We Cruised on the Carnival Miracle to Alaska from 5/27 to 6/3 2014. I will start with Seattle.
Seattle was beautiful. We flew in on Memorial day 5/26 and spent the day. It was about 60 degrees and sunny all day. We took the Light Link Rail from the airport to downtown. Approx $2 PP and took about 30 minutes. What a savings to us VS a Cab or Limo. Our hotel was a block from Westlake station where the rail stopped. WE walked right there. We stayed at the Westin which was nice. We did the normal tourist things, the Market, Space needle.
Embarkation day; We took a cab from the hotel to pier 91; it cost us $13 and a tip. Check in was a breeze! We were checked in, sign and sail in hand, boarding picture taken, security picture taken, on ship, in our room and on Lido deck in less than 1 hour!!! (Sure glad I did not spend $50 on FTTF pass. It might be worth it at a port going to the Caribbean, but I think a waste of $ here) Lines at buffets were not long for Embarkation day. We found food right away and never had to search long and hard for a place to sit. Our room was nice, we had a balcony on Deck 8 forward (Cabin 8111) Starboard Nothing in our way of a view and no one above us. (SPA was above us, so very quiet) It was a good location, 1 deck up to Lido, yet out of the way of alot of Hallway traffic, and close to Elevators)
I truly LOVED this ship. Lower Passenger count, which meant you never waited very long in line for anything and there was always a place to sit to be found. I found the decor the same as any ship, I did not find it gaudy at all (as some other reviews state) I think any ship has a sort of "over the top" but I don't really see it as gaudy. I found everything on this ship to be pretty in it's own way. I enjoyed all the decor. And, I did not find anything really run down it was in good shape. You always see work being done to keep any ship in tip top shape. Our only complaint was the bed was a little on the stiff side for us, and our cabin Steward did his best to help out by putting more padding on it for us, which worked out just fine.
Food was good, had a good selection of all foods from Beef, Pork, Fish, Chicken to make everyone happy. Buffet, really always the same ol, same ol, I could see that changed up a bit if they could, but how many different breakfast options are there? You had them all. Same for Lunch, burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, etc.
Service: we had impeccable service from Cabin Steward, to our dining staff. TOP NOTCH. We had 530 dinner time and that was on LL of dining room, Anytime dining was at the top level of dining room. We sat near the window on the back of the ship, Table for 6, and there were 3 of us. Our table mates only sat there the first night, but disliked being on the back and we never saw them again. Too bad for us, we really like to mingle with people.
At Sea Days: Were ok. Plenty to do around ship; John Heald was entertaining, the shows were good, Ticket to Ride being the best. It was kind of odd to walk on Lido by the pool and it was a ghost town. Just different feel than a Caribbean Cruise. Sports bar does NOT get NBC sports, so you hockey fans wanting to watch The Stanley cup finals like we did, may be disappointed, unless it moves to NBC. (We couldn't watch the playoffs.)They got in the basketball finals though. Michelle the naturalist would pipe in when wild life was spotted from the ship.
Tracy Arm: We stayed on board, and chose not to pay the $190 bucks for the tour. I am sure it was beautiful, but it was too high a cost for 3 of us, in my book anyway. Staying on board did not disappoint us, we saw beautiful sights, and alternated between our balcony and staying on deck 10. We saw one bear on shore. Make sure to bring Binoculars if you have them otherwise they rent and sell them too. Carnival hands out blankets if you are outside, and coffee and hot chocolate and tea were close by. We dressed warm, it was cooler in the fjord, I had on a sweatshirt, coat, ear muffs and mittens. Don't worry if you don't bring this kind of stuff, Carnival has you covered by selling it all on Lido deck the day before Tracy Arm. They have coats, hats, gloves, etc. We did get to see the Glacier from a distance, and then the ship slowly turned and we headed back out of the Fjord.
Skagway: Cloudy day, but no rain. About 55 degrees. We pulled in port and the White Pass rail train was just backing in front of the ship. Our cabin faced the dock. Make sure to look for Carnival Miracle painting on side of rocks. We walked into town, maybe 1/2 mile. We rented a Jeep from Alaska Green Jeep rentals. We drove all the way to Emerald Lake in the Yukon and drove back. The closer we got to the Yukon, the sunnier it got. We liked this touring on our own, we could stop anywhere and take photos. Lots of pull over areas. We saw many a tour bus drive past these stops with people trying to take pictures out of a moving bus. I can't describe our drive; it was incredibly beautiful, breathtaking. Emerald Lake, Wow. We also took a short trek up Dyea road, can take a nice aerial view of the ships in port, and went to an old Cemetary. We drove 200 miles. We were back in Skagway by 5 pm with plenty of time to walk around and shop. Look for coupon books in town to save you money on souveniers if you are shopping. Get popcorn from Heaths Popcorn emporium. YUM. We got back on board, again, with less passengers never a long waiting line to get on board, we walked right on. We missed dinner, so ate in Buffet this night.
Cell Service was fine in town. Data on phones worked fine, I think ships Wifi had trouble.
Juneau: Arrived to rain, but not cold, about 55 degrees. We took a Whale watch and Mendenhall Glacier tour with Juneau tours. We left at 8 am and were back in town by 2 and again had plenty of time to walk around and shop. Sat in Red Dog Saloon for about a half hour too. The tour was great, saw lots of whales and seals. We whale watched for about 2 hours (1 hour RT boat ride and then 1 hour or so of whale watching) Then the bus took us to Mendenhall, which was so nice, the rain had stopped and we walked a mile to the Glacier and Waterfall. It is a nice path, but they do warn you to keep and eye out for bears. We did not see any! The view down there is phenomenal and worth taking the walk. Again, Wow. Interesting tidbit our driver told us that the waterfall was never there 30 years ago, it was covered by the glacier, so you can see how far back it has melted away. Sad sort of. :( We took a bus included in the tour back to town and again shopped and headed back to ship. It is NOT a long walk to town from the ship. It is right there. The tram looked cool to take, but it was kind of cloudy and foggy and I think that would effect the view. So did not want to spend the money. Again, look for coupon books for savings. The sun did pop out for about an hour. It rained on and off all day. The locals welcomed the rain, they have had none in a very long time and actually have a water shortage! We made our dinner time back on ship at 530. Leaving Juneau we saw alot of whales off our Balcony. Cell Service was fine, Data was fine.
Pulled in to sunny skies and not a cloud in the sky. 65 degrees. I wore a long sleeve shirt and was almost to warm. We walked from the ship down to fishermans wharf-what is nice is they have walking paths clearly marked and chained off. You just follow the signs. (There are plenty of cabs waiting at port if you want one instead) Also, and information booth the ladies are dressed old time and hand out free pins and flags and maps.. At the wharf, we fed some harbor seals (allowed) and talked to some house owners. Their homes are literally on the water. Cute little village. After that, we walked back to the ship, had our 530 dinner, and could properly additionally tip our waiter at this time. After dinner, we went back out to the Wharf, took a Water Taxi (cute) to downtown. $5 one way.
We saw the parliment building, hotels, and just walked around. We decided it was such a nice night, we started walking back to the ship and it took us 45-1 hour. We walked along the coast line, again, clearly marked to get you back to the ship. We got back to ship about 9:15. My only regret was not staying in Victoria to see the buildings lit up. We would have had time and took a taxi back to ship.
Seattle: Disembarkation. We were in port at 6, and we chose self assist to get off the ship (so do alot of others) But we were allowed off ship about 0700 by 720 we were off, and customs was a breeze and we were waiting for our Limo at 730. Got to the airport in plenty of time for our 1035 flight back to Chicago.
Never once was the ships propulsion problem a worry for me. Never thought twice about it. I enjoyed the extra time in the other ports and Ketchikan was missed, yes, but, we were not going to be there that long anyhow.
Camp Carnival: My son turned 15 on board and attended Club O2. Asked what they did everynight and he said hung out. Not sure if the Carnival Camp Counselor stuck to the schedule. Never sounded like they did what was on there. Hard to entertain teenagers. He had fun though. Made alot of friends.
All and all, I loved the Cruise. Everyone has their own opinions though and I am easy to please and not picky just blessed I am able to take a trip like this. My only other beef was all these frequent cruisers who throw around "I'm Platinum" and expect the world because of it. Yeah, I get it, you cruised alot, so have I. You get different perks, ok. I am gold, on the verge of Platinum and what some of these people expected were absolutely assinine. One woman in front of us at guest services was actually saying she was platinum, did not really enjoy herself, wanted her money back and another cruise. Really? I don't care that you are blue, red, gold, platinum or diamond. You sound like an a** throwing that round thinking Carnival owes you. Enjoy the perks you do get whatever level you are at.
I highly recommend this trip and if you are going soon, have fun, make your own fun, and Bon Voyage!!!