We chose this cruise as the itinerary included both Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and I could not recommend it more wholeheartedly, especially if you can fit the cabin we had in your budget. This was a couple's trip and belated 25th ... Read More
We chose this cruise as the itinerary included both Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and I could not recommend it more wholeheartedly, especially if you can fit the cabin we had in your budget. This was a couple's trip and belated 25th anniversary adventure. Our suite really made this cruise sensational, particularly as we were blessed with wonderful weather. We were in cabin 10500, right at the front, directly under the bridge. Taking breakfast in our suite on glacier days was absolutely wonderful.
Embarkation in Vancouver was seamless and departing from this city was ideal for us. We flew in from Sydney a few days earlier and enjoyed many magical eating experiences traversing this very walkable city. Getting out into the fresh air, spending time in Stanley Park and a Gastronomic Gastown Tour on foot helped us adjust to the time difference.
Once on board on embarkation day, we had lunch in Moderno which provides breakfast and lunch for suite guests for the duration of the cruise. We had breakfast here three times, and had the breakfast delivered from here to our suite on glacier days. Henry, our butler, brought the breakfast and set the table for us. He was wonderful, as was cabin attendant, Rene. We had a few lunches in Moderno as well and found the service and food selections really good.
We had a three specialty dining package and chose Le Bistro, Cagney's and Teppanyaki. Teppenyaki was a lot of fun and highly recommended. Cagney's steak was perfectly cooked, and the meal generally was very good, although we waited far too long and our first waiter was quite disinterested. They use an iPad for wine selections and you can't narrow selections to the $15 limit of the beverage package, which was a bit dumb. Le Bistro didn't acquit the french onion soup as well as you'd expect. The crout was soggy to the point of dissolving and the cheese was overpoweringly plentiful and runny. It was difficult to eat. The rest of the meal was quite good though and the service, although patchy, was attentive. We also ate in Azura a couple of nights and found the service excellent and the meals very enjoyable - the rib eye was a standout.
Most of our entertainment was our cabin balcony, although we attended Velvet (kitchy but fun) and Le Cirque Bijou (amazing, spectacular). We also happened upon one round of trivia and a married couple game, both had witty hosts and were good for a laugh. The bar staff were great and very accommodating. Special shout out to the Rum Cake cocktail in Magnums, tasted just like Christmas Pudding!
All of our excursions were arranged through the ship - a little more expensive than private arrangements perhaps, but for simplicity, we were happy with our choices. Getting on and off the ship in each port was easy and uncomplicated.
First stop was Ketchican, with the Aleutian Ballad our chosen tour. The guys on the boat were great and you didn't need to be a fan of World's Deadliest Catch to enjoy all the seadog stories and appreciate how tremendously dangerous crab fishing in the Bering Sea is. This was our first opportunity to see Bald Eagles and sea life of all kinds, including crabs, a variety of other crustacea and a very cranky octopus. Ketchican itself is quite interesting, but the highlight was the salmon struggling valiantly to climb waterfalls and ford fast flowing rapids to reach their spawning ground.
In Juneau, we took the helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier and dog sledding. Spectacular!! The views from the helicopter were incredible, as the icefields came into view over the hills surrounding the port. The dogs were gorgeous (especially the puppies!) and just love running, with our musher (an Iditarod competitor) very interesting and sledding on the snow exhilarating. Well worth the money - but as previously mentioned, this was a special trip. Juneau day was rounded out with king crab legs at Tracy's Crab Shack (get the mixed plate but order the extra crab leg, you won't regret it) and a lost afternoon at the Red Dog Saloon with a hilarious old guy conducting singalongs and a superb barman.
Our Skagway tour was Froschel Wildlife Centre, a ferry ride and bus trip away in Haines. This centre takes in injured and orphaned creatures, hosted by Steve who was a bit nuts but lots of fun. We saw a very well trained wolverine, fed a porcupine, kissed a moose, got charged by a bear and up close and personal with minks, reindeer and other beasties. The guide on the ferry and driver of the bus were very entertaining and educational.
At the end of the cruise, we spent a further week in Alaska on a self directed trip. We were fortunate to see the northern lights at Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks, enjoyed two fabulous journeys on Alaska Rail (Seward end port to Anchorage and Fairbanks to Anchorage), and a remarkable 12 hour bus trip in Denali with lots of bears, moose, caribou and Dall Sheep as well as an arctic squirrel and geyrfalcon and chick. Apparently only 30% of Alaskan visitors see Denali and we were fortunate to see this spectacular mountain on the train trip back to Anchorage. We were also very lucky with timing to see beautiful fall colours.
This really was a trip of a lifetime and we enjoyed every minute. Read Less