This was our 1st trip to Alaska, our 5th cruise total and our 3rd with RCL. We loved this trip over all but had a few problem with the beginning and end of our adventure. We flew out of Pittsburgh, PA into Vancouver BC with a layover in Chicago. No problem with the flight although it was a long,long flight. We booked our transfers with RCL in order to take advantage of the USDirect program and avoid the long lines through customs, only to find out upon arriving at the airport that they were not running the USDirect program. So we stood in the customs lines for a little over 1 1/2 hours. Then no one from RCL was available to direct us to the bus for the ride to the pier. This was very frustrating. When a bus finally did arrive it took FOREVER to get to the pier and we didn't board the ship until 4:30 p.m. in just enough time to make the muster drill. We were not too happy about this because we really like to have time to explore the ship before the sailaway.
Once aboard this all went much smoother. The ship was beautiful (although we have now decided we much prefer the larger ships) and the staff was excellent, very helpful and friendly. Our cabin was small but sufficient and we just love that "friendly" shower curtain!! Our luggage was in our cabin very promptly and we were off to dinner. Our servers, Desima from Jamaica and Leah from the Philippines were very good. Our head waiter, Ryan from Bombay was the most attentive head waiter we have ever had. The food was the best we have had on any ship so far. Our favorite bartenders Dionnie and Oscar were lots of fun and always very prompt! We enjoyed the nightclub in the Viking Crown Lounge this night. We also did very well in the casino coming out $500 ahead.
The second day at sea we found sailing a little rough. Waves of 18-20 feet made for an interesting ride. We had a great time at our Meet & Mingle with new friends we met via the internet prior to the cruise. RCL provided a wonderful spread and the group enjoyed a very interesting gift exchange. We attended the wine tasting class (great fun) and enjoyed our 1st formal night dinner. The comedy show starring Wilde & Hanes was fantastic. We enjoyed a 70's Disco night that evening.
Day 3 was our visit to Juneau. It was rainy and cold and we spent the afternoon hopping in and out of the shops near the pier. We enjoyed some drinks and a sing-a-long with our new friends at the Red Dog Saloon to pass the rainy afternoon. After another fantastic meal we attended the magic show featuring Kyle & Mistie in Knight Magic.
Day 4 we visited Skagway where we took the Ghosts & Good Times Girls tour. We had lots of fun despite the cold weather. The walk from the pier into town was quite alittle hoof and we were glad to find a shuttle bus to get back to the ship. Skagway is a tiny little town (total population is 820 people)and if you don't have an excursion booked there you could probably see everything there in about 1/2 hour. This evening we enjoyed our dinner followed by a great vocalist, Julie Grace. The Love & Marriage show was very entertaining and the casino was again very good to us with another $500 filling our pockets. (We played the slots all week and won on the $1 Wheel of Fortune).
Day 5 was our trip into the Tracy Arm Fjords. The scenery was truly amazing. We felt like we were in an IMAX theater. We saw mountain goats, eagles, dolphins and a whale. We went to a magic matinee and learns some tricks. After dinner we attend the Tribute to the Temptations show. These guys were great.
Day 6 we stopped in Prince Rupert, where we took a whale watching tour. We saw lots of eagles and lots of sea lions but the highlight was seeing the humpback whale less then 50 yards from our boat. Our tour guide was very very informative and the boat was nice and small with only 40 passengers. The town was very small and didn't have alot to offer other than the excursions. After yet another great meal, we enjoyed the production show Boogie Wonderland and were very impressed with the singers and dancers. Another good night in the casino netted us a profit of $300. Are we lucky or what?
Day 7 we sailed the inside passage and the weather was perfect!! The scenery was again truly amazing. We sat for hours on the deck and watched the majesty of the creation around us. After our last scrumptious dinner, we saw the farewell show (with tears in my eyes) and enjoyed the comedian Tim Jones. The Karaoke finals were quite entertaining and we gave back a little of our winnings to the casino (you gotta know when to walk away, and know when to run!!) We packed up the luggage and fell into bed.
Disembarkation went smooth and we were off the ship by 8:30 a.m. Then it all went horrible again. The transfers to the airport were an absolute nightmare. The loading of buses was total chaos and to make a long, ugly story short, we ended up having to get a cab to the airport after 4 buses passed us by and we had only 15 min. to get through airport security. We will NEVER book transfers through RCL. We have learned our lessons!! For the icing on the cake, our airline lost our luggage (thank God it was on the way home!!) The ship's comedian joked that Delta stands for Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive and boy was he right!!!
In summary we had a wonderful cruise. We aren't in any hurry to head back to Alaska. We thought it was beautiful and we had lots of fun, but we missed the warm weather. The ship's staff was excellent from the cruise director, to the captain, to the wait staff, to the room steward and the activities staff. Food was the best we have ever had. Drinks were great but a bit pricey. The entertainment was top notch. The friends we made were priceless.
We are planning our next cruise with RCL to a warmer climate and on a larger ship!!
Thanks for taking the time to read our review. Mike & Lynda