This was our 5th cruise and 4th on RCL and first to Alaska. My husband and I are in our early 30's and love to take a cruise every year if possible. Vancouver: We arrived at our embarkation port (Vancouver) a couple days prior to sailing to ensure no glitches with air travel would get in the way of sailing. The city of Vancouver is very pretty and they have recently built a train that connects a lot of the main areas though its not as comprehensive as many cities so we still did a good deal of walking, next time I would rent a car to have a bit easier access to the sites.
Embarkation: Embarkation day we arrived at the pier at about noon. This was by far the most unorganized ports we had experienced. It was mass chaos when dropping our bags with the porter but once we got in line things settled a bit and we were able to get on the ship within an hour or so.
The Ship: The ship was really beautiful with very classy decor and a nice layout. I wish that we had chosen a stateroom closer to the dining rooms though because it seemed like we were constantly hoofing it across the ship to go eat. Our stateroom itself was laid out very well with a queen bed, sofa, vanity and LOTS of storage space. The walls were a bit thin however and we could hear the guests directly behind us on a few occasions as well as a crying baby periodically. Our bathroom toilet sprung a leak on the 3rd day of the cruise and was fixed promptly.
Entertainment: We fell in love with the colony club and spent several evenings after dinner playing pool, chess, board games or sitting and having a drink. Ballroom dance lessons were fantastic too. :) There is a movie theatre that was a bit cramped but was nice to be able to sit and watch a movie. The cruise director on this sailing, "Dan, Dan the party man" was fantastic and had us cracking up throughout the cruise and really the entire entertainment staff did a great job to try and keep everyone laughing and having a great time. The Adult Scavenger hunt and the Karaoke Superstars were two of our favorites. SKIP the port and shopping show.... unfortunately I was suckered in to going with the lure of free giveaways. This was almost 2 hours of a nonstop pitch to buy diamonds and jewelry. They didn't discuss much else and as far as "free gifts" they were almost non existent and not worth losing precious time of my vacation on. This was the only thing that really bugged me on this cruise. Unfortunately it was a bit cold on most days, so the upper decks of the ship were a little hard to use... we did attempt to play mini golf in the wind.... not so successful but funny.
The food: We chose my time dining and spoke with the maitre d upon arriving on the ship to request a table for two. They were great and accommodated us every night with a table of our own by the window each night. We had a different waiter every night and every one was wonderful and friendly. We ate at Chops on my husbands birthday.. the food and service were fantastic and definitely worth the additional fee. Windjammer didn't seem to have quite the selection as on previous cruises but the quality seemed better to us. We spent most breakfasts and lunches there. We only ate lunch in the main dining room once on the last day and wished that we had gone there more because they had a great salad buffet that the chef tosses up the ingredients for you.
Ports of Call: We were a bit disappointed by the ports of call because it seemed like one gift shop after another and endless jewelry stores. However recommendations are: Ketchikan - Lumberjack Show was fun... the totem pole museum not worth visiting. Juneau - The Mendenhall glacier was spectacular....we purchased $14 pp open ended round trip ticket to the glacier and were able to hike and take photos for as long as we like. There was a trail that leads right up to an amazing waterfall not to be missed. Skagway - We only walked around here and were a bit bored... I would recommend an excursion here because there's not much to do in town. Icy Straight Point - Absolutely NOTHING to do here... the zip line seemed like a rip off and the bus ride to town was a waste of time. Unfortunately it was very rainy the day we were here so we decided to get back on the ship. Canoeing looked like a good excursion here if the weather is better. Hubbard Glacier: Get up early to get a good viewing spot along the deck and dress warm!!!... an amazing site to see.
All in all a lovely cruise but I'm not convinced that I want to go on another cold weather cruise... but Alaska is definitely a place everyone should get a chance to see once in their lives.