Having sailed on Princess in 2002 on a 6 night shortened itinerary, this was my first full-blown inside passage sailing since. Having tried various cruise lines on multiple sailings, I prefer Carnival and this cruise didn't disappoint.
My husband, former boss and his wife all arrived in Seattle the Sunday before our Tuesday, May 15th departure. We stayed at Hotel 1000 in downtown Seattle and I couldn't have been happier. If you wanted to be treated like royalty, stay there! We arranged for transportation to the ship on Tuesday and arrived around 11:15, was on the ship and having lunch before noon. It was by far an easy boarding experience. The weather for sail-away couldn't have been better, sunny and warm! The following day at sea was a bit choppy but nothing serious. I think everyone has pretty much covered the ship so I won't describe it here. I will say that I prefer the newer Carnival ships (i.e. Liberty) and this ship does show its age. I am not so sure what they did in dry dock except to add the slides and upgrade gym equipment. Bedding was super comfortable, and the rooms all look the same on every ship. I can't say enough about the food and service on this ship. The on-board singers in the atrium and casino areas was terrible, we've heard better on American Idol. As previously posted the band Hi-Lux was awesome-they performed in Cool Lounge at night. The gym is spectacular with lots of new equipment.
Ports and Excursions: Tracy Arm was our first "excursion" although we didn't get off the ship. I think we liked it better than Glacier Bay, lots to see and it lasted all afternoon. Even though we had a balcony we stayed upstairs so we could run side to side for better viewing. Next, we took the train in Skagway which was incredible. We booked through the cruise ship and couldn't have been happier. The next port was Juneau and we also booked through the ship to Taku Glacier Lodge via float plane. I can not stress enough how incredible this was. It started off somewhat foggy but cleared as we soared above 5 glaciers. Upon arrival at the lodge we had lunch and it was the best salmon I have ever had in my life and I eat a lot of salmon! They take you on a hike to a waterfall if you wish to go and the dogs accompany you, which made me feel better since there are several bear sitings. I so badly wanted to see a bear but didn't spot one until the plane was pulling away from the dock! This was our splurge excursion and it was worth every penny. Finally, Ketchican, our last port was where we did all our shopping. It was slightly raining but it didn't bother us one bit! In Victoria the winds were too strong to dock, although we made resevations for the steakhouse and didn't plan to get off. Now the Steakhouse! I've read it before and will say it again, it was worth five times what we paid, just bring an empty tummy because you will never be able to eat all they give you!
To sum it up, Carnival came through again with a rave review from me and my guests. As one last note, our traveling companions recently spent about $10K on an Oceana Cruise and said were much, much happier with this cruise!