August 28th sailing on the Carnival Spirit. Probably our favorite vacation to date an we've done our share of traveling.
We arrived in Seattle the Saturday before the cruise. We splurged a bit and opted for car services for our transportation. We used Sabre Limo- reasonable, no issues.
We stayed at the Fairmont Olympic for 3 nights prior. This is one of the older hotels in the city but it is a wonderful experience. We had the good fortune of being upgraded to a suite. The service exceeds all expectations. Just pickup the phone and you are immediately greeted by name. You must experience room service if you stay, another not to be missed experience. Poached eggs over crab cakes with all the fixings came to nearly $70 for two. Hard to believe- but completely worth it!
We had the typical tourist experiences while visiting Seattle- Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the Underground Tour and a harbor cruise. All quite enjoyable.
We scheduled our limo pickup for 11 am on Tuesday. The port is very close to downtown and we arrived at the terminal in 15 minutes. The porters grabbed our bags and we went to check in. We were in line less than 5 minutes and we had our sign and sail cards. Our embarkation group was called shortly thereafter and we were on the gangway to the ship exactly 60 minutes after leaving our hotel. Our first impressions of the ship were quite good, well appointed and pleasing to the eye. The ship was spotless as typical from past experiences with Carnival. A quick lunch from the buffet and we relaxed on the Serenity Deck. We missed the announcement but we began exploring the ship and found our rooms ready by 2 pm. Angel from Peru was our steward and he took great care of us. We found a blown light bulb and had a problem with the TV remote. We just left a note before dinner and everything was taken care of when we returned. Luggage arrived while we were at dinner. Our only complaint during the entire trip was early dining got moved up to 5:30. Far too early, we were never hungry and always seemed to be hurried to get cleaned up prior to dinner. A major consolation was our table location, dead-center aft window table. Fabulous! Our head server was Alexsander from the Ukraine. Alex and his team were easily the best team we have experienced with Carnival.
We lucked out with weather the entire trip. The crew constantly commented that we were experiencing the best weather of the entire season. We were able to sit out on deck during our first sea day with just light coats. As long as you were out of the wind you were fine. We visited the Noveau Steakhouse on the first sea day and enjoyed a terrific meal. We did the Chef's table the following evening and it was very good. We did the Chef's table on the Pride in 2011 and we were just blown away. Maybe this is one of those experiences that are once in a lifetime? It was good but it seemed to be missing the magic we previously experienced. Still highly recommended if you have not experienced it before.
We enjoyed a couples massage during our second sea day. We scheduled it for 2:30 in the afternoon, the exact time the ship was going to begin turning around in the close quarters of Tracy Arm Fjord. The spa staff, not wanting us to miss our last view of the glacier threw an extra blanket on us and opened up the curtains for a few moments to enjoy the sights (and to let our fellow guests see us wrapped up for a massage).
In Skagway we did the Laughton Glacier hike and train trip. Awesome! Not a terribly demanding 8 mile hike other than the need to be constantly vigilant for your footing. One miss step and you'd find yourself being carried out with a broken ankle. Having lunch on a glacier was so worth it. The guides were great and very safety conscious.
In Juneau we experienced our only overcast day of the trip. We did our obligatory t-shirt shopping in the morning and then checked in for our 11 am Glacier kayaking trip. Unfortunately when we checked in they advised that it was too windy and the trip had been cancelled. We were promptly refunded our excursion fees. We wandered around town a bit more and stumbled into a little indoor farmers market. Clearly for the locals but we were welcomed with open arms and bought some locally made jellies for home.
In Ketchikan we did the salmon fishing. They weren't jumping in the boat but we ended up with two fish that we had processed and are anxiously awaiting their arrival from the smoker.
Victoria was a cute town. We hired a local driver, Maggie, for a quick and enjoyable tour of the city and we were in line for pizza on the Lido deck by 9:30.
Then, as quick as it started, it was over. Debarkation was easy and we were on our way home.
We caught a great deal while on board the ship. 7 night Caribbean from San Juan, extended balconies for less than $600 per person. Couldn't pass it up and have something to look forward to next year.