We were two families with three kids total, ages 15, 14 and 9. Having read some of the recent negative reviews, we kept our expectations low but they were all greatly exceeded. From the moment we stepped on the ship, the staff members were friendly and helpful. Because it’s such a small ship, many of them got to know us personally and addressed us by name. We found the ship in great condition and very clean with crowding only in the dining room, food court and during major entertainment options and tours. For the most part, the ship felt pleasantly uncrowded. There were lots of comfortable indoor seating areas, both within the venues and in the walkways, to view the scenery indoors. I also enjoyed daily walks on the Promenade deck when conditions allowed.
We had a mini-suite with a balcony on deck 10 that easily seated 4+ people and we opened the door so that it adjoined to the balcony of our travel companions, which made coordinating plans and hanging out very easy. (Bring bungee cords or duct tape to secure cabin door open if you plan to do this.). We spent a lot of time on our balcony and, when that was too cold, on the aft deck on deck 10 which was less affected by the wind and had comfortable lounge chairs. The bed was very comfortable but the pillows were too high for our taste. The sleeper sofa was quite uncomfortable with a hard bar in the middle and it sloped down from foot to head. Our amazing steward, Robert Orena, solved the bar problem by bringing a second mattress to put on top which he stored behind the sofa each day. We solved the sloping problem by reversing the head and foot of the bed.
The food in the main dining room for dinner was better than expected. There were some amazing items, many very good items, and just a few misses which are likely chalked up to personal preference rather than poor food quality. Service was efficient and our head waiter got to know our personal preferences very quickly. The breakfast menu in the main dining room was a little disappointing in its limited choices so we only ate there one day. The Horizon Food Court had plenty of options each morning to make us all happy for breakfast. For lunch, we had the most amazing wood-fired pizza at the pizza day at Sabatini’s. We wished we could have repeated that! We also really enjoyed the pub lunch at The Bayou. The International Cafe is a great place to get a nice speciality coffee or high quality snack or dessert 24 hours per day. They also have a full bar.
Regarding the children and teen clubs, the 9 year old enjoyed many themed activities at the kids club and the 14 year old boy, who loves gaming, enjoyed the teen club. The 15 year old girl, who does not enjoy gaming, didn’t frequent the teen club.
The adults’ favorite entertainment on ship was the Crooners Lounge piano bar which we attended each night. Don Juan was a great musician with a varied catalogue and great personality. The servers there were also very fun and attentive to us and to our children when they joined us. We also enjoyed some of the trivia contests as well as the Voice of the Ocean contest.
The days in Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay were both amazing! We were very close to the glaciers and had great weather for viewing the scenery. A light puffy coat or similar was required, but it was very pleasant. They also have blankets for passenger use on the top deck. In Skagway, we rented a car and drove up to Emerald Lake and Carcross. It was a great day despite the strong, frigid winds. Our whale-watching trip in Juneau was canceled due to rough conditions so we just toured the town briefly. In Ketchikan, we had to use a tender to get into town which was a more cumbersome process. We enjoyed a walk up to the salmon ladder and along the boardwalk there. While there were a few unique shops, for the most part the shopping seemed the same in all three ports and very similar to any other tourist town.
Embarkation and disembarkation were both extremely efficient. It took us less than 30 minutes to get from check in to our rooms, although the luggage came much later. We did a self walk-off with our luggage. We left our room at 7:50 a.m., walked to the dining room meeting place, then immediately off the ship and to a waiting taxi. We arrived at the Vancouver airport by 8:40 a.m.
Each family had the 4 device Medallion internet package which we purchased at a good price pre-cruise. (I think it was $105 for the week.) For the most part, it could not handle video streaming but we were always able to text each other through iMessage and could easily download and reply to emails and access basic web sites.
Great location. Cabin was very clean and more spacious than expected. Nice amount of closet/storage space. Because you are in the rear of ship, there can be a lot of walking, particularly to Horizon Food Court which is in front of ship. Great access to nearly private aft deck with lots of lounge chairs. There was occasional vibration coming from below but it was not a major issue.
Great weather and visibility!
We rented a car and drove up to Emerald Lake and Carcross. We had a nice day which would have been a lot more enjoyable if it hadn’t been 46 degrees with a frigid wind. Nice views along the way.