Embarkation from Seattle took about 45 minutes from drop off to the room. Our room was ready by 1 PM when we boarded, so that we were able to drop off our hand bags and enjoy lunch. Our suitcases were in our room by 3 PM.
Smoking a allowed on balconies-we left our balcony several times while our neighbors were smoking cigarettes and cigars. We paid an extra $1000 for a balcony room and then were unable to use the balcony. For the forseeable future we're going to use Princess and Celebrity who don't allow balcony smoking.
Food Service: Lunch the first day was mediocre. The fruit tasted old, the lines were long and slow, and the serving staff were not organized. The food picked up after the first day, but the service during the first 2 days was slow with the no self-service policy. The staff is inadequate and not inspired enough to make it work well. After the first 2 days the service was better. We felt that the Lido food was mostly tasty and presented well. The food service by the Lido pool was especially good.
Vista dining was very good. Good menu choices, food was very good and the presentation was excellent. We only had the choice of as you wish dining. Reservations each night got us in as soon as we arrived. With a different waiter each night, there was no chance to develop a connection. The service seemed disorganized, was slow and inadequate most of the time.
Entertainment: The production shows were fantastic. Lead singers and dancers worked well together, were very polished and entertaining. Joel Mason's Elton John tribute show had the audience singing and clapping and laughing. Kevin Jordan's comedy show wasn't worth the walk down the hall. He gets his laughs making fun of teenagers and kids--almost had one small child crying. He certainly lost me at that point.
Elizabeth and the HAL cats were good, but they only performed a few times. There were many times they or someone could have been singing out by the Lido pool, but no one was. The Adagio strings were good musicians, but seemed bored.
Zach Winningham was a good entertainer in the Crows nest playing the guitar and singing.
Ports: Juneau-walk to the tourist shops from the ship. The Mt. Roberts Tram is steps from the ship-we chose to not pay the overpriced $35. Mendenhall glacier and the surrounding grounds were magnificent. We took the Glacier Express bus for $16 round trip--well worth the ride.
Hubbard Glacier-Beautiful sunny day to view the surrounding mountains, the seals, the artic terns and the chunks of ice fall from the glacier. The forest ranger talk was great.
Sitka-tendered into port. We walked 1/2 mile to a beautiful totem pole park for a leisurely stroll through the forest.
Ketchikan-we took the blue city bus for $1 to Totem Bight State Park. Wonderful rain forest type park on the coast. Next door is a totem pole carving demonstration area. We loved walking around town-Creek street, Married Man's Trail, Dolly's House and views of the harbor.
Victoria-Butchart's Gardens are magnificent, but we've seen them and chose to stroll around town. There is a pathway from the ship to the inner harbor of about 1 easy mile. The harbor is full of activity and the streets surrounding the harbor are fun. At night the buildings and harbor light up and the whole area is gorgeous. Safe, easy walk back to the ship for a late night snack.
Disembarkation was organized and fast except for the numerous passengers who chose to try and beat the system and ended up clogging up the stairwells and hallways making it hard for everyone else. They need to bring back walking the plank!