My wife and I had an Alaska cruise with three other couples. It was the first cruise for all of us. We chose Rhapsody of the Seas, simply because it arrived in Victoria in the morning so we could visit the world famous The Butchart Gardens.
Overall, service and cuisine exceeded our expectations. My Time Dining is such a convenient thing, and we could eat the dinners at anytime we wanted. All the staffs, including the head waiter, waiter, and assistant waiter, wanted to please guests, and to make sure that their guests were happy with everything.
Here is a vivid example: after a few days on the cruise, a gentleman in our group missed the "won ton soup" very much. He didn't consult us, but directly asked the head waiter if the chef can make a "won ton soup" for him. I thought it was odd, because it requires a recipe and the skill to make. To our surprise, the next day we just sat down for the dinner, we were told that each of us would have a "won ton soup" before the dinner. We were thrilled. The soup was very authentic and tasty.
We did not take any shore excursions from the ship. One of the drawbacks of the shore excursions is limited time at the sites we were interested. For example, only 45 minutes is allocated by a shore excursion at Mendenhall glacier. In Juneau, each of us spent $12 for a round trip from the downtown Juneau to Mendenhall glacier, and we spent about three hours there. In Skagway, we got rental cars from Avis, and drove to Yukon. The scenery along Klondike highway was incredible, and the lakes in Yukon were so beautiful. We drove all the way to Emerald Lake. On the way there, we saw bears, and a moose.
The only thing we felt a little bit disappointed was that the ship didn't get closer to the glacier when we were in Tracy Arm. Because there were lots floating ice in the water, the ship was not able to close to the glacier, for the safety reasons. I was told by a crew member that the ship was very close to the glacier during its early trips. People can see huge ice blocks fell down into the water, and made big splashes and noises.