Embarkation - the boarding process was smooth and painless, and within a half-hour we were lunching on the lido deck. Our cabin was ready promptly. There were 4 of us, mom, dad, & 2 boys, ages 9 & 12. There was enough room for all of us, but with the sofa converted to a bed, the storage was a bit less since the sofa cushions were stowed under the king bed. But we made do...and yes, bring a power strip...we had 4 cameras and 1 camcorder that all seemed to need recharging at the same time! Our steward was Purna, and he was very pleasant, and really seemed to enjoy amusing the kids. We were so glad we'd booked a balcony room...hubby and I spent many hours out there just watching the scenery drift by, and my son & I saw orcas from our balcony, the only ones spotted the whole week.
Ports - we did the Tracy Arm excursion...many thanks to all of you who suggested that, as we likely would not have booked it were it not for the enthusiastic reviews on this board. Turned out to be a high point of our trip! The weather was beautiful, and the excursion was worth every penny!
In Skagway, we did the dogsled excursion. My boys found it to be the best part of the trip. In retrospect, we would have rather booked the train in Skagway, and maybe done the dogs in Juneau. It was a fun thing to do, but next time (yes, we're talking about next time already!) we will definitely book the train in Skagway.
We didn't book any further excursions, just winged it on our own. In Juneau, we took the tram up to the top of Mt Roberts. The views were amazing! In Ketchikan, the weather caught up with us...we'd had beautiful sunny days til then, but our morning in Ketchikan was rainy. So we shopped, then made our way back onboard, looking forward to Victoria. Oops. Victoria was cancelled due to strong cross-winds. There were more than a few people who were really angry about that. We were disappointed too, but safety is important.
Kids - both boys participated in the kids program, and enjoyed the activities they did. There isn't nearly as much scheduled for the older kids, but looking back to when I was 12, that's probably how the kids want it.
Food - we ate most nights in the MDR. We had Your Time dining, which we really liked. No need to be there at a certain time, and the meal was served at the pace of our table instead of the whole room, so we were in & out more quickly. The food ranged from good to excellent, and the servers were a little cool at first, but warmed up as we engaged them in conversation. I don't think they're used to that! By day 4 or 5, MDR staff were greeting our kids by name when seeing them in the Lido Grille at breakfast time. The kids liked that. We breakfasted & lunched at the Grille, usually avoiding buffet items but choosing the custom omelets & freshly made sandwiches instead.
Cannot speak of the entertainment, since we didn't see any of the shows. We did see one singer at the past guest party, and she was allright. The was the first time we haven't seen a band playing afternoons on the Lido deck, which was probably a good thing, since the dome was closed and it was pretty noisy in there anyway.
Disembarkation - the process was smooth. We waited til most everybody was off, since we had no plane to catch and our hotel room wasn't ready. Once we joined the line, it was a constant movement through the process, and we were soon in a cab heading toward our hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard Inn Pioneer Square, and cannot recommend it highly enough! Great location, so convenient to transit, easy walk to the waterfront, comfy beds...our only quibble is that we booked an accessible room, and the only concession that had been made was a grab bar in the shower. The shower/bathtub was super slippery, there was no shower seat nor grab bars by the toilet...definitely not a handicapped accessible room. But when we mentioned it to the desk, they put a mat on the shower flor which made it not slippery, and that took care of our needs.
Overall, this trip was incredible! The kids have decreed it "the best trip ever!" and hubby & I are already talking about going again with more family members...once we save up enough to do so. I highly recommend this sailing!