My dad and I just wrapped up a trip of a lifetime to Alaska. We had an amazing time aboard Holland America Line‘s Eurodam on our 7-day Alaska cruise. This was a very special trip to honor my mom who passed away in October 2021. She had always wanted to do an Alaska cruise but never got the chance, so we did it in her honor.
Let’s get into my Holland America Alaska cruise review!
Table of Contents
Where we went on our Holland America Alaska cruise
Saturday: Departed Seattle, 3 p.m.
Sunday: At sea
Monday: Juneau, 1 p.m.-10 p.m.
Tuesday: Glacier Bay scenic cruising & Icy Strait Point evening arrival 6 p.m-10 p.m.
Wednesday: Sitka, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Thursday: Ketchikan, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
Friday: Victoria, British Columbia 8 p.m.-11 p.m.
Saturday: Seattle arrival, 7 a.m.
Our Holland America Alaska cruise left from Seattle on Saturday afternoon but we arrived Thursday night, which gave us a bit of a buffer in case our flight was delayed. The early arrival also allowed us to explore Seattle. It was our first time there and the weather cooperated. We had sunny skies and temps in the high 60s F. It was literally a warm welcome!
First up, we visited Pike Place and the original Starbucks in the early morning hours (thanks jetlag!) and retraced my mom’s footsteps from years ago when she went to Seattle on a business trip. We also went to the Seattle Art Museum and the Space Needle before the cruise left and had a lot of fun discovering Seattle.
My dad and I arrived at the ship on Saturday morning around 11am and the embarkation process had us on the boat and in our room at noon. One thing to note is that your luggage will be delivered to your room up to a couple of hours later, so keep any medication and other important items you might need right away in your carry-on.
The ship: Holland America Line’s Eurodam
The Eurodam was Holland America Line’s first Signature Class ship, completed in 2008, and accommodates about 2,100 passengers and is 936 feet long. It’s home to several specialty restaurants, a bunch of entertainment venues such as B.B. King’s Blues Club where you’ll hear all kinds of R&B classics, a World Stage for the dance, other performances, and talks, and Billboard Onboard.
There’s also a pickleball court on the top decks along with a basketball hoop, walking track, ping pong, pools, and hot tubs.
If relaxing at the spa is more your thing, you’ll find the Greenhouse Spa & Salon® up on Deck 9 next to the fitness center complete with hydropools that are perfect for sea days. There’s also a casino down on Deck 2 with both table games and slot machines.
We stayed in cabin 6170 of the Eurodam which is an aft verandah stateroom (balcony cabin) at the very back of the ship looking straight out. It has two twin beds that can be pushed together or kept separate, a couch that can be pulled out to a third bed, desk area, and a bathroom that had a bathtub (not just a shower).
I appreciated the different sized pillows and the fact that there were three per bed. They were comfy as well. It’s the little things, right?
We found the space to be very comfortable with plenty of room and adequate storage both under the bed and in the closets. The balconies on the aft cabins seem to be a little bigger than standard verandah cabins on the sides of the ship and had two chairs with footrests and a small table.
There were several electrical outlets in the cabin to charge your devices right next to the bed and by the desk. They all had USB outlets so you can plug your chargers directly into the USB ports.
The cabin was a 10/10. Zero complaints! We didn’t find it to be any louder or more prone to motion than other cabins so seasickness wasn’t an issue. I appreciate that Holland America ships all have classic styling and a relaxing feel in all the cabins — no crazy colors or anything so you’ll get great sleep!
Ports we visited on our Holland America Alaska cruise on the Eurodam
I told you a little bit about our short time in Seattle above and I’d definitely recommend spending a day or two in Seattle either before or after the cruise. There’s a lot to see and do and it’s well worth leaving yourself some extra time.
Our first port was Juneau and we had a whale watching/glacier excursion booked. It was a small group tour of just 20 people and included an easy hike to the Mendenhall Glacier first, followed up by a scenic trip on a whale watching boat.
The hike to the glacier is slow and easy and only about a mile long. The tour company has access to a private trail that takes you to the glacier, so there were no crowds along the way. Thank goodness our guide had bear spray just in case we encountered any grizzly bears. Luckily, we didn’t and I’m not sad we didn’t see any bears up close.
The Mendenhall Glacier is stunning in person and well worth the trip. We learned that it’s receding little by little each year so we’re glad to have seen it before it disappears. We also learned a bit about the area and its wildlife along the way. We even saw a porcupine in a tree.
Then, it was time to board our whale watching boat. We lucked out and saw about 15 humpback whales! Tour boats needs to stay 100 yards away from the whales, but even at that distance we saw the whales as they came to the surface and even did a few tail flips for us. It was an amazing sight to witness! They moved too quickly for me to get a photo, though.
Definitely wear layers, gloves, and bring a hat or headband to cover your ears. Even though we had nice weather and it was June, you might get a bit splashed like I did. It also got windy and quite cool toward the end of our tour and I was glad I dressed for the weather (high 40s F). More on what to wear below.
The next day in Glacier Bay was one of the highlights of our Holland America Alaska cruise. Just WOW! It reminded me of some of the sights from our Norway trip! It’s part of the scenic cruising and you stay on the ship and take in the views from the water.
The narrow bay is flanked by majestic terrain on both sides. From snow-capped mountains to glaciers and forests, it’s out of this world. Glacier Bay State Park was a perfect mix of calm and beauty in one. If you have the chance to go, DEFINITELY GO!
Something I appreciated that really helped us to see everything was how the captain stopped several times and slowly turned the ship 360 degrees. Everyone on board was able to see Glacier Bay in all its glory no matter what side their cabin was on.
Icy Strait Point
Later that day after hitting the casino a bit and trying our hand at pickleball, we pulled into Icy Strait Point around 6 p.m. and promptly hopped off the ship to head out to our kayaking excursion. Despite the fact that neither my dad nor I have kayaked much in the past decade, we figured it would be fun. Oh boy, were we in for a surprise.
For the life of us, we couldn’t get the dang tandem kayak to go straight for the first half of the tour. We were just laughing the whole time looking like degenerates at the very back of the group with the second tour guide.
We tried our best and finally got a little better and joined the rest of the group. Our group even saw a sea lion and bald eagle (probably laughing at our pitiful kayaking skills lol).
Kayaking is harder than it looks, let me say that. Thank goodness it was a beginner excursion, nothing strenuous, so we didn’t get too far behind. If you can paddle forward, you’re in good shape.
Along the way, the guides told us about the local area including the wildlife, what life is like there, and the price of groceries. They explained how everything has to be flown in and the meat and dairy products are nearly at their expiration date upon arrival.
You do get a bit wet while kayaking and the tour company provided us with special pants, a life jacket, and a leg covering so we wouldn’t get too wet, so rest assured you’ll have all the gear you need for this excursion.
We finished up around 9 p.m and had to get back to the ship. There was a cool gondola ride that I wish we had time for. Tom would have loved that. Next time, I guess! All in all, the kayaking was fun and once we figured things out, the tour went a lot more smoothly.
Also, if you stop like our group did a few times to listen to the guide, there are midges (insects) that will bite your face. My dad didn’t feel them biting him and when we got back to the ship, I gasped because his whole forehead looked like he had the measles. They faded after a day or so, but be prepared.
We didn’t have an excursion booked and decided to explore Sitka on our own. There’s a free shuttle bus right from the port that’ll get you into town in about 10 minutes. The downtown area is right on the water so you can walk around and take in the beautiful scenery while shopping or grabbing a bite to eat.
Check out the biggest King Crab legs I’ve ever seen. I thought they were fake at first!
We did a little souvenir shopping and then headed back to the ship in the afternoon.
Ketchikan was where we did the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s tour with crew from the Deadliest Catch reality show. It was the highlight of our trip and this gets a 10 out of 10. If you’re on the fence about what Alaska shore excursions might be right for you, definitely go with this one if you’re interested in fishing, wildlife, and good stories.
First up, you board the Aleutian Ballad that’s been outfitted for tours and you have the option to sit either upstairs or downstairs. Make sure you arrive early so you can get a front row seat.
It’s a 3-hour tour that stays within the calm waters of the Inside Passage, so you definitely won’t get seasick. Along the way, you’ll be treated to stories from Bering Sea fishermen and even get to see and hold some of the crabs they catch. The King Crabs were HUGE and the biggest I’ve ever seen. Everything is released back into the sea.
Two parts of the tour were especially moving for us. The first was when the fishermen threw bait into the water which attracted about 20-30 bald eagles. We saw them up close as they dove into the water to grab the fish with their claws.
They swooped down and around in this flying frenzy like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was quite a show! To be able to witness this in nature — not in a zoo — was extremely emotional for my dad and me and we knew my mom was with us. I’m so grateful we got to see that.
Quick aside: I actually made a memorial diamond from my mom’s ashes and she had her homecoming in March 2023. This special trip is the first (hopefully of many) where my mom came along in diamond form.
The second thing which was especially meaningful to us was when the crew members pulled up a crab pot that had a bunch of tags on it. They explained that each tag had a handwritten message from guests who wanted to honor a loved one and we knew it was something we wanted to contribute to as well. It was perfect, considering the whole purpose of our trip — to honor my mom and take her on her bucket list trip.
The donations go toward helping a local group of natives who have lost fishermen over the years. They depend on fishing to live and donations go toward helping their families. We made a donation and got our own blank tag that will then get attached to the crab pot with all the others. I wrote my message, signed the tag, and smiled despite the tears.
It was a rainy and cool night, so my dad and I decided to stay on the ship. It was a late arrival, and since we had food and drinks on the boat and were tired, we figured we’d catch Victoria another time and call it an early night.
Holland America Line Eurodam food
OK, let’s move on to what we ate!
For meals, you have several dining options on your Holland America Alaska cruise:
–Buffet on Deck 9, the Lido Deck (for breakfast, lunch and dinner)
–Main Dining Room on Decks 2-3 (for breakfast and dinner, and lunch on certain days)
–Specialty dining restaurants (additional fee, for lunch and dinner)
–Room service (24/7)
First, I’ll start with the most important meal of the day! We’re breakfast lovers and had no shortage of choices. Since it’s our favorite meal of the day, we went big and tried almost everything on the menu. Standouts for me were pancakes, French toast, Belgian waffles, omelets, and the sausage patties (you can’t get them in France!).
You can either have breakfast upstairs at the buffet on the Lido Deck 9, in the main dining room at a sit-down table with a menu and waiter, or opt for room service (which is free). We split our breakfasts between the buffet and main dining room.
We opted for a room service breakfast on the morning we arrived in Ketchikan, as we had an early excursion and the main dining room wasn’t open yet (had to be out the door by 7:30am and that’s when it opened). The buffet opens at 6 a.m., though for the early risers.
For lunch, we usually hit the buffet and had a small lunch and saved our appetite for dinner. I tried Dive-In and New York Pizza and both were excellent. Dive-In is kind of a Shake Shack-style place with a bunch of burger, hot dog, and fry options.
For dinner, we ate in the main dining room every night except for the first night where we had booked a table ahead of time at the Pinnacle Grill. You can book specialty restaurants ahead of time or once you’re on board, but if you have your heart set on a specific day and time, definitely reserve a table ahead of time or on the first day since reservations are required. My dad got lamb and I got chicken. Both were excellent. There are also vegetarian options.
To sum up my thoughts on the food, well, I can’t praise the food enough. We didn’t have a single subpar meal on the Eurodam. We ate everything from fish and shrimp to beef and lamb and even escargots. Desserts ranged from tiramisu, to a hot fudge ice cream sundae, to a fruit crumble, and so much more. Portions are on the medium size, I’d say. They were just right.
I’d also like to point out that the entire Holland America staff took extra care with my food allergy and no mistakes were made. I let the dining staff supervisor know about my problem with citrus right when we boarded and everyone was made aware.
This was really important to me because sometimes I get nervous at restaurants when the staff doesn’t seem too confident about what’s in their food, but this was not a problem at all on our cruise. I was so thankful that mealtime wasn’t stressful for me. Thanks, Holland America, for taking food allergies seriously.
What to pack for an Alaska cruise
This could be an entire post in and of itself, but here are a few quick tips for what to pack for an Alaska cruise in June.
A light rain jacket, thin goose down packable puffer jacket, both short and long sleeved shirts, and sturdy hiking shoes/sneakers are a must. It’s a good idea to wear non-cotton pants that won’t absorb water, so leave your jeans on the boat and opt for quick-drying pants on excursions.
A scarf, gloves, and a hat are must-have items as well. I wore a poncho (above) for our Whales & Trails tour and it served me well in the drizzle. An umbrella would have worked as well.
I’d recommend being prepared for a variety of weather conditions including rain and wind, with temps that range from the 40s-70s F. In Juneau, it was about 48 F as a high and it got cool and wet on our whale watching tour. Same for Glacier Bay — not warmer than 50 F and it was cloudy.
The sun came and went and I was glad I layered up. In the cooler ports, I had on a t-shirt, long sleeved medium-weight hoodie, my packable puffer jacket, and a thigh-length rain jacket (plus a scarf and gloves), plus sneakers. And I’m someone who is rarely cold. What I wore was perfect.
Other days, I left the puffer coat on the ship and just wore a long sleeve shirt and rain jacket.
Depending on your excursions, you may want to consider hiking boots and additional gear if you’re doing all-day hiking, fishing, etc. But for the average cruiser, what I’ve mentioned above is sufficient. Also keep in mind that there are laundry services on board.
If you are planning on going to the spa or the hot tubs or pool, don’t forget your swimsuit. On our first day as we left Seattle, it was in the low 70s F and people were in the pool, so it’s not always too cold to swim.
I will point out that our tour guides in Juneau remarked that it was a bit cooler than usual (in the 40s F), but still, definitely bring layers and be ready for anything. June really is the best time to go to Alaska — not quite peak season and not as much rain as later in the summer.
Things I brought that I never ended up wearing: Shorts, sandals, and my dress. The formal/gala nights are pretty low-key in Alaska and plenty of people opted out or just wore nice pants (it’s quite cool on the ship) and a dressy top — not a fancy dress. I also packed about four tops I never touched.
2 Things I should have brought that I forgot: A refillable water bottle. Totally slipped my mind! It’s great for both on the ship and off. This is the one I forgot (with a sports top).
Also, hand cream would have come in handy (couldn’t resist the pun!). While there’s regular body lotion in the cabin, a moisturizing hand cream would have been great to have. This is my favorite. Your hands will get dry from all the hand washing and hand sanitizer, as well as from the cool weather.
What’s a Holland America Line cruise like?
Before last summer when Tom and I went to Norway on Holland America’s Rotterdam, I didn’t know what to expect. As a teen and young adult, I had cruised on Carnival and wasn’t familiar with Holland America Line at all. When I asked around, people said it’s for elderly people and the ships don’t have much going on.
But the stereotypes didn’t hold true.
Alaska is a pretty active destination with many cruisers opting for active excursions like kayaking, hiking, and more, so I found the other passengers to be on the younger side overall. I’d say over 90% were American (whereas on our Norway trip, the majority were Dutch).
I don’t have stats from the cruise line, but the average age was probably 50 (not 80!), with many couples in their 20s and 30s and lots of multigenerational families cruising together.
Keep in mind that Holland America is an American-owned cruise line — Carnival Corporation is the parent company — and its cruises are for people who want a classic, upscale cruise experience at whatever age.
School is out in June in many areas of the U.S. so it makes sense that we saw a bunch of kids and teens. As we get further into the summer season, I’m sure that will only increase. The average age skews toward an older crowd outside of peak season.
If you haven’t seriously considered Holland America because it has a rep for being a cruise line for senior citizens, I’d urge you to reconsider. Yes, there were older folks on board but it was a nice mix. I definitely didn’t feel like I was on a retirement cruise by any means. Not that that would be a bad thing, but for those of you curious about the average age, I just wanted to share my experience.
While you won’t find water slides, rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, and wet tee shirt contests on Holland America, you will find great live music, destination talks, expertly choreographed dance shows on the World Stage, a casino, gym, spa, and a bunch of daily on-board activities like tai chi, pickleball, origami folding, a game room, and all kinds of other things to keep you busy.
Something I loved was the library where you can borrow a book for the duration of the cruise. I read Lucy Foley’s “The Paris Apartment” and loved sitting in the Barnes & Noble-esque library chairs watching the waves from the window. It was a perfect cruise (or beach) read!
Another highlight was the B.B. King’s Blues Club. The musicians ROCKED and often had crowds well after midnight. We also loved the dance shows. The six dancers that made up Step One performed beautifully.
Would I cruise with Holland America Line again?
Holland America has a more classic style and feels more low-key than other cruise lines. What I mean is that you won’t find activities on the schedule at 2 a.m. The shows don’t have a cast of 30 people. There’s also no nightclub/DJ, although there is a dance floor at B.B King’s and entertainment that can span well past midnight.
We also didn’t witness any crazy behavior that people sometimes associate with cruises. You know, overly inebriated folks who make a scene and that sort of thing while wearing their swimsuit to dinner. None of that to be found!
Holland America is classy and attracts a clientele looking for an upscale, cultured experience. Even in college, I was 20 going on 60 and am not big into nightlife and partying. I am an early riser and go to bed well before midnight, so some of the more lively nightlife you’ll find on other cruise lines isn’t my thing anyway.
For me, Holland America is suited to my personal cruise style. Great food, a nice selection of music and entertainment, nicely equipped gym, a casino and spa, and loads of areas in which to relax and hang out.
Our Holland America Alaska cruise was absolutely incredible and I hope my mom was able to enjoy it too. I have to believe she was there with us in spirit and is at peace. Cheers to Alaska and thank you to my dad. 😉 This was the most meaningful trip I’ve ever taken and it was brought me so much comfort to have been able to do it with my dad.
I hope you’ll check out Holland America Line for your next cruise to Alaska and that you’ll have as much fun as we did! It was truly a great experience.
Disclosure: Please note our Holland America Alaska cruise was NOT a press trip.
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