Wife and I travelled with her parents, my son 18 and my mother. Everyone had a great time and I thought I would share my thoughts with you. We cruised on the Equinox in April and found this ship and experience to be nearly identical to that one.
This was a 7-day round trip Alaska cruise out of Vancouver.
EMBARKATION - For the first time ever we spent time in town prior to the cruise and boarded on the latter end of the time window - just after 2:00. The luggage drop off, check-in and other areas felt like a ghost town. It was truly eerie, making us wonder if we were in the right place even though we went through here two years ago. There were zero waits except at customs where we waited 2-3 minutes. Other than this it was walk up, take care of business, walk to the next place. The entire process took about 20 minutes, with most of that time spent walking from one place to another. We walked slowly with elderly parents with us. While we love to board early and begin our cruise experience early, we also love avoiding lines. We may start boarding late for a better embarkation experience.
PUBLIC AREAS - We walked the ship and got a feel for the layout, confirming it was exactly like the Equinox except we had Cellar Masters wine bar where they had the Gastropub, which we preferred with the TV and beer theme. Other than that, everything was clean, well maintained, very classy.
FOOD - We thoroughly enjoyed the food on board. We dined in the "traditional" areas, Oceanview Cafe for breakfast and lunch, Moonlight Sonata for dinner. Food was very good in all areas, with lunch being especially nice with many choices and great quality throughout. My only complaint was the length of dinner. Service was good but a bit slow in the evening. I'm not sure if they waiters thought we would enjoy taking our time in a 2 hour dinner, or they were just so busy during the busy times we ate that they simply could not keep up. We had some slow eaters with us but dinners should have taken 90 minutes not two hours. We had any time dining and ate at all different times, from 6:30 to 8:00.
Desserts in Oceanview were never as good as they looked - although ice cream was very good. Desserts in the sit down restaurants were all very good.
We also had a meal in Tuscan Grill and one in Murano. Service and food were very good, but had a few minor service issues in Murano - including my wife with an allergy to shellfish had a minor reaction to the flambeed lobster from another table. She had to leave in the middle of the meal to make sure the reaction didn't become a major one. Had they asked about her allergy or mentioned this as a possible allergic reaction, we may have done things differently. We ate family style in Tuscan Grill and it was very enjoyable - highly recommended.
BARS - We had a drinks package and enjoyed many of the bars. Service and drink quality was very good throughout. We discovered a few new drinks we had not had before.
ENTERTAINMENT - I saw three shows and one comedian. The comedian was OK, the shows were good. Especially enjoyed the last show - Euphoria - but all three had some real high points. The musicians on board were good but not great. None stood out to us. We really enjoyed DJ Leo, especially on the first night. Loved his work on the "turntable".
CABIN - see below.
DEBARKATION - We had an 11:00 AM flight so we worked hard to make sure we made our flight. Here's what we did for the perfect early debarkation:
- We met around 7:05 at Cafe al Bacio. We got in line soon after, with about 30 people in front of us. We schlepped our own bags - not an easy task with three elderly people in our party - but we did it without incident.
- The line to debark started moving around 7:30.
- Ship exit and customs was very fast. We probably got in our two cabs by 7:40.
- I expect we arrived at the airport around 8:05. Cabs were $32 each Canadian.
- All lines at the airport were short including flight check-in, bag drop, customs, and security. We were on our way to the gate by 8:35.
So a process we expected would get us to the gate by 10:30 instead got us there almost two hours early. Lesson - if you plan to get off the ship early, even a 10:00 AM flight is possible unless there are unexpected delays.
Our plane ride home was uneventful and we landed in Raleigh before 9:00 PM.
Cabin and steward were perfect. Well laid out, good room, great bed, nice bathroom, no outside noise. Service was flawless. Partially obstructed balcony was simply a platform that extended out from our balcony floor about 10 feet. (The balcony could have been made an additional 10 feet deeper.) There was no obstruction looking straight out. The best perk - the balcony was about 3 feet deeper than all other standard balconies. It was roughly 8-9 feet deep and the typical 8.5 feet wide. The only downside of the room - it was WAY down the hall from the elevators. By the way - all 8-9 rooms on this side were like this with deeper balconies and essentially no obstruction.
Rented a car and went to museum and glacier. Enjoyed both very much.
Walked through town - enjoyed museum and creek area.
Best ever - with breaching whales, orcas, and surprise sea lions! Boat, crew, and extras were great.View All 161 Whale Watching Reviews