We flew into Seattle and stayed at Cedarbrook Lodge for the first night. It was the perfect starting point for touring Mount Rainier. The hotel has grounds, snacks and breakfast that are extraordinary, great value for the money. Then we moved to a downtown hotel for a more central location to do the sightseeing there. We arranged the booking through HotelPlanner.com. It allows each party in our big group to book and pay for their own room at the same prearranged discounted room rate at a hotel selected from bids submitted by area hotels. With other online hotel booking sites, I would have to reserve and pay for all the rooms myself first in order to guarantee that everyone will get a room in the same hotel at the same rate. I will use it again in future for planning reunion trips.
We were lucky to have warm sunny weather in Seattle the day before the cruise. Olympic Sculpture Park is my favorite spot with art and scenery enjoyed by local residents also.
The day of the cruise, after breakfast at Pike Market, we stopped at the IGA at 3rd Ave and Pike Street to buy wine for the cruise on the way back to the hotel and then took a taxi to Pier 91. It cost $15 which includes the tip for 3-4 passengers. Boarding was quick, but I was surprised that Carnival would not allow us to carry our own luggage on board. It turns out that this is because Carnival wants to screen the luggage for forbidden items. I only have one bottle of wine, but I forgot that it was supposed to go in the carryon, so it got taken away. Luckily, the other members of the group kept their bottle of wine per person. There was a suggestion from the Cruise Reviews that since there is only one outlet in each stateroom, a multi-outlet strip was recommended. Guess what, it got taken away from my luggage too until the cruise is over.
The first lunch buffet at the Lido had good food, but getting a table was a problem. We ate most of our meals at the Empire Dining Room. We do like the dining room servers we have for dinner. The stateroom service was also very efficient.
We enjoyed the Arts and Crafts activity on sea days. We made ID holder and stick pad holder and book mark. The gym had nice view of the sea. The talks on wild life and the Klondike gold rush were very good. Pat the guitarist was our favorite entertainer. A lot of special effect went into the final New Orleans show by the singers and dancers. One guy in our party really liked the comedians.
The best thing to do on the ship is of course looking at the Alaska scenery. We wandered all over the deck for that. Seating on deck is not a problem even in Tracy Arm. We heard that the week before the ship could not get in because of fog. We had a beautiful sunny day. We saw whales, porpoises and eagles and many other birds. The glacier and cliffs were magnificent. We were so happy.
We rented cars in Skagway so the trip for the 5 passengers up the White Pass cost a lot less than the train. We made lots of stops at scenic spots for photos. There is a very nice Visitor Center at Carcross, Yukon. Besides rest rooms, it has lots of information on the area. We drove on to Emerald Lake. It certainly deserves the reputation of being the most beautiful lake in Yukon. After we returned the cars in Skagway, we visited the Klondike Visitor Center and browsed the shop. It was such a warm and sunny day that the locals working at the shops can hardly wait to get outside to enjoy the unusually beautiful weather themselves. There were lots of gorgeous flowers all over Skagway, some of them I have not seen before even in pictures. It lives up to being known as the Garden City of Alaska.
We also had good weather for Juneau. We took the Juneau tour bus near the pier to Mendenhall Glacier ($16 round trip). The driver gave us an information tour on the way there. A short hike from the Visitor center led to the falls next to the Glacier. We were hoping to see bears at the salmon observation platform but the bears did not show.
We finally had rain in Ketchikan. We bought smoked salmon at Creek Street and in town to bring back as gifts. Unfortunately we could not stop at Victoria because of cross wind.
We had such a great time that my group wants to take another cruise together again.