When we arrived in Anchorage the transfers to the Marriott downtown were right there waiting on us.
We settled in our room then went downstairs to meet with our tour guide, Debbie. After receiving our tour packet and luggage tags we ... Read More
When we arrived in Anchorage the transfers to the Marriott downtown were right there waiting on us.
We settled in our room then went downstairs to meet with our tour guide, Debbie. After receiving our tour packet and luggage tags we were off to find something to eat. We found dining at 49th State was a good choice.
The next morning my group of 14 (family & friends) was off bright & early on the Wilderness Express train to Denali. Our bus driver, Crystal, had taken everyone’s luggage to the lodge. Our guide on the train, Mark, was very knowledgeable as well as comical. We were on the train long enough to have breakfast as well as lunch. The menu was short but what everyone had was good.
Upon arriving at the Denali Park Village, the only issue I had with this stop was what we did upon arrival. Instead of going right to the lodge we were told we could spend time at the Visitor’s Center. The bus was already there as well as our luggage was in each room. By the time we got into our rooms, we wanted to find some dinner. Because of the delay in checking in, getting the next shuttle into Denali would be too late. So, we went back to the lodge and found something. As everyone says, food in Alaska isn’t cheap. Our room at the lodge was overlooking the river so we left our window open to hear the river during the night.
The next day we got up even earlier to make our 4:55am tour. We were told by the coffee shop they would open at 4:30am so we were there at that time. The people working at the coffee shop had no idea that the workers from the previous evening had told us they would open at 4:30am. So, it was a hustle to get something to eat before our tour bus left. We had a box snack which was included in the tour but that wasn’t enough to hold us until we met for lunch several hours later. Being so early, we were the first bus into the park where we beat the crowds. This cost us an additional $70 pp but it was well worth it. The bus had a top-notch camera and the driver was able to project it onto the screen on the bus. We saw foxes, bears, moose, caribou, Dal sheep, ground squirrels and snow-shoe rabbits. We had an amazing view of Mt Denali. The day was sunny, and it wasn’t that cold. On our trip in 2006 we didn’t go in as far, but we did go in further than what the Denali Natural History tour does now unless you pay the extra money.
At the end of the tour everyone met for lunch then hopped on the bus for Talkeetna. The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge was better than lodge in Denali. The view from our room was of the Denali mountains. We could see the peak of Mt. Denali as it looked like it was floating on a cloud.
The next morning, we had breakfast in the dining room of the lodge. Then our bus was bound for our next stop. We stopped in Anchorage for a couple of hours. Being short on time, I chose to eat again at 49th State since I knew the food was good. After lunch I found a liquor store to purchase my 2 bottles of wine.
The Hotel Alyeska was better yet. After settling in our room, several of us took the tram up to see the sights from there. We chose to dine at the lodge dining room which the food was very good. It seemed like all we had done since arriving in Anchorage was eating so that night I just had soup.
The next morning, several of our group went to the dining room and some went to the coffee shop for breakfast where they served Starbucks. Then we were off to Seward. It was a cloudy rainy day, but we were on the bus. We first went to the Alaska Wildlife Center and saw rescued animals to be nursed back to health if necessary then released back into their habitat if they could be. We saw bears, caribou, a bear cub recently found, an eagle missing a wing and a lynx.
Off to our last stop in was Alaska Sea Life Center. This had all sorts of water creatures. Sea lions, puffins, octopus’ and more. Then off to Seward for our home for the next 7 days. Looked forward to being able to unpack everything.
Embarkation was a breeze, I believe due to the hour of 3:00pm rather than earlier in the day. Our group then became 16 as my cousin and her husband joined us for the cruise. Leaving at 8pm wasn’t too bad since it was still very light outside.
Our group had MTD and I was only allowed to make reservations for no more than 10 at a time before the cruise. So, I went to the reservation person to see if I could get all 14 of us at the same area in the dining room. I didn’t think it would be possible for a table for 14 people, but the manager said if we went at 8:15pm the next night on we could all be seated at the same table. The next night came and they had us seated at a table of 10 and one for 6. OK, we weren’t that far from our group, so I let it ride. Upon leaving the dining room, I stopped to ask, again, if we could have tables closer to together.
First day was sailing all day then Hubbard Glacier. I guess it was because there were so many ice chunks in the water that we couldn’t get as close as we did last time we did this cruise. This made going to Mendanhall all that much better.
Juneau wasn’t a very pretty day. We chose to do the Whale Watch, Salmon Bake & Mendanhall Glacier. I’ve been on this excursion before and wanted to do a smaller vessel, so it was easier to see a whale instead of trying to look through several people at the window. But I was voted down.
Not caring for fresh salmon, I chose the chicken at the Orca Lodge. Some in my group liked the salmon and some didn’t. The vegetables were bland and cooled off quickly. The slaw was dry as we couldn’t tell if there was any dressing on it. But the brownies were good. Then off to the small gift shop where we purchased the smoked salmon they gave us on the whale vessel. They took us back to the dock where we boarded a bus to the Mendenhall glacier. It was windy and a drizzle rain, but the sites were so beautiful. I wish we had had more time to walk to the glacier, but it was too far for our hour stop allowed.
Sunday night we were at a table for 14. My nephew’s dessert cookie was so hard, the ice cream on top didn’t affect it at all. The waiter knew it was hard because I saw him smiling when my nephew was making his comments.
Skagway was the next stop. Seven of my group chose to take the White Pass Railroad up to Emerald Lake where they met their guide from Dyea Dave’s. They sang the praises of Dyea Dave’s. They had lunch at The Bistro in Carcross, then stopped at Tutshi Sled Dog Tours to play/visit with the sled dogs. The pictures they took looked like they had a wonderful day. They saw 7 bears along the roadside with 2 of them being cubs.
I chose horseback riding in Tongass National Forest. I normally don’t have the opportunity to ride so this was my highlight. The trail guides gave us history of the park and took photos of us on our horses.
Monday night we were seated at 2 tables of 8 next to each other. Eduardo was by far the best waiter we had so far. Tuesday night we planned to go to Chops Grill, so I requested that Wednesday night could we have those same tables with Eduardo.
Next stop, Icy Strait Point. I remembered why I didn’t get off the ship when we visited in 2006. My daughter-in-law and I paid $5 each for a shuttle into town. There wasn’t really anything to see or do. Although, I thought the colorful houses there were pretty. Back on the shuttle, we browsed the shops before boarding the ship.
I was really looking forward to our dinner at Chops for $41 pp which included gratuity. I had the filet and it was SOOOO good. My husband had the NY strip, son had the rib eye as well as others choosing the same items from the menu.
They accommodated us on Wednesday night in the dining room at Eduardo’s tables.
Ketchikan was our final stop. Some of us went on the Duck tour excursion. I had been on a duck before, but this was different scenery and our guide was very knowledgeable of Ketchikan since he was a native. Upon getting into the ocean, there were eagles just sitting on rock formations. Seeing eagles like we see birds every day at home was spectacular.
We had a couple of hours before our next excursion, so we found someplace to have lunch. Ten of us stopped at Pirates Edge/. The waiter told us that due to the number, 18% would be added on each bill. Six of us were seated and we waited for the rest of our group to arrive. Due to some of us being on a time restraint we told our waiter that we’d go ahead and order. His response was, “what do you want?” He didn’t come down to our end of the table, he just stood at the end and took orders. My husband and I ordered the halibut & fries, one soda, crab cake appetizer and everything came to $56. There was a kitchen fee added also. The waiter reminded us of the 18% gratuity added but we could always add more. We all heard him mention he was part owner. When we left I told the hostess that he was lucky he added the 18% because he wasn’t a very good waiter and his attitude was very poor. Especially for being part owner. She was surprised at this statement. I found out later he told the remaining people in our group that there was miscommunication and he wasn’t part owner.
The last excursion was the lumberjack show. It was cute but so rehearsed. We did enjoy their chopping and log climbing. Then back to the ship.
Thursday was our last sea day and it wasn’t very nice outside. Really windy, cool, foggy and cloudy. So most of our day was spent inside the ship.
Since some of us didn’t want to eat so late, we chose to have dinner in the Windjammer on Thursday evening. It was seafood night and things were very good.
Then off to finish packing. Since we needed to disembark early, we set our luggage in the hall and went to bed. We chose to pay $30 pp and get the transfer to the airport.
Our departure info was to be turned in by Monday at 9:00pm. My cousin asked guest services and was told she could set her luggage out and not see it again until she reached the Vancouver airport. This was not a choice we were given. She just happened to ask about it. Of course, we were too late turning in our forms so all we could get was the transfer. So we had to look for our luggage when we got off the ship. They had numbers on the tags, so it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered in the past of the warehouse with luggage as far as the eye could see.
Then loaded on the bus and off for a 45-minute drive to the airport. After going thru both Canadian and US customs we were ready to find food and wait until our flight was ready.
The SHIP: I was worried that it had shower curtains rather than a door but that really wasn’t as big a deal as I had expected.
I wish I had known that balcony cabins on deck 7 you could converse with your neighbor without a divide between them. This would have been good for our group having many cabins in a row. Too bad I didn’t know, I would have reserved on deck 7 instead of 8.
The Quest was fun but not as much fun as on the bigger ships, where having it in a bigger area or showing it on the big screen, where there is more room for people to run with their items. There wasn’t much room for sitting so people were standing and you couldn’t see much.
There was a musical band playing right across from Guest Services where it was hard to talk or hear them.
Our first time traveling as Diamond members. We were the only ones in our group so it was nice to be able to get our 3 drinks each at most bars to enjoy with the rest of our group.
Wasn’t a big fan of the way they did table reservations.
The comedian on the first night was probably the best. Choices for entertainment wasn’t the best. The impressionist was pretty good as well.
The food quality and service in the dining room just wasn’t up to par.
The windows in The Colony lounge had lost their seals and it was hard to see the view out. Read Less