When you are considering this cruise and wondering whether it is worth the extra money be assured it is worth every penny!! The crew on this ship makes it a part their code to make sure everyone has a great time and feels like family. There is no reason to purchase shore excursions because at every port there are activities planned for you. Every day we were able to get off the ship and walk around if we desired. Even though he didn't to, Captain Eric also made sure that a few of our passengers who were limited in abilities to walk long distances, were able to visit some of the destinations. He arranged for transportation to get them as close to the site as possible, which allowed them to visit all but one of the sites. And at that site he personally took them on the small Zodiac boat for a private excursion of their own! The hikes were always supervised by crew members. The ports were small towns whose economy is being revived by the influx of cruise passengers from this small cruise line. Big cruise ships can't get to many of the ports that they visit, so you won't be swallowed up in the crowds that come out of those monstrosities. You are able to interact with the true Alaskans who make this their homes and experience their culture. The small ship can also get you up close and personal with the wildlife and scenery. We were extremely lucky to witness bubble net feeding by humpback whales not once but twice. Other wild life we had were orca whales, brown and black bears, sea otters, sea lions, goats, many types of birds. None of which we had to get off the ship and take or pay for a shore excursion. The captain is able to adjust his schedule to take you to where the wildlife has been spotted and spend some time finding it and then allowing you to enjoy it once it has been located. We have some AWESOME photos because the whales and glaciers were so close to the ship. And don't worry if you aren't able to get awesome pictures of your own because you don't own high end camera equipment, at the end of the cruise you will get a disc of pictures that the crew have been taking of you and your fellow passengers through out your cruise.
Getting to know your fellow passengers is another bonus to taking a small ship cruise. We had just 36 passengers on board with 16 crew. By the end of the week we didn't need name tags any longer as we were on a first name basis and shared email addresses to keep in touch and share pictures once we got home. Amy, the waitress we had for most meals since we tended to sit at one of her tables, had our drink orders memorized by the second day. Dani the bartender knew that when she brought out our drinks that someone had made a mistake because we ALWAYS ordered diet not regular coke! My mother has an allergy to nuts and chocolate, so she many times is left out of dessert options, but not with Shannon the baker around. Shannon made sure that for cookie time, lunch and dinner desserts, there was something that Mom could have. Even when we didn't have our meals on board the boat there was a dessert with her name on it. Chef Bri made some very delicious meals with the help of Dustin and Harry in the kitchen. The breakfast menu was extensive but did not vary except for a daily special, which was usually what I got because they sounded, and were so good. Lunch and dinners had a fresh baked bread, soup, salad and entree with dessert. Seafood was present on the menu once or twice a day and there was always a vegetarian option. At 3pm we had fresh baked cookies that are so delicious baked by Shannon. At 5:30 was happy hour and a light snack prior to dinner. A complimentary glass of wine or beer was offered with each dinner. Each night we had a chocolate and a paper highlighting the next days activities on our beds. The forward area of the ship had comfortable seating that passengers could mingle in while waiting for wildlife to be spotted and the large windows afford great views and easy access to the "bull pen" at the front of the ship where many great photos of wild life were taken. Another great place for a good view was the ships bridge. The only times the bridge was closed to passengers were when they were docking or concentrating on close manuvers. It was interesting talking to Captain Eric and his crew, Nick, Jeff John and Kristen.
I just can't say enough about the leadership and teamwork that this crew exhibits. The company that they work for should be very proud of the team and if you sail with them you will be very luck indeed.
You aren't going to be spending much time in your room, so don't worry about the size of your cabin We had two twin beds, each had under bed storage that our luggage could be kept. There was a large picture window behind our beds, which made it convinient to lie on your bed and watch the scenery go by and look for wild life. There is small closet that provided adequate space for our two suitcases to be emptied into the four drawers and area to hang up items. On the floor were the provided "muck" boots that came in handy for walking on the tidal flats at some of the shore excursions. The provided rain jackets and pants were kept outside the cabin doors on hooks. One thing that did take some getting use to was the shoilet, toilet and shower combination.