Alaska is one of the most diverse landscapes in the United States. It has huge mountain ranges, a large variety of wild and marine animals, a long-standing cultural heritage and some of the best seafood in the area. It is also one of the most remote and elusive countries. For many travelers looking to visit all 50 states, Alaska is the last place to check out. Access to Alaska is not easy, it is impossible to drive from the contiguous United States for most of the year, and some areas have limited air access.
All of this makes Alaska a fascinating place to visit and why an Alaskan cruise is a popular way to see the final frontier.
We started with one7-Day Inside Alaska Cruisewith the cruise ship Holland AmericaStatek Koningsdam. Although I have visited Alaska hundreds of times, I was thrilled to be able to cross the water and see the state from the ocean. I enjoyed the itinerary which included the opportunity to see whales, cruise past stunning scenery, see glaciers that are sadly threatened by climate change and enjoy authentic Alaskan heritage.
Let's take a look at the ship, its amenities and entertainment, and what you can expect on this Alaska tour.
Once you enter the harbor, you won't want to miss the Koningsdam. The stunning mid-sized vessel stands out with its iconic deep blue hull and flowing lines throughout its architecture. The maximum passenger capacity is 2,650 passengers; we had about 1700 on our trip.
Inside the ship there is an intimate atmosphere, and the decor contrasts with simple elegance with traditional nautical motifs. The atmosphere on board is rich and lively. Music is the mainstay, live music covering blues, rock and roll and broadway, with venues dedicated to various musical genres and artists. Everything about the onboard experience speaks of a commitment to personal service.
As you walk through the atrium, your eye is immediately drawn to the central gallery, where a silver art structure hangs elegantly between three decks. Here you will find guest services and a tour desk. We found the tourist desk to be busy almost all the time. To avoid long queues, we suggest that the best time to visit is midday, when many travelers are heading towards the restaurant.
Walking through the corridors of the lower decks, you will come across characteristic shops, an art gallery and a photo gallery. I don't generally plan to do much shopping on a cruise ship, but I do like to browse what's on sale. My favorite souvenir is to grab a coffee mug, and there were several options for Holland America. With my morning coffee, I can now conjure up pleasant memories from my travels.
Outside there is a jogging track and a sports field for those who like to spend their time actively outside the house. Tony committed to his 10,000 steps a day. At the beginning of the season, the weather was a little chilly and the fresh air was quite fresh, but a jacket and a hat did the trick. I was good for about half a step before going inside for coffee.
Although the tour of the Inner Passage does not require time in the pool, a special group could be found in the water. The area around the Lido pool was fantastic - the perfect place to eat, relax, read, watch movies on the big screen or just relax. There are tables and chairs, lounge chairs, sofas and various seating arrangements. We were lucky enough to open the roof over the pool for two days at the beginning of May. We had plenty of time to enjoy the area during our days at sea, and if we were sailing somewhere with warm weather I would have expected the area to be constantly packed.
If you like the view of the bow of the ship while sipping a cocktail, head to the Crows Nest and Exploration Cafe, which marks the highest point of the ship on deck 12. This was probably my favorite spot on the ship. Chairs, sofas, chaise longues, two-seaters and various seating configurations made this a great place to admire the natural beauty of the inner passage. We could have a glass of wine and watch the sunset after a day of sightseeing, or relax and enjoy the calm waters as we sail past the spectacular scenery of British Columbia and Alaska. We were regular guests here.
The entertainment facilities on board the Koningsdam are also part of what makes this ship impressive, so let's take a look at what each has to offer.
Lincoln Center Stage i B. B. King's Blues Club
On Deck 2 (Plaza) is Lincoln Center Stage and B.B. Blues King Club. At Lincoln Center Stage, you'll find a small and intimate venue that focuses classical music on modern arrangements of traditional classics. Call it elevator music if you must, but it was pretty fun.
BED AND BREAKFAST. The King Blues Club plays, as you can imagine, the blues. If you want to get up and stand on your feet with rich southern soul and rock'n'roll, you will enjoy B.B. King's All-Star Band every night. And even those of us who prefer the blues from our seats had a good time. We stayed on set almost every night.
Billboard on board
This is a lounge for those who like to listen to soulful piano music. In the lounge there are two grand pianos on which two talented pianists will play from a catalog of over 100 compositions from 60 years of music. You can sing along or sit back and enjoy the show with a drink from the bar. We never picked the right time to enjoy the music here; instead of mourning this loss, we add it to the list of reasons why we should set sail again from Dutch America.
The World Stage is a huge circular music venue where guests can enjoy musical theatre. This huge venue occupies two decks and is the place to be for evening entertainment. The World Stage experience also includes innovative technology with a 270-degree rotating LED screen. It's a panoramic experience. We found the production programs entertaining and well-executed special effects.
Some of the enrichment lectures are also held on the world stage. We never felt crowded and the space always felt spread out, which is something to consider when managing your Covid travel experience.
It is an elegant room with soft seating, graceful lighting and a wooden dance floor. It's the perfect place to sip a few drinks and rock the dance floor with your loved one every night accompanied by a live jazz band. This is another place we didn't get a chance to check out.
Rolling Stone rock soba
Located on Deck 2 (Plaza), the Rolling Stone Rock Room is where the best rock music is presented. As children of the 60s and 70s it was nice to feel that there was entertainment for us. When we travel, we still turn on the radio in the car and sing.
We checked it out even though it wasn't regular and found it never crowded. On board you will find the expected slot machines and poker tables, as well as tournaments. There seemed to be a lot of regular players in Texas Hold'em, but that was about it. The casino might be busier on another route, maybe in the Caribbean, but since that wasn't a priority for us, the slow crowd didn't matter.
Spa and salon in the greenhouse
I always love a little pampering, but I just haven't had time to schedule a spa treatment. I did take a short tour though and it looked cozy and inviting. The spa spans two decks and offers beauty and wellness treatments accompanied by a view.
Right next to the spa there is a fitness center overlooking the sea. You can guess how much time I spent there.
Club room and loft
There were a few small children on our boat, but I didn't notice much going on with youth activities. With more kids on board, I can see how arts and crafts, sports, video game contests, scavenger hunts, team games, parties, etc. will keep the kids entertained and the parents entertained for a while.
Cottages on Koningsdam
It's easy to say that you're never in your cabin so it doesn't really matter, but we think you're wrong. We know it's always a balance between budget and personal preference, but we highly recommend looking for the best cabin possible.
An outdoor cabin means you can enjoy Southeast Alaska from your own room, even better when you can step out onto the balcony. It also means a little more room for breakfast in your room while you prepare for a day of sightseeing.
Several cabins are available on Koningsdam, from interior cabins to luxury king suites. Still, if the only way you can budget for your trip is to buy an inside cabin, we still say go for it. You just need to know that you need to spend a little more time setting up public spaces for the best vantage points.
Each cabin has two lower beds that can be converted into a queen or king bed. You will also have a flat screen TV, storage for your belongings (and space under the bed for your luggage) and a large bathroom with a shower.
The smallest cabin is a solo cabin, suitable for one person with an area of 127-172 m2. ft. and is equipped with a double bed. Inside cabins (without windows) and cabins with a sea view (external window, without balcony) are somewhat larger, with an area of 143-225 m2. These cabins have the same layout, with the sea view cabin having a window and a small seating area. If you are a family, there is a family room with a sea view suitable for up to five people.
Most cottages in Koningsdam have a veranda. Veranda Cottages are similar to the Ocean View Rooms in terms of offerings and size, and also have a private porch. We were in a cabin with a porch, located in the middle of the ship, no. 7126.
The next larger cabins are suites, with the Vista Suite slightly larger than the Veranda.
The Signature Suite is the second largest suite available, 393-400 square feet. meters and is equipped with a large sitting area, a veranda and a full-size spa bath and shower. There is also an additional shower cabin so you don't have to fight for a shower in the morning.
Finally, there are Neptun and Pinnacle Suites, the most luxurious of all suites. Apartments Neptun are approximately 465-502 m². ft. of space, including a front porch and a large sitting area. This is suitable for a couple who want more space to spread out. The Pinnacle Suite is a generous 1,290 square meters. ft. space, including the porch. It is perfect for family or friends in your apartment. For the Neptune and Pinnacle suites, you also have access to the exclusive Neptune Lounge, which offers a private concierge and other additional services.
Route of the internal passage
The seven-day Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver is a hit. You certainly won't be able to see everything – Alaska is a huge state after all – but it's a big attraction.
I had three goals for the trip - to see whales, glaciers and sled dogs. Check, check and check. And everything else I saw was icing on the cake.
The cruise departs from Canada Place Cruise Terminal in Vancouver. It was an easy drive from our home south of Seattle and the Peace Arch (Blaine - Surrey) border crossing was quick and efficient. No covid test required and they didn't ask for our vaccination cards (even though we had them), they just glanced at our passports and let us go.
Weekend traffic meant it was about a 40 minute drive to the pier on the main roads until we reached the centre. Parking is available at the terminal, but it can be crowded. We dropped our bags off the curb, which required going underground to the crack, leaving our bags with porters, then exiting the parking lot, circling the block, then re-entering the parking lot. This can be confusing because you have to exit and return to the same facility, just with a different exit.
The parking lot was officially full, but we saw someone leaving the convention center and grabbed a spot as they left. Some nearby plots accept reservations, but the port does not. For the week we were on the cruise, our parking fee was $247. While prices elsewhere were slightly lower, we were more than willing to pay for proximity and convenience. Some of the local hotels offer accommodation and sailing with parking. If you are further from the city center, you can take the subway to the Waterfront station and walk to the terminal (about 5 minutes). Please note that if you are coming, plan your arrival a day early. There are now too many travel variables to expect same-day arrivals.
Day 1 – boarding in Vancouver
The journey begins in Vancouver, a bustling port city nestled between the mountains and the sea. Vancouver is a city of great diversity, more than 40 percent of Vancouver residents were born outside of Canada. If you're departing from Seattle, it's a good idea to take a few days to see the city at the beginning (or end) of your cruise.
We were given boarding time and arrived almost on time. The signs were well placed in the terminal and the staff explained any confusion about where to go. When we were there, there were three ships in the port, so the place was busy.
There are several steps leading to the entrance to the ship. From ID checks and boarding passes, to security checks, medical document reviews and the ArriveCAN app, to Canadian and US customs procedures (by a strange coincidence you enter Canada and the US within a few steps of each other), then you get your ID on board . There are many hoops to jump through. Most were well organized. Most also moved slowly. All the cruise ship staff were welcoming and cheerful. All civil servants (both American and Canadian) were grumpy and bureaucratic. Pack patience. As we were on our first cruise of the season, I imagine the various government bodies will work out some issues and be a little more efficient, if not more pleasant, as the season progresses.
After boarding, we went to our cabin where our luggage was waiting for us. We quickly unpacked watching our mandatory safety video, then headed to our muster station to check in, then set off to explore the ship. We were on board to set sail and the adventure began.
We recommend using the VeriFly app. Although not required, Holland America uses it and there is a special line for passengers who have entered their details this way.
Second day - Scenic navigation through the inner passage
On the second day we sailed the Inside Passage from Canada to Alaska. It is a protected network of waterways that meander through an impressive display of Mother Nature. We spotted whales and other marine animals as well as brown bears and other wildlife along the coast. We saw a killer whale, a few otters and lots of birds, but it was probably early season for a lot more.
We attended an education to learn more about the local flora and fauna - what, when and where to see them - and spent more time getting to know the ship. We picked up the pace by hitting the promenade deck a few times, warming up with Baileys beer and coffee at one of the bars and catching up on something to read. I love sea days because of the rest they give me
Day three - Juneau
Juneau is America's most remote capital city. Since there are no roads leading to the city, the only way to get there is by plane or boat. It is surrounded by water, dense forests and mountain ranges. With only 32,000 year-round residents, the city thrives when the cruise ships arrive. And after a few years, the locals seemed pleased with our return.
Popular day trips include a visit to Mendenhall Glacier or, as we chose, whale watching. Juneau is a popular destination for humpback whales returning to Alaskan waters after a winter spent in warmer climates. There are many whale watching tours that vary in departure time, boat size, number of people, etc. Just pick the one that works, they all cover the same area and contain the same information.
We saw many humpback whales. There used to be whales to our left, whales to the right, and whales ahead. It was cold and raining and I didn't care. My goal of seeing whales was achieved and it was great. However, I didn't manage to take any great photos of the humpback whales.
We also saw lazy sea lions lounging on the buoy. These curious creatures are listed as endangered with only an estimated 10,000 left. It should be on my list of things to see, but I didn't know about them until we got there. I love when I learn so much while traveling.
The boat didn't leave Juneau until late, but we were cold and ready to head back. On warmer summer days, we would probably be tempted to walk around town.
Other optional tours offered by Holland America will take you fishing, partying at Taku Lodge, or exploring Mendenhall Glacier, the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, Salmon Creek, and Glacier Gardens. You can also go on a helicopter tour, a boat tour, mine exploration or even a seaplane ride.
Price $169.95. We rate the tour 5 stars, it's great value and worth every penny.
Fourth day - Skagway
Skagway was our second port of call, a town known for its involvement in the Gold Rush, an event that made Skagway one of the largest settlements in Alaska.
Although the gold rush ended in 1900, the town is like a living museum, much of which is preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park. This national park includes four locations, three in Skagway andpl w Seattle. Few became rich in the goldfields, and most of those who did were traders and equipment suppliers. Spending time in the city is a good way to learn more about the grueling life of a gold miner.
Our trip to Skagway was a dog sled ride, another one of my cruise goals. It took us about 30 minutes to walk from town to the dog camp. While our driver was full of funny stories that were good for a laugh, he was equally adept at spotting wildlife along the way. We saw many eagles, some flying and some sitting so close to us that we could see the details of their wings.
Our driver gave us very precise instructions on how to start the dog sledding adventure. I made it clear that it would be noisy upon arrival. Tony and I looked at each other and shrugged, but we were still aware of where we were going and what we were doing.
The noise was a cacophonous, multi-tonal mix of dog voices wanting to see us, pet us and get our attention. I fell in love there and then. We went straight to the sleigh and loaded up. Summer sleds are designed to seat about eight people and keep dogs on a year-round training schedule.
After filling up, we set off at a brisk pace, doing two laps around the course before heading back to the rest area to show our appreciation to the dogs. We went dog after dog, shared pets and scratches and told them what a good boy or girl they were. The dogs ate the same as me.
After the sleigh ride we went to see the puppies. There were two groups, some older puppies about five months old who will soon be integrated with the older dogs to start sled training, and younger puppies who are only a month old and still with their mother. We had the opportunity to hold younger puppies, all curled up and full of kisses. They will melt your heart and I say this as a cat lover.
The driver will drop you off in downtown Skagway or take you to the boat, and we decided to explore the downtown area a bit like most of the others on our trip. The boat doesn't leave until late, so you have plenty of time to get out and explore the city.
Other tour options include the White Pass Summit Railroad tour, biking the Klondike Highway, various hiking and biking tours, kayaking, gold panning, and gold rush tours.
Price $179.95. We rate this trip 5 stars, value for money, excellent quality and puse.
Fifth day - cruise in Glacier Bay National Park
This long-awaited day was full of worries because sailing to Glacier Bay is not always as easy as it seems. Glacier Bay is both a national park and a reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To protect the environment, a very limited number of cruise ships must enter the bay each day. The weather can also get in the way, sometimes it's so foggy that boats can't get in, and even if they can, it's hard to see the glaciers.
We experienced none of these difficulties - hooray - and slowly approached to view the famous tidal glaciers. Along the way we saw otters, sea lions and a few mountain goats, but unfortunately no bears, it is the Tidewater Glaciers that stretch from the mountains to the sea. Think of them as the mother of all glaciers and they often break off (calve) in water at sea level. We saw small pieces of ice floating in the water, but we didn't see anything break off while we were there.
We wanted to make the most of our day in Glacier Bay and were well prepared. To learn more, we listened to the speeches of the park ranger and the Hun Tlingit cultural guide. We were on board quite early in the morning to watch the boat sail through mossy forests, glaciers of various sizes and majestic mountains. In Glacier Bay, it is located above the glacier, the highest in the mountains.
We managed to see the amazing ones that stretch all the way to the water:
- Margerie Glacier - We spent a lot of time looking at Margerie from all sides. The glacier is about a mile wide, two-thirds above water and one-third below it, and about 21 miles long.
- Johns Hopkins Glacier - This glacier is also about a mile wide, just over half of which is above water. It is known for underwater calving.
- Great Pacific Glacier - Adjacent to Margerie and connected at one point, this glacier is about a mile and a third wide at the base and over 30 miles long on the ice side.
Tips for visiting the glacier: We split our time between the bow part of the ship, which was open all day, and the balcony of our cabin. The ship goes slowly, you have time to see everything. It didn't matter which side of the ship you were on as it circled the bay and you could see everything no matter which side you were on.
I have so many superlatives to describe our time here - amazing, amazing, beautiful, incredible - and none of them describe what we saw or how we felt. It was a 5 star day.
Recently, I mainly use iPhone for photography. I always have it on hand, functions and technology have improved a lot (I took pictures of everythingmy bookusing my phone) and it's easy. I also mostly used my phone during this trip. But in Glacier Bay I took out my DSLR, even though it seems a little clunky.
I am working on improving my photography skills and focusing on one step at a time.Book of photos from the tripbreaks it down into very simple tips, tricks and shooting challenges. As I flipped through the book quickly, I try to be patient and work on mastering one thing at a time. Thanks to Scott for sending me a copy of the book.
Day Six – Ketchikan
Ketchikan is located on the banks of the Tongass Narrows River, surrounded by lush green forests. It is best known for its long tradition of salmon fishing and well-preserved traditional Alaskan heritage. If you want to learn about the cultural heritage of Alaska Natives such as the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian, you'll be able to get some insight here.
It rains a lot in Ketchikan, and since the weather forecast called for a sunny day, we decided to walk around town instead of taking a trip to the harbor. It was a good choice. It was warm and sunny, there was no need to put on a jacket, so we sped up walking along historic Creek Street, a boardwalk built over Ketchikan Creek. We looked at totem poles, although for a more intimate exploration of a totem pole you can learn more about the Tlingit on a field trip.
Excursions to Port Ketchican included a visit to Totem Bight State Park, a visit to the Saxman Native Village, a dance performance, salmon and halibut fishing, the Great Alaskan Logger Show, electric bike and kayak rides.
We felt that we made the right choice by walking around the city. This was a great place to explore in person on a sunny day. We are not sure what our choice would be if the weather was bad.
When the ship sailed in the evening, we happily sat in Roda's nest and enjoyed the view. And a glass of wine.
Seventh day – Scenic navigation through the inner passage
If you missed out on seeing humpback or killer whales, this is your last chance as the ship heads south towards Vancouver.
We had a few sightings of whales, killer whales we believe, but mostly we used the time to relax and spend some time watching the world go by.
Eighth day – return to Vancouver
We returned to Vancouver to a very well organized disembarkation. You will return to Vancouver at 7:00 AM when you disembark and head home. Or you can stay in Vancouver for a while and see all the sights you missed on the first day.
Earlier this week, detailed instructions were left in our cabin with information on the disembarkation procedure, customs and immigration. Groups are assigned a color-coded departure time. With no flight to catch, we were in one of the later times, a treat we don't usually get when we have a flight to catch. We could take our time in the morning, have breakfast and then leave. After disembarking, we collected our luggage, went through the customs forms and headed home.
Eating in Koningsdam
We tried to get to all the pubs and managed pretty well, only missing one (Canaletto).
Before we get into the details and recommendations, a few general considerations. While on a cruise, I like to try new foods, something I haven't tried or don't make at home. Sometimes I discover wonderful new flavors, sometimes not so much. This is not a reflection of the prepared food, but my personal taste. No wonder reviews will be everywhere. I've tried to provide specific answers to our choice of dining options, as well as provide some recommendations to help you decide which choice is right for you.
Holland America also announced a newpermanent partnership with seafoodon all its ships sailing in Alaska.
We are wine drinkers. We drink wine with dinner almost every night at home and a cruise is no different. We put it in the budget. Holland America has an excellent wine program with a wide selection of both bottles and by the glass in all price ranges. We are always happy to work with the wine manager to help you choose, and we learn more every time we try something new or combine in a different way.
The wine list has great information to help you choose, but don't be afraid to ask questions about what goes with your particular dish. Buying in bottles gave slightly better value and if you don't finish it will be another night. We ordered a bottle at Pinnacle, didn't drink it all and asked for it the next night during dinner in the dining room. We also enjoyed trying the new selections by the glass, both for dinner and in the lounges.
Restaurants included in the price of the cruise
There are two seating options in the main dining room. We chose freestyle, which is the ability to choose the meal time yourself, whenever you want. This suited our personalities, our desire not to be organized the entire time of the cruise and gave us maximum flexibility. We also prefer later meals, rarely earlier than 19.30.
We ate one breakfast and two dinners in the dining room and our experiences were similar. The menu was varied with a good selection to suit all tastes but the service was slow and the food was not delivered hot. I never return anything and it was very nice - although not exceptional. The waiters were polite and cheerful. I truly believe this is a systemic issue that will be resolved and look forward to speaking with friends scheduled on later cruises.
The dining room spans two levels on the second and third decks. During our limited capacity sailing, the upper level was not open for dinner. It was used for afternoon tea, a wonderful treat that we enjoyed.
The one-time buffet has evolved into a rich menu selection served by the cruise staff. We used to come here for breakfast because it was quick and easy. You'll find common foods with surprising twists - eggs cooked to order as well as pancakes to order, sweet and savory dishes, cereals and breads, salads and meats.
I tried to eat healthy for breakfast, muesli and fresh fruit, because I knew I would go crazy for dinner. But the delicious cinnamon rolls kept beckoning me, and they were on my breakfast plate for the rest of the trip.
To dive into
Located by the pool, this was a quick option for sandwiches, salads and light meals. We had lunch here sitting on a deck chair overlooking the Inside Passage, Alaska. It's not fancy food, it's good fast food, just what we like for lunch.
New York pizza
Who doesn't love pizza? Choose from several special options or create your own, available in sizes perfect for one person. Or order two different types and share. We had lunch here on boarding days and that's what we did.
A great Dutch cafe
When the morning was coming to an end, we headed there. The line moved quickly and the service was efficient. Although special coffees are charged extra, the prices are acceptable. And the delicious things on the cake counter are included.
Special dining room
I'll start with our favorite, Rudi. We loved everything - the atmosphere, the decor, the service, the food - and we came back a second time. Executive chef Rudi Sodamin has created a gourmet seafood menu that combines classic French preparations with a modern flair and serves them in an elegant but not pretentious setting.
The dining experience begins with a complimentary aperitif and amuse-bouche (salmon-shaped cookie with salmon mousse inside). This is followed by a presentation of bread, warm bread wrapped in a cloth, accompanied by several spreads and snacks.
Then the appetizer, then the main course. The same main dish was eaten both nights - lobster tail. Superbly prepared, elegantly served, if I could take one thing away from the cruise, it would be the food. Oh yeah, there were pages that came with it, but I didn't care. I was there for the star attraction.
Tony chose grilled flounder one night and Coq au vin the next. He was delighted with both. His greatest honor to serve any meal is to say "I want that again." He said that both nights.
The culmination of the meal was a selection of chocolates, allowing time for a sweet treat before dessert was handed over. Big thumbs up for Crepes Suzette.
Rudi's filling plates are a creative culinary project. The whole collection in onebeautiful art book. I found out that CDs can be boughther, $113 plus shipping and I had my eye on Don't Be So Crabby. (This gallery page is not affiliated with Holland America.)
Supplement: $115.64 for two including tip. 5 stars. Worth every penny. Everyone. Single. Penny. If this was a restaurant in our neighborhood, I would be a regular.
This steak and chop house was a hit. We are predisposed to love steaks and this was fine. The service was a little slow but we stuck with the bottle of wine and the view so it didn't seem to matter. The display of users at nearby tables seemed a little jarring (including some inappropriate flashes).
The rookies were the shining stars. I had the lobster chowder, so delicious I would have licked the bowl if it wasn't grossly inappropriate. Tony loved shrimp. The steaks for dinner were good, absolutely nothing wrong with them. Everything was fantastic. It just pales in comparison to Rudis (unfair, I know).
Surcharge: $92.04 for two including tip. we would come back.
With dishes from China, Japan and Southeast Asia, I was interested in how they would translate from the menu to the table. I like these flavors a lot more than Tony's, he's a bit lukewarm about it all. It was a good choice for both of us.
Our appetizers were shrimp tempura (mine) and grilled ribs (Tony's). I made a better choice even though the ribs were still delicious. we shared.
For the main course, Tony chose beef fillet with wasabi, and I chose wok-roasted lobster (surcharge). For side dishes, we choose a mixed selection of fried mushrooms and rice. They were all solid choices. Dessert was a selection of sorbets. I wish we had time to go back and try a few more items from the menu - something that will last the next trip from Holland to America.
Surcharge: $68.44 for two including tip. Additional charge of $22.60 including lobster tip. we would come back. And they'll probably both order the lobster.
We missed Canaletto and its rotating daily menu. It's a solid menu with a mix of established favorites (lasagne bolognese, spaghetti alle vongole) and creative twists (pasta genovese, branzino alla siciliano). Next time.
Unlike many of our friends, we're just not sushi fans. Nami Sushi is in Tamarind so we checked it out but it won't be on our meal list. Sorry sushi lovers.
One morning we ordered breakfast to our room so we could eat while getting ready for an early trip. We picked the night before, put the card on the door and it was delivered on time.
The choice is limited, I would have preferred a few healthier options, but Tony was happy with the traditional egg dishes. Interestingly, unlike in the dining room, our meal in the room was warm.
Room service is not charged.
Cruise prices are always across the board. A special ticket price applies one week, and another one the following week. There are many packages, prices that include specialty restaurants and shore excursions, in addition to cruise-only prices. Be prepared to do some research and assess what is important to you and/or work with a travel agent who knows cruises well.
However, there are some incredibly hot deals on Holland America right now that offer reduced deposits, loads of inclusions and great prices. I've seen inside cabin prices starting at $349 per person and porch prices at $599 per person. However, the devil is in the details, but if a trip to Alaska is on your to-do list, now is the time to plan it.
A note about tips. A crew allowance of $31 per person per day (for two people) is added to your boat bill (prepayment can be arranged).
Although it is not necessary, I personally believe that one should go beyond the included pleasure. Your hotel and restaurant staff work hard for you every day. Enjoyed the refreshed cabin and attentive steward service. Not only are the waiters busy filling water and wine glasses, the waiters are also cleaning and tidying up and the waiters are delivering the meals as quickly as possible. All this with special wishes and help in entertainment. They deserve the biggest tip you can get.
What about Covid?
At the time of our departure, a Covid test was not required to enter Canada. Boarding was required. Since we were driving back, no test was required to return to the US via land crossing.
Masks were required at the cruise ship terminal during the boarding and disembarking process. On the ship, masks were recommended, but not mandatory. We decided to wear them when we were inside and social distancing was not possible.
Is a Holland America Alaska cruise right for you?
Koningsdam is a good choice for an Inside Passage cruise. Larger ships and small cruise ships ply the same waters, but Koningsdam seems to be the right size for this route. Big enough to offer a wide variety of cabins, a wide variety of dining options and to knock it out of the park with entertainment venues, yet small enough that you won't feel lost in the crowd. The ship can get relatively close to the glaciers, though certainly not within arm's reach, and has extensive viewing areas inside and out. It offers a wide range of pricing options so travelers can create the experience they want.
If every ship and every cruise line is known for something unique, I'd say that for the Koningsdam (and other Holland America ships) it's music and wine. If these are important to your vacation, this is an excellent choice.
Now that I'm home with my memories of Inside Passage and my morning coffee in a Holland America mug (a souvenir I collect while traveling), I understand why so many people are taking Alaska cruises again. Every day brings different weather and light that changes the experience; sometimes the light changes over several hours. The animals don't stick to a schedule, so every day is filled with excitement about what you'll see. Although it was our first Alaskan cruise, I don't think it will be our last.
Stick with your favorite cruise or vacation charter and use our tips and recommendations for planning an Alaska Inside Passage cruise.
Disclosure: We received a free cruise as media coverage of the ship and Dutch America's first cruise to Alaska. This post also contains affiliate links.
If you're looking for more cruise information to help you make your booking decision, you can find more of my cruise recommendations and informationher.
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Top ways to experience Inside Passage and nearby attractions. 100% of travelers recommend this experience. This number is based on the percentage of all Tripadvisor reviews for this product that have a bubble rating of 4 or higher. 93% of travelers recommend this experience.What is considered the Inside Passage on an Alaskan cruise? ›
What is the Inside Passage? Stretching hundreds of miles from Puget Sound, Washington, through the British Columbia coast and into the Gulf of Alaska, the Inside Passage includes more than 1,000 islands, seemingly endless shoreline and thousands of idyllic coves and bays.Is the Inside Passage rough? ›
As the Inside Passage is sheltered between the Pacific Coast islands and the mainland, the waters are quite calm and make for pleasant sailing through an incredibly scenic region.What is the dress code on the Koningsdam Alaska? ›
Smart Casual attire entails trousers and coloured shirts for men, with casual dresses, trousers and smart casual evening wear for ladies. Formal evenings are often the highlight of a voyage, with gentlemen in tuxedos and ladies showing off their lavish evening gowns.
The Inside Passage is a natural channel that crosses the set of islands, fjords and inlets along the southeast coast of Alaska. However, the term is usually extended to also include all of the land, both mainland coast and islands, surrounding this maritime passage.What's the best month to go on an Alaskan cruise? ›
Traditionally, July and August have been considered the best time to cruise to Alaska, as these months offer warm sun, long days, and abundant wildlife.What side of ship is best for Inside Passage Alaska? ›
Northbound Alaska cruises sail up the coastline through the Inside Passage and along Hubbard Glacier, so your best view of Alaska's scenic landmasses are likely on the starboard side of the ship.Is the Alaska Inside Passage rough? ›
Alaska Cruises Can Be Bumpy in the Gulf of Alaska
Rough Waters: The majority of sailing on an Alaska cruise is done in the protected waters of the Inside Passage, but ships sailing to Seward, Whittier or Anchorage must cross the Gulf of Alaska, which is much rougher.
“If ever there was a cruise itinerary built for a balcony, it's an Alaskan cruise. The landscapes are incredible and there's a high probability you'll see whales. We recommend you find a room with a balcony and avoid the inside staterooms.Can you see northern lights in Alaska Inside Passage? ›
We call it the Aurora Season. So yes, there are some very lucky cruise passengers who will see the northern lights in the Inside Passage late in the summer and fall, but don't bank on it. Southeast Alaska is a temperate rain forest, so precipitation and cloudy skies are more common.
Weather typically ranges from the 30s to a high of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. May itineraries invite guests to pack sweaters and jackets for easy layering.How long does it take to do the Inside Passage? ›
These cruises range from 8 - 15 days depending on the route and ship. Most begin and finish in either Juneau or Sitka and visit the main highlights and more.What do you see on the Inside Passage in Alaska? ›
The Inside Passage is home to Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Alaska Native peoples whose history is reflected in towering totem poles and whose vibrant culture can be seen today through art, song, and dance. Russian settlers left their legacy through onion-domed churches gleaming with icons.Which is better inside or outside passage in Alaska? ›
It's a matter of personal taste. Some people don't like open-jaw flights (flying into one city and out of another), and so prefer the round-trip Inside Passage route. Others don't mind that and enjoy the additional glacier visits of the Gulf cruise itineraries. It's entirely up to you.Can you wear jeans to dinner on a Holland America cruise? ›
Yes, you can wear jeans on a Holland America cruise with the exception of select restaurants on formal nights which are called Gala Nights. On Gala Nights, dress is formal and a suit, cocktail dress, or gown is suggested for women and jacket and tie, dark suit, or tuxedo is suggested for men.What kind of shoes do you need for an Alaskan cruise? ›
You'll need a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes to tread upon Alaska's mountainous terrain, which can be muddy or even snowy during cruise season. Member sue450 recommends bringing "a pair of waterproof hiking shoes (they look like tennis shoes but the Gore-Tex makes them absolutely waterproof).Do you need a swimsuit in Alaska? ›
Swimsuit. Though there aren't a lot of swimming holes in Alaska, there are plenty of pools, spas, and hot springs to be found. Don't get stuck watching everyone else relax in the water. Make sure you bring one along a swimsuit no matter where you're going.How do you travel inside the passage? ›
Inside Passage / Southeast Alaska
Most visitors explore Alaska's Inside Passage on a cruise ship. This area is an archipelago, after all, with towns situated on islands that aren't connected to one another by roads, so traveling by boat or plane is the only way to get from place to place.
If it's whales you want, it's whales you're gonna get. The best time to whale watch is from April to November, when approximately 600 humpbacks inhabit the waters of the northern Inside Passage. Whale watching tours are offered in Juneau and near Glacier Bay.Can you see glaciers on Inside Passage? ›
Depending on the Inside Passage Alaska cruise you choose, you may view the twin Sawyer Glaciers at the terminus of Tracy Arm, the Hubbard Glacier in Disenchantment Bay, the smartly named glaciers in College Fjord, or the mile-wide Margerie Glacier, a good spot for ice calving in Glacier Bay National Park.
A typical Alaska Cruise can cost between $600 and $5,000 per person, depending on the length of your cruise, the type of cruise you choose, and your room choice. We recommend budgeting an additional $1,000 to $1,500 per person for shore excursions to get the most out of your Alaskan cruise.What months can you see the northern lights on an Alaskan cruise? ›
This makes April through September the best time to cruise to Alaska to see the northern lights, especially near the autumnal and vernal equinoxes, when activity peaks. Now that you know when and where to go to see the northern lights, you can start preparing to enjoy the incredible experience.Can you see the northern lights while on an Alaskan cruise? ›
Cruise lines operating in Alaska, such as Holland America, Princess Cruises and UnCruise Adventures, have northern lights sign-up sheets so you don't have to stay up all night, every night, hoping to see the phenomenon.What is the best floor to sleep on on a cruise ship? ›
You want to be as close to the pivot point as possible to feel the least movement. Avoid cabins near the front (bow) or back (stern) and on decks higher than the middle deck of the ship. So, on a ship with fourteen passenger decks, your best options are below deck seven.What deck level is best on a cruise ship? ›
The best deck on a cruise ship to avoid seasickness is the lowest passenger deck. This is because the top of a ship sways from side to side much more than the bottom. To avoid motion sickness, choose a cabin close to the waterline.Is it worth it to upgrade to a balcony on a cruise? ›
Balcony cabins on cruise ships are more spacious due to the outside space. They have spectacular ocean views, fresh sea air, and a private seating area. Although these cabins are more expensive, the rewards of a private balcony sometimes outweigh the cost. If it fits within your budget, balcony cabins are worth it!Do people get sea sick on cruises to Alaska? ›
The Gulf of Alaska is also largely protected by the stretch of the Inside Passage, so for passengers that are very prone to seasickness, it is advised to take a cruise that goes through the Gulf.What towns are in the Alaskan Inside Passage? ›
Skip the Umbrella
Yes, rain in some parts of Alaska can be frequent. Still, it's best to leave the umbrella at home. You'll be all set with a hood on your all-weather jacket or a weatherproof hat that can pull double duty by protecting you from the rain and sun.
7 to 10 Days in Alaska
Most visitors spend a week to 10 days traveling in Alaska, either splitting that time between a cruise and a corresponding cruise tour or spending it all on a land itinerary. Our most popular trip package, the Best of Denali & Kenai Fjords, is seven days long.
Balcony cabins are less prominent on lower decks than on higher ones, but for those who enjoy an up-close view of the ocean, booking a lower deck balcony cabin can be quite nice. Carnival Cruise Line has gained a following for its cove balconies -- just a few decks above the water.What is the best month to see northern lights in Alaska? ›
The best time to see the northern lights in Alaska is between August and April, when less daylight leads to darker night skies.What clothes to wear in Alaska in May? ›
We wear waterproof/resistant clothing as a top layer because it is essential for Alaska's climate. For cooler days, wool/fleece sweaters and socks work well in layering and are very warm. Clothing Quick Tip: In May, you wear a waterproof jacket, water-resistant shoes, and waterproof pants on most days in Alaska.Do the northern lights happen every night in Alaska? ›
You may be surprised to find out that Alaska is the only place in North America where the northern lights happen every day.Do you need rain pants on Alaskan cruise? ›
On an August cruise to Alaska, remember to pack all of your waterproof gear—rain jacket, poncho, waterproof shoes, and water-resistant pants—in order to come as prepared as possible.Are pools heated on Alaska cruises? ›
Even on the Alaskan cruises, swimming is definitely an option. Here's why: the pools are heated when the outside temperature drops below 75. Brilliant idea!Are masks required on cruise ships to Alaska? ›
The State of Alaska does not require COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, or masking for travelers. However, individual businesses and communities may have their own requirements. Please check with businesses, cruise lines, and tour operators for their specific COVID-19 regulations.What ports are on the Inside Passage? ›
Where Do Alaska Inside Passage Cruises Stop? Alaska Inside Passage cruises usually stop at three or four ports. These include historic Gold Rush-era Skagway, Ketchikan (the "Salmon Capital of the World" and home to a notable number of Native Alaskan totems) and Juneau, Alaska's capital city.Will I see glaciers on Alaska cruise? ›
A cruise to Alaska is awe-inspiring, due in large part to the stunning glaciers you'll see while sailing the waters along the 49th state. But, different itineraries have different featured glaciers; you will usually have the option to see Hubbard Glacier or Glacier Bay (or Dawes Glacier) but not both.Is Inside Passage same as Glacier Bay? ›
With its abundant wildlife and tidewater glaciers, Glacier Bay National Park is one of the top destinations on cruise ship itineraries that explore Alaska's Inside Passage. Independent travelers can access Glacier Bay from the nearby town of Gustavus.
Inside Passage/Southeast; Southcentral; and Interior: daytime highs in the mid 50s to low 60s, with low temperatures in the low 40s. Far North/Arctic: daytime highs in the mid to upper 30s, with low temperatures in the mid 20s.What is the best part of an Alaskan cruise? ›
Alaska's glaciers and Wildlife is what most visitors to Alaska want to see. The good news is that almost every Alaska cruise itinerary will include glaciers and wildlife. Marine wildlife such as whales, harbor seals and sea lions may be seen from your cruise ship.Does Holland America allow you to bring water onboard? ›
Plastic water bottles are not allowed. However, an allowance of six liters, twelve (12) cans or cartons (500 ml in volume or less) or six (6) cans or cartons (1 liter in volume or less) of water are allowed per stateroom. Any amount in excess of this allowance will be not be allowed onboard.Do you have to dress up every night for dinner on a cruise? ›
At night for dinner guests can go for casual or smart casual clothes at most of the restaurants. Although for specialty restaurants in cruise ships a formal dress code is suggested. The cruise line does not have any kind of formal nights but 'Norwegian's night out' can be considered as the formal night.How do I not overpack for an Alaskan cruise? ›
- Think About What You'd Like to Do. ...
- Stick with a Basic Style - How to Not Overpack for a Cruise. ...
- Don't Be Scared to Stretch Out an Outfit's Wear. ...
- Don't Over-Plan for Emergencies. ...
- Pack Digital Reading Materials. ...
- Make an Inventory of What You're Packing.
Along with layers it is important to bring a backpack. This item will be invaluable when it warms up and you need to remove some of those layers. The second key item will be footwear. Overall, Alaska is very casual and tennis shoes are acceptable everywhere.Can you wear sneakers to a boat cruise? ›
Sneakers or comfortable walking shoes
If you're planning on doing a lot of walking around the ship during days at sea, it's a good idea to pack a pair of sneakers or other comfortable walking shoes.
During summer in Alaska, you'll usually find people wearing anything from shorts, flip flops, and tank tops to layers of rain gear.Should you wear sunscreen in Alaska? ›
Don't Forget the Sunscreen!
Cold weather can sometimes make us drop our guard against the sun. Sunscreen is still needed to protect sensitive skin from the sun, even if there is little sun to be seen here in Alaska!
Another essential for your cruise packing to Alaska is gloves and socks. You don't want to travel to the cruise without a pair of gloves and a pair of socks. Different glove styles are available online or you can buy it from the showrooms if you don't stay in a place with cold weather.
The best way to explore the various ports and settlements along the Inside Passage is definitely by ferry. That way, you can make the most of being able to hop around and you can also bring a campervan along to create your very own itinerary.What side of the ship is inside passage cruise? ›
You want to look at which way you are sailing. If you are cruising north, it's best to select a starboard (or right side) stateroom since the land is on that side. When sailing south from Alaska to Vancouver or Seattle, choose a port (left side) stateroom.What is better inside or outside passage Alaska? ›
It's a matter of personal taste. Some people don't like open-jaw flights (flying into one city and out of another), and so prefer the round-trip Inside Passage route. Others don't mind that and enjoy the additional glacier visits of the Gulf cruise itineraries. It's entirely up to you.What is the best month for whale watching in Alaska? ›
Alaska's peak whale season is considered to be May through September, and it's during this time that the boat tours operate.What kind of whales will you see at the the Inside Passage? ›
Humpback whales and orcas are found throughout the Inside Passage, (Southeast Alaska), during most of the year and minke whales are also occasionally sighted.Which side of ship is best for Inside Passage Alaska? ›
Northbound Alaska cruises sail up the coastline through the Inside Passage and along Hubbard Glacier, so your best view of Alaska's scenic landmasses are likely on the starboard side of the ship. Southbound Alaska cruises are the opposite.Is it worth having a balcony on an Alaska cruise? ›
On an Alaska cruise, a balcony cabin provides your own private viewing space to take in spectacular scenery, glaciers, wildlife, and more. While this category of staterooms comes with a higher price tag, the benefits offered on an Alaska cruise will make a huge difference and is well worth the investment.How much money should I take on a 7 day cruise? ›
As a general rule, plan to have $50 to $100 each day in the local currency. Also, you may want to bring an extra $20 a day for tipping crew members. Make sure to include smaller bills for tips. Fifty to a hundred dollars a day should be enough to cover small purchases, tips and snacks at each port.What is the best month to go to Alaska on a cruise? ›
Traditionally, July and August have been considered the best time to cruise to Alaska, as these months offer warm sun, long days, and abundant wildlife.Is it too cold to cruise Alaska in May? ›
Thanks to the modest daytime temperatures and refreshing evening climates, May is peak season for many of Alaska's most cherished wildlife. Weather typically ranges from the 30s to a high of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. May itineraries invite guests to pack sweaters and jackets for easy layering.
- Arctic clothing. ...
- Winter shoes. ...
- Base layer. ...
- Mid layer. ...
- Long johns. ...
- Windproof or ski pants. ...
- Winter jacket. ...
- Wool accessories.
There are many opportunities to see grizzly bears (brown bears that live inland) on an Alaska Cruisetour that combines a cruise with several days in Alaska's northwest interior. But if you are unable to extend your vacation, there are plenty of chances to see bears in Alaska's southeastern cruise ports.How long does the Inside Passage take? ›
If you are going as far as Juneau or Sitka, you'll want to take a minimum of eight weeks to cruise round-trip. You could cruise for years in the Inside Passage and never see everything.Is a balcony cabin worth it on an Alaskan cruise? ›
On an Alaska cruise, a balcony cabin provides your own private viewing space to take in spectacular scenery, glaciers, wildlife, and more. While this category of staterooms comes with a higher price tag, the benefits offered on an Alaska cruise will make a huge difference and is well worth the investment.Do you see glaciers in the Inside Passage? ›
Shaped by the staggering force of massive glaciers millions of years ago, Alaska's Inside Passage stretches 500 miles along the Pacific Ocean and boasts wildlife-filled fjords, tidewater glaciers, and lush island scenery.Where does the Inside Passage start and end? ›
The Inside Passage, also called the Inland Passage or the Inner Passage, is a stretch of protected ocean approx. 1,500 km long, that runs from Puget Sound in Washington State, USA, along the British Columbia, Canada coastline, to Skagway, Alaska, USA.What is the average temperature on an Alaskan cruise? ›
Weather typically ranges from the 30s to a high of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. May itineraries invite guests to pack sweaters and jackets for easy layering.How much money should I take on an Alaskan cruise? ›
A typical Alaska Cruise can cost between $600 and $5,000 per person, depending on the length of your cruise, the type of cruise you choose, and your room choice. We recommend budgeting an additional $1,000 to $1,500 per person for shore excursions to get the most out of your Alaskan cruise.Do you need a bathing suit on an Alaskan cruise? ›
Swimsuit. Bringing a swimsuit on your cruise to Alaska might sound unnecessary, but remember, all of our ships have solariums with heated pools, spas, and hot tubs. Bring at least one swimsuit just in case you feel like taking a dip during your vacation.