I couldn't decide between 2-3 stars for this one...This was the first cruise I have ever taken and everyone I know who has gone on a cruise tells me they can't wait to go again. Unfortunately, I can't say the same. I heard Holland America was one of the better cruise lines so I picked them. Pros: The scenery of the trip was phenomenal, good food selection (included), and friendly staff. Cons: 1) We chose the 'oceanview' room deal that was advertised (they don't tell you that THAT price is for the 'obstructed' oceanview room, expect to pay more if you really want a 'view') - if you go, PICK your own room - not the 'guarantee' where they pick for you - we ended up with what no one else wanted! 2) Soda and alcohol are NOT included! I purchased a $50 "soda card" for only $25 on the first day that reduces the price of sodas to $1.75 each instead of $3.50. Plan on bringing your own soda and water bottles with you, then stocking up at each port! (Note: can't bring alcohol on the ship.) 3) the cruise price does NOT include the $11 PER PERSON PER DAY they charge for cleaning your cabin. This cost is tacked on to your on-board tab which you will get the morning you arrive for debarkation. (Note: ask for a copy of your bill the night before to review so you can get over the shock before you leave the next day!). 4) Any worthwhile shore excursions are expensive and could end up doubling the price of your trip should you decide to take them. 5) Wifi is NOT free and is NOT included! They charge 55 cents PER MINUTE! If you have a smart phone, wait until you are in port and find a free wifi hotspot. 6) This was one of the smaller cruise ships and not what I expected (you know, like what you see on all of those glamorous cruise ship commercials! If that is what you are looking for, pick another one). Overall, I am glad I finally got to do the 'inside passage' to Alaska, but I think next time, I'm going to skip the cruise and find a nice "ALL inclusive" resort where I can actually relax and enjoy the trip instead of worrying about what my final bill will look like.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
There were a lot of choices for food. Room service, buffet (daily varieties), and dining room were free (sans soda/alcohol). There were a couple of other restaurants to choose from for a higher price. The salmon bbq on the pool deck was pretty neat one night.
1 out of 5
This was a smaller ship than I expected, which didn't lend for much onboard activities. Each night you get a plan of the next day's activities. How do I say that there was a full schedule of activities, but not much to choose from?!! Especially for days 'at sea.' (Bingo was fun, but at least $25 just to play.) They did have a HUGE selection of DVDs you could check out for free if sitting in your cabin and watching t.v. is your idea of a fun cruise! There was a small pool, but honestly it was too cold (Alaska trip, remember?!).
3 out of 5
Nightly entertainment was provided: mostly the song/dance group provided by the cruise line. There was a funny comedian one night and a so-so ventriloquist another night. Nothing spectacular, but not bad.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Everyone on board was friendly and helpful.
3 out of 5
Cleanliness was good. Our room attendants were awesome and friendly. The bathroom started to smell like an outhouse towards the end of the cruise. I don't know if each cabin has a holding tank or if our cabin was just near the holding tank. Some of the lights in our cabin (and the one next to us) also went out for awhile one night, but they promptly fixed it (flipped a circuit?) soon after we notified them.
Cabin / Stateroom
Our cabin was closest to the exterior door which closed with a loud bang every time someone went through it. Very small, confined space, but clean.
Expect to pay a lot more for your trip than just what you paid for the cruise. Room service, buffet, and dining room food is free including water, coffee/tea, etc., but ALL soda and alcohol are extra ($$). NO free wifi - 55 cents per minute!!!!! Cell service only in ports (calls ~$10/minute!)
Will have to pay $$$ to go to Skagway. We chose to go kayaking instead ($$) - fun, but not worth the cost (the included lunch was a small sandwich, chips, and soda that we ate while sitting on the beach looking at the cruise ship (thinking about the buffet on-board) AFTER the kayaking trip.
Look for 'locally' or 'Alaskan' made symbols when shopping. Otherwise everything was made in Chine sold by foreigners there for the summer season. The Tram up the mountain was fun, but eat lunch before you go! The restaurant at the top NOT worth it! (we got 3 'fish stick' sized pieces of halibut with fries and coleslaw for $22).
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