The Shore Excursions manager was hopeless, especially at Guam, where no shuttles had been organised, so people spent up to $70 for taxis to downtown (we did our own thing, near the ship, finding a beautiful hidden beach), but the pathetic ... Read More
The Shore Excursions manager was hopeless, especially at Guam, where no shuttles had been organised, so people spent up to $70 for taxis to downtown (we did our own thing, near the ship, finding a beautiful hidden beach), but the pathetic Yankee GI Joe security guards armed to the teeth were just as bad if not worse. One said, "We're stopping you from getting off, there's 200 of you out there already and God knows what might happen." Did he think one of the elderly one's zimmer frame was loaded? The GI Joes (not the ship officials) even confiscated a German gentleman's beer. I peered at him and said, "Ah, you killjoy." Must have had an effect on the peanut, because the gent told me later he thinks I shamed them into giving it back.
Were served a compensatory glass of champagne (well, bubbles) by dining room staff, "from the Captain", it should have been from the Shore Excursions manager. It's like giving lollies to children, quite pathetic really. I felt like finding the Captain and telling him what to do with it. We missed out on Chuuk Lagoon which was due more to mismanagement than misfortune. Again another glass of bubbles plus port fees and $50 each. Big deal. May never get there again, a missed opportunity. The room towels were absolutely filthy - after being so called washed. The pool towels stunk. As usual, the staff were more friendly and happier than a lot of the passengers.
As usual on cruising, dropped off at the equivalent of industrial areas. Actually won't do another cruise. I wonder if somebody was to build a structure like a ship, on land, give you a 3.5 x 4.5 metre box to sleep in, put a moat around it with the same number of people in it as one of these ships, with 2 tea & coffee stations, a mile from your cabin and have this structure plonked in the middle of an industrial area of a second rate town eg. Blacktown, Sydney, Australia and say, "You're stuck in this place for 30 days, we'll let you out every 3rd day." Wonder how many customer they'd get.
Lastly, on travelling across the International Date Line they gave us certificate with information which was 20 years out of date, which was humorous. Brought it to their attention, that next time they're in Samoan waters, their records of the date line would be wrong. This may be a small issue, but it is a shipping line and I think that other lines would find it amusing that HAL didn't know where it was. What's with people thinking that 2nd rate Vegas shows from the 1950s are entertainment? Likewise, thinking that foul mouthed comedians are humorous? Read Less
We are long-time members of the Princess family but have always heard wonderful things about Holland America. We found a 14-day Alaskan cruise, round-trip Seattle that visited some ports we've wanted to see so we booked and looked ... Read More
We are long-time members of the Princess family but have always heard wonderful things about Holland America. We found a 14-day Alaskan cruise, round-trip Seattle that visited some ports we've wanted to see so we booked and looked forward in anticipation to our sail date.
Our first night out we elected to eat in the Rotterdam Dining Room. My first negative indication was when I asked for a shrimp cocktail and was told they weren't available. But, if I put in a request perhaps I could get one the following evening. I ordered the "signature" french onion soup, Caesar salad, and salmon. the soup came lukewarm, the salad was wilted, warm, and the lettuce was old. The salmon was way overcooked and could have been used as a hammer. To say the food was mediocre would be giving a real stretch. The dinner, in fact, was the worst meal I've had in 13 previous cruises.
And, it didn't get any better during the remainder of the cruise. In the Lido buffet restaurant one had to line up to be served. That took time. Their was little selection; the food was never hot and always bland. We talked to many other cruisers and everyone we spoke with was disappointed with the food. This was Statendam's last cruise with HAL prior to going to P & O and many thought perhaps the galley was trying to use whatever available food was left. I don't buy that story but if that's the norm when it comes to HAL's food service perhaps they should contact Golden Corral for a franchise
We're sorry Princess. Can we come back. Read Less
We went on a two-week cruise to Alaska, aboard the Ms Statendam. We had sailed with several other cruise lines before, but this was our first time with Holland America. In comparison, Holland America was below average. Our ocean view ... Read More
We went on a two-week cruise to Alaska, aboard the Ms Statendam. We had sailed with several other cruise lines before, but this was our first time with Holland America. In comparison, Holland America was below average. Our ocean view stateroom was equivalent to a two-star hotel; the bathroom… maybe one-star. The ship had a stale smell throughout, and our stateroom was poorly ventilated as well. The bathroom smelled. The shower did not drain properly, and we would be standing in a pool of water. The toilet did not flush very well. The sink was cracked. The stateroom, itself, was in a general state of disrepair.
Apparently they didn’t have enough seating for the number of passengers on board. We had to wait half an hour for a table in the main dining room. Several other people were waiting as well. We endeavored to reserve a table and were told that we could only make reservations for either 5:30 p.m. or 7:45 p.m. Otherwise, all the tables would be in use.
Holland America’s customer service orientation was deplorable. In every case, the staff chose the convenience of ship administration over that of the guests. The entertainment wasn’t that good, and the food was not amazing. However, the wait staff did serve quite well.
The average age of guests on board was about 80. No disrespect intended, but potential clientele need to be aware of this. It means negotiating with walkers, wheelchairs, and folks with various other impediments. Youths may feel out of place. Activities are geared toward an aging crowd. Single people might also feel awkward. There were mostly couples with many years of marriage behind them.
Upon departure, they wanted us to leave the ship early. So, there was no time to reconcile the final bill from the cruise, which was issued that same morning. One has to rely on them to get it correct. They didn’t! We were double charged for some things, overcharged for others. We had to gather facts, email, then call and cajole them into changing the bill. It was not easy doing it after-the-fact. As far as they were concerned, that ship had sailed.
Frankly, I expected more from Holland America Line. They have a good following and loyal customers, our parents included. And, I hesitate to say that we would never sail with them again. It might depend on the destination and ports of call. On the other hand, given the choice between HAL and some other cruise line, with a comparable itinerary, we would probably choose the latter. Read Less
This review won't likely help future cruisers of the Statendam, as HAL is transferring the ship to P&O Australia. But it may help future cruisers on HAL's 14 night Alaskan voyage - which we really enjoyed!
This review is ... Read More
This review won't likely help future cruisers of the Statendam, as HAL is transferring the ship to P&O Australia. But it may help future cruisers on HAL's 14 night Alaskan voyage - which we really enjoyed!
This review is in a log format. If you just want the summary, scroll way down to the bottom!
Statendam 8-24-15 Alaska Explorer
We traveled to Seattle on US Air / American on Sunday, August 23. This was a six hour non-stop flight from Philadelphia. Domestic air travel has sunk to a new low. 90 minutes into the flight the flight staff finally came around with beverages. I asked for a can of Sprite Zero (something I always do on Southwest with no issue). I was told they could not provide cans as they don’t have enough, but they would be around again with beverages (three hours later).
In any event, we reached Seattle on time and met our friends 45 minutes later who flew to Seattle on Southwest from Denver. We had prearranged with Seattle Shuttle a transfer to our hotel for one night, the Marriott waterfront. The driver was very nice but we did need to wait about 15 minutes for the pickup and as they were tracking our flights this was disappointing.
We reached the Marriott just before 9:00 and after checking in it was after 9:00. Who would have known that Seattle rolls up the sidewalks at 9:00 (or earlier) on a Sunday evening? We ended up with a late dinner at the Marriott as nothing else nearby was open. The food was very good but at Marriott prices it was no bargain.
Monday morning we rode the elevator and walked the few short blocks to Pikes Place Market. We paid a visit to the “Original Starbucks” and the two ladies enjoyed a cup of the Pikes Place brew. The Market was just getting into full swing for the day and we were very impressed with the floral arrangements available at reasonable prices. We saw lots of fish and other seafood, enjoyed several complimentary samples, and bought a few things at a bakery that ended up appearing much better than they tasted.
We had arranged for the 10:40 shuttle to the port and our driver was the same as the previous evening. He was waiting for us as we checked out at 10:30 and we were at the port well before 11:00. Statendam is the only ship in port and this was the fastest check-in we recall. Our keycard holder was stamped with an “E” as we were given boarding group E.
Embarkation began at about 11:20 and group A was rather large. Once the “A” crowd was through the letters went very fast. We were onboard with the carry-ons in our cabin well before noon. We quickly found that no “Mariners welcome back lunch” was offered in the dining room. We received invitations to a “Mariners reception” at 2:00 in the crow’s nest, but that would not work with our planned schedule. We searched out the dining room host who was not very helpful; he just kept repeating the mantra that “Everyone wants early dining.” On the way to the lido, we ran into the dining room manager while waiting for the lift. He took our name and cabin info. We had a light lunch in the lido. The roast beef was quite good. By the time we finished lunch the lido was getting very crowded.
We returned to our cabin to change to swimwear and enjoyed the pool and hot tubs. We were surprised to find our luggage had already been delivered! The pool is nicely heated and while no “Bathtub” it is refreshing but not too cold even for our Florida friends. We returned to the cabin to shower and change into dinner clothes before the 3:15 muster drill. The drill seemed to take a long time (while standing still in a crowd, 30 minutes is a long time!). We completed unpacking the suitcases and stored them under the bed. We also prepared our first laundry bag to send out.
Earlier we met our cabin steward, Dhana. We went to the dining room at 5:15 to find lines for those with reservations (very long) and those without (not so long). We had no reservation and were seated at table 171, a four-top in moments. The “As you wish” dining host stopped by near the end of our meal and offered to reserve that table for the four of us for the rest of the cruise. We liked our dining room waiter Hari and gladly accepted. The first night’s dinner was good. I had the Prime Rib and it was very tasty and DW had the “Everyday” Salmon which was ‘all right.’ The men each had several desserts as the selections were excellent.
We enjoyed the Neptune’s (still in existence on Statendam) at the Ocean Bar. We also found some clearance deals at the shops and the two ladies obtained a great bargain on “Alaska” jackets. These sold very fast and the ladies were glad they found these when they did. Soon we were very tired and called it a night.
Tuesday, August 25:
Tuesday is a welcome sea day, sailing north along the Vancouver Island coast before heading in the evening into the inside passage. We were up early and enjoyed the pool and hot tubs before breakfast. After showers we arrived at the Rotterdam dining room for breakfast at 8:30. There was a short line to be seated. Our orders were taken quickly but it was apparent they were very busy. Soon we noticed that reinforcements were called in from the lido to help with service. We waited fifty minutes for our main course and then mine was wrong. It took over ten minutes for a ‘corrected’ Omelet to arrive and that was also not proper, but at least it was edible. On my way out of the dining room I spoke with one of the hosts who took all the information and said someone would get back to me.
I attended the port talk (excellent) at 10:00 while DW attended a culinary center presentation on smoothies. At 11:00 we met at the crow’s nest for our cruise critic meet and greet. We had a very large turnout and certainly did not meet everyone, but we did meet those we are later touring with.
We found a table near the pool to listen to the guitar soloist at noon. It was a pleasant way to enjoy a light lunch from the Dive-in grille. After lunch we tried to take a nap but a great deal of noise seemed to originate in our cabin walls. A visit to the front desk made a note of the situation and asked that we call them immediately if the noise returned.
The Royal Dutch Tea was enjoyed today. Those Dutch pastries are superb. After the tea I ventured out on the promenade deck for a short time and spotted a fishing vessel in the distance. With my new camera with 1200MM zoom, I got a few nice photos. Afterwards it was time to get ready for the first of three “Gala nights.”
The dinner menu seemed uninspired, but we were wrong. We all ordered the steak and shrimp entrée and the steaks were superb. The men ordered seconds, they were that good. The shrimp was also a very nice size and perfectly cooked. We enjoyed dinner!
The show tonight was “Bob Mackie’s Broadway.” We thought we had seen the show before, but as it was preceded by the captain’s welcome aboard, we attended. We enjoyed the show (Bob Mackie’s Broadway) and did not recall seeing it before. We were pleased to see that there are five vocalists and two dancers in the company. That reminds us of the Prinsendam, and I assume this is because of the relatively small stage area.
After the show we called it a night, but not before changing our clocks as tomorrow we are in Ketchikan!
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Sunny Ketchikan, AK.
With the hour time change we were up early. As the webcam showed we were sailing between mountains, I quickly went up on deck and got some great photos of the sail in. Working my way to the aft deck, I spotted two whales in the distance. With the super-zoom lens I took a few photos but I missed the spouting.
I headed back to the cabin and found DW was ready to head out. The bridge cam showed that the bow was open to we headed out to the bow for a short time. The crystal clear sky made for a beautiful sail in. We went to the Lido restaurant and found our friends, who had just sat down. Breakfast was enjoyed while passing the Ketchikan Coast Guard base.
After returning to our cabin to change into shorts and a t-shirt (Yes, this IS Alaska!) we went out on the promenade deck for a few photos. We noticed passengers disembarking so we joined them. We walked around part of downtown while waiting for our 8:45 scheduled pick up by Mountain Air Service to enjoy the Misty Fiords national monument.
This was our first experience with a float plane (or any small plane). With the incredible weather we could not have asked for a greater morning! The Misty Fiords were anything but “Misty” on this fine day, but we sure enjoyed seeing the incredible granite cliffs and the fiords as well as the many fresh water lakes and waterfalls. We landed on one of the lakes as our pilot noticed that all of the larger commercial “Ship’s tour” flights were headed to land on one of the fiords. We had this lake all to ourselves and the quietness is something we don’t often experience.
While I explored quite far on foot, I could always hear the others talking near the plane as sound travels without hindrance when there are no competing noises. All too soon we were back in the plane heading towards Ketchikan. We flew a different route back and greatly enjoyed the different scenery.
We returned to the dock and thanked our pilot. The driver offered to take us anywhere in town we wanted to go to so we opted to have him drop us at the Wal-Mart. To be honest, it wasn’t worth the detour. The Wal-Mart van took us back to town and we returned to Statendam for a quick lunch. Roast Turkey was offered in the Lido so I took full advantage of turkey, gravy, and red skin mashed potatoes!
After lunch we walked around town as well as the length of Creek Street. We did peruse several shops but didn’t make any purchases. Back on the ship, the men headed to the pool and hot tub for a time. We went to the sail away party in the crow’s nest which was quite nice. DW’s happy hour order of smoothies took a very long time to be delivered.
Dinner was enjoyable and we skipped the show by “Tuck,” who we have seen before and did not enjoy. We did enjoy the Neptunes at the Ocean Bar until succumbing to the call of sleep. It was an exciting and enjoyable day!
Thursday, August 27:
Today we were scheduled to cruise up Tracy Arm to visit the Sawyer Glacier. With forecast of 40 Knot winds later in the afternoon, the Captain decided to cruise up Endicott Arm instead. Endicott arm is wider and less challenging to maneuver a cruise ship around! We very much enjoyed our sailing up the arm and the long time at the glacier. We saw seals on the ice flows and while still approaching the glacier there was significant calving. We were out on the bow from about 10AM until 12:15PM and made the most of our time there.
The departure from the glacier was very slow as Statendam was certainly in no hurry as Juneau is not far away. We found a window table on the lido pool deck to watch the sail away from the glacier while enjoying lunch. After all the fresh Alaskan air we enjoyed a rest before the evening began. Dinner in the dining room was very enjoyable and our waiter had “Special desserts” for the two ladies in the form of gluten free chocolate cake. They really appreciated the extra effort!
We attended the show but left after a few numbers. Seems like we had previously seen Tricia Kelly and we recall now the same reaction the first time!
Friday, August 28 – Rainy Juneau:
We had a long port call in Juneau with an 8:00 arrival and 10:00 PM departure. We left Statendam to a cool and rainy morning at about 8:30. Our intention in Juneau was to go Whale watching and also to visit the Mendenhall Glacier. We found the tour sellers on the dock, and found one selling tours on “Juneau Whale Watching,” a top rated provider on TripAdvisor. After coming to agreement on a price, we were told to return at 9:20 for a 9:30 departure for the 25 minute ride to Auke Bay and our boat.
We reached the marina and were told we were going out in their newest ship, just a couple of months old. This was a 50+ passenger catamaran. The tour seller assured us this was a ‘smooth ride’ due to the catamaran design. I’m sure that is so, except when moving at 40 knots and sailing into wind driven waves coming off the north Pacific! We had chosen seats in the front row and that was a mistake as the shock when coming down onto a wave began to hurt my back (which has never hurt like that before).
At the first stop we saw a number of whales, or at least them breathing out their blow hole. We saw one tail. We moved to a second stop a long distance at great speed. We moved to seats near the back as the front seats were much too rough. At the second stop, we saw very little and moved a short distance to a third location. Here we again saw some blowing but little in the way of actual whale. Despite the crew’s best efforts we found the whale watching to be quite a disappointment. Adding to that the unexpected rough ride that affected us for several days, and we regret taking the tour.
As promised, they did take us to the Mendenhall Glacier. We walked the short “Steep creek trail” to see the sockeye salmon running up the stream. We enjoyed the vantage points of the glacier and waterfall. We toured the visitor center ($3.00/pp national park fee) and watched the movie. The first several minutes of the movie contains fantastic photography of flying over the Juneau ice field. All this time, it’s been raining and we were ready to return to town. We waited at the assigned place and the bus picked us up. We were offered a drop off at the Red Dog Saloon (only two blocks from the ship) so we stopped in there. They were packed (as usual with several ships in port) so we walked towards the ship and checked out several shops but did not make any purchases.
Back on board, we were hungry and ate too much for the hour, with dinner only two hours away. There was just enough time for a short rest and refresh before preparing for dinner. Dinner was very good this evening and again Hari has a special dessert for the ladies. I made the show, Street Singin’ which featured the four male vocalists and thought the show was quite good.
Saturday, August 29 - Icy Strait Point (Hoonah)
Tender tickets for Icy Strait Point were made available on Thursday afternoon. We had our choice and obtained tickets for tender “G” with an estimated time of 8:10 – 8:30. We were ready about 8:05 while “E” was being called. It was about 8:20 that “G” was called and we were soon on the tender. The Statendam tenders are much more comfortable than the tenders on the newer ships, but they don’t hold as many people. For some reason, the Statendam was stationed across the bay, so it was a rather long (but pleasant) tender ride.
Upon arrival we walked around the local shops and museum and bought tickets ($5 ea.) for the shuttle into the town of Hoonah. Hoonah is said to be a ‘typical native Alaskan town.’ That is likely close to the truth. Our driver was very informative and pointed out bald Eagles on our way into town. He also told us where an Eagle’s nest was located. Sure enough, it was an active Eagles nest and I made full use of the zoom features of my camera. We stopped in a small coffee shop and DW enjoyed a specialty coffee.
After a while we caught the shuttle back to Icy Strait Point. DW wanted to peruse the shops and I took a walk to the end of the zip line hoping to catch a photo of some brave people coming down. I did not get that photo but I did get photos of a humpback whale meandering near the shore. I’ll take the whale any day! There is a very pleasant boardwalk/paved trail along the waterfront any many Statendam passengers were taking advantage of it.
I found DW and tried to show her the whale but my humpback friend was not cooperative. We returned to the Statendam on a tender at about 11:30 and enjoyed an afternoon on board. The sail away from Icy Straight was very pretty all the way to the open waters of the bay of Alaska.
Dinner was again most enjoyable. Attendance in the dining room has been on the decline and conversely the service has been speeding up. We attended the beginning of the show but the juggler/magician entertainer Steve Carte was about the worst entertainment we’ve seen on a ship in years so we didn’t last very long. We’ve enjoyed the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar and they continue to play even when the main stage show is on so that gives us an alternate.
Our towel friend tonight was a very quiet Wolfie (dog).
Sunday, August 30 – Sea day!
A sea day this was! Crossing the Gulf of Alaska head on into 40 MPH winds made for one of the roughest sea days we remember. The rocking did let of sleep as we did not wake until after 7:00! We were fine however, although at time walking around the ship for DW with her cane was a bit of a challenge. We went to the Rotterdam dining room for breakfast at 8:00 when they opened. Afterwards we attended a port talk on Anchorage, Homer, and Kodiak.
Today we experienced something completely different! The crew of the Statendam put on a gala “Fair” on the pool deck. There were various games of skill and chance allowing all guests to accumulate “Statendam bucks.” The top five guests won prizes. We even learned how to make a few towel animals as part of the bargain.
As the dining room lunch menu had a chicken wing appetizer which was not available in the lido, we visited the dining room for lunch. One and a half chicken wings was the serving! I ordered a steak sandwich but the steak strips were tough and the bread was strange. Poor choice to go there for lunch but we learned.
At 1:30 the computer class was an introduction to Windows 10. We went a half-hour early to make sure we were able to get seats, and sure enough, the room was over filled at 1:15. The class was interesting.
The rocking of the sea seemed to be calling for a Sunday afternoon nap, so we did exactly that. This was also our second formal night so we prepared for that. Dinner was very enjoyable and as the views outdoors had become most enjoyable we spent the evening in the Ocean bar watching the Kenai Peninsula pass by.
Monday, August 31 – Sunny & windy Anchorage.
We had coffee & tea delivered at 6:30 and the door knock woke us up. We met our friends for a lido breakfast as we completed the sail in to Anchorage. We were a little late docking and then, for unexplained reasons, we did not get the okay to disembark until a bit after 8:40. With an original itinerary arrival time of 7:00 and an on-board stated arrival of 8:00 that was very late. Many waiting in line were concerned with missing their Alaska Railroad train to view glaciers.
We had reserved a car rental from the downtown Avis location. Although on the first bus from the port, upon arrival downtown the staff gave us completely wrong directions to Avis. By the time we reached them, there were eight to ten parties in front of us with only one agent handling all the pickups. It took us another forty minutes before we were in our car heading out of town.
I had downloaded a “Turnagain arm driving tour” before the trip. With a goal of the Portage Glacier lake cruise we made a few stops along the way. The views are incredible and the highway follows right along the shoreline. While driving towards Portage the seas were very disturbed and the tide was in. During the day the wind lessened and we had a very delightful cruise on Portage Lake. Being on a smaller ship coming up to a smaller glacier, we were able to get very close to the glacier. Everyone has a wonderful time on the cruise.
After the cruise, we followed instructions to a Salmon viewing area and it was excellent. There were many salmon struggling upstream to their spawning grounds. We also stopped at a great ‘underlook’ to look up at the Explorer glacier, a “Hanging glacier.” We drove to the Ayleska tram but with no parking near the tram station we were discouraged from attempting the ride. Being well after 2:00, we began to look for a place for a light lunch and found a Subway.
We slowly headed back towards Anchorage making a few more stops from our driving tour. One stop was railroad related and included an old rail snow plow – the kind that could deal with 15 feet of snow at once! While driving back we were amazed at the difference of Turnagain arm – many areas were completely dry with no water over the mud flats. The tidal difference here is intense and we would have loved to see the incoming “Bore tide” (a wall of water about six feet high) but the timing did not work out.
We stopped to fill up the car and returned it to Avis. We visited a few shops on 5th avenue in Anchorage before boarding a shuttle back to the Statendam. While we were late, Hari was happy to see us and we finished our meal at about the normal time. As we are in port until 11:00, there is no show tonight. What there is, is great music in the Ocean bar where I am writing this. Tomorrow we visit Homer, AK.
Tuesday, September 1 – Blue skies in Homer, AK.
I’ve read that people who live in Alaska consider September 1 to mean that autumn has arrived. This was not the case in Homer on September 1. Statendam arrived to cloudless blue skies and brilliant sunshine. In fact, I got a bit of sunburn. For some reason docking took an extremely long time and it was 10:40 (rather than 10:00) before anyone was allowed to leave the ship. By this time, there was an extensive line. No announcements were made with any reason for the delay. Being the second day in a row that Statendam was significantly ‘late’ was annoying for sure.
We did not stand in the line but once the line was gone we exited the Statendam. In retrospect, I give kudos to the town of Homer as they assigned plenty of school buses to move guests for free to the ‘Spit’ or for $15.00 to town as a hop-on, hop-off option. Based on advice from posters on cruise critic, we took the free bus to the spit and bought tickets for the town trolley. The problem was that the trolley didn’t move, waiting for passengers to fill it up. Two couples left, another person left, and we left. All received a refund of their fare. Then the person selling tickets told the driver he was going to lose all the passengers if he didn’t leave right away so he did.
We went back to Statendam with plans to take the Ho-Ho to town; but by now lunch was being served so we thought we’d have a quick lunch first. I will say that lunch was wonderful. The lido had friend Halibut, and it was terrific. When we went back out to go to town there were no Ho-Ho buses, nor taxis, to be found. So back to the ‘spit’ it was. With my friend we explored the mud flats as the tide was out while DW looked through some of the shops on the spit.
After a while we headed back to the ship finding our stop in Homer to be a disappointment. Lesson for future cruisers who go to Homer and do not take a ship’s excursion – take the Ho-Ho bus into town. Talking to others who made it to town it seemed they had a nice time.
One word to the Homer port authority – something needs to be done to clean off the dock before cruise ships arrive. I’ve never seen so many flies in one place. The flies are there because of all the bird waste from the seagulls. Clean it up and make the initial impression positive.
Dinner service was very prompt this evening while the menu was one of the less inspiring. It seemed the dining room was perhaps half full. The show was “Unforgettable” but regretfully after three numbers that were quite forgettable we left for the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar.
Wednesday, September 2 – A dry day in Kodiak
Our stay in Kodiak is from 7:00 AM until 1:30 PM, what the cruise director called a “Whistle stop.” Despite that, we had a very nice day. Lido breakfast was fine and we were part of a cruise critic private tour with “Memory Makers tours” We were met on the dock at 8:00 AM and whisked away in their two very nice full size vans to the south of town where our guide did his best to find bears. He told us that the prior cruise tour group did see a bear and he looked long and hard in that area. We did see signs of recent (since the tide went out) bear activity, but no bear.
What we did witness was a multitude of Salmon running in the Salonie Creek. We even witnessed two Salmon engaged in a territorial battle. We next headed up a gravel road to the top of the ridge overlooking the town of Kodiak. On this ridge there are five wind generators. Combined with hydro-power, the electricity on Kodiak Island is 100% renewable. The old diesel generators have been unused for five years. Outstanding photos from the ridge were taken and a call from my cell phone came in while there from our son back home.
Next we drove through town to Abercrombie State Park. At the park we marveled at the moss-covered tree branches and walked a short trail to see several fortifications from World War Two. In addition the views of the bay and waterfront were very pretty. We felt a bit rushed at the park and were rather surprised when the tour ended in town at 11:00. Somehow we thought the tour was supposed to be a little longer. In any case, we did enjoy the time to walk the town and explore the various shops. We even found polo shirts! After ninety minutes in town we caught the free town-provided shuttle back to the Statendam for a great lunch in the dining room.
A sail away party with the Halcats was held in the Crow’s nest. Regretfully we could not find seating. However, this presented an ideal opportunity to use the pool, which was now at bathtub temperature. We spent most of the afternoon at the pool before getting ready for dinner. Dinner service tonight was the slowest of the cruise this far. It appeared every seat was taken in the dining room and the staff was certainly stretched.
After dinner we attended the show Duncan Tuck. We did stay for the entire show as he is a very talented musician who reminded me a little of Glen Campbell. However we did not think his humor was very good. The show was followed by the movie, Furious 7, which we enjoyed.
Thursday, September 3 – Sunny Hubbard Glacier
This is a day of scenic cruising and was greatly enjoyed. We went to the dining room for breakfast at 8:00 after which we gave a walk-through of the deck sale. We then changed into swimwear and were in the pool literally the rest of the morning. We watched as the mountains became larger and larger. We had lunch in the lido and noticed we were approaching the bay and Hubbard Glacier.
We went up front on deck nine and took a few photos but realized we were still an hour or more from arrival. We found a great window front table in the lido pool area and settled in to watch the approach. We walked around a few times to take photos but until we were quite close we kept returning to the table. It was a very pretty day viewing the glacier. We could see all the mountains surrounding it and took many different photos. As we turned away from Hubbard DW asked me to get her a hot dog from the Dive-In. This is when I found out they had gluten-free hot dog rolls!
We became very busy and I didn’t update the log for a few days, so likely miss some details. As I recall, dinner the night of Hubbard was one of the weaker ones of the trip. I enjoyed the Alaskan Cod, but others at our table thought this meal was a bit lacking. We skipped the comedian Frank King and later found that he was well enjoyed. Our friends met him in the lido between shows and attended the later show and had a great time. We went to the movie “The woman in Gold” and highly recommend it. We stayed up for the Indonesian crew show as several of our wait staff were involved. The hand dance was a lot of fun, especially if you know a few of the performers!
Friday, September 4 – A great day in Sitka!
I was originally booked on a ship’s tour in Sitka, the “Volcano coast by ocean raft.” But after the experience in Juneau and a careful review of the ticket warnings, I canceled well in advance. Our friends did this tour and thought it was great, but confirmed it was very bumpy.
We woke to coffee and tea being delivered and had breakfast in the dining room. We had acquired tender ticket “E” with an estimated tender time of 8:40. This was exactly on target and we settled in for the long tender ride to the tender dock.
Upon arrival at the dock we found many tour opportunities but we knew what we wanted, the $5/pp shuttle bus to the Fortress of the Bear followed by the Alaska Raptor Center. The bus left promptly at 9:30 with about 14 on board, allowing everyone an entire school bus seat. We drove the few miles to the Fortress of the Bear and our driver pointed out some of details of what we drove past. Upon arrival at the Fortress we were underwhelmed by the outside appearance. Sometimes first impressions are not valid and this was one of those cases!
We were directed to a small building (a large shed, really) where we could pay our admission fees. From there we had a choice of climbing steps (my choice) or a long ramp (DW’s choice) to the viewing platform. Well, what a treat this was! The Fortress is situated in large (50 yard diameter?) concrete walled circles. This was originally a paper processing plant closed in the 1970’s. Inside each of the three enclosures they have created a natural environment for the bears including running streams with salmon, a pool, and lots of tree stumps, grassland and beach. The resulting photos truly appear to be taken in the wild as there are no fences and little artificial inside the enclosures.
The naturalist who told us all about the bears and the facility obviously loved his work. As there were a number of mosquitos in the area we were even provided with ‘Deep woods OFF’ to help keep them away.
After an hour or so that passed all too quickly we returned to the shuttle to the Alaska Raptor Center. There we viewed a short introductory film and were taken to see the enclosed facility for bird rehabilitation where they could begin flying again after recovery. Again, we were very impressed with this place. Outdoors are a number of Eagles and other raptors that due to their injuries are not able to be released into the wild. Again the facility is as natural as possible with the Indian creek cascading down the hillside right behind it this was very enjoyable to visit.
We did not take the shuttle back to town as we wanted more time at the center. As we were ready to leave with our gift shop purchases, the cashier told us that a group was coming in and a naturalist with an Eagle was going to give a stage presentation. We stayed for this bonus!
With another cruise critic member from the ship we walked back to the main road, through the Sitka National Historic Park, over Indian Creek and the many salmon, past many totem poles, along the waterfront and into downtown. The entire waterfront walk was delightful with many flowers and nicely manicured lawns. We perused several of the shops but other than the Raptor Center we did not make any purchases. As we were walking back to the tender landing we received a call from our son at home. All is well but it was great to hear from him!
There was a line for the return tender but we did make it on to the next one. In fact, only a few people behind us made it so we were seated right in the ‘exit row’ and were one of the first off when back at the Statendam. We took the elevator straight to the Lido and had a light lunch. After lunch we enjoyed the pool before getting ready for dinner. We had time to enjoy the Ocean Bar at the end of Happy Hour for a few smoothies.
The show tonight was fantastic. Paul Pappas is the most entertaining Pianist I have heard. After the show we listened to the Neptunes for a short time before calling it a night.
Saturday, September 5 – Sea day heading south
What a relaxing and enjoyable sea day! A dining room breakfast began the day and we got ready for pool time. There was a sale on the lido deck (no surprise there) but we actually bought a few items. We were invited to a “Mariner’s reception” where we received our copper 100 day Medallions. This is a very nice touch and we were given a photo of the two of us with the captain and hotel manager presenting the medallions. I was surprised by the number of people who did not attend (at least half!) We went straight from the reception to the Mariner’s lunch which has improved menu choices since our last experience.
After lunch, we enjoyed the still warm (but much cooler) pool and hot tubs. Poolside music was provided by the piano man (on guitar) from 1 to 2. We were still very tired from the previous two days so a Saturday afternoon nap was welcome!
This was the last formal night and our dining room team of Hari and Nada treated us right. I asked for double “Surf” on the surf and turf dinner and was not disappointed. When I was finished, Hari brought me two additional lobster tails. Wow! The Lobster was very good too, not soft or chewy. This was also my birthday and many of the waiters came over to sing the celebration song and also brought a small cake.
We stopped in to the show and quickly realized we had seen “The Stardust lounge” before and also we didn’t really enjoy it. We headed up to the Crow’s nest for Movie Sound Bite trivia. We got 13 out of 25 and the winning team got 17. At the same time, I was loading photos onto my computer and making copies for our friends. We stayed in the crow’s nest for a “Pre-party” and then for the 10:00 “Captain’s champagne ball.” By 10:30 or so we called it a night. While the crow’s nest on Statendam is a nice and mostly wide-open area, it is not well suited to a ball such as this and it quickly becomes quite warm with so many people there.
Sunday, Sept. 6 – Sunny Victoria, BC, Canada
Sunday began as a sea day as our arrival was scheduled for 1:00 PM. A nice dining room breakfast was enjoyed followed by a “Final clearance” deck sale (same items, nothing bought). We used some of the morning hours to do most of our packing. One suitcase was filled with nicely folded clothes direct from the laundry service. The captain announced that the Statendam answered a late-night distress call and rescued a lone fisherman. Due to this, we would be about an hour delayed getting into Victoria.
We had a really super lunch in the lido – the Alaskan lemon cod was superb. And we found out (the last day of the cruise) that they were happy to specially cook some of the cod without the bread crumbs for those who need a gluten-free meal. DW really appreciated that!
We finally docked and were off to explore Victoria. The ship offered a shuttle service into downtown for $10/pp. We found that the taxi rate was $10 per taxi, so the four of us took a taxi to the Empress hotel. We walked around and went into the Empress as well. The clouds were gone and it was a very pretty sunny day. We found that there was an antique boat show at the marina (no charge) and enjoyed looking at the old wooden boats.
We wondered the town and visited many of the souvenir shops. They all had mostly the same things, and the ones that had anything “Authentic” were very costly. We found a 7-11 and enjoyed a latte and big gulp before heading back to the ship at about 5:00.
For the last night on board, we had reservations at the Pinnacle Grille. We had a fantastic meal and find this is a super way to wrap up the cruise. We went up for the final party at the crow’s nest and stayed until about 10:00. Then it was back to the cabin, get the luggage out for transfer to the pier, and we called it a night.
Monday, September 7 – Disembarkation and home!
We set the alarm for 6:45 and were heading to the lido for breakfast just after 7:00. We sat with our friends for a few minutes until it was announced that self-disembarkation was open when they left to head out to tour Seattle. We had “Red 1” at 8:15 so we enjoyed our breakfast and a second cup of coffee/tea. At about 8:10 with our carry-off we headed to the gangway. Many ship’s crew were lined up to bid us farewell, a very nice touch.
Seattle Shuttle picked us up promptly and it was just the two of us in their van to the airport. Our US Air (American) flight back to Philadelphia left a little late yet arrived early. We touched down at 7:30 and were home in 9:20 PM.
All in all, we really enjoyed the Statendam. In some ways, we are sorry to see her leaving the HAL fleet. There is something about these smaller ships that is just appealing. The food was consistently good to excellent, with a few superbs. I think this is an area that sets HAL apart from some other lines.
We had occasional noise in our stateroom (784), which was apparently right above an elevator to the engine room. A few days into the cruise we were offered an option to move but did not want to leave our traveling friends (next door) and just wanted to avoid the hassle of moving. Our friends had the same noise (786). Our stateroom attendants were great. All laundry (we buy the package) returned within a day and always with a smile!
I have to say that the “Showroom at sea” is the worst-designed showroom we’ve ever experienced on a ship. Sightlines are poor and the majority of balcony seats cannot see the entire stage. If we really wanted to see a show, you needed to arrive very early (40 minutes) to get a decent seat. This is very different from our typical HAL experience of walking in as the lights dim.
In some of the public spaces the furniture was certainly more than due for refreshing. As an example, after 2 ½ hours in the Pinnacle Grille, one could feel the wooden frame of the chairs beneath the cushions. At the same time, normal ship maintenance was ongoing and we witnessed varnishing and polishing constantly being done.
While the quality can be debated, Statendam still had both the Halcats (show band) and the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar. Entertainment options are much better with both. I understand the Halcats & Neptunes have been mostly phased out in the fleet with just “The band,” but this of course limits options during main show times.
Except for the last sea day, the captain (Vincent Smit) was not to be seen. We did see him several times on that last sea day.
On our May cruise on Zuiderdam the tea (Fields & Selects) was horrible. Statendam had Bigelow which is a very good premium tea. As a tea drinker, I really appreciated that.
When the main pool was refilled after being emptied during the very rough (first) crossing of the bay of Alaska, it was really warm – bathtub warm. That was unexpected and delightful! It certainly cooled off over the next few days, but the pool remained very usable despite cool Alaskan temperatures outdoors.
In conclusion, we had a really nice cruise. This 14 day Alaska adventure was, for us, just the right mix of busyness and relaxation. Good food, good to great service, and an attractive price made for a winning combination. In conclusion, I rate this cruise as 4 out of 5 stars for the third to final cruise of the Statendam. Read Less
The crew was mostly exceptional other than I ordered two omelets (one for wife and one for myself) and cook prepared mine and then went to another passenger seemingly forgetting the wife's omelet. By the time i had hers prepared (he ... Read More
The crew was mostly exceptional other than I ordered two omelets (one for wife and one for myself) and cook prepared mine and then went to another passenger seemingly forgetting the wife's omelet. By the time i had hers prepared (he forgot it a second time) mine was cold so I guess it went to the fish-I went back for scrambled eggs. They seem to be in a hurry being the LIDO food line in that they quickly put your order on your plate and it sometimes hangs over the edge of the plate. The Room Steward was slow but did keep the room clean with his buddy assisting him.
Food: Both in the Main Dining Room and LIDO was basically lousy and one passenger said it was horrible! Braised Ox Tail? Who in the world has that during the week? Sometime during Formal Nights one could see people coming to the LIDO to eat rather than the Rotterdam (MDR), that reflects that the food in the MDR was not suitable. The waiters int he MDR were working their tails off literally running to the kitchen to obtain the food. The guy the was doing the running returned with perspiration flowing-he could wipe it off with a towel. But back to the food-it appeared as if they were using leftovers in the LIDO, greasy and in the vernacular it looked like something a farmer would feed his hogs. The condiments at the Hamburger place by the pool were usually at the bottom or near empty as if a strong wind hit the area. Dried out, lack of eye appeal so needless to say we didn't eat there.
One particular day we went into Anchorage and returned hoping to obtain some food since we were hungry and the food in the LIDO was dried up and didn't look appealing so we did without as we did on a few other meals opting for desert which looked far better than it tasted.
In Summarization, I wasted over $3500 on a vacation and the only redeeming value and the reason for this cruise was Sitka and Kodiak but the stay in Kodiak was only a few hours. I think IF we ever cruise again we'll stay with Celebrity. It's one of the last few good cruise lines. The amount of money spent on this cruise would have gone further if we had flown to Europe and enjoyed the culture there. Read Less
14 day Round Trip from Seattle
Holland America Line
27 July to 10 August 2015
Introduction: In picking a cruise, itinerary is paramount. A good cruise line and ship are a close second. This cruise ... Read More
14 day Round Trip from Seattle
Holland America Line
27 July to 10 August 2015
Introduction: In picking a cruise, itinerary is paramount. A good cruise line and ship are a close second. This cruise was in celebration of our 50th Wedding Anniversary, 31 Jul and my birthday, 73rd on 8 Aug. We had a choice: do something radically different or go back to Alaska, our favorite cruise destination for the sixth time. We chose this specific itinerary because it included Kodiak. This was our second go around for this itinerary which is exclusive to HAL. It rained in Kodiak the first time we visited and we wanted to see the town when the sun was shining. In was raining in Kodiak this time too. We probably will not do this itinerary again. It did include Homer and Sitka which are our favorite ports. We chose the dates to correspond with our anniversary and to see the salmon run and maybe more wildlife than our normal time of May-June.
The Ship: The Statendam is in its last season as a HAL ship. It has been sold to P&O Cruise Line so I will not say much about the specifics of the ship. Our cabin was located on deck 5 (main deck) just aft of mid ship. It was a good location for us. Long walks were held to a minimum.
HAL: Unlimited laundry service for a set fee is exclusive to HAL among the mass market cruise lines. My wife loves it because she does not have to wash clothes during the cruise and we do not have to pack as many clothes. We had one problem with the laundry, it pressed a second crease in my dress slacks.
The soda card on HAL is a straight discounted debit card. You pay $25 for a $50 debit card. With the card you get discounted sodas from the bar for yourself or anyone else for whom you wish to buy. There are no ethical conflicts in using this card. It usually works well, but I had my first problem with the card on this cruise. I ordered a coke in the dining room one evening. I gave the waiter my soda card. He came back and asked for my room card as well. He ran both cards so I paid twice for one coke. It took two trips to the front desk to get the coke deleted from my ship account. The only drawback to the soda card is that it does not run out even. Sodas are $1.73 each with the tip. The card ends with $1.43 left on the card. HAL should have a policy where you can get the last drink for the balance left on the card.
The Crew: The crew people we dealt with were a happy lot, but they seemed overworked. We had anytime dining for the cruise and one night at a table for eight, we only had one waiter. We were not his only table so service was slow.
Hotel staff: Our travel agent comped us for the surcharge at the Pinnacle Grill, but the ship staff never notified us of this gift so we missed out. The money paid to the ship was refunded to our credit card at the end of the cruise.
Entertainers: The entertainers were the best we have seen on any cruise ship. The show singers were all excellent with big good voices capable of singing anything asked of them. The music was well suited to older passengers. That said, the last show featured Las Vegas show standards and was of no interest to us. The hit of the cruise for us was Diane Fast at the piano bar. She was good. She was funny. She sang us a port song in honor of each port we visited. She sang stuff that came out of her own funny head and she sang requests. Judy and I are not piano bar people. We usually ignore the piano bar, but Diane hooked us the first night of the cruise. As we were walking by, she was singing a Tom Lear song-the one about the Irish maid who killed her family. We stopped to listen. We stayed and we came back every night but one. She inspired me to write my own lyrics for a Homer port song, and she pulled me into her open mike night to sing a medley I put together. I had sung it in my head dozens of times but never out loud until this cruise. It was a hit. By popular consensus, this nameless medley is now known as Ode to Dixie. Simply said, if given a choice of two similar cruises and Diane is the piano bar feature on one, we will go with Diane. She inspires loyalty. Off stage, she seems rather shy.
Embarkation: We got on the transfer bus at 9:40 at SeaTac airport. We got to the port at 11:11. We were on board by 11:30. Things went smoothly in the boarding process and cabins were ready when we boarded. We did not have to worry about carryon bags while we were eating. The Lido was ready for us. There was no problem in finding a table or getting our food. The dining room was closed.
Our lunch was good. We had a wide selection. The wait staff was attentive. After lunch we went back to our cabin #640 to retrieve our cameras and went topside to take some pictures. Packing our cameras and gear is down to a science, but the problems loom a little bit bigger for every cruise. For this cruise, Judy had her camera and two lenses. I had one camera, four lenses and a monopod. We also had a small laptop for viewing pictures and backup storage of image files.
The “real” cruise started with the lifeboat drill at 4:30. It was relatively painless. It was a little longer than it needed to be. Some passengers had to be located wherever they were hiding and escorted to their lifeboat station. The rule is simple: be at your boat station for the drill or you will be escorted off the ship at the first opportunity. Sail away followed close behind. We met a few Cruise Critic friends at the sail away. We got some good pictures of Vancouver Island and amazing cloudscapes. The wind chill at cruising speed was a factor, but we came well equipped for “dressing in layers” so it was no problem for us.
We each took our first showers before dressing for dinner in the dining room. We had a tub in our bathroom. Grab bars were well placed for getting into and out of the shower. It was a blessing to not have to worry about water all over the floor of the bathroom, but tall people would have a problem with this shower. From tub floor to ceiling was about 6’7”. We saw a lot of guys taller than that roaming the ship.
Dinner in the dining room was a pleasant affair with some good food. Judy had the “always available” roast prime rib. She said it was good. I had shrimp and grits. It was the first time I have ever had okra in shrimp and grits. It was thick, tough and slimy. I picked it out and put it aside. The rest was good. Overall, the dining room menu ran to the exotic with an emphasis on raw protein. I would have preferred a menu a little less exotic, but I found something each night that was acceptable. As to taste and texture, it was acceptable to good, but nothing struck me as something to rave about or even to order again.
After dinner, we took pictures of a beautiful sunset and went to the first production show. The singers showed off their big voices with no flat or pinched off notes. After the show we met Diane. By the third night we had our regular seats.
Rise and shine at 6:30AM. We had a snack in the Lido and breakfast in the dining room. I recommend the Denver omelet. We made it on time to the Cruise Critic meet and greet at 10:00. The conversation was lively, but overall we had less contact with the Cruise Critic people than we had on some previous cruises.
We had lunch in the dining room. The artichoke dip and the onion soup were very good. Service was quick. I played duplicate bridge all afternoon. The play was at a fairly high level but everyone was nice to each other. No one was out for blood. The players were about evenly divided between pick-up partners and husband and wife pairs. The pairs well known to each other had a significant advantage over the pick-up pairs on the first day. By the end of the cruise, this advantage was not so pronounced.
Judy played trivia with a pick up team. That first day, before she joined the team, the team got four points out of 17. Things got better as days went by.
We got our first laundry back before dinner and I got my shined shoes back. This is a nice feature on HAL. Leave your shoes in the basket before bed turn-down at night and get them back shined before dinner. My dress shoes looked good for formal night. These shoes are 20 years old. I wear them to church, weddings and funerals during the year. They get polished about once a year. So to get them done on a HAL ship is good.
Formal night got us a little extra quality in the dining room. Pineapple Boat, Arugula Salad, and chocolate soufflé were all good.
After dinner we went to the show and finished the evening with Diane.
Breakfast in the Lido was pretty good. We wanted to get a little earlier start than we would by waiting for breakfast in the dining room.
The town was much the same as ever except there were no eagles in town. This proved to be a trend for the trip. All of our other cruises to Alaska were in May and June. On these trips eagles were everywhere. Now in the summer, eagles were a rare sight. I think we saw four on the whole trip.
Our preliminary plan was to check Creek Street to see if the salmon were running, and they were. For once we could go by plan A. We took lots of pictures of the creek and the fish. We were surprised to find Harbor Seals in the creek feeding on the salmon. For the first time, we climbed the Married Man’s Trail taking pictures as we went. The creek got prettier the further upstream we went. We spent a lot of time on the creek. Once we had enough of pictures and dead salmon, we headed toward Annabelle’s in the old hotel on Front Street. On previous visits we found it to be a nice place to have a delicious and quiet lunch. Before lunch, we made one stop at the local book store. We had to search to make sure we had the right store. On our last trip, we found it in an out of the way location. Inside there were few customers. I bought a book just to help keep the store open. This time the place was in a prime location on the busiest block on Creek Street.
When we got to Annabelle’s the line was out on the sidewalk. We considered not waiting, but the couple in front of us invited us to share a table with them. This act of hospitality helped us to get a seat quickly. Except for the lively and pleasant conversation with our new best friends, the experience was a disappointment. I came, primarily for the crab cakes. These have been, on past visits, genuine Dungeness crab cakes. On this trip, they were described as Pacific blend crab cakes. They were not as good. The first cakes were burned. They brought another serving which was edible, but not the “meal of a lifetime” quality that I remembered from past visits. We finished the day with a little shopping and went back to the ship. We were back on board by 3:00PM. Resting and napping filled the time before dinner.
Dinner was the best meal of the trip. Judy had veal tenderloins. I had salmon. Mine was very good. Judy said her dinner was the best meal she had ever had. Conversation was lively and pleasant which proved to be the norm for the cruise.
We went to the theater after dinner to see Don Horn, the ventriloquist. He was good. We did not linger in the theater. We left immediately for the piano bar.
Breakfast in the Lido as usual on any day with activity planned. After breakfast we dressed for on deck viewing of Tracy Arm and the glacier. We have two things to consider. The ship’s movement creates a significant wind chill factor and close proximity to the glacier equals pure cold. I’m sensitive to cold. It has an adverse effect on my chronic pain so I dress carefully. Tee-shirt, thermal long sleeve wool undershirt, heavy flannel shirt, light jacket and Gore-Tex hooded shell for the top half and thermal long-johns and lightweight pants for the bottom half do the job. I was not cold at all on deck. The Gore-Tex shell does nothing for insulation, but it stops the wind penetration.
Tracy Arm is the most beautiful place I have seen on this earth. Glacier Bay is bigger and has more glaciers, but foot for foot Tracy has it beat. We have not been to Misty Fjords so I cannot speak for it. Maybe on our next Alaska Cruise we will take a Misty Excursion. Sawyer glacier is the smallest of the tidewater glaciers which we have viewed directly from the cruise ship. It is easily the most beautiful. We tried on two earlier cruises to get to the glacier, but the captains would not risk the ships in the early season ice. This experience justified the peak season cruise. The overcast brought out the blue color in the glacier. Judy and I spent the whole time on deck to see this beauty and when the ship left, we hurried aft to watch it fade away.
We had lunch in the dining room. We ordered from the express menu. Service was quick and we had plenty of time to get to duplicate bridge for me and trivia for Judy.
The rest of this wonderful day is a blur. Even my day-book notes say nothing about the evening. I do remember giving Diane a heads up that the next day was our 50th Wedding Anniversary. She asked if we had a song. I said Edelweiss.
Our original plan for Juneau was to rent a car and do things on our own. The itinerary change which eliminated our Icy Strait whale watching sparked a change of plans. Conventional wisdom is that peak season whale watching is more spectacular than springtime watching. So we wanted to see whales this trip. We repeated an excursion from an earlier cruise and booked the Juneau Photo excursion through the ship. This jaunt combines a close up view of Mendenhall glacier with whale watching.
The tour was fun. We went whale watching first with one preliminary stop to see fireweed with a small glacier in the background. It was a beautiful photo op. Next we set out to find some whales. The boat is a beauty. It was designed for photography. Everyone on the tour had a prime seat. The only problem was that the whales were not co-operating. We saw some humps and some flukes but not much else.
Be the time we got to Mendenhall a light rain had set in. We went on our photo walk anyway. We had a good time. The tour company provided large micro clothes to dry off our camera equipment as needed. I decided this year to bring my monopod along in lieu of a tripod. It was helpful on the walk. It was easy to carry hooked to my belt, helped to stabilize the camera when needed and when the trail got steep, I used it as a walking stick. We also got some homemade snacks.
We got back to the ship in time for lunch. It was still raining. After lunch, we walked about the waterfront looking into whatever seemed interesting.
Dinner in the dining room included good conversation at our table for six, good food but nothing to rave about and an anniversary cake. The waiters gathered to sing the Indonesian song they always sing. It was fun. Our table mates helped us eat the cake.
The highlight of the day came at the piano. Diane led everyone in singing Edelweiss which is our song. I saw Judy playing in the snow 54 years ago and knew she was the one. Diane asked us if we had any advice for marriage. I said, “If you find yourselves not liking each other as much as you once did, stop and regroup. Work on liking each other again. Without like love soon dies.”
This was supposed to be our bonus day, our upgrade itinerary day from Icy Strait to Glacier Bay. It did not happen. There was a suspicious sheen in the wake of the ship. We could not go into the bay. We spent the day at sea while the captain and HAL worked out the details of having divers examine the ship. HAL sent us to Seward. So now we lost a port day and had another itinerary change from Anchorage to Seward. No-one was happy about this, but we accepted it with minimal fuss, especially when the captain announced that every passenger would receive a $250.00 shipboard credit. He also announced that the excursion desk would be open to arrange excursions from Seward. We opted to book a six hour boat tour of the Kenai Peninsula.
Just before dinner, the captain announced that everyone could get a free drink from any bar on the ship, and we would get a free glass of wine at dinner.
Dinner was exceptional this night. It was a happy circumstance considering the ups and downs of the day. The peach soup and the cheese soup were both good. Getting the drink was interesting. At first, the free drink was limited to a short list of alcoholic drinks. After lots of phone calls between bartenders and others, it was changed to “if you serve it they can have it.” This made everyone a lot happier. Judy said, if she had known that, she would have ordered a virgin margarita instead of ginger ale. I stuck with coke.
Later in the day the Captain announced that the divers found nothing wrong with the ship. We will resume our scheduled itinerary tomorrow.
We started late. We slept late working off all of yesterday’s excitement. We ate breakfast if the dining room. I had the made to order omelet. It was very good, better than what I had been getting in the Lido.
I went to the bridge lesson in the morning and played duplicate in the afternoon. Judy did her thing which included computer lessons. These were surprisingly good. We finished the afternoon with trivia.
The show was good that night. The singers were in control of the music. Vibratos were noticeable but not offensive.
This day was beautiful. Blue skies and white clouds. We took the boat tour. We took the six hour tour, because we know what happens on three hour tours. The six hour tour also has more leeway to do some unexpected things. We saw the beauty of the water, the shore, the glaciers (one up close) and the wild life. We took pictures of sea otters, orcas, humpback whales, Steller Sea Lions, horned and crested puffins, murres, gulls etc. Lunch, included in the price, offered a chicken salad wrap, chips and cookies. The captain and the crew were knowledgeable and helpful. It was a fun day.
At the end of the tour, we went back to the ship to shed excess clothing and pounds of camera gear and then went to town. We rode the free shuttle. The driver/guide was funny and full of local facts including the best place to get pizza. Judy and I love pizza and we have good pizza here in Virginia. Cicero’s in Seward not only serves pizza as good as we get here at home, it serves a bigger pie (12” vs 10”) at a lower price. We were truly satisfied with the quantity and the quality of our dinner. We went back to the ship after dinner and were in bed by 9:30. It was a very good day.
Homer Port Song
Give my regards to Homer
Remember me to that old spit
Tell all the gang at city hall
That I have had a ball
Sailing the bay with all those whales
Really made my day
Give my regards to Homer Town
And tell her I’ll be back some day.
Diane entertained us each night with songs about each port. As we sailed in search of the Best of the Bay, these words came to me as my take on Homer. Homer is set in a beautiful location with a spit of land on the waterfront which provides space for all the tourists and shops for campers and cruise passengers to buy much of what they want and some of what they need without straining the town proper. The spit also has several restaurants specializing in fresh seafood. Judy and I like good fish and chips made with halibut. We found some here after our tour for only $48 for two servings. It was very good, but I am not sure it was $48. When the price board says market price be prepared to pay. Still I would do it again on our 75th anniversary if we find ourselves alive and in Alaska.
The tour started with a surprise. The gangway to the boat has a free floating end that rises and falls with the tide. At low tide, as it was for us, it is very steep. Access to the boat is challenging but not impossible for the mobility impaired. The boat is fairly small with roomy seating for all. The crew is knowledgeable and worked with us to try to fill our wants for the ride. The bird expert asked me what I wanted most from this ride. I told her I wanted good pictures of puffins. If I could get one I would be happy. If I could get pictures of both crested and horned puffins I would be extremely happy. I got both along with common murres, pelagic cormorants, eagles (we saw two), harlequin ducks, oyster catchers, Pidgeon guillimotsl and black legged kittiwakes.
This was our second trip to Kodiak. I rained both times hard enough to discourage tourists. We did not get off the ship and did not go out on deck except for a brief time to get a few “I was here” shots. We played bridge most of the morning.
Hubbard Glacier did not disappoint us. It is still big and still awesome. Being near that much ice, seven miles wide and towering over cruise ships at its face, it exudes cold. Dress in layers. The day was overcast. The ice had a blue tint. An artist known for her mastery of color was asked to describe the blueness of glaciers and icebergs. She thought about it for a few minutes and answered, “Windex Blue.” That’s what it is. There was some calving from the face of the glaciers, but we could hear constant booming from back of the face. Hubbard is truly a river of ice. From the deck, we could see the two glaciers which came together to form one big glacier just before meeting the sea. Further back we could see other glaciers which either join Hubbard or, as hanging glaciers, dump ice onto Hubbard. The booming we heard may have been calving from hanging glaciers.
More trivia was the highlight of the afternoon. Our team was dead last after the first session. There were at least a dozen teams competing during the week. Our team rose in the standings day by day.
What could be better than to be in beautiful Sitka on a beautiful day? This is my favorite port in Alaska. In the spring, there are eagles on every tall post and mast in the harbor. On this day there were none.
We had a free excursion courtesy of our travel agency. The tour packed every seat on two large buses to tour the best of Sitka. Unfortunately the tour was on a tight schedule. Drive to a place, hurry off the bus, see the featured sight, and rush back to the bus, repeat and repeat. We saw salmon in the creek at the national park, we saw eagles, hawks and owls etc. at the raptor center and bears at the Fortress of the Bear. The raptor and bear centers are rescue/rehab places with a secondary mission of education of human beings about the wonders of nature. Both places do good work, but the bear place pens the bears into a junkyard and the raptors look like caged birds. We did not have time to get much of an idea of what we were looking at, but I can recognize a caged neurotic bear when I see one and these bears exhibited classic captivity neurosis. Unfortunately, bears cannot be release back into the wild. The best hope for these bears is that they be sent to a zoo with a breeding program. They will still be captives, but at least, they could see beyond the fence. In this place they can only look up to see humans looking down.
The excursion was free, at least to us, and it was not worth what we paid for it. If we ever again have the choice between a “free tour” and a $10 per person all day hop on hop off bus ticket, I will spend the $10. For this I can see the National Park for free, walk the totem pole trail and see the salmon. Then I can get back on the bus and ride to the Bishop’s house. The tour hear is covered by my Golden Age pass to all national parks. Then I could ride to the center of town and tour the Russian Orthodox Church (which we did anyway). The church is unlike any other I have ever entered. The artwork is interesting. The church burned to the ground years ago, but the people of the town rescued the art and the historic furniture (like the bishop’s seat). The whole town participated in the rescue which makes the currant church even more precious. Since the church is on the national list of historic places, the measurements and specs complete with pictures are in the national archives. This made an accurate reconstruction a relatively simple task. Photo tip: the best location for taking a picture of the cathedral requires some advance planning. Make sure your wide angle lens is on your camera. From the side closest to the tender dock, cross the street at the marked crosswalk prepared to stop for a literal second when you reach the center line of the street. Take your picture. Wave a thank you to the nice locals who stopped for you and move quickly across the street.
Unfortunately Mt. Edgecombe was being shy and hiding behind a veil of cloud so we did not get a chance to get a clear picture of Sitka’s most famous natural land mark.
The rest of the day is a blur. My day book has no entry for the day.
Trivia and bridge were the main activities of the day. Our trivia team finished fourth overall. Not bad. On one round, we got 16 out of a possible 17 points.
I got birthday cake and the song at dinner. I never thought I would reach 73, but I have.
On our last stop here we took the Burchart’s Garden and Butterfly Center excursion. At the end of the tour we were too worn out to spend any time walking around the waterfront area looking at the things for sale watching the people entertaining the people. This time, we decided to stay on the waterfront. This was probably not the best way to spend our time in Victoria. Relatively speaking, it was hot as the hinges of hades (compared to Alaska), and we wilted quickly. It was a long enjoyable cruise, but at the end we were feeling every joint in our old bodies. The next time we are in Victoria, we will go directly to the Gardens and spend all of our available time there.
We started our trip with four goals:
Have a good time-We did
See Salmon run-we did
Get some good whale pics-we did sort of. We did not get the pictures of which we dreamed, but we got good pictures of what we saw.
See Sawyer Glacier-we did and it was good.
Southwest Airline has mort seat space for its cheapest seats than any other airline. That makes it a good choice for us. That being said we do have some problems with Southwest.
We have tried on two separate occasions to sign up for direct through luggage service. HAL say it is available for Southwest. We were rejected both times. This time we asked the ship’s people why this happened. They did not know. They just know that it happens occasionally. This time when we got to the airport (SEATAC), we asked the Southwest agents. The agents said it was a computer glitch. Those people who have any kind of a senior ticket will be rejected. This makes no sense. If there is any class of traveler who needs the opportunity to put their suitcases in the hall on the last night of the cruise and not have to worry about their luggage until they get off the plane at their final destination, it is senior citizens. The most onerous part of the trip was running around the airports towing three suitcases and two camera bags.
The second problem we had with southwest was in getting our boarding passes. On the return flight, we stood in a long line, towing our bags until we got to a ticket agent. This was before going through security. The people in front of us did not have a flight code. The agent took care of them and gave them a real boarding pass. The agent asked us if we had our flight code. She said yes. Then the agent ignored us until Judy spoke up again. The agent got us started on the machine. She asked us if the machine had printed our boarding passes. Judy said yes. The agent took our bags, stapled our baggage claim checks to the envelope, put our boarding passes into the envelopes and said, “You are all set.” When we got in line to board the plane and got to the gate keeper, he looked at the boarding passes and said, “These are not boarding passes.” You have to see the ticket agent at the gate to exchange these for boarding passes. To say that we were incensed would be an understatement, but we had no choice but to comply. Our $25 to get us into an early slot in the seat line was wasted. Lesson learned: Read everything at the earliest opportunity. The plane was on a weather delay so we had plenty of time to get this done. Read Less
Although there were a few glitches in this trip, (smoke in an elevator right after embarkment and an oil sheen on the water that prevented us from cruising Glacier National Park) all in all, the staff and the care we received was ... Read More
Although there were a few glitches in this trip, (smoke in an elevator right after embarkment and an oil sheen on the water that prevented us from cruising Glacier National Park) all in all, the staff and the care we received was excellent.
To compensate for the change in plans (we went to Seward for ship inspection instead of Anchorage) each passenger was given $250 in shipboard money. My mother and I used part of it to take a bus trip to Anchorage since I was meeting a longtime friend there. The road between Seward and Anchorage was spectacular. (A moose and mountain sheep were spotted and the driver hilarious)
The room we had was ample (we were in the cheap 'rowing section'), and the care perfect. We couldn't have asked for more.
Thank you again, Holland America Cruise Lines for making this a memorable trip. Read Less
Holland America is the only cruise line that offers this 14 day experience. It visits small ports such as Homer, Kodiak and Icy Strait Point. These three ports offer what the real Alaska is like. There are no chain jewelry stores There are ... Read More
Holland America is the only cruise line that offers this 14 day experience. It visits small ports such as Homer, Kodiak and Icy Strait Point. These three ports offer what the real Alaska is like. There are no chain jewelry stores There are local folks selling their crafts and local fishermen. You can walk trails through the forest at Icy Straight and the shore at Homer. The restaurants sell fish caught that morning.
The MS Statendam is still a lovely lady. Even though she is being transferred to P&O lines, also owned by Carnival, she is in good shape. The crew has done a great job of keeping her maintained.
The service is what we expect from HAL. It far exceeds the service by other cruise lines. Embarkation and disembarkation were handled extremely well.
HAL needs to work on the speed of food delivery at the Dive-In grill. It is extremely slow. We ate there twice. The second time was slower than the first. The food does not warrant the wait.
The only coffee available for early risers, before 6am is at the Lido buffet. I hesitate to call it coffee. I struggled to wait until the Explorations lounge opened at 7am. Maybe it is part of their marketing strategy to encourage the purchase of better coffee. Read Less
The Statendam is incredibly well maintained and the crew is constantly working on it. While it has been 5 years since its last dry dock update, you would never know by walking around the ship. The crew is skilled, proud and enthusiastic ... Read More
The Statendam is incredibly well maintained and the crew is constantly working on it. While it has been 5 years since its last dry dock update, you would never know by walking around the ship. The crew is skilled, proud and enthusiastic about their work in taking care of passengers. No member of the crew disappointed us. Unlike most passengers, we took a 10 day land tour through Alaska Railroad prior to sailing - visiting Anchorage, Seward, Kenai , Resurrection Bay/Fox Island, Denali National Park. So we had seen lots of natural beauty and wildlife pre-cruise. The night before the cruise, we stayed in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Downtown Seattle, which allowed us to visit the Seattle Space Needle pre-cruise. The HAL transfer from the hotel to Pier 91 was convenient and went smoothly. Our luggage went directly to our cabin, sparing us the hassle.
A week before the departure, we were offered an upgrade from our balcony cabin on deck 9 (130) to a Neptune Suite which doubled the size of our stateroom and balcony and afforded us many extra services, including the use of the Neptune Lounge , breakfast at the Pinnacle Grill every morning a, free laundry/dry cleaning every day, priority embarkation, tendering and disembarkation. If you get the chance to buy this upgrade, take it. The service is phenomenal.
Fellow Passengers: varies with each cruise but on our sailing over 900 of the 1250+ passengers were repeat customers (Mariners) with many in their 80's and many in wheelchairs, scooters or on oxygen. Most were in good spirits but many seemed to resent the presence of children aboard "their" ship. I suspect that our sailing was "older" than most and certainly older than two prior sailings on HAL. Be patient and considerate and you will enjoy yourself. I am 63, my wife is 48 and our son is 12.
Necessities: pack whatever you need because the shops onboard do not sell basic toiletry articles or hygiene products. Some ports offer shopping but you did not book this cruise to shop.
Shore Excursions: The port advisor (Wallis) offered many good suggestions in her presentations about the ports. If you miss them in person, watch them on television later. Sophie, Lammy and the other shore excursion staff were very helpful in selecting excursions for my family. We also purchased independent shore excursions from www.memorymakersinak.org for Kodiak as well as www.ToursByLocals.com for Victoria (Darwin is a great tour guide and driver who knows Victoria, its sights and Butchart Gardens very well).
Movies: each day in the Wajang Theater, current movies are shown multiple times. If you miss it, they are repeated the next day on the television in your cabin. In addition, ShipFlicks offers 1,000 movies on DVD that you can watch on the DVD player in your cabin. Plenty to choose from.
Spa: my wife enjoyed three massages in the spa during the cruise. She is recovering from a neck injury and greatly benefitted from these massages. The staff cares and works with each person to address individual needs. Fitness Center: plenty of equipment to deal with most needs. Rarely crowded but never empty. Open 24 hours a day.
Main Dining Room: The Rotterdam Dining Room offers a wide variety of food at lunch and dinner. Our waiters - Yussef and Aries at table 304 were excellent. They both are parents and made origami figures for our son each night. Even a few magic tricks were taught by them. Simply stated, they cared about all of their guests and showed it. They knew the menu well and made good suggestions for both starters and entrees each evening. As a diabetic, I had some dietary needs and the menu made good selections possible. Each night they offer salmon, steak and baked chicken. Another 10 entrees cary each day but there are always good options available, including seafood and shellfish. Lamb entrees were especially good. The surf and turf on the third formal night was a big hit as my wife and son love lobster tails. They also offer No Sugar Added desserts and fresh fruit daily. Lunch in the Rotterdam is limited to 12 noon - 1 pm most days.
Lido Buffet: not our favorite place to eat. The food is slightly better than cafeteria food. We found the Asian and Italian sections to be most reliable. The sandwiches and salad selections are also decent. The Late Night Snacks (10:30-11:30 pm each night) are subpar and not worth the trip upstairs. Better to order room service from a broad menu available 24 hours a day without charge.
Dive In: this burger, hotdog and Mexican food option on the Lido Deck is open 11:30 am- 5:00 pm daily. It is far better than Lido despite a limited menu.
Pinnacle Grill: we had breakfast there each morning but it is limited to Neptune Suite guests only. It is available to all at lunch for a $10 upcharge and for dinner for a $29 upcharge except on Le Cirque nights when it is a $49 upcharge. Both breakfast and dinner were excellent.The entire staff (lina, Joko and the maitre d') are highly professional.The steaks are of the highest quality as are the sauces and vegetables.
Entertainment: The shows varied in quality and appeal - but that is why they offer a different show and talent each night. The first night show called Listen to the Night is a nice variety show that we had enjoyed aboard the Ryndam in December. Bob Mackie's Broadway was also a repeat. but worth seeing if new to you.We did not see the Don McEnery Show. Tricia Kelly is a talented vocalist and comedy impressionist - do not miss her show. most impressions are a hit. The Frankie Valli Street Singin Show was fun if you like that music. Benji Hill is a comedian who first appeared on the Statendam some 22 years ago but his act is current and funny. Duncan Tuck is a country singer who did not appeal to us. Ryan Ahern is a talented pianist who has performed in las Vegas for 15+ years. Talented beyond description.
Ports: pick your own favorites. The Tracy Arm and Hubbard Glacier cruise by days were nice but not as good as visiting the glaciers on excursions. Magic can happen any day- our son got to hold a two week old husky puppy at an Iditarod training facility - the picture we took captured the pure innocence of youth in awe of nature. Expect to see whales, Dall porpoises, harbor seals, sea lions, puffins, eagles , Dall sheep and much more. Read Less
I am an avid reader of Cruise Critic, and although we have taken ten cruises, I learn something new almost every time I log onto this site. Even though with ten Holland America cruises, I rarely give an opinion as there are so many of you ... Read More
I am an avid reader of Cruise Critic, and although we have taken ten cruises, I learn something new almost every time I log onto this site. Even though with ten Holland America cruises, I rarely give an opinion as there are so many of you who express yourselves so well. I also enjoy the reviews of other cruisers, and I wish I possessed the knowledge and time to include pictures in this review, as it makes a review so much more interesting.
We took the 14-day Holland America Statendam Alaskan Cruise from Monday, June 15 to Monday, June 29, 2015. This was our fourth Alaskan cruise.
There seems to be disagreement about the quality of service and dining on Holland America, but we thoroughly enjoy the size of the ships, the friendliness and attention of the staff, and the wonderful cuisine and service. We have not found anything going “downhill.”
We spent Saturday night in the Kansas City Airport Hilton. It is a great place to stay before a cruise, and the restaurant is excellent. We flew Southwest to Seattle with a layover in Denver. We took the hotel shuttle, with an excellent driver, to the Seattle Airport Hampton Inn. The driver also took us to the Copperleaf Restaurant in the Cedarbrook Lodge. This restaurant was outstanding and was in a beautiful setting.
We ate the hotel’s breakfast and boarded a van that was arranged by the hotel. This was not a pleasant trip as we were very crowded on the small van. Next time we will definitely order our own transportation to the pier.
Embarkation did not take long and went very smoothly. There was no waiting to get our key cards. Our cabin was ready, so we left our carry-on bags and went to the Lido for lunch as the MDR was closed. The Lido was a zoo, but the sandwiches and salad bar were very good. We are just not Lido fans and avoid it except for breakfast.
Our luggage had arrived, so we unpacked. We signed up for Internet minutes in the Exploration’s Café; signed up for the Navigator’s Wine Package; attended the muster drill; and dressed for dinner. After dinner, we went to the Explorer’s Lounge and listened to the Adagio Duo and then to the Showroom at Sea where the Statendam singers and dancers performed.
Our day-to-day schedule was very routine. My husband and I do not take many excursions as the cruise ship is our destination. We cruise to enjoy the relaxation, cuisine, and entertainment. We like to read, attend the lectures and demonstrations, walk on the deck, go to wine tastings, play trivia, meet new people, dine, go to the shows, and watch the ocean.
A short review of the ship follows:
EMBARKATION: The best ever! Went very smoothly.
THE STATENDAM: We found the ship to be in excellent condition. Some of the furniture and carpet need replacing, but since it has been sold to P&O, I’m sure Holland does not want to put a lot of money into refurbishing items. Of course, there was cleaning going on all the time.
STATEROOM: We were in an inside stateroom on the Main Deck (5) in the middle of the ship - #603. I think, from now on, we will get an outside cabin as I do like to awaken and see the condition of the weather and ocean. There was plenty of closet and drawer space plus two small cabinets, with locks, beside the bed. There was also a safe in the closet. The bathroom had a shower and plenty of counter space. The bed was excellent with nice linens and the towels were huge. We did not experience any plumbing problems and the a/c worked perfectly.
We very seldom saw our cabin stewards, Wan and Budi, but we cannot say enough good things about them.
DINING: We were able to get early fixed seating (5:30 p.m.). Our table for four was by a window #19, so we had an excellent view of the ocean. Our outstanding dining room stewards were Ardi and Lukman and the excellent wine steward was Allan.
Every meal in the MDR was superb. We so enjoy trying different items and my husband always looks forward to the chilled soups. Contrary to many comments on Cruise Critic our service and food was beyond outstanding. The prime rib, beef tenderloin, and lobster were excellent.
Maybe because it was a long Alaskan cruise, the dress attire seemed more relaxed than on previous cruises. Passengers were dressed nicely, but on formal nights, the sport coat or suit recommendation was not followed. The dress code is now called Gala Attire. We love to “dress up” as we don’t get many opportunities to do so in our area. I try not to let other passengers’ attire bother me, but I do think many of them should just go to the Lido or have room service.
We chose to eat breakfast in The Lido since we are early risers and the MDR did not open until 8:00 a.m. Personally, I do not care to ever eat in The Lido, but the food was good, and it was not very crowded at 6:30 a.m., so I could tolerate breakfasts there.
ENTERTAINMENT: We went to the Explorer’s Lounge after dinner every evening to listen to the Adagio Duo, Robert, the violinist, and Livia, the pianist. They were fantastic!!
The other lounge entertainers had good followings also: Solo Guitarist Michael; The Neptunes; and Piano Bar Diane Fast.
We also enjoyed all the shows in the Showroom at Sea: The Statendam singers and dancers performed “Listen to the Music”; “Bob Mackie’s Broadway”; “Street Singin’”; “Encore”; “Unforgettable”; “Stardust Lounge”; and “Dancing with the Stars” (did not attend). The costumes, dancing, and singing were well done. We were so glad the sound system was not overbearing and there were no strobe lights.
The other entertainers were also excellent: “The Comedy Magic of Fred Becker”; “Jim and Anne Curry’s tribute to John Denver”; “The Comedy of Benji Hill”; “Vocalist & Comedy Impressionist Tricia Kelly” (did not enjoy this act); and “Comedian Don McEnery”.
EXCURSIONS: As I stated before, we do not do many excursions, but we do walk and explore each town. Ketchikan: We love Ketchikan and the weather was beautiful. We took the funicular to the Cape Fox Lodge and had a second breakfast, and then did some shopping for our four teenage granddaughters.
Tracy Arm: It was too foggy to attempt Tracy Arm, but we did go to Endicott Arm which was quite nice, but very cold on the deck. We walked four miles while viewing the glacier.
Juneau: We have always taken the Mt. Roberts Tram and did so on this trip. It is always a thrill to look down on the Harbor and see our ship. We then walked around town and I bought the most comfortable pair of shoes at Shoefly Alaska. I can never find a pair of shoes in my size, so I was ecstatic to find these.
Icy Strait Point: This is a tender port and we chose to remain on the ship. Our friends went in to town and enjoyed the trip.
On the Sea Day, we went to the Premium Wine Tasting: North Pacific vs. Old World. This was a fantastic wine tasting event. The Cellar Master, Jean Francois, had interesting, unique presentations of wine, and we thoroughly enjoyed all three that we attended. One might say that this is our “excursion” while cruising.
Anchorage: We went into Anchorage early; walked around; enjoyed the beautiful flowers and clean neat business district. There was a very nice, large mall downtown, and we decided to eat at Sullivan’s instead of going back to the ship and then into town again. We had an excellent meal, and best of all, avoided eating in The Lido. I really shouldn’t run The Lido down, as the food and service are great, but we would rather sit at a nice table and be waited on in a quieter atmosphere.
Homer: We rode a school bus over to the Homer Pit. There were several little bars, restaurants, and shops; and we did see fishermen cleaning halibut. Homer is the Halibut Capital of the World. After lunch, we took the ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’, Homer Hop On, Hop Off Shuttle (school bus) to downtown Homer. Homer does give one a feel for a real Alaska town, and it was bigger than I had imagined. There were four stops along the way. Sorry to say, we did not get off the bus, but did enjoy seeing the town.
Kodiak: This archipelago is the second largest island in the U.S. – about the size of Connecticut. I didn’t talk to anyone who saw a Kodiak bear as they were just coming out of hibernation. A better time would be in July, August, and September. We rode the shuttle, another school bus, into town, although many people walked. We enjoyed walking around Kodiak although it was quite cool, and I was glad to have a warm coat and hat. We visited the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral, with its blue cupolas – very interesting. We then went to the Alutiiq Museum which was wonderful. Luckily, there was lunch in the MDR, and then we attended another wine tasting: Around the World Wine Festival, where one could enjoy a variety of twelve wines from six different countries. Excellent.
Hubbard Glacier: This is a large glacier and I did get to see a “calving”.
Sitka: We took the tender to Sitka. This is a very interesting town and we enjoyed walking around. We also walked to the Sitka National Historical Park and enjoyed the hike through the tall trees and the totem poles. Since there was no lunch in the MDR, we had clam chowder and crab cakes at the Westmark Hotel. Very nice.
Another Sea Day: Another relaxing day. We attended the Mariner’s Lunch and then went to our last Team Trivia. We did Team Trivia every day and also did some of the Food Trivia. I must mention our cruise director, Ross McTaggart. He was the best CD we have ever had. He was very professional, witty, and kept things on time. I would love to see him on another cruise.
Victoria: We did the Butchart Gardens Tour. It was just as beautiful and interesting as we had been told. We had been to Victoria on other cruises so we did not go downtown. The finals of Dancing with the Stars was held that evening, but we did not attend.
DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation went very smoothly.
This was a fantastic cruise and we highly recommend it, and would take it again. Luckily, we had smooth seas (with only one day of high white caps). Once again, the food, service, entertainment, lectures, and ambiance were outstanding. We are looking forward to our next cruise in December. Read Less
Holland America Cruise Lines goes to wonderful places. However you might not want to travel with them. There are virtually NO activities aboard the ship except for their “lectures” which are mostly just stuff off the internet (from ... Read More
Holland America Cruise Lines goes to wonderful places. However you might not want to travel with them. There are virtually NO activities aboard the ship except for their “lectures” which are mostly just stuff off the internet (from the tour director that gets some of the info wrong) or sales pitches for their various services or lectures on where to shop (given by someone paid for by the shops). As such there is nothing to do on sea days or after/before the ship comes into port. Also the majority of the people on-board are VERY senior citizens in fact the entertainer at the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau nailed it when he stated the average age is deceased. There are no opportunities for young people at all - no games/activities of any type. The DVD players in the room are ancient and work about half the time and In between every movie on the 4 movie channels is sales pitches for their products. They do have digital workshops but I did not go on a cruise to learn about how to use my computer which I already know more about than they do.
There is only one electrical outlet in the room so you can only charge one device at a time (yes one – not even a double one). The Lido deck has great food. They however have very strict hours which do NOT match the tours, so you may have to leave on a tour without breakfast or miss lunch/dinner when you return because they just closed the Lido buffet just prior to the tour returning the ship. You can get cell service at sea for a charge of 7 dollars a minute and they charge to use the internet (an outrageous price).
They clearly have the internet as they need it to communicate and navigate, but they will not allow you to use it without charging you a large fee. They charge for all the sodas/water in the room, but don’t tell you that. You have to read their on-board manual to discover that you are being charged for the drinks. Also if you buy a soda card, it only gets you sodas in a glass – no cans of soda. Again, they don’t tell you that – you find out from the beverage person when you go to get your first soda.
They are not handicapped friendly either. I went on a tour bus and a passenger was told that they were not handicapped since they were not in a wheel chair and they were not allowed to sit in the handicapped seats. The person did indeed have a disability. In addition, another passenger I spoke with requested a handicapped room but stated there was not enough space in her stateroom to move a wheelchair around in.
When going to get off the ship at the end of the cruise I was told I could not get off until the time they allowed me to because they set disembarkation times. Basically they let everyone who bought their services for luggage for and extra fee (basically just moving your luggage) off first and everyone else had to wait. When I explained to them that if I was not allowed off the ship then they would be paying for all the fees relating to rescheduling my flight and extra dog hotel fees then they allowed me off but were very rude about it. They did not care about when people’s flights were, just about if you paid for their extra services or not. No reason to keep people on board after ship is docked and gangplank down, but that is exactly what they were doing.
In short, even though they go to great places, they have LOTS of other charges, limited buffet on the Lido deck, about 95% very senior citizens on board and NO activities of any type except “lectures” on sea days and they are CONSTANTLY trying to sell you stuff. I would go with another cruise line! I will be in the future! Read Less
We took the Statendam to Alaska in 2003, on our very first cruise which was to Alaska. This time it was a two week cruise with new ports and three new ports. The weather was great for us, being from Arizona, in the 50's and 60's ... Read More
We took the Statendam to Alaska in 2003, on our very first cruise which was to Alaska. This time it was a two week cruise with new ports and three new ports. The weather was great for us, being from Arizona, in the 50's and 60's and a light mist to light rain in places. It just added to the adventure!
I also organized the Meet and Greet for the Roll Call June1-15, which turned out to be lot of fun to organize. We had 42 who had been on roll call and had corresponded by CC for months. We had 38 show up on June 2, for the M and G, and we had fun finally meeting each other. It was nice to see each other on the ship, or at meals, or in ports to wave and say Hi, or hang out together. We felt like extended family!
My husband and I did things on our own or went with private guides for hikes as we really prefer going this route. We had a great time, met so many new friends and saw so many new things. Read Less
We were on the Statendam in June for a 14 day Alaskan cruise and not only was it a great itinerary but we loved the Statendam. It is true that she is getting a bit worn in places but that doesn't take away from the comfortable feel of ... Read More
We were on the Statendam in June for a 14 day Alaskan cruise and not only was it a great itinerary but we loved the Statendam. It is true that she is getting a bit worn in places but that doesn't take away from the comfortable feel of the ship. It was easy to get around anywhere, it never felt very crowded (even in the Lido or on deck when we were viewing the glaciers), and the service and food were first rate. This is her last season and she will be missed by those of us who prefer a smaller size ship rather than the mega ships that are becoming the norm. Read Less
Recently returned from a 14 night Alaska cruise on the Statendam, roundtrip from Seattle, June 1-15 2015.
Joining my husband and myself were my parents, none of us having been to Alaska before. My husband and I were celebrating ... Read More
Recently returned from a 14 night Alaska cruise on the Statendam, roundtrip from Seattle, June 1-15 2015.
Joining my husband and myself were my parents, none of us having been to Alaska before. My husband and I were celebrating our 24th anniversary on this cruise. We have cruised with HAL before but this was our first cruise on the Statendam, actually the smallest ship we have been on to date.
We flew into Seattle the day before our cruise, and stayed overnight at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites Seattle Downtown. An older hotel but the room was spotless and quiet, beds comfortable and a decent breakfast was also included. As we had most of the day in Seattle and the weather was beautiful we walked for miles, going first to Pike's Place Market, then to the Space Needle and Chihuly gardens, before heading back to the hotel.
We arrived at the cruise terminal the next morning around 11am, got a shuttle from the hotel for $10 per person. We had to wait approx. 30 minutes before boarding began. Our room was ready as soon as we got on board, we had an ocean view room on the main deck, #547. Tons of space for us to put away all of our things, decent size bathroom, and the most comfortable beds and pillows, I slept like a baby the entire 2 weeks. Our stateroom attendants Baha and Doni were superb, so friendly and took wonderful care of us. In fact we found all the staff onboard to be wonderful, always so courteous and friendly we didn't want to leave.
We purchased 2 shore excursions on our own and 2 onboard the ship. In Ketchikan we went with Island Wings and flew into the Misty Fjords National Monument, fantastic trip.
In Juneau we went on a whale watching tour with Harv and Marv, also amazing. Saw lots of whales and sea lions. On board we booked the Fort Abercrombie State Park hike in Kodiak, Alaska. While I would not actually call this a hike, more of a leisurely walk, it was quite beautiful, great scenery and a very knowledgeable guide. In Sitka we went on a whales, raptors and bears excursion, first by boat to go whale and sea otter watching, saw plenty of both, was very enjoyable. After we got off the boat we were taken to the Raptor centre where we saw many eagles and other birds who had been taken there to recuperate from various injuries until they were well enough to be released back into the wild. The last stop on this excursion was at a bear sanctuary for orphaned/injured bears. Both excursions were very enjoyable and well organized, I would highly recommend them both.
As an aside, in Homer make sure to stop into 2 Sisters Bakery for a coffee and a bite to eat. We just happened to stumble across this fantastic little place while wandering around town. The desserts were to die for, my mom ordered a cinnamon roll and could not believe the size of it, huge and so delicious! We also tried their lemon bars, turtle bars and turkey sandwiches, all I can say is don't miss this place! On Bunnell Ave in Homer. Yum!!
Onboard the ship - food I thought was excellent, we had any time dining and never had to wait for a table. Had different servers but all were very good, in particular wine steward Mel who was a delight, very knowledgeable and so sweet. She is a gem HAL. Dined once in Canaletto and once in the Pinnacle on Le Cirque night, I highly recommend them both. Food was delicious, service superb and it was quiet and relaxing environment. Well worth the surcharge in my opinion. We ordered room service only once, for breakfast before a tour and it arrived exactly as ordered, hot and ontime.
Entertainment was wonderful, the best we have had on any cruise to date. I think our favourites were the ships singers and dancers who put on some great shows, as well as a juggler/comedian and a magician who also performed. Didn't get to the John Denver tribute show but my parents did and said that the show was excellent.
As I understand it the ship has been sold and this is her last season with HAL in Alaska, what a shame, she is beautiful and still in pretty great shape. Kept spotlessly clean, always saw the crew out and about cleaning, touching up varnish on the railings etc. Love the smaller size, very easy to get around and never felt crowded at all. The only complaint I would have is regarding the casino, several times we went in to play the slot machines only to turn around and leave because the smell of cigarette smoke was just too strong. Ship is just elegant and cozy, we were sad to have to leave.
Our disembarkation time was 8:45, they were running ahead of time so we actually got off the ship around 8:10. Easily found our luggage. We then grabbed a cab/van that would hold the 4 of us and all of our luggage and headed to the airport. Lots of cabs available at the port, we didn't have to wait at all for one. As a note HAL was offering a transfer to the airport, several coaches were waiting when we got off the ship to take passengers to the airport. I am not sure what they were charging for this service.
Kudos to HAL for a wonderful cruise, I can't wait to go back to Alaska again. Read Less
DH and I are in our low 70s and enjoyed the fact that we could still be very active on this ship. We drove 2 hours to the pier, and parked. There were sedate things to do, and more active things to do. This was not our first time to ... Read More
DH and I are in our low 70s and enjoyed the fact that we could still be very active on this ship. We drove 2 hours to the pier, and parked. There were sedate things to do, and more active things to do. This was not our first time to Alaska, and it will not be our last.
The Statendam is still an “elegant ship”, as the Captain referred to her.
Embarkation was smooth and efficient.
We had virtually perfect weather for all ports of call.
Food: Generally very good. The steaks, when we had them, were done perfectly. Dining room staff very busy, but still very pleasant.
Specialty restaurants: Pinnacle. Great for dinner. Very well done.
Staff and Service: excellent. Staff efficient and friendly. Captain very attentive to letting passengers know what is going on (weather, arrivals, departures, etc)
1)Singers and Dancers - excellent
2) outside entertainment: some excellent, some definitely not. We walked out on a couple of shows, as did others.
Cabin: We had room 635 (OV)on deck 5, starboard side. Very nice views, and convenient to the the stairwell and elevator one deck to the Promenade deck. It was also very convenient to the MDR.
Library: outstanding. Large selection. KC managed it professionally and friendly and attentive too user needs. Many games available.
Culinary center: Excellent. Host Nicki very enthusiastic and knowledgable. Sometimes two or three events a day.
embarking/disembarking: no real problems here, went real smooth both times
Location guide; Outstanding. Before every port Wallis would provide an hour presentation on the port or ports coming up. This was not a ship shore excursion sale-a-thon. She provided tips for getting to/from the ship, local transportation,etc and discussed what was available to see. She was also available throughout day for guests to meet with and answer questions.
Cruise Director: Tamaryn was among the very best Cruise Director we have ever had. She is enthusiastic, has the perfect blend of personality and professionalism, etc.
Internet: expensive as always.
General shape of ship: Excellent for a 16 year old vessel. I do wish they would have washed the windows in the public spaces (Lido, Bars on deck 5, etc) as they were often so dirty one could barely see the scenery outside the ship.
Activities: Team Trivia, request music and dancing in Crow’s Nest, wii, photo scavenger hunt, and a couple of Zumba classes. There was many more choices, of course, than these.
Future cruise consultant: Friendly, Knowledgable but no hard sell
Shops on board: mostly luxury items
Photography: at every opportunity a photographer was present. A little pricey in my opinion.
Front Desk: Very helpful, especially Enrico who worked with me to sift out Cruise Critic members to create an invitation list for a 2nd Meet and Greet. The Beverage Manager was also very helpful, as was the Event Manager who made sure invitations got sent to everyone.
Ports and Excursions:
DH Jerry and I did HAL excursions, CC private excursions, and our own thing.
Ketchikan: The day started with low clouds and fog but very soon cleared up.
We booked a tour with Wild Wolf Tours along with other CC members. Tracy, the owner/operator was very responsive to emails, and her tour was wonderful. We went on her Totem Bight State Park and Lunch Creek hike. We also paused at some viewpoints. The sightseeing was interesting, educational, and beautiful, with the bonus of geo-caching. Tracy is a perfect blend of personality and professionalism.
Tracy Arm was super scenic. This was our 2nd time there, and we still loved it. Yes, it has "only" 2 glaciers, but there is much more to Tracy Arm than glaciers to see. We did not get as close to South Sawyer glacier as we did July of 2013 because the seals were pupping. You should be fine to get closer later in the summer.
In Juneau we did some sight-seeing and geo-caching, and then met a fellow CC member who will be on our the Australian circumnavigation with us. She took us to Mendenhall Glacier. We did the easy 20 minute walk to Nugget Falls. We also hiked the Trail of Time. We decided to also go for a helicopter ride with Temsco, which had 2 glacier landings. Expensive for us, but worth it on a beautiful day.
Icy Strait Point/Hoonah: we did HAL's Forest and Tram with Native Dance combo. We enjoyed that. Worthwhile. You also do each of these 2 things separately. I recommend doing both. Afterward, we looked through some of the museum. We also walked partway to Hoonah on the very nice paved coastal trail. We got off the trail briefly to find a geo-cache with some local history native lore on the cache web page.
Anchorage: the free shuttle bus took us to the Egan Convention Center, which I guess is around the corner from an alternate stop. We walked about half a mile to the Tony Knowles Trail. We had known about this trail before the cruise. The On Location guide also mentioned it as being good for walking and bicycling. Along the way we found a geo cache by a neat whale sculpture by police headquarters. We rented 7-speed bicycles from Pablo's Bicycle Rentals, 1 block from the Tony Knowles Trail. We rode 22 mile round trip, and then some. It is a very scenic trail. It is also neat because you can have planes flying low over you. Very cool. The forest part is scenic, there are great views of Anchorage, you go over some bridges with the most interesting sounds, Cook Inlet is scenic, and Earthquake Park is interesting. There are several little parks along the way. On the way back, we saw two moose very close to the trail. Indeed, one crossed the trail in front of us. We walked back to the shuttle bus shop from Pablo’s and climbed on board the bus for the 10 minute drive back to the port.
The last shuttle bus went back to the pier at 9 PM. The guide on the bus advised that if one took a taxi back to the ship, make very sure the taxi had the necessary permissions to go all the way to the pier, which is in a secure port.
Homer : Ashore Water Taxi in Homer took Jerry and I over to Kachemak State Park for our hike to Grewingk Glacier Lake. As we were nearing the beach, Dave Lyon pointed out a goshawk, which was neat. Dave dropped us off at Glacier Spit in the morning. We simply walked off on the ramp Dave lowered. We waved goodbye to Dave, and his two dogs who also rode the boat. The hike is on mostly level ground through several types of forest to the lake. Talk about spectacular! You can see the mountains above the glacier and lake well before getting to the lake. We hung out at the lake, and then it was time to do the hike with some elevation gain and loss to Sadie Cove for our pickup. We paid $75 each for the round trip taxi ride, plus tip. Dave’s wife Louise responded rapidly and well to all emails.
Note: you can also do this same 5 mile hike as a HAL excursion with a local guide and picnic lunch included at a significantly higher price. You would ride a different water taxi of course.
Kodiak: Our driver/guide Dake exclaimed about how fabulous the weather was the day we were there. We and the other CC members who went on the Memory Makers Tour would recommend him highly. The CC members who were in Cadie’s van (Dake’s wife) also enjoyed their tour. We learned quite a bit about both current life, and older historical events. We saw some of Fort Abercrombie State Park, drove to the top of Pillar Mountain with spectacular views, and enough time to find a geo-cache. We also went to two different eagle nests, which was great. There is a whole lot of beauty and history in this port, some of it romantic. Dave proposed to Cadie alongside one river while both were dressed in hipwaders, and they got married while standing the Buskin River.
After the tour, Jerry and I visited the marina, the small but quality Baranof Museum, and the Russian Orthodox church. We rode the free shuttle bus (in this case a school bus) back to the ship. We estimate it would have been about a half hour walk otherwise.
Cruising Hubbard Glacier: Superlatives abound for the hours we spent here! Everything was ideal: calm waters, blue sky, picturesque ice floating, glacier calving. There was just the right amount of commentary from Wallis, the On Location guide and speaker.
Sitka: Coming into port, we thought "oh oh", because the day was gray with very low clouds and fog. I am happy to say the day cleared up rapidly. We did the HAL excursion, "Volcano Coast Exploration by Ocean Raft." We were delighted we did it. The ride was fun and hugely scenic. The seats are comfortable, and the clothes keep you comfortable as well.
After the tour, we did some sight-seeing in town using geo-caching to create our own walking tour. We had lunch at a very pleasant Korean/Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, The “Asian Palace” next door to Subway. We caught the next to the last tender back to the ship.
Victoria: We did our own thing. As we exited the pier, we grabbed an excellent full map. We walked the very nice paved trail around some of the harbor to downtown Victoria. A sign at the beginning informs walkers it is a 40 minute walk. We went past some neat old fishing equipment, Fisherman’s Pier which now has many shops, the ferry terminal, the Inner Harbour, the Judge’s House and other historical buildings, a totem pole, a statue of Queen Victoria, a wonderfully shaped tree, the Parliament buildings, the Empress Hotel, and much more. We enjoyed seeing the various watercraft large and small including water taxis and the ferry. We met some other geocachers at The Local Pub. Geocaches before and after the get together showed us some neat places the average tourist might not notice such as a sunken garden, and an old schoolhouse. We walked back along Beacon Hill Park. We found a cache near a very moving monument to Terry Fox. Then we walked along Dallas Street, and back to the pier. We and others enjoyed the sundial on the pathway between Dallas Road and the breakwater at Ogden Point.
Seattle: We encountered the first out and out rain of the whole cruise. Disembarkation was very smooth and easy. Read Less
I had finished chemotherapy and wanted to celebrate life by taking a cruise.
We took a train to Seattle, and right outside were taxis waiting, whoosh within minutes were at the pier and became part of the excitement of an embarkation.
... Read More
I had finished chemotherapy and wanted to celebrate life by taking a cruise.
We took a train to Seattle, and right outside were taxis waiting, whoosh within minutes were at the pier and became part of the excitement of an embarkation.
We took our luggage to the customs people and then went through the process to get our room key. Not once did we have to stand in line, and in short time we dropped our carry on in the cabin. From getting out of the taxi to plopping out on the bed had to be about fifteen minutes.
A short nap and I was ready to go for some of the "world class cuisine" the chef on the TV was bragging about. Up to a very busy Lido and after looking at all the stations, I realized this was not going to be easy. Most every thing was stew like. Big trays of food that were ladled out. It just seemed so unappetizing.
Throughout the cruise I had difficulty believing they were serving me this. I had bugs in my lunch meat, Swiss cheese that was dried out, sushi not kept cool, rice that was dry, old and not fully cooked, and food I saw yesterday now covered in a tomato sauce with a new name.
I remember asking what type of salmon was served and being told it was Coho salmon, later learning it was Atlantic salmon (look up the difference if you think it means nothing). It was advertised that halibut was to be served, but instead I was given tilapia. No shrimp, and a small lobster once (I asked for two and it seemed I insulted the waiter, but got an extra).
The main dinning room was not much better. Several times we were seated at a table that was unbearably cold. Once I asked to sit some place warmer and viola! I was within a few seats of a window, and not next to a serving station (my, people sure do waste food). But after that, it was back to sitting next to the serving station. We went in late, the place was empty, asked to sit as close to a window as possible, and yet... there we were.
A few times I asked what something was (they all have exotic sounding names even if it is just an open faced grilled cheese sandwich), and all I ever got was, "Yum, yum, it is very good." The one time I asked for after dinner coffee, I asked if they had decafe, and he assured me he did. One cup and I was up all night.
A room or two near mine had a water break. They mopped it up and then set fans about to dry the mattresses and carpets. After a few days the fans were still blowing a stink into the hallways. The smell was like the smell of wet laundry sitting for too long.
Then I got an upper reparatory infection. Coincidence? Who knows. All I know is that a small bottle of cough syrup from the medic on ship was eight bucks. Fortunately, the next port call had a Walmart and the medicine was available for $0.97, and my partner splurged and bought me several. I had bought my own Tylenol for the fever.
I was now sick for the rest of the cruise, so I wasn't able to get off the boat. But I did have to leave the room, because the cabin steward wouldn't clean the room if I was in it. So I made myself presentable and made my way to the library for a couple of hours. Those yellow chairs are the most comfortable, too bad there are only five on the whole ship.
One good thing is the water in the shower can get very hot. Turn on the shower, get a cushion to sit on the toilet seat, close the bathroom door tight, and you have a soothing sauna. I had bought some eucalyptus bath beads and it helped open up clogged airways. Some reading material to pass the time, and a cool shower after, and you died and went to Sweden. Most recommended.
Stuck on the boat, at least I could look out the windows. But jeez! don't they ever wash the windows, big globs of what across the windows made looking out make me wish I was somewhere else. Even my room window on the lower promenade could have been easily clean, but each morning some crew member sprayed it with a hose so that it was all spotted.
As I laid in bed while everyone else went exploring, I noticed the air vent in the room did not work while in port. I so much wanted clean air, the fans continued to blow moldy air about down the hall, the window didn't open, the heater did not work so I was left to shiver and curse my decision to spend what be my last days on a cruise ship where niceness was not too common.
The nice part was my room was made up twice a day. The towel animals were so cute. I saw many movies I had been wanting to see. One of the two glaciers was spectacular. Entertainment was good, I especially enjoyed the violinist and his pianist wife. The one entertainment I didn't like was a comedian who thought telling ethnic joke was funny ( I left after hearing his thoughts on Mexicans). And I was able to get off the boat quick enough to catch the early train home. Read Less
Route: 29 day voyage: San Diego > Hawaii (3 islands) > Kiribati (1 island) > French Polynesia (6 islands) > San Diego
1. General Comments: We are regular cruisers and this was our 7th different HAL ship. This was a ... Read More
Route: 29 day voyage: San Diego > Hawaii (3 islands) > Kiribati (1 island) > French Polynesia (6 islands) > San Diego
1. General Comments: We are regular cruisers and this was our 7th different HAL ship. This was a fascinating trip. Sights ranged from the modern (Honolulu) to the primitive (Fanning Island in Kiribati: no running water, no electricity). Weather was hot and humid with occasional rain and plenty of rolling seas. We were a full ship with ca 1,200 passengers. The vast majority were retired (who else can take a month off?). Besides US citizens, there were a good number of Canadians, British, and assorted Europeans (including a large contingent of Swiss). I counted only one infant (daughter of the Cruise Director) and one high school student (Dutch son of a ship’s officer; doing schoolwork by e-mail) on board.
We had a Neptune suite (10th deck) that made for a comfortable month’s cruise.
Passengers seemed to pay attention to the hand disinfecting stations all over the ship. However, someone brought his chest cold/bronchitis on board, and already before reaching Hawaii you could hear passengers coughing and hacking all over the ship. This persisted to the end of the cruise. My wife and I both were hit with this ailment, and we were able to keep it under control with OTC meds.
2. Travel to San Diego and Embarking: While we made our own plane arrangements, we did use the HAL hotel (Westin Gaslight) and shuttle to the pier. The hotel is a comfortable downtown business hotel; we would have preferred the Sheraton at the yacht harbor (usually used by HAL) due to its more scenic setting, but it was full. The HAL service, from greeting at the airport to delivery the next day at the pier, worked perfectly. Having checked in on-line, we got on the ship quickly. Our cabin was ready, and luggage appeared – piecemeal - in the afternoon.
3. The Statendam: A very attractive ship, enhanced by its smallness. Yes, it is being sold to its sister Australian P&O Line later this year, and the ship may have a slight tired look about it. However, the facility was still top notch and the crew was the same. Our cabin was a delight with all the space and storage drawers/closets. Details can be seen in the cabin descriptions on the HAL website. The bathroom had a tub shower. There was a small safe and a small refrigerator. (Complaint: the safe is totally misplaced… on a low shelf in a cabinet. You have to get on your knees in order to open and shut the safe. Yoga position Child’s Pose works.) The flat screen TV (set up for DVD movies) received the usual news, movies, music, etc. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are practically no announcements on the PA system. The Captain does a daily report from the bridge, and the Cruise Director may make a daily announcement on activities. There is also a daily newspaper based on the New York Times.
4. Meals: We have had mixed results with HAL’s “As You Wish Dining” policy. It has worked perfectly (on the Amsterdam in 2012), and it has bombed (on this ship). We could not make our desired reservation (7PM table for two) on line before boarding. After we boarded, we made our reservation, only to be told, “no, either 5:30 or 8.” My wife growled loud and long enough that we got such a table – begrudgingly – the first night. The next day we received a notice that our reservation was confirmed for the cruise; only twice did we have to sit at another table as the earlier occupants were lingering too long. Our table was always in the same area, so the wait staff did get used to our tastes. The wine list was also good, whether you wanted a bottle or a glass. We should note that no matter what ship or line you are on, including the Statendam, the first night’s dinner is disorganized as diners and staff sort out who sits where and when.
Lido Buffet: We used it for lunch and a couple times when we wanted just a bite for dinner. There was quite a variety of good food, whether you wanted a meal, sandwich, or salad. The dessert area was equally varied.
We did not use the specialty restaurants, only because we are not big eaters.
There are plenty of bars and food outlets on board. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. We settled into the Ocean Bar for after dinner drinks. The music there was pleasant for listening or dancing.
5. HAL dress code: There were four formal nights; the rest were all “smart casual.” “Formal” for men meant mainly suits and sport coats; tuxedos were a minority. Casual was just that; most men did wear shirts instead of t-shirts. Aloha shirts were quite prominent for casual wear.
6. Shore Excursions: Make your shore excursion reservations on-line! This saves you standing in line at the ship’s tour desk. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. Tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship’s staff, you have support when there is a problem.
Travellers with any mobility issues should do their homework in studying shore excursions on this cruise. Out of ten stops, six were tendered and only four were docked. The two docks in Hawaii were fine; the two in Polynesia had ramps at nearly a 45 degree angle. This made for problems. As for tendering, neither the Pacific Ocean nor the lagoons were calm. The steps to the tender boats were steep, and the boats bobbed up and down and banged against the ship. Crew members literally had their hands full helping passengers on and off the boats. Also, tender boats are the ship’s life boats; they are not made for comfort and you have to clamber around in them for a seat. Travellers, and their agents, need to research – beyond the cruise line shore excursion descriptions – to learn if they will be able to participate in, and enjoy, the excursions on this cruise.
There were two stops with which we and fellow passengers were unhappy. First, was Honolulu where the shore time was only from 8am to 3:30pm. This was hardly time for anything more than lunch. Second, was that our full day in Papeete was on Friday, 1 May, Labor Day - a French national holiday. All the shore excursions went as scheduled, but the city was deserted for the three-day weekend. Stores were shut as well as all government offices (including the post office).
7. Shipboard entertainment: We did not see the evening shows. We did not, though, hear any unhappy comments about the shows. The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: lectures, bridge, bingo, movies, etc, etc. The library is well stocked. Art is for sale, and there are auctions, but this is done more quietly and without as much noise as in earlier years. While there is advertising for the art for sale, there is also plenty for the ship’s spa.
A special note on guest lecturer Andy Fletcher who presented a series of eight lectures on physics and the universe. This is a series he gives to high schools around the world popularizing physics. He had a good-sized audience, and I would say we “old folks” found him entertaining and the subject educational.
A special note also on Kainoa, a Hawaiian, who presented briefings on all the stops on this cruise. His briefings were focused on what we could see and do at each place; this was not the usual ship’s shopping briefing. Also on board were personnel who presented classes on Polynesian and Hawaiian musical instruments, dancing, and the like.
The casino was small and the machine payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. Various table games were also available. The selection of duty-free liquor on board was not great, but adequate; you order your liquor and it is delivered to your cabin the day before disembarking. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There were various venues for night owls.
8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts.
The amounts are charged to each person’s shipboard account. You have nothing more to do. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service. Your bar and wine bill automatically adds 15 percent. If you want to tip anyone for exemplary service, you can give him cash in an envelope.
9. Settling of Accounts: During your voyage, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos, etc) is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You receive a final copy of your total bill the morning you leave the ship. If you think you may have a problem with your bill, you should check with the Front Office before the last day. Due to the length of the cruise, an intermediate bill was presented about at the two-week mark.
10. Disembarking in San Diego: Your bags have to be out before 1AM. It appeared that bags were not removed before then, so if you had any last minute changes, you could still make them. We had hoped to use the Luggage Direct service (bags out your cabin door; pick them up at your home airport), but for some reason this is not available in San Diego. All we could learn was that there is an issue with the terminal. Otherwise, disembarking went relatively smoothly, and there were few bureaucratic delays.
11. Conclusion: This was an enjoyable and interesting trip. The hiccups were minor and did not detract from the Statendam or the beauty of the South Pacific. We are glad we made this trip but would probably not repeat this itinerary (we do not snorkel or swim). We have now seen these specific islands and would prefer to see other Pacific islands on a different itinerary in the future. Read Less
We had cruised 51 times before and in almost every part of the world. These previous cruises ranged from 7 to 14 or 15 days in length. Because of the travel time to and from the ship, we grew to prefer cruises that are 10 or more days in ... Read More
We had cruised 51 times before and in almost every part of the world. These previous cruises ranged from 7 to 14 or 15 days in length. Because of the travel time to and from the ship, we grew to prefer cruises that are 10 or more days in length. These prior cruises were all spectacular in so many different ways.
In searching the Internet, we found a 30-day Holland America cruise on the Statendam sailing from San Diego to Lima, Peru, and back to San Diego. We visited ports in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Ecuador. We had three full days in Lima to explore that wonderful city. The itinerary and ports were different in each direction.
There is cruising but this cruise was nothing like the previous 51. For the first three weeks or so, we could not even think far enough ahead to or beyond the end of the cruise. We felt more like residents on the ship than as short-term guests. It was definitely a different and world-class experience!!!
We sailed with Holland before and everything was still top of the line. Because we technically booked two back-to-back cruises (we purchased the 30-day option), I was quite surprised that the entertainment and shows were different over the entire 30 days – no repeats.
Usually on cruises, I feel deprived of my daily newspapers and hardcopy access to the current news. Sure, Holland and other cruise lines have satellite TV (and movies and more) in the cabins with a number of news channels, but this is not like having access to the daily news in newspaper detail. Holland also provided a summary news pamphlet each day in several languages.
However, I was elated that Holland also provided free Internet access to the full New York Times 24/7. I was able to use their computer terminals as well as my own laptop, and the cost was absolutely free. There was never a wait to use one of the ship’s computer terminals for this free access.
Holland had numerous on-board activities to keep us entertained, educated and/or engaged, if we wanted to be. The many free Digital Workshop courses on Windows, photo editing, creating movies and slide shows, digital cameras, and several other interesting subjects, were all enjoyable and informative. I found these free sessions to be quite valuable, and I use computers all the time.
There is cruising, and then again, there is cruising. This 30-day Holland America cruise on the Statendam was wonderful beyond compare.
I was able to do some consulting work remotely while on the ship, and I was more than impressed by how the ship’s crew catered to my needs and requests whenever I asked. I am writing this review primarily to pay some respect and homage to Holland America because of all the help the ship’s crew graciously gave me during this cruise of a lifetime. Read Less
I was a little apprehensive before boarding the Statendam for her cruise to Hawaii and the South Pacific this February. After boarding all my concerns went away. My husband and I are 4-star Mariners, so had very quick boarding (which ... Read More
I was a little apprehensive before boarding the Statendam for her cruise to Hawaii and the South Pacific this February. After boarding all my concerns went away. My husband and I are 4-star Mariners, so had very quick boarding (which wasn't the case for others who had to stand in line for an hour when the HAL computers went down) and we found our cabin, 164, to be very comfortable; clean and spacious with an exceptionally comfortable bed. What really impressed us, though, was the food and level of service. We dined mostly in the MDR and found the food very tasty and the proportions larger than we had seen in some time. Our MDR stewards were exceptional and our cabin stewards were almost invisible, but our cabin was kept very clean and comfortable.
The entertainment was a little hit or miss, with the ship's singers and dancers appearing uncomfortable with the entertainment they were assigned to perform. It was pretty clear that they had never seen the entertainers they were celebrating, nor heard their music before their assignment. The other professional singers, musicians and comedians (with one exception) were outstanding, and several received standing ovations.
We had three lecturers who provided more background and history of the area than we could absorb, and the opportunities for activities each day abounded. The ports of call were as expected.
We were only two of 106 Cruise Critic members aboard this ship that only holds about 1250 passengers, but we were all treated royally by the officers and staff of the Statendam. They set aside entire bar areas for our get togethers and supplied specials for us. We hate to see the Statendam leave the HAL fleet in November as we really enjoyed sailing on her. Read Less
My wife and I, along with three other couples, took HA's STATENDAM for a January and February escape from the cold and snow of Virginia to the warmth of Carribean, Central American and Pacific skies. We booked our Panama Canal Transit ... Read More
My wife and I, along with three other couples, took HA's STATENDAM for a January and February escape from the cold and snow of Virginia to the warmth of Carribean, Central American and Pacific skies. We booked our Panama Canal Transit three months in advance and it was like being a kid going to Disneyland for Chris, my wife, and I. Our first cruise experience, an Alaskan adventure, was also aboard the STATENDAM, exceeded anything we had imagined for activities, excursions, cabin service and dining. This ladt cruise proved conclusively to me that the lovely lady still had it in her heart.
We went through the boarding experience at Port Everglades easily, getting our ship cards and special packages all at once during check-in. When the ship was ready for boarding, we hurried onboard and quickly to cabin, which was very roomy, especially the handicapped bathroom I had requested. Yes, I'm the guy, but that big shower was great!
The embarcation party was fun as STATENDAM got underway and we moved out the channel from the port basim and met the Atlantic swells. We were hungry and moved to the Lido Deck buffet, where a virtual world tour of cuisine awaited us. I opted for the Asian bar and enjoyed sesmae prawns over noodles, chinese chicken wings and spring rolls. Delicious! My wife and I have now had eight cruise experiences and, if you have cruised before, you know the scramble that goes with finding a place to eat your lunch. As on kur first trip, we had little difficulty finding a table and, in the process, making new friends with an English couple from Cornwall.
The cruise went very smoothly, the seas were very mild thriugh our entire trip. Half Moon Cay, HA's private island, was lovely to look at, with a wide white sandy beach and azure waters so clear you could see the botton from the tender as you motored ashore. It was a very relaxing place...a little shopping, but mostly just a day off to unwind at the shore. A huge barbeque kept us well fed and we had a goid time.
Our next stop was Cartagena, Colombia. In a word, you DON'T want to EVER drive a car here! The traffic was unbelievable! Our tour of the city took us to a huge fortress guarding the city from dangers on the landward side of the old city. As a former soldier, I noted withinterest the layout of the defense and all I'll say is I'm glad I never had to approach anything like it. We moved to a shopping mall, where small local boutiques were established in the restored troop dungeons. Lots of things to see and buy, if that was your goal. We moved to the Claver cathedral and toured the monastery and cathedral. A beautiful Jesuit complex. After our excursions were back aboard, we headed out of the port bound for the entrance to the Panama Canal.
I got up early the next morning, wanting to see the approaches to the waterway. Ships lay at anchor everywhere, awaiting their turn to move into the locks on the Atlantic side. Apparently, you transit the locks in convoys. HA pays a premium fee to get special transit consideration and we moved right into the first series of locks at Gambon (I think). It is an amazing sight! The water used to fill the locks and raise your ship to next level is all gravity fed, from dams that lie beside the locks. When the canal was first built, they engineers also had tobuild the dams, which I had never heard of. An ingenious design! The ships move through the locks under their own power. Yes, there are little engines called mules that move along with you but their job is to keep your ship centered width-wise as you go through adjusting the tensions, left and right, of steel cables between them and the ship.
A special bonus for us was to watch all the work on the new Panama Canal, which was visible to us all the way. It was an awesome vista! Huge earthmover trucks, giant bulldozers, graders, bucket shovels and hundreds of toy-like pickup trucks, all snorting, growling and moving within a cloud of boiling dust. WOW!
You have to pay attention to the shore as you go or you miss the crocodiles, deer, birds and everything else. We saw the prison where Noriega is being held. I wondered what he thought as he watched all the traffic passing by his cell? Railroads, terraced mountains with immense steel bolts in them to prevent landslides into the Canal. This was the real,reason I took this cruise and I couldn't have asked for more, or for a better platform to see it from than STATENDAM.
Our next stop was Puntarenas, Costa Rica. A local dance troupe greeted us at the pier. Very colorful costumes, all children and all talented. Our tour was to visit Esparza, a town about an hour away. For those of you who have never been to Central America, like my wife, this trip will really open your eyes to what it means to be a US citizen. We traveled through a series of clapboard shacks lining the road and I asked th eguide if this was a business district, as every door was open and there were pricing signs everywhere. What I took to be a junk yard was a local shopping mall. Wow! So be prepared for sights that tera at your heart and your wallet. These people are poor and they will really follow you, begging you to buy whatever they have to sell. Esparza was a lovely town up in the highlands, very colorful. We returned to the pier, our eyes opened to the conditions in Central America.
Corinto, Nicaragua was next. Another bus tour, this time to Colonial Leon, the former capital, now half ruined by eathquakes. The same thing here. Clapboard shanties for homes and more poor people. Let me clarify something here. I say poor people but not beaten people. They have great enthusiasm and optimism, they genuinely welcome you to their towns and they are proud of their heritage. They just need a little help.
Puertoquetzal, Guatatmala was next. A lovely land, with 15 volcanos (more on this in a bit) lining the horizon, six of them with steam plumes at their summits. Our tour took us to Antigua, a world Heritage site in the highlands. The city bears scars from another volcano, but it us a very lively place. Speaking of lively, those volcanos I mentioned earlier. As we were passing one, about a mike away, it erupted! Red flows of lave coursing down the mountain's flanks, trees ablaze, a pyroclastic flow clearly visible. Guatamala was really giving us our money's worth! In Antigua, don't miss the Jade Museum. increduble. Warm, welcoming people, music, and traffic! Also, the...occasional street peddler. We had a good time. On the way back to the port, we saw the ash clouds rolling downslope from the volcano but we had an easy drive nonetheless.
Chiapas, Mexico, was next. A newly created cruise destination, it is still being devloped. We skipped the tours and simply wandered throgh the cruise facility. Brand new, it had a lot of excellent shopping opportunities which all the ladies took advantage of. Another dance troupe performed for us, really an excellent show and the visit was very nice.
Cabo San Lucas was our last foreign destination and was certainly the well-developed of all our stops. Cabo Bay is a stunning view. This was the only destination that I had even a glimmer of a possible return visit. Crystal waters, a fishing fleet goong and coming, lots of shopping and dining choices. A great place to visit.
Our cruise ended in San Diego, which was simply beautiful when we arrived. This was a cruise that really delivered, thanks to Holland America. I have left out the sea days because I wanted to save the best for last. In addition to the standard dance classes, art and wine shows, contest and general tomfoilery of such days, we discovered the ABSOLUTE BEST THING TO DO AT SEA and Holland America is the only cruise line to offer it. How many people are computer experts? We certainly weren't although we use computers extensively at home. Well, Holland America offers the best computer classes I have ever attended, given by their onboard computer guru, and I do mean guru, in Tony. He educates the new and experienced user in the latest Windows operating system, 8.1, in a hugely entertaining and effective way. If you decide to take a Holland America cruise, look to see if Tony is aboard. You don't want ti miss this.
Overall. We ahd a simply glorious adventure delivered by an expert crew well-versed in service aboard a ship that is simply a work of art. The only sda note to our trip was to learn that STATENDAM, THE FINEST CRUISE SHIP i have ever been on, is still be sold to P&O Lines in 2015. Alas for me and for all cruisers who value an exceptional experience. HOLLAND AMERICA has a rral jewel in this fine ship and cruising will be just a little dimmer with her departure, for she truly is...elegant! Read Less
We recently completed a 15 day cruise to the Panama Canal on the Statendam. We travelled with another couple and our experience was very positive. We had a Verandah Suite and found it very spacious. The bathroom showed it's age but a ... Read More
We recently completed a 15 day cruise to the Panama Canal on the Statendam. We travelled with another couple and our experience was very positive. We had a Verandah Suite and found it very spacious. The bathroom showed it's age but a real treat to have a bath-tub. The service was excellent and the staff extremely courteous and friendly at all times. We ate in the dining room, the waiters and wine steward made our vacation. The food in the dining room was varied and very good. Buffet dining in the Lido had ample selection, although we would like to have seen a larger selection of fruit.
We found plenty of activities to fill our day and particularly enjoyed the Café and again the great service. We took two of the Holland America shore excursions and they were not our highlight.
The entertainment was exceptional and we really enjoyed the cruise director. The Hal Cats (Statendam band) along with the singers and dancers was first class. Embarkation and Disembarkation was seamless, the only hold-up was customs in Fort Lauderdale but that was not the fault of Holland America.
Would not necessarily recommend this cruise line for younger folk as there is no doubt the average age is over 75. In summary, would highly recommend Holland America and it was a truly enjoyable 2 weeks. Read Less
Our expectations were low for the soon-to-be sold, frequently disrespected Statendam, but this was a very pleasant 15-day sailing through the Panama Canal. We’ve been on a cruise hiatus for six years, seven since our last HAL booking.
... Read More
Our expectations were low for the soon-to-be sold, frequently disrespected Statendam, but this was a very pleasant 15-day sailing through the Panama Canal. We’ve been on a cruise hiatus for six years, seven since our last HAL booking.
We had a concern about possible service lapses and deteriorating conditions on a ship about to be removed from Holland service. The worry was unfounded.
The ship: Recent reviews have cited justifiable flaws. Many, such as shabby linens or worn carpet, seem to have been addressed. To be honest, I found the Statendam to be in about the same shape as her sister, the Maasdam, when we sailed on that ship in 2002.
This is a comfy, tidy vessel. To check, I reached up and ran my fingers over a ceiling light fixture in the atrium – no dust. We love the compact size and the generous space devoted to public areas. Walking the wraparound teak deck is a joy that could disappear from Holland in the next decade. We also enjoy the large library and the Explorations Café. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy days at sea. Code orange was not invoked automatically at boarding.
Stateroom: We had a large outside cabin on the lower promenade deck, located just off the atrium. It was a great location with easy walking access to activity decks. We were apprehensive about a window on the busy promenade, but no one can see in during the day (unless they press their face against the window, and then it would be a shadowy peep at best). Our attendant Ludfi introduced himself, always greeted us and fulfilled several requests without a problem. After our last cruise on another line, we thought this kind of steward had become extinct. The room was clean. The thermostat worked and there were no odors, which have been problems on these ships in the past. The tub drain was slow, but we didn’t bother to report it.
Dining: We were assigned open seating in the Rotterdam Dining Room. Upon boarding, we sought a table for two reserved every night. To do this, you can go to the reservation station in the Lido upon boarding, but I misunderstood and wound up having the front desk do it on the second day, and that worked. Some people have reported staffing cutbacks, but our servers, Widi and assistant Ade, couldn’t served us as if we were their only two passengers. Water glasses were constantly refilled, every course was checked for satisfaction and we had time for chitchat with them. They were indeed whirlwinds, though. The tables were set elegantly and the bread basket was like a Christmas stocking. The menu was varied with excellent choices. The quality of the meat may be down slightly from years ago. The special international menu on the last night was the best. We ate in the Pinnacle twice. The quality was better than the dining room, but, truthfully, it wasn’t an Oz-like experience for me, and the service seemed slow. \
How about the rest? Well, we don’t use room service. At breakfast, we ate early in the Lido, usually just simple stuff, but I noticed good, efficient service whenever we did get eggs or something special. At lunch, we usually stick to salads. The salad bar was smaller than in the past, but it was good quality and more than enough. In fact, this helped speed up the line. Trays are gone and instead of one long universal line there are specialty stations. This is faster and cuts food waste. I thought there were lots of good selections and prompt service. I like the ice cream, and it was available all afternoon. We used the Dive-In for hamburgers twice, and they were great, with terrific fries. The wait can be 20 minutes or so at busy times although they give you a handheld buzzer to let you know when it’s ready. Some people gave up, and slammed the buzzer down after 10 minutes. They probably ought to warn you of the current wait time.
Only on a few days did it take effort to find Lido seating. On short port days especially, people would return hungry from tours all at once. On embarkation day, we went to the Rotterdam for lunch, and it was excellent.
There were only three formal nights, including one after a long port day in Costa Rica, which seemed odd. Passengers were generally well-dressed every night. On one formal night, I noticed a man without a jacket being turned away. In the Pinnacle, there were lots of jackets or suits even on casual nights.
Drink servers still were quiet and polite, not intrusive as on some lines.
Entertainment and activities: The headline talent was the best we’ve had on any cruise: Magician, soloists, comedian, ventriloquist. We didn’t attend cast shows. Guitar soloist Ben, the Adagio duo, Jennie and HALcats and David Anthony, all were good. We like Adagio and were concerned it’s a duo and not trio, but it makes sense with the downsized venue.
Location guide Wallis gave great port previews and would answer questions at her lobby desk or on the dock. Cruise director Rick Barnes was extremely good. We went to a very good culinary arts presentation. Both protestant and Catholic clergy were aboard, instead of just one, with many services. The Techspert lectures always had a line, although we didn’t attend. Future cruise consultant Shelly was helpful. The barista at Explorations was cheerful even if you weren’t buying. The librarian was also very helpful. That’s all we can give firsthand comments on.
Passengers: This was a very nice, polite, classy group, the majority, of course, being seniors. Only two or three children were aboard with zero teens seen. Lots of German, Canadian and British passengers, but U.S. was majority. Our Cruise Critic members were extremely pleasant and we shared quite a few tours. A gathering took place the second day in the Crow’s Nest. HAL provided cookies and beverages, but did not send a representative.
Ports: We flew in four days early to visit our family in San Diego.
Embarkation: We dropped our car off at the airport Avis at 10:40 a.m. You can leave your bags in the car and ask them to drive you to the port if they’re not busy. It’s only a mile or two to the terminal, where we were greeted by a porter, who took our bags. You go through security, then can register any carry-on wine and finally fill out the medical questionnaire. To get your cabin cards, you enter a long line, but it moved quickly and within 20 minutes we were directed to some seats to await boarding, maybe another 25 minutes. There might have been 400 waiting and we had been assigned boarding groups, which they began calling at about noon, and zipped along. If you hit the terminal shortly after noon, you probably would whip through the whole process, but it was pretty painless for us. We went to the Mariner’s luncheon in the main dining room. Before we left port, there was a life boat drill, no lifejacket required, but they are militant about your attendance.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: We did not book a tour. We thought we’d just sightsee. Thanks to misreading the map, we took a 5-mile hike (not recommended) past the resort hotels to the Malecon, the Oceanside concrete boardwalk with shops, sculptures, artists and vendors. Interesting, but just OK. We took a local bus back for 10 pesos each. In San Diego, we had picked up $100 U.S. in pesos from our bank. Except for the bus, our credit card would have worked for everything we did. We had a bumpy bus ride with a close look at local streets. Near the cruise port, there is a Walmart and a big mall, where we went to Starbucks and used the internet. You can see the mall from the ship, but it’s at least a half-mile walk. There are a few shops near the gangway, too.
Hutaluco, Mexico: This is a picturesque fishing village. We docked beside a U.S. Coast Guard vessel. Before our HAL sailboat tour, we visited the shopping area then joined our group for a stroll to the marina. We cruised along the rocky coast, visiting a number of bays, stopping at a national park for a dip. You had to swim to the beach. The water was warm. About half the small group stayed aboard. There were plenty of drinks and the guide was good. This is the only port where you could walk off the ship to a beach, but I’m glad we took the tour.
Puerto Chiapas: Beautiful docking area with huge thatched visitor center, including about a dozen shops, a pool and landscaped grounds. It is small and isolated, however. You would need a tour or local transportation to the nearest town, which didn’t draw any raves in our research. We enjoyed a sunny day by the ship’s pool.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala: An industrial container port, but with a cruise dock and a long ramp to a visitor’s center, surrounded by scores of neat stalls with local vendors. We took the HAL coffee estate and Antigua tour. Being at the end of the tour line meant we got on the small but cushy van instead of the large bus. We navigated heavy container traffic, and then saw cane fields and volcanoes during our 90-minute ride to Antigua. We visited the Filadelfia coffee plantation, which met Disney standards, for a very good tour and the best meal of our two weeks. We visited the Jade museum, commercial but good, and then had time to explore the market square, where there are swarms of persistent vendors. You can shoo them or bargain, but you might do just as well to get the same trinkets back at the dock.
Corinto, Nicaragua: Our Cruise Critic group booked an independent tour to Leon with Julio. This is a container port with no cruise facilities. We had an hour-plus ride in another small van, with a stop to view the volcano. In Leon, grittier and poorer than Antigua, we visited a huge, enclosed market, a hectic, jammed place with hundreds of merchants, which makes you appreciate North American hygiene. We rode tricycle taxis to the historical Cathedral and square, where the vendors were not so pesky. Due to a shortened call, our group nixed a trip to the art museum, opting for lunch and local beer a very nice hotel restaurant.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Another Cruise Critic tour with Odyssey and guide Exon in a nice van for a busy day. We stopped to see monkeys, visited a fruit stand for drinks, traveled up a mountain, took a boat ride on a river teeming with birds and crocs, stopped to see wild scarlet macaws, ate a delicious restaurant lunch, shopped at a modern market for local crafts and then motored around Puntarenas. Whew. Everything was included. This is a cruise port where you could walk around town, but you should get out and see the many sights.
Cartagena, Colombia: Be sure to be on deck for the ship’s circuitous approach to this city of gleaming skyscrapers. We docked at another container port, but there was a nice welcome center with a department-store quality shop and vest-pocket zoo. Here our Cruise Critic group booked with Dora for another van tour. This may have been the most prosperous location we called, but with the wildest traffic. We visited many sights, each time encountering scores of fellow passengers on large bus tours.
Tour and port overview: In some of these places, you’ll see terrible poverty and iron bars on all windows. That said, we never felt unsafe on any tour or walk. Puerto Vallarta and Puntarenas were probably the only places you could walk to see much of anything. You could have wandered around all of Huatulco in a few minutes, and it was the only good, close beach. This is the first time we booked independent tours. On the plus side, we enjoyed spending time with the same Cruise Critic crowd, probably saw more and saved a little. On the other hand, it took effort confirming the tours ahead of time, then dealing with last-minute changes to our arrival times. In Costa Rica, the ship delayed departure for an hour waiting for a HAL tour delayed by an accident. Don’t know if they’d hold for an independent tour. On the whole, the itinerary did not seem promising or exciting, but it turned out to be quite enjoyable. On port days, there was never a difficult crush to get off the ship. Only in Corinto was there a lineup on the stairway, but it moved rapidly.
Panama Canal: Now, I’m glad we did a full transit from the Pacific rather than enter from the Atlantic for a full transit or the peek-a-boo visit. It is spectacular to approach Panama City at dawn, another gleaming metropolis, glide past scores of waiting cargo ships and then pass through the different sets of locks and cruise under two bridges. We awoke at 5 a.m. and were on the Lido deck in front of the gym at 5:30. It was a good location, shaded from the sun and catching a nice breeze. It was difficult, however, to always hear the excellent narration over the loudspeaker. The rails along the forward decks filled up just before 8 a.m. The ship followed the published schedule almost to the minute. After clearing the San Miguel locks, we went to a table by the Lido pool, where we could get a good view of the construction for the new canal. After 11, we went to the Crow’s Nest for a comfortable vista of our sail through the Culebra cut and across the lake. When we got to the Gatun locks, we went down to the lower promenade deck, and it was fascinating to be so close to the trains and workers. You really should move all around the ship.
Sea Days: We enjoy being out on deck. On this cruise, only the first day was uncomfortably windy. By the time we neared Panama, the sun became pretty intense. Even with an older crowd aboard, deck chairs hard to find between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. a lot of days. Aft on deck 9 has room for a dozen chairs where you are protected and unbothered, so we sat there a lot. It seems the more we cruise, the more we enjoy just reading or walking the promenade, appreciating the ocean. So, that’s why I can’t report on team trivia, Dancing with the Stars or other activities. From the deck, there were lots of birds, dolphins and whales to see.
Disembark: We arrived on time in Fort Lauderdale. We were off in the third group by 8:45. We exited customs in about half an hour, but it might have taken a little longer for those behind us. We took a taxi to the airport, for our 12:55 p.m. flight.
Summary: Of 11 cruises, including five on HAL, this was our favorite, particularly for entertainment, quality of ship and service. It will be sad not to have another chance to sail on the Statendam.
On this cruise, the captain first came on the loudspeaker and his every mention of the Statendam was “the elegant Statendam,” which we thought was amusing.
We’re in our 60s and most of the 1,211 passengers could have been our ... Read More
On this cruise, the captain first came on the loudspeaker and his every mention of the Statendam was “the elegant Statendam,” which we thought was amusing.
We’re in our 60s and most of the 1,211 passengers could have been our parents, so this 15-day trip may not be for anyone younger than the 24-year-old ship. But it was a five-star experience all around. The 719-foot-long Statendam was nearly pristine and the staff members, from servers to officers, were universally efficient and smiling.
We booked this cruise mainly to visit the Panama Canal, thinking the trade-off would be lackluster ports in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Colombia. While we did see poverty, there was a good variety of fascinating experiences. I would recommend booking a lot of tours, though. Despite no tendering, many places had unkind sidewalks. We booked HAL and independent tours and all were very good. The Cruise Critic roll call was very helpful.
For breakfast and lunch, we ate in the Lido, which had plenty of choices, quality and good service. Dinner was always open-seating in the Rotterdam, with a varied menu and surprisingly attentive waitstaff. The burgers at the Dive In station by the pool are top-notch.
The cruise director had TV-host polish. The featured entertainers were all mind-blowing talented, plus all the musicians in the Ocean Bar, Explore’s Lounge and such were uncommonly good. It was like being in the middle of the old Ed Sullivan show for two weeks.
We had plenty of sunny sea days. The ship hugs the Mexican coast, providing beautiful views of the mountains and frequent whale sightings. For the canal, a guide provides excellent narration of the transit all day. (My advice for a canal cruise: Choose winter’s dry and whale-migration season, do a full transit, enter from the Pacific, move around the ship all day and don’t necessarily upgrade to a veranda unless you normally prefer that.) Considering the older passenger mix, we found the gym busy and the deck chairs often at a premium, but not a real problem.
Embarkation and debarkation were smooth. In ports, no hassels.
We were pleasantly surprised at all the nice touches: Fresh flowers, a spotless cabin, replenished fruit basket, exquisite table settings, wonderful common areas and a wraparound hardwood deck. We had wondered if we could stand this length of cruise, but we could have stayed aboard another two weeks. It was elegant.
This is my third hal cruise and first on the Statendan ( sea of cortez cruise) and based on this cruise I would not sail HAL again.
First the positives : the staff were overall exceedingly nice,in particular some of the cocktail servers ... Read More
This is my third hal cruise and first on the Statendan ( sea of cortez cruise) and based on this cruise I would not sail HAL again.
First the positives : the staff were overall exceedingly nice,in particular some of the cocktail servers and bar staff. The food in the main dining room ( dinner) was very good- though service was way too slow at the beginning of the cruise but improved over the days. Embarkation and disembarkation was very good. Disembarkation being exceptionally good , unlike the mass chaos of the Oosterdam, last time we sailed it in 2010.
The Statendam negatives: the food in the lido at dinner was mediocre at best - think Denny's quality, and that is probably being unfair to Denny's . Plus there are no longer trays in the lido,so if you want an appetizer and Main course, you'll have to forgo a beverage unless you have 3 hands . The on shore expert who was supposed to give a talk on the history of the area in the showroom , talked down to us like we were 10 year olds and covered very little history, mostly tips on getting off the ship. We only went once as a result,, . But the overall worst thing was the complete lack of daytime activities on sea days - ring toss and napkin folding being the highlights, .granted most people on the Statendam appear to be 75-90 years old ( we are in our late 50s) but even still, I think you could find more interesting activities in an assisted living facility. Hal is not known for its entertainment or daily activities in general - and on this ship they were really pinching pennies,in the extreme - very unimpressed with the daytime activities as well as the limited entertainment , and with 4 sea days - this was totally unacceptable. Would not sail HAL again anytime soon as a result of this issue, Read Less
Because my husband and I live in Southern California the 31 day Incan Empires cruise round trip from San Diego appealed to us. This was our 20th cruise with Holland America and first on the Statendam.
We drove to San Diego and stayed ... Read More
Because my husband and I live in Southern California the 31 day Incan Empires cruise round trip from San Diego appealed to us. This was our 20th cruise with Holland America and first on the Statendam.
We drove to San Diego and stayed overnight at the Best Western Yacht Harbor. Through our travel agent we booked a "Cruise Send Off Package" that included the room, shuttle to and from the pier and 14 days of parking. Additional parking days were $5. Parking was in an underground garage. The hotel staff was friendly and helpful. The room, while somewhat dated, was clean, quiet and comfortable. The included breakfast was good. We ate dinner in a restaurant down the street. The appeal of this property was the covered garage for the car during the long cruise. On embarkation day the shuttle drove right onto the pier, our luggage was taken immediately by the longshoremen and we walked right in to the embarkation hall.
We had been advised by Holland America that the health form would be more specific due to Ebola concerns, but it was not a problem. We had 4 Star Mariner expedited check in, and were onboard in no time. We dropped our carry-on bags in the room and went to the Lido for lunch. I also filled out the shore excursion paper for shore excursions we had not pre-booked.
Ship Internet was dismally slow and a waste of money...20 minutes to send an email. We purchased cellular service for our iPad from ATT and had great service in every port. No service at sea, though we did get service off the coast of Mexico.
Our dining choice was Open Seating. We request a table for two, and if we like it we keep it for the duration of the cruise. We had table 120, slightly separated from another table for two in the corner by the aft windows. Our dining stewards Ngakan and his assistant, Ade, were exceptionally competent and kept our dining time to under an hour. As to the cuisine: my husband was not always happy with the choices, I, on the other hand, almost always ordered fish and was very pleased! I love the chilled soups, and overall had no complaints. Most often for dessert we had ice cream, and Ngakan would order it as a "sundae" for us. Twice I tried the gourmet vegetarian entrées and thought they were excellent. I also ordered a wine package. We used room service for breakfast each day, and I have to say it was the best we have had on any ship! The Terrace Grill was a lunch favorite, now transformed into Dive In Burgers and Dogs. It was surprisingly good! Lido lunches were fine as well. Finding a place to sit at lunch around the pool was a challenge, as many passengers took over the tables to play cards.
The ship offered the usual activities if you wished to participate: Trivia, Digital Workshop, and deck games. Enrichment lectures were very good and well attended. The shows were varied and some of surprisingly high quality. Rick Barnes, the Cruise Director, was the most dynamic I have ever seen on any ship. I attended a few of his "coffee chats" in the Crows Nest and they were very informative. The captain gave him the opportunity to try different ideas as far as on deck entertainment….all were well received. We enjoyed a King Neptune Ceremony. There was a Catholic Priest on board for daily Mass, as well as a non denominational minister. Jewish services were led by passengers. We had two great Cruise Critic Meet & Greets with ship staff in attendance.
Most of our shore excursions were booked through the cruise line. Especially good were Panama: Monkey Watch and Canal Nature Cruise…an opportunity to go through the canal in a speed boat! Also in Panama, there was a City Sightseeing Company offering Hop On Hop Off bus tours. Salaverry, Peru: Archaeological Trujillo, visiting three important archaeological sites, amazing! I took the Tikal, Maya City of Voices excursion and was very pleased. In Lima we used the tour company "Lima Mentor" for two full days of touring. Our guide, Sandra Vargas, was outstanding as was Lucio, the driver. The program Lima Mentor put together for my interests was perfect. I would hesitate to recommend the company, though. Emailed questions were not answered, or I just did not get information I wanted after advance payment. I sent a follow up email to say how exceptional the guide was, and I never got a reply. Shore Ex. offered a shuttle in Salaverry, Peru for $20 round trip; a shuttle to the shopping area at the end of the pier in Manta, Ecuador; a shuttle to shopping at the end of the pier in Puntarenus , Costa Rica…lots of shops there; half and full day trips to the Historical Center of Lima for $29.95 each day, and Lima Shopping Indian Market, 4 hours day 1 for $39.95. There was a Peruvian Handicraft Market & WiFi next to the ship with lots to offer. The ship docks in an industrial area and you must take a shuttle to the main gate. A large shuttle bus and smaller mini vans ran continuously, so getting to the Port Entrance was easy. There were vendors at the gate offering tours as well as taxis. I plan to review our excursions at the HAL website using my cruise critic name.
Disembarkation in San Diego was delayed when international passengers failed to show up for customs. When we disembarked (in pouring rain) we decided to take a taxi back to the Best Western Yacht Harbor. Taxis lined up right outside the terminal, and though it appeared chaotic, we were told to line up in several places as cabs pulled up. We were quickly on our way….the cost was about $17 plus tip, and the car started right away!
Overall, this was an interesting cruise to very different ports. The Statendam is looking a little worn, but still an elegant lady. I hope I have provided helpful information!