The ship is a little old but in my opinion well maintained. It was definitely more quiet then other cruise lines, but I actually preferred that. No holding/fighting for chairs, no long lines at the buffet etc… The overall atmosphere of the ship just had more class than others.
We are a family of 4 traveling with my in-laws. My boys are 5 & 10 years old. Club HAL is not camp Carnival but is more than adequate. My youngest liked it more than my oldest. Towards the end of the cruise, my oldest only wanted to go if they were having “free time” which is another word for, you guessed it, “video games”. LOL You can drop them off around 9am, but you must pick them back up by 11 or 11:30 for lunch. HAL opens back up at 1pm till 4pm and then from 7-10. I think this helped keep the kids from being bored, however its sometimes a problem picking them up so often as other activities seemed to start before drop off or end after pick up etc…
We had a balcony room which was pretty standard when compared to other ships, my only complaint is that the fold down bed from the ceiling was over my bed instead of the couch. So every time you wake up, you have to remember to not sit straight up in bed or you would bang your head on the bunk above. Also the bed was closer to the door instead of the balcony, so when the couch was made into a bed by the balcony door, it made it very difficult to go on the balcony. Everything in the room worked great, A/C, water/shower etc… Room attendant was very good and responded to requests very well.
Food on the boat was generally very good! I’ve been on several Carnival cruises and the MDR can be hit or miss, but the MDR on this cruise was Exceptional from food to wait staff we couldn’t have asked for a better MDR experience! The breakfast buffet was very good with lots of options. My favorite part of the breakfast buffet that set it apart from others was the Eggs Benedict station! They had about 6 choices every morning. Of course they had all the usual stuff including the omelet station. It seemed the lines on this smaller ship were much better than other buffets on past cruises. Lunch buffet was on par, but the grill outside was fantastic. The only real negative I have about the food is the pizza… Worst pizza ever, I would have rather had a frozen Red Baron. I couldn’t eat it… even the kids didn’t really care for it…
I didn’t partake in much of the entertainment on board as it didn’t really appeal to me. That being said the comedian was really good. Movies in the screening room were newer (not on DVD yet), but seating was limited. The complimentary popcorn was a nice touch.
Juneau we booked the whale excursion with HARV & MARV – to say that this was the Highlight to our trip would be an understatement. Steve, our captain, was exceptional, full of knowledge and passionate about the whales and life in general. He was a real pleasure to be around and he was great with the kids. It was a rare beautiful sunny day in Juneau and as we motored out Steve got on the radio and said there were several boats viewing the Humpbacks, so he suggested we start by making our way to another area were 2 Orca’s had been spotted. According to Steve, Killer Whales are kind of rare and only seen by maybe 15% of guests. Once we got to the area marked by other boats viewing we sat with baited breath and camera’s ready… to our delight a few minutes later they surfaced! There are rules that boat captains must follow including a distance 100 yards when it comes to viewing the whales. If they move closer to you, great, but you cannot motor any closer than 100 yards. That being said, as the Orca’s would surface, move about , then deep dive, Steve would move the boat in anticipation of where they would pop up next…. It’s almost as if he is a Whale whisperer. Many of the other boats would go the wrong way, but Steve really had a knack for anticipating their movements. After about 30 minutes the whales took another deep dive (they can be down for awhile) we were ready to see the Humpbacks. So off we went. There was a pod of 12 bubble net feeding…. It was AWESOME! We also saw sealions. I’ve linked some video below!
FYI - Harv/Marv doesn’t allow kids on this excursion unless you book the whole boat. The bears at the end were actually from a Skagway tour we did with Chilkoot.
Skagway- We did the bus/train and dog sled with Chilkoot charters! Alyssa was an awesome guide. We saw lots of great stuff and had another rare picture perfect day!
Ketchikan we just hung out, ate some fish and chips at the Alaska fish house and checked out the Lumberjack show which was a lot of fun. The kids really enjoyed that as well.
All in all we had a great time!