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Canadianweaselette

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  1. I am honestly not sure how long the cab ride would be but since Google was saying it was a 21 minute walk I can't see a cab ride being any longer than 10 minutes. There wasn't much right along our street but we walked less than 10 minutes to a really delicious restaurant called Burgoo (https://burgoo.ca/). It was on Burrard St. and I would highly recommend it. I am not 100% sure if the hotel had a restaurant or not. They have the breakfast area upstairs but I don't think it was a restaurant at other times.
  2. Well, we've been home just over a week and I finally get my trip review written and submitted so I am posting here as well. Thank you to everyone who contributes to this board as I spent hours reading through threads in preparation for our trip. Hopefully this review helps someone else. We decided about 18 months ago to take a trip for our 15th anniversary and we went with close friends who were married the same year. We are 2 couples ranging in age from mid-40's to early 50's, We selected Holland America because of their history cruising in Alaska.We also liked the idea of a smaller, quieter ship. While we are not seniors we tend to go to bed early and don't need the night life that some other ships provide.We booked 18 months in advance and selected an aft balcony and our friends chose a port-side signature suite. Just before final payment the prices dropped considerably so we contacted the travel agent. Because of the promo we booked under they wouldn't credit us with the difference but they offered to upgrade us to Neptune Suites which we happily accepted. We ended up on Deck 6 port side and our friends were on Deck 7 starboard.Embarkation - I had heard that embarkation can sometimes be long waits at Port of Vancouver. We arrived around 10:45 and we were on the ship by 11:20 with no wait at any point of the process. Very smooth.Cabin - we were in 6064 and our friends had 7051 and we were all happy with the accommodations. The room stewards were so friendly and attentive. Our friends were directly across from the Neptune Lounge and we were one floor below which I honestly didn't mind.Neptune Lounge - the concierges Carina and Kristine were both lovely, welcoming and helpful. We didn't really use their services much except to cancel a pre-paid dinner and make one dining reservation but they were always happy to answer questions. Having access to tea/coffee and snacks was a nice bonus. I would often wander up there early in the morning to grab a tea and a croissant to bring back to the room.Lido - We went to the Lido for only 3 meals the entire cruise, mainly because it was like feeding time at the zoo! I found it chaotic, crowded and only mediocre food. Don't get me wrong, no one was going to starve and the food wasn't bad, just not good enough to make up for the atmosphere.Main Dining Room - Despite booking super early we had open dining. While we liked the flexibility of the Open dining I think it also affected the service in the dining room. We only ate dinner there 3 times and while the experience got better each time it was still not up to the level of past cruise dining experiences. I found the main dining room crowded, noisy and rushed. I felt like our waiters made no effort to connect with us, nor did their service elevate the meal in any way.Tamarind - FANTASTIC!!! We loved the food and service here so we ended up going twice. The servers were so welcoming and they memorized your names. When you saw them later in the cruise in a different location they remembered your names. So personal and lovely. Food was delicious. They even brought me a special cake for my birthday.Pinnacle - As Neptune suite guests we had access to the Pinnacle for breakfast and I have to say that was the best suite perk that we had. Breakfast choices provided a lot of variety and it was delicious. Staff in the Pinnacle were so welcoming and always remembered your requests from the day before. We also had one lunch and one dinner in the Pinnacle and they were both delicious.Excursions - We booked two different excursions through Holland America and we were happy with both. In Skagway we did the White Pass Rail to the Yukon which was a full day tour, including lunch. In Ketchikan we did the Wilderness Explorer Cruise and all-you-can-eat crab feast. Both excursions were well done. In Juneau we opted to rent a car and explore on our own.Entertainment - We visited Billboard one night. The female piano player had a beautiful voice but the man was not great. Mid-week we discovered BB Kings and we wish we had made the effort to check it out sooner because it was great. They do 3 sets every night and the place was packed! We didn't do any of the EXC talks in the main theatre as that's not our thing. We did watch the comedian Jim Short and the illusionist Leon Etienne. Both were great. They also did a variety show on the last night with both of them. We had planned to see the dancers one night but they were cancelled for their safety due to high waves and rocking ship.Disembarkation - We were in the first disembarkation group which was announced at about 7:45 am but since we didn't have a flight to catch until later in the day we had a leisurely breakfast before getting off the ship at about 8:30. From the time we scanned off the ship to when we were outside the terminal was less than 12 minutes. Super fast and efficient.Overall Impression - We found that the things people paid to upgrade (Neptune Suite, specialty dining, etc) were fantastic and provided the experience and level of service we expected of the cruise as a whole. Those things which were included (Lido, Main Dining Room, etc) were not up to par with what we were expecting. We didn't have a bad experience but our experience in the upgraded areas certainly made the cruise that much better. It's just unfortunate that we had to pay for the level of service that has been included on past cruises with other companies.
  3. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We stayed here for 1 night pre-cruise earlier this month. The room we had was huge. The included breakfast was varied and pretty decent. The only issue we had was at check in. We had booked online and paid extra for an additional adult in the room. When we arrived they didn't want to rent it to 4 adults but we insisted that we paid the price online and eventually they gave in. They say their rooms are for max 2 adults and 2 children. Location was good. We were going to walk to the port but needed to find a pharmacy first so we ended up walking the 10 minutes to the SkyTrain at Yale-Roundhouse and we were at the port in no time at all.
  4. Where might one find out about this free tour of Granville Island? I am interested in spending some time there on a pre-cruise day in a couple weeks and this tour sounds interesting.
  5. We are booked there for one night pre-cruise in September. I will report back when we return.
  6. I am looking forward to your review. we will sail on NA in just 5 weeks time. Bon Voyage!
  7. Excellent news! I will keep my fingers crossed for HB that they have it on the Nieuw Amsterdam when we are in Alaska this September.
  8. Can anyone tell me if they have hot chocolate available in the Neptune Lounge. HB enjoys hot chocolate and it would be super convenient if available there.
  9. Update - our final payment was processed to our CC today so I popped online to make sure the room was now listed as SC guarantee. I was shocked to find that we have been assigned a room already and it's an SB 🙂 This anniversary trip just keeps getting better. Out of curiosity, if they assign a room on a guarantee, what are the chances of it being changed again closer to sailing? Or will that be our room for sure?
  10. I posted a couple days ago about our experience but I will share here too. We booked an Alaskan cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam about 18 months ago with a non-refundable deposit. Noticed last week (before final payment) that the price had dropped quite a bit. Our TA spoke with HA and while they wouldn't credit us the difference they upgraded us from a VB aft balcony to an SC Neptune suite guarantee. We are thrilled with this arrangement. Our lesson has been learned though regarding non-refundable deposits because I had mistakenly assumed it was different than a non-refundable fare... which it is but ultimately the ability to make changes is not much different than a full fare that is non-refundable. Next time we book so early I will be sure not to choose non-refundable for any part of the cruise so that we have some flexibility.
  11. This is fantastic to know. My son wants to be a chef and he'd love to see the galley. He won't be on our next cruise this Fall but hopefully the one after that he can join us.
  12. This is where I got confused... it was just the deposit that was non-refundable. It wasn't the cost of the whole cruise. This is only our 3rd cruise so I mistakenly thought it was totally different. I have learned for future that it is not different and will never book another non-refundable deposit in the future (despite the fact that we got lucky this time).
  13. Yes, we are very thankful for their offer.
  14. We booked our cruise to Alaska on the Nieuw Amsterdam about 18 months ago. I just happened to pop on the other day to check out prices since our final payment date is Monday. Turns out our aft balcony was now priced $300 pp less than we paid. I contacted our TA and asked about a possible price adjustment. When she spoke with HA they told her that unfortunately when we booked 18 months ago it was a non-refundable deposit so they wouldn't adjust the price. However they offered us two options: 1) upgrade from the balcony room to a Neptune Suite at no charge, or 2) $100 beverage card, $100 shore excursion credit and dinner in the Pinnacle Grill So, of course we jumped on the upgrade to a Suite. Now I have to figure out all the wonderful perks we will be enjoying as we sail through Alaska.
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