Traveling in our group: Me- 42 yr old taking her 18th cruise, Hubby- 47 taking 20th cruise, Daughter- 12 taking her 11th cruise, Son- 6 on his 5th cruise and Grandpa- 81 taking his 6th? Cruise. After having a very bad flight experience a few years ago, DH, kids and I elect to drive to Seattle from the Sacramento area. We left at 12:00 am and arrived in Seattle at 2:00 pm. It was a nice drive except for a small amount of road work. We checked into the Seatac Doubletree. They have a cruise and park program that includes shuttle to the pier. The next morning, I rode the hotel shuttle over to the airport to pick up Grandpa and then back again to the hotel. Our shuttle for the pier was scheduled for 11:45. Loaded up and headed over to Pier 91. Upon arrival at the pier, there were no porters (this would hold true for the return trip as well). We schlepped our bags to huge line for bag drop off, then huge line for security, then huge line for registration. This was probably the longest we've ever taken for embarkation, probably due to the fact that we usually arrive much earlier. We finally made it aboard after 2:00, dropped off our bags and headed up to Lido for lunch.
The food in the Lido was very good in our opinions. Of course HAL does not allow you to serve yourself the first 2 days, so that slows everything down. It is worth it though for a disease free vacation. We also thought that the food in the MDR was wonderful with a few exceptions. The prime rib is not so great and some of the desserts are not worth the calories. The fish though was so delicious. I ate soooo much salmon this week.
Our cabins were pretty small. DH, the kids and I were in adjoining K category inside cabins on deck 6- 6134 and 6138 specifically. We usually do insides, and still were a little surprised at how small the cabins were. Grandpa had a balcony cabin on 8- 8143 aft cabin. It also seemed small compared to other balcony cabins we have had in the past but the balcony was pretty deep. Our room stewards Fendi and Anwar were fantastic- the best we have had in many cruises. The room would be cleaned any time we came back, there was always ice and fresh fruit.
We purchased the Hydropool/Thermal suite package as we have really enjoyed it in the past. However, this time there were so many people that it was not enjoyable. You had to wait your turn most of the time. I ended up only using it 3 times. Totally not worth the money.
Club Hal: my 6 yr old son loved it as usual. My DD would not even try going. Part of that is that she is a rather tall, developed 12 year old and would have been very out of place with the 8-12 year old group that she was in. All of the kids in her group looked to be 10 and under. She probably would have been fine in the 13-17 group, but was not old enough.
The singers/dancers were ok. I felt slightly embarrassed for them a few times- only attended one show. The magician and comedian/juggler were very good. The culinary arts demonstrations were fun.
We arrived in port at 1 pm. We had a tour scheduled with Juneau Whale watch that we needed to check in with at 2:30. So we didn't feel we could do much without missing the tour. We shopped around a little bit and then checked in. Turns out the excursion didn't leave until 3:00. We loaded all up and headed over to Auke Bay. We were on a new catamaran with naturalist Tommy and captain Dave. We were able to see Dall's porpoises as well as humpack whales. I got some great tail shots as well as pectoral fins and the humped backs. The weather was wonderful- it was so beautiful and you could see Mendenhall glacier from the water. After 2 hrs on the water, we returned to load onto a bus to go to the glacier. Since the ship left early, we elected to just stay on the bus and return to the ship. I'm a little sorry I didn't get off to get some photos.
Entered around 7:00 am for a full day of cruising. Started out rather overcast, but the sun came out late morning. We were treated to some wonderful scenery and glacial views. We even saw a bald eagle and what looked like a sea otter. Not a lot of ice in the water but saw a couple largish calving on Margerie glacier. Amazing how calm and reflective the water was. Beautiful. We spent most of the time in the bow of the ship- best viewing and least crowded. Also spent time on Grandpa's balcony as the ship turned for some great views. This afternoon DD and I attended the cupcake tea- so yummy.
Probably my favorite port. Gorgeous, gorgeous weather. We walked from the pier down to totem park, walked back and shopped a little. We then boarded our only cruiseline purchased excursion: Birds, Bears and Barnacles. Went to a fish hatchery/aquarium with touch tanks, then to the raptor center, then to Fortress of the Bears all on a refurbished prison bus! It was a really good excursion. Loved seeing the bald eagles and owls up close before they were released after healing. The bears were awesome too. They take care of orphaned cubs that would have died in the wild. They seemed so happy and playful. The last tender was leaving the pier at 2:30, so at 2:10 I started getting a little anxious. Bobbie our guide assured us we would be back in time. And we were at 2:27- LOL. Along with probably 300+ other cruisers waiting for tenders. Of course the captain waited for all of us to get aboard before sailing away. Remarkably it only took about 30 minutes to get all of those people loaded up and on the ship.
The only day that was mostly overcast. We went on a Duck tour. A fun ride around town and then into the bay- all accompanied by jokes and quacks. Our driver Bruce and guide Lee (yeah, Bruce Lee) were very entertaining. After the tour, we walked over to creek street, took some photos. Not very many salmon were running yet. We then strolled back to the ship, doing a little shopping along the way.
This is a very late port- not until 6 pm. We wanted to take the double decker bus into town, but it was already fully booked. We would love to see Butchart gardens, but decided not to- we (me) were very tired after all the walking the last few days. We decided to just hang out onboard and do our packing for the next day.
Disembarkation was very smooth. Off the ship in 5 minutes. No porters- had to lug our luggage all the way to the end of the shuttle stops. The shuttle line was very full. Had to wait quite some time for pick up- about an hour waiting our turn to get on a shuttle. I dropped off Grandpa at the airport and then hopped on the doubletree shuttle to meet the family at the hotel for the drive back.
All in all it was a wonderful cruise and I can't wait for the next one!