We had a good time, but it was definitely not up to standards with other shipslines I have cruised with. I would not recommend this to seasoned cruisers looking for "that little something extra", you will be disappointed. (however, knowing what to expect, with simply relaxing in mind, it is an inexpensive holiday...we paid $2500. for a Verandah Suite, one week, all in, for 2 adults) But for first-timers, or young people looking for a new adventure, you will have fun.
In a word, excellent. We got there early, right at noon, and walked through the different check ins with ease. The staff were efficient and smiling.
Once we had boarded the ship we were offered a glass on wine. We have cruised before and know most ships offer champagne but that yet to happen. The server was friendly and talking to us. We only realized that the drinks had been poured and the bottle left on the table when he was gone. The charge? $40.00. Not cool. The same "wine stewart" was pushy at other times too, and I witnessed a person at our table having to say several times he only wanted a glass of wine, before he left him alone. However, he was one person and we in no way let that sway our opinions of the cruise in general.
We had a Verandah Suites, an upgrade offered to us for an additional $200. total. (these are balcony rooms renamed "suites", as told to me by the booking agent) Well worth it! It was more than roomy enough for my hubby and I, with a nice sized, (big enough for a lounger), very private deck. The housekeeping staff were amazing, we left "the boys" an extra gratuity, they added so much to our overall experience. The rooms were well stocked and very clean. Beds were extra comfy. Good water pressure for showers. Tip: we were on the starboard side and seemed to always have the sun at the right time of the day. Also when in port we had excellent views. Perfect!
Main Dining Room: We chose flexible dining times. The service was painfully slow. I don't know if it was the serving staff or the kitchen, but more than once it took almost 3 hours from start to finish. (a long time when there are set Show times in the theatre) Because we went with the flexible times, we didn't have the same waiters. I would rethink that next time, it wasn't the same as getting to know the people at your table and your servers. At times the waiters seemed confused, but perhaps that was because of the situation with getting the food out. The food itself was good, (and of course you can order as many appys, entrees etc., as you like) Not much of a selection though. They have a few options on a set menu which include chicken and steak, but we found their changing menus offered little variety and we soon tired of the offerings.
Pinnacle Grill: We decided to try the Pinnacle Grill; exceptional value at $25.00 per person. Wow!! It was awesome! Delicious steak and lobster. Huge portions, anywhere from 10-20 ounces of steak, I kid you not! (we couldn't believe it either!) We returned the next day, the last day of our cruise, and again were not disappointed. Sarah, our head waitress was exceptional. In addition we had two other helpers so that we were never wanting for anything. You could also order more than one of anything with the exception of entrees, but you won't need to! Beautiful decor. Fine dining. Dress code of the dining room also applies at the Pinnacle. An absolute must!
Canaletto Restaurant: Didn't go, but it is basically a cordoned off area of the Lido Deck Buffet area. Not sure what the food was like, the setting put us off trying it.
Lido Deck: (outside area) Mexican and American food. Tacos, all the toppings, fresh salsas, salads etc. Burgers with fries and fresh pizza. The food was quite tasty and I especially enjoyed the fresh salsas and fajita chicken. Didn't try the burgers or pizza, but hubby said the pizza was also good. (inside area) This is where the buffet meals are served. Good all round buffet both for breakfast and lunch. Endless options. Dinner is the same offerings as the dining room (plus extras), but self serve. No long waits. (the outdoor area on the Lido deck is a great, fun, active place to hang out and have lunch or a late afternoon snack) The buffet is also open from 10:30-11:30pm for late night cravings.
Room Service: Good selection until 10pm, after that they do have 24 hour service, but limited menu. Staff always courteous and friendly. Prompt service. Tasty food.
Main Showcase Theatre: Definitely lacking. It was so poor we opted out two nights when usually we take in all the shows while cruising. They really do pale in comparison with other lines. (all others seem to exceed in this area) The first night was singing and dancing. Colourful & enjoyable, but average. A "not so funny" comedian, a dance competition among staff and cruisers, a singing and dancing show by their staff and house band, just very boring...we did really enjoy one night with a magician/comedian, but that was about it. Small Venues (in the lounges): Great. A pianists, girl on a string violin, singers, guy on the sax. House band just okay, (musicians good, tired singer), but we went dancing one night in the Crow's Nest with the band, and had a good time.
Great. They have a retractable roof over the Lido deck, (very handy when the winds come up), that houses the main pool and two very nice, hot, hottubs. We were always able to get a chair, even if it meant having to get it ourselves. (which happened once)Towels readily available. There is also a ping pong table, but it was usually busy with kids, as well as a small stage for musical acts.(sometimes there was live music sometimes piped) I didn't use the sea view pool at the bow of the ship, no hot tubs there and at the front of the ship the breeze was quite cool. I did notice a bar there though and it was very quiet. Maybe a nice "get away" for couples not wanting to be around the kiddies all day.
Mixed. Housekeeping, awesome. Pinnacle Grill, with one exception, awesome. Dining room, average. Lido deck, average. (staff confused and unsure some of the time when asked questions or requests. One bartender didn't know what was in the bar and what wasn't. Staff often referred us to other staff or went and got someone who could answer our questions) Activities staff, average. Sometimes late or no show. Room service, awesome. Casino staff, awesome. Shop staff, awesome. Spa Staff: didn't go. Front Desk: attentive and efficient.
What you would expect. Wait until you have been to a few ports and compare prices. All merchandise went on sale the last two days at enormous savings, so wait to buy. The only exception is alcohol at the duty-free. Buy early to avoid disappointment, once it is gone it is gone.
Didn't go, but people who had, raved about the massages.
We're past that now! However there were more kids & teens than I expected on this cruise, perhaps due to summer holidays, and they all seemed entertained.
Booked our own when we got there. (saved $50.00 by doing this) When you get off the cruise hip, there will be many kiosks set up with companies selling their excursions. If you are not a "have to have a reservation" type, and are flexible, you can buy direct, or as we did, get the information ahead of time at home online, book on arrival, and definitely save money. (or even book online for greater savings...we wanted to hike so opted to wait and see weather conditions and booked once we arrived in Skagway) Tip: The weather can make or break an excursion. I went once and paid over $500. for a ride on the White Pass Railway, only to go on a day that was foogy and rainy! We couldn't see anything! Check weather ahead of time or book on arrival. (either on your own or the cruise line, depending on comfort level)
Ports: Excellent. Try Tracey's Crab Shack & the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Shop til you drop in Ketchikan, (the Pirate Saloon is also good for lunch), and lots of time for excursions in Skagway. Try the city bus, it's cheap and fun talking to locals. In Ketchikan they have free shuttles to "downtown" as well as the city bus.
Disembarkment: Great, flew through in record time. Tip: we carried our luggage off the ship to avoid big line ups for collecting luggage. Don't bother, they have everything separated by numbers and colours. I was impressed with how everyone needed only a glance to find their belongings.