but there was no fog so the view of the Golden Gate Bridge still lit up at night was incredible, as was the San Francisco waterfront early in the morning. On our way in we passed the fishing vessels that provide the fresh seafood San Francisco is known for. I had spent more money than I had allowed for getting to Vancouver, so I spent the day on board ship. Even being in port there was still plenty to do. I had made a reservation for La Cucina, the Italian restaurant on board, and had the best Chicken Parmesan while the ship passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. A moment to remember, always. The fourth day was spent cruising off the coast of Southern California. I attended an art lecture given by the senior auctioneer who was the head of the art auction later that afternoon. I kept my hands in place and admired the art I liked. The auction house, Park West, gave free prints for attending the auction. The Jewel pulled into Los Angeles in the Port of San Pedro early the next morning. We woke up to find ourselves moored right behind the USS Iowa museum. Very cool. I would have toured the old battleship if I didn't have a reservation for the bus from the pier to LAX that morning. Disembarkation was simple; my bags were waiting for me on the pier, and clearing US Customs took only a few moments. I found my bus and was soon on my way home. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My husband and I took our first cruise in about 20 years on the Pacific Coastal Cruise, 9/ 20-25/2014). Since we were from the Los Angeles Area, and the cruise disembarked in Los Angeles, it was almost embarrassing at first to answer the ... Read More
My husband and I took our first cruise in about 20 years on the Pacific Coastal Cruise, 9/ 20-25/2014). Since we were from the Los Angeles Area, and the cruise disembarked in Los Angeles, it was almost embarrassing at first to answer the question "Where are you sailing to?" But we learned right away not to say Los Angeles, but that it was a Pacific Coastal Cruise. Embarkation was a breeze, in that our Vancouver City Tour shuttle delivered our luggage directly to the cruise line and it was waiting for us just outside the cabin. The food was marvelous, especially in the specialty restaurants. The buffet was good, but not great. Teppanyaki was a marvelous restaurant, even though it cost a little more, because the food was delicious, plentiful and the chef put on a great show. Cagney's, was good, the steak humungous, we couldn't finish. The star restaurant of the ship was Tzar's Palace. Situated on the stern, if you can get a seat by the windows you get a great view. We ate there as we departed San Francisco, and got great views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge. It was exciting to see the Golden Gate bridge come into our view over our heads, I have always wanted to sail under it. The entertainment was good. Especially the first and second nights. The comedian, Russ Rivas was a stitch, and his "naughty" show late night was also hysterical (with no four-letter words, thank you very much!). Fabio Dini was great as well, although I was not too keen on the 70's shows, I guess I'm too old for that! The tour from Astoria, Oregon entitled Ultimate Oregon Coast was great as well, although there weren't too many airplanes in the Air Museum any more. The service was remarkable, the crew very congenial. The cute young man at the Java Café asked me every day about the name of the color of my outfit each day, and said he was tickled to be learning about new colors. (Boysenberry, Turquoise, etc.) What a great memory this will be. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My very first cruise was a 5 day repositioning from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with my sister who has been on several cruises. My impressions of the Norwegian Pearl: It was bright and airy. Our room (with a balcony) was bright, and clean. ... Read More
My very first cruise was a 5 day repositioning from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with my sister who has been on several cruises. My impressions of the Norwegian Pearl: It was bright and airy. Our room (with a balcony) was bright, and clean. I found it very comfortable; there was enough room to relax and the balcony was a real plus. The food was pretty decent with only one exception: La Cucina, the specialty Italian restaurant. I had ordered a pork loin and it was a salty, tough piece of shoe leather. The accompanying gnocchi was pretty chewy too, and not in a good way. However, I felt I ate very well at the buffet and in the Indigo, Teppanyaki and the russian-themed restaurant. I realized I had to pick and choose; for example, the scrambled eggs were obviously reconstituted dried eggs (yech) BUT the omelettes were freshly made and very good. I really enjoyed the Indian dishes served each day in the buffet; they were very tasty. My sister and I bought the thermo spa package for 119.00 USD which gave us unlimited access to the thermo spa (hot tups, sauna, steam room, heated tile beds) but no massages or treatments. I'm glad we did - it was the most relaxing part of the cruise and well worth the fee. The people looking after rooms, restaurants, bars and the rest of the ship were generally polite, pleasant and helpful. Almost too helpful sometimes - you can't sit still without being asked if you'd like to order a drink. Courtesy of Cruise Critic, we got a tour of the bridge - it was fascinating and one of the highlights of the cruise for me. I was also impressed with how easily we embarked on Sunday, and disembarked in Los Angeles. That process was very well managed. I did disembark in Astoria, but returned to the ship after a couple of hours, a quick wait for a tender and a 30 minute ride to the ship. Lucky timing, as I missed the long waits that occurred a couple of hours later. Low points? Not many. The carpet in our room should probably be replaced. That's about it. The cruise itself was nice - relaxing and problem free. I had a good time - it was a good introduction to cruising for this "cruise virgin". Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
So "Happy" we chose The American Empress Riverboat tour of the Columbia River this September 2014. It was a perfect weather, perfect staff & accommodations trip. From the very start, the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver was gracious ... Read More
So "Happy" we chose The American Empress Riverboat tour of the Columbia River this September 2014. It was a perfect weather, perfect staff & accommodations trip. From the very start, the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver was gracious and provided a great location for the pre-cruise night. On board the Empress, it was such a pleasure. The staff, like Bobby, Jennifer, Anton, Lisa, Frank, Lindy & Greg, and Diane, just to name a few, were all so personable and happy people without being hovering. We were pleased that American Steamboat Co. only hires American staff.... Wise choice and most appreciated. Everyday was a charm....Hop-On Hop-Off Bus excursions at every port were so well planned...We especially enjoyed the Pendleton Round Up Rodeo, (which was ONLY on the schedule the very week of our trip)...Wow, Let'er Buck!. The meals on board were just lovely, expertly prepared and delicious, just right portions, too. The entertainment delivered, piano, quartet, singing, banjo and storytelling. Frank and Lindy & Greg were outstanding! What could be better than a fine dinner, followed by a great show every night. The scenery, the locks, the Native Culture, Lewis & Clark History, the ports...."all" were so carefully planned for us. It was our First Riverboat trip...... but it won't be our last. It met our expectations and so much more! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This is our 4th Holland America cruise and I was pleasantly surprised to sail on the Statendam. I’ve read all the reviews for the past year so I was not expecting too much from this older vessel. To my surprise she is the sister ship of ... Read More
This is our 4th Holland America cruise and I was pleasantly surprised to sail on the Statendam. I’ve read all the reviews for the past year so I was not expecting too much from this older vessel. To my surprise she is the sister ship of the Ryndam which we loved so the layout was great and familiar. She is in very good shape. We consistently saw workers painting and cleaning throughout our sailing. We did a 5 night cruise which is our shortest HAL cruise and we just turned two star mariner which is exciting. I did not realize that on a 5 night cruise there was no welcome back party from the captain which I was looking forward to. However this was “Casual attire” cruise which is my first. Every night in the dining room the attire was casual which was nice and meant we didn’t have to pack suit jackets or dresses. We sailed out of Vancouver Canada which is a beautiful city. We booked a pre-cruise hotel at the Pan Pacific thru HAL which was a bit pricey but well worth it. A stunning 5 Star hotel and you literally take the escalators down to the ship the following morning. We boarded the ship in no time we had cabin E810 on deck 4 which was a large Ocean View cabin. Exactly what I expected a good size room with a loveseat and table. Tub in the bathroom with plenty of shelf space in the bathroom for all your items. The bed was somewhat comfortable and the pillows were a little flat but again being an older ship I kind of expected it. The room was always clean, we never really met our room steward he did not introduce himself to us which was a first in all our cruises. He did his job in cleaning and providing towels without us seeing him during the 5 nights so that worked fine for us. We ate dinner in the dining room every night and our waiters were superb. So friendly and attentive they were fabulous and the service was fast as we had first sit down seating. After dinner every night we enjoyed our little butter mints which is another little perk that HAL does that we love. The food on the ship I must rate as VERY GOOD. There was not one mediocre meal it was all very good. We did not have any crab/lobster due to the short nature of the cruise. They had self-service laundry on the ship which was cheap at 2.00 to wash and 1.00 to dry. We did a quick load while on board which worked out perfectly. The port of calls were Seattle; Astoria and then two days at sea and then final stop San Diego. We enjoyed the coffee café in the mornings where you can purchase a large strong coffee for $2.00 and get our copy of the NY Times which we just love having to catch up on world events. That is one of the small little perks that we love about HAL getting our morning NY Times. We also spent time in the library and reading our books while at sea, as there are plenty of quite areas to read. We were able to do afternoon tea twice on the ship there seemed to be some issues both times with the set up and planning. The first sea day the line was around the corner and out the door as they did not serve you they had the pastries and finger sandwiches right at the dining room door and there was so a hold up as passengers had no idea what to choose for food. By the time we got our little deserts and tea it was basically over. They ran out of whip cream for the crumpets and jam (not sure how that happens) but that was disappointing but we said we’d try it again the next day. Day 2 at sea, they had everyone sit down first then they came around to serve you. The issue this time was we asked for the crumpets and jam/whip cream and they kept telling us they will come around and 45 minutes later NOTHING….they kept bringing by the small sandwiches or cookies which we didn’t want. So tea time both days were disappointing. We signed up for a wine tasting event it was only $15.00pp which was not bad considering we had 5 samplings of wine, 2 red and 3 whites. It was about 1.5hrs long and educational. The sales on the ship are always fun to see what kind of paraphernalia they will sell, to my surprise they had some really good sales such as nice T-shirts for $5.00 and lined rain coats for $15.00. Costume jewelry was buy 1 get 1 free and only $5.00 dollars so that was a steal. There were plenty of activities to do on the ship during down times, we played Trivia for the first time and met two very nice couples so our team of 6 would play daily (be prepared the questions are not easy so study up) Disembarkation was pretty good we signed up for expedited so we had our bags to walk off the ship and we were first in line. We really enjoy sailing HAL and will sail them again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014

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