Embarkation: Embarkation was very swift, considering the amount of cruisers, and their individual situations, ie: the ones asking for upgrades, the ones that had an outstanding balance on their cruise, the ones who weren't prepared with their documentation, and foreigners that had to go through customs and immigration which had nothing to do with the cruise ship's operation. I found RCI's front line shore personnel to be very prepared and professional throughout this process. To the extent that they even had a snack and coffee spread in the waiting area at the terminal which was a nice touch.
Marine Staff: Extremely professional and very well prepared to handle any questions posed. Taken in consideration that these individuals are there to navigate the ship, not entertain the guests, all of the Officers I encountered, from the Captain, Staff Captain, to the men in overalls, (I guess they were from the Engine Room), were quick to share a welcome greeting and a smile.
Hotel Staff: Absolutely wonderful! There was not one who didn't go out of their way to please us. From the maintenance staff working in the rest rooms and cleaning the common areas, our Cabin Attendant, to the Hotel Manager who was a round jolly looking man with a great sense of humor! He must have been Irish.
Bars: The drinks are reasonably priced, graciously served, and those bartenders remember your name and your preference of drink when you come back! No matter what their nationalities! And there is a wonderful variety of nationalities!
Entertainment: There was never a dull moment on this ship, unless I simply chose to give myself one. The Cruise Director, I think his name was Gordon, was a riot and very professional, and his presence was always felt either from the loudspeaker or in person! The Cruise Staff was marvelous. Ladies night with the Strip OFFicers had to be the funniest wackiest laugh of all! As for the variety shows, I don't do variety shows anywhere unless Celine Dion is the headliner, and she was not featured on my Daily Cruise Compass.
Dining Room: The food was well prepared and presented with a very good variety of entrees and deserts. The service was excellent and the quality of the food was very good considering the overall price paid for our cruise. We were given terrific service by our waiters and chefs that are trained and prepared to serve hundreds of people at a time. They did an incredible job in making us feel special, given the time they have to serve our meal (and a few other tables at one given seating; and they have 2 different time seating). When we ate at the dining room, it was terrific!
Seaview Cafe: What a deal! This is a nice little restaurant that is situated aft near the kiddie pool. Order the Clam Chowder! You'll be glad you did.
Specialty Restaurants: We had dinner at Chops. I highly recommend everyone to indulge in a night (or a few nights) of fine dining. If you are used to it at home, you will find this restaurant compares to the very finest restaurants you have frequented! The food and service is truly exceptional.
Excursions: From whale-watching Glacier trekking and salmon fishing, my favorite was the salmon fishing! What an incredible experience! I had never salmon fished and it was amazing! Not to say that all the other excursions were not outstanding - I just like fishing anywhere.
Highlight: The last night out was very rough, although you wouldn't know it if you weren't in a balcony cabin. There was a funny moment when we opened the glass doors of our cabin onto the balcony. In flew a little bird out of nowhere in open seas! He made himself at home for about 2 minutes, checked out the cabin, and flew out and on his way to wherever he was going.
Debarkation: Always terrible. I mean, who wants to get off this ship after such a wonderful voyage?
Overall, we had one of the finest experiences of our lives. Alaska is a once in a lifetime adventure that everyone should experience. Many thanks to the weather Gods, and our Captain, Darin Bowland and his team of Officers for maneuvering the ship so smoothly at Hubbard Glacier setting the stage for one of the most magnificent panoramic views of my life!
Get out there!