I am a Diamond member of RCCL, have recently tried a few newer Carnival ships, have sailed on one Silver Sea, have tried a few NCL and Costa, and have been on a small line whose name I don't even remember...and by far, this was the most amazing cruise I have ever experienced! The ship is beautiful! The service is beyond compare! The food was delicious! Most importantly, the people were incredibly friendly. This last one surprised me a bit, and I can't say for sure if it was specifically this sailing or typical for Crystal...but I do get the impression it is the latter (and I plan to find out for sure by sailing Crystal more often and as soon as possible!).
Some of the things that impressed me the most (in no particular order):
• No Smoking! Absolutely no smoking on board (with the exception of a contained cigar room and one small obscure area outside).
• Cleanest casino I have ever seen (without smoke and no ashtrays).
• Speaking of the Casino, best craps game I enjoyed in a very long time (with no crazy bonus bets slowing down the action).
• Amazing drinks! There was an extensive martini menu and about 16 different gin & tonic combinations that you just can't experience anywhere else (and of course, being all-inclusive it is so much fun to try new drinks). The drink of the day on Canada Day was a maple martini, with a maple leaf stenciled on top in cinnamon.
• Enrichment activities were so interesting and fun. I enjoyed historical lectures about the area we were cruising (Alaska) by Dr. Jay Wolfe. I learned how to improve my iPhone photography. I especially loved the watercolor painting class offered on each sea day (with a guest exhibition at the end of the cruise).
• Waiters circulating with different hors d'oeuvres each evening, as most everyone gathered and mingled in one of two amazing cocktail lounges, both with very nice music (piano player, violinist, and/or vocal duo).
• One complementary reservation at each of two specialty restaurants made dining such a diverse wonderful experience (while the main dining room was delightful as well). The "anytime dining" in the main dining room actually worked well for us. I usually prefer sitting with others rather than just my husband and I...but because we interacted with other guests all day, it was nice to just sit by the window in a table for two for dinner.
• Entertainment! The production shows were amazing. The lounge musicians were delightful. And the Piano Player in the Avenue Saloon was the highlight of the evening each night for my husband.
• No lines or crowds! At any time. Ever. Not at embarkation. Not at debarkation. Not at any lounge or activity. Not at the breakfast buffet. I can summarize the experience by saying that I felt like I was on a yacht being pampered, but with the friendliest down-to-earth fellow passengers; and that there were lots of interesting things to do, but at a much more relaxed pace than the frantic pace I feel on other lines.
We had a room on Deck 7, Promenade, with a picture window, and were a bit concerned about passers-by, as the promenade is the deck that goes all the way around the ship outside, where everyone walks right by our window (albeit about a foot lower). First, I went outside to be sure it was reflective glass...and assured myself no one could see in (at least during the day). But as time went by, I really learned to love this deck! We were only a few doors away from the door to the outside, and it was so nice and easy to bop outside anytime we wanted to...to check the weather, or for a great view of whales or a glacier! It felt like we were on a private yacht! I don't think I would ever want to stay on another deck!
Enjoyed a nature trail walk, learning about the how the Mendenhall Glacier has changed over the years, while getting many iPhone photography tips. Then a whale watching boat tour, where we got really lucky to follow a pod of Orcas, as well as getting a whale flip from a Humpback named Sasha!View All 51 Photo Safari Reviews
Fairly long drive into the 2nd valley, followed by a trek up the mountain in a unimog (a bit hard on the neck, but great scenery), then a quick dog sled ride (really fun...just too short). Got to learn about the dogs, pet the dogs, and even hold the puppies! All in all, lots of fun. Word of caution about the town - great fun to walk the town and shop...but the ship is much further away than you think. TAKE the shuttle back to the pier!View All 163 Dog Sledding Reviews
Ours was actually a Hovercraft tour and Crab Feast. Great fun. Loved the Hovercraft. We stopped in the water and the guides threw out fish so we could watch and photograph Eagles swooping down to grab the fish. Then onto George Inlet Lodge for a wonderful, all-you-can-eat crab feast! Super delicious.View All 129 Wilderness Tour & Crab Feast Reviews