We chose this cruise for our 20th anniversary trip and were quite excited to go to Alaska. However, when all was said and done, it was an average experience at best. The best part of the experience was the room - we selected a mid-ship ... Read More
We chose this cruise for our 20th anniversary trip and were quite excited to go to Alaska. However, when all was said and done, it was an average experience at best. The best part of the experience was the room - we selected a mid-ship mini suite. It was large and had many storage options. The only criticism there would be that the closet doors wouldn't fully open because they kept banging into the bed. Our cabin steward, Raymond, was fantastic. He was so personable and friendly and wanted to know more about us as a couple. Our cruise was his last cruise before he got his 2 months off to go home to the Philippines to visit his family. The shore excursions were very pricey, though we'd cruised about 5 times prior to this trip, so we knew they would be expensive, but the cost doesn't seem to match the quality of the tours. Two of our excursions were great, the other one was okay. Full disclosure, my husband and I are not joiners, tending to be on the introverted side, and we were bored most of the time. I wasn't into playing very overpriced bingo (we played once and it was $50 for 3 games! Yikes!) You can only play so much trivia, especially when drunk people keep shouting out the answers to the questions. We had the unlimited beverage package, which we got through a promotion and was nice, but you have to pay 20% gratuity on each drink. Yes, it only adds up to about $2 a drink, but it'd be nice if free meant free - not that you had to pay a mandatory gratuity on a free package. If the workers are so underpaid that there are required gratuities, perhaps consider paying them more. We had a couple really good bartenders, but the majority were kinda cranky - not sure if they were close to the end of their contracts, but they seemed to need a break. They work 7 days a week for 8 months straight...perhaps if I had that schedule, I'd be cranky too.
In Icy Strait Point, it was cold and rainy, which I actually like...it was the only weather that felt like we were really in Alaska. We did a whale watching and wilderness hike (very short hike - only about 1000 yards), and saw humpback whales, Alaskan brown bears, and bald eagles. This was a great tour, and I highly recommend it, though again, very expensive. We were in port from 1pm - 7pm, which was plenty of time. The port itself is very small, with not much to do. It was such an ideal amount of time that we actually left about 20 minutes early, as everyone was back on board.
In Skagway, we did the Mushers Camp and Dog Sled adventure or something like that. It was fantastic if you have a love for dogs like my husband and I do. We drove about 25 minutes away from port in a fairly nice shuttle bus. When we got there, we walked just a bit into the camp area and got into a large jeep-type vehicle for the trek up the mountain. When we got close, you could hear the dogs barking and barking - they were so excited to see us! We went on a little sled ride, where the dogs pulled us on a summer cart (with wheels), which was great fun. When we were done with that, back on the jeep-thing and back down the mountain where we got a very informative session about sled dogs and the Iditarod race. Then - the best part... we got to hold some sled dog puppies!! They were so sweet and happy to see us. When we were done with the tour, we went to a local restaurant and had lunch, then shopped a bunch, then went back to the ship. We were back on the ship at 2ish. We were in port from 7am - 7pm, which in all honesty was too long. There just isn't enough to do there, unless you book two excursions - and I'm too cheap for that.
Ketchican was by far our favorite port. It was a quaint little town, and we wish we had had more time to explore that port. We did a wildlife and all you can eat crab tour. It was okay. Basically, you get put on a boat (after just getting off a boat), taken into an inlet of the ocean and they pull up a crab pot so you can see the crab and hold it, if you want. It was fine, but underwhelming. When we got back to the shop, we were excited to get to the crab feast. Only problem, they stuff about 110 people into a room that holds about 50. You have to sit with folks you don't know if you didn't go as a group, which was annoying. Also, the all you can eat crab is literally only crab. No potatoes, corn, or anything - just crab. And, not Alaska King Crab, which I thought it was going to be, but Dungeness crab which was still good. I can only eat one flavor for so long though - so that was too much just crab - oh, and a piece of cheesecake at the end. We were in port from 7am - 1pm, which just wasn't long enough. If I hadn't done a little shopping before the excursion - Sockeye Sam's will hold your purchases for when you get back from your excursion! - we wouldn't have had any time at all to look around. The general consensus from people I heard was the same - this port needs more time.
Glacier Bay was beautiful! There isn't a whole lot to be said for the day, since you're at sea some more, but it was beautiful country when the fog lifts - it's magical. We were able to go into the bay and see Johns Hopkins glacier up close and personal, and the captain did a couple circles, so you could see it no matter where you were on the ship. I would say that this day seemed long - we had the rangers on board until right around 1pm, so we could have been on our way to Ketchican sooner, I think.
Would like to say how awesome Victoria, BC was, but I wasn't able to get off the ship. There was a medical emergency on board early that morning, which caused us to be almost 5 hours late into port. When you don't get there until 6pm anyway, getting in at almost 11pm, when you have to be up early to disembark seemed silly. They let folks off the ship at around 11:15pm, and they had to be back on board at 12:15am. Seriously - 1 hour??!! That seemed stupid to me. There were no excursions, obviously, so we just stayed on the ship. This was a huge disappointment to me. I would never complain about it being because of a medical emergency, and actually, the lifeboat that took the person off the ship was directly beneath our room, so we watched the whole procedure - it was fascinating. I hope the person is ok and that they made it. However, I wish we hadn't even bothered to stop in Victoria - an hour just seemed silly. Read Less