My husband and I took the inside passage Alaskan cruise held over Labor Day week. We are first time cruisers and were joined by my parents (also first time cruisers). I went into this cruise not knowing what to expect. We have been hesitant to cruise in the past because the idea of being stuck on a boat with thousands of people you don't know is not appealing. However, we were pleasantly surprised and had a great time.
We are both in our early 30's which is younger than a lot of the people on the cruise so please keep that in mind. I think our favorite part of the cruise was the food. Oh lord, it was great! We ate in the main dining room every night except one where we were in port. We chose the select dining and were able to get our preferred dining time each night though make sure you request a day in advance. Our server was Manuel who we adored and sommelier was Onur who did a fabulous job each night of recommending wine for us. All four of us had some version of the unlimited alcohol package. The buffet food was hit or miss. Some of it was pretty good and some of it wasn't. We ate breakfast there twice and lunch twice I believe.
The Cafe Cova was where we went for coffee and hot chocolate several times a day. My husband also used several of the other bars which were all pretty much the same. Service was pretty poor and the bartenders were less than friendly but we assumed maybe it was because they were so busy. We typically went straight to the bar to order drinks rather than waiting for the server to come.
The staff (with the exception of the bar staff) were exceptional. Everyone was friendly and helpful. I did find the constant attempts at photographing you and trying to sell you the 'cocktail of the day' in the souveneir cup to be annoying. But I quickly realized they are not offended if you tell them no and they back off quickly.
Entertainment was fair. We really enjoyed the orchestra each night but the other music was less than impressive and some of it was just bad. Other people seemed to like it though so maybe that was just us. We are admitted music snobs. The cruise director, Ben was great and very friendly. The nightly shows could be ok depending on your likes/preferences. The comic was funny and by far the best night of entertainment. We went to a 60's show which wasn't great and sort of mis-advertised in the daily directory. Yeah... it's not about The Beatles. It's all very broadway musicalish which unfortunately is not really something we're in to. The singers and dancers were actually pretty good though.
The ship was very clean. I've heard reviews complaining that the ship is old and not nice. I can't compare it to anything as I've never cruised before but I had no problems with this. Yes, you can see areas of age in a few places around the ship. But it doesn't detract from anything and the cabins have been updated.
The pool area is nice though we didn't actually get in the water. It's very roomy and a lot of people seemed to be taking advantage of it. My husband used the fitness center each morning. His only complaint was that the staff do not seem to pay attention to how much time people have been on the machines and they do not require guests to let others work in. My husband said there would be someone on a machine for twenty minutes who literally lifted the weight three or four times and then just sat there to rest without letting anyone else use the machine.
My recommendations for this cruise are... buy a drink package! It's so much easier and you don't have to worry about all the charges on your bill at the end of the cruise. Bring a rain jacket or poncho and a few sweaters. Cruising the Hubbard Glacier was amazing but cold! Bring something if you think you might get seasick. I could definitely feel the boat rocking 2-3 nights due to rough water.
We loved our experience and if we cruise again, we'd definitely go Celebrity.