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1 Whittier to Alaska Statendam Cruise Reviews

We had booked a land tour first through Holland America, so that we might enjoy a little more scenery than population. Our tour director was well experienced and versed in the Alaskan culture and topography.  He made the first few days as ... Read More
We had booked a land tour first through Holland America, so that we might enjoy a little more scenery than population. Our tour director was well experienced and versed in the Alaskan culture and topography.  He made the first few days as interesting as we had dreamed they would be.  Our first real challenge was our Chalet Lodge in Denali.  They were not fully functional upon our arrival.  Power outages and dining room staff/cooks not ready for infusion of guest. First meal was lunch that took two hours to served plus the bar and formal dining room were not due to open for three more days.  We would be gone by then.  No other restaurants or cruise line chalets were open.  Only two local restaurants were to open at 4:00 PM every day.  We were told that they had problems with the water lines & sewer systems but had only been there three days prior to our arrival.  They did not have any ice or soda machines available for us.  We were paying for these meals as they were not included in our package. They did not make any allowances or excuses for not being formally open.  Told them that we were paying the full rate like anyone else, so why did they not open up sooner to be prepared to greet us. No one took charge.    Our visit to Denali was super, but a little cool.  We enjoyed the Welcome Centers Carousel of the park plus gift shop.  We rode an ole school bus (Bluebird) up to mile marker 17 which is as far as we were allowed to go due to snow and ice further in.  We saw lots of wild life, but no bear or wolves to be found.  They said that in mid June, tourists are allowed back to mile maker 30. Just to see this untouched wilderness is overwhelming & totally awesome.  Nothing in the lower forty-eight to compare!!! Our departure by glass domed luxurious rail cars to Anchorage was as rustic as the scenery of rivers, waterfalls, glaciers, mountains and valleys. The main attraction was seeing Mt. McKinley/Denali with a clear and unfettered view of both the north and south peaks.  Just too beautiful for words & camera's could not due it fair justice.  Journey of eight hours is just a little too long but beats the over the road trip.  Once in Anchorage, we were able to shop at the Country Flea Market a few blocks from downtown.  This had everything and anything that you might desire to take home as presents or treasures.  One notable dish that you do not want to pass up at any eatery is the reindeer sausage. It is worth the effort and more tasty than normal sausage of any other meat by product. Our next destination via a bus was Seward Windsong Lodge.  It is next to the Exit Glacier and Resurrection River.  Services were limited (restaurant and shuttle) due to just opening.  The city of Seward is worth spending time in plus has more open restaurants than are other stops, but a little pricy.  Next morning, we boarded a small boat to tour Kenai Fjords National Park as a cruise.  Lots of whale, sea otters, seals, harbor seals, birds and Bald Eagles were too been seen plus some magnificent scenery of the glaciers and snow peaked mountains rising out of the sea. We then were transferred to our ship "The Statendam".  The ship is older and small compared to some of the newer cruise liners.  She had been renovated a couple of years ago and has been kept in good shape.  We have sailed on the Princess & Carnival Cruise lines in the past two years, but were led to believe that Holland America was the superior line.  Even though we were in a little larger suite than the other two cruise lines, we did not find them any more polite or stewards knowledgeable in providing a higher standard of service.  The food service was not any better than the other two lines and did not offer quite as good of selection of appetizers, salads, soups or entrees.  The food was just so so!!!  Upon embark ion we were told by the DJ from the Crow's nest that the on board movies could be viewed from our suite. We did not go to see Gran Torino, but wanted to watch in our suite the next day.  A fountain of miss information according to the Front Office - never happens this year!!!!  As we progressed down the fingers of Alaska, our cruise director kept us busy with plenty to do during the day.  The evening shows and entertainment were excellent two out of the five nights that we were cruising.  One act we had seen on the previous year's cruise to the West Caribbean with another cruise line.  Another was a Banjo Player who would have been OK, had he not gone on for over thirty minutes.  A comedian would have been excellent as filler for some of the time spent playing his banjo.  Our excursion in Skagway was the White Pass train ride on the ole H O style railway system.  We book this from home based on a two (2) hour extra shopping time in the Skagway area.  We took the ferry ride from Haines over to Skagway.  Once in the train terminal, we were told our train would be the third one being backed into the terminal.  This was 11:45 AM which they told us to stay near the tracks as this was not to take too long.  Our train came in at 12:30 PM and was loaded with departure taking place at 12:45 PM.  The views along the ride were breath taking as we ascended up the mountain side.  Many beautiful nature scenes plus saw our only black bear of the whole trip.  Once on top of White Pass, the conductor comes on the PA saying that they are going to give us a treat to an additional seven (7) miles up past the US Border Customs but returning before the Canadian Customs.  We thought that to be odd, but had no other way to get back down the mountain other than the way we had come.  Upon coming down the mountain, we could see three to four trains turning around on the side rails (Engine repositions from front of the train to the rear).  We had several waits along the way.  Once back in Skagway, we were taken past the terminal down a pier rail area.  Here they let the passenger's off that were suppose to disembarked on Norweign Cruise Lines  fifteen minutes earlier.  They then told us that we could either take a bus back to the main terminal or walk.  Needless to say, we were only left with fifteen (15) minutes to shop in Skagway.  Once we were back on the ship, we went to the Shore Excursions office to file a complaint about the episode.  We were not the only passengers complaining.  The Shore Excursion office was closed, but the Front Office talked to each one of us about the situation.  The next day, we made it a point to visit the Shore Excursion office to see what was being done about the "false/misrepresented advertising".  The Shore Excursion manager talked with us stating that he was dealing with the White Pass Railroad front office about the situation and that he would get back to us.  Two days later, still no answer or effort to call and at least leave a message that he was waiting for the reply from the railroad.  Finally on the day at sea, we stopped by again to check on the outcome.  He informed us that the railroad was giving all that had complained a fifteen (15) per cent on our ship account.  Needless to say, we think that the Shore Excursion Office should be open a lot longer and be more passengers friendly.  We should not have to follow up on them every time.  They could have made a simple statement via the phone or notice on our cab door.  They did nothing until we forced the situation.  The Shore Excursion manager stated that they would be removing the extra shopping hours in Skagway going forward.  Finally, we had tried to do our laundry onboard. The laundry situation is bad.  Three different locations on the ship, but not all the washers or dryers were working at any given time.  They are only open from 8:00 AM until 10:00 PM.  If you are going off the ship for an excursion, then you only have about four hours to get things washed.  You cannot pack enough for the land tour and cruise plus meet the airlines maximum weight. I actually saw and heard two women get into a verbal confrontation which could have turned physical at the drop of the hat.  Never thought I would see this on any cruise, but constraints on hours and number of available working equipment bring the worst out in some people.  Some confusion on disembarkation due to two different decks being used.  Smaller ship made the rest of the process go seamless.    Overall our impression is less than expectations plus some definite improvement require in several areas on both the land tour and cruise. We would not rate them above other cruises that we have taken over the past five years.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Statendam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 2.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.0

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