We were fortunate enough to have fantastic weather for our first Alaska cruise. We flew into Vancouver the day before our cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites downtown, near the cruise terminal. Beautiful evening in Vancouver and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner across from the Steam Clock on Waterstreet. Free Hotel shuttle took us to our ship the next morning. We arrived early around 11:00 am. Best way to ensure a smooth check-in is to have ALL your necessary documents. There were 3 of us, myself, my husband, and my sister. We had a 3-room balcony cabin. I chose this particular ship and route because of the itinerary. We specifically wanted to go to Glacier National Park and Hubbard Glacier. We were not disappointed. It was good go have a balcony cabin on this trip. Glacier National Park was AMAZING!!! You could hear the popping and expolsions of the ice as it moved and the expolsions of the ice crashing into the water. We had great weather for viewing the glaciers. The captain turned the ship so both sides could enjoy the viewing.
The ship is older. There were lots of children as school was out. The ship only seemed crowded during breadfast in the Garden Cafe. Food was OK, not great. I didn't expect it to be. I've noticed that food on cruise lines steadily going downhill over the years. Speciality restaurants were OK. Teppanyaki was the worst of them all. I don't know what they did to the soy sauce, but my husband and I did not like it at all. Main dining room was just as good. Medical facitily was outstanding. My husband did develope an illness on the ship - not the noro virus, but another infection with 103' temperature. The doctor and nurse were wonderful and got him on the road to recovery. My sister and I bought the unlimited soda pakage for $50. It was too expensive. When in port, you may bring sodas back to the ship. The ship only carries Pepsi products, so we bought a 12-pak Diet Coke in port and brought it back to the ship. I also bought the wine package, but it too is too expensive. The ship did not carry my favorite wine. We were better off buying the wine in port and paying the $15 corking fee for each bottle.
I did not book any shore excursions on the ship as I was uncertain on how the weather would be and didn't want to fight to get my money refunded. I also do not like getting up early for excursions. Instead, my sister and I walked off the ship at each port after a leisurely morning and got the same excursions for less money than the ship offered. We ate lunch at "Annabelles" in Ketchican. Very good! "Alissa", our waitress, recommended a seaplane vendor for us and even called them for us to ensure there was a space for us. So, we took a seaplane to view the Misty Fiords in Ketchikan and had a wonderful time. In Juneau, we went whale watching and to see the Mendenhall Glacier. In Skagway we ate lunch at the Red Onion Saloon, then walked across the street to the White Pass rail ticket office and bought a 1:00pm ticket on the White Pass rail train to the top of the mountain. Much better than waiting with all those folks on the ship. We saw a grissley bear near the top of the mountain. The weather was warm and clear and the vistas were AMAZING.
Disembarkation in Anchorage was easy. Just listen for your color to be called for your transfer to Anchorage. This was my sister's first ever cruise and she LOVED it. My husband and I just loved the itinerary. Not sure we would do it again, as I can't imagine having any better weather than we had. Enjoy your trip if you book.