This 7-night northbound cruise to Alaska from Vancouver was a nice time. I had cruised the Dawn before (post refurbish) and this ship was very similar (Jewel has The Great Outdoors but no specialty Mexican restaurant). I read the reviews about the Jewel being next for refurbishing and rolled my eyes. Who cares if the decor is dated? Well, eventually small things take their toll. It's not a dump by any means, but there are lots of areas with worn carpet, torn vinyl, stained chairs, and overall gaudy decor. Again, this mostly doesn't matter, but newer is definitely nicer. Embarkation in Vancouver was somewhat complex and I found some of the workers there gruff. Vancouver is a great city, so take some time to explore it before you board or after your cruise. Our room steward did the minimum: one night he didn't leave the paperwork for the next day, when we boarded, the dirty ice bucket was still in the room, and he wasn't overly friendly. I saw other guests hugging their steward upon leaving but there was none of that with us. Perhaps he's overworked. The Great Outdoors is a huge plus and a perfect spot to eat and enjoy the views, or just get a beverage and hang out. This area and the Spinnicker Lounge are packed on glacier-viewing days, so watch out. We had great weather so were able to get great views of the glaciers. Make sure you're outside for disembarkation. We saw whales and orcas on more than one occasion. Eat in the dining rooms over the buffets whenever you can. Overall the food was good. The Garden Cafe gets packed during peak breakfast hours despite their openeing La Cucina and The Great Outdoors for overflow.
One con is some of the staff seemed to be slightly disgruntled. One bartender said "yes?" like I was bothering him before I ordered $30 in drinks (no UBP here). He must have sensed that I was caught off guard by how abrupt he was because he gave me the drinks for free. O'Sheehan's was something I looked forward to. The service was very bad. The host and most of the servers were not concerned with providing good service. The menu seems to be an older, condensed one (only hot and mild chicken wings, for example) and the food was hit or miss. The portions are tiny, so order accordingly.
All of the shows were good. We particularly enjoyed the last night when the staff singers did an informal singing show. The other productions were good too. Director JC Sanchez was nice and did a good job. He was friendly when we saw him on deck.
Hopefully once the ship is refurbished, the staff with have more enthusiasm for their work. The pace and "feel" of an Alaska cruise is different from the warm-weather ones. It was almost 100% middle aged couples and lots of tourists from Asia. This was not a party boat. Our three stops (Juneau, Ketchikan, and Scagway) were nice, calm places to walk around and shop, unless you take an excursion. We did the scenic train to Anchorage when we disembarked in Anchorage. We had to get up very early, but it was a nice experience.
The room was fine. The shower had a sliding door instead of a shower and it was surprisingly spacious. The rest of the cabin was nice enough. The dated, bright carpet was showing its age. Our room steward was pleasant but we barely saw him.
Vancouver was awesome.
The seaplane was cool but very expensive. We bought a coupon book which made it bearable, but I wouldn't have paid full price. The fjords were too misty for us to see well, but the scenery was nice.
Otherwise there's a small town with lots of souvenir shops. The town itself was my least favorite of the 3.View All 166 Misty Fjords Flightseeing Reviews
We took a shuttle drive up to the Yukon. Most people take the train on the way back, but we stayed in the van. I highly recommend this. It was just us and the driver on the way back, so we got a private tour. Scagway was my favorite of the small towns. It has two breweries, some restaurants, and cute shops.View All 117 Scenic Drive Reviews
Wake up early and go outside. We got very close to the glaciers. This made sea days feel like shore days. Hint: go to deck 7. The upper decks are packed, but 7 is usually open and the views are just as good.
When we disembarked, we took the scenic train to Anchorage. It was beautiful and I recommend it. In Anchorage, we rented a car and went all over AK. We ended up spending a couple of nights in Seward. The SeaLife Center is nice but very small. It'll take you an hour to see. The town is cute. The brewery is nice and The Cookery had great food. There are also some good restaurants by the port (a good walk from the downtown area). We did an all day boat tour of the fjords. By this time the "Alaska weather" had returned and the seas were very choppy. I got very sick and we couldn't see much because of the rain and fog. By this time, we had already seen whales, glaciers, etc. so the excursion wasn't entirely necessary.
Small. Used the coupon book.View All 28 SeaLife Center Reviews
We rented a car at the port (reserve in advance) so we were able to drive to Mendenhall glacier. The bus stop is far away, so we were able to pull right up. The glacier was cool, but you are going to see so many glaciers on your cruise that I think this part is skippable.
We did a whale watching boat sure. Again, we used a coupon so the price wasn't too bad. We got lucky and saw one of the mass feeding events. Then we drove to Alaska Brewing Co. (cool) and did some shopping. The shopping area is small and quaint. It's a longish walk back to the ship (another incentive to drive).
See above.View All 906 Whale Watching Reviews