Great ship, so-so ports
Amsterdam Cruise Review to Alaska - Inside Passage
Sail Date: September 14, 2014
Cabin Type: Oceanview
Cabin Number: 3376
Traveled As: Large Group
Reviewed: 2 years ago
Our experience on the Amsterdam itself was outstanding. The food was some of the best we've had on a cruise. The staff was friendly and helpful. I especially enjoyed the culinary demonstrations, really about the most entertaining I've had on a ship. Our cabin was very good except for engine noise, something we didn't expect on the lower promenade deck about 1/3 of the say from the back. A couple traveling with us was next door and were lucky enough to have their room changed to one on a lower deck that someone had canceled. They had no more trouble after that.
I should say right off that my husband was never interested in an Alaskan cruise because he had attended trust meetings held in Alaska for a number of years and so had gone on a number of excursions. In addition, being from Tacoma, Washington, we generally think of going somewhere warm and dry on vacation. We went because other family members we wanted to cruise with wanted a different experience having been to the Caribbean several times.
We enjoyed going up Tracy Arm and seeing Sawyer Glacier in spite of the cold. We went the last cruise of the season, not the greatest idea I suspect. It was quite chilly on deck and I would strongly recommend gloves, hats and scarves for going anywhere near glaciers.
We enjoyed Juneau. We road up on the Mt. Roberts Tram and enjoyed the film presentation with accompaniment by a member of the Alaska String Band. All of us but my husband (who had been to at least one glacier before) took a helicopter (actually 2 helicopters) to the Mendenhall Glacier and that was an amazing experience.
Sitka was rainy. We went in the community center (I think that's what it is) by the tender area and a local group was presenting a photo op where people could dress in furs and pose with huskies, a sled and snowshoes in front of a backdrop for $20. The pictures turned out very well and the dogs were friendly and beautiful. Other people saw the raptor center, which they said was great. A brother and sister-in-law of ours managed to find the Bishop's House and they said that was interesting and well worth seeing. Unfortunately, with the rain and trying to read the wet map, hold the umbrella and protect my camera I threw in the towel and just shopped for the last grandchildren on my list. The one advantage of the last cruise of the season was the sales in the shops. I saw lovely handpainted Russian nesting dolls and ornaments as well as beautiful wood bowls that can be used to serve food (hand washing necessary). The best shopping that I saw was in Juneau.
Luckily, Sitka was the only port where rain was a problem. We had a short stop in Ketchikan. I went snorkeling. The tour personnel were very good: knowledgeable, friendly and very helpful. The only problem with it was the wetsuit. I knew going in that it would be tight as reviews from other passengers had mentioned that. With the cold water it was necessary. Unfortunately, I have arthritis in my hands and that makes them very weak. I had to have help pulling the thing on and the hood does make one rather short of breath. We saw colorful sea stars, a sea cucumber, and bright red spiny sea urchins. Amazing! We also saw two whales at a distance spouting and their tails when they dove. I would recommend this tour for younger people with stronger hands. Other family members took a taxi tour and saw salmon running.
A law passed in 1885 that I think needs to be amended meant a visit in a foreign port. This is why Ketchikan was a short stay. We couldn't arrive in Victoria, B.C. till after 7:00. By the time we could venture out it was dark and everything was closed except for bars and probably other nightlife. We aren't into that and four of us got a taxi and had a tour by night.