Our cruise was during the week of May 16-23, 2010. A little about ourselves, I'm 48 and DH is 51. This was our 6th cruise. We have been to the Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, "Exotic "Caribbean (Costa Rica, Panama) and Hawaii, and I must admit this has been our favorite cruise, as far as scenery goes. (And Hawaii was hard to beat). It was like you never wanted to leave your balcony throughout the whole cruise. If you can afford to get a balcony, this would be the cruise to get one. If not, there are plenty of places on the ship you can enjoy the view, like the Spinnaker Lounge, the window seats throughout the ship, and most of the lounge areas have windows nearby and of course out on any deck.
The Marriot Waterfront We used APlus Towncar to get us to Marriot Waterfront. It cost $35. Great Service! We arrived at the Marriot appox. 6:00pm. Quick check in. It's a very nice hotel. We got to our room and looked out the window....to the left we can see some of the More
waterfront....looked right and there's train tracks. (Luckily, we didn't really hear it during the night). After checking out our room, we ventured out to Anthony's Pier 66, for dinner, directly across the street. Luckily it wasn't raining, but it was just a bit chilly, maybe in the lower to mid 50's. After dinner we headed toward Pike Market. I'm not sure what time it closes but it was closed by the time we arrived there around 7:15-7:30. We then headed over to the Space Needle's monorail. It cost $8/per person roundtrip. It was a very short 3 min. ride directly to the Space Needle. The Space Needle cost $17 ($15 military discount). It was a great view from the top. We were only up there for about 15-20 minutes....as I said earlier, it was a chilly evening. Got back into the downtown area around 9:00pm. On our way back to the hotel, we were trying to find a store that sells a bottle of wine so we can drink in our hotel and maybe take on the ship...but surprisingly its "Sleeping" in Seattle after 7:00pm.....the locals told us most of the stores that sell bottles of wine close around 7:00pm. Don't get me wrong, the city is bustling and the bars are open and some stores are open, but the mini marts or whatever you call them are all closed by 7:00pm, so for those of you who want to pick up a bottle or 2 of wine for the cruise, you better do it before 7:00. Got back to our hotel room around 10:00pm. (1:00am, our body time). Exhausted we went straight to bed. During the night I heard the train, a few times, but I don't think it woke me, I think I was up anyway. I woke up at 6:00am, just for the mere excitement of it being cruise day! I looked out my window and there she was, The Pearl!! We went to breakfast downstairs at Starbucks and walked around. Then we checked out and headed out the doors by 10:15. Got to the Baggage area by 10:20am. After dropping them off they direct you to the terminal building, next door. Went through security and checked in....very organized and easy! In the waiting area they had some coffee and OJ. We were given #1 to board. We were allowed to board around 11:15am. We went to the Buffet and the grazing begins!! We walked around the ship and waited for the 2:00 announcement that we were allowed to go to our room.
The Pearl One thing about us is that we are early risers and barely venture out after 11:00pm, so I will not be able to give you any information about the night life as far as dancing, etc. goes. Also we did not go to any of the Specialty restaurants with the exception of Blue Lagoon. We mostly ate in MDR and the Buffet. Although, I will admit, the selection in the MDR was not the greatest, but we always managed to find something, when we did go. We had room 10168, an aft cabin. We had read that the Deck 10 aft balconies, were bigger than the other the other BA balconies, aft, on the other decks. I know it was definitely bigger than the 11th deck...but we couldn't make out what the 9th deck looked like. On our balcony we had 2 loungers and 2 chairs. It was approx. 9x12. The room itself was small, but livable. FYI, the ship does provide body wash and shampoo dispensers in the shower. It also had 2 robes and a coffee maker. (Although, I believe the robes and coffee makers are only for balcony rooms and suites, but I'm not too sure about that.) Our first luggage arrived around 3:30pm. About 15 minutes later, the other bag arrived. We put all our clothes away....which barely held our stuff, seeing they were a lot bulkier then we are use to packing, but we managed to get it all hung or tucked in the drawers and shelves. Speaking of clothes....this was the hardest cruise I have ever packed for. Didn't want to over pack, but wanted to make sure you had enough warm clothing, and cool clothing in case we get lucky with a warm day here and there. But the good thing was we didn't pack any "nice" clothes for dinner. They did allow jeans in Summer Palace and Indigo for dinner. I asked before going. They said that its fine, just no shorts are allowed. The food on the Pearl was very good....not excellent, but we never had any complaints. Entertainment on the ship was pretty good, not fantastic. Of course it's just a matter of opinion, as others may have thought it was excellent, which goes for the food as well. Just some of the shows were not our cup of tea. We didn't go to all the shows. We loved all the comedian acts. The staff on the Pearl were all very friendly and the ship was pretty easy to get around...for the most part, I always seem to get turned around though. We did a few tastings, Martini, Margarita and Beer. All tastings were 5 tastes for $15 and a lot of fun.
Tuesday -Juneau (Clocks back 1 hr) We were expected to pull into Juneau around 2:00pm. We had to wait for the Star to leave, so we were about 15-20 minutes late pulling in. We did not have a scheduled tour in Juneau; we were just planning on going on our own to Mendenhall Glacier, Mt. Roberts, Red Dog Saloon and shop. Once off the ship if you had a tour, there were people with signs and most of the tour buses were off to the right. Those of us who wanted to get into town stayed to the left in another line for about 15-20 min for the free shuttle, which is actually like a tour bus. (It would be about a mile walk if you wanted to walk into town on your own.) It was only about a 5 minute bus ride. When we got off the bus there were several kiosks selling tickets to tours, shuttles to Mendenhall Glacier, etc. We wanted to make sure we got the MGT shuttle seeing it was suggested on CC. We got the round trip ticket for $14 each. We noticed that the Mt. Roberts tramway was right there, as well....easy for when we get back. We hopped on the MGT shuttle at 3:30 and arrived at the Glacier at 4:00. The visitor center was only about 2 minutes away. We didn't go in, but we did pick up a map, outside. We took the Photo Looking Point Trail. It only took about 5-10 minutes to get there. The Glacier was beautiful. We snapped a few photos and saw people at the waterfall. We asked someone who just came from that direction how long it took them to get there and they said only about 20-25 minutes...so off we went. One hour was perfect for us there. We caught the 5:00 shuttle. (Last bus leaves at 6:00...they come every ½ hour). When we got back to town, as I said the Mt. Roberts Tramway was right there. We debated as to whether or not to go up, because it started sprinkling very lightly, on and off...Actually, I debated, DH was all for it. I just wasn't sure what the view would be. Fortunately, when you go in the office area they have a TV monitor with a live view from the top of the Mountain. It looked clear enough to go up. It cost $26, ($24 with a military discount). It only took about 2 minutes to get to the top. It was a beautiful view from up there. We tried to go on a few trails, but they were closed off ½ way through....due to dangerous conditions...I assume because there was still a lot of snow on them. We headed over to the Red Dog Saloon, which was just down the street. Had some Alaskan draft beer. Pretty good! We hung around there for about ½ hr. Then went into a few of the souvenir shops and back on the ship by 7:30pm-8:00pm.
Wednesday -Skagway The ship was in port when we got up around 6:00am. It was raining lightly this morning. We had a schedule tour with NCL for the White Pass Railway and we were to meet at the end of the pier at 8:00am. Luckily it was easy to get off. It was still raining lightly, but the train was right there at the front of the ship. (If you did not get your tickets through NCL, you had to go into town...which was only about another 5-10 minute walk.) The train left by 8:30. Best views are on the left, but no worries if you are doing the round trip, we traded seats with the people on the right, when the train was ready to come back down. We are told this before we start heading up. It was a really nice train ride and we had some great views even though it was rainy at the beginning, but stopped midway. We got back around 11:45am. By now, the sun was trying to poke out and it turned out to be a great day. We went back on the ship to have lunch and back off after lunch and walked around. DH had seen a walking trail from the train, so we went off looking for it...couldn't find it, so we went into the visitor center and a local recommended that we do the "lakeside" trail instead.....so glad we did, it was a very nice walk and the scenery was great! After that we went shopping in town, then back on board.
Thursday - Glacier Bay Day We headed to the top deck in front of the ship by 8:00am. It was VERY cold and windy up there, probably in the upper 40's. We got a great spot. We entered Glacier Bay around 8:30am. The Rangers were already on board and making announcements over the PA system. It was announced that there was a brown bear off on the left hand side near a whale carcass. We did see it with our binoculars, but he was running off. We got to Marjorie Glacier around 9:15-9:30. We did see some calving, so that was cool. The views were spectacular. Then the ship turned around and we headed back to our room around 10:00-10:15.
Friday - Ketchikan We arrived in port around 6:00am. We were on the pier by 7:30am. We didn't have a schedule tour for here either. We had a walking tour map and away we went. It's a cute little town and we were probably done with the walking tour within an hour. Although we could have missed a spot or 2 and not realized it. We shopped around in the souvenir stores. Then we had some clam chowder at a little shack next to the visitor center. (Alaska Surf) I think was the name. According to their sign it's suppose to be Frommer's Best Clam chowder. It was delicious. We sat on a bench and enjoyed the view and people watched. We went back on the ship around 11:30.
Saturday - Victoria (Clocks forward 1 hr) We pulled into Victoria around 6:00. We disembarked around 6:15 and again the stairway was packed, but not as bad as Juneau. We got off the ship around 6:40pm. It was cool and windy out, maybe around 55. We headed to the Inner Harbor. It was a very nice area yet very busy...we stopped and watched some street entertainers, then went into the Empress Hotel to check it out. There was some sort of event going on, where people were dressed in Victorian costumes. From there we went into the downtown area, which again was very packed, probably due to 3 ships being in port. The stores were all so busy, as well. It was getting colder out, so we decided to head back....by this time it was around 9:00pm. We were back on the ship by 9:30.
Disembarking Easiest disembarking we have ever done. We decided to self-disembark. (They only allow you to do this if you can carry your all your luggage off the ship on your own). We never self disembarked before. So we weren't sure what to expect. It started at 7:45am. We called APlus Towncar from our balcony and told them we would probably be down the pier at 8:30. We had no idea how long it would take us to get off. So we left our room, around 7:55. The elevators were packed. Every time the doors opened, you could barely fit one person. DH and I decided to separate and take separate elevators and just meet on Deck 7. You go out the door, they swipe your card for the last time, show your passport at another stop, and that's it! We were at the pier by 8:10. It cost $40 from the pier to the airport.
This was such a great vacation! The scenery was spectacular. For those of you getting ready for your Alaska cruise, I hope you enjoy every moment as we did. Less