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Alaska Cruise Review – Amsterdam - 08/10/12-08/24/12

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My sister and I decided to take this cruise this year as air fares to other destinations were high. We therefore thought it was a good time to cruise from our homeport of Seattle. Alaska has never been high on our destination list as we are not into cold weather vacations. And besides, we live in the Pacific Northwest and have some pretty awesome views here. I see Mt Rainier every clear day on my way to work and have some great views of the Cascades from our house. We had previously taken a 7 day Alaska cruise on Celebrity and we did enjoy that but we weren’t certain about a 14 day adventure. Well, we were somewhat proven wrong. We really enjoyed our cruise but we didn’t care for the chilly weather on most days. We try to get away from the rain on our vacations!(lol) But we did not have much rain at all and even had a few sunny days. Due to the chilliness, we’re not sure we would do another Alaska cruise but we’ll never say never. If we do go again, we’ll pack some different layers. I really don’t like wearing 5 layers at a time but I had not brought the right weight for some of the layers and had to double up some the things I did bring.

 

It was nice to be able to leave our home at around 11:30 am and be checked in and in our stateroom by 12:45 pm. HAL does have a smooth embarkation process and it’s great that they now have rooms ready for guests when they board. That’s a big plus. We dropped off our carryon luggage and set out to the Lido to have lunch. On the Monday before our cruise, we got a great offer to up sell to a balcony cabin from an ocean view on the Main deck. We were in cabin 6178 and are we glad we upgraded. The cabin was just aft of the midship staircase and was very convenient to everything. Up a couple of flights and we were in the Lido. Down one deck and we were able to be on the deck with all of the shops and the showrooms. Anyway, we had lunch in the Lido. Even though it was crowded, we had no problem finding a place to sit. After lunch we explored the ship and made sure we were up on deck for the sail away. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Seattle. We were kind of sad that we were going miss a few days of sunny weather in Seattle. We were hoping we weren’t going to miss our summer!(lol). They had a bbq at sailaway and we decided to have that for dinner. It was very good with a lot of choices. Salmon, chicken, ribs, salads, cord on the cob. Yum!

 

We decided before going on this trip that we weren’t sure if we wanted to spend a couple of hours at dinner and would probably eat most of our meals in the Lido. And we did just that. We did eat twice in the main dining room. Once on the first formal night and the other when we were in Juneau. Both times we enjoyed our meal but whenever we looked at the dinner menu, we decided that none of the menus were worth spending 2 hours eating. Although we always enjoy meeting new tablemates, we just decided to not eat in the Le Fontaine dining room. We did eat once in the Pinnacle Grill and once in the Canaletto. Both meals were excellent. All of our Lido meals were good. And the tables were set up with tablecloths, so it made the dining experience a little better. The Lido staff were excellent. We noticed them always offering to help take plates from people and helping them find a table. And they always greeted you with a smile and a hello. Getting a table was never a problem for us at any time. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. We thought we might get tired of the Lido but we never did. There were only a couple of times where we didn’t care too much for the offerings but always found something to eat.

 

We found the Amsterdam to be in good shape and we liked the small ship feel. Nothing was ever very crowded. Our room did have some toilet issues near the end of the cruise. The toilet didn’t work for most of the day. It was inconvenient to have to go find a public restroom but thankfully they got it fixed the same day. And we received a bottle of wine for the inconvenience. The only odd thing is that they keep the duvet for the king bed configuration under the bed on the floor. It cut down on the space under the bed. We had left it out on the sofa but the cabin steward put it back under the bed. Sure wouldn’t want to use that duvet as we found ourselves kicking it with our shoes or always shoving our suitcase against it. I sure wouldn’t find it usable after 2 weeks under the bed. I did find an old piece of chocolate (looked like a chocolate covered nut) on the floor under the desk but at least it wasn’t a moldy strawberry! Maybe I should have asked for a free cruise! Other than that our room was always cleaned well and was in pretty good shape. A few spots on the chair and carpet and a very torn shower curtain but nothing that concerned us enough to complain.

 

The cruise director, Mike, was very good. He had a great Exploration team that kept the days filled with activities. There was way more to do on this cruise than our last cruise in the Caribbean on the Eurodam. We also liked the fact that the Amsterdam still has the WaJang Theater and showed movies every day. The Eurodam only had a small theater that couldn’t hold many people and we always missed out getting to see the movies on the Eurodam. Not the case on the Amsterdam. We went to the movies a lot. And if we managed to catch the early movie, we were even able to pop into the show in the main showroom. We weren’t impressed with singers and dancers but we haven’t been impressed with these types of cruiseship shows in years. Some of them appeared very amateur but we did stop in to see a couple of their shows. We did enjoy the ventriloquist. He was very entertaining and funny. And we caught part of the magician’s act and he wasn’t too bad. There was another guy at the end of the cruise that did a musical comedy number and he was funny too. We missed both of the crew shows which is too bad as we do sometimes enjoy those.

 

Superoma was kind enough to volunteer to organize our meet and greet and it was fun to meet others. One couple was on the second leg of their 6 week stint on the Amsterdam. Not sure I could be on a cruise ship for that long. But they brought their daily programs from the prior two weeks so that we could get a glimpse of things to come. And they were happy to answer any questions anyone had on the ports. It was nice that some of the officers showed up and we got to chat a bit with them. Goodies were also provided.

 

As to the ports, we managed to find something fun to do in all of them. We rented a car in Juneau, Anchorage and Victoria. It was nice to be able to move at our own pace and not have to wait on a group or depend on public transportation. We took the bus out to Totem Bight in Ketchikan but that was a madhouse. We tried to catch it not far from where we docked but the line was huge and not everyone was going to get on. We decided to walk up to the first stop near the Heritage Museum and that made it easier to get on the bus. Boy was the bus driver a grumpy man. Don’t blame him as no one was paying too much attention to his requests to keep moving to the back of the bus. When we got back to town we just wandered around for a bit as we have visited Ketchikan before. In Juneau, we drove out to Mendenhall and walked out to Nugget Falls. It was a gorgeous sunny day. We also drove out to the Shrine of St. Therese. Another beautiful place. So peaceful and quiet. We did the Misty Bay Lodge whale watch in Icy Straight Point and they deserve the praise they get on this site. Captain Dan was great at finding us whales and his boat was very comfortable and was a pretty smooth ride. He was in touch with the other boats and once one found a bunch of whales we all went over that way and we were treated to about 50-60 whales all around us. It was great! Had a hard time deciding which group of whales to watch. And then there was Frederico in the bay right in Icy Straight Point. He loved to bubble feed and was always popping up eating in the bay. In Anchorage, we drove down Turnagain Arm and then back. We then stopped by the Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. Both were very nice stops. The gardens were beautiful but there were a lot of bugs. We drove by the Russian Orthodox church and then found a shopping mall and did a little shopping. It was a nice sunny day in Anchorage. We did two ship excursions, the Gull Island and Seldovia cruise in Homer. The cruise itself was wonderful and we saw a lot of birds and sea life. Seldovia, not so great. But that experience may have been dampened by the weather. It started to rain and made walking around miserable. We would have had lunch, but there were only about 2 places to eat in town and both were crowded by all of us cruisers in town. Not sure the town was worth the 2 hours spent there. On the way back to Homer, we were entertained by one whale that was busy flapping his fin and tail on the water. And he would do a spin out of the water too. He was fun to watch. We then had to go rescue some kayakers whose boat that would take them back to Homer brokedown and they had no way back. So we picked up about 12 extra passengers on the way back. We also did a Harbor walking tour in Kodiak. Learned a lot about their fishing industry and was very informative. We just walked around Sitka. We thought this was our favorite town. Had just the right mix of touristy stuff and interesting cultural sites. Ketchikan and Juneau (right at dockside) seemed to have become way too much of a tourist mecca and were so crowded that we couldn’t wait to get back on the ship.

 

And of course, we visited Tracy Arm’s Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier. I think we liked Sawyer better than Hubbard.

 

They did have a Mariner’s brunch on the last sea day. In fact there were so many Mariners on this cruise that they had to have 2. One at 11:30 and the other at 1(I think). It was okay but the service was poor(slow and had to ask several times for things) and made me glad that we didn’t eat too many meals in the dining room if this was an example of what the service was like.

 

Disembarkation went smoothly too. We were the last group off at 9:15 and our luggage was waiting for us. We were home by 10 am. Gotta love that! The only thing we didn’t like about the Seattle pier is that it was hard finding a porter. My sister had to track one down when we arrived at the pier. And on disembarkation, there were a lot of porters hanging around but they all said they were for RCCL and couldn’t help. She finally found where there was a line and we had to wait a bit for a porter to help with our bags. It would have been nicer if it was clearer that there was a line to wait in. But it was not a long wait and we were shortly on our way home.

 

Overall, we had a great time but 14 days was almost getting a little long to be on a ship and we were glad to get home. I do have all of the daily programs. I won’t post them but would be glad to look up anything if anyone needs any information.

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My sister and I decided to take this cruise this year as air fares to other destinations were high. We therefore thought it was a good time to cruise from our homeport of Seattle.

 

Overall, we had a great time but 14 days was almost getting a little long to be on a ship and we were glad to get home. I do have all of the daily programs. I won’t post them but would be glad to look up anything if anyone needs any information.

 

Thanks for your review. We did this cruise last summer and it was the best cruise we have taken so far. Glad you had a good time. Sad to know that HAL is discontinuing this 14 day cruise.

Edited by RAJKR74

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Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us. Sounds like a nice cruise:D:D

 

Welcome home:)

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We've done the southeast Alaska 7 day cruises four times, but our Amsterdam 14 day in June was absolutely one of the best cruises we have been on. For me it was about the wildlife. And the life aboard the Amsterdam ain't to shabby either.

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I have been on Amsterdam twice Every piece of bedding (sheets,pillows, cases, duvet removed the last day of cruise. I saw them remove it both times I was on cruise.

 

 

Mary

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I idi the same cruise last year in early July and found the weather to be warmer than you experienced.

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Thank you for taking time to write your review.

You are so lucky to leave home and be on board the cruise ship within an hour.

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We will be leaving in 1 week to travel to Seattle. We will be on the September 7th sailing and are so looking forward to it. Can hardly wait.

 

Smile ---:D--- it will either warm a person’s heart or really piss them off……..either way you WIN!

Previous Cruises:

Alaska - Westerdam - September 2009

Alaska- Rotterdam - September 2010

Mexican Riveria - Oosterdam - April 2011

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:D Great review, Thank you for sharing. I am going on the last 14 day cruise next week. We also have rented a car in Anchorage, Juneau and Victoria. :D

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My sister and I decided to take this cruise this year as air fares to other destinations were high. We therefore thought it was a good time to cruise from our homeport of Seattle. Alaska has never been high on our destination list as we are not into cold weather vacations. And besides, we live in the Pacific Northwest and have some pretty awesome views here. I see Mt Rainier every clear day on my way to work and have some great views of the Cascades from our house. We had previously taken a 7 day Alaska cruise on Celebrity and we did enjoy that but we weren’t certain about a 14 day adventure. Well, we were somewhat proven wrong. We really enjoyed our cruise but we didn’t care for the chilly weather on most days. We try to get away from the rain on our vacations!(lol) But we did not have much rain at all and even had a few sunny days. Due to the chilliness, we’re not sure we would do another Alaska cruise but we’ll never say never. If we do go again, we’ll pack some different layers. I really don’t like wearing 5 layers at a time but I had not brought the right weight for some of the layers and had to double up some the things I did bring.

 

It was nice to be able to leave our home at around 11:30 am and be checked in and in our stateroom by 12:45 pm. HAL does have a smooth embarkation process and it’s great that they now have rooms ready for guests when they board. That’s a big plus. We dropped off our carryon luggage and set out to the Lido to have lunch. On the Monday before our cruise, we got a great offer to up sell to a balcony cabin from an ocean view on the Main deck. We were in cabin 6178 and are we glad we upgraded. The cabin was just aft of the midship staircase and was very convenient to everything. Up a couple of flights and we were in the Lido. Down one deck and we were able to be on the deck with all of the shops and the showrooms. Anyway, we had lunch in the Lido. Even though it was crowded, we had no problem finding a place to sit. After lunch we explored the ship and made sure we were up on deck for the sail away. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Seattle. We were kind of sad that we were going miss a few days of sunny weather in Seattle. We were hoping we weren’t going to miss our summer!(lol). They had a bbq at sailaway and we decided to have that for dinner. It was very good with a lot of choices. Salmon, chicken, ribs, salads, cord on the cob. Yum!

 

We decided before going on this trip that we weren’t sure if we wanted to spend a couple of hours at dinner and would probably eat most of our meals in the Lido. And we did just that. We did eat twice in the main dining room. Once on the first formal night and the other when we were in Juneau. Both times we enjoyed our meal but whenever we looked at the dinner menu, we decided that none of the menus were worth spending 2 hours eating. Although we always enjoy meeting new tablemates, we just decided to not eat in the Le Fontaine dining room. We did eat once in the Pinnacle Grill and once in the Canaletto. Both meals were excellent. All of our Lido meals were good. And the tables were set up with tablecloths, so it made the dining experience a little better. The Lido staff were excellent. We noticed them always offering to help take plates from people and helping them find a table. And they always greeted you with a smile and a hello. Getting a table was never a problem for us at any time. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. We thought we might get tired of the Lido but we never did. There were only a couple of times where we didn’t care too much for the offerings but always found something to eat.

 

We found the Amsterdam to be in good shape and we liked the small ship feel. Nothing was ever very crowded. Our room did have some toilet issues near the end of the cruise. The toilet didn’t work for most of the day. It was inconvenient to have to go find a public restroom but thankfully they got it fixed the same day. And we received a bottle of wine for the inconvenience. The only odd thing is that they keep the duvet for the king bed configuration under the bed on the floor. It cut down on the space under the bed. We had left it out on the sofa but the cabin steward put it back under the bed. Sure wouldn’t want to use that duvet as we found ourselves kicking it with our shoes or always shoving our suitcase against it. I sure wouldn’t find it usable after 2 weeks under the bed. I did find an old piece of chocolate (looked like a chocolate covered nut) on the floor under the desk but at least it wasn’t a moldy strawberry! Maybe I should have asked for a free cruise! Other than that our room was always cleaned well and was in pretty good shape. A few spots on the chair and carpet and a very torn shower curtain but nothing that concerned us enough to complain.

 

The cruise director, Mike, was very good. He had a great Exploration team that kept the days filled with activities. There was way more to do on this cruise than our last cruise in the Caribbean on the Eurodam. We also liked the fact that the Amsterdam still has the WaJang Theater and showed movies every day. The Eurodam only had a small theater that couldn’t hold many people and we always missed out getting to see the movies on the Eurodam. Not the case on the Amsterdam. We went to the movies a lot. And if we managed to catch the early movie, we were even able to pop into the show in the main showroom. We weren’t impressed with singers and dancers but we haven’t been impressed with these types of cruiseship shows in years. Some of them appeared very amateur but we did stop in to see a couple of their shows. We did enjoy the ventriloquist. He was very entertaining and funny. And we caught part of the magician’s act and he wasn’t too bad. There was another guy at the end of the cruise that did a musical comedy number and he was funny too. We missed both of the crew shows which is too bad as we do sometimes enjoy those.

 

Superoma was kind enough to volunteer to organize our meet and greet and it was fun to meet others. One couple was on the second leg of their 6 week stint on the Amsterdam. Not sure I could be on a cruise ship for that long. But they brought their daily programs from the prior two weeks so that we could get a glimpse of things to come. And they were happy to answer any questions anyone had on the ports. It was nice that some of the officers showed up and we got to chat a bit with them. Goodies were also provided.

 

As to the ports, we managed to find something fun to do in all of them. We rented a car in Juneau, Anchorage and Victoria. It was nice to be able to move at our own pace and not have to wait on a group or depend on public transportation. We took the bus out to Totem Bight in Ketchikan but that was a madhouse. We tried to catch it not far from where we docked but the line was huge and not everyone was going to get on. We decided to walk up to the first stop near the Heritage Museum and that made it easier to get on the bus. Boy was the bus driver a grumpy man. Don’t blame him as no one was paying too much attention to his requests to keep moving to the back of the bus. When we got back to town we just wandered around for a bit as we have visited Ketchikan before. In Juneau, we drove out to Mendenhall and walked out to Nugget Falls. It was a gorgeous sunny day. We also drove out to the Shrine of St. Therese. Another beautiful place. So peaceful and quiet. We did the Misty Bay Lodge whale watch in Icy Straight Point and they deserve the praise they get on this site. Captain Dan was great at finding us whales and his boat was very comfortable and was a pretty smooth ride. He was in touch with the other boats and once one found a bunch of whales we all went over that way and we were treated to about 50-60 whales all around us. It was great! Had a hard time deciding which group of whales to watch. And then there was Frederico in the bay right in Icy Straight Point. He loved to bubble feed and was always popping up eating in the bay. In Anchorage, we drove down Turnagain Arm and then back. We then stopped by the Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. Both were very nice stops. The gardens were beautiful but there were a lot of bugs. We drove by the Russian Orthodox church and then found a shopping mall and did a little shopping. It was a nice sunny day in Anchorage. We did two ship excursions, the Gull Island and Seldovia cruise in Homer. The cruise itself was wonderful and we saw a lot of birds and sea life. Seldovia, not so great. But that experience may have been dampened by the weather. It started to rain and made walking around miserable. We would have had lunch, but there were only about 2 places to eat in town and both were crowded by all of us cruisers in town. Not sure the town was worth the 2 hours spent there. On the way back to Homer, we were entertained by one whale that was busy flapping his fin and tail on the water. And he would do a spin out of the water too. He was fun to watch. We then had to go rescue some kayakers whose boat that would take them back to Homer brokedown and they had no way back. So we picked up about 12 extra passengers on the way back. We also did a Harbor walking tour in Kodiak. Learned a lot about their fishing industry and was very informative. We just walked around Sitka. We thought this was our favorite town. Had just the right mix of touristy stuff and interesting cultural sites. Ketchikan and Juneau (right at dockside) seemed to have become way too much of a tourist mecca and were so crowded that we couldn’t wait to get back on the ship.

 

And of course, we visited Tracy Arm’s Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier. I think we liked Sawyer better than Hubbard.

 

They did have a Mariner’s brunch on the last sea day. In fact there were so many Mariners on this cruise that they had to have 2. One at 11:30 and the other at 1(I think). It was okay but the service was poor(slow and had to ask several times for things) and made me glad that we didn’t eat too many meals in the dining room if this was an example of what the service was like.

 

Disembarkation went smoothly too. We were the last group off at 9:15 and our luggage was waiting for us. We were home by 10 am. Gotta love that! The only thing we didn’t like about the Seattle pier is that it was hard finding a porter. My sister had to track one down when we arrived at the pier. And on disembarkation, there were a lot of porters hanging around but they all said they were for RCCL and couldn’t help. She finally found where there was a line and we had to wait a bit for a porter to help with our bags. It would have been nicer if it was clearer that there was a line to wait in. But it was not a long wait and we were shortly on our way home.

 

Overall, we had a great time but 14 days was almost getting a little long to be on a ship and we were glad to get home. I do have all of the daily programs. I won’t post them but would be glad to look up anything if anyone needs any information.

Thanks for writing a review, I love reading how others enjoyed their cruise, I, too live close to the pier in Seattle, and it is great to be able to cruise with no air involved. Glad you enjoyed yourself, 14 days for us is just enough time to "settle in", I love long cruises!! to each their own.

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