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  1. Hello All, As I look at last minute cruises to Alaska, there are a few boats (like the Nieuw Amsterdam) that stop cruising earlier than others. The NA's last cruise, as an example, leaves on 08/31 while others continue through September. I understand the general pros/cons of an Alaska cruise in September. My general question revolves around any concerns with sailing that "last cruise" in a given area? As an example, since the next step would (presumably) be a re-positioning activity of some kind, might they be "skimping" a bot on provisions, stocking up the galley, etc or perhaps looking at crew changes so folks might be "phoning it in" a bit? Anyway, just wondering your thoughts on this?
  2. I watched several of the online videos which were pretty helpful. Oddly enough, the "smaller" Signature Suites on the Kdam seem better suited to more people than the Neptune suite. The former has some segregation for the Murphy bed you mentioned vs. the "all in one room" settee "thing" in the Neptune suites.
  3. So as I began contemplating a last minute Alaskan cruise this year, the limited selection (especially for cabins) at the last minute had me looking at cruises for next Summer. I was planning to take the Nieuw Amsterdam (as we did last year), BUT it is being replaced by the Koningsdam. Last year we had a Signature Suite on the Nieuw Amsterdam and, of course, I started by looking at those. As some other threads here on CC have pointed out there are VERY few Signature Suites on the Koningsdam, which was surprising to me. However, as I began to compare the online videos of the various Koningsdam suites I was surprised at the new layout for the Signature Suites. Indeed, I'm not a fan. More investigation shows that the even pricier Neptune suites on the Kdam are much closer equivalent to the Signature Suites in everything from layout to size to deck positioning and number of suites. Even then, you lose the extra little "make-up" desk on the Kdam (although Kdam's Neptune cabin is wider). One of the biggest disappointments of the Kdam's Signature suites, however, involves the size of the balcony - they are much more shallow than the equivalent NA/Eurodam SS balconies. The Neptune balconies on the Kdam are essentially the same depth as the SS on NA/Euro. At the end of the day, to get the same Nieuw Amsterdam "Signature Suite" experience on the Kdam, I feel like I would really have to "pay up" for the Neptune suite...bummer. Given how few signature suites there are, I'm not sure why HAL bothered with them on the Kdam. Definitely a bummer and a clear "revenue generation" move by HAL (not surprising of course - Corporate America FTW!). Has anyone else noticed this?
  4. Here are some example routes on Holland America - 2 from Vancouver and 1 from Seattle. You can compare to see the amount of time in "open water" (i.e. not shielded by an island). As an aside, for Holland America at least, the route maps on the HAL sites are more accurate than the ones on Cruise Critic. I will say the routes can CHANGE (within reason) for a variety of reasons (probably "schedule" as much as anything else). The arrows show the open water areas.
  5. Thanks - this is great info. As a fun side note, my dad (and thus my family) was actually stationed in Alaska for 3 years in the 70s (Anchorage - Elmendorf Air Force Base), and as a result, YES I've been to the Alaska State fair and seen the giant vegetables! As I was the oldest, I may be the only one of my siblings old enough to remember it, but I've always had fond (and often funny) memories of my time there! I've also been to Denali which takes some of the sting out of not having been there on the last trip. Of course my wife just reminded me "I haven't!".
  6. LOL - yes, ships....As I was typing that novel I thought "I really need to change all these 'boat' references to 'ship'', but got distracted and forgot to go back and do it!.
  7. Honestly, it sounds like a round trip cruise out of Vancouver might be ideal for you unless you really want to see Denali in mainland Alaska. You will have less exposure to open oceans (less motion) and with Holland America or Princess you will definitely have opportunities to see glaciers (Glacier Bay for viewing from ship and helicopters to glaciers in either Skagway or Juneau). From my research last year, Holland America seemed to edge out Princess on food quality and cabin size. Princess had more entertainment options.
  8. Which boat are you on? The routes can be subtly different, but in general when your boat is in between an island and the Ocean, you will likely be on calm seas (barring a legit storm). When you are exposed to the Ocean, that's when you can be at greater risk. Regardless, on our trip last Summer I bought the sea bands (including the regular ones and the little electric shock one) and Dramamine (both regular and non-drowsy). I ended up using the regular sea bands and took some of the regular Dramamine before boarding. I did NOT take the non-drowsy Dramamine as I "tried it out" (which I recommend with any med) a week or so beforehand to make sure I had no weird issues with it...sure enough, it gave me a screaming headache. I could tolerate about half a tablet w/o it being unpleasant. Honestly, motion sickness is why I chose the Vancouver round trip instead of Seattle.
  9. Hello All, (Note: I may cross post this on the Holland America forum too) So last July my extended family and I took a round trip Alaska cruise out of Vancouver on Holland America's Niuew Amsterdam. I researched the heck out of it and specifically selected that route and boat. It was my first cruise and I LOVED IT! So this year has been insane with work, but i have a little break now and am toying with the idea of a last minute Alaska cruise here in the next few weeks for my wife and I - just to get to some cooler weather and really unwind. Of course as I look at the options, I keep coming back to the same decision points I ran into last year (ports, ship, route, time, etc.). We would only do a week so a land tour is not really on the table this year either I'm afraid. Given the last minute compromises (i.e. limited cabin choice, September weather, etc.), I am only considering this if I can do it for a tolerable sum. Having said that, a balcony is a must as is a more true "inside passage". Anyway, I have narrowed the choices somewhat to these two options: 1 - Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam - Balcony Guaranteed - 08/31-09/07 - Vancouver to Vancouver Roundtrip (note: this is the same cruise we did last year) Ship built in 2004; refit in early 2017 2 - Holland America's Westerdam - Signature Suite Guaranteed - 09/01-09/08 - Seward to Vancouver (Southbound) Ship built in 2010; refit at end of 2017 The boats are similar in size (about 2K passengers) but the Westerdam is an older class of ship (and 6 years older of course). The ports are, of course, almost identical - Glacier Bay, Juneau, Skagway & Ketchikan (besides the disembarkation obviously). However, the Nieuw Amsterdam does offer the Tracy Arm Excursion "from the boat" on the way to Juneau (assuming that excursion isn't already booked). The combined ship and airfare cost is only about $300 different for these two. The Items that come to mind on these two are: 1. Newer boat is generally going to be nicer - win Nieuw Amsterdam 2. Signature suite (which we had last year) is DEFINITELY nicer than a regular balcony cabin - win for Westerdam 3. Guaranteed cabins are always a crapshoot, BUT the Signature suites on Westerdam are virtually all located in great areas so the risk is low. Conversely, I (who am a bit prone to motion sickness), would be gambling a lot more with a "guaranteed" balcony (they are all over the ship - win for Westerdam. 4. Flying in/out of Vancouver is a lot simpler, cheaper and less tiring than flying in to Anchorage. The latter requires transport from Anchorage to Seward as well. Southbound would be ideal if we were doing a land tour, but we aren't - win for Nieuw Amsterdam. 5. As noted above, I am a bit prone to motion sickness. The Nieuw Amsterdam route is pretty much ideal for me, whereas the Westerdam crosses the Gulf of Alaska (in September) and could be rougher. If the Westerdam stopped at Hubbard Glacier it might be more "worth it" but it doesn't - win Nieuw Amsterdam. 6. The times in port are almost a wash, but the Westerdam does have a small advantage here for Juneau as it docks and leaves earlier (and in September it will get dark around 7:00 pm so any excursions running after that may not work out) - win Westerdam. 7. Overall route is almost a wash, but since the Nieuw Amsterdam does "pull over" on the way to Tracy Arm for a small boat excursion, it offers that option. Of coruse I have node idea if it is already fully booked. - win Niuew Amsterdam (small). Anyway, does anyone care to chime in on any of this with their thoughts/opinions? Anything I haven't thought of here??? No wrong answers of course!!! Itineraries:
  10. My extended family (adult siblings and my parents) and my wife and I did an Alaska cruise last Summer. We did not do a land tour, but instead did roundtrip out of Vancouver (note: several reasons for not doing land tour: cost, time away from work, Dad is 89 and weren't sure how well he would hold up on longer trip, etc. - if it had just been us, we likely would have done the land tour). This all happened after about 39 billion hours of Internet research (but that's me). Attached is the "brochure" I put together for our family before it was all said and done...you might get some ideas from it! Enjoy! Family Alaskan Cruise - v7 - de-identified.docx
  11. Thanks All - I really appreciate the feedback. I'm not as worried about the size impacting ports since, as folks note, the other ships are either as large or often much larger than the Kdam (not that anyone is a fan of "crowded"). I think there were 4 ships in port the day we arrived in Juneau last year. The "crowds" in ports were not an issue for us, perhaps because we were on excursions with smaller numbers of folks. Last year we all had balcony cabins and my wife and I splurged for a signature suite. While the extra room in the suite was definitely nice, I also found I appreciated the extra space on the balcony almost as much! I do tend to like to be outside (probably more than any other person on our trip) and spend a decent amount of time on both our balcony and the back lido deck (binoculars glued to my face as a I scanned intently for whales!) - it just isn't the same experience (for me) "inside" looking through a window. I neglected to specify that this next time around, it MAY just be my wife and I (not sure if my extended family will be able to make it...TBD). Honestly, while the smoking in the Casino is a bummer, I suspect the promenade deck would be the biggest "miss" for me based on the comments above (I am sort of in "denial" about it, but there are 2 or 3 videos on YouTube that tell the tale...sure the deck is still there and not entirely horrible, but I feel it is fair to say it is at least 75% less usable for viewing now). I would do the Eurodam, but prefer the sailings from Vancouver vs. Seattle (different route, etc.). All of this may push me to just try an entirely different route (maybe Southbound instead of round trip)...dang first world problems!!!
  12. So last year my (extended) family and I booked the Nieuw Amsterdam in Alaska. The short summary is we all loved it. Along those lines, I was thinking about booking a last minute trip this year on the same boat. As cabin options are limited I started looked at next year. To my surprise, the Nieuw Amsterdam is being moved to the Mediterranean next year and the Koningsdam is replacing it on the same route (Vancouver, Inside Passage, Round Trip). Anyway, in looked at the Kdam, it seems a bit like an "upsized" Nieuw Amsterdam. The biggest "downsides" I see are 30% more people (2650 or so vs. 2000), and the "smaller" promenade deck (both narrower overall and really narrow in many places and blocked by the lifeboats in others). The latter is a bit of a bummer of course in Alaska given the scenery. Based on the Hal "route maps" it appears to still follow the same path through the "true" inside passage (i.e. East of Vancouver Island, etc.) so the increased size doesn't look to be an issue in terms of route. I have to admit, the "newer" boat does have its own attraction (i.e. not a 100% replica of prior cruise, some newer venues like Rolling Stone Rock room, etc.)...oh one more downside: it looks to be pricier! Any other comments (pro or con)?
  13. Great write-up on a unique trip! What are your thoughts comparing the two ships? We were on the Nieuw Amsterdam last Summer (same itinerary) and I really loved it, BUT it was our first cruise so have no basis of comparison (of course I researched it for about 3.2 million hours and picked that boat on that route pretty deliberately).
  14. There are several posts here on this forum about that, but I liked Northstarr Trekking's offerings as they provided more time on the glacier itself. Others offer options for dog-sledding (not of interest to me, but others like it) on the glacier OR two different landing sites (i.e. take off land on glacier, walk around, take off again and land at a second site). It was very cool (no pun intended) being on the glacier itself, but I have to admit seeing it from the air was pretty awesome. The juxtaposition of the greenery, mountains, and ice is impressive.
  15. Hello All, So last year my extended family and I took our first cruise to Alaska. At that time, I researched the requisite 3.2 million hours and landed on Holland America as our desired cruise line. Both Princess and Holland America seemed to have a strong Alaska presence, access to Glacier Bay, no tendering at ports, etc. I also liked that the Nieuw Amsterdam wasn't THAT old AND had been recently refurbished (6 months prior). All told we had a great time and really enjoyed the ship, ports, and excursions. Anyway, we are now considering a New England/Canada cruise and I'd like to know if there are any lines with "better access" or "itineraries" in your opinions. From the research I have done so far, it actually seems like Holland America has some of the better routes and they can go all the way to Montreal (if we decide that is important). We know places like Quebec City and Bar Harbor are must. The "downsides" for Holland America this time around are the MUCH older and smaller ships (the latter does allow them to get to Montreal of course as they can get under one of the bridges I believe). Indeed, "older ships" seems to be somewhat the norm for these New England/Canada cruises. Anyway, happy to hear your thoughts!
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