We chose to cruise Alaska after doing so 10 years ago and selecting the first ship into those waters for the 2014 season was chancy since we live in FL. But it was a wonderful decision. Not only was the weather sunny and warm, (yes, warm in Alaska), the ports of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, as well as Glacier Bay National Park were indescribable. Carnival had a full time naturalist on board who provided excellent information about the environment, the wildlife and what to expect from our tours. She spent a great deal of time scouring the shores and the waters to point out birds and whales, as well as other animals.
Our onshore tours were well worth every penny. Alaska's Whales and Rainforest Trails took us along the forested area by the Mendenhall Glacier, pointing out the change in the line between the glacier and melted lake. Then a small boat trip in the bay took us to the whale feeding grounds where all onboard sited the spouts of humpbacks and the cresting of a few of them.
The Skagway Yukon Scenic Tour was amazing. Going 50 miles further into the Yukon, as high as 3300 feet in elevation, we had the opportunity to stop regularly to shoot photos and spot wildlife, such as mountain goats at the highest elevations. The tour guide/driver for our small bus was personable and very knowledgeable.
On board, our dining experiences were very fine. Menus were varied and had more than enough choices to make your head spin. In addition, food was prepared as requested, and well plated. Breads were tantalizingly hot right out of the oven, and desserts were the best. I would love to have the recipe for Carnival's Tiramisu, the absolute best I have ever had.
Service aboard, as always, is of the highest quality; not one staff member, be it waiter, room steward, mechanic or officer ever passes without a smile, a hello and an offer to assist if they believe it is needed. Rooms have always been immaculate and well refreshed.
Entertainment in the theater was terrific; shop employees were always pleasant; bartenders were always accommodating.
The plus added to this cruise was the Luggage Express program: a $20 charge per suitcase to be sent to the airport and forwarded to your final destination by Carnival. No dragging those heavy bags through the terminals, through customs and into new planes. We left Seattle with our carry-ons and arrived in Tampa to see our bags once again. A GENIUS thought that one up.
Big change: The Captain's party for returning guests was greatly improved! The appetizers were varied and plentiful; the beverages were diverse and waiters took requests for favorite drinks, multiple times, and the same movie which was played too often was not presented. Instead, we had a terrific welcome by the Captain and lots of fun with great music, games and tossed beads.
Glad we cruised this trip!!