Category Archives: Travel

Alaskan Cruise – By the Numbers

(You will very likely be happy to know this is the last posting about this cruise.)

Our last sea day on board the Westerdam was enjoyable. They offered an Alaskan king crab with salmon lunch for previous Holland America (HAL) cruisers which was excellent. They gave us nice ceramic HAL coasters as gifts. Then we did a 5k walk for cancer research (10 laps on the Promenade deck). The captain gave an interesting talk about bridge controls and ship features. We learned that the Westerdam cost $450M to build 15 years ago and weighs 86,000 metric tons.  It has 2×13,500 HP azipod stern thrusters which can rotate 360 deg, 6 bow thrusters to help in docking and 2x25x8ft stabilizers which act like wings to level the ship. On our way out we saw the moment on TV when Torontonian Bianca Andreesku beat Serena Williams in the 2019 US Open Tennis final. Yeh Canada!

Overall we enjoyed this Holland America (HAL) cruise but perhaps not as much as past Oceania and Celebrity Cruises we have taken. Holland America is a mass market cruise line that draws cruisers who tend to prefer the more traditional ways of cruising. There is less buzz. Founded in 1873, Holland America has a long history and a steady following. Opinions abound that ever since Carnival Corp’s takeover of HAL years ago, quality seems to be sliding in an effort to cut costs.

Keeping everyone healthy onboard is always a big challenge. We noticed there was no enforcement of hand sanitizer use upon entering the Lido/MDR nor was there a personal health disclosure form that each passenger had to fill in upon boarding. Both these practices were in force last year on Oceania Cruises on our Baltic cruise. We appreciated that there was a Catholic priest onboard offering daily Mass. This a common practice on HAL and very rare elsewhere.

People were calm and polite onboard. Staff were extremely friendly, polite and well trained. They really try hard to please and seemed generally happy working for HAL. The itinerary and weather were generally good. The food in the Lido (buffet restaurant) was disappointing. Eg, all types of fish tasted the same and was overcooked, side plate salad appetizers looked rather unappetizing. Food in the dining room was good to excellent, arriving just a bit cool sometimes.  The Westerdam ship was adequate and very clean but at 15 years old, is showing it’s age in our view. We absolutely loved our aft balcony cabin which gave us a 270 deg view. Highly recommend aft balconies!  Pool and hot tub were good as no one else was usually there.

By the numbers:

  • 7 nights Anchorage to Vancouver
  • 3 ports, 3 sea days
  • 2600 kms, 125,000 USG fuel (bunker and diesel)
  • passengers 1900, crew 783
  • best‎ day – Glacier National Park (10/10)
  • worst day – pulling out of Seward in the rain
  • respiratory illness alert while we were on board (many were coughing with some fever for a day or 2)
  • excursions our group had arranged were average to good, say 6 on average (no bears, did see lot’s of salmon, eagles and a few whales, best was to Meldenhall Glacier and falls)
  • really enjoyed the train ride from Anchorage to Seward
  • Anchorage itself, so-so due to the location of our hotel and high prices
  • the trolley bus tour we took there was fun and excellent
  • the drive to Mt Aleeska resort and tram ride were excellent
  • this was more like a river cruise than an ocean one as you are close to shore which is probably one reason Alaska cruises are extremely popular
  • best moment of the whole trip was when the sun came out in Glacier National Park‎, totally unexpectedly
  • even the captain Vincent Smit remarked how lucky we were that day!

Ratings (Marie’s – Dave’s)(out of 10)

  • ship 6 – 6.5
  • itinerary 6 – 7
  • food 7 – 7.5
  • shops/activities 7 – 6
  • service 9 – 9
  • cabin 8 – 9
  • overall‎ 6 – 7 (Our previous HAL cruise on the Zuiderdam we rated 8)

Would we cruise on HAL again (this was our 2nd)?

– not likely, but never say never

Would we cruise Alaska again?

– not likely (too much like NFLD for Marie and like YVR for Dave) plus, we prefer warmer climate cruises.

Happy Trails to You

Thanks again for travelling with us. If you haven’t cruised yet, perhaps you would like it too.

Hope to see you out and about soon.

Marie and Dave XOX


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