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World Traveler

Age: 34

Occupation:Project Manager

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Rotterdam

Sailing Date: 2010-06-16

Itinerary: Alaska-Inside Passage

This was our first cruise. We had a relaxing time. Alaska is beautiful-cruise is the best way to enjoy the beauty of Alaska.

We had great time in the cruise. Our staterooms were good. Rotterdam crew was very friendly and helpful. However, food was horrible. Entertainment was mediocre. HAL is still stuck with old habits and mentality. The ship is old and not "modern".

If you are an Indian family looking for vegetarian food, we strongly recommend NOT sailing with any of the holland america cruises.

HAL and Rotterdam food is HORRIBLE. They had us fill out big forms soon after booking. This form let us choose from a host of Indian Veggie Food choices. We promptly sent the form to them in advance. However, it was a different story after we boarded the ship. Main dining room claimed that they never received our form. They tried to provide us some sort of Indian food for dinner from Day 2 but it was not good at all. We were told that there is only one Indian Chef and he is busy making soups. There was one more big Indian family in the ship as well. They also had the same pathetic experience. Even worse-They have no idea what "Vegetarian" food means. In the Lido deck, they told us French Fries were vegetarian. However, upon further enquiry, we found that the fries were cooked in lard or beef fat. Most of their seemingly veggie soups are made from Chicken or beef broth. We pretty much ate bread-butter-jam, green salad, fruit salad for our lunch and dinner. Breakfast was the only thing that was manageable.

We loved the deal-paid $1,100 per person (two of us) for a verandah suite. We had picked category BC but chose "guaranteed" option. We were assigned a spa suite (BQ)- same sized stateroom (292 sq ft) but with certain additional perks like vitamin water, sparkling water, bathrobes, and i-Pod docking station (was very helpful to charge our i-phone). Our stateroom was good and provided us with enough space to store our luggage and relax. Balcony was small but still provided enough space for two people to sit.

Ship: Rotterdam is a mid-sized ship. It is pretty old. Even after the "signature of excellence" enhancements, it is still just okay.

Amenities: Greenhouse spa/fitness center was very good. We spent a lot of time in the Exploration cafe, sipping nice cappuccino and playing scrabble or reading books from the library. Mix (bar) and other shops were mediocre. Internet (wi-fi) is available for a price. We paid $100 for 270 minutes- you don't really need that much internet time. 100 minutes for $55 was a better deal. Public bathrooms on Deck 8 (lido deck) NEVER worked.

Activities: Most of the activities are geared towards older (60+) crowd. We loved the comedy show by comedian Jeff. Other than that we didn't care for any other activity. Crow's nest (hangout place on Deck 9) does not have any Bollywood songs. That shows that HAL is not upto speed with the modern multi-lingual culture and society.

Itinerary and Ports of Call: We were OK with the itinerary and ports of calls. Alaska is beautiful. Most of the state is untouched and nature at its best. Our ship went pretty close to Hubbard Glacier-this was the highlight of our trip-saw few chunks of ice fall into the ocean. Juneau is overrated. Ketchikan and Sitka are really good port of calls. Victoria, BC was another good port to visit.

Crowd: We could hardly find folks in our age group (29-35). This cruise ship caters to older crowd. Their food and activities are designed for aged population.

Disembarkation: This wasn't smooth for us. We had signed-up for luggage direct service with HAL by paying $19 per person. This service was supposed to take our bags and check-in our bags with Southwest airlines all the way directly to our destination. We filled all the paperwork on Day 2 of the cruise. On Day 4 when I went to enquire, front desk had lost my paperwork and had to resubmit. On Day 6 (previous night before disembarkation), I went to front desk to submit feedback forms and noticed that one of the co-passengers had already got luggage tags for her bags (it read AAAA, CCCC etc.). I got baffled and asked the front desk why I haven't got mine yet. They told me at that point that they canceled my request!! They had already charged me for the service too!! When I confronted them, they took out the charge but still had no explanation on why luggage direct didn't go through. This completely upset our plans in Seattle on Day 7. We had to goto Airport with our luggage and store it over there until evening.

Special Note for Visa holders:
Visa Requirements: Do not rely upon HAL to provide you any guidance. They have no idea on how to handle visa holders. Even worse- they have never heard about EAD and AP. They just know- Green Card and nothing else. After booking, they will send you cryptic e-mails that state that your immigration status is unknown- that is because their website and database is not designed to properly handle visa/EAD/AP holders. You will need a Canadian visa to board the ship. Even if you don't get down from the ship in Victoria or Vancouver, you will still need a Canadian visa since the ship traverses through Canadian waters. HAL front office kept our passports upon embarkation on Day 1. They held it with them until we came back to ship from Victoria on Day 6. They take care of immigration paperwork with Canadian officials upon arrival at VIctoria. You just need your ship ID card and driver's license to go out in Victoria and come back to the ship. Front office will not explain this to you- most of them don't know this procedure.

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