My husband and I had hoped that friends would join us on this cruise but we wound up taking it alone. But that's ok -- on a cruise you are bound to meet people. We found one couple that got married at the same place we did and about the same time and the last day I was in line at the gift shop and the young women ahead of me lived within 15 miles of me.
Arrival -- I highly recommend spending a few days in Seattle. First it is less stressful if your flight is delayed and second it's a great city. I recommend the National Park Service Gold Rush Museum as an introduction to the Inside Passage. Of course you also want to see Pike's Place Market and the Space Needle. I didn't take it but I heard good things about the Duck Tour. For me the Chihuli Gardens, a new glass exhibit by the Space Needle was a must see.
Embarkation -- We had a rental car and we had stayed near the airport. Looking at Hertz's site we picked a local drop off for the car. It turned out to be a concession at a repair shop about 10 minutes from the pier. They were very nice and refused a tip for taking us to the boat. We took our time Tuesday morning, visiting a Japanese Garden and then Locks and a Fish Ladder and arrived about 1:15. There were no lines and everything went smoothly. Our luggage even arrived before the safety drill.
The ship was a typical Carnival Ship. I did feel that the activities staff was a little less enthusiastic than other cruises but we had good turnouts for trivia games. The first night show was the same but some of the other shows seemed "refreshed". I had trouble with the time change so we did not go to any of the comedy shows, but there were plenty of offerings. Cabins were clean, etc. Food was typical, service was good.
I think in the future when comparing lines and itineraries, I might check the total time in port. Juneau and Ketchikan were way too short and as a result the lines to get on board in the last 45 or so minutes were very long (which caused me to go back into the stores and spend money there...)
I took the special excursion to go closer to the Tracy Arms Glacier. About 150 of us took a smaller boat closer to the glacier than the ship can go. I read mixed reviews beforehand, the negative ones focusing on days with bad weather, so since it is a pricy trip, we split up and I left my husband and an extra camera behind. Both views were good. Neither of us saw as much wildlife as I had hoped but it was very pretty all the same.
Skagway -- we rented a car and drove to Whitehorse, Yukon. We went to the visitor center and a salmon ladder. I recommend the MacBride Museum which we visited last time. Back in Skagway we walked through town. I like the stores that featured local products. Going back to the ship that afternoon was our only major rain of the whole cruise.
Juneau -- at the last minute my husband went on a fishing excursion and didn't catch anything. I did the Nature Trail and Whale Watch and it was great -- we saw a bear and lots of whales including bubble feeding.
Ketchikan -- last time we did Best of Ketchikan by Land and Sea -- I recommend this one. This trip we did Orca Beach Nature Tour -- it was ok but you don't learn a lot about the people of the region.
Victoria - beautiful city - we had late dinner which they moved up to 7:30 instead of 7:45. We ate onboard and then did about a three mile walk to town and back.
Debarkation -- all went smooth, we took our own luggage off about 8am and had an airport transfer to SeaTac.