This was our first cruise and probably our last. We went during shoulder season knowing full well that the weather could be iffy. And we don't blame the cruise line for only being able to make it into one port (Skagway, the one we had little or no interest in visiting). We do blame the cruise line for not offering anything to DO during all that dead time at sea. Well, anything that anyone under 80 would enjoy.
Fully captive in our--albeit very comfortable balcony suite--our options were absolutely horrid and tasteless lectures on shopping in port, onboard shopping opportunities to purchase stuff I wouldn't buy at my local flea market, poorly delivered spa services -- or eating bad food. I guess if you gamble you could waste more money that way. We were looking for some yoga classes (only one offered daily at like 7AM).
If weather means you'll be at sea for 6 out of 7 days, it would have been nice to add a few complimentary activities of interest such as additional yoga classes, academic lectures on Alaska and such. We did book one wine and food pairing (so kitschy and not particularly informative), several spa treatments (listlessly delivered to the extent I felt guilty for keeping the mani/pedi person awake and ended up way overtipping).
We were not about to spend time at the Dancing with the Stars competitions nor the evening shows. So I guess we went in knowing our entertainment options would be limited. Our focus was extensive shore excursions related to whale-watching and wildlife. Just never thought we'd be stuck for so long without relief.
In Skagway at the end of the cruise season the shopkeepers and service personnel were audibly disdainful of the cruise ship passengers. On more than one occasion cracking wise about their age and seeming disorientation. My husband was at one coffee shop sarcastically complimented for knowing how to work the coffee carafe "wow, you actually know that if you push on the top the coffee comes out!" Lot's of sniggering and rudeness. Though we did have our best meal of the trip in Skagway--at an Indian restaurant where ship captains and locals were hanging out and dining on deliciously made-to-order dishes.
Food on board: a joke for the most part. The snacks food available near the pool area would embarrass most inner city public schools systems. The Lido Deck buffets were horrid, unappetizingly. Though one night the bolognese was tasty if watery. In-room breakfast was a treat--if you don't care how leathery your toast is nor how flavorless your eggs.
The Main Restaurant: If you wanted to dress for dinner you could get a decent, if rushed, meal. The service was unremarkable with the exception of one wine steward. The upgraded Italian-themed venue (a tragic little corner of the Lido Deck buffet carved out for this purpose served buffet line food at table. It was OK. I ate half my entree and the server looked at me and (this is really true) rubbed his belly and said "you save room for the yumi-yumi??!!??" I assume this meant I didn't finish my meal because I was saving room for dessert--a pathetic lemon pudding with something crunchy in it.
On the first night of our first cruise--my husband and I both both being in our mid-fifties--being talked to in baby-talk just really set the tone for both of us.
The highest-end upgrade restaurant was quite good and the only meal we did not feel rushed through.
We are from Washington, DC. We are accustomed to good service and quality dining. We travel internationally and regularly. This was some kind of bad dream.