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Greg McDonald

Age: 57

Occupation:Retired Teacher

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Amsterdam

Sailing Date: June 7th, 2007

Itinerary: Alaska

Holland America was my choice for a retirement gift to myself. I had never been to Alaska and this seemed the perfect way to travel and enjoy the scenery. Holland America does a tremendous job of organizing the pre-cruise package and I chose to arrive a day early and spend the evening in Seattle. Everything was arranged and I was able to check into my hotel without any problems at all even though I'd arrived well before check-in time. Transportation between the hotel and terminal was quick but despite the fact that I completed the on-line check and was assured that I would be directed to a special quick line for the final boarding procedures, I was sent into the general line which was quite long. There were many agents, however, and the line kept moving steadily.

Once on board the ship, my carry-on bag was taken and I was escorted to my inside cabin on the Navigation deck. The cabin was good-sized and there was ample closet space--in fact, I only used one of the closets! The cabin was pleasantly furnished with sofa, chair and the usual bedroom furnishings.    My cabin steward arrived within a few minutes with my luggage and I was able to unpack and explore the ship. Though a mid-sized ship, it is easy to find one's way around and there are several elevators throughout for convenience of handicapped passengers. The ship had several areas of almost personal deck space to enjoy the scenery.

The food: I found the food to be of excellent quality and presentation. All the meals ordered in the Main Dining Room were served hot and looked/tasted fantastic. The Lido Deck provides a buffet service and the food is put on plates by the serving staff. In addition there are several hand sanitation stations throughout the ship and a squirt is offered when entering the dining room. I enjoyed breakfast and lunch in the Lido and took my evening meals in the dining room.

Entertainment: There are shows presented nightly in the Queen's Lounge. The resident cast present a high energy show most nights and a special treat was the crew member show which featured cabin stewards, food service staff, office staff and others. This wonderful crew received a standing ovation at the finale. The crew works very long hours and are mostly Indonesian. I found the crew to be very friendly, always smiling and invariably polite.

Activities: I did not visit the casino at all. There was the usual bingo games (didn't go there either) and some very good cooking demonstrations throughout the cruise. The cruise line folk do tend to push jewelry purchases and shore excursion talks leaned toward shops in ports that dealt with gold, silver and gems. There is a nice small art gallery (art is prevalent throughout the ship) but they also try to sell or auction artwork as well. On the lure of free champagne, I attended one art auction. I found the prices to be quite high (as did other passengers) and I didn't get the free champagne either. I'm not sure how much original artwork got sold during that particular auction. Also a pleasant experience: I was never pressured to purchase drinks though there were wait staff members continually carrying trays of them.

Ports of call: the ports of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan were all interesting and varied. Each had its own unique flavor, color and population. The weather helped as well! Unusual for Alaska, we encountered sunshine and "warmer" temps. I did not get off the ship in Victoria as the walking distance to the town was over a mile away. The ship docks here in the evening hours as well and leaves around midnight.

I felt Holland America did an exemplary job of organizing my trip. All the details were handled and I was able to embark with complete confidence that I was going to enjoy my trip to Alaska. I definitely plan to sail with Holland America again!




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