We chose this cruise for our 20th anniversary trip and were quite excited to go to Alaska. However, when all was said and done, it was an average experience at best. The best part of the experience was the room - we selected a mid-ship mini suite. It was large and had many storage options. The only criticism there would be that the closet doors wouldn't fully open because they kept banging into the bed. Our cabin steward, Raymond, was fantastic. He was so personable and friendly and wanted to know more about us as a couple. Our cruise was his last cruise before he got his 2 months off to go home to the Philippines to visit his family. The shore excursions were very pricey, though we'd cruised about 5 times prior to this trip, so we knew they would be expensive, but the cost doesn't seem to match the quality of the tours. Two of our excursions were great, the other one was okay. Full disclosure, my husband and I are not joiners, tending to be on the introverted side, and we were bored most of the time. I wasn't into playing very overpriced bingo (we played once and it was $50 for 3 games! Yikes!) You can only play so much trivia, especially when drunk people keep shouting out the answers to the questions. We had the unlimited beverage package, which we got through a promotion and was nice, but you have to pay 20% gratuity on each drink. Yes, it only adds up to about $2 a drink, but it'd be nice if free meant free - not that you had to pay a mandatory gratuity on a free package. If the workers are so underpaid that there are required gratuities, perhaps consider paying them more. We had a couple really good bartenders, but the majority were kinda cranky - not sure if they were close to the end of their contracts, but they seemed to need a break. They work 7 days a week for 8 months straight...perhaps if I had that schedule, I'd be cranky too.
In Icy Strait Point, it was cold and rainy, which I actually like...it was the only weather that felt like we were really in Alaska. We did a whale watching and wilderness hike (very short hike - only about 1000 yards), and saw humpback whales, Alaskan brown bears, and bald eagles. This was a great tour, and I highly recommend it, though again, very expensive. We were in port from 1pm - 7pm, which was plenty of time. The port itself is very small, with not much to do. It was such an ideal amount of time that we actually left about 20 minutes early, as everyone was back on board.
In Skagway, we did the Mushers Camp and Dog Sled adventure or something like that. It was fantastic if you have a love for dogs like my husband and I do. We drove about 25 minutes away from port in a fairly nice shuttle bus. When we got there, we walked just a bit into the camp area and got into a large jeep-type vehicle for the trek up the mountain. When we got close, you could hear the dogs barking and barking - they were so excited to see us! We went on a little sled ride, where the dogs pulled us on a summer cart (with wheels), which was great fun. When we were done with that, back on the jeep-thing and back down the mountain where we got a very informative session about sled dogs and the Iditarod race. Then - the best part... we got to hold some sled dog puppies!! They were so sweet and happy to see us. When we were done with the tour, we went to a local restaurant and had lunch, then shopped a bunch, then went back to the ship. We were back on the ship at 2ish. We were in port from 7am - 7pm, which in all honesty was too long. There just isn't enough to do there, unless you book two excursions - and I'm too cheap for that.
Our cabin was the best part of the experience - especially since we were in the cabin the majority of the time! It was clean and spacious, and our cabin steward, Raymond, was delightful. He was so personable and friendly - he tried to get to know us and even left us a sweet note on the bed our last night. He seemed to be one of the friendliest cabin stewards, but maybe the others were friendly with their own cabin residents. The only two criticisms I have were there is no hair conditioner. There is conditioning shampoo, but that's not the same. I have long hair and it was an uncontrollable mess most of the time with no conditioner. I would have brought my own if I had known it wasn't provided - and I couldn't find any in the store or in any of the port stores either. The only other criticism was that the cord on the blow dryer was very short...and located in the main part of the room, not in the bathroom. I would have to hunch over to use it - and pulling on the cord didn't result in any extra length. Oh - and there are barely any outlets, which was a pain, but there were usb outlets in the bedside lamps, so at least it was easy to charge our devices. The doors to the closet wouldn't open all the way because the bed was in the way, but there were a ton of hangers, so that was nice.
Love Seattle! We got in on Saturday and stayed at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront. It was one of the nicest hotels! And the ship was literally right across the street.
Didn't get off the boat due to only being in port for 1 hour. I would rather have skipped this port all together than get there in the middle of the night for one hour.