We were initially impressed that the package included shuttle service from Seattle Airport to a complimentary nights stay at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel and shuttle service to the port on Saturday. We checked in for our cruise at the hotel and did not see our suitcases until after we were in our cabin. Thus, boarding went smoothly. The cabin was spacious and had more than ample storage space. Balcony was roomy and wonderful. Bed was almost king size and mattress was extra firm.
We opted for open seating dining and never had to wait more than a minute for a table. Ate mainly in the MDR and found the food good. Dined in the Pinnacle on Sunday night and though the food was higher in quality, a noisy 2 year old close by, ruined the entire ambiance. So, I cancelled our return reservation for Wednesday night. If one doesn't mind crowds, the Lido is a good alternative. It offers a vast selection of foods and you are in control of the time it takes to eat. One morning at breakfast in the MDR, we were the first ones to be seated and I was still waiting for my meal 35 minutes later after 4 cups of coffee! That is when we started going to the Lido for breakfast.
Cabin stewards were very efficient (room was always made up by the time we had returned from breakfast) and invisible. Library was my wife's favorite room for reading and relaxation. Rediscovered how to play Bridge after 46 years and it was like riding a bicycle. One never forgets! Spent evenings at the piano bar where the pianist was extremely talented and friendly. HAL has a winner with him. Saw several musicals that were average to good. The comedian was very funny.
The greatest contributor to the cruise was the weather! We had blue skies with not a single cloud and temperatures in the low to mid 70's every day. People on the ship, as well as those in the ports we visited, were all amazed by the wonderful weather. Of course, we had packed the wrong clothes based on the weather they had been having for the two previous weeks. Oh well, can't be right all the time.
For disembarkation, we requested an early departure pass and left the ship at 7:45 a.m. Had to roll our 2 suitcases off ourselves, but so what, it was all downhill and not a problem in the least. Grabbed a cab outside the terminal (there were plenty available that time of morning) and in less than 25 minutes arrived at the airport for our return flight.
Quiet location, spacious storage room, wonderful balcony, great mattress!
Juneau was the first port of call on Monday. We took the blue express bus ($28 round trip) to Mendenhall Glacier. Walked about a mile from the Visitors Center to the far end of the lake, where a waterfalls comes pouring into it, right next to the end of the glacier. Great photo stop! Returned to Juneau and shopped before going back on board.
Tuesday was spent at Hubbard Glacier. 7 miles wide, 350 feet high and 75 miles deep. One of the most magnificent sights I have ever seen! The ship went within half a mile and the views were out of this world.
Sitka was truly wonderful! After a visit to St. Michaels Church, we took the 1:15 p.m. Sea Otter and Wild Life tour that the ship offered. Within 5 minutes of leaving the dock, we were next to 2 humpback whales. This was followed by a visit to a small isle that was home to about 20 sea otters. Rounding out our adventure were sightings of 2 eagles nests with 2 eaglets out on the branch, several seals, 2 gray whales, and returning to port, a finale consisting of 4 to 5 humpbacks. What a trip; it was worth every cent!
Ketchikan was disappointing because the smell of dead fish was quite prevalent. Apparently, it was the end of the spawning season and the last of the salmon were dying off under Creek St. Bridge. The odor dissuaded us from exploring the town further and after some last minute shopping, we returned to the ship.
Passed on Victoria because we had been there before and had visited Buchart Gardens in the daytime. The ship was only in port from 6 p.m. till midnight. However, Buchart Gardens is a wonderful scenic spot to visit, should you have the opportunity to do so. The most beautiful gardens that we have ever seen!