My Review We are a family of 5, 3 kids ages 12/9/6 We flew Air Alaska from EWR to SEA and connecting to Sitka. I have no complaints flights were on time and all employees were professional and helpful. We spent 3 days and 2 nights in Sitka Prior to our cruise. Sitka is all that is posted about on these boards. A truly charming town with very friendly people where ever we went. Day 1 We arrived in Sitka at 1:30 pm checked into our hotel The West mark. American Safari had a Private transfer waiting for us at the airport. Our bags were brought to our room. The hotel was fine as a place to sleep for the night. That afternoon we wonder around the town going in and out of the many fine shops we ate at Victoria's Pour House and had some of the best King Crab legs we have ever had. Later on some of the fisherman from The Deadliest Catch came into the bar as it seemed to be their local hang out which we were not aware of as my son is a big fan of the show.
Day 2 Had breakfast at a new restaurant called Level 2 that was recommended to us and the food was very good we ate dinner there as well. They have a nice lunch menu if you are visiting for the day and it is right on the main street were the cruise ships tender in. We had lunch at a small stand set up on the road to the left of the docks called Two Chicks and a Stick. It was two sisters that had fresh caught salmon from local fishermen that was skewered and you had a choice of different glazes and toppings served over rice for $8 two skewers for $15 with a drink you had to eat on the side of the road next to their trailer but it was well worth it to eat salmon that had just been caught. I highly recommend trying them. We were going on a tour the next day that was included with the cruise so we just walked around the town went to the lookout and to the Bishop's house and bought some gifts. Day 3 cruise day 1 We went back to Victoria's for some King crab for Lunch and Had Halibut Burgers which were great, we went to the docks to see the Debra D from the Deadliest catch and take some pictures. Our tour started at 1:30 and brought us around the town, Went to the Raptor Center, Russian Church, the tot-am pole park, and then we were brought to our ship the Safari Quest. Our bags were taken from our hotel and brought to our rooms on board the ship. The Ship is a private yacht that holds a max of 22 passengers yet there were only 15 on our sailing. They do not allow children under 12 except for two sailings per season this being one. There was a family of 6 from Australia and a family of 4 from Indonesia for a total of 15 on our sailing. We got to know each other on our tour and were excited about getting to the Ship. There was a crew of 9 for our sailing all standing outside waiting to greet us and they knew all of our first names from the time we met. We were show to our rooms and gathering in the living room for Champagne and Hors d'oeures. We all gathered in the living room area and we got the run down on how things worked. We cruise during the day and go to quiet coves to Anchor at night. We got to know the crew which were just fantastic. Throughout the cruise they seemed to antic pate our needs and desires and they were met without asking and a friendly smile. We would get a talk each night about the next days activities from our on board Expedition Leader as well as a review each morning to make sure that everyone was doing what he or she wanted to. There was a Chef and a pastry chef on board. For breakfast there was pretty much anything you wanted made to order plus the chefs special of the morning. During breakfast were were told about our dinner choices there was always a fish and a meat with chicken available. You could choose one or the other or have both if you wanted. The food was all cooked to order and excellent throughout the cruise. There was Breakfast at 8ish, lunch at 12ish, Fresh Baked cookies at 3ish, Ct hour at 6ish with hors d oeuvres and dinner at 7ish. Everything was ISH due to the events that could be taking place at that time if there was something to see we would eat later. Day 2 We woke up in the heart of the inside passage. There were brown bear on the shore eating with cubs so we were off in kayaks or the skiff depending on what you wanted to observe them closer a truly amazing morning. After lunch we pulled anchor and went out to observe whales we saw Humpback first, then sea otters and porpoise riding the bow of the ship. and the we saw families of Orca, I do not know who was more excited us or the orca as they were very playful with us we say two of them fully breach which was just spectacular. We weren't sure how this day could be topped but each day we saw things that amazed us more and more it was like being on a seven day shore excursion.
Day 3 We went To the town of Baranof which has 1 full time resident and some summer homes, a small general store and just more magnificent scenery. We took our skiff to the dock and went on a two mile hike up a mountain with spectacular waterfalls and vistas, we ended our hike at hot springs which we were able to go in and relax the ships crew hiked with us to point out what we were looking at and they were there at the hot springs with champagne and sparkling cider for the kids servings as we soaked in the hot springs. Back to the the hike, skiff and back to the ship were the crew would great us with hot chocolate and warm apple cider spiked if you wish. We then met up with a local fisherman at his boat met his wife and 4 kids that live on their boat all season. He talked about life as a fisherman and we were all able to ask questions and see him in action on how he does his crabbing. Our Caption then purchased crab from him which the chef made for dinner, it was just unbelievable.
Day 4 We went on a beach excursion and hike on remote islands more kayaking, playing with sea lions, skiff excursions and whale watching we saw orca's again which I heard is rare. The weather was just perfect through out our cruise very Little rain and we had 4 days of sunshine. Being on a kayak looking at wildlife in the middle of nowhere by yourself with your family was just an incredible experience.
Day 5 & 6 We went to Glacier bay , we started at the Glacier bay lodge we we went hiking and picked up the park ranger that would spend the next two incredible days with us. We spent hours up close watching glaciers calving. We went out on our skiff and we weaved among the icebergs. We hiked right next to a glacier and water fall. We saw mountain goat, bears eagles and more whales, we saw sea lions, puffins, and seals and we were so close to it all the ship provided binoculars to everyone but we really did not Need them as we were so close to it all. After our two days in Glacier Bay we dropped the park ranger off after dinner.
Day 7 which happened to be the 4th of July, the only ones celebrating was the American crew and our family as but the other two families joined in the spirit of things. The crew decorated the ship most of us woke up late this day as we were all so tired from the busy week of non stop action and since no fire works were plain ed we figured we had seen and done it all so some relaxed in the hot tub on the top deck some watched movies from the 1,000 DVDs they had on board while others sat in the library to read a book, I was siting with the captain and my daughter on the bridge chatting with the caption as he took us to our next place to anchor and kayak. When my daughter said look at all those humpback's and then the caption said over the loud speaker we have bubble net feeding humpback's dead ahead. Everyone when to to the front of the ship the expedition leader lowered an under water mic sow that we could hear the whales communication and as the sounds get stronger they would all breach and feed yards from our ship. It was the best 4th of July fire works we had ever seen we delayed dinner for about 2 hrs just to watch the show.
Day 8 we docked in Juneau and after breakfast the crew loader our bags onto our transfers and lined up to say good bye to us and for us to say good bye to our Friends that we had made while on this incredible journey. We were each given a CD with over 200 pictures that the crew had taken during the cruise of us and all that we saw, we did not get the photos of the orca breaching but they did!
The ship was immaculately clean our rooms were cleaned twice a day just like on a mainstream cruise the beds were all temperdicted and we all sleep great the entire 7 nights. I would not be able to say that one crew member stood out over another they were all just perfect at giving warm friendly unstuffy professional service. Great bartenders and drinks, the whole ship was open so you could talk to to the captain while on the bridge or have a chat with the chef in the galley. For any one thinking of seeing Alaska up close or as their slogan puts it Luxury in the Pursuit of adventure I recommend this cruise without hesitation. When we left the ship we were transfers to our hotel and then we were picked up for our helicopter dog sledding tour which as others have stated is a great experience. Back home on Alaska Airlines and Back to reality.