I highly recommend an Alaska cruise if you love beautiful scenery. Holland America's clientele may lean toward the older crowd, but that was fine with us. I appreciated the ship's elegance and the focus on HAL's history of cruise line service. The pictures from their archives that line the walls of the hallways are fun and interesting. And although we were not the highest spending passengers on board, we still received great service and attention.
5 out of 5
Check in at terminal and getting on ship was surprisingly quick and easy.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Although the selection and presentation in the dining room was good, portions were relatively small and (according to some in our party) meat cuts were not the best. The specialty restaurants were excellent, especially the Asian restaurant on deck 11.
4 out of 5
We choose not to do many activities except trivia contests. Loved walking the promenade deck on sea days.
3 out of 5
As a blues lover, I was really looking forward to the entertainment at BB King's Blues Club, but was disappointed with shows there. Instead of blues, it was just VERY loud funk and Motown music. Even standing in the hallway outside the Club, I needed ear plugs. Too bad the licensing agreement with BB King didn't include the obligation to stay true to his brand of music.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Service was excellent. A special shout-out to our steward, Gede, who was very helpful and attentive. When we had problems with our cabin door's electronic lock upon boarding, he personally saw to it that maintenance fixed the problem quickly.
5 out of 5
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Cabin 7081 is at the end of a row of verandah rooms before the start of suite cabins. Location is near elevators and stairs, but far enough away from noisy congregations in the elevator lobby. The cabin is across from a stewards' service room so we occasionally heard ice collection noises in the late morning across the hall, but it wasn't a problem for us. We liked the short walk up two flights to the Lido deck. We were close enough to the center of the ship that motion was limited. Overall, I'd select this cabin again.
This was our first cruise in 5 years, so it was the first time we used a cruise line onboard app, in this case, Holland America's Navigator app on our smart phones. It's a great start, and I really liked the ability to refer to the daily itinerary of the day's activities on my phone. I also enjoyed the chat/texting feature since we were travelling with a group of friends and relatives. Of course, it also serves as a marketing platform to sell spa and excursions, but it's easy to ignore the upselling if you're not interested. HAL still needs to add cruise itinerary information (port arrival and departure times) into the daily activities section, as well as current and forecasted weather information for each port, to make this an even better tool. The one piece of advice I would give is to download the app BEFORE embarkation, and once on the ship, be sure to read the instructions carefully to successfully connect to the onboard intranet to use Navigator's features. I didn't, and had to go to Guest Services to get it figured out.
I have been to Juneau several times. This time, we visited Mendenhall Glacier park, my first time. Although crowded, I was glad to walk through the visitors center (don't miss the time lapse video showing the retreat of the glacier over the years). We also had a chance to walk some of the trails which reminded me of the rain forest trails on the Olympic Peninsula, and gave us a chance to get away from the crowds.
This was the highlight of the cruise. Marjorie Glacier was spectacular, almost unreal. We had the chance to see several ice falls and hear the thunderous sound of it hitting the water. The national park ranger narration was very interesting. We choose to spend part of the day watching the glacier from our balcony, so it was difficult to hear the narration in our cabin. We turned on our TV, but had to listen to bad, loud muzak during narration breaks (which meant a constant race to the mute button on the remote control). Oh well! Such annoyances were worth it that day.
When we took this same cruise 5 years ago, we arrived right next to Sitka and tendered in. I was looking forward to waking up the morning of our arrival to see this charming town. Unfortunately, the ship now docks at a nondescript terminal away from town, and passengers must take a shuttle (although free) into town. Although I understand why it's better for the town to move cruise ships away from the busy fishing boat area and eliminate the hassle of tendering, I missed being closer to town. We didn't do an excursion.
Not enough time allowed by itinerary. Scheduled arrival (6 pm) and departure (11 pm) times were inconvenient.
4 out of 5
We decided to not hassle with valet baggage service, and wait until the end to leave with our bags. We avoided the crowds, and didn't need to look through a sea of bags to find our own. If you have the flexibility to enjoy a last breakfast on the Lido deck and disembark at the end of the crowds, that's the way to go!
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