After sailing out of San Francisco during a glorious afternoon, we did not see the sun again until we were in Vancouver 9 days later. We still had a great cruise, and the grayness added an other-worldliness to some of the greatest scenery in the United States.
Embarkation: We live in the SF Bay area so we required just a 30 minute trip to the ship. With the exception of a minor computer glitch, it was very smooth. The Crystal pre-cruise check in system is great. They had all our information, so all that was needed was a picture, and then onto the ship.
Stateroom: There were three of us, so we had two E category cabins. While not the largest space on earth, they were well laid out and comfortable. Our Stewardess was fantastic, and we never spent much time in the room anyway.
Public Areas: Even with a full ship, there was plenty of room to get lost on the ship. The new Trident Grill area is great, especially when the weather was no cooperating with us. The furniture was comfortable, and it became a great spot to hang out, admire the scenery, have a cocktail and just enjoy Alaska.
We did not get much use out of the pool, gray and gloomy weather is not condusive to swimming.
Activities/Entertainment: I never lacked for anything to do. The speakers were all first rate. Nick Haley was chilling as he spoke about radical Islam. The production shows were great. I give kudos to Crystal for their Emerging Artists Program. We had 4 young jazz musicians giving concerts around the ship and they were great. There was great variety at night, from production shows, to jazz to classical music to a magician.
Fitness Program: Small, but well equipped gym. At times there was a short wait for the aerobic equipment. My wife enjoyed the classes.
Children's Activities: My son, now a teenager, has always enjoyed the Junior Activities Program. The teen program was no exception. Their activities started at 2 PM and ran through midnight. They did everything from making Sushi to dodgeball tournaments to dances. He was always in motion.
Dining: Some good news, and one disappointment. The Crystal Main Dining Room is a good as ever, even though we did have one disappointing dish, and there was no foie gras! And you can get half portions of almost everything, something that allowed us to taste more dishes. Prego and Silk Road was fantastic. Sushi was ok, but then we were on ship and just enjoyed it. The Miso Marinated Black Cod was outstanding. Vintage Room was great, with great wines and fantastic food. The renovated Lido Cafe was gorgeous, and that presented the biggest disappointment of the trip, the Deck Buffets. With the redesign of the Trident, these buffets are now held in the Lido, and the loose their wow factor, and they become just another lunch, but with different food. I loved the old buffets and will miss these.
Shore Excursions: We went on two. Their first, An Alaskan Chef's Table in Ketchikan was a great exploration of local Alaskan seafood. Some of their dishes did not work, but it was enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone.
In Sitka we did Bike and Hike. The weather was dreadful, raining in buckets. However, this tour was ready for us with serious rain suits. We suited up, and off we went. It was a great adventure. We biked several miles to a trail head, and then hiked up into the wilderness. Again, I recommend it to everyone.
Disembarkation: Getting off the ship was as easy as getting on. Very smooth.
Summary: Crystal had their hands full on this trip. With the exception of Vancouver and the morning in Victoria, it rained the whole voyage. Crystal's service is impeccable and friendly. It is unbelievable when one of the Lido Deck Stewards comes up to me on the first day and says "Welcome back Mr. Slavin." That is stunning.