We are first time cruisers. And, we had a most wonderful trip to Alaska. We had thought about this for years. Finally, at the last minute we started planning. I spent a lot of time on Cruise Critics boards, and emails they sent (packing tips, etc).
I chose Celebrity because they were well rated on food and for first timers. Holland was a close second for us. However, I got so confused when it came to choosing cabins or packages. I turned it over to a travel agent. She did a wonderful job, getting a good package on the dates we wanted.
Everything (weather included) worked. We arrived from a smooth Southwest direct flight to Seattle on 7/14. After getting to our hotel, we rushed out to The Flying Fish for oysters on the half shell. It was relatively close to where we were staying. We are originally from South Louisiana, and really miss fresh seafood.
We were at Pier 91 well before check-in time. I have to admit that going through all the security checks, and stair climbs was a bit overwhelming. And, we got lost several times trying to find our cabin. We did find the cabin to be more comfortable than we expected. And, we loved the balcony. We had rain on our first night, and the Captain apologized for the rough seas, as if he had responsibility for the weather. That was the last time we experienced any bad weather, until we returned to Seattle, with rain covering all the walkways leaving the ship.
We spoiled ourselves with the premium food and beverage packages. Both were worth it. After all, we are on an extended celebration of our 50th wedding celebrating.
We also found other passengers very friendly. It was so easy to strike up a conversation, whether at a meal, on the deck, or on an elevator.
We probably spent too much time in the three Alaskan ports searching for gifts for our grandchildren. We wanted to find something from the local American Indians, but well over a hundred $ for a hand carved totem pole x four grandchildren seemed a bit much. Yet, everything that was reasonable in the first two stops was made in China. That just didn't fit a souvenir from Alaska. Finally, in Skagway, we found a store where everything for sale was made in Alaska.
Now for the highlights: We thoroughly enjoyed the Totem Heritage Park. The authentic totem poles from early villages were hugh. It is hard to imagine the locals raising the poles.The staff were very well versed in the history of the Alaskan Native Americans.They told us how the people lived, how the totems were carved, and what the different carvings represented. We also walked to the Creek bridge, but it was too early in the day to see the Salmon.
We went with Harv & Marv's Whale Watching trip in Juneau. They received good ratings on travel websites. They truly deserved their ratings. Our captain (Steve) was a knowledgeable and friendly person.We were on a small boat, with only six passengers. We saw multiple orcas, then went to another site and saw a pod of humpback whales. Captain Steve was quite excited. He said that they often see pods of four or five. This one had thirteen humpbacks. They were rounding up herring. The matriarch would signal them to dive deep, and come up with their mouths wide open. Women apparently rule in the world of whales, just as in my home :-). We took our coats on the boat, but didn't need them. The temperature was a record breaking 82 degrees.
The next day we were in Skagway and took the White Pass Summit Rail Excursion. While we did not see any brown bears or mountain goats, we did have clear skies and wonderful views of snow topped mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls.
We chose not to disembark in Victoria. We had been there before, and did not have time to visit the gardens on this trip. And, we wanted to just totally relax on our last night.
We arrived in Seattle on 7/22. Getting off was a hassle (remember that we are first time cruisers). They had another large ship disembarking at the same time as us. The hotel was supposed to send a car for us. After an hour and a half wait, and several phone calls to the hotel, we gave up and moved to the cab line. There, we only waited for a bit over an hour. I was really feeling my January back surgery by this point.
Nevertheless, we checked in to the hotel and went out for a late lunch. We had wonderful pasta at Il Corvo. We then went down to Pike Place Market. We walked for awhile. It was simply to crowded for us to enjoy. So, a stop at Local 360 for yet more happy hour oysters. We found these oysters even better than those at the Flying Fish.
We had planned on going back downtown Saturday. However, we found the area around our hotel to be lovely and relaxing. We were at Lake Union, in the Marriott Residence Inn Downtown. This was a very attractive hotel. Saturday and Sunday were sunny and 72 degrees. We were by a lake with sail boats, paddle boards, huge yachts, and small seaplanes offering tours. Also there were historical boats, such as a tugboat built in 1889. And don't let me forget the restaurants around the small lake.
We arrived in Nashville at midnight on Sunday, from 72 and sunny to high 90's and very humid. Sigh.
All in all, we enjoyed the trip so much that we want to take another cruise--maybe Alaska, maybe somewhere else.
I still don't think that we are interested in an island boat cruise. And, we don't get excited about shopping in the ports. For the future, what other tours might include beautiful scenery?
After reading so much about the how small ship cabins were, we were surprised at how comfortable it was. And, we loved the balcony.
Excellent. Captain Steve was knowledgeable and very friendly. He led us to see orcas and then a pod of 13 humpback whales.View All 906 Whale Watching Reviews
Did not see brown bears or mountain goats, but had beautiful views.View All 1212 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
We had a wonderful time learning about the early Native Americans and their totems.
How can I review when we did not disembark?