Statendam Cruise Review to Alaska

Contributor Level: Purser

2-3 cruises


Helpful Votes

3 out of 5

Great ports, average onboard activities, below average food

Sail Date: July 13, 2015

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Oceanview

I won't say that we didn't have a good time on our cruise to AK, because we did have fun going to all these new places that we had never been before. We did some great excursions (Dog sledding on land [husky summer training + cuddling puppies], snorkeling in Ketchikan, whale watching in Icy Strait Point/Hoonah). We did a lot of hiking and tide pooling in Homer and Kodiak, and generally had a great time exploring the different cities and towns we went to.

The staff on the ship were really kind and very friendly. Most were extremely helpful and they all worked very hard to keep the ship clean. The other guests were a lot older than us.... so it was definitely a cruise that was more geared towards 50+. I felt like we were some of the only people between 25-35 (who weren't part of a big family group). This played into our experiences with entertainment and onboard activities, which were much more geared to the older generations than to our own. We spent a lot of our free time watching movies in our cabin rather than play bingo or singing songs around the piano from the 50s (not that there is anything wrong with those activities... they just weren't really that interesting to us).

However, I won't lie and say we weren't disappointed with a few aspects that we really expected to be great and unfortunately were sub par. The biggest disappointment was the dining food and experience. The food ranged from average to poor unless we were eating in the extra cost restaurants, which were good. I had always heard that cruise ships had a broad range of dishes and quality dishes, especially in the main dining room. However, we found that they mostly served the same kinds of dishes every day, and while yes the food was much better in the dining room than the lido deck, the wait time between dishes was extremely slow. We were at dinner in the dining room between 1.5 - 2 hours almost everytime we ate there, and we typically only ordered the main and dessert course. It was extremely slow, and the dining room was always at least halfway empty, so I'm not sure why it was so slow. It seemed like we had to wait for our courses with the tables around us... so if the tables next to us ordered 4 courses, and we only ordered 2, we still sat and waited for the surrounding tables to start/finish courses that we hadn't even ordered before getting our own food.

Food on the lido deck, particularly in the evening (when we didn't want to wait 2 hours to finish dinner) was not good at all. The food never seemed to be hot enough, and most of the meats (chicken, pork loin, beef) had sat under the heat lamp too long and were dry and poorly seasoned. At least at lunchtime they had the taco bar and hamburger stand open, so you could get something other than the 6 or 7 things that they cooked everyday, but at dinner, your only choices were the dining room or the lido buffet (or the extra cost dining options).

We might try cruising again in the future, but it probably won't be with HA. 

Food and Dining
The food on this trip was really subpar. The food that we received on the lido deck was consistently cold, overcooked, and bland. Breakfast was probably their best meal... but even there you couldn't order certain things because it was stale (bagels) or tasted gross (scrambled eggs). I also didn't like that the juice machine was behind the counter where guests couldn't reach it. The only daily drink options that they had consistently available were water, iced tea, and coffee. Juices and milk were only available during breakfast, which I felt was really lame. On the other cruises we've taken, you could get juice any time of the day. They do this so you spend more money on the ship by purchasing drinks at the bar. They always had the same 6 things for dinner/lunch everyday (mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, pork loin, chicken, and cabbage).
Lunch was at least a bit more bearable because you had the option for tacos or burgers poolside, but dinner was really lacking. If you didn't want the food in the dining room for dinner and went to the lido deck instead (the only options that didn't cost more), guess what... the food is the exact same as the dining room menu, only the food is cooler and dehydrated because it's been sitting under a heat lamp for too long. If you asked them to make you a sandwich instead, they only had one type of bread at dinner, which was unappetizing (extremely crusty baguette). The dining room food was better than the lido deck, but the wait times for your food were ridiculous... we were there for 2 hours at a time sometimes, and we never ordered all the courses. It seems like you have to wait to be served when the surrounding tables are served, so if they aren't finished with a course around you, then your table has to wait. I don't know about you, but I don't like waiting 30 minutes between courses. The desserts were also a disappointment... the cakes were dry and crumbly, there were never any chocolate cookies available, and the brownies we tried were spongy and light... which isn't what you really want from a brownie. The best food experiences we had were at the restaurants on the ship that you had to pay extra for (Canaletto -$10 pp and Pinnacle Grill - $29 pp) and . There the food was freshly cooked, hot, and tasty, and the service was fast with at most 15 minutes between courses. That's the kind of service and quality of food that I was expecting from all of the dining options, but sadly this was not the case.
Service and Staff
Rollie in the Lido bar was absolutely 100% fantastic. He was very attentive, learned and memorized our names from the very first time we met him, and was never pushy about selling us things we didn't want. Also our stateroom attendants Deny and Adrian were absolutely wonderful. They were very attentive and kind, and kept our room in wonderful shape. They also had answers to any questions we had when we asked them. The other staff members seemed very nice, and I was impressed by the level of kindness and politeness that the entire staff showed all the guests (even to the guests who were being extremely obnoxious).
The entertainment on the ship was really a hit or miss. Some of the shows were pretty good (outside performers who were onboard for one night), but some of the shows really lacked in energy and quality. Overall we felt it was pretty average.
Onboard Activities
This ship is filled with an older crowd, which I guess is typical of Holland America. I think we must have been too young for this cruise (late 20s to mid 30s). However, we had hoped that there would be more activities on board that were interesting to us and didn't cost us extra to participate in, but it felt like every activity we wanted to do was just another money grab by Holland America... trying to squeeze as much out of us as possible. Eventually we stopped participating in the activities because they either cost up front (which at least they were honest about), or they were activities where the activity was free, but the whole event was really a hard sell, where they pushed services or products and made you feel guilty if you didn't purchase (which is frustrating and obnoxious). The spa was particularly pushy and made you feel like you were scum if you asked them a question but decided not to book with them... as if you had wasted their time. We did enjoy the movies that they showed on board. Most of them were pretty recent films (Kingsman, Avengers Age of Ultron, Cinderella, Insurgent). We also enjoyed the Statendam fair that they hosted one day at sea.
Destinations and Excursions
I really enjoyed all of the locations we went to. The excursions through HA that we did were very good, but we also did some outside excursions that were a bit cheaper and equal quality. I appreciated that at each port there was a welcome party ashore who handed out maps and gave suggestions, which was helpful. Also many of the ports had free shuttle buses to the downtown area, which was really nice. However, I will say that I did not like how the tender services worked at the 2 locations (Icy Strait Point, Sitka) where we had to tender (ride small boats to shore because the ship was too large to park right at shore). If you book excursions these days through Holland America, then you don't have to worry about getting to shore on time... they will save spots for you on the tender boats at the time you need to leave... in fact you will get preferential treatment compared to the others who want to go ashore but didn't book a HA excursion. We chose to go with outside excursions, and were treated like lesser citizens for sure. The day before we got into port, we were told to wait in line to get our 'tender tickets', which had the specific times that we could go ashore. I went to wait in line at least 30 mintues before they started to hand out the tickets, and the line stretched all the way across the Atrium on the 7th floor from the Art Gallery to the staircases. As you can imagine, I became very stressed that we wouldn't be able to make it to shore on time, because our tour was to start an hour after we arrived in port. We made our way to the front of the line (an hour later), and got into the 3rd tender group (the others were full), which was going to cut it pretty close to getting to our excursion on time. On the day of the tender, we saw that the reason our time for the tender was so late was because all of the Holland America excursions were given preferential treatment and were allowed off the boat first in large groups. I personally think you should be able to lineup and exit as soon as the tenders are ready. Instead I had to wait in line the day before and the day of the tender, and it was an extremely stressful situation. I did make it to shore on time, but it was not a pleasant experience. It really made us feel that HA was trying to screw us over because we didn't book our tour through them (because they didn't offer the tours that we wanted to do in those ports).
Ship Quality
The crew really works hard to keep everything super clean. They are literally ALWAYS cleaning. The ship itself seemed to be in really good shape, with only a few leaks in the covered deck over the lido pool, and a few little leaks in other places when it rained super hard.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
Cabin / Stateroom
Our cabin was on deck 4, port side, a few doors down from the rear ship elevators. I found our floor extremely quiet and calm, and it didn't smell like sewage like some of the other floors (deck 5 - starboard side) smelt like when we walked past. I didn't find being on one of the lower floors inconvenient at all... in fact I liked being able to get away from the hustle and bustle and having a nice quiet room to go back too. The view from our window was great, and the room itself was much more spacious than I anticipated. We had way more closet and drawer space than we needed, which was nice, and the beds were very comfortable.

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