Our son and our nephew both graduated from high school this year. We wanted to get my husband's whole family together, and since several of them live out west, Seattle was a good meeting point.
Our family (we don't live out west) flew in one day before the cruise. It was a good thing because our flight was delayed. I would suggest, if you are coming from a long distance, fly in a couple of days ahead and explore Seattle. Uber rides from the airport only take 15-20 minutes to where our hotel was. We stayed in the Sheraton Four Points due to its great location. It is walking distance to the Space Needle. We got an Uber to the port and it was a very quick ride from the hotel.
We got onto the ship pretty quickly. We had a bit of a wait before checking in but were on the ship by 12:30. And, our room was ready when we got on. Things were smooth for embarking.
The ship itself was clean and easy to navigate. It is an average-sized ship, I would say. We liked walking around the deck on a daily basis, although at times, it got rainy or chilly. The public spaces were nice and comfortable. We especially liked the crow's nest area. It was just down the hallway from our room and was a perfect meeting spot for family members. This ship is very similar to other HAL ships we have been on.
Our son works out a lot. He was not impressed with the fitness area. And, the lady who works in that area was rather rude to him. So, he didn't spend much time in there. The pools and hot tubs were nice. The pools never were crowded. And, you could get into a hot tub if you wanted, although they were very small. They closed very early in the evenings, perhaps because of the weather, I'm not sure. Smoking was allowed in an area by the aft pool. We don't smoke, so we avoided that area. No smoking was in the casino. The casino got fairly crowded, depending on what was going on there. Our son discovered that he is a good poker player on this trip; that was exciting for him.
I didn't participate in many ship activities. There wasn't a huge amount of entertainment. The music was good that was performed. It was very loud and crowded in the Blues Club; I don't think that the space is large enough for the people who want to hear the music there. The comedian was pretty funny, and he was clean, so the kids were able to join us.
Our nieces went to the children's activities and seemed to really like them. There were a good number of teenagers; between two of our families, there were 6. The teens met several others on the ship, and they seemed like nice kids. I don't know how much they had provided as far as organized activities for the teens, but our teens did have a wonderful time.
Service on the ship was very good. Our stewards did a consistent job of tidying our room, although we keep a clean room. And, the dining room service was nice, as well. Our waiters were friendly and did an excellent job each night.
We dined in the main dining room every evening. Even our teenage kids wanted to dine in there each night. It was a fun experience for them. We had a couple of nights where all 21 of us ate in there together. Although we had late dining, because the sun barely sets at that time of year in Alaska, it wasn't a bad time, really. Lunch meals were nice in the dining room, too. The menu was varied, and the food was of good quality. I especially liked the main courses. The Lido often got busy and it could be hard to find a seat sometimes. They have some nice stations in there at lunch time, so the days the MDR was closed, I would walk around and see what was available before getting food so I didn't overeat. Dive Inn is a good place for sandwiches and fries; I just ordered from there one time and shared my food with a daughter.
Our cabin was on the tenth floor. It was a balcony but might have been a little smaller than some of the balcony rooms. It had a tub, a real plus on a cruise ship. This had less storage than other balcony rooms I have stayed in, but there were four of us. We had two beds together (king), a pull-down bunk above, and a pull-out loveseat. Beds were comfortable with nice linens. The balcony itself was pretty narrow, I think due to the location on the ship. The pull-down bed actually rattled a lot, until I finally stuck a rolled-up towel into part of it. We had the wall between our balcony and the ones beside us opened up because there were three family rooms beside each other. I would recommend closing them back at night because they can make some noise. One night, there was a huge amount of fog, and the foghorn was going off all night. At first, I thought someone had fallen overboard. Once I realized it was the fog, I fell asleep. it is nice having the balcony when going to the glacier and also when in port. But, it gets cold and windy when traveling. And being on the tenth floor is close to the Crow's Nest, which is a nice spot.
Each port was good. Seattle is a lovely city. We enjoyed the Seattle center with the Space needle, fountain, museums. Just a great place to walk and see the sights. And, the mountain views are gorgeous as you leave port. We booked a last-minute whale watching tour in Juneau. The kids LOVED it. It was fun and we saw a lot of sea creatures. We booked it when we got off the ship and so we got a nice discount. I recommend NOT booking on the ship for these if you can avoid it. Better deals for the same thing onshore. Hubbard Glacier was incredible. One couple in our group had booked a suite, and they had a wraparound balcony, so we spent a good bit of time there during our Hubbard Glacier stop. We got close to the glacier, saw some calving and had great weather. The port for Sitka is 6 miles from town, but the shuttle gets guests back and forth quite well. It was about 12 minutes to get there, and the wait for the shuttle was just a few minutes. If you get a Sitka map online, you can just follow that and walk around town. Our group enjoyed the sea walk and spent a lot of time out along the sand in the sound area. We saw starfish, eels, crabs - the kids LOVED it. There were seals swimming in the sound, too. There are pretty green spaces and flowers on the walk, as well. We walked to Sitka National Historical Park's Totem Trail. We walked to the river; it's a very pretty, but also fairly easy walk. You can get nice views of St. Michael Cathedral along Lincoln Street. And panoramic views can be seen from Baranof Castle Hill. You will take several flights of stairs to get up, but it's worth it. At the end of town is the Pioneer Home, some type of retirement home. It sits on a big square with a giant totem pole and is a good photo spot. our time in Ketchikan was short - only five hours. I suggest getting up very early so you can see it all. It's not a big town. The waterfront promenade is nice, and there is an interesting tunnel that is good for photos. We got some nice street views right beside the tunnel...after walking up several dozen steps. Creek Street is fun to check out. There was an eagle down by the creek eating fish, and we saw cute little marmots. Married Man's Trail was pretty; my son and up took the stairs up to the Civic Center. It was a pretty walk. We also took a walk along Park Avenue, by the creek. After crossing the bridge, we found a paved path among the trees. We then found a spot where we could walk down to the creek banks; my kids loved that area. The waterfront shops are good places to buy souveniers. Victora was really lovely. We walked quite a ways and just got lots of pictures. We were there in the early evening. I would love to have been there during the day. But, we all had a great time at each stop, so I cannot really complain.
Disembarkation was pretty quick. Really, if you need to change your time, they will work with you. It was easy finding our suitcases. You have to walk a little way to get to the Uber area, but once you get there, booking a driver is very simple.
We loved this cruise. The stops were great. Our time with family was delightful. Typically, HAL cruises have a huge number of senior citizens. This cruise had a wide array of ages. There were many, many family groups, and it was a festive enjoyable feel overall.
Our son (18) wasn't crazy about the onboard experience and would probably like RCI a little more, or Carnival, with its party atmosphere. But our three kids did have a fabulous time with family and this cruise allowed us to all gather together and that was what was so special about it. We have gone out of Whittier before, and getting to Alaska by plane is exhausting. Going to Seattle was a little tiring, but much easier than all the way up to Alaska for the departure. Yes, I would go again.
Nice room overall. It was a little narrower and shorter than other balconies I've stayed in. I think balconies on floor 7 are a little bigger, possibly. The balconies on this floor were somewhat narrow. There is a tub and the bathroom is pretty small. Not as much storage as some rooms I've been in, but it worked out fine. Very clean and comfortable. The pull down bed did make a lot of noise - rattling - roll up a towel and put it in between the rail things, and it stops.
a little pricey, but better priced than on the ship. A great experience. The boat trip was beautiful and we saw a LOT of whales, sea lions and seals. The hosts were very enthusiastic and friendly and shared a lot.View All 906 Whale Watching Reviews
Space Needle is pricey so we just sent our teenagers up, since we were there years ago. Seattle Park is beautiful. We stayed in a hotel that was walkable to the Space Needle. It was a very wise move.
It's a lovely little town. We walked along the sea walk. Spent a lot of town on the sand in the sound looking at sea creatures. The kids (several teenagers) loved it. The National Historic Park is a beautiful area, too. We enjoyed walking there.
Just walked around town, but it is really cute. Good place to shop. Lots of trails, too, if you want to find some. We did a couple of easy ones.