The night before the cruise, we stayed at the Westin in downtown Seattle, which is handy to Starbucks and a large drugstore. We arrived for embarkation at 11 AM, waiting just a short time before boarding. Our room was ready by 1 PM. That first day there were no flowers or canapes, the safe didn't work and had to have the battery replaced, and the plugs didn't work. The electrician came in and fixed the plugs, which took until 8 PM. The phone also didn't work. By Saturday, the flowers got delivered and the canapes (which weren't much) arrived in the afternoon. We did get fresh fruit and a bottle of sparkling wine, which was a plus.
We checked out the Cafe Bacio which was great - coffee delicious and free pastries to go with it. The show that night was excellent. By the time we ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet we weren't hungry at dinnertime and we consequently we did not eat in the Trellis dining room except for lunch one day. Watching our weight, we preferred the buffet so we could just have a salad and soup or sandwich for lunch or vegetables and an entree for dinner. We were happy with the choices they had. The business of having to purchase a package in order to get soft drinks and bottled water was irritating. They had coffee and tea, fruit juices and lemonade without additional cost.
The naturalist, Brent, was excellent and very informative and entertaining. We went into town at Ketchikan and had blackened salmon for lunch. The Tracy Arm fiord and Sawyer glacier portion of the voyage was spectacular and the highlight of the trip. The stop at Juneau was a big disappointment. We had made reservations for an excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier but when my wife learned we'd be using the ship's lifeboats as tenders, she said "No way." She is deathly afraid of little boats. They gave us a hard time about a refund, but we'd just bought the tickets the day before, so they gave it to us. We went on the train ride from Skagway which was very scenic and quite comfortable. We took a bus back on the Klondike Highway, but were in fog most of the trip back to Skagway.
On the way back down through the Inside Passage, we had heavy seas and fog all day and my wife got seasick. They had to cancel the show for that night, postponing it to the last night we were on board. It was also excellent. They did have the volume turned way too high for their shows, distorting the singers voices. Taking a cruise that late in the season was probably not a good idea, because it felt like a lot of the educational things they had on earlier cruises were no longer available. Unless you wanted to learn how to fold napkins or cook a steak, you were out of luck.
Debarkation was a mess. You had to go into the terminal, locate your luggage and track down a porter. We made the mistake of signing up for the Celebrity shuttle to the airport. It was a big bus and they dumped you off a long distance from the check-in counters. Thank goodness we had asked for a wheelchair because I can't walk long distances. We waited and waited to go into the terminal, got checked in, and waited and waited to be taken to the gate. Good thing we had lots of time before our flight. Too late we learned about the valet service that would have taken our bags to the airport and checked them for us. They should have told us about it when we signed up for the shuttle. To sum up, Alaska is absolutely gorgeous and we're glad we went. But the feeling of being trapped on the ship and the temptation to constantly eat was not the way we want to travel.