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Ruby Princess Review – June 16-23 2018 7-night round trip cruise to Alaska departing from Seattle on June 16 and returning on June 23. Our group of four couples ranged in age from 45 to 60. We also celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary during the cruise. Summary The weather was fantastic, the scenery was awesome, the ship was nice, the entertainment was the best we have seen on a cruise, the dining room food was good, the lunch/dinner buffet and pizza were not good. Pre-Cruise Flight We flew American direct to Seattle from Charlotte early Thursday. Wife has never been to Seattle and fortunately Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood were all visible above the cloud deck descending into SeaTac. We retrieved our luggage after a long walk from the end of concourse D to baggage claim, then another long walk to the LINK station in the parking deck. Pre-cruise Seattle Hotel We stayed downtown at the Arctic Club (a Hilton property), one block from the Pioneer Square LINK station. Located in a beautifully restored historic building we were upgraded to the top floor with a balcony (in reality access to the roof). We had a fantastic view facing south of Smith Tower and the Pioneer Square area of Seattle. The room was spacious and the furnishings and bathroom tile preserved the historic character of the building. Pre-Cruise Seattle Touring (our “bonus” port) Our first stop after dropping the luggage at the hotel was Ivar’s on Pier 54 where we had an excellent lunch. Then we walked along the waterfront and up to Pike Place Market where we visited the gum wall, watched fish being thrown and visited the first Starbucks. After another stop at Moore Coffee we returned to the hotel to check-in. After an early dinner at Piroshki on 3rd next to the hotel, we walked three blocks to Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour of Pioneer Square, which we enjoyed. As sunset approached we walked one block from the hotel to Columbia Tower to go to the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor. The view from almost 1,000 feet above Seattle was amazing, looking down on the Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field, looking north to the Space Needle (much lower in elevation) and watching the aircraft carrier John C Stennis heading out to sea after leaving from Bremerton. On Friday after experiencing a tasty breakfast at Biscuit Bitch across the street from the hotel we returned to Pike Place Market to meet another couple for lunch at the Athenian. We then headed to Chocolate Box to sample wine and chocolate and while there acquired two bottles of wine to carry-on the ship for our stateroom. After dropping the wine at the hotel we visited Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center, which was really cool. We skipped the Space Needle because it is still under partial renovations and was really crowded. After Chihuly we attended the WNBA basketball game at Key Arena between the Seattle Storm and the Connecticut Sun. On Saturday morning we visited FedEx and shipped about 15 pounds of dirty clothes and Seattle souvenirs home to avoid overweight luggage fees going home after the cruise. We then enjoyed Top Pot Doughnuts for breakfast and waited for our ride from Shuttle Express to Pier 91. The shuttle was 30 minutes late picking us up, but since it was only 11:30 it was no big deal. Port of Seattle (Pier 91) Pier 91 and Princess have their act together. This was the fastest and smoothest embarkation we have experienced. We arrived about noon and carried our luggage into the building and turned the checked luggage over to the porters. Then through security screening with our carry-ons. Then there is a desk to “declare” any wine you are bringing on board. Our wine was only checked to see if the bottle was sealed. Others in our group skipped declaring their wine with no consequences. Then to the check-in counter. This entire process was 15 minutes. We waited almost as long on the gangway to actually board the ship. Ruby Princess Public Areas Ruby’s public areas are attractive and somewhat elegant. The public areas, bars, shops, pools, hot tubs, casino, art gallery, theater and dining venues appeared to be in good shape, the only exception was the worn upholstery on the chairs at the International Café which really need to be replaced. We did not use the pools or hot tubs during the cruise. Stateroom Our inside stateroom on the Aloha Deck – A244. The room was comfortably cool if the thermostat was at the lowest setting. The bed was comfortable and the pillows were also acceptable. The carpet and furnishings were in good condition. The bathroom sink and shower were acceptable but more worn than the room. The shower curtain stayed where it belonged and did not drift into the shower or allow water to escape onto the bathroom floor. The closet area was open and formed a wall behind the desk, with the bathroom accessed from the open area. This was a very efficient use of the space. We pre-ordered two cases of water which were in the room when we arrived. We immediately loaded the water and wine into the small refrigerator. Our room steward James did a great job keeping the room fresh while we were away having fun. Michelangelo and Botticelli Dining Rooms We had anytime dining and were assigned to the Michelangelo dining room. Our second formal night we were seated in the Botticelli dining room. The dining room food was generally good throughout the cruise. Our group of eight made late-seating reservations for both formal nights and the day we sailed Glacier Bay. Anytime dining patrons can make reservations starting at 8 AM for 5:00 PM or 7:30 PM seating in Michelangelo. Our service was generally good but slow, presumably because we were the late dinner seating and there was no need to reset the table for later dinner patrons. Horizon Court and Café Caribe (buffets) The Café Caribe breakfast was good. The coffee was drinkable and the food was plentiful with several styles of eggs, breakfast meats, pastries, fresh fruit, etc. The Horizon Court breakfast was the same. The Horizon Court lunch and dinner offerings were very disappointing and consisted of primarily pastas, Asian-style dishes and other mediocre offerings. After two attempts we abandoned eating in the HC for lunch or dinner. Pizza Bar I had read on Cruise Critic the pizza is not good. This seems to be a matter of personal taste. Others in our party liked it. I can confirm it’s not good compared to big sis Carnival, whose pizza is very good in my opinion. I think they should serve the Carnival pizza on Princess. International Cafe The International Café is open 24 hours a day, and it’s free except for the gelato. This is also where the specialty coffees are available (for a fee). The IC serves pastries, muffins, doughnuts, and a breakfast sandwich for breakfast. For lunch and dinner sandwiches, wraps, and salads are available. There are also several desserts offered for lunch and dinner. The sandwiches are light on meat so I combined the meat from two sandwiches later in the week to reduce the gluten intake. All the food at the IC was edible and this became our place for lunch and snacks in the afternoon instead of the Horizon Court. Casino We visited the slots on Wednesday after leaving Glacier Bay and again on Thursday after leaving Ketchikan. As usual my wife left with more than she started with, and I played until my investment was exhausted. The casino was slightly smoky but bearable. Most of the casino appeared to be non-smoking. Entertainment and Activities The comedian on this cruise was excellent, his shows were standing room only. The vocalist and the musical about a magic show were very good. The live band supporting the vocalist, the musical, and the Voice competition were also very impressive. Overall this was the best entertainment of any of our previous cruises. Our group also enjoyed afternoon trivia and won twice. Weather The weather was outstanding. It was mostly sunny in Seattle on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday out in the open Pacific Ocean the wind was blowing and the waves were very noticeable. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were beautiful. Many local tour guides commented on how wonderful the weather was compared to the season thus far. Thursday started with low clouds and some light rain but cleared in the afternoon. Friday was generally cool but pleasant during the day with a passing light shower in the evening. Anniversary Celebration We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on June 17 because this was a sea day. Prior to the cruise, during the on-line check-in process we completed the information regarding special celebrations by specifying the type of celebration (birthday, anniversary) and the date. Our stateroom door was decorated with a sign and balloons and we were given $25 gift cards to the Spa and gift shop. At dinner a small chocolate cake was presented to us as the dining room staff serenaded our table with a spirited rendition of Happy Anniversary to us (to the tune of Happy Birthday). It was all very nice (and free). Sea Day – Sunday June 17 As noted above the weather was less than ideal on Sunday. Ruby was heading northwest at 20 knots into a 40 knot southwest wind. Several upper decks were closed on Sunday due to the high winds. The ship was also rolling noticeably and several passengers commented that other Alaska cruises they had been on were not as rough, although it was exactly what I expected being out in the North Pacific Ocean. At 11 AM Ruby diverted from the planned course due to an onboard medical emergency. We sailed for three hours back to the inside passage to transfer a sick passenger to the Canadian Coast Guard. The transfer required another hour due to the wind and swell even though we were now in the more protected inside passage near Pine Island at the southern end of Queen Charlotte Sound. After recovering our lifeboat used for the transfer we proceeded north along the inside passage to make up lost time. We learned later in the cruise the sick passenger eventually made it to the hospital at Campbell River, BC and emergency surgery was successful. We were also told by crew the ship was too far from land for a helicopter evacuation which is why we had to turn around and sail back to meet the Canadian Coast Guard at the Inside Passage. Juneau – Monday June 18 We awoke Monday around 8 AM and quickly realized we were still in the open Pacific Ocean enshrouded in thick fog near Coronation Island, still well over 200 nautical miles from Juneau. A quick visit to the tour desk confirmed our suspicions that Ruby was not arriving in Juneau at 11 AM. The best-case estimate at the time was a 5:30 PM arrival. Our dog sledding excursion on the glacier was toast, and the weather was going to be perfect. We still had hope for our 6 PM evening whale watch excursion, but later that morning we learned all Juneau excursions were cancelled. At 8 AM we could have rescheduled the dog sledding for Skagway but we already had the all-day Bennett Lake train excursion scheduled. However, we made the most out of our extra sea day and enjoyed the daylight transit through Stephens Passage which we would have otherwise mostly slept through. Along the way we saw great mountain scenery and five pods of Orcas. Ruby finally arrived in Juneau at 6:30 PM. Many of the 3,000 passengers wanted to get off and long lines quickly formed for disembarkation. We made it off the ship at 7 PM. This left 2.5 hours before re-boarding at 9:30 PM. We walked along the harbor and noted the long lines at all the restaurants and the Mt. Roberts tram. We kept walking to the Red Dog Saloon which was also packed. We found a coffee shop after about 30 minutes that was closing but managed to get some coffee. We decided to return to the ship around 8:30 PM to beat the crowds returning at 9:30. Skagway - Tuesday June 19 We got off the ship at 7:30 AM to buy some souvenirs and take some photo’s before our 9:30 Bennett Lake excursion with Chilkoot Charters. We did bus up in the morning and train back in the afternoon. The weather was perfect all day. Our driver was Mike who was very knowledgeable and friendly. He also tried to keep the group moving at photo stops so we could see everything. We saw several mountain goats and two black bears from a distance. Our last stop at Emerald Lake was amazing, the blue and green colors really stood out under the bright sunlight and looked like someone photoshopped it. In Carcross we boarded the White Pass & Yukon for the train ride back to Skagway. This was a must do bucket list item for me and worth every penny. The scenery along Bennett Lake, and again between White Pass Summit and Skagway is outstanding. We saw a momma moose and baby moose up close and another black bear from the train. At Bennett the train stopped for about 1-hour. While in Bennett we hiked the last ¼ mile of the Chilkoot Trail which ends in Bennett. It was a very steep climb but a nice view of Bennett Lake and the surrounding mountains. After we returned to Skagway we walked to Skagway Brewing to enjoy a Spruce Tip Blond Ale, their signature beer brewed using Sitka Spruce tip buds. We also really liked the feel of Skagway with the plank sidewalks and almost no traffic on Broadway. All the buildings along Broadway were built during the Klondike Gold Rush. Change some of the modern signage and throw some dirt over the pavement and it could be a movie set. Ruby was berthed at the Ore Dock, which is right next to the airport. The sound of helicopters coming and going constantly was annoying at first, but we decided in the future we will book our dog sledding tour in Skagway because there is no bus transfer involved, the helicopters are at the end of the gangway, as was the White Pass and Yukon train excursion to White Pass Summit if booked through the ship. Sail-away from Skagway was also impressive as the sun was setting, which lasts for several hours in late June in Alaska. Glacier Bay - Wednesday June 20 After extensive research on Cruise Critic, I determined the other must do and bucket list item on this cruise was Glacier Bay. Others in our party of eight had cruised to Alaska before but had never experienced Glacier Bay and they were in awe, as were we. While in Glacier Bay National Monument the National Park Service provides three park rangers to narrate the journey and answer questions. Our first stop was Margerie Glacier, where we cruised right up next to it at the end of the bay. This was impressive and was actively calving, although nothing huge fell off into the ocean while we were there, we did hear the ice cracking and thunderously crashing into the sea. The Grand Pacific Glacier is next to Margerie Glacier but has receded and is not up against the sea. We then sailed to the Johns Hopkins Glacier, passing the Lamplugh Glacier along the way. We did not get as close to the Lamplugh Glacier and were quite a distance from Johns Hopkins Glacier. However, being some distance away added perspective and a better appreciation for the glaciers and the surrounding mountains they flow down from. In this area there were many small icebergs where the harbor seals were hanging out. As we left Glacier Bay we passed what seemed like hundreds of sea otters swimming the opposite direction. While transiting Icy Straight we saw our first humpback whales from a distance. Later in the evening we saw humpbacks closer to the ship. Ketchikan - Thursday June 21 We decided to book the ship tour to Totem Bight State Park and the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show with some of our OBC from our cancelled Juneau excursions. After another long wait to disembark in Ketchikan, we had to find the correct bus for our tour and then wait for everyone to arrive. The ports with short stops seem to be organizationally challenging to the security crew on the Ruby. Our tour guide was Chessa and after we finally got going she was very good and funny. We learned a lot about totem poles we would have missed just wandering around the state park without a guide. We also enjoyed the lumberjack show and thought it was fun and entertaining. While waiting to enter the show we spotted a bald eagle sitting on top of a pole in the fishing harbor which was also very cool. We also liked the look of Ketchikan although we had less time to walk around than Juneau or Skagway. Victoria - Friday June 22 During the day we attended a cooking show in the theater featuring the head maître d, executive chef and pastry chef, followed by a walk-through of the galley. We ate dinner when Michelangelo opened at 4:30 and as soon as we finished eating we got in line to disembark. Victoria is an evening stop on this cruise. It is also another short stop, only about 5 hours like Ketchikan once you wait in lines to get off/on the ship. We took the shuttle into the inner harbor which saved us walking in the wind and intermittent light drizzle. Our primary goal was visiting Rogers Chocolate on Government Street. We then walked around awhile and took a few pictures of the Empress Hotel and Legislative Buildings after the rain passed and the sun came out. Post-cruise Departure - Saturday June 23 We waited in the Explorers Lounge for our group to be called, which occurred as advertised at 8:25 AM. Customs consisted of checking passports, no forms and no questions about what we were bringing into the country from Canada. We walked to the taxi area and were on our way to SeaTac for a flat fee of $40 plus tip. We arrived at SeaTac one-hour after being called for departure. We checked our luggage and were gifted TSA pre-check so security was a breeze, although the regular security line was reasonable at 10 am when we passed through. There was a very long line at the American Airlines counter for people needing help with their reservations, fortunately we skipped this line.

Awesome Scenery Coupled with Fantastic Weather

Ruby Princess Cruise Review by Elvis1001

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Interior
Ruby Princess Review – June 16-23 2018

7-night round trip cruise to Alaska departing from Seattle on June 16 and returning on June 23. Our group of four couples ranged in age from 45 to 60. We also celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary during the cruise.

Summary

The weather was fantastic, the scenery was awesome, the ship was nice, the entertainment was the best we have seen on a cruise, the dining room food was good, the lunch/dinner buffet and pizza were not good.

Pre-Cruise Flight

We flew American direct to Seattle from Charlotte early Thursday. Wife has never been to Seattle and fortunately Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood were all visible above the cloud deck descending into SeaTac. We retrieved our luggage after a long walk from the end of concourse D to baggage claim, then another long walk to the LINK station in the parking deck.

Pre-cruise Seattle Hotel

We stayed downtown at the Arctic Club (a Hilton property), one block from the Pioneer Square LINK station. Located in a beautifully restored historic building we were upgraded to the top floor with a balcony (in reality access to the roof). We had a fantastic view facing south of Smith Tower and the Pioneer Square area of Seattle. The room was spacious and the furnishings and bathroom tile preserved the historic character of the building.

Pre-Cruise Seattle Touring (our “bonus” port)

Our first stop after dropping the luggage at the hotel was Ivar’s on Pier 54 where we had an excellent lunch. Then we walked along the waterfront and up to Pike Place Market where we visited the gum wall, watched fish being thrown and visited the first Starbucks. After another stop at Moore Coffee we returned to the hotel to check-in. After an early dinner at Piroshki on 3rd next to the hotel, we walked three blocks to Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour of Pioneer Square, which we enjoyed. As sunset approached we walked one block from the hotel to Columbia Tower to go to the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor. The view from almost 1,000 feet above Seattle was amazing, looking down on the Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field, looking north to the Space Needle (much lower in elevation) and watching the aircraft carrier John C Stennis heading out to sea after leaving from Bremerton.

On Friday after experiencing a tasty breakfast at Biscuit Bitch across the street from the hotel we returned to Pike Place Market to meet another couple for lunch at the Athenian. We then headed to Chocolate Box to sample wine and chocolate and while there acquired two bottles of wine to carry-on the ship for our stateroom. After dropping the wine at the hotel we visited Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center, which was really cool. We skipped the Space Needle because it is still under partial renovations and was really crowded. After Chihuly we attended the WNBA basketball game at Key Arena between the Seattle Storm and the Connecticut Sun.

On Saturday morning we visited FedEx and shipped about 15 pounds of dirty clothes and Seattle souvenirs home to avoid overweight luggage fees going home after the cruise. We then enjoyed Top Pot Doughnuts for breakfast and waited for our ride from Shuttle Express to Pier 91. The shuttle was 30 minutes late picking us up, but since it was only 11:30 it was no big deal.

Port of Seattle (Pier 91)

Pier 91 and Princess have their act together. This was the fastest and smoothest embarkation we have experienced. We arrived about noon and carried our luggage into the building and turned the checked luggage over to the porters. Then through security screening with our carry-ons. Then there is a desk to “declare” any wine you are bringing on board. Our wine was only checked to see if the bottle was sealed. Others in our group skipped declaring their wine with no consequences. Then to the check-in counter. This entire process was 15 minutes. We waited almost as long on the gangway to actually board the ship.

Ruby Princess Public Areas

Ruby’s public areas are attractive and somewhat elegant. The public areas, bars, shops, pools, hot tubs, casino, art gallery, theater and dining venues appeared to be in good shape, the only exception was the worn upholstery on the chairs at the International Café which really need to be replaced. We did not use the pools or hot tubs during the cruise.

Stateroom

Our inside stateroom on the Aloha Deck – A244. The room was comfortably cool if the thermostat was at the lowest setting. The bed was comfortable and the pillows were also acceptable. The carpet and furnishings were in good condition. The bathroom sink and shower were acceptable but more worn than the room. The shower curtain stayed where it belonged and did not drift into the shower or allow water to escape onto the bathroom floor. The closet area was open and formed a wall behind the desk, with the bathroom accessed from the open area. This was a very efficient use of the space. We pre-ordered two cases of water which were in the room when we arrived. We immediately loaded the water and wine into the small refrigerator. Our room steward James did a great job keeping the room fresh while we were away having fun.

Michelangelo and Botticelli Dining Rooms

We had anytime dining and were assigned to the Michelangelo dining room. Our second formal night we were seated in the Botticelli dining room. The dining room food was generally good throughout the cruise. Our group of eight made late-seating reservations for both formal nights and the day we sailed Glacier Bay. Anytime dining patrons can make reservations starting at 8 AM for 5:00 PM or 7:30 PM seating in Michelangelo. Our service was generally good but slow, presumably because we were the late dinner seating and there was no need to reset the table for later dinner patrons.

Horizon Court and Café Caribe (buffets)

The Café Caribe breakfast was good. The coffee was drinkable and the food was plentiful with several styles of eggs, breakfast meats, pastries, fresh fruit, etc. The Horizon Court breakfast was the same. The Horizon Court lunch and dinner offerings were very disappointing and consisted of primarily pastas, Asian-style dishes and other mediocre offerings. After two attempts we abandoned eating in the HC for lunch or dinner.

Pizza Bar

I had read on Cruise Critic the pizza is not good. This seems to be a matter of personal taste. Others in our party liked it. I can confirm it’s not good compared to big sis Carnival, whose pizza is very good in my opinion. I think they should serve the Carnival pizza on Princess.

International Cafe

The International Café is open 24 hours a day, and it’s free except for the gelato. This is also where the specialty coffees are available (for a fee). The IC serves pastries, muffins, doughnuts, and a breakfast sandwich for breakfast. For lunch and dinner sandwiches, wraps, and salads are available. There are also several desserts offered for lunch and dinner. The sandwiches are light on meat so I combined the meat from two sandwiches later in the week to reduce the gluten intake. All the food at the IC was edible and this became our place for lunch and snacks in the afternoon instead of the Horizon Court.

Casino

We visited the slots on Wednesday after leaving Glacier Bay and again on Thursday after leaving Ketchikan. As usual my wife left with more than she started with, and I played until my investment was exhausted. The casino was slightly smoky but bearable. Most of the casino appeared to be non-smoking.

Entertainment and Activities

The comedian on this cruise was excellent, his shows were standing room only. The vocalist and the musical about a magic show were very good. The live band supporting the vocalist, the musical, and the Voice competition were also very impressive. Overall this was the best entertainment of any of our previous cruises. Our group also enjoyed afternoon trivia and won twice.

Weather

The weather was outstanding. It was mostly sunny in Seattle on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday out in the open Pacific Ocean the wind was blowing and the waves were very noticeable. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were beautiful. Many local tour guides commented on how wonderful the weather was compared to the season thus far. Thursday started with low clouds and some light rain but cleared in the afternoon. Friday was generally cool but pleasant during the day with a passing light shower in the evening.

Anniversary Celebration

We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on June 17 because this was a sea day. Prior to the cruise, during the on-line check-in process we completed the information regarding special celebrations by specifying the type of celebration (birthday, anniversary) and the date. Our stateroom door was decorated with a sign and balloons and we were given $25 gift cards to the Spa and gift shop. At dinner a small chocolate cake was presented to us as the dining room staff serenaded our table with a spirited rendition of Happy Anniversary to us (to the tune of Happy Birthday). It was all very nice (and free).

Sea Day – Sunday June 17

As noted above the weather was less than ideal on Sunday. Ruby was heading northwest at 20 knots into a 40 knot southwest wind. Several upper decks were closed on Sunday due to the high winds. The ship was also rolling noticeably and several passengers commented that other Alaska cruises they had been on were not as rough, although it was exactly what I expected being out in the North Pacific Ocean.

At 11 AM Ruby diverted from the planned course due to an onboard medical emergency. We sailed for three hours back to the inside passage to transfer a sick passenger to the Canadian Coast Guard. The transfer required another hour due to the wind and swell even though we were now in the more protected inside passage near Pine Island at the southern end of Queen Charlotte Sound. After recovering our lifeboat used for the transfer we proceeded north along the inside passage to make up lost time.

We learned later in the cruise the sick passenger eventually made it to the hospital at Campbell River, BC and emergency surgery was successful. We were also told by crew the ship was too far from land for a helicopter evacuation which is why we had to turn around and sail back to meet the Canadian Coast Guard at the Inside Passage.

Juneau – Monday June 18

We awoke Monday around 8 AM and quickly realized we were still in the open Pacific Ocean enshrouded in thick fog near Coronation Island, still well over 200 nautical miles from Juneau. A quick visit to the tour desk confirmed our suspicions that Ruby was not arriving in Juneau at 11 AM. The best-case estimate at the time was a 5:30 PM arrival. Our dog sledding excursion on the glacier was toast, and the weather was going to be perfect. We still had hope for our 6 PM evening whale watch excursion, but later that morning we learned all Juneau excursions were cancelled. At 8 AM we could have rescheduled the dog sledding for Skagway but we already had the all-day Bennett Lake train excursion scheduled. However, we made the most out of our extra sea day and enjoyed the daylight transit through Stephens Passage which we would have otherwise mostly slept through. Along the way we saw great mountain scenery and five pods of Orcas.

Ruby finally arrived in Juneau at 6:30 PM. Many of the 3,000 passengers wanted to get off and long lines quickly formed for disembarkation. We made it off the ship at 7 PM. This left 2.5 hours before re-boarding at 9:30 PM. We walked along the harbor and noted the long lines at all the restaurants and the Mt. Roberts tram. We kept walking to the Red Dog Saloon which was also packed. We found a coffee shop after about 30 minutes that was closing but managed to get some coffee. We decided to return to the ship around 8:30 PM to beat the crowds returning at 9:30.

Skagway - Tuesday June 19

We got off the ship at 7:30 AM to buy some souvenirs and take some photo’s before our 9:30 Bennett Lake excursion with Chilkoot Charters. We did bus up in the morning and train back in the afternoon. The weather was perfect all day. Our driver was Mike who was very knowledgeable and friendly. He also tried to keep the group moving at photo stops so we could see everything. We saw several mountain goats and two black bears from a distance. Our last stop at Emerald Lake was amazing, the blue and green colors really stood out under the bright sunlight and looked like someone photoshopped it.

In Carcross we boarded the White Pass & Yukon for the train ride back to Skagway. This was a must do bucket list item for me and worth every penny. The scenery along Bennett Lake, and again between White Pass Summit and Skagway is outstanding. We saw a momma moose and baby moose up close and another black bear from the train. At Bennett the train stopped for about 1-hour. While in Bennett we hiked the last ¼ mile of the Chilkoot Trail which ends in Bennett. It was a very steep climb but a nice view of Bennett Lake and the surrounding mountains.

After we returned to Skagway we walked to Skagway Brewing to enjoy a Spruce Tip Blond Ale, their signature beer brewed using Sitka Spruce tip buds. We also really liked the feel of Skagway with the plank sidewalks and almost no traffic on Broadway. All the buildings along Broadway were built during the Klondike Gold Rush. Change some of the modern signage and throw some dirt over the pavement and it could be a movie set.

Ruby was berthed at the Ore Dock, which is right next to the airport. The sound of helicopters coming and going constantly was annoying at first, but we decided in the future we will book our dog sledding tour in Skagway because there is no bus transfer involved, the helicopters are at the end of the gangway, as was the White Pass and Yukon train excursion to White Pass Summit if booked through the ship. Sail-away from Skagway was also impressive as the sun was setting, which lasts for several hours in late June in Alaska.

Glacier Bay - Wednesday June 20

After extensive research on Cruise Critic, I determined the other must do and bucket list item on this cruise was Glacier Bay. Others in our party of eight had cruised to Alaska before but had never experienced Glacier Bay and they were in awe, as were we. While in Glacier Bay National Monument the National Park Service provides three park rangers to narrate the journey and answer questions. Our first stop was Margerie Glacier, where we cruised right up next to it at the end of the bay. This was impressive and was actively calving, although nothing huge fell off into the ocean while we were there, we did hear the ice cracking and thunderously crashing into the sea. The Grand Pacific Glacier is next to Margerie Glacier but has receded and is not up against the sea.

We then sailed to the Johns Hopkins Glacier, passing the Lamplugh Glacier along the way. We did not get as close to the Lamplugh Glacier and were quite a distance from Johns Hopkins Glacier. However, being some distance away added perspective and a better appreciation for the glaciers and the surrounding mountains they flow down from. In this area there were many small icebergs where the harbor seals were hanging out.

As we left Glacier Bay we passed what seemed like hundreds of sea otters swimming the opposite direction. While transiting Icy Straight we saw our first humpback whales from a distance. Later in the evening we saw humpbacks closer to the ship.

Ketchikan - Thursday June 21

We decided to book the ship tour to Totem Bight State Park and the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show with some of our OBC from our cancelled Juneau excursions. After another long wait to disembark in Ketchikan, we had to find the correct bus for our tour and then wait for everyone to arrive. The ports with short stops seem to be organizationally challenging to the security crew on the Ruby. Our tour guide was Chessa and after we finally got going she was very good and funny. We learned a lot about totem poles we would have missed just wandering around the state park without a guide. We also enjoyed the lumberjack show and thought it was fun and entertaining. While waiting to enter the show we spotted a bald eagle sitting on top of a pole in the fishing harbor which was also very cool. We also liked the look of Ketchikan although we had less time to walk around than Juneau or Skagway.

Victoria - Friday June 22

During the day we attended a cooking show in the theater featuring the head maître d, executive chef and pastry chef, followed by a walk-through of the galley. We ate dinner when Michelangelo opened at 4:30 and as soon as we finished eating we got in line to disembark.

Victoria is an evening stop on this cruise. It is also another short stop, only about 5 hours like Ketchikan once you wait in lines to get off/on the ship. We took the shuttle into the inner harbor which saved us walking in the wind and intermittent light drizzle. Our primary goal was visiting Rogers Chocolate on Government Street. We then walked around awhile and took a few pictures of the Empress Hotel and Legislative Buildings after the rain passed and the sun came out.

Post-cruise Departure - Saturday June 23

We waited in the Explorers Lounge for our group to be called, which occurred as advertised at 8:25 AM. Customs consisted of checking passports, no forms and no questions about what we were bringing into the country from Canada. We walked to the taxi area and were on our way to SeaTac for a flat fee of $40 plus tip. We arrived at SeaTac one-hour after being called for departure. We checked our luggage and were gifted TSA pre-check so security was a breeze, although the regular security line was reasonable at 10 am when we passed through. There was a very long line at the American Airlines counter for people needing help with their reservations, fortunately we skipped this line.
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin IE A244
Our inside stateroom on the Aloha Deck – A244. The room was comfortably cool if the thermostat was at the lowest setting. The bed was comfortable and the pillows were also acceptable. The carpet and furnishings were in good condition. The bathroom sink and shower were acceptable but more worn than the room. The shower curtain stayed where it belonged and did not drift into the shower or allow water to escape onto the bathroom floor. The closet area was open and formed a wall behind the desk, with the bathroom accessed from the open area. This was a very efficient use of the space. We pre-ordered two cases of water which were in the room when we arrived. We immediately loaded the water and wine into the small refrigerator. Our room steward James did a great job keeping the room fresh while we were away having fun.
Riviera Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Glacier Bay
    After extensive research on Cruise Critic, I determined the other must do and bucket list item on this cruise was Glacier Bay. Others in our party of eight had cruised to Alaska before but had never experienced Glacier Bay and they were in awe, as were we. While in Glacier Bay National Monument the National Park Service provides three park rangers to narrate the journey and answer questions. Our first stop was Margerie Glacier, where we cruised right up next to it at the end of the bay. This was impressive and was actively calving, although nothing huge fell off into the ocean while we were there, we did hear the ice cracking and thunderously crashing into the sea. The Grand Pacific Glacier is next to Margerie Glacier but has receded and is not up against the sea.

    We then sailed to the Johns Hopkins Glacier, passing the Lamplugh Glacier along the way. We did not get as close to the Lamplugh Glacier and were quite a distance from Johns Hopkins Glacier. However, being some distance away added perspective and a better appreciation for the glaciers and the surrounding mountains they flow down from. In this area there were many small icebergs where the harbor seals were hanging out.

    As we left Glacier Bay we passed what seemed like hundreds of sea otters swimming the opposite direction. While transiting Icy Straight we saw our first humpback whales from a distance. Later in the evening we saw humpbacks closer to the ship.
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  • Juneau
    Due to a medical emergency on Sunday, Ruby was delayed 7.5 hours and finally arrived in Juneau at 6:30 PM, resulting in our dog sledding excursion and evening whale watch excursion both being cancelled. Many of the 3,000 passengers wanted to get off and long lines quickly formed for disembarkation. We made it off the ship at 7 PM. This left 2.5 hours before re-boarding at 9:30 PM. We walked along the harbor and noted the long lines at all the restaurants and the Mt. Roberts tram. We kept walking to the Red Dog Saloon which was also packed. We found a coffee shop after about 30 minutes that was closing but managed to get some coffee. We decided to return to the ship around 8:30 PM to beat the crowds returning at 9:30.
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  • Lumberjack Show
    We enjoyed the lumberjack show and thought it was fun and entertaining.
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  • Totem Bight State Park
    Our tour guide was Chessa, who is very good and funny. We learned a lot about totem poles we would have missed just wandering around the state park without a guide.
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  • Seattle
    Our first stop on Thursday was Ivar’s on Pier 54 where we had an excellent lunch. Then we walked along the waterfront and up to Pike Place Market where we visited the gum wall, watched fish being thrown and visited the first Starbucks. After another stop at Moore Coffee we returned to our hotel (the Arctic Club) to check-in. After an early dinner at Piroshki on 3rd next to our hotel, we walked three blocks to Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour of Pioneer Square, which we enjoyed. As sunset approached we walked one block from our hotel to Columbia Tower to go to the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor. The view from almost 1,000 feet above Seattle was amazing, looking down on the Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field, looking north to the Space Needle (much lower in elevation) and watching the aircraft carrier John C Stennis heading out to sea after leaving from Bremerton.

    On Friday after experiencing a tasty breakfast at Biscuit Bitch across the street from our hotel we returned to Pike Place Market to meet another couple for lunch at the Athenian. We then headed to Chocolate Box to sample wine and chocolate and while there acquired two bottles of wine to carry-on the ship for our stateroom. After dropping the wine at our hotel we visited Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center, which was really cool. We skipped the Space Needle because it is still under partial renovations and was really crowded. After Chihuly we attended the WNBA basketball game at Key Arena between the Seattle Storm and the Connecticut Sun.

    On Saturday morning we enjoyed Top Pot Doughnuts for breakfast before heading to Pier 91.
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  • White Pass Bennett Lake Adventure
    We did the 9:30 AM Bennett Lake excursion with Chilkoot Charters. We did bus up in the morning and train back in the afternoon. The weather was perfect all day. Our driver was Mike who was very knowledgeable and friendly. He also tried to keep the group moving at photo stops so we could see everything. We saw several mountain goats and two black bears from a distance. Our last stop at Emerald Lake was amazing, the blue and green colors really stood out under the bright sunlight and looked like someone photoshopped it.

    In Carcross we boarded the White Pass & Yukon for the train ride back to Skagway. This was a must do bucket list item for me and worth every penny. The scenery along Bennett Lake, and again between White Pass Summit and Skagway is outstanding. We saw a momma moose and baby moose up close and another black bear from the train. At Bennett the train stopped for about 1-hour. While in Bennett we hiked the last ¼ mile of the Chilkoot Trail which ends in Bennett. It was a very steep climb but a nice view of Bennett Lake and the surrounding mountains.

    After we returned to Skagway we walked to Skagway Brewing to enjoy a Spruce Tip Blond Ale, their signature beer brewed using Sitka Spruce tip buds. We also really liked the feel of Skagway with the plank sidewalks and almost no traffic on Broadway. All the buildings along Broadway were built during the Klondike Gold Rush. Change some of the modern signage and throw some dirt over the pavement and it could be a movie set.
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  • Victoria
    We took the shuttle into the inner harbor which saved us walking in the wind and intermittent light drizzle. Our primary goal was visiting Rogers Chocolate on Government Street. We then walked around awhile and took a few pictures of the Empress Hotel and Legislative Buildings after the rain passed and the sun came out.
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