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Time2sail

Amsterdam May 29-June 5, Alaska

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We just returned this morning from Seattle after our 7-day cruise aboard the elegant ms Amsterdam. The cruise was soldout and the passengers were of all ages--no problems and lots of fun, polite people. Most followed the dress codes for formal and informal nights and we were surprised because so many on the boards had said the Alaskan cruise passengers were less likely to do so. There was a two-year-old dressed in a little tuxedo--how cute is that!

 

Our favorites: Captain Harris, Rick the Cruise Director and his staff, the talented young dancers and singers, the musicians, our room steward, the balcony suite, the Pinnacle Grill, room service and the passenger capacity of the Amsterdam. The highlights were our renewal of vows ceremony and the excellent ports we visited.

 

 

Not much on the downside: the smell coming from the drain under the sink was really bad so we kept the bathroom door closed and threw the mat over it when we were in there. Two days we had really rough seas (according to Captain Harris "hurricane strength winds") and many passengers got sick. We did okay because we had taken the Bonine but we did not want to eat for a day or so. Of course, we made up for that in no time.

 

I will be happy to answer any questions.

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rolleyes.gif We will be on the Amsterdam next week June 12th. We have never cruised on the Amsterdam. Happy to visit with someone who has. Been hard to get posts on her, they seem to be very scarce. Few question, if you have time. How was the service ,food,lounges and shows? I hope the rest of your cruise went smoother after the day or so of rouigh seas. Did you go to Glacier Bay as we will? We will also be in Sitka,and Juneau. Has any of the SOE improvements taken place? I hope they took care of that odor in a hurry. If this is too long , just your overall view of the ship and cruise would be appreciated. Thanking you in advance, and may all your future cruises be smooth sailing.

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I will be taking that same cruise (Alaskan Explorer) in early July on the Oosterdam. How were the ports of call? With the exception of the rough seas, how was the weather?

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rolleyes.gif We will be on the Amsterdam next week June 12th. We have never cruised on the Amsterdam. Happy to visit with someone who has. Been hard to get posts on her, they seem to be very scarce. Few question, if you have time. How was the service ,food,lounges and shows? I hope the rest of your cruise went smoother after the day or so of rouigh seas. Did you go to Glacier Bay as we will? We will also be in Sitka,and Juneau. Has any of the SOE improvements taken place? I hope they took care of that odor in a hurry. If this is too long , just your overall view of the ship and cruise would be appreciated. Thanking you in advance, and may all your future cruises be smooth sailing.

 

You are welcome and thanks for the good wishes. If you take Bonine or use a patch, you should be fine even if you encounter rough seas. We got out of our rooms and talked with other passengers which also helps. The pool water was sloshing from window to window on the Lido deck but that was only for two nights and part of one day.

 

The weather was sunny and in the mid fifties at Glacier Bay and all ports except Ketchikan where we had misting rain when we kayaked. We needed our layers, gloves and hats the day we cruised in Glacier Bay, when we took our helicopter excursion to walk on the Herbert Glacier in Juneau, and the day we whale watched in Juneau. In Sitka, we wore a turtleneck and light jacket when we walked through the town and rain forest.

 

Glacier Bay is beyond beautiful--pictures can never do it justice. We saw some calving but we were most impressed by how quiet and just the majesty of the mountains. Captain Harris turned off the engines of the Amsterdam and we were so close to the glacier and mountains that it was just unbelievable. The Ranger on board would speak occasionally to give information but otherwise just peace and quiet. We have never experienced anything like it and you just never want to leave that place. Be sure to get at the bow of the ship on any deck (we preferred outside) to take it all in. Some people were in the deck chairs on the Promenade deck where hot chocolate and drinks were served; others were in the Crow's nest--lots of good places to get. Don't forget the sunscreen (which we Floridians did even though we brought it) because we got a good sunburn on any part of our body that was exposed.

 

The SOE improvements included the new bedding in the Penthouse and the deluxe verandah suites. The Amsterdam will go into dry dock after the Alaskan cruises for the other changes and to put the bedding in all cabins. We did not see any wear and tear or problems--she is in excellent condition. Maybe the smell in the drain will be taken care of then.

 

If I haven't answered all of your questions, let me know and I'll try to do so.

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I will be taking that same cruise (Alaskan Explorer) in early July on the Oosterdam. How were the ports of call? With the exception of the rough seas, how was the weather?

 

Regarding the ports: Seattle--our first time there and we did Pike Market, ate dinner at the restaurant at the top of the Space needle, had brunch at a coffee shop/bakery and dinner at a pier restaurant. We stayed at the Edgewater in a suite next to where the NCL ship was docked.

 

Glacier Bay--see my previous post

 

Juneau--toured on foot, took our helicopter ride/glacier landing (awesome) and the whale watch with Captain Larry (saw whales, sea lions, eagles and a bear on shore).

 

Sitka--our favorite port because it is so pretty and the walk through the rain forest at the National park was enjoyable. We went to the raptor center which is accessible across the road from the park--it is not a have must do but if you have time a maybe. The totems were interesting and you see lots of those in the park, too. You have to tender here but that is no problem because they are constantly going back and forth and are not crowded.

 

Ketchikan--we did the kayak across the sea inlet to Pennock Island and other islands. We suggest this if you like to get away from the shopping crowds. There were probably five ships in port when we were there. We did a little shopping and got back on board just in the nick of time.

 

If you have any other questions, I'll be glad to try to answer them. The ports are all good and unique.

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rolleyes.gif Thank you for your comments. Sounds like we are packing the same type of clothing that you took along. Did you enjoy the meals and the entertainment? Did you also have a brief port call in Victoria (4 Hrs.)? Time permitting we are taking a short carriage ride. We thank you for your comments and wish you well.

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rolleyes.gif Thank you for your comments. Sounds like we are packing the same type of clothing that you took along. Did you enjoy the meals and the entertainment? Did you also have a brief port call in Victoria (4 Hrs.)? Time permitting we are taking a short carriage ride. We thank you for your comments and wish you well.

 

Sorry I got interrupted before I finished the ports of call. Yes, we spent the four hours in Victoria, BC. We did the Butchart Gardens and short city drive tour. This is the only tour we booked through HAL because we didn't want to chance being left. The gardens is the best we have ever visited and we have been to Bellingrath, Calloway and many others. You will not be disappointed if you do this tour. The city of Victoria is very clean and pretty. Wish we could have spent more time there.

 

There is plenty of daylight to see the city and gardens; then the gardens are lighted at night. Just excellent. The drive back through Victoria after dark really shows the nice street lights and buildings, too.

 

The meals in the dining room were our least favorite. The Pinnacle is very good and the Lido food (ice cream in many flavors which change daily and made in their own machines) has something for everyone. The pizza, burgers, tacos, hotdogs, fries and all the toppings are as good as you'll find at any fast food establishment. The desserts range from very good to bland but all are a treat for the eyes. The danish, breads, cracker assortments and many variations of muffins are tasty. We had room service every morning for breakfast and the eggs, bacon, danish, coffee, creamers/sugars, and fresh orange juice were a great way to start the day. The steward who brought ours was always punctual and friendly--we tipped each time because we weren't sure he would be there every time but he was.

 

If you can't find something you like to eat, then you just can't be pleased. The salad bar and soups (did I forget the bread pudding--yummy) were really

varied and the fixings fresh and crispy. Too many items to even start naming--the salad dressings excellent.

 

We danced in the disco; listened to Atilla sing and play the piano in the Rembrant lounge;the Rossario strings played classical and romantic music during dinner, tea time and in one of the lounge areas for several hours a day; the young men and women stage shows were fast paced, well choreographed and fun; Rick, the cruise director and his staff, was the best we had ever experienced on any cruise. We do not gamble but the casino had a number of people in there. We did not drink at any of the bars but many passengers seemed quite content as we passed those.

 

If I haven't addressed all of your questions, please let me know. Thanks for your good wishes, too.

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I wanted to know more about this when I was in the planning stages and I hope the following will help you.

 

We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on board the Amsterdam; and as a surprise for my mate, we did the renewal of vows. This was a well-kept secret until the afternoon of the day of the vows. It was the highlight of our cruise.

 

The cost with HAL is $129 which includes the ceremony performed by the captain, dinner for two in the Pinnacle, fresh flower bouqet for the bride, boutinier for the groom, champagne reception with food and a beautiful album complete with pictures and a certficate with names, date and signature of the captain.

 

The invitation and details are sent to the cabin. The date and time is decided by Captain Harris which was on Friday night at 7:15 pm between dining room times. The ceremony was in a private room near the Crow's Nest with the gorgeous ocean view and fresh flowers everywhere in the room. Each couple (there were five couples) was called to the podium and repeated vows read by Captain Harris. Everyone was in tears and so happy for each other. A very moving, personal ceremony--I cannot recommend this too highly if any of you wish to celebrate your anniversary in a most special way.

 

Captain Harris then spent almost 45 minutes just chatting with us. He is charming with a wonderful sense of humor. It was a treat just to spend some private time learning about his family and learning more about the Amsterdam, etc. He is one classy man and does HAL proud.

 

Several of the couples chose this night to dine in the Pinnacle but we did ours on Thursday night. It was lobster night in the main dining room and we wanted to sample the food in there that night.

 

Since family, friends and neighbors knew about "the surprise" they all wrote letters or cards which we opened and read after the ceremony in a corner of the lounge where the string trio played some beautiful music and we sipped more champagne.

 

What an evening!;)

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We completed and sent to HAL the immigration form online, made a copy for each of us, put the signed copy with our tickets. We also completed and signed the credit card form in our packet and made copies of our credit/debit card.

 

First, you will take your luggage (that you want HAL to put in your room) to a designated area; you then proceed to a check-in area where they look at your passport, take the papers you have completed, have you check "yes or no" on a form regarding if you have been ill within the last few days and any symptoms you might have and then sign this statement.

 

You will get your room keys which have your name and the ship on them but not your cabin number. You must have these along with a picture id to get on and off the ship.

 

All of the embarkation procedure took no more than ten minutes. Those who did not complete their paperwork online were in a separate area and there were lots of people waiting to embark over in that line. So, if you get everything done beforehand, it's almost as fast as you can walk to get on board.:)

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In the dining room, the waiter and assistant waiter were attentive, efficient and courteous. We had our requested table for two in the upper, early dining time. We were located so that we had an ocean view. Five of the waiters and the dining manager sang a special song (in Indonesian) on our anniversary night and presented us with a cake. I asked what the song meant--our waiter said it wished us happiness and health and peace. Can't beat that! The other passengers clapped, waved and sent verbal greetings from all around the room.

 

In the Pinnacle Grill (where we had dinner twice), you can apply the above plus kick it up a notch or two. They anticipate what you might want or need and catch the crumbs as they fall (but not in an obstrusive way) which makes you feel special and each couple is the only one in the room.

 

The cabin steward kept our room immaculate. We saw him only a few times and he was so friendly. Liked him very much! Yes, we had towel animals every night and they added a nice touch with our chocolates on the bed. The ice bucket was always full and fresh fruit and flowers were kept that way.

 

Room service for breakfast (the only time we used this but every morning of the cruise) was right on time and the food was excellent. Hot was hot and cold was cold. The same waiter came every time and he was smiling with a "good morning" and placed our tray on the table.

 

We had tea one time in the afternoon and the service was attentive and with smiles. The Rossario String trio played beautiful music as we sipped and ate.

 

Drinks were offered in most seating areas and they would simply ask if you wanted something to drink but were never intrusive. Nicely done.

 

We felt tips (in addition to our auto tips) were something we wanted to do because the service was outstanding and even more than we had anticipated. :D

 

The photographers were somehow always there but they did not annoy. We enjoyed looking at the photos at night but bought only a few. We received four as part of our renewal album and ordered extras of those for family. We were pleased with most of the pictures they took and felt they were very professional, too.

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Hi Time2Sail:

 

Glad you enjoyed your Alaskan cruise! We were with you on the Ryndam in one of the ports - can't remember which but maybe Ketchikan since you said there were 5 ships in port.

 

Sorry you had rough seas, we had pretty smooth sailing most all the time, it was a little rough on Monday 5/30, which was our sea day. DH took a Bonine and was OK. I didn't need it but it took some getting used to walking and even sitting! Later in the week we had some rocking too but I had my sea legs by then and was walking and sitting better.

 

Alaska is so beautiful I would go back in a minute!!

 

Mary

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Hi Time2Sail:

 

Glad you enjoyed your Alaskan cruise! We were with you on the Ryndam in one of the ports - can't remember which but maybe Ketchikan since you said there were 5 ships in port.

 

Sorry you had rough seas, we had pretty smooth sailing most all the time, it was a little rough on Monday 5/30, which was our sea day. DH took a Bonine and was OK. I didn't need it but it took some getting used to walking and even sitting! Later in the week we had some rocking too but I had my sea legs by then and was walking and sitting better.

 

Alaska is so beautiful I would go back in a minute!!

 

Mary

 

I haven't had time to read your review but I am anxious to see how your cruise went. We had the cruise that one dreams of--the rough sees didn't really bother us either of the days (or nights) because we had cruised in rough seas before plus we had taken the Bonine the day before we sailed. Many passengers were ill, though. The cleaning crew was busy and the barf bags had been strategically placed everywhere.

 

Yes, we did see the beautiful Ryndam. Aren't we lucky to have been on the best looking ships in port?

 

Hope you have many more wonderful cruises in your future.:)

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Thank you Time2Sail. I enjoyed reading your posts as we will be aboard the Amsterdam on July 3 heading to Alaska. In Sitka did you book an excursion or do the tour on your own? We have booked the Juneau City Tour/Mendenhall Glacier excursion through HAL but are unsure about what to do in Sitka and Ketichkan. Thanks.:)

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Thank you Time2Sail. I enjoyed reading your posts as we will be aboard the Amsterdam on July 3 heading to Alaska. In Sitka did you book an excursion or do the tour on your own? We have booked the Juneau City Tour/Mendenhall Glacier excursion through HAL but are unsure about what to do in Sitka and Ketichkan. Thanks.:)

 

Thanks for your kind comment. I know you will totally enjoy the Amsterdam and Alaska. An awesome combination!

 

We had to tender into port at Sitka so we had a nice late morning breakfast in our room to let the earlybirds with excursions get on the tenders. They gave priority to those who had booked excursions through HAL and this was the only port where we did not book an excursion with anyone.

 

Passengers with excursions had to pick up their tender tickets in one of the lounges prior to boarding. After about an hour, an announcement was made that tickets were no longer required and everyone could board the tender when they were ready to do so. There was no wait to go and return on the tender--they continuously ran them back and forth. They are easy to board and no problem getting off if you have any problems with stepping from the ship to a smaller boat.

 

We walked directly to the National Park (go right when you enter Sitka and follow the sidewalk for a mile or so) and you can't miss it. Since this is a National Park, it costs $4.00 per person to tour the museum inside and take the walk through the rainforest. The Totems are also in a circle in this area, too. (If you happen to have a national annual park card that gives you entrance to all of the parks, be sure to take that so you won't have to pay.) Just a really peaceful and beautiful place to avoid the crowds. They have a map that will help to locate the trail, totem park and raptor center.

 

The raptor center is located across the highway about halfway through the walk in the forest (you will see a trail to the right and the highway) if you decide you want to go over there. The cost was $12.00 per person to go through the center and tour the raptors in the outside cages. I felt the donation was worth the visit but unless you just want to give to the wildlife rehab, then don't go. You will see lots of eagles everywhere. We sat on our balcony and watched too many Eagles to count on the rocks and island near the Amsterdam. It was an awesome sight to see them dive and catch the fish.

 

A tour that was highly recommended to us was the Otter, whale, wildlife tour that HAL offers in Sitka. We did Captain Larry's whale watch in Juneau so we didn't want to do another--even Captain Larry highly recommends the ship's tour in Sitka.

 

Sitka also has the Russian church which many go see, but we were ready to go back to the ship after lots of walking. We both thought Sitka was the prettiest port and enjoyed it very much.

 

In Juneau, we book our kayaking excursion with Southeast Kayaks. If you like to be on water and don't mind the paddling, then this is excellent. But, it is not for everyone. We went across the entire ocean inlet to Pennock Island crossing in front of the big ships, float planes lifting off near us and tenders traveling from ships anchored off shore. There were waves caused by fishing boats and the tenders, but otherwise the water was really smooth and easy to navigate.

 

There were lots of float planes in Ketchikan and one vendor in the office at the dock offered to take us up for only $99 each. We would have done this but our kayaking took all of our time. If you are interested in this, you might check this out when you get there.

 

Hope this helps. If you have anymore questions, I'll try to answer them.:)

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excellent review! We were on the zaandam 5/28 - 6/4 .. we left from vancouver .. we encountered a little rocking on Sunday heading to the inside passage..with the remainder of our cruise being smooth sailing

 

I agree .. glacier bay was fantastic !

 

Glad you enjoyed your Alaskan adventure too .. we sure did!

 

Peggy

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Happy to hear that your cruise was excellent, too. Next time we go to Alaska we plan to spend several days in Denali and the interior then cruise South to Vancouver. We really want to visit that beautiful city for a few days, too.

 

Hope you have many more wonderful cruises and calm seas for us all:) The sunshine was plentiful and we enjoyed every day of it in Alaska. Can't wait to go back!

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Time2Sail - Thank you for the information. We're very excited and can't wait to go.:)

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Time2Sail - Thank you for the information. We're very excited and can't wait to go.:)

 

If you preorder tours through the ship, they will slip your tickets under your cabin door the day you sail. I suggest that you book them in advance because there was a long line the day of sailing with passengers booking excursions. Those that have limited space sell quickly such as floatplanes, helicopter/glacier trek, carriage rides, etc.

 

Also, all of the daily planners and information for each port are put under your door the night before. You will have few or no questions because HAL does a great job of telling you everything in advance.

 

Hope you will tell us all about your cruise and your opinions about the Amsterdam and Alaska. I know you will have a great time--calm seas and blue skies for you.

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Just checked the mail and found our cruise documents! We'll be on our way before you know it.:)

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Time2Sail:

 

We did have the two best looking ships in port, didn't we?!

 

On our rough day the only sad thing I saw was a young couple, the young man walking the young lady down the hall with his arm around her, supporting her, while she had a barf bag clutched in her hands held in front of her mouth.

 

Poor thing!!

 

Mary

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They are beautiful ships and we were so proud to say "that's our ship.":)

 

I agree about the poor passengers who were seasick--very sad. I saw a few of those bags attached to men and women, boys and girls--it was not a pretty sight. One lady was there with ten members of her family and she was the only one not seasick. She sat and talked with us for a long time in the lounge area and we really enjoyed her company; she was kind of lonely since everyone else in her group would not come out of their cabins. Fortunately, this did pass and we met all of them the next day.

 

We will never forget all of the wonderful people we met on this cruise.

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I was asked the question on another thread about the part of Glacier Bay where we were not allowed to cruise because of the seal pups floating on the icebergs. The seals actually give birth on the bergs and the seal pups will float around on these for a period of time. The number of seals has decreased so rapidly in the last few years that they now protected wildlife.

 

There is enough beautiful scenery and glaciers where you can cruise that if they had not told us we would have not known any part was prohibited. But the ranger did say that the most active and spectacular glacier was in that area; guess that is why the seals picked that spot because of all the icebergs from which to choose.

 

This ban on the five-mile area will be lifted after a month according to our park ranger on board. So, probably by the last of June or first week of July the ships will be going back into that area.

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Here is my review for those of you on the Alaska Board who could not find it. Brian has an excellent review of the ship that gives lots of information about the ms Amsterdam so I don't think there is much that I can add. I agree there are too few reviews of her but the cruisers apparently are not CC posters.

 

If you have any questions that he didn't answer (which I don't think there will be any), please let me know.

 

How we packed for Alaska is on the Alaska CC Board and should be on page one.

 

Happy cruising to all of you and you will love Alaska.

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