We left home on Saturday, May 18 - two days before embarkation - and flew to Seattle. We stayed overnight with family there then took the light rail from the Tukwila station to downtown Seattle where we walked across the street to the Seattle King Street Station. We boarded Amtrak at 7:00 AM for a 7:40 AM trip to Vancouver on Sunday, May 19. The Amtrak trip was fine, no drama, no hassle, and no problems. The train pulled into Vancouver Central Station right on time at 11:40 AM. We took a taxi to our hotel, the Ramada Limited Vancouver Downtown on Pender Street. The taxi cost $8.
The Ramada Limited was okay. It is right on the edge of a fairly "sketchy" part of town, but it was a close walk to Gastown. We explored Vancouver on foot for the afternoon going to the Granville Public Market and other shops on Granville Island, and Gastown. We used the water taxis, which were a fun, albeit expensive way to get around. We loved Vancouver and would like to go back and spend more time there.
On Monday, we took a taxi from the hotel to Canada Place. It was close enough to walk, but not with luggage. We left our paperwork, including our passports in our hotel room, so had to go back and get them. Oops! The taxi driver was very understanding and waited for me to run up and get them from the room. Embarkation in Vancouver was the most efficient we have ever experienced. The line to get through security was very fast, customs was even faster, and the wait for room keys and to be let on the ship was very fast. The whole embarkation process took about 20-30 minutes, which was much better than the two hours it took to board the Gem in New York two years ago.
Once on the ship, we did some exploring, picture taking, and had a nice lunch in the Four Seasons restaurant. Our room was ready at 1:30 and we went to check it out. We had a minisuite on deck 11. It was very nice with a HUGE bathroom, nice size sitting area and a fairly large balcony. It was the nicest cabin we have ever had and for an itinerary as scenic as Alaska, it was nice to have our own balcony on the starboard side.
Dining - We ate dinner in either the Four Season or Seven Seas main dining rooms every evening except one. We found the classic selections as well as the rotating menus to have enough variety and the food quality was good enough that we didn't feel the need to go to any surcharge restaurants. We had good service in the main dining rooms, and found the staff there to be professional, efficient, and pleasant. We had lunch in port on port days, and in the Four Seasons on the sea days. The menu remains the same every day, but there are chef specials at lunch time that broke up the monotony. Breakfasts for us were gotten at the Great Outdoors and brought back to our cabin where we normally ate breakfast on our balcony. We didn't starve, and found the food quality to be good.
Public spaces - Public spaces on the Sun were clean, well maintained, and pleasant to be in. We didn't spend a lot of time on the sun decks as we had our own balcony. The Observation Lounge on deck 12 was a busy place and lots of folks who were staying in inside cabins seemed to spend a lot of time there. It is a beautiful space. It was too cool to use the pools and very few people used the hot tubs. The Stardust Lounge on deck 6 & 7 could use some love. The chairs there need some refurbishment.
Entertainment - The illusionist was great, the comedian was okay, and the production numbers were okay. We enjoyed the typical game shows which were held in the Dazzles Nightclub - a windowless club which I found almost claustrophobic. There was music all over the ship and Kenny G. (not the famous one) was excellent.
Service - We had a superb room steward. He was very friendly and did an excellent job keeping our room nice and neat for us. He always had a smile on his face and always recognized us and called us by name. We even saw him in Skagway and he came over and chatted with us.
Itinerary - We close the cruise simply because of the itinerary. Ketchican was great, Juneau was awesome, Skagway was "eh" but the true stars of this itinerary are Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier. Both were fascinating, beautiful, and awe-inspiring. We loved the itinerary with the ship being secondary. The rangers that came aboard in Glacier Bay were informative and made the experience even better.
We debarked in Whittier, catching our bus at 9:45 in order to make the tunnel opening at 10:00. Debarkation was painless. We rented a car in Anchorage and spent the day touring there and the Mat-Su valley.
We had a wonderful time and would definitely do this trip again. The value for the dollar spent was well worth it.