September 2016 - Noordam to Alaska - Inside Passage
We chose Holland America because our last cruise, years ago was so great. How the mighty have fallen. This trip might put us off cruising forever. I would like to start with the one positive from this cruise and that would be the staff. Yes the staff has a great incentive to provide excellent service and they do not disappoint. The entertainment was good, my only complaint there was the very limited number of songs the band in the BB King Club played. The play list was nearly identical every night, so after a couple of nights there was no real incentive to go back again, which was too bad because it was nice to sit and listen to live blues music. Food is a big reason to chose a cruise, but the food was uninspired and in some cases nearly inedible. The coffee served board could probably be used as fuel for the ship, except for the specialty coffee available for purchase from the Explorations Lounge. When booking our cruise we specifically noted on our reservations that our dining preference was Vegan. Had Holland America been forthright and honest they would have told us that they would not be able to provide a quality dining experience. Even the vegetarian dishes were either hidden away and you had to ask for them, or what was served did not resemble the description on the menu. The cruise industry has evolved a system that I call "PCES" (passenger's cash extraction system). What you get with your payment for your cruise is the bare necessities. Any experience enhancements cost money. Most annoying was the constant barrage of shopping seminars constantly rebroadcast on the in room television. The spiel is in my opinion, very deceptive. One particular store is pushed extensively, being Diamonds International. A long story is told about how they pass on savings by eliminating several levels of markup from the diamond trade. What they don't tell you is that Diamonds International is a division of DeBeers. Of course they can eliminate levels of distribution, but in the end the pricing is really no different than a smart shopper will find back home. On the web it is stated on several sites that the cruise ships get roughly 10% kickback from the stores from every customer they direct through those shops, that is the reason they are eager to make sure you have your VIP card when you get off the ship. Saving you money is not the reason. Get out and see the wilderness and leave the serious shopping for at home. If you see a souvenir you like, buy it because at the next port it might be sold out.