I want to thank all of you for all you help. I learned so much from this site!!! Our trip started with a one night stay in Vancouver. We drove and parked our car at the Coast Plaza Hotel. It was an older hotel, but very clean and the cheapest way for us to go since we needed parking for 14 days in Vancouver. But if the cruise is 7 days and one is parking in Vancouver, there are cheaper hotels to stay at.
We took this cruise with our two children, ages 12 and 10, and my recently widowed father in law, and my brother in law. My children shared our cabin, while my father in law and brother in law shared a cabin on a different deck. Even though our ticket said to arrive after 1:00, I wanted to get to the ship as soon as possible. We got there at 11. Boarding went very smoothly and we were on by noon.
We loved the children's program. Our 10 year old son spent most of his time during the cruise in the "Fun Zone." The staff were were well trained. He did pottery, stained glass art, tee shirt art, bingo, glow in the dark disco, and many more activities. It got to a point where we had to tell our son that he had to spend a couple a hours a day with the family. : )
The pools were very warm, warm enough that we could swim outside while we were touring Glacier Bay. My daughter wanted to be able to say she went swimming in Glacier Bay. : )
We found the food hit and miss. Some of it was outstanding, some of it was not very good, most of it was just fine. Like I have heard before on this site, it is like banquet food.
The staff on board was amazing. We had anytime dining, but the wait was horrible. We got to know the head waiter the first night and he set us up with a table every night at 7:45. That was much later than I wanted, but it was what my father in law wanted, so we went with it. Our waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful. they got to know our children and anticipated most needs. It was an amazing experience. Our cabin steward was also wonderful and we were greeted with towel animals most nights.
We would go to Crooners for drinks each day. The staff there was delightful and the drinks were so fun!
The ports were wonderful. We did the train in Skagway, sat in the back car on the left side. I got that tip from this site! Great tip!!! We also did the excursion were you get to pan for gold, play with Iditarod puppies and go in a 40 below freezer. I was surprised how much I loved this excursion. It was so well done and not just for kids. The talk about the Iditarod was very interesting. Skagway also had a number of National Park buildings for families. Two days was not enough time there. We took a taxi to the Mendenhall in Juneau. That was $35 for the 6 of us. Right now there is a mother bear that lives there with her two cubs. She was fishing for salmon and feeding her cubs, really cool! On our other day in Juneau we did the tram and hiked around the top. Next time I am in Juneau I am going to take the tram up and then hike the 3 miles to the summit.
Ketchikan - We did the logging show. My family loved it. I will not comment. We also took the bus out to Totem Bight State park to see the totems. We walked Creek Street. We did Discovery Center. My kids loved that. We spent about an hour there, which was not enough time. It was a very hands on museum about Alaska. I don't know what it cost because we used our annual National Park pass to get in.
As you can see we did not do a lot of expensive excursions. We spent a lot of time hiking and also in museums, with a couple of excursions thrown in.
I thought the Coral Princess had the feel of not being very crowded. Everyone was very nice. I can't imagine cruising anything else. My brother in law, who is single and in his 40's, said he felt isolated because there was no one in his age range who was single on board. There were 79 children in the 8 - 12 year old age range. Every time I drop my son off there were about 10 kids in the "Fun Zone."
Most days we would do the trivia contests in the Wheelhouse Bar. Always fun but we never won. We did win the egg drop! We love the on board contests. My family enter most of the day time ones if we were around.
One of my favorite parts of the cruise was every morning my husband and I would get up every morning early and go walking before our children got up; then we would have breakfast alone, before the craziness of the day. I am going to miss those walks. He left for work at 6:00 am this morning. : (
We loved Alaska and loved cruising! Thanks for all your help!