Just returned from my favorite place, Alaska. I have been on three Alaskan cruises and this was the worst although I have to admit there were some bright spots.
Smoking...there were smokers everywhere it seemed......in the cabin next door which the smoke came out into the hall (there were only 3 cabins on this aisle) so we had to pass by them every time we came and went into our room. On all of the outside areas and especially on level 7 which is the promenade deck. I love to get out and walk especially on sea days and it was hard not to have to breath in the smoke as you walked by. Even up on the level 13 decks where there would not only be smoke but cigar smoking as well. Can't wait for cruise lines to go completely smoke free.
Dining Room Food...we ate in both non-specialty dining rooms and it was really hit or miss. Where has all the fun gone from these rooms......when did they go from five courses to three?? When did the portions shrink? It seemed the waiters where always in a hurry to get you through dinner so someone else could come in and use the table. Quality of food was marginal at best. My partner ordered a steak and when they brought it to her I burst out laughing. It looked like a breakfast steak in size and looks as it was very thin and rather grey looking. I ordered the special one night and it was a small piece of fish with cold BBQ sauce over it. The one meal I did enjoy was half of a lobster tale with a small piece of Snapper.
Buffet...I was surprised the food was so good.....not excellent but good. Everyday they offered cold soups which I love (peach, watermelon, avocado, strawberry plus the variety of breads (pretzel rolls!)were excellent. There was a wide variety of offerings from lamb, prime rib, vegetarian offerings so I always had a wide choice. The crepes were made right in front of you and you had many choices for the type of crepe you wanted.
There were many times people had to look for a table but we sat outside for all of our meals and loved breathing fresh air while we ate. It's covered so even if it was raining we had great views and stayed warm and dry.
Cabin...since my mobility is limited we chose an accessible cabin, 4604, which was spacious and even had a built in/fold down shower chair which I used. Compared to the small balcony cabin our friends had I wouldn't have switched as you almost had to turn sideways to go around their bed. Our steward, Marlon, was great and kept our ice bucket full.
The ship is showing it's age and needs a bit of upgrade. The atrium area was not impressive as other ships I have cruised. It is small and as it holds a Java Bar, reception desk, gift shop, cruise consultant and excursion desk all in a rather small area.
Staff...all seemed friendly and smiled a lot. The dining staff rarely had time to talk other than take your order and you never saw the same staff when you dined so there was no chance for them to get to know us or or us them. Other cruises I was called by name at dinner and they always knew my preferences.
Ports of call...even though it was overcast on all our port days we did excursions on three of them. Juneau was whale watching with Harv & Marv..just okay this time. The skipper didn't take the time to get good views of the whales we did see. Skagway...train trip was okay but would not do it again. Since there was so much fog/clouds/mist the announcer kept saying...it you could see it you would see how beautiful. Will have to take his word for it as I won't do it again. Ketchikan...Misty Fjords was just okay. Reminded me of the areas we had already seen and actually I thought Lynn Canal was prettier. We did not see any wildlife.
Overall I am glad I went but next time I will choose to go back with Holland America as I found it much more to my liking with the way one is treated.