In an effort to get our families to experience more of the world than just the Caribbean, we decided to book an Alaskan cruise. We are 2 families who cruise together regularly (moms are cousins) and this time we both invited our parents to come along and see what we've been raving about for so many Disney cruises now. One family has 5 kids (20, 19, 9, 6, and 3) and the other has 2 kids (11 and 8). Grandparents ranged in age from 66-84.
Boarding the ship was simple. While the hotels very close to the port in Vancouver were CRAZY expensive, especially for a crew of our size, we were able to find an all suites hotel a few blocks inland that was VERY reasonable. We flew into Seattle (saved 50% on airfare), and took the train up to Vancouver Friday morning. We ended up having a 3+ hour delay, so the normally 4 hour trip took over 7. We were VERY comfortable on the train, kids were entertained and could move around, so all in all we didn't mind. I would NOT recommend trying to take the train on Monday as you're supposed to be at the port by 3pm. (We went early to get the kids acclimated to the time change.)
The inside passage is VERY VERY VERY calm. No rocking at all like most other cruises. The first night we had fog, so the ship horn blasted every 2 minutes. ON THE DOT. Good to not crash into people or boats. Bad for sleeping. (Use white noise!!) We saw ample whales, seals, eagles, etc from the balcony. Many times, we just wanted to go back to the room to watch for whales!! (Side note: Orcas are WAY smaller than you think they're going to look in the wild from a big cruise ship!! FYI! Lots of splashing and they're FAST.) We saw MANY MANY humpbacks during this trip. The final sea day was the BEST whale watching of all. Don't take the Tracey Arm day lightly...it's BREATH TAKING!!!! SO much more than I was anticipating.
Great! We had adjoining rooms 7016/7018 to accommodate our family of 7. We had 4 cabins in a row with our larger party, and we had the balcony walls opened for all 4 rooms. It was fantastic.