Overall it was an excellent cruise. We booked this cruise to experience the beauty of AK. We are a semi-retired active couple looking to mix with the locals and find where they eat and drink to get the true impression of the area. We do a minimum of shopping for souvenirs and gifts. With that said: We flew from Pittsburgh to Seattle via DFW. It was a long flight time. We arrived in Seattle the day before embarkation and traveled via Go Shuttle Express to the Red Lion Hotel on Fifth Ave. They graciously allowed us to check in early. I did my research and found a Steelers bar to watch the season opener that afternoon. We had a restful evening and about 11 AM we hailed a cab ($10) to the pier 91. I was a little disappointed that we had to drag our luggage into the terminal ourselves because there were very few porters available. We waited but no one came out for 20 minutes. Once we go inside it was a breeze. We were on board within 20 minutes. I don't know where all the pax went to... but there didn't seem to be a lot of pax out for the sail away on that perfect sunny afternoon. The view of Mt. Rainier was very clear!
This was the best cabin we ever had on a ship. It was an "inside" cabin with a window and a doorway away from a little used veranda. There was plenty of closet/drawer space and luggage fit under the bed and out of the way. The bathroom had a shower only. I did not miss the bathtub that the other cabins had.
The morning started out partly cloudy and then the weather cleared for a perfect day of sightseeing and whale watching. If you intend to buy fleece wear jackets or rain gear, don't wait for other ports! This is the port to purchase souvenirs and clothing. They had the best bargains and the most choices. The tramway up to Mt. Roberts was very pleasant. We booked an afternoon whale watching excursion with Orca Enterprises. I give them a huge thumbs up. They were well worth the money. For those of you with veteran memberships or fraternal memberships, there is an American Legion post and a Moose Family center in every port. The Red Dog Saloon with the saw dust on the floor is a must stop for a local brew and burgers.
This is a tendered in port. It was a port that we had nothing booked but found many vendors once we arrived on shore. There was a mini bus tour that took us on a 90 min tour of Sitka's rain forest and the surrounding parks, and salmon runs. It was a bargain for $20. The tour guide was well versed in ecology, and the economy. She was an amateur photographer (quite good) who knew where the eagle nests were. Sitka was a very nice port and was a port that would not allow the cruise lines to buy up all the retail space. They voted to keep it locally owned.
This was a fun port. We booked the Duck Tour thru Hal. We arrived and changed our tour to an earlier tour because we weren't in port very long. The tour guide and driver were very entertaining.
We arrived much too late to visit Victoria. Our scheduled arrival was 6 pm, but we did not arrive until 9 pm. All shore excursions were canceled. As we were docked 2 miles from town, we did not bother to get off the ship after dinner. It was another disappointment. The ship left port at midnight.
Take the time to extend your vacation by a few days and see this beautiful city. We spent an entire morning at Pike Place market, the entire afternoon along the waterfront walking, and eating oysters during Elliots happy hour. There are excellent restaurants, including my favorite, the Crab Pot. The underground tour is a hoot. Take the monorail to the Needle. The things to do and see are endless.