This was one of our best vacations. We arrived in Seattle a few days early and spent time enjoying the waterfront and downtown. It is a fun city!
I was concerned about staying downtown when making reservations, so we stayed at The Inn at Queen Anne, Queen Anne district. This is an old hotel, very charming, but, remember, it is old. It doesn't have an elevator, so ask for a first floor room. The bus to go downtown is one block away and the bus drop-off is at the Inn. As for the wariness of staying downtown, there was nothing for me to worry about. There is a Marriot and Homewood Suites close to the cruise port. I think they may have shuttles to the port. The Inn doesn't have a shuttle, but is only 2 miles from the port. If you are driving, beware, there is a parking charge (everywhere) and a parking tax. Ridiculous prices! We saw one sign, $35 for eight hours.
Our cruise was wonderful. Our cabin was spacious with a large balcony. The room has king bed and a sofa which folds out to a bed (if you have more than 2 people). We have no complaints about the cabin. Our steward's name was Felix. He took great care of us.
We visited Tracy Arm Fjord. It was a beautiful sunny day. We were told that is very rare. This is a beautiful area. Saw signs of whales (puffs, tails), and eagles.
The first port was Skagway. I had found a review in this forum about a tour and we went with it. We are so happy we did. Dyeadavetours.com
Our driver/guide's name was Shelby. She was great. Very knowledgable. Don't let the cruise scare you into thinking you must take their tours. Remember, AK is US and everyone speaks english. :) No reason not to go with an independent.
Our tour took us all of the way into the Yukon, to Emerald Bay and Carcross. The cruise train tour (cost is $160 up) they push so hard only went to Fraser. We went 60 miles past into Canada. It was so much fun. The cost was only $79. We left at 8am and was back in Skagway at 3pm.
After the tour we visited the Red Onion Saloon. They have a 15 minute
tour of the brothel above the saloon. We found out later there are several tours of brothels.
Skagway isn't a working town. It is a tourist town. There are about 800 residents in the summer, and most leave in the winter. Only about 250-300 stay.
The next port was Juneau. This is the only day we had rain. But it was still a warm 58 degrees. We docked at 7am. We were lazy and got off the ship at 9am. The independent tours were outside and offered us a $90 whale sighting tour. The cost for the cruise was $165. It is worth waiting to select a tour.
The third port was Ketchican. This was my favorite port. A sunny day and we opted for shopping and looking around. We were only there 5 hours. We passed all of the cruise shops and walked 3 blocks to Creek Street. We found many handmade items there. This is a beautiful place. Water, mountains, and lots of trees. I would visit this town again. The population is only 18000.
The last port was Victoria, BC. We were not able to stop due to high winds. It didn't matter to us. The docking time was for 7:30pm and back on board at 11:30pm.
Overall - this was a fun cruise. The crew are so nice and helpful. They must train to have the patience they display. I have to mention - disembarking was so organized and fast, we are still talking about it. They called us at 9am, we were through customs, had our bags, shuttled back to the car, then at the airport at 10:45. That is being organized.
A few things to note: the food was alright, they are cooking for 2100 people. I did see people who must have really enjoyed the food since they ate alot of it.
We did visit the Nouveau Restaurant one evening. This is a must! We had the best service and best food we have had in quite a while.
They had two elegant nights in the dining room. Don't let the word elegant scare you away - we saw a few elegant, but mostly smart casual.
Entertainment was not so good. I was expecting more than kareoke and an electric guitar player playing to music.
Note that the casino allows smoking. Also, there is a place called Club Cool that allows smoking. You are not supposed to smoke cigars indoors, but they did anyway. It was hard to breathe with all of the smoke, so we couldn't stay to hear that band. We did hear the band is pretty good.
This was a fun cruise and the ship is beautiful. I would definitely recommend this cruise.