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Trip of a Lifetime
We had a fantastic cruise! We were first time cruisers, and didn't know exactly what to expect, but it was great. Our cabin was very nice and adequately equipped. The ship was always clean.
The staff in the dining room was great. I'm a vegetarian and had no issues finding a good meal.
We were a little disappointed with the shows; they seemed just slightly better than a lot of high school drama performances I've attended. Not painful to sit through, but not deserving of any accolades either. We enjoyed the comedian and the bars at night. The casino was just your average casino.
We spent as much time in port as possible and spent the rest of our time on our balcony, so not much more to report about the ship. It wasn't really pool weather but we did soak in one of the hot tubs shortly after the ship left Vancouver, and it was perfect! Almost no crowds, and great views. I would never do this cruise without a balcony. Too much beautiful scenery!
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Port and Shore Excursions
We booked a transfer through Carnival to get us from the port to Anchorage (about a 1 hour bus ride). The transfer went very smoothly and we were dropped off in downtown Anchorage and had a place we could leave our bags attended while we went sightseeing. We wondered around and found a theater that had a show about the Northern Lights, which was really fantastic (almost as good as the real thing). We ate at Snow Goose Restaurant and has a wonderful meal on their terrace overlooking the water. We stayed overnight at the Oscar Gill House B&B which had a great location and a nice walk to the water, which was beautiful at dusk. The next day we caught the train to Denali and spent another 4 days there. I would highly recommend adding a trip to Denali after your cruise if you can! It was fantastic!
The actual town of Juneau was pretty boring. The dock is removed from the town, but we were able to walk it without much issue. There just isn't much to do once you get there! We did two excursions through Carnival that were both fantastic! Our first was a helicopter ride up onto a glacier, with great views. Once on the glacier, we had a short dogsledding adventure on the glacier. We had a fantastic time. Our sled guide was a young man that raises and trains his dogs with his dad who runs the Yukon Trail dog race every year. It was very interesting to hear about their way of life and how important their dogs are to them. It was great to see the dogs work and to get to interact with them after. Our second excursion was an evening whale watching cruise, which did not disappoint. They had great food and we got to see a lot of whales really close up. We also saw other wildlife too. If we had not done this tour, our whale sightings for the trip would have been pretty underwhelming.
The town of Ketchikan is very charming. We walked up to Creek Street and went to see the salmon ladder. It was a nice little town to spend time in after out excursion. Our excursion was booked through Carnival. We went salmon fishing with a guide. We were on a boat with one other couple. The views were amazing and it was great to be out in a comfortable little boat. Our guide was an awful guide. He was lazy, and my husband and the other guy on our boat did all of the work. We didn't catch as many fish as other groups with different guides, but ended up with more than enough to ship home and share with our family and friends once we returned. We had a great time, but were unimpressed with the guide.
We booked through Carnival and did the city tour with the Russian influence which included a Russian dance show, walking tour of the totem pole park (can't think of the name of it) and a visit to the raptor center. It was very informative and not boring. We really enjoyed seeing the eagles at the raptor center and exploring their nature trails.
We also took the boat tour out to the salmon hatchery, not to be confused with a salmon farm. The salmon hatchery's goal is conservation and replenishment of the salmon population and it is very neat to learn about how they do that.
We spent very little time in Sitka outside of our tour, but it seemed like a very busy town with lots to see and do.
Tiny little town, with not a lot going on, but the main street is pretty neat. The train is the main attraction of this port, and we were good little tourists and booked a train excursion through Carnival. The one that we booked had a lake kayaking trip once we got off the train at the top of the mountain. This was one of the highlights of our entire cruise. The kayaking was very peaceful and the guides were fantastic! We got great photos and have lots of fond memories from kayaking. After the lake, we boarded a bus to take us back down the mountain. It was nice to have different scenery for the return trip. Once back in Skagway we walked through town and visited some small shops. We then went to Skagway Brewing Company. I wish I had a Skagway Brew Co down the street! We had a fun time relaxing and trying different beers, and eventually our kayaking guides showed up and bought us another round. Skagway was our favorite port!
We booked a transfer package through the cruise line that didn't require us to go through Canadian customs. This is a great option if you don't have the time to spend an extra day there. It was very hassle-free and simple. We left the airport in a sealed bus and got a driving tour of Vancouver in route to the ship. We weren't able to get out or take pictures or anything, but the driver did an entertaining job of narrating the trip for us. Our check-in was very smooth and not very memorable.
We hope to return to Vancouver someday to get to see more than through a bus window!