Statendam September 13, 1998 Alaska Glacier Discovery Cruise
I am writing this review because I was impressed with this ship and how it was run. My wife and I had traveled on the Noordam in 1994, and the Westerdam in 1996. Our Glacier Discovery Cruise, beginning in Seward, Alaska on the Statendam has been our best cruise on Holland America Lines. They pronounce the ship's name as 'st-ah-ten-dam'.
Although I am not "culinarily" educated enough to declare the Statendam's food gourmet quality, I will state that just about every dish that was served was outstanding. The cruise director mentioned that our chef, Wolfgang Wasshausen, was the top chef for the Holland America Line ships. As the cruise progressed, I began to think that this was an accurate statement as the food was better than our experience on any prior cruise.
The Lido Deck contains a cafeteria-type restaurant that is totally glassed-in with windows and contains beautiful furnishings. It was a delight to be able to go there, select the food that I wanted, and enjoy the views while I ate. There is a build-your-own salad bar and a dessert table.
The Lido Deck also has an ice cream bar that was open from 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, 4 pm - 5 pm, and 11 pm - 12 mn. They serve four different flavors and have a soft ice cream machine. Toppings and cookies were available.
The Lido poolside area contained a hamburgers/hot dogs area that had all the trimmings, cole slaw and potato salad. A couple of times that week they also had a stir-fry going and pasta or pizza. I tried the pizza and it was lacking the 'bad for us' grease: it was topped with just the tomato sauce and cheese. They did have a veggieburger that my wife said was very good. You can probably tell that I took a week off from worrying about calories.
I would say that the coffee was the same in the Rotterdam Dining Room as it was in the Lido. Since I like my coffee full-flavored (like Starbucks), I found their coffee a tad weak. I understand that they must try and please the majority of the passengers.
These dress explanations came from the ship's Daily Program. Better explanations are probably contained in the booklet that is sent with the travel documents.
I did notice that people on this Alaskan cruise did dress in flannel and other warm clothing during the day. After four Caribbean cruises, it seemed strange that many passengers looked like they were dressed for camping or hiking, some even had backpacks. I had become used to seeing passengers in shorts and colorful light clothing.
The entertainment was excellent. They had five women and five men who composed the Statendam Cast. This was mainly a dance and song show. The lead singers had excellent voices. The Statendam Orchestra was also excellent. Here is how the entertainment in the Van Gogh Lounge went:
Once during the cruise they scheduled the show for second dinner sitting passengers during the first dinner time. I thought this was a good decision, as it allowed the Indonesian Crew Show to begin at 11 pm.
I was surprised that this ship did not 'push' drinks at the shows. There were one or maybe two cocktail waiters available, but you had to go find them if you wanted a drink. This was a big change from our experience from prior HAL cruises.
The Van Gogh Lounge was totally non-smoking.
My favorite was the Crow's Nest: it is located above the bridge and contains huge windows on three sides. All of the lounges had live music at various times.
Rotterdam Dining Room
What a beautiful two-story dining room, with open atrium and two staircases! There are huge glass windows around the three sides of the end of the ship for the diners to view the sea and landscape. The Indonesian waiters and busboys did a great job of taking our orders and serving. We had no pressure from the wine steward or cocktail waitresses. I did notice that the hours for breakfast and lunch were biased more for the late dinner seating passengers. We usually had eaten at the Lido dining area before the Rotterdam Dining Room opened up.
The following is a list of the entrees from one of the dinner menus:
A small combo provided light music.
Afternoon tea was provided either in the Explorers Lounge or the Rotterdam Dining Room, with live music.
We lucked out with an upgrade, so I can describe our mini-suite on the Veranda Deck. We had plenty of closet space for both hanging clothes and shelf space. We had a separate sitting area that contained a couch, TV/VCR, a large cabinet, chair, and mirror. We also had a small table and one armchair. The windows were almost floor to ceiling and had a clear view out onto our veranda, and the sea or landscape.
The shower was over the bathtub. The bathtub had a whirlpool which we never did try. The bathroom was plenty large for us. The beds were fairly firm and could be pushed together to make a queen size bed. I did notice some vibration from the diesel engines.
The cabin steward did an excellent job. He even obtained dinner from the Rotterdam Dining Room menu for my wife when she was ill.
The employees that ran the front desk did an outstanding job. I never once left their desk unhappy or in doubt of what they had told me. They communicated very well and were pleasing to talk to.
This ship is a floating art museum: they have oil paintings on the walls, many pieces in glass cases, and even a ship's cannon that was recovered from the ocean floor.
Eight elevators move the passengers between decks very quickly. We never had to wait very long for an elevator (even on disembarkation).
The cruise director informed us that Holland America Line absolutely would not provide tipping guidelines. It is their policy, too, not to specify any tipping amount. Instead they continue to state that you can tip what you like when you feel that good/extra service has been provided. Blank envelopes were available at the front desk.
Since we arrived at the ship in Seward at 7:40 pm, we passed through the embarkation process in about 3 minutes. I cannot comment on how the process went earlier in the day. Their booklet states that some passengers processed in during their day in Anchorage -- this probably spread out the process.
This ship is well organized by Captain Peter J. van Maurik, Cruise Director Edwin Rojas, and Hotel Manager Hans Dernison. We were provided with good information about the colored baggage tags that would be delivered and how the timing of the exit of the ship would be done. This lecture was also available as a taped replay on the TVs in the cabin on an ongoing basis. The passengers were asked to be out of their cabins by 9 am. We waited in the Ocean Bar area, where orange juice was available. Our exit of the ship into the Vancouver terminal was one of the easiest of any prior cruise we have taken.
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