This was a trip that we had planned for over a year! There were four of us that took the entire trip...two more joined us on the ship for the cruise portion. We went two days early so we could have an extra day in Vancouver. We spent the day walking through town and going through the park. The day was beautiful and the Rhododendrons we beautiful. We stayed at a lovely boutique hotel "The Le Soleil".
We were early to the port and we were not able to board before noon but at noon we were on in a flash. We were greeted with a smile and champagne. We went directly to the La Veranda for a lovely lunch and the cabins were released to us about 2:20. We ate at the Signature Restaurant the first night, thinking that if we loved it we could go back. We loved it and no we did not get to go back since they were booked every night and still everyone on the ship that wanted to dine there did not get in. (Book early). The day at Victoria was beautiful. Since there were six of us we rented a van and drove to Butchart Gardens. The gardens were beautiful and we had a lovely lunch in the main dining room at the gardens. Three of us then went back to the ship and three of us got dropped in town and we went to The Empress Hotel and walked around the government buildings before strolling back to the ship.
I will not go into great detail about all the ports.....that seems to have been covered very well several times. I will say that the Tracy Arm excursion was spectacular! The day was crystal clear and crisp. One cannot describe its glory.....you must see it yourself. We loved seeing the whales and our glacier float trip in Skagway (Haines) was just wonderful. Seeing Hubbard Glacier up close is breathtaking and again words cannot adequately describe it. This was one of the wonderful things about being on a ship the size of the Mariner.....you can really go in close.
This ship is lovely, the service is superb, and dining in all venues was excellent. It was like going to the best restaurant in town every night. The wines were wonderful....never a need to upgrade. We all loved that there were no tickets to sign every time you got a wonderful glass of champagne or wine. The shows were very nice and the guest artists were so nice to visit with around the ship. Debarking on the last morning was way too soon but in our case the four of us continued on to Anchorage and to end up in Fairbanks.
I cannot say enough about how well done the final four days of our trip were handled. We had a lovely guide and a very nice bus driver and they treated us (24) with kid gloves. There was not a "t" that was not crossed or an "I" that needed dotting. Our luggage was handled, the hotels were excellent, the meals that were provided were as good as any we have had. We had a lovely train ride on the Alaska Railway from Anchorage to Talkeetna. Denali was a very special day. We saw all the legendary wildlife. It even clouded up and rained, snowed, rained and cleared up in the park just so we could say we saw snow. We actually were lucky enough to see Denali (Mt. McKinley) on three separate occasions. Most unusual we were told. Fairbanks was another beautiful day. We had a lovely trip down the Chena River on a steam paddle boat. Our guide stayed with us until the next day and we were at the airport and cleared through security.
We flew back to Seattle and spent a cold damp morning there at Pikes' Market before heading home. I will reiterate that this was about as perfect a trip as one could ever have wished for in every respect. Our only concern is do we dare do it again......it could never be the same.
We have already booked our next cruise with Regent and are so looking forward to it.