This was our very first cruise. Absolutely loved Alaska! I'll cherish the memories forever of the spectacular scenery and wonderful experiences we had. The cruise itself......it had it's highs and lows for me. Don't think we'll go on another. We're just not "cruise folk". Everyone is different, which is what makes the world go round.
The excursions we took were fabulous and the weather always cooperated just as we began each one (rain would stop or the sun come out). Couldn't have asked for better timing.
Seattle was a beautiful city. We arrived the day before the cruise and toured the Space Needle (plan a lot of time to see this...lines were long for both buying tickets and waiting for the elevators (both coming and going). Pikes Market was such an interesting place! I wish I had a place like that near me! We had dinner that night at "Salty's". Great seafood and the view of the Seatle skyline was gorgeous. They offer complimentary round trip limo service from certain downtown hotels (check Salty's website for the hotel list)if you are one of the first three people to make a reservation for that night. I called two and a half weeks out and was the first one that evening! Limo was fun and the driver gave a mini tour talk of Seattle as he was driving.
Our balcony room (port side) was lovely and we were on the Caribe deck. We paid $60.00 extra to be on this deck as the rooms have a bigger (deeper) outside balcony and contain two lounge chairs besides the two standard ones. Our steward was great. He knew just when to do up the room when we were out. Lots of closet space and a strong powerful hot shower. Bed was comfy after asking for a mattress topper. Ask for a couple of deck chair blankets for sitting outside on your deck!
The food on the cruise, though, wasn't very good at all in my opinion (and I'm not a foodie or food snob). EVERYTHING we had was lukewarm or cool. Even at the sit down dinners. Nothing worse than warm lobster tail with a bowl of cool butter to dip it in. Service was spotty and never once did the waiter come back and ask us how the meal was (until the end when he cleared the plate) or refill the water/beverage glasses without us having to beckon him over. The buffet selection was the same every morning for breakfast....same choices and not that many. Many times the serving trays would be empty and you'd have to wait for them to bring more out. By that time the food was even cooler! Even the same dry pastries every morning were the same.
I have to praise the International section, though, off of the piazza. Fabulous HOT soups, delicious sandwiches and very yummy desserts. The desserts on the cruise were the best part of all of the meals as was the pizza and hamburgers (even though you had to go out in the open 43 degree air to get to where they were located!).
As far as the formal nights, there was a variety of everything from tuxes to shorts and rubber flip flops! I'd say that "very formal" was in the minority. Maybe half the crowd was what I'd called dressed up.
The ship itself is gorgeous and both the evening and daytime entertainment was VERY enjoyable. Vine bar had a nice trio of various wine samplers to buy for a reasonable price. The central piazza was gorgeous. Lots of variety and venues to choose from. The piano bar gentleman was great! The "British Invasion" stage show was amazing! These singers and dancers work very hard each night putting on a different theme show. The "Motown" show was excellent also.
I do think the Golden is better suited for warm weather cruising, though. There were definitely some disadvantages to the way the ship is laid out/designed for cruising Alaska. Certain sections of the buffet area get blasted with cold winds as the glass doors open and close every time someone steps on the automatic door opener located under the carpet. Brrrrrrrrrr! Also one of the dining rooms (I forget which one) has cold wind circulating thru it sometimes when that particular gangway door (located right next to it) is opened for leaving the ship! Even the wait staff said it was breezy!
I highly recommend taking the whale watching tour with Harv and Marv in Juneau. Six on a boat and the captain would be talking to other boat captains all of the time to find out where the whales were. Got to see a bunch of whales including a breech by a young whale with it's mother. We stayed on (didn't return with them to the ship) when they took us by bus to Mendenhall Glacier. Spent an additional 90 minutes or so there walking down to the waterfall and lake to get up closer to the Glacier. Was totally worth it!
Chilkoot's White Pass seven hour bus/train tour(Skagway) was spectacular and the small passenger bus was perfect as the driver was able to stop a dozen times to grab photos and to stop for the bear sightings (even did a U-turn and backed up several times to catch them). Something the big busses wouldn't be able to do. Train ride back went thru some spectacular scenery.
We enjoyed our two Princess excursions also. First one in Ketchikan (lumberjack show and Totem Bight village) and the night tour of Butchart Gardens in Victoria. OMG! The most gorgeous flowers/gardens I have ever seen!
We met some wonderful members from here onboard and even shared a few excursions with them. So nice to finally see faces!
All in all we enjoyed ourselves, as the main purpose to us was to get to see Alaska and not so much emphasis on the ship/cruise itself.
Here is a LONG slideshow of our cruise. You can click on the blue text "Full Screen" (located in the LR corner) if you want to view the pics bigger.....
Here are five short videos also.....the first two from the whale watching tour and the remaining three from the White Pass bus/train tour in Skagway.....