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Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Alaska Cruise Questions

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Alaska Cruise Questions

Sep 29th, 2015, 07:49 AM
  #1  
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Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Alaska Cruise Questions

We are not seasoned cruisers, having only done two cruises before, and this is our first trip to Alaska. I have placed a reservation on this cruise for mid-June of 2016. I can't seem to find any specific reviews on this particular ship to Alaska. I wonder if it recently started cruising to there. I can find reviews of it going to a the Mediterranean, etc.

Our last cruise was Australia/New Zealand with Regent and I'm afraid we were spoiled by the all inclusive aspect and the amazing food. But I can't justify the cost for this trip. Has anyone cruised to Alaska on the Nieuw Amsterdam? How would you rate the experience? Also, how important is it to do the ship's tours, or do you recommend we book private tours at the ports? Are they good about getting you back to the ship on time?

Thanks for your help!
Maggi is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 09:26 AM
  #2  
 
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I have sailed on Eurodam, which is in the same class as Nieuw Amsterdam, and I really liked the ship. I did a cruise in the Caribbean, so I took full advantage of booking a private cabana for the length of the cruise. In Alaska, that seems overkill since you'll be going in June, and the weather will likely not be conducive to being outdoors all the time. It's a big ship with a lot of good features.

But you will certainly find most aspects of HAL a noticeable downgrade from Regent Seven Seas. But these are lovely ships, and I really enjoyed my cruise and like the cruise line even though it's not a luxury experience. You're likely not seeing reviews of this cruise because HAL is just moving Nieuw Amsterdam to Alaska for the first season next year. I don't think it's sailed there before.

There's absolutely no reason to book shore excursions with the ship unless you're doing something very special. Almost everything can be booked in the ports. But if you want to do a flightseeing trip, I'd consider booking that in advance through the ship. It's a big expense and not always possible to book at the last minute, and if you were to miss the port you wouldn't want to have to pay for that.

Finally, just remember that "they" (meaning tour operators) have no obligation to get you back to the ship on time if they aren't working for your cruise line. It's your responsibility not to schedule something that will make you late. It's all on you ... and the ship has no obligation to wait for you if you aren't on a ship-sponsored tour. Having said that, most tour operators in Alaska live and die by the cruise trade, and if they didn't get their passengers back to the ship on time, they probably wouldn't stay in business long.
doug_stallings is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 06:34 PM
  #3  
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Thank you Doug, that helps a lot! I kind of figured we couldn't compare it to Regent, but then again it is less than 1/3 of the price too, so we have to be realistic. My husband is undergoing treatment and likely won't do many of the tours, while I will do some, so there is no point in paying for them in all-inclusive Regent.
Maggi is offline  
Sep 30th, 2015, 11:59 AM
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Maggi, search this forum for Alaska and you will find tons of information. You can always do shore excursions on the cheap by doing it on your own. With that said, make sure you are back on board with time to spare. The biggest benefit of booking a shore excursion through the ship is they will guarantee you back on board. If you are on your own and miss the boat, you have to pay your own way to the next port on your own dime.
Eschew is offline  
Sep 30th, 2015, 04:03 PM
  #5  
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Yes, Eschew, that is definitely a concern for me, one that almost keeps me from enjoying the excursion because I am so anxious to get back on time. We did that in Turkey - rented a car to drive to Ephesus with another couple. The whole time I was looking at my watch. I will look it up on the Alaska forum. Thanks!
Maggi is offline  
Oct 1st, 2015, 11:40 AM
  #6  
 
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Maggi, we love the great outdoor and since we live close to the west coast, we have been on a few Alaskan cruises through the years. Alaska ports are probably the easiest to do on your own without fear of missing the boat. The other good thing is that all tour operators in Alaska are licensed and controlled by the state so you won't come across "bad" operators like those you may come across elsewhere, like certain Caribbean ports which shall remain nameless.

Depending on your ports of call, or your likes / dislikes, I am certain people around the forum here will come up with thoughtful suggestions. You may also want to search through the Alaska cruise forum here for shore excursion ideas, as you won't have the same time frame as those who frequent the Alaska Forum.

Here is a trip report that you may find interesting about Alaska shore excursions.
http://www.fodors.com/community/crui...-the-cheap.cfm
Eschew is offline  
Oct 1st, 2015, 11:42 AM
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I was on a different HAL ship last month, with a different itinerary.

In Ketchikan, if you stick to the local area there is plenty of time to do a walking tour and take a bus ($2) to one or both of the totem park areas (Saxman and/or Totem Bight/Potlach Park). I preferred the latter. Visit on your own to Creek Street,if you want to walk some more up to Park district. There's also a local museum but I didn't do that.

If you were going somewhere far away that would be a different story.

We went to Haines, (not Skagway) which I enjoyed, just took the free local shuttle around town up to the Fort and into town to the museum. You can also rent a car.

I was underwhelmed with Juneau and the Mendenhall Glacier plus I had caught a cough at that point so didn't hike to the watherfall, also we had such a great experience in Glacier Bay, it suffered in comparison.

Not sure what the weather is like in June but in September it was spectacular!

One tip re HAL, is you can order room service off the dinner menu for the first hour the dining room is open. I was sorry I didn't try it earlier, it worked out really well.

The Lido buffet is atrocious, IMO, but I think I was spoiled on Royal Caribbean with the Windjammer (my only other cruise).
mlgb is offline  
Oct 6th, 2015, 08:17 PM
  #8  
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Thanks mlgb! Eschew, I read that trip report with interest and surely it will go along with me in my notes. Thanks.
Maggi is offline  
Oct 12th, 2015, 03:05 PM
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I'll agree wit mlgb about Ketchikan. We took the local bus to Totem Bight State Park then caught the same bus back into town - we told the very helpful bus driver we were going to Totem Heritage Center and he dropped us off a block away. After a brief visit there, it was a quick (and downhill!) walk to Creek Street.

We went to Skagway and that was the only HAL excusion we did (the White Pass and Yukon Railroad trip of 4 hours).

In Juneau we went to the Mendenhall glacier and walked around town (I stopped in at the Russian Orthodox church and was very kindly given a tour by the caretaker). A number of people from our ship went whale-watching there (non HAL excursions) and got back in plenty of time - and saw plenty of whales.

We were on the Oosterdam, and I'll also agree with mlgb about the Lido buffet.

Are you going to Glacier Bay? That was the highlight of our cruise.
dsquared is offline  
Oct 12th, 2015, 05:01 PM
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LOL..what's up with that buffet!!!

Although, they did always have smoked salmon at breakfast and I didn't have to chase all over the ship for it. One sea day I went to "real breakfast" at the dining room and ordered the pickled herring, yum.

I did like the bite-sized free snacks from the library coffee shop, especially the macarons.
mlgb is offline  
Oct 12th, 2015, 08:03 PM
  #11  
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We are the Nieuw Amsterdam June 18th Vancouver to Vancouver. I don't know how the buffet compares to the Oosterdam. I haven't yet decided which excursions to do. I am reading all this with interest. That you very much.
Maggi is offline  

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