Spectacular first-time cruise we will be back
I have long since wanted to do an Alaskan Cruise and we finally did it for my birthday! We flew into Vancouver from Australia the day before the cruise started and stayed at the St Regis. I highly recommend this hotel - everything is included, breakfast, WIFI and even phone calls back to Australia. On the day of the cruise we took a taxi to the port. Customs and check-in went fairly smooth, there were lots of people there as there were two ships leaving that day. But we didn't wait too long at customs and the cruise line check in was very fast.
Stateroom: We had a mini-suite on the Caribe deck aft. The suite was beautiful and clean. Lots of room to move around. The bathroom was beautiful and large, no problem having two people in the bathroom at the same time. The balcony was 2/3 covered with four chairs, two of them half reclining and a small table.
Service: The cabin steward did a brilliant job every day. I celebrated my birthday on the cruise and on the day, there More
was a sign on the door wishing me a happy birthday, 3 balloons and a card. I was also given another card to take to the dining room on my birthday to pass onto the head waiter. At dessert time, 3 waiters came with a gorgeous little birthday cake and sang happy birthday. What a way to celebrate. We had different dining room staff each day, but they all did a brilliant job.
Dining: We had any-time dining which was a good choice as it allowed us to go to dinner when we wanted to. We ate most meals in the main dining room as the Horizon cafe did not appeal to us. The meals in the main dining room were superb!
Entertainment: We went to all the shows and they were all very good. "On the Bayou" is recommended. We also saw two comedians with one of them being a bit funnier than the other one. We also attended a couple of lectures on Alaska and thoroughly enjoyed that.
Disembarkation: We disembarked in Whittier. That went very smooth. The cruise-line gave us a set time which was predetermined on what our plans where regarding tours and transfers. We had booked our own transfer over the Internet and pick up was smooth. It rained the day we arrived, but there was lots of undercover area for everyone who had to wait for their tour bus. Less
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Cabin review: Island Princess C706
Located aft, right next to the some suites. Opposite a service room, but apart from trolleys in the corridor, no extra noise. Close to public laundry. Close to aft viewing deck which very few people use.
Port and Shore Excursions
The trip to Mendenhall glacier was nice and the bus trip was on one of their regular buses. The glacier is spectacular!
We booked a whale-watch and glacier combo online before arriving in Juneau. The trip to Mendenhall glacier was nice and the bus trip was on one of their regular buses. The glacier is spectacular! The pickup to the Akuna Bay was fine too, but them it went downhill. It appeared that the had booked way more clients on the whale watch than anticipated. I was of the impression that the normally have around 25 people and that would have been nice. However, there were around 45 people on our boat and on arrival we were all cramped into the very small and narrow benches inside where we were given safety instructions. The boat had a lovely upstairs area, but only 12 people were allowed up there at anyone time. Of course those who got up there first, stayed up there for the remainder of the tour. The back viewing area was very small and the front viewing area was not much larger. Basically not all 45 persons were able to be outside at the same time. All in all, it was a very disappointing tour. Were there lots of whales, yes; were we able to see them, NO. The staff were not very helpful. I recommend you use one of the other operators who receive better feedback.
Misty Fjords Wilderness Cruise
We booked the Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer excursion through Princess Cruises which was by Allen Marine Tours. The boat has a heated enclosed area but you are free to go to the observation deck at any time.
The staff was very friendly and informative.\ We had a naturalist on board who told us the local history of the Fjords and about the wildlife.
There were hot drinks included and a small pastry served. Later we had a choice of Seafood Chowder or Vegetarian Chili and as a final snack we were offered crackers with salmon.
The waterfalls were spectacular and we saw lots of eagles and harbour seals. It gets cold up on the top deck, so dress warmly and bring gloves and a rain jacket.
White Pass Scenic Railway
We did the White Pass Rail and Bus Excursion which was fabulous. We were picked up at the port and driven to the train station. We took the train to Fraser BC and then were picked up again by our driver Mike and drove further into the Yukon to Emerald Lake. Mike as a guide and driver performed above and beyond what was expected of him. He was extremely helpful during the entire trip and very accommodating. We were in a small mini bus which made all the difference and allowed him to stop, u-turn and reverse to get the absolute best views of all the wild life that we encountered and it was never an issue for Mike the driver to go out of his way to provide the best possible viewing positions. We saw numerous bears along the side of the road. MIke also took us to a lookout just out of Skagway on the way back and provided us with some very interesting local town information. All in all, it was an awesome day and most to the credit of MIke! It was very important to both myself and my husband to note what an exceptional driver and tour guide Mike is!