We chose this cruise for the itinerary, to visit places that would be difficult to get to otherwise. We had previously visited Japan, and one of us had been on an overland trip to Alaska. This was our 6th cruise and our second Regent. We decided to do the more expensive pre-cruise excursion which took in the Mt Fuji area.
The pre-cruise itinerary was quite good, but unfortunately we had a very grey foggy day for our visit to the the Mt Fuji area. We stayed at a Hilton Spa hotel in Odawara, about 90 minutes from Tokyo and that was very enjoyable with the baths and traditional Japanese food.
The cruise was generally good, although due to trying to avoid bad weather, we missed the port of Petropavlosk in Russia. We seemed to ride on the edge of teh storm for about 4 days. We were also unable to see the Hubbard Glacier due to fog and rain, despite cruising right up next to it. However, we were blessed with excellent weather in Kodiak & Juneau and decent weather elsewhere - better than we could have expected. Missing the Russian port meant we had 6 consecutive days at sea - everyone was well and truly ready to get off by the time we reached Dutch Harbour. All the Alaskan ports were good apart from Ketchikan which was unpleasantly touristy. The 3 Japanese ports were all interesting places to visit.
Dining was miixed. We had 2 good and one average experience in Chartreuse, one great and one average in Prime. A couple of nice meals in the Italian place and Compass Rose was variable, but generally good. They seemed to us to have added more variety to Compass Rose since our last Regent cruise with more Asian food which suited us. Choice of wine is just confusing. There is a wine of the day and others area available if you request. You just have to know what to request.
Entertainment was mixed. The magician Matt Marcy was outstanding and the singer Chris Ritchie very good. The Regent Show team wasn't particularly good. The enrichment program was OK. We found the political stuff from the ex-diplomat interesting and some of the sessions from the Alaskan resident interesting, but she was a bit unstructured. The gym was OK when we went and given the weather much of the time there wasn't much competition for space on the exercise deck (when it was open). The quiz was good fun and kept us sane for our 6 days at sea.
Shore Excursions were generally well organised and mostly good. We visited Hitachinaka in Japan. The city made a huge effort and provided a dockside village, with stalls and entertainment for the entire day. The small Aleutian island ports of Dutch Harbour & Kodiak also went to a lot of effort. They have no real tourist infrastructure so everyone in the town pitches in - school buses were used for the day to ferry us around.
Our main complaint would be that we had trouble getting the shore excursions that we wanted. Many were booked out and while we were wait listed for some, we were unable to wait list for others until we got on board. It made no sense. In Kodiak, all tours were booked out and a number of people couldn't get a tour. No tours were provided in Dutch Harbour, but shuttles to town were provided.
The public areas excellent. Our cabin was very drafty which meant given the weather we had (maximum of 2 degrees C or about 35F some days) we were freezing. The solution from Regent was to completely tape up the door to the balcony. We were initially aghast when we saw this, but it worked and was removed when the weather improved. We also had a leaking toilet which was addressed quickly. Apart from those things, the room was comfortable and housekeeping excellent.
We skipped the Regent excursions and got ourselves around on the local tram. This enabled us to get to the areas of town we wished to visit. The tourist office in town spoke enough English to enable us to buy a tram ticket etc. The hIghlight of a great day were the Cherry blossoms at Goryokaku Fort. 1600 trees all flowering. THe tower at the fort (we had to line up for an hour to get up the tower) provided a brilliant view
The only tour we could get was a 1 hour panoramic tour which we did towards the end of teh day. It was however easy to walk into town (a shuttle ws also available) and look at the marina, shops and also the nearby Near Island which had nice views and some wildlife.
Excellent viewing of orcas, sea otters and porpoises and some fine scenery including a couple of glaciers. Some nice birds as well including bald eagles and puffins.View All 42 Kenai Fjords National Park Reviews
We did an excellent guided hike for views of the Mendenhall Glacier. We also had quite a close encounter with a black bear. In the afternoon we caught the tramway up Mt Roberts and walked around to enjoy great views. In the evening we did a ship's tour of a 'salmon bake'. It wasn't the experience we were expecting - the place is a complete tourist trap. We couldn't wait to get away.View All 32 Hiking Reviews
Most tours were booked out but we were very happy with what we did. We had a brilliant morning on the White Pass Scenic Railway. The weather was perfect and the views from the train stunning. Skagway is touristy, but handled the number of visitors comfortably. There are some quite nice walks in teh forest above townView All 1212 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
We were taken to a lake and went in Indian style canoes for a very dis-organised paddle. No real instruction from the guides. WE stopped for a very short 'nature walk'. The guides were new and couldn't answer questions. Not a great experienceView All 22 Canoeing Reviews
A great view of Gray whales and a distant bear, but apart from that it was pretty quiet on the bay. The tour was in the afternoon, so we spent the morning looking at Sitka. The walk around the totem poles in the Historic Park was niceView All 75 Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest Reviews