It’s been about 15 years since I took a cruise and the first cruise for my boyfriend. After exploring the Alaska interior last summer, we thought taking an Alaska cruise would be a great way to experience Alaska from a different perspective. As childfree millennials, we are in a unique demographic – younger than a typical Holland America crowd but drawn by the appeal of less families with kids.
The service we received on Holland America was top-notch. They really pride themselves on giving passengers a top-notch experience
The ability to see the beauty of Alaska from a different point of view. Waking up to see nature right outside our window was something you won’t get in the Alaska interior
Things to do: the shows and entertainment were comprised of talented performers. Including a dueling piano bar and a dance group. The talks offered by the cruise ship director and naturalist provided were informative and interesting. The in-room movies were all free and even relevant to our stops (a couple of Alaska-specific movies they discussed in their talks were available) As a former dancer I loved all 4 of the dance shows. We often found ourselves at the piano bar afterward where you can request your favorite song.
The Holland America app made it easy to make dinner reservations, see what events are happening and add anything to your custom itinerary. You can also chat with fellow passengers since there is no wifi (unless you pay for it – see below) which was great when we got separated and needed to meetup anywhere.
Food: 4 of the 6 nights we opted for the specialty restaurants. Tamarind was our favorite with Pinnacle grill our second. In general, cruise ship food was good, all things considered. Fish in our sushi meal and lobster were previously frozen, so I recommend the steak and lamb instead which was tender and delicious
Public areas: The relaxation room between the spa and gym was our favorite place to find peace and quiet. It’s hidden and mostly meant for people waiting for spa services but open for all passengers.
The social aspect…
Not really a pro or a con perse – but an observation. We went in early May, only the second excursion of the Alaska season. I was pretty surprised by the amount of peo9ple who were avid cruisers. The cruise had just finished its re-positioning from the Caribbean on a 3-week cruise through the Panama canal. There were people who had been on it since it was docked in Florida. The crowd in general was older (60-70s). None were unfriendly, but the conversation was usually one-sided. In retrospect, I realized later none had asked us a single question about ourselves. Maybe that’s just situational specific to us or just because some people had been cruising so long they knew we were just the same weekly people and had no interest in meeting new people. Or maybe it was just us! (LOL) either way, I didn’t come away feeling like I met lifelong friends, nor did I feel like anyone was unfriendly either. It was a cordial in-between friendly vibe.
Wifi: I have to admit I didn’t expect to be without a computer or cell service for a week or I might have planned differently. You’re pretty much only able to access the app until you get to a port (which is 48 hours from Seattle to the first port in Juneau) For those who did purchase the wifi package (over $100) the reports were that the wifi was slow. And the staff at customer relations didn’t recommend it unless necessary. Bring a book, download a podcast, or a coloring book to keep yourself busy if you aren’t into the pre-fixed activities the cruise offers. The pros to this were it formed me to disconnect from the world and enjoy our time together without distraction
Kids: This really isn’t the cruise line to bring your kids on, but there were a couple of families who did anyway. The kids and teens spent the entire time in the pools and hot tubs (not that I can blame them) but we didn’t get a chance to enjoy the pools or hot tubs once. The entertainment included a comedian with adult, who clearly felt uncomfortable that they brought an 8-year-old to a show, and while they did have a kids club, it just didn’t seem to be the cruise for kids to have fun. I encourage anyone with families to find a cruise line better suited for the age group.
Hot tubs and pools: They all close at 9, which felt early for us. . We typically enjoy a hot tuba t the end of the day, but with shows and entertainment all ending around 9 pm, the only opportune time was in the morning or afternoon (when the kids were also in the pool or hot tub) The hot tubs only held about 4 people and the adult-only pool which was outside was never enforced to have no kids in it. There is a thermal adult-only spa you can enjoy for an additional $150 fee for the trip, but you need to book it on the first-day as it fills up fast. We learned this when we casually walked into the spa on the second morning and they informed us it was full )boo) IT’s also quite a steep fee to pay if you’re just looking for a separate hot tub away from screaming kids.
Food: With food being available at all hours of the day, it felt like it was something to do if we were bored. By the end of the cruise, I felt as bloated as a beached whale. Could I have controlled myself better? Of course, but if you’re the type of person who eats food if its available, just know ahead of time. . I found it They do a good job of taking away the food at the right times so you have a chance to work up an appetite for dinner, but in general I feel like I enjoy food a bit more when it comes in limited quantities that I can enjoy, rather than stuffing my face trying to try all the desserts.
Overall thoughts on the holland America Alaska cruise as a childfree millennial:
I’m certainly glad we did it! Would I do it again? Probably not. Why visit the same places when you can see somewhere new?!