We flew in from Atlanta to Seattle, we stayed at the Hampton Inn South Center, and the hotel shuttle picked us up at the airport. It arrived about 15min after we called. The room was small, but it was so clean and the bed was so comfortable and it included breakfast for 89.00 a night. I had heard about Seattle Express from C.C. and found them to be the most reasonable. I called the number from their website two days before we left to reserve a space and found out that they would pick us up at the hotel. Called first thing in the am for an 11:00 pick up, it was only 12.00 per person to the ship and 10.00 from the ship to the airport.
Embarkation: The Shuttle dropped us off by the luggage drop off; they took it, went to the check in and were on the ship in about 10 min. I do not know what or how Holland America makes it so simple but it was amazingly easy. I have been or 4 previous Carnival cruises and the wait to check in have taken at least an hour each time. On Board-Beware More
the man with the drinks on the tray. Hubby got a punch type drink in a tall plastic glass; I got a margarita in a pretty blue martini glass, please sign--9.00 for his 8.00 for mine, high price? Noooo the souvenir glass is 4.95 and 3.95 respectively, were we told this? Nope. Only fooled once, down side all drinks are served in tiny 5 oz glasses or 2/3 filled martini glass.
Cabin- really nice, with a bathtub. Very comfortable beds and you can change the thermostat. Refrig was not cold at all. Our H cabin was an obstructed view, but we could see out of some of the window and also out of the windows of the tender that was in front of our floor to ceiling window. Our cabin steward Mada did a great job, and was very nice.
Dining- We had anytime dinning and loved it. We sat with different couples each night, enjoyed it very much. The food was good; the deserts were not very good, which helped keep the weight gain down. We ate at the Pinnacle one night it was fabulous. I think if I get another good deal on a cruise, I will add at least 3 nights onto my budget, it is worth it. We ate breakfast once in the dinning room and the Lido the rest of the trip. You get a better fresh cooked omelet at the Lido and there are more selections, same with Lunch more selections. Biggest Complaint- the glass 5oz glasses, I think dehydration is a possibility on the ship. There is a drink station at the beginning and the end of the Lido restaurant. The Bars by the pools only have drinks for sale drinks, and they will not bring you water or ice tea.
Entertainment-The singers and dancers were very good. The Magician really is a showman, skilled and also funny. Due to the time change, and the great excursions, we were usually in bed early so we missed a lot of the shows. Our favorite entertainment was the Moonlight Strings, talented musicians playing soothing music. The Piano player did a Billy Joel tribute and a lot of people really enjoy it.
Excursions-Seeing Alaska, what the whole trip was about. I saw 4 whales from the Lido deck the firs sea day morning. A seal catch a fish, and then GLACIER BAY!!! Beauty beyond my expectations, memories I will treasure, photos that inspire, and Humbled by God's creation.
Juneau- followed the advice of CC and booked when we got off the ship, 7 dollars each way to Mendenhall glacier. The beauty again of that glacier blue and then we saw a bear right there by the shore, it ran right past the tourist in pursuit of a salmon. Rode Roberts tram up and hiked some. Wandered around the town, just had a great time.
Sitka- wanted to do the puffins and otters but it was raining, so glad we did not pre-purchase they go out rain or shine. Walked the town, Went to Native Dancers, Castle rock, beautiful St. Michaels, walked to the hatchery saw spawning salmon, hiked the rain forest, saw the raptor center, and lastly saw Russian dancers. We basically did everything, loved every minute.
Ketchikan- again booked off ship found a local tour called Sourdough Tour Company for 50.00 each they took us to see bears, eagles, and Saxman village plus 5.00 free tickets into Dolly's. We saw bears so close that a man had to yell at a woman who ran up less than 4 feet from a bear, waving and baby talking to it while trying to take its picture. These are wild bear not zoo bear and it is salmon time, do get between a bear and its food. We have amazing photos, Saxman was very interesting and yes there really are eagles everywhere.
Last was Victoria- we did not get off, really did not care to, we had to leave Ketchikan so we could arrive at Victoria at 6pm, sorry I would rather have had more time in Ketchikan, not get off a ship at night to see a city in Canada. We were really tired after a full sea day and decided to eat at the Pinnacle, go back to our room and watch a movie.
Debarkation. Once again, I cannot say enough about how easy Holland America makes it, we choose to exit at 9:30; our time came and it took about 7 min We watched from others debark from the Lido and I think the most crowded time was the 8:00 group, it may have taken them a little longer, but probably not much more than 15 min. I loved our trip; it was restful, and memorable. Holland America really does a great job. My only low grade at all was the deserts, and to be honest I really do not need it. Less