I would like to share with you my review of our cruise to Alaska aboard the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. This was our first ever cruise and while my husband lived in Alaska years ago, it was my first visit to Alaska. The two-for-one deals and the all inclusive nature of the cruise made it very affordable and I am very glad that we made the decision to go the luxury route.
From the moment we arrived at Canada Place in Vancouver to boarding, we were made to feel special. The line for the HAL ship was quite long but we were asked if we were cruising with Regent and then we were ushered to a non-existent line and from then until boarding we did not wait more than 10 minutes. We boarded at about 12 noon and made our way to check in, where we were offered champagne, and then to La Veranda for lunch. This buffet is like no other I have ever encountered. The food was fresh and delicious.
After lunch we explored the ship as we waited for our suite to become ready. Just a little after 2:00PM they announced they we could see our suite (#945) and we found all our luggage waiting for us. I spent the next couple of hours watching a free movie (Alice In Wonderland) from a large selection of free movies and unpacking and decorating our suite for our 50th birthdays. My husband was celebrating his 50th on the 9th and I was the following day. After getting settled we dressed up for sail away and joined our fellow cruisers on the upper forward deck. The weather was beautiful and warm and we immediately started making friends. I was pleased to see a mix of ages and everyone was very friendly. I told my husband that it must be because everyone was so darned happy to be there. After sail away we returned to La Veranda for a Prime Rib dinner that was melt-in-your-mouth good. We were off to a spectacular start.
The next day we awoke to a rather gray sky but no rain. Neither of us experienced any problems with seasickness, I was taking Bonine every day at bedtime and my husband was taking nothing after feeling "foggy" from the Bonine. The inside passage seas were very calm which I am sure helped us get our sea legs. The Bonine (Dramamine Non-Drowsy) also gave me the great benefit of deep sleep. It worked for me. I also had ginger candy and Sea Bands, just in case. Never needed them. We spent the day having breakfast at La Veranda, which became our habit, enjoying the scenery, setting up our internet connection, writing a brief blog and having lunch with our Cruise Critic Roll Call friends at Compass Rose. This restaurant served you after ordering and the food was also very, very good. I had an amazing shrimp and avocado sandwich. We were offered a white or red wine, beer, soda or juice and there was no check to sign. It was strange getting up and leaving the table without figuring out the tip. Fantastic! We ordered dinner in our suite and strolled around the deck where we saw WHALES! There was whale blow all around us and there must have been about 20 Humpback Whales all around the ship. A few got very close, it was really exciting as I had never seen whales in the wild before. We then called it an early night as we were heading for...
We arrived early in the morning and there was a light rain falling. This was completely expected and really a nice change from our 90 degree summer back home. We dressed for the weather and after an in-suite (24-hour room service) breakfast of fabulous bacon and scrambled eggs, fresh melon, fried potatoes and fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee, we headed into town for some shopping. The stores were open very early and we bought a bunch of things which we had shipped home for a coupon price of $9.99. Then we explored Creek St. and the creek was at low tide. There were many salmon present, dead and alive, and the smell was intense. We visited Dolly's House and took the tour. "Dale" gave us a great history, with jokes included, and we enjoyed this tour. Well worth the $3.50 each. We then made our way back to the ship to prepare for our first (free) excursion arranged by Regent, a Cruise of George Inlet & Crab Feast. I chose this excursion especially for my birthday because I LOVE crab. The rain had stopped but the sky remained cloudy as we boarded the bus for the George Inlet Lodge. There we boarded enclosed party boats which took us on a short cruise to where the crab pots were located. I volunteered to pull up the crab pot (a nice birthday memory). We received a lesson on identifying crab and crabbing in general. The weather cleared and the sun came out! It was really nice. On the way back we spotted a few harbor seals, and a young eagle. The guides were very nice, informative and very funny. We left them a tip onboard. At the George Inlet Lodge we all found tables and were served a crab feast to end all crab feasts. A glass of wine or soda was also included. Large, heaping, steaming bowls of fresh dungeness crab. I was in heaven. I especially enjoyed the ladies who brought us constant refills of melted butter. Along with our tablemates, we competed in a contest to create the highest mound of crab shells. This is when we coined the term, "crabalanche". We finished with a really great piece of blueberry topped cheesecake. My husband, who is not a big fan of crab, was served a cajun styled chicken breast. As we boarded the bus back to the ship it began to rain again. We found a table at the Pool Grill where we enjoyed a few drinks with our new friends. We had dinner at La Veranda and, once again, fell into a deep sleep to the rocking of the ship. The next day was...
Tracy Arm & Juneau
The skies were completely clear this morning as we woke up approaching Tracy Arm. We bundled up because it was really cold and quite windy up on deck. This fjord rivals those in Norway, that is what Terry Breen told us as she narrated our approach. We spent the next few hours marveling at the amazing scenery and enjoying the serenity and silence of the fjord. We did not choose to take a separate catamaran excursion which took people much deeper into the fjord and within view of the Sawyer Glacier. The Navigator went as far as the waterfall and then made a slow turn and sailed out of the fjord. We sailed into a fog bank and heard the fog horns as we headed to La Veranda for breakfast. By the time we arrived in Juneau the sun was out and the day much warmer. We had lunch at the Pool Grill and then walked around the town for awhile. I thought the prices here were higher and we closed the purse strings. We headed back to the ship and boarded our bus for our free excursion, a Native Canoe Adventure at Mendenhall Glacier. We boarded 12 man canoes (no motors allowed on the lake) and paddled up very close to the face of the glacier. Our guides were personable and friendly and gave us lots of good information. We also stopped at Nugget Falls which was spectacular as well. We had a snack before paddling back to the beach for the bus ride back to the ship. We ate at Compass Rose for dinner which was great and a night cap at the Galileo Lounge and early to bed because tomorrow we head for...
On this day we awoke to clear skies! We were up early and decided to have an early breakfast and then walk the 1/2 mile into town. Most of the stores were closed and since we were the only ship in port, we had the town to ourselves except for some locals in a small cafe. We found one open store, a Russian American store, here we spent a bunch again on some really special things like a classic Russian style winter hat and Russian nesting dolls. The clerk here was really nice and we enjoyed listening to him talk in his slight Russian accent. We headed back to the ship and at the small boat harbor we saw OTTERS! I LOVE otters! There was a group of 5 or 6 of them playing on the dock and swimming amongst the boats. We took pictures and laughed as we made kissing noises and called them. They would turn and look right at us. We then went aboard and prepared for our free excursion, Zip Lines! This was my favorite excursion. Here the guides took very careful care of us and we felt safe and secure always. We really bonded with our fellow zip liners and we cheered each other on. We made fast friends here and on return to the ship we enjoyed a late lunch and drinks with them at the Pool Grill. After resting up and sail away, we had dinner with our roll call friends at Compass Rose. Another fantastic, perfect day! How could it be better? Oh, it was, next was...
The dawn at Sitka revealed a charming town with lovely island homes, Russian influenced buildings and churches and a blindingly bright beautiful sunny day. After breakfast at La Veranda (loved the Chef here, Martin Jordan) we took a tender (small boat hung on the side of the ship) into port and we headed off for some serious shopping. Again we splurged and decided to have our purchases shipped home rather than trying to fit it all into our luggage. We met up with our free excursion for this day, The Sea Life Discovery Tour, and boarded a semi-submersible boat. They took us out for a view of a really green, murky sea floor where we saw starfish, a crab, small fish and lots of sea grass. This was a bit boring so we went up on the outside deck and enjoyed views of a Kelp Forest from above. The day was spectacular and it was really nice being out in the sun. We went back down for the divers who took cameras deeper and showed us many more fish and sea life. One diver scared me silly when he popped up in my window with a giant multi-legged starfish. They were very entertaining. After the undersea part we had a very informative, top deck ride, back to the harbor where we boarded the tender back to the ship. We stopped at the Pool Grill for lunch and headed to our cabin to prepare for a special dinner with 7 new friends. The food was good although I did not particularly like the soup. After dinner we went to the only show we saw which was a Navigator version of Cirque De Soleil and was very well done. After the show I decided to try my luck on the slots as my husband headed back to the suite. After just a few pulls I was ahead $15.00 and that was it for me. I rarely win so I always give up when I am ahead. When I arrived back at the suite I stepped out on our balcony and was shocked and amazed to see a huge display of the Aurora Borealis!! It was not very colorful but it stretched all the way across the sky with rays of light shooting upwards. Fantastic. I immediately returned to the casino where I told my friends to come see and I promptly emptied most of the casino as everyone headed up on deck to see. With a less than 10% chance, how lucky were we? I could not believe that the next day was the day we would visit the famous...
We were up very early and bundled up for the cold to another spectacular day. The dawn was incredibly beautiful as we cruised into Yakutat Bay and watched the sun come up and illuminate the magnificent mountains all around us. As we approached Hubbard Glacier the mountains and the glacier became larger and larger. There was very little ice (another blessing) and we were able to get very close to the face of this 6 mile long glacier. We concentrated on 3 miles of it and watched calving of the 350 foot face and listened to the amazing sounds a glacier makes. Cracking, booming and groaning, we were presented with quite the show. Terry Breen (our onboard cultural anthropologist and guide) was able to pinpoint where the ice would calve and she was right on! As the captain turned the ship around slowly we made our way down to the suite as the decks were packed with everyone standing at the railings. We were treated to the best of the calving from the comfort of our balcony and caught all of it on rapid fire photos and video tape. It was awe inspiring and could not have been a better visit to this magnificent sight. Magical. We had a great BBQ lunch at the Pool Grill and started packing our bags. We dressed up extra nicely because this was our one night at the reservation required restaurant, Prime 7. I had a great full Maine Lobster and Brian had a New York Strip. The food was great but, honestly, it was no better or worse than all the other food we had onboard. All of it was awesome. We returned to the cabin, finished packing and set the bags outside to be picked up. It was sad to leave but we were anxious to head home to see our kids. The next day we rode the...
Grandview Train to Anchorage
After breakfast at La Veranda with many goodbyes and hugs for the staff and our friends we boarded the train right were we docked in Seward. The time passed quickly as we rode along through the fog, with some breaks for views of glaciers and Moose country. The only wildlife we saw was a Moose butt as it headed off into the fog and an eagle in a tree. Someone saw Dall Sheep but we missed them. The fog made it difficult. We arrived right at the Anchorage Airport where some went straight to their flights while a number of us with later flights we were bussed over to the Anchorage Hilton where Regent had booked the 15th floor Hospitality Suite for us to lounge in and enjoy coffee, tea and water while we waited for shuttles that left on the hour to take us back to the airport. Our flight was really late (10:50PM) but it was a non-stop flight and we could sleep on the way home. We spent some time walking around and getting a few last minute souvenirs (I got my Ulu Knife) and we had lunch at the Glacier Brewhouse. The food was great and they had wi-fi so we were able to Skype with our kids and see their happy faces for the first time since we left for Vancouver. The internet connection on the ship was slow and I only used it to upload short blogs each day. Once we returned to the Hilton a nice employee took pity on us a gave us the access code for the hotel wi-fi so were were able to connect from the Regent suite (like a large restaurant area with booths and tables) so everyone was checking their flights because they were concerned about the fog. Unfortunately, we were not able to enjoy the view from the 15th floor because of the fog. Eventually it was time to board the 7:00PM shuttle to the airport so we picked up our big luggage from a secured area and they loaded them on to a shuttle for us. It was a quick ride to the airport where we waited on briefly for Frontier to open their ticket counter and I weighed our 3 bags to find them 48.2 pounds, 49.1 pounds and exactly 50.0 pounds! Awesome! We were quickly through security and found a table at the Chili's Too restaurant where we spent an hour waiting for our flight. Then we headed over to the gate and boarded a full flight home. A perfect end to a perfect vacation.
Alaska is spectacular and amazing and I returned a changed person, for the better. Don't say "maybe"...GO! I cannot recommend it more highly. We very much enjoyed Terry Breen and we attended a couple of her lectures where we learned a lot. She really added to the entire experience with her narration over the loudspeakers, which never intruded on the peace and quiet of our suite. And what a suite it was, it was huge! The shower was huge and the bathtub was deep. Everything was new, clean and luxurious, great feather pillows! We never heard a neighbor or people in the hall. You can read our blog here: http://alaskacruise2010.shutterfly.com where we have posted about 175 pictures. I hope you like it. Feel free to comment or ask questions, I will check and respond. My husband said the only concern he had were loose screws in the suite but, with the vibration in the aft part of the ship, it is understandable. We were not bothered by the vibration, it is a ship after all. Some might find it bothersome though. I understand that mid-ships and lower decks it was not as noticeable, if at all. We really enjoyed the intimacy of a smaller ship (490 passengers) and were very pleased that we rarely had a wait for anything. I was also impressed that I never heard the word "NO". Everyone was smiling and happy, including all the passengers. A special shout out and kudos to: Arul (with the great smile) and Jerel (who read my mind) at the Pool Grill, The Sommeliers, Daniella, Mykola and Plamen (The Bear), Headwaiter, Delfim Bento Couto and Hostess, Monique from Compass Rose. Anatoli Makaev in La Veranda who was very accommodating and my special friend, Waitress, Pornipa (Em). Our Steward, Augustin (thank you) and the Stewardess who greeted me each day so sweetly, Lorie. The Prime 7 Maitre D, Christiaan Du Plooy (great sense of humor) and especially the Chef, Martin Jordan who never failed to make me laugh. Thank you all for making our once-in-lifetime extra special and very memorable. We appreciate you and we miss you. We hope to see you again someday...soon.