This was a family and friend affair. I traveled with my DH, DD (21), DS (18), my sister and brother-in-law, an aunt and uncle, and a couple who are close family friends. Three were platinum cruisers with Carnival, 2 were on their second cruise, and the rest were first time cruisers. We had 3 balcony rooms and one inside for the kiddos.
We flew into Seattle on Sunday afternoon. We used Already There Town car for our shuttle from airport to hotel, hotel to pier, and pier to airport. They used a 10-person van for the transfers and it was great. On time each trip, courteous, and no complaints about the amount of luggage.
In Seattle, we stayed at the Hampton Inn Downtown. The hotel worked out great. There was a continent breakfast included and afternoon cookies. There was a small garden area were the 10 of us sat at night to visit. It was a great location, just a short walk to the Space Needle and monorail. Right across the street was a great bar and pizza. We had dinner there on Sunday. Ate a few blocks away at a Mexican restaurant on Monday. I cannot remember the name, but it was on the hotel’s recommended restaurant list. There was also a grocery about a block away. We stopped there to get soda and wine before we headed out to the ship.
We scheduled our transfer to the ship for 10 am. We were a little late getting everyone together, but we were at the port by 1030 am. Three in the group were platinum, but they allowed the group to board together. Check in was painless!! We were sitting with our priority boarding sign by 1045 am. Boarding starting at about 11: 15 am and we were about the first ones on board.
We first went to guest services to ask for the balcony dividers to be opened. One person in each room had to be present and sign a sheet. Guest services said the captain would decide when the dividers are opened, but it would probably be on the second day. It was.
My DD was only 20 when I booked the rooms, so my husband and I were split between the balcony and the inside. Since she had turned 21, they were able to change the bookings so no extra keys were required.
At this time, Miracle did not have FTTF so we had to wait for our rooms to be ready. We went up to the Serenity Deck and found it empty. We staked out a spot and everyone went his separate way for lunch. Rooms were ready at about 115 pm even though no official announcement was made. We checked and the doors were open.
This was my first balcony room. I usually prefer the inside because it is cheaper and I love the darkness at night. However, I would say a balcony is a must for Alaska. I loved laying on the bed reading, looking at the scenery outside my balcony! The downside was that there was not much darkness in Alaska. I was awake way too early each day!!
We stayed in 5256 and it was fine. Our room steward, Henry, was one of the best. Friendly, and very efficient. He was always there when we needed him and invisible the rest of the time.
We ate in the dining room 5 out of the 7 nights. The first night we ate at Nick and Nora’s Steakhouse. We had three bottles of wine for the 10 of us, 2 red and 1 white. This was enough since not everyone participated. The food was outstanding. I had the Alaskan halibut and it was great. Dessert, of course, was to die for! The last night we were still in port and we chose to eat on land. The dining room food was not the best. This is the first cruise that I thought the lido buffet food was better than the dining room. We still ate in the dining room because I enjoyed the service. However, the food was more miss than hit. One night I had the grilled jumbo shrimp. The shrimp were anything but, jumbo and I had a total of THREE shrimp on my plate. The DS had four, but he could have eaten ten. On the next cruise, I will definitely consider doing dinner on the lido more.
We did two planned excursions. In Skagway, we booked the Laughton Glacier Hike & White Pass Railway Adventure. It was through Carnival but sponsored by Packer Expeditions. I tried to book it independently, but Packer said it wasn’t possible. There were at total of 18 hikers and three guides. They did a fantastic job. We basically split into three groups; fast, medium, and slow. We took a train ride and then hiked about 3 to 4 miles in to the glacier. We ate a sack lunch we prepared on the train while we viewed the glacier. The last ½ mile we used creepers to be able to walk on the ice. Fantastic day, but it was very treacherous. Much of the hide was on rock and boulders. It was not for the faint of heart. In Juneau, we booked Harv and Marv Whale Watching. Captain Shawn took care of us and we saw several whales. In Ketchikan and Victoria, we basically walked the cities on our own. Ketchikan was a short day in port and we were only in Victoria from 730 pm to 1130 pm. Most of the city was closed; I thought this stop was a waste of time.
Disembarkment was the easiest I have ever done. We requested zone 1 tags for the group. The platinum instructions were to meet in the dining room at 745 am. We were there at 740 am. At 745, the self-assist platinum guests were led to the gangway. At 750 am, the zone 1 platinum guests were led pass a long line of guests to the gangway. Super easy. We were ready to catch our shuttle by 810 am.
Overall, great cruise. The scenery was awesome and the staff fantastic. The only downside was the food in the dining room, but I still managed to gain five pounds, so no real complaint!