Started out with a 4-day land tour (wife and I - 56 and 68 years young respectively and 7th cruise; 3rd on Princess and 4 on Carnival) spending 1 nite at the Fairbanks lodge (did the Riverboat tour), 2 nites at the Denali lodge (did the National Park tour - both of these were "included" in our package) and 1 nite at the McKinley lodge (did a flight up to and around Mt. McKinley and landed on the Glacier tour - additional cost). At each stop the lodges got better and bigger (spread out) and the food also got better. The Riverboat (Paddle boat) tour was great, the Denali National park tour was OK - no animals seen other than 3 squirrels (reason being, as told by everyone, that part of Alaska was experiencing an "extended winter and late start to Spring" by about 2-4 weeks and the animals were still in hibernation - so to speak). The flight up to, around Mt. McKinley and landing on the glacier was nothing short of AWESOME...!!!!! Something that we will remember and treasure for the rest of our lives (of course have movies and still photo's of everything - even the 3 squirrels (ha-ha) to play back for fond memories. The train ride from McKinley to Whittier was long (5 plus hours) but comfortable, actually arriving at the ship about an hour late. (if you take the land tour - you MUST try/eat the REINDEER Sausage at all of the lodges - it is DELICIOUS.)
Ship (Island Princess) left on time (transferred about 500 people from the train to the ship, even though it was late). First day was cruising Hubbard Bay (nothing spectacular) while the second day was cruising Glacier Bay - spent about an hour and half sitting a mile from the tip of the glacier. Had about a dozen and a half instances where ice fell off the glacier into the bay - again AWESOME to both SEE and HEAR (and record). You would see the ice break loose first and then hear a following sound that resembled a "crack of lightning" hitting next to you (or a sharp rifle shot). By the time you heard that you would already be seeing the ice hitting the water in the bay causing large splashes and then you would "hear" that - it sounded like a low pitch rumble or deep rolling thunder. Finally you'd see a ripple effect from the ice hitting the water - we were fortunate enough as I said to see that happen on about 18 separate occasions in that hour an half. Did not do any tours in our 3 stops along the inward passage as we done something on our previous cruise (Sun Princess - Seattle-to-Seattle back in 2006). The cruise was to mostly just "relax" and have a peaceful and enjoyable week - which we did.
You'll NOTE - I gave the Dining only a 2-star rating - we were both fairly disappointed with not only the variety of the food offered in the main dining room (ate 2nd seating) but also our wait staff were very aloof and not very attentive. On all our "other cruises" by the second nite they would know and call us by our first name, and have our little whims and wishes known - i.e., extra butter, shrimp in the caesar salad, refills of tea and water, etc., - this group that tended our table (and I must say the others they were also responsible for) were below par from all the rest of our experiences. Also, the food offered in the cafe "overall" was not that great - and the variety again was not that abundant. They did offer a lot variety there during lunches of "fish" which "I" enjoyed - however, they also had various pre-cut cold-cut type of sandwiches available and some which were "wrapped" (chicken and tuna) which we felt were not very appealing or appetizing - compared to Carnival's "Deli Station" where they cook up/make up fresh sandwiches to order while you wait - NO comparison, Carnival tops all the way. Also, the Pizza cooking location - on the outside near the pool was not as good at that on Carnival. (I must say both my wife and I agree that the food quality and variety we've experienced on all our Carnival cruises far exceeded that of what we had on this particular cruise.)
Our steward (Wilson) was exceptional - he ALWAYS had a "Hi and Hello" how are you attitude and smile on his face (miss the little nitely animals that the stewards on Carnival do - ha-ha). He kept our room immaculate. In addition, all the shows we went to were EXCELLENT - especially the one call BAYOU. The nite of that show it was done 3 times - we seen the last one, had we known about it - we would have done what we heard several folks say - gone to see it all 3 times - was WONDERFUL - do NOT miss it.
The "overall" rating of 4 obviously reflects and is because of the dining experiences (both in the service as well as the variety and quality) we had.