My DH and I are in our 60's ( I celebrated this milestone while on this cruise) and enjoyed our first trip to Alaska two weeks ago. We have wanted to go for some time and finely accomplished it. Now we know why many repeat the experience and return.
We flew in from Indiana to Fairbanks for our land portion with no problems other than jet lag. Our hotel in Fairbanks, Sophies Station was very sweet and comfortable. Nice restaurant. Took a picture of how light nit was at 12MN. HArd time sleeping that night. Next day went on the Riverboat Discovery which was great-relaxing, informative and fun. Included a really good lunch with beef stew ( reindeer). That evening we went to a salmon bake and theater which was okay, a little cheesy.
Next day train to Denali National Park which was scenic and a funtime with a great guide, bartender and good breakfast.Arrived in Denali to rain at about 12n. Our lodge at McKinley Chalet was very nice and comfortable had to use the shuttle back and forth to the main area but not a problem. Later we took a flight seeing tour of the park and MtMcKinley. The weaher improved and it was a beautiful trip even for me who Jeff King, Iditarod cham[ion x4. He was so entertaining and the loved the dogs/puppies.
Long train ride to Anchorage was enjoyable and scenic. Train travel was an enjoyable new experience and the McKinley explorer cars were very comfortable. Food/drink except coffee were extra charges as were most meals on tour portion. Spent night in Anchorage and then on to Seward to embark.
Embarkation was quick and easy, usual picture taking etc and then on to ship. We enjoyed lunch in Lido but this area turned out to be our least favorite as it seemed disorganized with limited options-one side roped off every evening for staff but we mingled anyway and no one seemed to mind. I did like HAL proactive push for hand sanitizing all the time. The first 48 hours we were served in the Lido, not help yourself. And captain/officers would not shake your hand ( or everyone else's)
First sea day calm and beautiful sunshine, smooth seas. Enjoyed pool area to read in sun, others did swim and use hot tubs. Enjoyed walking around ship deck and exploring. Show that evening good entertainment.
Ship itself was very nice despite being older and in need of refurbishment as others have commented.
It is well laid out and elegant and clean. Crew always cleaning something. We were in a suite which also could use updates but liked the storage and features. Use of Neptune lounge was a great convenience and well as laundry post land tour. Our room stewards were unobtrusive and efficient.
We enjoyed the dining room most nights, food very good. Also enjoyed the Kings Room for breakfast many mornings and room service once. Coffee at Explorations cafe was okay. The Terrace grill seemed to hit or miss with what was there and hours.
Glacier Bay was beautiful and scenic, We didn't stay at Marjerie more than 1 hour. Pretty chilly and wet this day but found it awe inspiring. Crows Nest was a mess of people who camped out rudely all day.
Our veranda worked well for a good part of this day, too.
Haines was a sweet quaint town. We enjoyed a morning tour and afternoon trail ride up a mouton which include a delicious meal. Weather improved here and was quite nice.
Juneau was gray and drizzly. We went whale watching with Weather Permitting and saw a couple whales but very close to our boat. It was exciting to hear their noises. We were a little disappointed in that for 3 hours we didn't see others but know that cannot be predicted or controlled. Saw a few eagles and sea lions. We ate lunch at the famous Red Dog Salon which was very good and a fun atmosphere. Then a little shopping. My DH would not go on the MT Roberts tram but it was cloudy and foggy anyway
Ketchikan was very touristy but shopped a little there at Creek Street area before the Deadliest Catch Tour-I went by myself as DH was not feeling well. I loved it and enjoyed the whole thing. We saw eagles galore close to use which was breathtaking. The crab fishing operations was interesting and informative as well as touching stories by these guides. Would highly recommend.
Inside passage--sea day was calm and slow. Scenic also. We didn't do much on the ship except pack and prepare for going home. Show that evening pretty good. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill for my birthday which was quite good.
Disembarkation--We had HAL transfers so we took our time as we had a 2pm flight. Everything went smoothly, very organized. Got to airport and thru security and customs with ease only to find our flight delayed already. Delays continued throughout afternoon with no information or announcements from United. You had to go up to ask ( long lines to do so as United had 2 attendants at their desk who occasionally went to clean a plane that did come in) for meal vouchers and to change our connecting flight to Chicago to the next morning. Never offered to rebook or get hotel until after 8pm.Flight arrived at 10:15pm, We arrived in Chicago at 5am, our flight to IND was 8:40am. Finally arrived home at noon.
Exhausting way to end a very nice vacation.