Background information; 3 of us, husband and wife in their 40's and 10 year old daughter. 4th cruise for the adults and 3rd for the daughter.
I will only mention comparisons of my cruises for things such as service, as I believe those should have a standard regardless of the cruise line, location or length of cruise. That is my opinion of course.
We flew to Vancouver, BC 2 days prior to our scheduled departure, as we had been told this is a beautiful city. We were not guided wrongly. We stayed in the downtown Hyatt and it was centrally located and a lovely hotel. I think in all my travels, I would say the friendliest people are in Vancouver.
We were planning to try to embark early around 11:00 a.m., but due to some unforeseen business we had to conduct before losing internet, we did not make it until 1:00 p.m. It probably took us all of 15 minutes to get there from the hotel, walk up to the counter, pictures taken for the room card and embark. This was the easiest and quickest embarkment we have had (and the others we thought were good).
Rooms were ready about 10 minutes after we arrived. We had already eaten, so no need to go to the Lido. Our luggage arrived about 2:30 p.m. I was almost unpacked by the time the muster drill happened at 4:30 p.m.
The ship was scheduled to depart at 5:00 p.m. The captain held the ship's departure until a party of 15 arrived from Seattle. From what I could gather, customs took quite a long time. I admired the captain for making the decision to wait for them for 1/2 hour; certainly didn't impact my vacation and we didn't miss anything (well much).
We had early dinner at 5:45 p.m. and were in the dining room when going out of port and under the Lion's Bridge. I had been told to be on deck for that and due to dinner could only see it from the windows. I don't know that it would have made any difference in my enjoyment of the cruise; I considered it dinner and a show.
Our dining server was Bambang and the assistant was Seno; they were the best I have had in all my cruises. By the 2nd night, they knew our names, drink preferences and my food restrictions. I think Bambang was more cautious of my food than I am (I cannot have sugar or flour or I get very sick). I had not notified the ship/dining service prior to arrival of my food restrictions and usually just find what I can eat and push aside the rest. By the 2nd day, there was always gluten free bread at the table and even when we went to the dining room for breakfast or lunch, if Bambang or Seno were there (even if they were not our servers), they brought me the gluten free bread and I never asked for it. It was such a special touch.
We ate all our dinners in the dining room and most our other meals in the dining room. We just like that atmosphere, although a 2 hour dinner is a long time. Most dinners we would see whales out the windows; more dinner and a show.
First day was a day at sea. My daughter spent the morning in the pool and afternoon in the kids club. I spent the morning wandering the ship and the afternoon napping. We did not go to the show the first night; early to bed.
Hubbard Glacier: It was VERY foggy before we turned into the bay area of the glacier. The captain almost didn't go to the glacier thinking it would be too foggy and we wouldn't see anything, he decided to try at the last minute. Boy, am I glad he did. It was spectacular, the fog lifted and it was clear as could be. Make sure to bring layers, we had had beautiful, sunny, almost (not quite) hot weather the whole time and it was very cold by the glacier. But it was sunny and clear. Also bring binoculars. There were hundreds of seals with their pups on the icebergs and most were far enough away they only looked like rocks without the binoculars. Saw a bit of calving from the glacier. We spent about 1.5 hours in that area.
Then out to sea to head to our final stop, Seward. The day at sea was a bit rough. I find the days at sea tend to be rougher, I think because you are further out and moving faster. Don't know, but that is my thoughts.
Daughter spent time in the pool, I wandered or at the internet, husband sat by the pool. Dinner, kid's club for daughter, no show tonight, just a movie, so I went back and packed and then hung out in the crow's nest. Husband in the casino.
I couldn't tell you our room steward's names. They swept in after we went to breakfast, cleaned and were out by the time we came back from breakfast; then did the same thing when we went to dinner. I found them to be great.
Everyone was very pleasant and so very helpful.
Let's see, the negatives; the coffee is horrible. The food in the Lido pretty bad, the dining room tended to not be the best we had, but I would have to say the service made up for it. We are not much into shows, the few we saw were pretty poor in our opinion (compared to Disney just downright bad, but is that a fair comparison?). Oh, old ship, due for dry dock, so some things are worn out, there seemed to always be an elevator that was down, but we never had to stand and wait very long for anything, including in the Lido. For those of you going on this ship before the dry dock, the towels are stained, but as long as they are clean, it didn't really matter.
My husband had fun in the casino; I found the internet speed very good and rarely was it down or moving slowly and the internet staff was wonderful and would warn people if it was slow and would eat up your time; she was extremely helpful. A lot of people hung out in the library, playing games and reading. My daughter thought the pool was awesome, it was heated and had a moveable roof, which they opened and closed according to outside temp.
We had the latest deparkment due to private arrangements in Seward. Our information told us it would be about 8:15 a.m. and they called our number at 8:15 a.m. We walked right off, got our luggage right away and the wait came outside in the parking lot for my sister in law who was running late.
Our experience was COMPLETELY opposite of those who cruised this ship over the winter in Mexico. I don't know if there was a crew change or they read some of the reviews, but I found it to be a very nice, relaxing cruise.