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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We love doing the Alaska trip, it is very easy for us coming from Vancouver Island. This trip makes the 4th time we have done this route and we will do it again, next time we will probably do a southbound run. Each time we have done ... Read More
We love doing the Alaska trip, it is very easy for us coming from Vancouver Island. This trip makes the 4th time we have done this route and we will do it again, next time we will probably do a southbound run. Each time we have done something slightly different: change in port Skagway to Sitka, change in glacier, Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm/Endicott. Embarkation took about an hour, there were only 2 ships departing on the 23rd (Westerdam and Noordam). We have experienced longer. They had more lines moving and sorted out passengers better than on previous trips. Luggage was in the cabin when we boarded. Disembarkation was quick. Since our last trip HAL has changed the way things are done. We chose our timing to go with the pick up time for our bus back to the island. We waited in the cabin until our color was called and then headed for the gangway. We took all of our luggage with us this time. Customs took about 30 seconds as I had the form fully completed. The ship: Well maintained. The crew: Excellent. We are still trying to figure out how the cabin stewart knows we are out, we have only caught him in the cabin once and that was because we came back for something. The entertainment and activities: Very good, this trip we had a comedian and a magician. The HAL dance crew were fun to watch. We love to play trivia (music and other), there were several times available and we hit most of them. The ECO talks that we got to were informative, wish they could have done them more than once on the trip as we found there were conflicts with other activities. Captain Mark did a talk about his duties and how the ship runs, very interesting. It was also his birthday that day so the entire audience sang to him, then the cruise director and some of the officers presented him with a gift. His slide show of the bridge was hijacked by the CD and pictures of Capt Mark were inserted into the show. Lots of fun and he took it well. He is very well liked by the crew. Dining: The main diningroom was excellent, we chose anytime dining so we didn't sit at the same table twice so didn't get the same waiters. I booked each morning once we had looked at the daily activities and the menu and was successful in getting a table for 2 each time. The Lido was a bit of a disappointment. The menu was varied, lots of choices and the servers were very nice and helpful. The downfall was the temperature of the food. We found the entrees lukewarm at best. So to get hot food we ordered made to order omelettes or other made or order items for breakfast. Lunches we did the same. The Dive-In was excellent as usual. Love the dive-in sauce for the fries. Really like the taco bar. Ports and excursions: Juneau was wet, only rainy day tho; not bad for the end of September. We did the Alaska Brewing Company tour on our own, always a good time. Went to the library to get the wifi to check email. Skagway was fairly warm. We did the HAL excursion to Dredge Town. It is a little cheesy but the PUPPIES were fun; they made the excursion worth while. Tracy Arm/Endicott. We couldn't get as close to the glacier as we wanted as there was a lot of ice in the way; some of the ice was as large as a semi trailer. We were still able to see the glacier with binos. The trip in and out was beautiful. First time we had seen Endicott. Ketchikan. It WASN'T raining!! :). We didn't get to go up the funicular as it was down for repairs. We did go on a non-HAL excursion just a quick city highlight with a trip out to the fish spawning grounds. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this sailing specifically to see Glacier Bay. At our first stop In Juneau it was pouring rain, we went on an excursion to Mendenhall glacier the bus was 1 hour overdue on picking us up to return to the ship, my parents, my ... Read More
We chose this sailing specifically to see Glacier Bay. At our first stop In Juneau it was pouring rain, we went on an excursion to Mendenhall glacier the bus was 1 hour overdue on picking us up to return to the ship, my parents, my wife and myself were soaked to the bone and freezing (mom 84yrs,dad 91yrs),they gave us a 40% discount!!. My dad's knees and hips were shot as a result for the rest of the cruise Unfortunately there was a medical emergency on the way into the bay and they turned the ship around and sailed back out . They wasted 2-3hrs sitting in fog waiting to see if a helicopter would come and get the passenger (no chance, the fog was soup thick), then we sailed a couple hours to a bay near Juneau to meet a coast guard boat, the Coast guard boat was too low, so they put the passenger on a lifeboat and lowered it to the water to make the transfer. That pretty much used up the entire day. They indicated they might ditch Ketchican and go to Glacier Bay. (most guest were in favor of this option) The Captain decided this was not practical, even though it seemed like it was his idea. (would imagine he was overruled by management). By not practical, I assume they meant paying for the extra fuel and refunding shore excursion money for Ketchican, then to add insult to injury they gave us a $15.38 credit for missing out on Glacier Bay (REALLY!). We lost out on 25% of the advertised adventure and they refund 15.38. it cost us $5336.00 US (4 people) for the trip, not really understanding Holland's math. Disembarkation was pretty chaotic, with not enough wheel chairs available inside the terminal, they pretty much rushed the people with mobility issues off the ship and dropped them in chairs to wait 45 mins to 1 hr for a second wheelchair to take them the rest of the way. When I contacted customer relations, I was told the president of Holland America issued a memo, that no compensation was allowed to be offered for missing Glacier Bay on this cruise. Interesting to say the least Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose the cruise for the itinerary and the timing. One friend could only travel this week. We really wanted to experience Alaska, the glaciers, and the Inside Passage. The food aboard Noordam was outstanding in all areas of the ship. ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the itinerary and the timing. One friend could only travel this week. We really wanted to experience Alaska, the glaciers, and the Inside Passage. The food aboard Noordam was outstanding in all areas of the ship. The Lido restaurant offered a large choice for breakfast. I really enjoyed the Filipino bread for breakfast which was more like a donut with a buttery spread served beside the Miso soup pot. I had one each morning. The Vista dining lounge was also a big hit. The food was tasty, presented beautifully, and the service was friendly and professional. We were always certain to receive well-timed service - if we ordered baked potatoes, the sour cream and fixings were always offered right away, if you ordered lobster, the waiter was right there to help shell it for you, etc. Exceptional food service, variety, and presentation. The entertainment also exceeded our expectations. There was a comedian and a magician on board and both were very entertaining. The singers/dancers were typical of a cruise ship. The sets and costumes were colourful, well-maintained, and artistic. We really enjoyed the BB Kings Blues Band. The band played all kinds of music despite the name (which would have kept us away except we walked by one evening and was drawn to the music and energy of the room). It was extremely entertaining - the brass of the saxophone and horn really made the room come alive. The singers were incredible and had an amazing repertoire of several kinds of music from the oldies to Bruno Mars. The female sang a Whitney Houston classic and everyone had to stand it was so amazing and the male singer could sing the pages of a dictionary and be entertaining. You could always get snacks at the café but unfortunately if you just wanted a regular coffee or tea you didn't need to pay extra or you still had to go up to the Lido. Not much is offered during the day to do though when at sea and we would have liked to see much more activities or interesting venues offered (although you could go to a presentation on how to use your binoculars!) We did not take part in any of the ship's excursions but did take shuttles offered on land. In Juneau we took the shuttle to Mendenhaul Glacier which is highly recommended. We also walked to the waterfalls which is only an easy 30 min walk. Make sure you take the walk off of the parking lot by the creek where you may be lucky enough to see bear. We saw a mom and her 2 cubs. We enjoyed a beer at the Red Dog Saloon. Worth a stop as you feel like you are back in the Gold Rush era with costumed servers, sawdust on the floor, and lively, era music from a gentleman on a keyboard. In Skagway we hiked up to the lower Dewey lake. This is a beautiful hike up a mountain path to a mountain lake. It is about 1 1/2 hour return and is well-marked and groomed. It offers a fairly strenuous hike through a pretty forest and offers a viewpoint over the ships docked and a pretty lake. You can also walk around the lake but we felt that would take quite a long time. After lunch we took a Smart bus to a historical cemetery. The walk from the bus stop was still over a mile but the cemetery is worth a look. There is a board with stories of some of the people buried there and is very interesting. There is a very short walk to a waterfall which is beautiful. We walked back to the ship from the cemetery which took about an hour. In Ketchikan we walked up to the fish hatchery. At this time it was the pink salmon that were running. Turns out there were no bears or eagles as they find this type of salmon to be unappetizing. Bears and eagles are salmon snobs - who knew? This was disappointing but we did see lots of fish and seals by Creek Street. The hatchery didn't offer a lot but the girl working there was a fountain of knowledge and readily shared her insights and passion for the fish. We finished by walking back to town along Creek Street. We stopped at the Fish House for chowder and a beer sampler. We saw lots of dolphins on the cruise, some otters, and we did see some whales but unfortunately the whales weren't very close and really just saw the blowholes or a flash of black. I think if we went earlier in the month we would have seen more wildlife. We unfortunately had to turn back in Glacier Bay due to a medical emergency so we didn't get to go see the glaciers. Will definitely have to return there is so much we didn't get to see. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
When I was 17 I did a road trip from British Columbia to Southern Alaska. It was the best trip I had ever been on. The scenery, the wildlife, and the splendor of it all took my breath away. I did not think anything could top that ... Read More
When I was 17 I did a road trip from British Columbia to Southern Alaska. It was the best trip I had ever been on. The scenery, the wildlife, and the splendor of it all took my breath away. I did not think anything could top that experience. Then I booked with Holland America and the adventure was better than I remembered. Embarkation. You are given an assigned time to arrive at the port in Seattle. Ours was 1pm so like all good travelers we arrived at 11:45. I did think it would take us longer to get there but this was fine. Having cruised four previous times I knew what to expect. Hurry and wait to drop off luggage, hurry up to wait in line to pass through security, hurry up to get in line to check in, wait for a few hours in a waiting room. Take the eternal walk to get on board, go to Lido deck and eat for four hours and then go to room to wait for your luggage. Yeah, I have played this game before and this time...was an exception. We dropped off our luggage straight away, no line at all. Then we went to security and... no line at all, got in line to check in and get our key. That took forever at about 3 to 5 minutes to get up there and 3 to 5 minutes to get processed. The they gave us free cookies and water which I had to eat while walking on to the ship. Wait did I skip the waiting room part? Oh, wait there was none, we got our key and went on board. 20 minutes after getting out of the Uber we were on the ship. On the ship an elevator was standing by and we were directed to the buff... wait not the buffet but our stateroom. It was 1215 and we were walking to our ready stateroom. We met our cabin steward and sat down wondering...what do we do now. Well first we unpack. Our luggage arrived 5 minutes after we did. Then we went to the buffet to eat some of the best meals at sea. The Cabin Standard industry sized veranda with a 45-inch TV. So, we could watch it and enjoy it. It was loaded with some great new and a little older movies and live TV. The bed was firm and comfortable. There was a bathtub but for a 6'2" guy it was a bit tight and smaller than what is at home. The linens and fluffy stuff was soft and nice. There were plenty of outlets and enough closet space for our clothes, shoes and Jacket. On our way up the weather was rocky but we love that because it helps us sleep. The rocking was gentle and not jolting at all. The veranda came with the usual appointments and was the same size as other ships. The Food The food was a cut above. There was a unique combination of standard fair, fancy, and really fancy. It was all well prepared and very good. Even the Buffet which can many times get stale and feel second rate was fresh and changing. The pizza was worth the wait and was delicious. Tea time at 3pm was amazing with many pastry's and other delicious snacks. Also, the chocolate event on deck two was a blast. Entertainment Was sparse. Almost every day we were in some port or some location so the need to entertain people on board with exciting activities was less. Not to mention it is a senor crowd and that limits the options available of activities to do. The activities there are, are very enriching, fun, and amazing. I was never bored but very relaxed. The wine tasting, bar hop, mixology class, etc were fantastic. The jewel of the trip was the orchestra that played classical music every night and the jazz club that got people dancing and singing till late in the night. The piano bars were very nice as well and a lot of fun to be in. Glacier Bay The benefit of a veranda, when it is 45 F outside is that between great shots and scenery is you watch movies in you cabin. The balcony offered timeless views and warmth. Whale watching, glacier and wilderness tour in Juneau This was a great investment. We had the wonderful captain Buck who found us orcas and humpbacks. Also provided insight into the local history along the way. The Glacier was amazing and awe inspiring to look at. We saw other amazing scenery of the area and it was a wonderful day. The Towns All the towns had the requisite tourist shops that you see on any other cruise ever. Juneau being the capital had interesting history and nature, especially the mines. Sitka had an old Russian Church and stores. Kechihan was the most interesting town with Creek St houses (brothels) being a very interesting history, as well as the totem poles and other sights to see. At the port BE ON TIME. They tell you be back at 12:30 PM. They must leave at that time to make it to Victoria on time. We saw 5 people get to the dock after the gang plank was removed and we were sailing away. A missed boat can cost you between $1,500 to $2,000 in extra costs. Did not get off at Victoria. just not enough time and you arrive at 7PM leave at 11:30 PM. The Ship The ship with its covered pool, fantastic fitness room, great food, and super staff was the best I had ever been on. I do look forward to going back, maybe to the Mexican Riviera. Tip: If you go on a cruise at the end of the season, the clearance sails are superb. I got a very nice coat for $15, and other items were 75%$ off. Jewelry related to Alaska was also super discounted (This was true onshore as well). Disembarkation Was as fast as embarkation, we left at 8:50 AM and was in the Uber at 9:10 AM Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our first cruise. We chose the Amsterdam specifically for its smaller size and itinerary that included Hubbard Glacier. We loved the presentations by Kelly who shared about wildlife, points of interest and historical significance. ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We chose the Amsterdam specifically for its smaller size and itinerary that included Hubbard Glacier. We loved the presentations by Kelly who shared about wildlife, points of interest and historical significance. She came across as smart and witty. We also really enjoyed the entertainment. I’m still humming songs that Don the piano guy chose. Seats in the piano bar were prime real estate when he was singing oldies, Neil Diamond hits, and rock n roll tunes. We were super impressed with a BBC wildlife film set to live music on the main stage. Magical. We went to one gala night, of two, in the main dining room and found the food and service less than spectacular, so most of our meals were taken at the Lido Market. Hubby loved the pasta station where you chose the sauce, veggies and meats that were cooked right there. There was steak on the daily menu and delicious desserts that tickled my palate. My favorite lunch spot was the Dive-In for juicy, delicious, charred to perfection burgers. Breakfast was nearly always served to us via room service. We alternated between fresh fruit and yogurt or perfectly cooked scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and toast. Coffee was hot and strong! Speaking of rooms, we had a veranda suite. The stewards, Bagus and Yoga, tended to our every need—including finding duct tape to patch one of our aged suitcases. The young men were cheerful and attentive. In port, we did a couple excursions. One was booked through the ship and the other through the travel company we booked with via United Airlines. Both were memorable and offered us great subjects for photographs. We did a whale watch in Juneau on a smaller vessel—17 passengers. In Sitka, we went to the raptor center, saw salmon spawning in a stream, visited a park with totems and local carvers, then a native dance performance—all on one excursion. Amelia, our guide, was knowledgeable and witty. We felt that both excursions were money well spent. So, embarkation and debarkation seemed daunting before we went through it. We found it super efficient and organized. No lines. Lots of helpful, cheerful people to show us the way. We used the port porter service in Seattle that allowed us to check in for our United flight onboard and handled our baggage all the way to Colorado Springs, our final destination. No charge! (At this writing, we haven’t gotten to Colorado Springs yet, so I can’t report on whether our luggage will actually get there, so I’ll update once we know the final outcome. The Amsterdam is a beautiful ship. There were lots of different kinds of “public” spaces to enjoy our time at sea. We’d grab a coffee at the Explorer Cafe and spend quiet time nearby where folks were reading, playing games or completing puzzles. The Crow’s Nest offered spectacular views and a bit more energy than the coffee spot. We viewed the approach to Hubbard Glacier from there with Kelly narrating. We chose to take pictures from our stateroom balcony once we got there. The captain positioned the ship so each side, port and starboard, had significant viewing time. I still can’t believe how close we got. The whole Hubbard Glacier event was surreal, unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. So, we loved our cruise. We actually started planning our next cruise before the first was done. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was my 4th cruise to Alaska.(HAL) This time on Amsterdam. She is a lovely ship with many beautiful greek statues. Layout of the ship was very easy. Embarkation and disembarkation was amazingly smooth and fast (as compared to 3 ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise to Alaska.(HAL) This time on Amsterdam. She is a lovely ship with many beautiful greek statues. Layout of the ship was very easy. Embarkation and disembarkation was amazingly smooth and fast (as compared to 3 prior cruises). Cabin was inside with a view on lower prom. deck. Only noise was 9:30 PM approx. when cleaning the deck. We ate all meals in the Lido and the food was outstanding. Entertainment was piano bar (very good) and "On Tour" singers, dancers and musicians was very good. Husband attended all Windows workshops and rates A+. He used the gym and movie theater daily. The service from our cabin to the Lido was excellent (as always in past cruises). Every crew member was happy, smiling, and very courteous. Only shore excursions this time was Fortress of the Bear (Sitka) and the Raptor Center(Sitka) - SO GOOD. In all other ports we walked around on our own. First cruise we had time to enjoy shipboard activities. "Ask The Captain" virtual bridge tour was excellent, as was America's Test Kitchen shows daily. Enjoyed the casino. We have booked a 14 day Alaskan tour onboard Amsterdam in June 2019 and looking forward to it! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We just wanted a short get away and this suited us fine. We always like Alaska and for the most part enjoyed the ship. We found the food not all that good and did not really like the entertainment but everything else was fine. We ... Read More
We just wanted a short get away and this suited us fine. We always like Alaska and for the most part enjoyed the ship. We found the food not all that good and did not really like the entertainment but everything else was fine. We found that in the evening there just was not that much going on, if you did not like BBKing there was not a lot else. I really do not like the TWO pianos but that is what we seem to have now on Holland America. We did go several times to Pinnacle Grill which we think is the best of this type of restaurant on any line we have cruised with. We also like that you can get lunch there, not the variety but much more reasonable serving size . Did the test kitchen but for some reason you can not eat anything you prepare so I guess they throw out all the food we worked so hard on . We took one tour that was very good , the crab feast and loggers show, good value for the money so it you like crab its the one to go on. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
t had been nine years since we sailed HAL,and twenty since sailing the Inside Passge on HAL. There add-on land tour of Denali National Park, and sailing from Anchorage sealed the deal. In the dining room, we noticed a drop in the ... Read More
t had been nine years since we sailed HAL,and twenty since sailing the Inside Passge on HAL. There add-on land tour of Denali National Park, and sailing from Anchorage sealed the deal. In the dining room, we noticed a drop in the choice of meal selections. More average than top end, but the food was very good and the table service was excellent, after a blip on day 1. Having taken the four-day land tour beforehand, embarkation was a doddle, as we were the last coach in. All pre-checked luggage was already in our stateroom to meet us. Others who took the land tour had a ten hour coach journey from Fairbanks to the ship. Somehow, we had an internal flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage then a 3.5 hour coach trip. Much better. Not sure why Fairbanks included, as there is very little there to see in late September, if ever! Disembarkation was also very good. Noordam was in superb condition throughout and probably the best cruise -ship we have been on,in over 20 cruises. Happy smiling crew faces throughout the ship Alaska from North to South is the way to see the State. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
First large ship cruise. It was better than expected. Very organized as to getting on and off ship. Went into Fairbanks a day early so we could see sights on own. Enjoyed the Fountainhead Car Museum, caught MAC local bus, and the ... Read More
First large ship cruise. It was better than expected. Very organized as to getting on and off ship. Went into Fairbanks a day early so we could see sights on own. Enjoyed the Fountainhead Car Museum, caught MAC local bus, and the University of Alaska free shuttle from car museum, along with walking along the Chena River in morning. Westmar k Hotel was nice. Bus to Denali, stayed McKinley Lodge, nice. Ate at local Pizza/beer joint for lunch and Moose-Aka's Serbian restaurant for dinner, both great. Took free shuttle to Park and hiked, then took free shuttle to Savage River. Actually saw Denali! Next day long drive to Seward on motorcoach. Great driver, made good time and stopped for photos of Denali and nice lunch in Wasilla. Embarktion at Seward went smoothly, took shuttle to view small town. We liked going to the local saloons before getting back on board to be with locals. Cruise was great, no rough seas, sunny everyday, no high pressure to purchase anything. Food was good, met many nice people at meals, we had open seating. Waiters were fantastic!! Enough time in ports to hike and take excursions of our own. Free shuttles in each town and libraries in port were great to catch up on wifi. Happy hours were great buy, although didn t mind paying $10 with tax for Lemon Drop. Got many great photos of Glaciers, not too crowded on deck. Great art throughout ship. Lincoln center Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I really enjoyed the musical entertainment on board; also enjoyed cooking classes, lectures, library, swimming pools and hot tubs. The food was pretty good especially the dining room where you dress up to go to dinner. The lido deck diner ... Read More
I really enjoyed the musical entertainment on board; also enjoyed cooking classes, lectures, library, swimming pools and hot tubs. The food was pretty good especially the dining room where you dress up to go to dinner. The lido deck diner was convenient but often the food was cold so it was only good for a sandwhich, cold cereal, or dessert. I found the staff to be very friendly and personable; especially the guys who cleaned our cabin. We were in room 5013 and the guys were so good to remember our names and bring anything we needed. Some of the things I didn't like was how tiny and cramped our room was. I traveled with my mom and brother so we shared a state room. It said online that a state room can comfortably hold 3 adults but that wasn't true. The room had 2 twin beds and then a flimsy hide-away bed in the couch. The hide-away bed wan't very comfortable but the twin beds were good. Overall my experience was a positive one and I will sail with Eurodam again if given the opportunity. Read Less
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