A trip to the inside passage of Alaska and Glacier Bay has been on our bucket list for a while. To check this one off my wife and I decided to take our first cruise and chose Norwegian. I booked through Norwegian's call center and soon learned that the low price guarantee had so many conditions it was worthless and some of the things the agent told me simply were not true. If I had it to do over again I book through a travel agency of some kind. Live and learn.
The Sunday embarkation was very smooth and painless. We were on the ship quickly and exploring by one o'clock. We had an excellent lunch in the Summer Palace. It soon became one of our favorite places to dine on the ship. It's a pretty good size ship and we had a lot of fun exploring it. Our first stop was Juneau and we didn't hit that until Tuesday at two. The ship is scheduled to leave at 10, so that doesn't give a lot of time to explore. We like to plan our own excursions, so we took a tour of the state capitol then took a bus to the Mendenhall glacier. There we were able to utilize our lifetime park pass at the visitor center and spend a little time walking the trails around the glacier. We even saw a midsize bear fishing for sockeye salmon, without much success. We thought the bear really needed to go to remedial fishing school. Got back to the ship about seven and had another nice meal at the Summer Palace.
The next and longest stop was Skagway on Wednesday. We decided to see what the weather was like before booking the train and I'm glad we did. Lots of low hanging clouds made for poor visibility above a few hundred feet. So we spent most of the day walking around Skagway and checking out some of the local museums & tourist traps.
Thursday was the day we went to Glacier Bay and it was nothing short of magnificent. The scenery was worth the price of the trip. I'm really glad we had a port side balcony. We could watch the glaciers calving from our undisturbed vantage point & listen to the park rangers on the TV in our room. Later in the early afternoon we attended a lecture on the glaciers by one of the park rangers. He was very interesting and even showed some of his personal home videos which included some rare shots of underwater calving.
Friday we went to Ketchikan. Probably our worst weather day as it would rain then stop then rained some more. We went to several of the local museums, saw totem poles and went to Salmon hatchery. It really seemed like a nice town and I was sorry we didn't have more time there.
Saturday we arrived at Victoria BC at 6 PM. Really not enough time to do much so we walked downtown, had a great dinner and walked back to the ship. I really wanted my wife to see the Butchert Gardens, but I didn't think we had enough time to do it justice. I think we will go back next summer and do a full tour of Victoria and Vancouver by car.
All in all it was a very pleasant vacation, but I don't know if we'll do another cruise. There was a lot of down time and we really would've liked more time in some of the ports. The ship had a lot of positives. The staff was great couldn't of been better, it was clean and the cabin was very comfortable. We were towards the aft of the gentle rocking really helped me sleep at night. A few things were a mixed bag. We dined in two specialty restaurants, Le Bistro and La Cucina him and were disappointed in both, especially Le Bistro. In fact I complained to the head person at that restaurant and he comped us with a specialty coffee and an after dinner drink. The food at La Cucina was okay but nothing special. Entertainment was mixed also. The Frankie Valley show was excellent, much better than I expected on a ship. The talent show put on by the crew was a lot of fun with predictable variety. The big show "That's Entertainment" was pretty bad. My wife and I spotted two girls that could actually dance but didn't hear anyone with a clue how to sing.
In summation it was a great week, but that day in Glacier Bay made the trip.