Amsterdam Alaska 2011

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
Tuesday, June 21 - Sitka

We anchored down by the O'Connell Bridge. There were free shuttles run by the Bayview Pub. We were dropped off at the Macdonald Building which used to house the Russian Tea House -- our first time in Sitka back in the 80's it was a rainy day and we sat down to a wonderful cup of tea with some kind of a cookie. The Russian Tea House is gone -- the Bayview Pub is there now. We walked the town. It was disappointing not seeing any totem poles in the Totem Park - renovations going on there. It was such a lovely warm day -- we wore bermudas. After walking around town for awhile we decided to have lunch at the Bayview Pub -- the sandwiches are HUGE!! Joe had the fish and chips which were really good. It is an easy walk back to the pier -- but as we left the building the shuttle pulled in and we decided to ride it back to the pier. The Crystal Symphony was anchored in Cresent Bay and used that Pier. When we got back to the pier area there were quite a few buses waiting for tours. After getting back on the ship -- since it was so nice we decided to sit out on our verandah for a couple of hours. While we sitting out there we watched a Yellow Banana boat go whizzing by -- the same type that we see in the Caribbean. There was also a note on our bed that our verandah would be washed down sometime between 9 and 3 the next day.

This evening was the Master Chef Dinner in the dining room -- even though it has been toned down a little and the menu expanded -- we still don't like it. On other ships we go to the Pinnacle on the Master Chef night. But Le Cirque was held in the Pinnacle and we weren't ready to try that again -- we knew this in advance. On the first day of the cruise we made a reservation for Canaletto - you can't make this reservation until you are on the ship as it is free. It was a wonderful dinner. We also enjoyed the cotton candy served right before our dessert. After dinner we went to the Crow's Nest for a liquor and to play Name That Tune. Well it got interrupted several times as we had quite a few whales putting on a show and people wanted to watch them.

This evening's show was Jeff Trachta - a comedian, impressionist and singer -- sorry we didn't go to the show -- can't comment.

A couple of tours that I recommend here -- Sea Otter and Wild Life (did it twice and loved it -- saw a lot of whales, otters, a few bear, eagles and sea lions) and the Rapture Center -- so interesting to see them saving the Eagles.

Approaching Sitka and the extinct volcano Mount Edgecumbe:


Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist

June 22 -- Sea Day - Formal Night

The crew arrived at 8:50 to clean our verandah.

Today was also the Mariners Brunches. The first one was at 11 AM and the second one was at 1 PM. Those of us who hold medals are were to be awarded medals were first invited to the Explorers Lounge for the ceremony at 12:30. There were quite a few people awarded their 100 day medals. One couple got their 300 day medals. We learned that we had the most number of days on this cruise. There were around 1000 Mariners on our cruise -- but I wonder how many of them were true Mariners -- actually having sailed on HAL before? JMO -- but I really don't like the idea that people who are taking their first HAL but have sailed on Princess, Carnival, etc. are considered Mariners and are invited to the brunches. We had a bit of a different menu -- posted in the HAL section. We were seated at a table hosted by the Beverage Manager -- we haven't sat at a hosted table in a few years. There were only a couple of other hosted tables. The captain, hotel manager and cruise director did not host any tables.

This evening we had our final dinner in the dining room knowing that we would be eating in the Pinnacle tomorrow evening. We handed out our extra tips to our dining wait staff and our wine steward.

Tonight's Production Show was Las Vegas Nights -- can't believe that we did not have one new show on this cruise.

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
June 23 -- Victoria - No - No - this is our last day and night on the ship!!

Over the last 2 days we packed 2 of our suitcases. This morning we spent time organizing the last 2 suitcases to put out into this evening. This is the first time in a very long time that Deluxe Suite passengers weren't given the option to put their luggage out into the hallway before 6 AM. When I inquired about this -- I was told that it is never done in Seattle -- wrong -- in 2008 we sailed into Pier 30 and in 2009 we sailed into Pier 91 and we did have that option.

At 11 AM we were invited to the Hotel Manager's Question and Answer session. He invited about 20 people but only 6 of us showed up. It was short and sweet. The HM manager never bothered to check to see if the room was in use at that time. A few of the bridge players were upset that a meeting was going to be going on at that time. We had a travel agent from Rotterdam. On our first port of call in Ketchikan there were a lot of problems as the majority of the people from her group did not speak English and she couldn't be at so many different meeting places at the same time. And many did not realize that they had to meet in different places on the dock. The Guest Relations manager arranged for more interpreters for the other ports. This lady thanked them. HM mentioned that there will be more interpreters on future cruises as more ships will be in Europe and elsewhere and fewer in North America. HAL is moving away from our area for the most part.

The HM at the beginning stated that he didn't want this to be a gripe session about toilets, etc. There was a husband and wife team who were ready to jump on him -- he had a long list. He only mentioned how HAL has changed -- cut backs on staff, etc.

Another man mentioned that he likes to do longer cruises -- like segments of the world cruise -- but can't understand why HAL won't let you put down the $100 deposits on them and get some extra shipboard credit. HM couldn't answer that.

We mentioned that we did like the varying Happy Hour times. We also mentioned that if it were not for the hassles of flying we would book this cruise again as it is a winner.

The man with all the complaints also mentioned that HAL should provide free shuttles in the ports. I mentioned to him that in many of the ports there were free shuttles sponsored by either a local store, or the community or the town council. He said he never saw one. I told him we rode on them.

Today as we approached Victoria there was a Salmon Bake starting at 11 AM by the Lido Pool. The salmon was great -- but they put too much maple syrup on it for my taste. I don't remember everything that was there -- but thing to avoid if it is offered on your cruise -- the huge {each Pies -- they are so large and so full of juice that they aren't cooked completely through.

There was a shuttle available for $7.50 per person -- use all day -- get on and off as many times as you want. Taxi men were nasty -- growled at people when they asked the price -- $28 whether there are 2 or 4 people. Recently there was a problem about the drivers paying an extra $200 a year -- now they are passing the increase onto the people.

We have been to Victoria many times so we just walked the port area.

This evening we ate at the Pinnacle - always like to end the cruise with a wonderful, delightful meal.

There was no final show this evening -- just a movie.

One tour we recommend - Butchard Gardens (they are so beautiful -- did it twice). Another is the City Tour -- great way to get introduced to the highlights here. DO NOT do the High Tea at the Empress Hotel unless you like dropping a BIG bundle for tea and a few crumpets it is called the Grand City Drive and Empress High Tea - 2 1/2 hours for $99 -- back in the 80's we did it for $59.

Empress Hotel under renovations:


Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
June 24 -- The Cruise is Over!!

We had a wonderful breakfast -- went back to our cabin and waited until 8:30 to leave the ship. Being in a Deluxe Suite we could leave any time between 8:15 and 9:15. We had already arranged for AlreadyThereTownCar to pick us up to take us to the Hilton Hotel SeaTac.

Getting a porter to handle our luggage was a true NIGHTMARE!! HAL has only 4 porters working the luggage area. We asked why there were not more porters. a HAL representative told us that HAL expects people to either be able to take their own luggage off the ship OR be able to handle 1 suitcase per person. WHAT!! This is a 14 day cruise -- not a 7 day cruise -- and the majority of us had 4 suitcases plus 2 carry-ons!! The line to get a porter was long. Joe was lucky and got in the line early while I stayed with the luggage. So we only waited 15 minutes. After getting a porter we quickly went through immigration and handed in our customs form. Then it was a short wait for our limo to take us to the Hilton Hotel SeaTac where we spent the night.


July 25th -- Flying Home

Took the hotel shuttle to the airport bright and early -- found a porter to help get our luggage inside -- US Airways does not have curbside service. After checking in we went through security -- long lines here. Then we got some breakfast. Glad we did as the breakfast on the plane wasn't as good as the one we had going to Phoenix. Choices were Cheese Blintz or Egg Fritata with link sausage, bowl of fruit and the biscuit. That was all the food we had for the entire day. Originally we were to have gone through Charolett but in March that flight was cancelled and we had only once choice -- going through Philadelphia. When we got to Philadelphia there was no wheel chair for me. Another woman also needed one. We were told by a nasty woman at the check-in desk that the wheel chairs are on the way. We waited 15 minutes. A wheel chair man went by us and informed us that it would be another 15 - 20 minutes before they could get to us as 2 other planes came in before us. By now we are running out of time to catch our plane so we started to walk. A short way up the terminal Joe spotted a cart which only had 1 woman on it. He ran and flagged it down. We were then whisked away to the other terminal and arrived just as boarding began. We were scheduled to leave at 6:20 -- didn't happen. We were pushed away from the gate where we sat for an hour. It seems that all the International flights have priority for take-off. So naturally we arrived back in Pittsburgh an hour late. After waiting 30 minutes for our luggage we finally got the shuttle to be taken to our car and then we headed to the Embassy Suites where we spent the night before driving home the next day.


HAL offered a few Signature Collection Private Alaskan Touring:
Ketchikan by Private Hummer -- 4 hours -- $589 per Hummer -- up to 5 people wherever you wish to drive to.
Ketchikan Private Touring by De Havilland Beaver Floatplane -- 3 hours -- $1799 per plane -- up to 6 people wherever you wish to fly to.
Ketchikan Private Touring by Open Air Skiff -- 4 hours -- $899 per skiff -- up to 5 people for remote fishing and dining.
Sitka Up-Close Exclusive Cruise Adventure - 3 1/2 hours -- $1994 per boat -- 6 guests for wherever you want to go.


Sorry the pictures aren't very good -- when I discovered that I was having problems -- flash not working -- auto focus not working -- I stopped taking a lot of pictures.



Well-Known Member
thanks for the wonderful review of the cruise and also your pictures were great also. WE ARE looking forward in visiting all the ports that we have never been to on the two times we have cruises to Alaska. And we will be traveling with a great group of people also. I know I want to find a fishing trip for my husband in Homer and am going to try and SIGN UP FOR A TRAIN trip in Anchorage and not sign up with it on the ship but on my own. I know for sure we are going to do the duck tour in Ketchikan. And I have a whole year to plan everything. Again thanks you for your review


Senior Flea Coller Tester
Fun to revisit that same exact cruise again, via you!

Kodiak Island is beautiful to sail into. They didn't have a shuttle when we went there in August, so we walked all the way. Not a lot to see on Kodiak Island, but the Russian church, the wildlife center, the Baronoff Museum.. all were very interesting.

Sitka is my fav port. I could sail into and out of Sitka all day long. We walked from the port all the way to the Eagle Sanctuary and back. That is an amazing place.

Your narrative and great pics brought back lots of memories. Thanks Yonnie!