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zgscl
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Disembarkation 

Alas our vacation has come to an end! One change is that historically guests staying in a Neptune or Pinnacle Suite can put their luggage out either by midnight on the last night, or at 6 AM on the morning of disembarkation. This does not seem to be the case any longer and we had to put our luggage out by midnight. As we are locals this was absolutely no issue whatsoever as we just kept a small overnight bag to carry off ourselves and did not need to worry about TSA limitations on liquids, gels or aerosols. We usually have put our suitcases out by in the past but it would be nice to have this option brought back at some point. 

 

Our final breakfast was in the Pinnacle Grill which I did not take pictures of as it was identical in every way to the previous two breakfasts. Breakfast was served until 8 in the Pinnacle or MDR and until 9 in the Lido. 

 

Independent guests (not traveling onward with a HAL tour or Port Valet) basically could choose whatever time they wanted between 7:30 and 9:30. You must wait for your luggage tag color to be called and the times are approximate. They did run pretty much on time to what was in the letter. 

 

Disembarkation started somewhere around 7:15 with guests who did not need luggage assistance followed shortly after by Lime 1 (suite guests) and Lime 2 (not sure who this is for). Lime 3 was the first generally available tag for guests to select downstairs and was disembarked about 7:30. Port Valet guests also disembarked very early in the process. 

 

Guests requiring wheelchair assistance must go to the Pinnacle Bar. They requested that we tell guest services the day before if we needed assistance but there was no one with a list or anything. Wheelchairs just kept coming to take people off. They said to come 15 minutes before you would like to be disembarked and we probably waited about 10 getting off right at 9. The one thing about this is similar to embarkation you must be able to get from your stateroom to the midship gangway under your own steam if you have a rented wheelchair or rotator. This is a really failure in my opinion. We are very lucky that this is not an issue for my mom, and if it was I could have walked our equipment back up to the room - but for someone who is more mobility limited and without a traveling companion this would have been a challenge. 

 

 

The ship's pusher takes you off the gangway, scanning your key card for the last time, and down the elevator into the baggage hall. You must once again transfer wheelchairs to shoreside pusher who will take you the rest of the way. 

 

In the baggage hall all of the luggage is lined up as usual by luggage tag. It is important that you do not disembark before your tag is called as your luggage will not be there waiting for you and there is absolutely nowhere for you to go or sit and wait. 

 

In the baggage hall porters were readily available adn quite helpful. They took all 5 of our checked bags plus all of our carry ons and we then proceeded to customs/immigration. The porter went around and met us with our bags on the other side of the inspection. CBP was a very fast process - they looked at our passport, asked us to pull down our mask and then sent us on our way. Altogether we were from the ship to the curb within 5 minutes. Fastest and easiest disembarkation I have ever done I think. 

 

HAL busses are to the far right, Taxis on the right side of the middle area and private vehicles to the left. As someone noted upthread, if you are taking a ride share it is a VERY LONG DISTANCE. If you can see the building way off in the distance in the photo below, you need to go around that large building to the parking lot on the other side of it where there is a lot for ride share drivers. Luckily we had someone picking us up, but if we needed transport I would have taken a taxi - the walk to the ride share area would not have been worth it. 

 

Seattle's pier has very few benches. We were able to find one and our wheelchair pusher and porter left us off with all of our bags. Disembarkation is always a bit of a sad moment, but it was made better by the fact I will be back on the Koningsdam in a few months (assuming things don't change due to the current environment). 

 

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A few (read many) parting thoughts in no particular order

 

First of all, thank you to everyone who has followed along on our journey. I really enjoyed putting this together and it will be a great way for us to look back at our trip for years to come. 

 

Despite all of the last minute changes with the pandemic including the masking and testing requirements as well as somewhat limited menus we both agreed this was by far the best cruise we have taken for a few reasons: 

1)The crew was so happy to have people back onboard and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. I generally find HAL crew to be very good, but it was just even more so. The passengers also were in very good spirits. While there were more folks refusing to (or forgetting to as we did for a couple brief moments) wear masks than I would have liked, people were pretty good about the protocols. People really seemed genuinely happy to be back and I did not see anyone giving the crew a hard time as I have seen on past voyages. I am sure there were probably a few difficult guests, but they were definitely fewer and farther between. 

2) Leaving from so close to home was a true luxury. So much so that we actually have scrapped our Northbound Alaska with Denali trip for next year and will be doing the same round trip itinerary from Seattle instead. 

3) HAL's focus on enrichment is a huge plus. The naturalist & EXC talks were excellent additions. While the other main stage shows left a lot to be desired in my opinion (totally unimpressed by movies or movies with classical music being called a feature show) the nightly comedians and Music Walk really made up for it. We left our 2017 Eurodam voyage quite disappointed by the onboard entertainment and that was not at all the case this time around. 

 

While the MDR has scaled back in choice I am forgiving that due to the restart and the current supply chain issues. Time will tell if this is the new standard for HAL or if they bring back some of the classics such as a Surf & Turf on the standard MDR menu for one of the formal nights. That being said food is an important part of our journey and we went to specialty restaurants as well as purchased the indulge options a number of times. Even without this, the Lido selection was also very good including great prime rib a couple of times. Fish, and beef/steak are still available at no additional cost on the MDR menu albeit in different forms - the surf and turf now comes standard with shrimp and the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail has been replaced by a Crab Louie Cocktail. I do hope with time some of our favorite staples do return. HAL markets themselves as a premium line and they will ultimately need to put their money where their mouth is on this. 

 

Portion size seems to be smaller than I remember from before the pandemic. I have decided to see this as a plus. You can still order two or three or five entrees and appetizers and deserts. The couple at the table next to us had at least one of every single starter each night. While the pancakes are very small for a main dish I took it as an opportunity to try some of the other breakfast mains. No one batted an eye at ordering pancakes and breakfast skillet. There were a couple mornings where we decided we hadn't had enough and asked for a side of sausage or bacon after our meal and they were very happy to bring something else out.

 

We were not at all shy about mixing and matching. The waiters were wonderful about switching out side dishes or bringing us a plate to share of the pasta to go along with our mains. This is one of the reasons we really like the fixed dining. You get to know your waiter and assistant waiter, and they are always so eager to do anything they can to make your trip special. We always include their names in the survey at the end of the cruise, and we also always leave them a little something extra on the last night of the cruise as a thank you. 

 

I know additional gratuities can be a hot topic on here and I really don't want to start up another thread debating whether you should or shouldn't tip extra. Regardless of where you stand on the issue there are two things everyone can do that will make an enormous impact for the crew and do not cost a penny

1) Smile and be nice. Everyone loves a smile. Every time I went through the buffet there were people who were brusque with the crew. I always made a point to smile, say how much we missed them, how happy we were back and how grateful we were that they were here. I absolutely received that energy back tenfold. As someone who has worked in hospitality I can tell you that people can treat hospitality workers like garbage and third class citizens. Being nice does not cost anything and also gives you a great return on your investment. When there is a problem it is almost never the person in front of you's fault. Yelling at them will not really help them fix it faster.

2) The crew are heavily judged by the guest survey. We made a point to keep a list starting on day 1 of every crew member who had gone above and beyond for us and included their name and a specific example of how they impacted our journey. Management reads these comments and we have been told by a number of crew members that being listed on surveys, and their scores on the surveys play a huge part of their opportunity for advancement. We made a point to ask a couple how to spell their names so we could include it, and they were always so pleased to know they made a difference. 

 

Covid Restrictions 

Having masks onboard made about zero difference in the enjoyment of my vacation. I did far more in this one week than I have done for the last year and a half! The entertainment was great and the food was great. Living in Seattle we are probably somewhat biased as we already were wearing masks everywhere. I can definitely see how folks who live in other areas may feel differently especially if they are not used to wearing them. 

Social distancing was not required, but you could choose if you wanted to sit with others or not. Main stage shows were not too crowded and there were probably close to 100 movies available on the stateroom TV as well. 

 

This trip also reinforced my belief that we do not want to travel on maiden voyages or relaunches or trips right after dry dock. All of the struggles from the first couple cruises were basically gone, and the food options seem to have improved. I was scheduled to go on the inaugural Koningsdam return but for several reasons I have decided to push my trip back about a month. I will let others set the trend and hopefully by the time I get onboard everything will have worked itself out. 

 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, oakridger said:

I enjoyed your trip report!

 

~Nancy

Thanks for joining us on our trip! Hopefully I will be able to do it again in November 🙂

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4 hours ago, zgscl said:

A few (read many) parting thoughts in no particular order

 

First of all, thank you to everyone who has followed along on our journey. I really enjoyed putting this together and it will be a great way for us to look back at our trip for years to come. 

 

Despite all of the last minute changes with the pandemic including the masking and testing requirements as well as somewhat limited menus we both agreed this was by far the best cruise we have taken for a few reasons: 

1)The crew was so happy to have people back onboard and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. I generally find HAL crew to be very good, but it was just even more so. The passengers also were in very good spirits. While there were more folks refusing to (or forgetting to as we did for a couple brief moments) wear masks than I would have liked, people were pretty good about the protocols. People really seemed genuinely happy to be back and I did not see anyone giving the crew a hard time as I have seen on past voyages. I am sure there were probably a few difficult guests, but they were definitely fewer and farther between. 

2) Leaving from so close to home was a true luxury. So much so that we actually have scrapped our Northbound Alaska with Denali trip for next year and will be doing the same round trip itinerary from Seattle instead. 

3) HAL's focus on enrichment is a huge plus. The naturalist & EXC talks were excellent additions. While the other main stage shows left a lot to be desired in my opinion (totally unimpressed by movies or movies with classical music being called a feature show) the nightly comedians and Music Walk really made up for it. We left our 2017 Eurodam voyage quite disappointed by the onboard entertainment and that was not at all the case this time around. 

 

While the MDR has scaled back in choice I am forgiving that due to the restart and the current supply chain issues. Time will tell if this is the new standard for HAL or if they bring back some of the classics such as a Surf & Turf on the standard MDR menu for one of the formal nights. That being said food is an important part of our journey and we went to specialty restaurants as well as purchased the indulge options a number of times. Even without this, the Lido selection was also very good including great prime rib a couple of times. Fish, and beef/steak are still available at no additional cost on the MDR menu albeit in different forms - the surf and turf now comes standard with shrimp and the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail has been replaced by a Crab Louie Cocktail. I do hope with time some of our favorite staples do return. HAL markets themselves as a premium line and they will ultimately need to put their money where their mouth is on this. 

 

Portion size seems to be smaller than I remember from before the pandemic. I have decided to see this as a plus. You can still order two or three or five entrees and appetizers and deserts. The couple at the table next to us had at least one of every single starter each night. While the pancakes are very small for a main dish I took it as an opportunity to try some of the other breakfast mains. No one batted an eye at ordering pancakes and breakfast skillet. There were a couple mornings where we decided we hadn't had enough and asked for a side of sausage or bacon after our meal and they were very happy to bring something else out.

 

We were not at all shy about mixing and matching. The waiters were wonderful about switching out side dishes or bringing us a plate to share of the pasta to go along with our mains. This is one of the reasons we really like the fixed dining. You get to know your waiter and assistant waiter, and they are always so eager to do anything they can to make your trip special. We always include their names in the survey at the end of the cruise, and we also always leave them a little something extra on the last night of the cruise as a thank you. 

 

I know additional gratuities can be a hot topic on here and I really don't want to start up another thread debating whether you should or shouldn't tip extra. Regardless of where you stand on the issue there are two things everyone can do that will make an enormous impact for the crew and do not cost a penny

1) Smile and be nice. Everyone loves a smile. Every time I went through the buffet there were people who were brusque with the crew. I always made a point to smile, say how much we missed them, how happy we were back and how grateful we were that they were here. I absolutely received that energy back tenfold. As someone who has worked in hospitality I can tell you that people can treat hospitality workers like garbage and third class citizens. Being nice does not cost anything and also gives you a great return on your investment. When there is a problem it is almost never the person in front of you's fault. Yelling at them will not really help them fix it faster.

2) The crew are heavily judged by the guest survey. We made a point to keep a list starting on day 1 of every crew member who had gone above and beyond for us and included their name and a specific example of how they impacted our journey. Management reads these comments and we have been told by a number of crew members that being listed on surveys, and their scores on the surveys play a huge part of their opportunity for advancement. We made a point to ask a couple how to spell their names so we could include it, and they were always so pleased to know they made a difference. 

 

Covid Restrictions 

Having masks onboard made about zero difference in the enjoyment of my vacation. I did far more in this one week than I have done for the last year and a half! The entertainment was great and the food was great. Living in Seattle we are probably somewhat biased as we already were wearing masks everywhere. I can definitely see how folks who live in other areas may feel differently especially if they are not used to wearing them. 

Social distancing was not required, but you could choose if you wanted to sit with others or not. Main stage shows were not too crowded and there were probably close to 100 movies available on the stateroom TV as well. 

 

This trip also reinforced my belief that we do not want to travel on maiden voyages or relaunches or trips right after dry dock. All of the struggles from the first couple cruises were basically gone, and the food options seem to have improved. I was scheduled to go on the inaugural Koningsdam return but for several reasons I have decided to push my trip back about a month. I will let others set the trend and hopefully by the time I get onboard everything will have worked itself out. 

 

 

 

Let me add my thanks for all your efforts at sharing your cruise.

 

Just to add to your point about positive feedback for the crew  and what it means to them. On one of our cruises there was a server in the buffet who always made sure my lemonade glass was full. I wanted to write her up as one of the crew members who made my cruise extra special. I called her over and told her that was what I intended to do, but could not unless I knew her name, and I thought it would be impolite to stare at her chest to read her nametag. She was delighted and made sure I knew her name and how to spell it. And after that my glass seemed to get more lemonade after every time I drank any.

 

And years later, I still remember her name. Honeyeyo

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I SO enjoyed your reports and photos on this wonderful cruise with your mom.  I have loved our cruises to Alaska and it felt like I was right there with you!  I do hope you do another one on your next cruise.  

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I have looked forward to your posts every day. They have been a real pleasure to read and filled with tips and insights. You always seemed to provide me with just the information I was wondering about.

 

I'm so glad you and your Mom had an enjoyable trip to add to your memories.

 

 

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Thank you so much for your cruise reports and pictures. I enjoyed it all, especially the food pictures. Also thanks for sharing your thoughts about kindness, it really does make a difference. Having been in customer service and front desk positions throughout my working days I have experience with rude and negative people and I can attest that a smile and kindness goes a long way. 
 

We will miss you on the Koningsdam in October. Enjoy your November cruise and hopefully you will post about that cruise as well. 
 

Sharon

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It's been a joy reading your posts from your trip with your mom. She is fortunate to have you to take her on these adventures. 
Thank you for all your posts. 

I truly understand how difficult it can be for mobility impaired people, who are able to travel alone, to get to the handicap assembly area! Many times other passengers have taken pity on me and helped me. For them, I am ever grateful. 

There was a time when HAL would pick up disabled passengers, bringing a wheelchair to their cabin, then wheeling them directly off! Problem with that was they were always the last passengers. More than once I have heard 'final call' to leave the ship. Sometimes, more than once on the same disembarkation! 

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I am taking my first cruise next year.  I'm going on HAL on the inland passage to Alaska.  I have done a lot of research on the internet to try to learn about the trip.

 

This thread is literally the most helpful thing I have found. Thanks for posting!

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7 hours ago, DaveOKC said:

Since you dined in the Pinnacle for breakfast, I have to ask if you tried the lobster eggs benedict?

 

Yes! I did try it one morning (it is not complimentary and there was a charge for it). Lobster was good but they were very heavy on the hollandaise sauce so you basically couldn’t taste it at all

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Thank you so much for your hard work and wonderful reporting.  We, too, have read and enjoyed it all.

 

Seeing your disembark pictures causes me to question:  For EMBARKATION, do you NOT go into the building at Pier 91 to embark?  I'm assuming we don't embark from the parking lot; it seems to look like the ship is Disembarking into the parking lot.  Confused.  Anyway, my question is embarkation--do you enter the building as in the "old" days B.C. and go through the building to the embarkation near the far end of the building, or if not, how do we embark now?  Is there any place to sit down prior to embarkation, in case?  Thank you for your help once again.

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27 minutes ago, 12cruise2 said:

Thank you so much for your hard work and wonderful reporting.  We, too, have read and enjoyed it all.

 

Seeing your disembark pictures causes me to question:  For EMBARKATION, do you NOT go into the building at Pier 91 to embark?  I'm assuming we don't embark from the parking lot; it seems to look like the ship is Disembarking into the parking lot.  Confused.  Anyway, my question is embarkation--do you enter the building as in the "old" days B.C. and go through the building to the embarkation near the far end of the building, or if not, how do we embark now?  Is there any place to sit down prior to embarkation, in case?  Thank you for your help once again.

So glad you enjoyed! 
 

You do go into the building for both embarkation and disembarkation. Embarkation mostly takes place upstairs and disembarkation on the downstairs level

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2 hours ago, Petrocelli said:

I am taking my first cruise next year.  I'm going on HAL on the inland passage to Alaska.  I have done a lot of research on the internet to try to learn about the trip.

 

This thread is literally the most helpful thing I have found. Thanks for posting!

Glad you enjoyed it!! Hal has been a great fit for us and November will be number 10 with them (unless COVID throws a wrench in things). Happy to answer anything I can for you and there are lots of others on here who are also very helpful and informative! 

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16 hours ago, zgscl said:

After dinner we went back to our cabin to pack and were greeted with our Holland America Line Journeys booklet. This seems to be replacing the log of the cruise and is sort of a passport that you can peel off the journey sticker and put in the book. I actually really like this -

 

Princess has had this "benefit" for years and I don't care for it.  One has to keep track of the "passport" in future years for it to have any meaning.  There are more important things for one to do, in my opinion.  

 

Thanks for taking the time and making the effort for posting such an interesting report along with great photos.  

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