We were told to expect chilly weather and rain for our Alaskan cruise. We hit the perfect combination of warm weather and sunny skies every day, so it was very pleasurable. The Jewel was refurbished last year, so everything was nice and clean and the crew was friendly. The excursions were expensive compared to other cruise destinations, but that's to be expected in Alaska. We took the shipboard excursions in every port and were not disappointed in any of them. We especially liked the presentation by NPS Rangers who came aboard for our Glacier NP portion of the trip. It was free and they announced everything that we were seeing over the ship PA system, so you didn't miss anything, even if you were in your stateroom.
There was the usual overload of activities on board, and as long as you weren't expecting go cart tracks, zip lines and climbing walls, there was always something going on. There were 3-4 musical groups playing at any given time, and they ranged from piano players to rock bands; some merely ok and some very good.The way they were spaced, you couldn't hear one group from any other area, even though the bars were fairly close to each other.
The theater entertainment was lackluster for this cruise, probably because we've been on so many cruises that we've seen most of the shows, or something very similar. They were ok and what you would expect on NCL.
Our embarkation and disembarkation on this ship were very quick and we never had any issues for any of the ports. We didn't even have to use our Platinum priority because there was never a line. The tours used different parts of the ship to meet up, so it wasn't like mega ships where a hundreds of folks gathered in the theater like cattle.
Our cabin was an obstructed view, but our NCL rep made sure we got one with the smallest lifeboat in front of the window, so we were able to get a decent view of the outside. The location was forward and easily accessible to the elevators and the theater, and a short walk to everything.
When we left Ketchikan, the fog was so thick we couldn't see past the bow of the boat, and I kept thinking that we were spending almost $500 to look at nothing. As we got closer to the Fjord, the clouds started lifting and by the time we got to the main area, it was sunny and was worth every penny. The crew was great and the tour guide was enjoyable, even with the expected puns. The PA system was very clear and loud enough to her everything that was said. The Boat had 3 decks, with the first enclosed, the second half enclosed and the third a viewing platform. There was enough room for everyone to get a good view from someplace. Very worth the money as long as you get good weather.View All 113 Misty Fjords Wilderness Cruise Reviews
We booked the Whale Quest and Orca Point Lodge trip. The boat was built by Allen Maritime, and it seems that most of the tours use them. They are built for touring and all of them are in good shape, with indoor areas for foul weather viewing, snack bars bathrooms and open decks. Out naturalist gave a great presentation and even updated our free maps to show where we were. They also supply free binoculars to use. They didn't have a set route, but went where other tour boats radioed wildlife sightings. We saw a few whales, and then broke away because another boat had spotted killer whales. We took a ride past glaciers, saw Bald Eagles, Sea lions and finally a mother and baby Orca. They didn't jump out of the water, but we still got good views of them swimming on top. After that we went to the Orca Point lodge which is on a small picturesque island and had grilled Salmon, Chicken and lots of fixings. The Salmon, of course, was fresh and tasted great. This was a very relaxing and eventful tour.View All 906 Whale Watching Reviews
Glacier Bay is a National park and you don't get off the ship. Instead, Rangers come aboard and give narration over the ship PA to explain everything you are looking at. The only downfall is that we had to look for free deck space along the rails to take photos. It was a beautiful day and everyone was topside. The ship did make 360 degree turns at the glaciers so folks in balcony cabins could get a view, but their were times when there was something to see all around. We finally figured out to go to the promenade deck, which wasn't as crowded and we could cross through to the other side if we wanted. Photos are great but when you are actually there, the immense scale of everything was beyond comprehension. We saw what appeared to be tiny bits of snow calving off the glaciers, then heard the thunder that it made when hitting the water. It was awesome.
We encountered a perfect day - high 60's and sunny. We took a short bus ride with a nice driver who explained everything we passed. The trip took us through scenic mountains and we made one quick stop for photos, but he explained that we would see the same views, even better from the train. Wee crossed into Canada and had to show our passports at the customs area. No big deal and didn't delay anything. We boarded a train and descended several thousand feet over the course of an hour or two. I was so busy looking at the scenery I lost track of time. It is awe inspiring with the train riding along sheer dropoffs at times, and overlooking some of the most beautiful views in North America. We returned to Skagway and our driver dropped us off for a tour of a historic brothel, and it was interesting to hear the story of the place and see original rooms with original 100 year old wallpaper and furnishings. It was a great day.View All 1212 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
We arrived a day early because everyone says that Vancouver is a beautiful place. It actually has great surroundings, but we're small town folks and it is large with skyscrapers, crowded streets and generally just a big city. If you like that kind of environment, it is nice, but we were on the trip to see wilderness.
We tried to book through the cruise line for the bus ride to Anchorage, but they were totally full, so we opted for a private company. It's a 2 1/2 hour ride from Seward to Anchorage, and they have buss or trains, the trains costing twice as much. the bus basically takes the same route alongside the highway and is half the price. Our bus held about 20 people and it was an experience. Our driver Bob, is known by the locals and has a reputation for being somewhat abrupt. We made a few stops to pick up packages and take on and let off passengers - evidently it's not meant to be an express run, and he was sort of funny. At one stop he was told to pick up a package from a lodge. He stopped, honked the horn, waited for a minute then took off saying "Heck with them. If they don't have it ready, they'll have to wait for the next trip!". When we got to Anchorage he stopped at a small building and some folks had to get off to transfer to taxis to go to hotels. He took the rest of us to the airport. We told him we were going to the car rental area, and though he didn't have to, he took us there and we had great conversation with him on the way. He refused a tip because he said he does the job for fun!View All undefined undefined Reviews