We stayed the night before the cruise at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver. On the morning of the cruise the hotel staff collects your luggage and you don't see it again until you enter your cabin on the ship. No charge. We tipped. So convenient.
This was a little confusing because a Holland America ship was embarking at the same time. At one point, we ended up in the wrong line. There were long lines at 1:30 but they moved quickly.
The policy was strictly enforced. We carried one bottle of wine per person in our carry on bags. After having them scanned by security, we had to report to a separate table where they inspected our bottles and recorded the number of bottles on a register with our cabin number.
We had decided not to take formal clothing because we had to pack such a verity of both winter and summer clothes. We opted for "anytime dining" because we didn't want to be tied up eating for two hours and miss any of the scenery. We ended up eating only one time in the dining room. We were happy to eat at the buffet and have the freedom to spend so much time on the open deck and on our balconies. We particularly enjoyed the pub lunch - especially the cottage pie (shepherd's pie) and we also like the reindeer chili which was served on the pool deck for lunch one day.
The production shows were outstanding and the other entertainers were very good.
There were a few hardy souls in the outdoor pool and a few more in the indoor pool. My bathing suit was the only article of clothing that I didn't wear during the trip.
Activities on the ship:
The naturalist's presentations were informative. We also went to the cooking show, back stage tour, and played a few trivia games. For the most part, we stayed outside to watch the scenery. I always left the curtains open so I wouldn't miss anything. One night I stayed on the balcony until 4 AM. Once we reached Alaska, we had no darkness.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was cool but sunny the entire time - even in Ketchikan!
Ketchikan - We took the ship's excursion to the Lumberjack Show and Totem Bight Park. The show was corny but we enjoyed it. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to explore Creek Street.
Juneau - This was our busiest day. We took the Mt. Robert's Tramway because the weather was beautiful. We saw the bald eagle and enjoyed the informative talk in the theater which was presented by a Tlingit woman. The hiking trails were closed due to snow but we're not hikers.
Next, we took the $8.00 bus to Mendenhall Glacier. It was our first glacier, so we were fascinated. Go to the visitors' center and watch the documentary. The park rangers were very informative.
For lunch, we ate at the Red Dog Saloon. It was expensive but entertaining.
In the afternoon, we took an Orca Enterprises whale watch boat tour. We were very lucky because we had heard that previous trips had been cancelled due to rough waters. We saw numerous orca whales and humpback whales. We even saw a humpback whale breach right near our boat.
Skagway - We booked a private tour for the four of us to the Yukon with Frontier Enterprises. Our tour guide was excellent. We saw the Carcross desert, a black bear alongside the road, and Emerald Lake. He drove us to the top of Jubilee Mountain and we had many photo opportunities.
Glacier Bay - We stood on the front of the ship for hours in our "seven layers of clothing". It was very windy and cold but definitely worth it. When the ship turned, we went to our balcony to view the glacier and enjoy the calving with a mug of hot chocolate. (Hot chocolate was provided free in the Horizon Court buffet located at the dessert station.)
College Fjord - This was a wonderful surprise. There are five large glaciers and also smaller ones. The scenery was gorgeous and we actually all agreed that we liked College Fjord more than Glacier Bay.
No problems. We disembarked and joined our group for the land tour. We were on the "Off the Beaten Path" seven day tour to Kenai, McKinley, Denali, and Fairbanks. Check the Alaska port of call board and I will write a review for that part of our trip.
When asked which cruise has been my favorite, I always reply, "The last one I was on..." However, this Alaska cruise might just continue to be my favorite one. Alaska is majestic. It's a jaw-dropping experience!!