We got on at Vancouver and immediately say the huge ship at Canada Place (obvious where the ship was, but signs for where to get on the ship were less obvious). We got to the port early, so we had to stay in the waiting area around 90 minutes. No added stress, no big deal. Disembarkation in Vancouver was even less stressful. Off the ship and in a taxi in a matter of minutes. Our verandah cabin and ship in general were well-kept and pleasant. The HAL crowd was older to be sure, but had a good number (around 30-40%) of people under 50, far from the Pacemakers R Us that other commenters would have you believe you are getting yourself into.
Entertainment at the main theatre consisted of a comedian (off-colour, but hilarious... saw a few parents hastily escorting their teens after the first few jokes. Nothing that wouldn't be said in a middle school classroom for example, but that's their choice I guess), a magician with the standard cruise ship tricks, an excellent live music performance to scenes of animals in the wild, a crew performance, and broadway-style theatre, which was beyond amazing. They actually brought a broadway performer on board with CDs, autograph sessions, and everything. The more casual entertainment (string duet, game show, art lecture...) was great as well.
Otherwise, the enrichment could be hit-or-miss. A few times nature interpretations would be listed as taking place on the pool deck, but once there the activity was not to be found.
The staff were very nice and helpful on the whole. The front desk staff helped me more than once with great efficiency. The only downer was once in the Lido restaurant a server would serve all the tables around us (so we were in his section) but even after we flagged him down he promptly ignored our request for dirty dishes to be taken away. The cruise director was more than entertaining, and the cleaning staff were superb.
We hit the ports of Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan. We did the ship's Mendenhall glacier tour, which was a stunning place but more than twice as expensive as joining your own tour from any of the kiosks on the pier at port. Sitka was our favourite port because it didn't scream cruise line; finally a break from every third person you meet wanting to sell you tanzanite rings. We didn't get to go to Skagway but got a few hours at Glacier Bay with some fantastic weather and finally went to Ketchikan. Did the crab feast, which served some very fresh, if over salted, crab.
Speaking of crab, for great crab, go for the king crab shack next to the pier in Juneau. It definitely beats the frozen seafood on board; that said, food was of better quality than most. We enjoyed the dining room and the buffet. Personal favourites were the portobello burgers at the Dive-In and the bagged up sandwiches perfect for excursions.
In all, would recommend the destination and liked the ship. Would love to see more of Alaska and British Columbia, not against going on this ship to do so.
Everything was clean, great staff. Wonderful view from the balcony.
Beautiful place, great history with Native and Russian cultures being the most attractive. Favourite port, only port to not feel like an extension of the cruise line. Many local shops and restaurants in walking distance.View All 5 Tlingit Tribal Show Reviews
Breathtaking views. Wished I had known the tour from the ship would be more than twice as expensive as the tours available at the pier.View All 971 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews