Embarkation – It was ok. Longest part was waiting in the final line to get your room key / cruise card, but fairly comparable to the other cruises I’ve been on.
Muster Drill – This was not bad at all!! I’ve been on some that have taken 45 min or longer. This one was about 5-10. Well done!
Cabin 11650 – Handicap cabin assigned to us. Larger than most, so that was nice. Some of the bathroom equipment wasn’t as convenient for us, but I can see how it would be very helpful for anyone in a wheel chair. Also the sliding door to the deck area was electric only and it was slow. The cabin itself was great.. EXCEPT form 6:30 AM to about 8 AM. EVERY SINGLE MORNING at 6:30 AM the workers (I think) started sliding tables and chairs all over the sun deck in preparation for breakfast. It was so loud it would wake me, my husband and my 4 year old every single day without fail. I would choose a smaller cabin on a lower deck in the future if you want to sleep in at all. Carpet should probably be replaced soon, but the rest of the cabin was nice.
Our room steward was ok for the most part. We didn’t have a remote for most of the first day even though we asked for one several times. He missed several of the make up/turn down sessions. He didn’t take the dishes unless you put them outside the door for everyone to trip over. He was pleasant but I expected more for the extra $36 per day added automatically. I reduced our costs by 2 days at the end of the cruise.
Beds – The pull out bed was like sleeping on the floor. Luckily it was only a 35 lb little boy sleeping on it. I don’t know how anyone could sleep on that thing. The main beds were only slightly less hard than the pull out, and still uncomfortable. The beds on Carnival are WAY better and the bedding was nicer there too.
Food – The food was decent for the most part. Again, I liked Carnival better. I didn’t care as much for the “free style dining” since we didn’t get the same personal service each night. Also most of the restaurants charged an extra fee. We didn’t go to any of those. We did do the Indigo and the Summer Palace. The Indigo was slightly better with shorter wait times for food and better serving sizes. It was difficult to get specialty drinks at dinner.
The buffets had a decent range of options. We could always find something we wanted. I really appreciated the hand sanitizing people at the entrances.
Club Splash – LOVED IT! (minus the day they closed without notice - with no price break of course) This was probably our favorite part of this cruise ship. The people there were amazing. Our son was always asking to go back and had a great time every day! They got to dress up several times (pirate, knight, super hero, tiger) and do a parade around the ship.. even in front of the auditorium before a show so there were people there to cheer for them. HE ADORED every moment here.. which also gave us some time to relax and enjoy some alone time. Honestly, he would have spent 24/7 there if he could. Jumper, Honey Bee, Kit Kat and Veggie were his favorites. The down side is that he was CRUSHED when we went to pick him up at 9 on Friday night and they suddenly announced that all of the activities (other than the actual Circus that would be held on stage) were cancelled for the entire next, and last, day. He was SO upset.. and I wasn’t thrilled either, since all days were included, there was no prior notice, no good explanation and no restitution of any nature.
Medical – We did have an interesting event. Someone had a medical emergency and had to be airlifted off the ship. We changed course and had a magnificent display of the expertise of the Canadian medical air rescue unit airlifting the patient onto the helicopter. We were an hour late to our next port, but they stayed an extra hour as well. It did put a kink in a lot of the excursion plans, but ours were able to be readjusted since it was a ship issue.
Entertainment – The entertainers around the ship ran from not great to really good. The only show we saw was “Oh What A Night” and that was well done.
Ports – See individual reviews for vendor on Tripadvisor for more information. Getting off the ship at the ports was kind of painful. I think the Pearl could use some work here. Super long lines all over the ship. Mass confusion sometimes.
Juneau – We did the Costal Helicopter tour and had Jamie as our pilot. We went to and landed on the Herbert Glacier. Well worth it and our favorite excursion. The port itself was nice.
Skagway – This port was COLD and windy. We did the Yukon/ Rail ride excursion with Chilkoot Charters. James was our driver. He did a decent job given the construction. A little preachy at the end, but still a good story teller, very informative, safe, and accommodating. We got to see two bears from a distance.. one on the bus and another on the train. Dog sled camp was interesting .. “puppy” area not what I expected as they dogs are between 6 m to a year or so. Lunch was decent and fast. White Trail Train ride back was outstanding and a “must do” for sure!
Glacier Bay – Spectacular – we got to witness some caving. Amazing.. and LOUD! We saw some humpback whales, seals, sea otters, mountain goat and a bear.
Ketchikan – We did the “Ketchikan Taxi Cab Tour” with Kat. It’s one of the Scarbourogh Taxi Cabs. It sounded like you could get cheaper options, and they would be about the same price, so I might check around a bit before booking this one. She did a good job. Showed us the sites there were to see, there just weren’t a lot of them. She had binoculars we could borrow (since our last minute Walmart ones were crap). She was very polite and accommodating. We got to see some eagles, a deer and some marine life by a boat dock, as well as one of the totem parks. She was also knowledgeable and helped us find the place to get some crab shipped back for a friend at home. This was the only stop that required bug spray for us. The shopping by the pier was good. If I had it to do over, I think I’d try the float planes at this stop.
Victoria – CRAPPY port times. 6PM to midnight. We were able to find BC Whale tours that took us out. They were accommodating and willing to work with our times available. They picked us up, got us suited up (the suit for our 4 year old worked out mostly but was WAY too big) quickly and we were off. They knew where the whales were, but didn’t tell us it was over an hour away. That would have been nice to know.. but didn’t change anything in the long run. They went out of their way to make sure we saw some Orca (even though we went all the way to Vancouver .. seriously) to see them. We saw at least a dozen (some at a distance), probably 8 fairly close, and 4 or so that hung around for a few minutes and were very close.
Sooooo…. Here’s the thing.. I’m torn on my review… they really did do a good job for us seeing the whales.. so they get 5 stars on that..
BUT… on the way back, WE RAN OUT OF GAS. We were about 5 miles from the harbor where you would have to slow down to no wake and the boat just lurches to a halt. The pilot handled it well and didn’t panic, and answered all of the one young boys questions well.. better than I would have tolerated it when I was dealing with a situation like that. He called for help and was able to get one engine started and we limped towards the harbor. It was PITCH BLACK in the middle of the Peugeot Sound and we were crawling back to shore.. AND we were about 40 minutes from “all aboard” for our ship.
Help arrived but it was too choppy to transfer fuel or people, so they just stayed alongside us as we slowly made our way back. They decided to drop us off at the dock by the cruise ships since we now had about 20 min before we had to be back on board and the trip to the normal dock and the drive back would have made us miss our ship.
Here’s the only time I actually thought we were in danger. One the other boat had to keep herding our boat away from shore.. had we run out of gas totally and were as close as we were, we could have been pulled in. Then, we went to go around the cruise ships to get to the dock we needed when suddenly, and with one engine and no gas to spare, he hurries and puts the boat in full reverse. The Holland America ship was backing out and we almost went right behind them!!!! OMG!!! Granted.. it wasn’t like 3 feet or anything.. but it was probably less than 100.. and that is a BIG ship with a BIG pull. The pilot blamed the ship for not doing the 3 blasts with its horn, but it was after 11 PM.. and I think there’s a time frame for waking everyone one, that they don’t do that.. and the pilot should have known that too.
The crew didn’t apologize or offer any money back.
I think an apology was due as it did scare some of the kids and the adults were stressed about the timing thing. The money part, was probably fine since we did get to see the whales, and we did have to go a LONG way to see them, and we did make it back in time in the end. Still left me a little unsettled.
Debarkation was ok-ish. Long lines. They went fairly smoothly.. but a super long line is still a super long line.
Overall cruise impression – I’d recommend the Alaskan cruise for sure! I’d see if you could get better port times in Ketchikan and Victoria. The kids club was top notch, but for the rest, I thought Carnival did a better job on their ships.