This review is for the Diamond Princess, Voyage of the Glaciers, Vancouver-Whittier, July 7-14, 2012.
Embarkation: We arrived after 2pm. One of us in the party of six was in a wheelchair and she bypassed the long line. She was able to take one companion with her, the other four waited approximately 30 minutes to make it through. I really liked the fact they gave out ship maps at this point, can't emphasize enough how helpful those are!
Cabin: For our party of six, we had two mini-suites and one inside cabin. All were well maintained by a great cabin steward. Being tall, we requested a bed extender for one cabin and it was received within 24 hours. It is basically a plywood box, added to the foot of the bed. The steward moved the mattress down to cover it and added additional padding at the top of the bed. It worked out well. The showers in the mini-suites were no higher than 6'. The showers in the gym are taller and wider.
Dining: Although we were signed up for Anytime Dining, we created our own traditional dining. Most of the restaurants accepted reservations at either 6:15pm or 8:00pm and we opted for the later dining time. After dining at a great window table in the Savoy, I continued to make a reservation for that same table nightly. As usual, the left side of the menu contained items that were available every night and the right side of the menu contained nightly specials. Everyone in our party agreed that the food was excellent. The main course portions were quite large. Of course, the wait staff was always agreeable to bringing us two desserts or a main course for the table to share.
Buffet: Food in the Horizon Court was very good. At breakfast, you can request a made-to-order omelet near the egg station. Just look for the sign on the glass shelf above the sneeze guard that displays the selections for the omelet. Also of note were the international cuisines that were offered. I tried some great Indian and South African dishes. In the pool area, there was often a special buffet station (sushi, dessert, soup, etc.) set up. Check the Patter for details.
Activities: The Patter was always full of ideas to fill your day. Movies on TV and in the Theater, dance lessons, Zumba, demonstrations, etc. Production shows were pretty good, don't miss the International Crew Show on the last night -- very funny and great to see the crew's talents! The gym was well used on the first sea day, but attendance dropped off after that. A couple of us paid $30 to purchase three yoga classes. These were good, great to do something to burn off some calories! Always enjoyable is the 2.5x around the Promenade Deck to walk a mile.
Ports: We visited Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway.
Ketchikan: We split up and did different things. Two went on a kayak tour, independent of the ship. They had a great time, saw a bear and lots of eagles. One went fishing and he caught a fish. He was able to deliver the salmon to the ship and they cooked it for us the following night. Two of us went on a city tour and one went on a Duck Tour (amphibious boat). All were recommended activities. The town is very walkable and picturesque.
Juneau: Four of us walked around town and took a bus tour of the city and out to Mendenhall Glacier ($30 each), independent of the ship. There are lots of booths to purchase a tour/activity on the main dock. The other two in the group took the Glacier Bus ($16/rt) to Mendenhall Glacier. Everyone would recommend their activity.
Skagway: Four of us rented a van from Avis prior to arriving. We drove to the Yukon Territory. Heading out about 9am, we tried to pass all the tour buses and avoid the crowds. We stopped in Carcross and had ice cream and baked goods from the local shops. Cute little town with lots of history. Continued north for another few minutes to Emerald Lake, which was beautiful. Also stopped at Caribou Crossing (sort of a Frontier Land place) and looked at the animals, displays, etc. There is a restaurant, gift shop, and restrooms here. The other two in the group did the dog sled excursion from the ship. They enjoyed seeing the dogs and getting dragged around on a sled, in the mud. The ship's laundry was used later that day to clean up after this excursion! Another walkable town with the same gift shops as the other two ports. Try to patronize the stores that are Alaskan-owned and operated.
Glacier Bay: Very beautiful! We spent a few hours here. The Captain maneuvers the ship around so that each side of the ship has a view.
College Fjord: Very beautiful! So many glaciers and ice in the water. Although Glacier Bay was impressive with the size of the glaciers, College Fjord was impressive with the amount of glaciers. The ship spent a few hours here and we enjoyed the view from Deck 5 -- Lobby Bar.
Weather: Mid- to high 50s, but in Juneau and Skagway there was plenty of wind to make it feel colder. Glacier Bay was sheltered, so it was actually quite warm on deck, with little wind. College Fjord was chilly, probably due to all the ice and the fact we arrived in the early evening. The only moderately rough seas were on Day 5 and 6 going through the Gulf of Alaska.
Disembarkation: Tags and instructions arrived on Thursday evening. Painless disembarkation and ship arranged shuttle to airport. Anchorage airport is quite small and most of the amenities are after you enter the security area.