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Bill Belt

Age: 61 to 70

Occupation:Self Employed

Number of Cruises: 3 to 5

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Statendam

Sailing Date: May 14, 2000

Itinerary: Seward to Vancouver

This was out fourth cruise on four different cruise lines and this was by far the best. We had with us another couple on their first cruise. We were in Anchorage and wanted to drive to Seward and ask Hollard if they would take our luggage on the bus to the ship. This was our first indication that we were traveling with a first class cruise line. We left our luggage at the cruise check in in Anchorage and the next time we saw it was in our stateroom. GREAT SERVICE !!

Our stateroom was 105 with a veranda which even in spite of some very cool weather was a pleasant surprise. There was fresh fruit in our room every day,a refrigerator and bottled water. The room was really excellant. Very clean, plenty of room and the bath was more than adequate. Plenty of storage. The room was nicely decorated. Candy evrey night on our pillows and nice fluffy robes in the room. Even cable TV in the posts. We got a very nice newsletter each day that let us know about all the activities and ports for the following day. My wife liked the "sales specials" advertised for the ship's store each day.

Food & Eating- --Anyone that is going for five star dining on a cruise ship that is trying to feed 500 to a 1000 at a single sitting needs to wake up. They must be dreaming. We found the food to be very good, the service to be good and the presentations always very good. Even when there was a minor problem at our table the waitstaff was always ready and willing to get a second entree or whatever it took. The wine list was very good and the prices much better than our local resturants. There was alternative dining which we found to also be good.The eating areas were always very clean and the staff was very friendly.

"Cashless Society" ---The Statendam uses the "credit card" system that many ships use today. Just present a credit card at check in and sign for everything you purchase on the ship. This cruise we signed and we signed and we signed and would you believe at the end of the cruise the invoice was 100% correct. We really appreciate that as our last cruise had long lines at the purser's office trying to get corrections made on their bills.

The entertainment was very good and on a scale of 1 to 10 this ship just has to rate close to a 10. Now we don't expect Broadway productions but do expect something better than the local bar. We got everything we expected and more.

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The Casino ---the casino was one of our "down sides" even though we walked away almost $200 winner for the week. The staff is very young and we noticed several seniors that would ask questions, maybe talk a little too much, and sometimes a little slow in "reading" their cards. The casino staff seemed to "talk down" to some of these people rather than having a little patient.

Photographers are everywhere but isn't that the case on most crusie ships. Let them snap the picture, I'll look and buy what I want and the rest they can toss. Not worth the effort to get upset about just a picture.

Coffee shop ---the best little coffee shop on a ship anywhere---puts Starbucks to shame. Nice staff, very good service and you could order what ever your little heart desired. And no additional cost. GREAT !!!And that ice cram bar with 5 or 6 different flavors each day---how about that Baskin Robbins ??? And once again –no charge.

Reading room, card room, games room, beauty shop, fitness center---we took advantage of all of it. Just first class all the way. Everyone of the areas I mentioned was spotless. The Statendam has a "roll back" top on the deck for the large swimming pool and this was great. A little rain, a little cold, --not a problem as you were in a warm covered area for the large pool and the spas.

TIPPING ---Lot's of discussions about this aboard ship and I found some folks who work in the travel industry are confused. The official policy seemed to be "Holland has a no tipping policy". This does not mean that one does not necessarily tip as one does on most of the other cruise lines. After all these crew member, outside the officers, are not the most highly paid employees in the world. When service is good --tips are in order and that was the route that we and everyone around us took. If good service is provided then tips should be that added reward for that good service. Expect to tip as you would on any cruise of this price level.

The ports were excellent but the most breathtaking was the cruise  time spent close to the glaciers. Everyone in their lifetime should experience such event at least once.

Would we go back--you better believe. I've been on the internet and reading all the brochures to see where Holland can take us next. Were there any problems--sure--but if one let's these little issues prevail then you'll get out of a crusie only what you want to get out it---but isn't that the way life is--you make of it what you want to--Have a Great Cruise !!!!!! We most certainly will.....

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