My wife and I had a spectacular time on the Discoverers' Glacier Country itinerary this summer. The intimate small ship experience was wonderful - a chance to really get to know a group of like-minded adventurers. The crew was fantastic - from the captain to the adventure guides to the stewards, everyone made you feel welcome, and it seemed like they really enjoyed being there and helping the guests have a great vacation.
This is an itinerary for people who like nature more than visiting the casino and rushing through cheesy gift shops at a bunch of touristy ports. Every day you wake up in a new and beautiful place with lots of options for activities from relaxing on the ship to fairly strenuous hikes and kayak trips. I'm much more of an outdoorsy and active person than my wife is, and we were both able to find activities to suit our interests every day. Everyone is there to see the beauty of Alaska, and more than once a meal ground to a halt - in a good way - when a whale was spotted and everyone moved from their tables to the windows to get a better look.
Speaking of the food, the "gourmet" food was generally quite good but a little uneven - a burnt roast here, an overcooked piece of fish there. The servers were charming and friendly, but courses could take a long time to come out, and occasionally they forgot to serve a course to our table! On the plus side, every meal had a selection of entrees, plus they would bend over backwards to accommodate you. My wife and I have some dietary restrictions but never had a problem because the kitchen was so adaptable. I also have to give the servers some credit - they also serve as the cabin stewards - how they have the energy serve three meals, make up the rooms, and do other tasks - and do it all with a smile - is beyond me.
The cabins were small but comfortable enough, and the ship provides a good selection of gear for the activities. I brought my own boots and was glad I did, but many people used their rubber boots for the expeditions.
Juneau, despite being the state capital, is a pretty small town. It's nearly impossible to get a good meal and the hotel choices are fairly dreary. We stayed at the Baranof, which is a somewhat shopworn place in a good location. Some highlights:- Silverbow Bagels: Hey, we're a couple of ex-New Yorkers. We like bagels for breakfast. And this place has some pretty good ones! We ate here several mornings.- Mt. Roberts Tram: Nice ride up, and some nice trails at the top. Not cheap, though.- Mendenhall Glacer: I kayaked the lake up to the glacier. Worth a visit.- Sandpiper cafe: Nice breakfast place. - Grumpy's Deli: Good sandwich place- There's a Japanese place I forgot the name of which wasn't bad, and a multi-Asian place about a block from Silverbow that was one of the worst restaurant meals I've ever eaten.