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We flew into Seattle on Thursday with one of our sons. We got in late, and flying from the East Coast can take a lot out of you. We stayed at the Days Inn Seattle Center. The place was clean and the staff very friendly and helpful. The next day, we toured the city on our own.. That was a great day. We had lunch at the top of the Space Needle. The food was good, but a bit pricey. We went down to the Pike's Market and walked around there for a while. Later, we went to the Underground Tour which was a nice experience. One nice thing about Seattle is that the busses in the center city area are free. We did take the Monorail a couple of times($2.00/person), but walking isn't too bad. The city is pretty hilly. Saturday, we took the hotel shuttle (free) to pier 30 to get our ship.
Embarkation: The best we ever had. We got to the terminal about noon. Took about 10 minutes from the time we entered the terminal till we were on the ship. Our Cabin was ready about 15 minutes after we got on board. Then lunch and a tour of the ship.
Cabin: This was one of the problems we had. Tha cabin was clean and would have been spacious enough for 2 people, but we had 3 staying in it. There was enough storage, but the third bed for our son was a sofa bed. We had 3 in a cabin on both Carnival and RCCL and both had pull down beds. These took up much less space than a sofa bed. When the bed was open, there was no way to get to the balcony or the fridge. We like to go out on the balcony when we wake up, but this was impossible. we couldn't even open the drapes to see what the weather was like.We may as well had an ocean-view cabin and pay a little less. Our steward was one of the best that we ever had, so there are always some positives.
Food: Nothing special. Some nights there wasn't a great amount of choice on the menu for dinner. The food was tasty though. We ate in the Lido for dinner a couple of times, but not great for dinner. The Oosterdam is one of the HAL ships trying something new for dinner. The dining room still has set tables, but you have an hour period that you can be seated. For instance, we could have been seated any time between 8PM and 9PM. It was convenient, and you kept the same wait staff, but if you came later, the service seemed to be much slower. We found that if we came in at 8PM, the service was exactly what we're used to on a cruise. We had breakfast and lunch in the Lido everyday. Very good pizza, but I didn't think much of the burgers. The deli had very good sandwiches. Breakfast was the normal Lido food. Again, we found that the dinin g staff was excellent. The staff up in the Lido even try to learn your name (and usually succeed).
Ship: The Oosterdam is a beautiful ship. Very easy to learn and navigate. There was one indoor pool, but it usually felt a little too cool to swim. That never stopped some people. The shops were nothing special. The clubs in the evening were usually pretty dead. The entertainment was good, but we only went to the theater 3 times on this cruise. The major problem that we found on this cruise was that there was 2 large groups that HAL really catered to. We cruised around Hubbard Glacier one day, and the prime viewing sight would have been the Crow's nest which is a large lounge on the top deck with a 180 degee view out the front of the ship. Unfortunately, one of the groups (GM) had the room reserved. This isn't quite fair considering that all of the other passengers on the ship payed to have access to the whole ship. This happened again the last sea day on the cruise when the other large group (VW of Mexico) took over the indoor pool (this is only usuable pool on the ship).
Passengers: Very few kids on this cruise. Being in the beginning of May, that isn't surprising. The average age was probably in the eir 50's, so we didn't feel out of place at all.
Juneau: We've been there before so we tried a different itinerary. We went with a Photo Safari with a professional photographer. She was very knowledgable, but never did see much more than oa couple of whales. Later had plenty of time to walk around Juneau. Weather was in the fifties. The day started off cloudy, but later the sun came out and it was great.
Sitka: This was a new town for us. It's very small, but has lots of shopping. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral is beautiful. We did a Sea Otter Quest there. Were saw some otters and another couple of whales. We could have passed on this excursion. Weather was in the low 50's and cloudy most of the day. After we got on board, the skies opened up for about an hour.
Ketchikan: We've been here before also. We took a tour to Totem Bight Park. Our tour guide was great, and this turned out to be one of our best excursions. We we're in Ketchikan too long, so when we got back to the ship, we boarded and left. Weather in the low 50's and cloudy. No rain.
Victoria: We have never been in Victoria before, so we did a bus tour. Victoria is a beautiful city. The tour guide for this excursion was also very good. We we're there for the evening, and after getting back from the excursion, we walked around a bit. The weather was great that day with the temp in the 60's and partly cloudy. It stayed pretty warm into the evening.
Debarkation: We stayed in our cabin until our color was called. When we got off we had no trouble finding our luggage. We took a tour and lake cruise in Seattle (nothing special) and the flight home was uneventful.
Overall: We enjoyed the cruise despite the problems. We found the crew to be one of the best we ever encountered. The ship is nice, but the food was so-so. We may take HAL again, but it will not be our first choice.