17 Vancouver Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

Ship was great but It’s been really frustrating. Couldn’t book dinner and activities prior to cruise. Can’t get reservations onboard. Go karts completely booked the entire cruise, my kids can’t go. Only able to have dinner in main ... Read More
Ship was great but It’s been really frustrating. Couldn’t book dinner and activities prior to cruise. Can’t get reservations onboard. Go karts completely booked the entire cruise, my kids can’t go. Only able to have dinner in main dining room twice on 5 night cruise. Missed port in Vancouver. Currently been in line for 1 hour 20 minutes to get off boat in San Francisco. Every time we call concierge, it goes to front desk. Room is great, concierge service is non existent and total waste of money. Credit card went missing from our account, couldn’t play in casino last night. Onboard credits were t correct on our account. I can’t tell you how much time was wasted calling about reservations, accounts, credits etc. not relaxing! Inside family cabin was awesome! Lots of space and storage. Loved having two bathrooms. Best cabin we’ve stayed in! Never again. We’ll stick with land vacations or RCI. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Prior to the ship being built , I booked. I followed this vessel for months and read countless posts and reviews-this is unadulterated. I wish I continued on the next 8 day sailing! The embarkation in Vancouver was sketchy-but it was ... Read More
Prior to the ship being built , I booked. I followed this vessel for months and read countless posts and reviews-this is unadulterated. I wish I continued on the next 8 day sailing! The embarkation in Vancouver was sketchy-but it was their first time with the Bliss. From the moment we boarded it was special. Our cabin (13844-balcony mid) was awesome and clean. The Garden Café fantastic-no problems with food or seating as prior reviews stated. Met a great gang at Spice H2O and we gelled (smoking section)...so I missed all other meet and greets. La Cucina was fabulous/Cagneys was good/ Le Bistro awesome...Savor and Taste great...didn't care for the Local.Mario and team at Spice H2O did a great job at bartending and providing exceptional service. Jersey Boys good, ample theatre. The Beatles show awesome! The Casino was also great-wish more machines but they played nicely!!! the waiters and waitresses were phenominal, food exceptional, drinks great, our cabin steward was so so...do the racing experience! I wish they get rid of Margaritaville-it was dead space. Elevators were also fast-not as many reviews stated. What I realized is that you cant please everyone....many passengers would try to cut lines, complain about trivial things, not respect the staff...it is sad. I met many seasoned cruisers who loved this experience for a larger ship I believe I got hung up with many posts and prior reviews but this was exceptional! If staying in Vancouver-Sutton Place is phenominal! Victoria a nice stop, San Francisco was good-did the Hop On Hop Off and not disappointed-only disappointment was the behavior of a few folks who wouldn't disembark for customs and the behavior of the mob to get back on! The only other thing I can say-the karaoke was dull and machine wasn't good....met many nice new friends from all over! Many friendly people! A few that should have stayed home! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
I had been to Vancouver last year to visit my son- what a great place to start a cruise! Diverse city with loads of things to do and places to see! Granville Island, Stanley Park, Gastown to name a few. We ( a friend from school and me, ... Read More
I had been to Vancouver last year to visit my son- what a great place to start a cruise! Diverse city with loads of things to do and places to see! Granville Island, Stanley Park, Gastown to name a few. We ( a friend from school and me, both in our 60’s) were here for a few days before the cruise started and would love to have spent a few more. The embarkation ran smoothly, quickly and easily. Couldn’t have been better. Everyone involved was helpful and pleasant. The Millenium -All public areas and cabin were kept spotlessly clean and tidy although the fittings and fixtures are a bit tired. Refit due next year I believe. We were in aqua class so we had a balcony which, although we didn’t use often, was a great bonus. We had a few issues with the cabin: the aircon didn’t work, the shower drain was blocked on arrival so it had a musty smell, the water didn’t drain well in the shower so the second person in had to paddle and my friend’s bed had a torn sheet. Those were the negatives. However, most were dealt with really quickly( aircon, sheet, blocked drain) and efficiently. The shower drain remained a problem. To “make up” for this we were given an option to dine in one of the speciality restaurants for a night. . Qsine= confused and confusing- strange mix. Blue= great food, service at times dreadful! 40 mins to get breakfast? Improved as time passed. Sommelier brilliant, maitre de tried his best. Main restaurant very good with lots of choice although was surprised it closed at 1. I do realise they needed to start prep for dinner and give the staff some time off but with all the activities it was difficult sometimes to fit food in! The terrace cafe’s range of food was amazing and tasty although seating on sea days will always be a problem. I was a bit worried about the 8 days at sea but I needn't have worried....so much to do, people to meet, food to eat, lectures, shows, shopping and so much more! Entertainment mixed bag- some superb, some dreadful. The show by the celebrity cast was brilliant. The artists who performed around the ship were also excellent. Activities- art class, unexpected and enjoyable although too big a class to learn a lot. Lectures by Celia Garland on wildlife were absolutely brilliant! Get her back! What a joy to listen to her! Quizzes were fun! There were plenty of other things to choose from eg bridge, salsa, basket ball, ping pong or keep fit, massage etc Got to put a bit in here re shops. Beautiful merchandise, great prices but....please, please be aware of the amounts of duty free you are allowed to take back to your country before you are tempted to buy expensive items on board. Service with a smile sums this area up! Attentive without being overbearing. The guys in the cocktail bar were incredible! Captain Alex was good fun and informative. The folk who manned cafe al baccio were also great. In fact all the staff worked so hard but managed to keep a smile on their face...even at 6 in the morning! Ports were great with lots to do and see. Alaska was amazing. Sapporo had a food festival going on(in honour of samna, a local fish) market food stalls in abundance..what a choice! We didn’t need lunch that day as the stall holders were desperate for us to try their wares and we obliged...it would have been rude not to.We missed Shimizu due to typhoon Trami but we had an extra night in Tokyo. Since we had a trip booked to see Mt Fuji we exchanged this and visited Kamakura instead which proved to be amazing...we would never have seen the giant Buddha otherwise. Most of the excursions we booked(whale watching in Alaska(not to be missed!) were very well planned and executed. The Otaru trip was a huge disappointment! Ok, it was raining but the “ nature walk” round a park was overpriced and quite frankly boring! The best bits were tasting a locally grown apple and losing someone who had nipped into a shop. Honestly the worst celebrity excursion I’ve been on! We would have been better exploring the local port town! It sounded far more exciting! We ended in Tokyo and were lucky enough to stay a couple of extra days. The transfer to our hotel was dreadful. It took over two hours(others in a taxi took 20 mins), because we had to stop at a number of hotels. We rode up the same street 3 times. However Tokyo is an amazing city...not enough time. The people are exceptionally polite, most speak some English( for those of us who don’t speak Japanese) and all are very helpful! The toilets? Well, you’ve heard the stories. In the hotel we were in the seats were warmed and there were various buttons to press for various “treats”. There was also what we referred to as a panic button.....just in case you got overwhelmed with the choice available. We did come across a couple of old style ones on our travels which proved a source of much hilarity. I’m going to miss that heated seat in our cold Scottish winter! Shopping opportunities abound and food available to suit all tastes and pockets. Would I do it all again? Absolutely!!! In a minute!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Every review should undoubtedly be taken with a grain of salt, as each person’s experience of a vacation will be filtered through their own unique set of needs, tastes, etc. That said, I wish I had paid greater attention to the reviews ... Read More
Every review should undoubtedly be taken with a grain of salt, as each person’s experience of a vacation will be filtered through their own unique set of needs, tastes, etc. That said, I wish I had paid greater attention to the reviews on this site before booking my cruise, so here is my experience, for what it’s worth. Atmosphere/ship in general (or, what I wish I had known): The ship was dated and tired. In both appearance, amenities, programming, and clientele. The cruising ‘lifestyle’ is definitely geared towards the white, conservative, 70+ crowd, with events and services including ‘how to look 10 years younger’, ‘how to lose 10 pounds’, napkin folding, and countless jewellery shows and expensive art auctions. Tired platitudes about what ‘ladies’ enjoy, jokes about foolish husbands, and basically your generic sexist, heteronormative talk were all around the ship. This is not the place for younger (or just socially-conscious folk, as this does not have to be mutually exclusive with age) travelers, and if I had considered this more heavily prior to booking, we would not have gone. Princess - and all cruise lines, for that matter - will have to drastically revamp their programming and overall culture if they hope to appeal to younger, more socially progressive generations. It should be noted that most of our fellow travelers (and staff) seemed quite conservative, and were evidently not comfortable with gender non-conformity or LGBT+ identities. Service: While I acknowledge working on a cruise ship is likely a constrained choice, most often for the marginalized worker, and requires long and difficult hours with harsh working conditions (this needs to be fixed at an institutional level), the staff seemed indignant toward us and our questions were met with frustration. I’m not sure what this was about (our age and apparent lack of relative wealth?) but it made for a very uncomfortable experience. Ports: The excursions are expensive, though likely on par with other cruise lines. We would have liked 2 days in LA, but 1 day in Santa Barbara and Monterey was enough. Disembarking from the ship for the latter ports was very poorly planned. We waited approximately an hour and a half simply to be be able to leave the ship on a tender boat, cutting our time down in port significantly. Food: I have a myriad of food allergies and while the crew assures allergy-sufferers that they take great care in providing allergen-free food and I was meticulous about what I ate, I had two reactions on board. I don’t think the crew knows what allergies involve and require. It is not simply about not having the allergen IN what you are eating, but must include absolutely no cross-contamination. For instance, the food that was suggested for me at the buffet as being ‘safe’ was sitting right next to my allergen. The salad bar, for example, had containers of nuts scattered around so that when other passengers scoop the nuts, little bits can fall into other bowls etc. The quality of food in the buffet was also very poor. I am almost positive the ship uses instant coffee and minute rice, if that is any indication. Most days we ate white bread and fresh fruit. The dining room food was better quality but sadly resulted in allergic reactions. Many fellow passengers commented on how good the food was on board, though this is entirely relative, and I suppose depends on what you cook and eat in your own home. Expenses: They say that cruising is the ultimate all-inclusive vacation, and while that may be true for some, the hidden costs of the trip are extremely high (for us, this was ginger ale to calm our nausea, good coffee, and internet to text our family). It felt as though we were constantly being asked to spend more money, with daily pamphlets about spa offers and on-board shopping. The exclusive ‘adult only’ space is an additional charge, as are fitness classes and any drink other than water, milk, tea and (instant) coffee. Motion sickness: If you are at all sensitive or anxious, I caution you. We were nauseous 90% of the time and the motion was unnerving. We had one night in particular that was so rough, our entire cabin shook and the drawers banged open and closed all night. One seasoned cruiser said it was so bad she thought we were going down, while another fell that night and broke her toe and her husband hurt his hip. Entertainment: There is not much to do during the sailing days (see above re: programming) unless you are content with full days by the pool. There were a few evenings with exceptional entertainment, including a comedian/magician and Broadway music and dancing. Other than that, most entertainment involved outdated trivia, game shows, bingo, ‘guess the weight of the sculpture’, napkin folding, art auctions, etc. I've watched many videos about Princess and its entertainment but it does not live up to its promises. Overall: Read the reviews and trust your instincts. We will never be going on a cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This was a Pacific coastal cruise--somewhere I wanted to see. It was vintage Princess, but the Coral Princess is very nice no matter what you may read in these reviews on Cruise Critic. Yes, there are a couple of chips, etc here and ... Read More
This was a Pacific coastal cruise--somewhere I wanted to see. It was vintage Princess, but the Coral Princess is very nice no matter what you may read in these reviews on Cruise Critic. Yes, there are a couple of chips, etc here and there, but it's very nice, very clean. The size is good. I hardly every had to wait in line for elevators or food at the buffet. My husband's leg started giving him trouble while walking when we were gone and Princess staff couldn't have been nicer even going so far as to bring up a wheelchair at Santa Barbara tender port out of nowhere and loaning us a cane from the desk until the medical area opened. The food was so-so, and I thought more varied in the buffet than in the dining room. Why can't there be some regular food like ordinary cake or pie or fried chicken or a casserole? The shows were much, much better than before that I've seen on Princess. They were modern with modern music and enthusiastic singers and dancers and a very funny comedian. The northwest area of the continent is beautiful. We stayed at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver. It's the way to go if you can swing it. The hotel takes your bags to the ship, and you just go downstairs to board. Nanaimo has a beautiful harbor and a great Dollarama store close by. There's also a grocery store and drug store. Just hop on the free shuttle and get off at the harbor. The mall is across the street. Volunteers couldn't wait to showcase their town. Astoria, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco were all pretty and have their own things that you would want to see. Alcatraz, the wharf, vineyards, scenic views--all beautiful. If you use Gray Line in San Francisco, make sure you know exactly where you are going and the address. We and several other passengers had trouble finding it even with a taxi. It's a very small place on a corner. Book your tour of Alcatraz from home. You'll be sorry if you don't. Also Alcatraz is a long winding, slanted (13 story) walk uphill. It's doable, but, again, know your abilities. In Santa Barbara, it is a 3-4 block walk to any shopping or eating after you get off the tender. Most of the walks from the ship to the ports themselves are long. I say this not for those who are used to walking, but for those who may have physical limitations. Santa Barbara is a tender port where wheelchairs are not permitted unless they fold and the person can walk on to the tender. There aren't many activities on the ship. That was a bit of a disappointment since I like to stay busy and not just read and relax although some of that is nice too. Maybe historical classes, free smaller tours of the kitchen. The one tour was much too large to hear what was said. Tours of back stage? Information on the towns we are visiting? Of course, no one wants to get off, but it has to be done. It's my most unfavorite part of the cruise. Get your bags out before bedtime then sit and wait for awhile the next morning. But it was a smooth disembarkation. We had an extremely long wait to get on Super Shuttle at the port. The shuttle was there, but the driver would not leave until the van was totally full. I'm ok with that except in this case we sat there full except for two people for 45 minutes. No one was happy. He ignored us wanting to go ahead and leave. The shuttle people there were on our side, but he refused to leave. There aren't many of these cruises during September and I know sometimes it's rainy. We had beautiful weather the whole way. We were very lucky. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I was hoping for a cruise a little more luxurious than others i have taken. Sadly there were huge problems. Naturally taking out the wharf in alaska and causing 3 million dollars damage was a notable detraction but there were more ... Read More
I was hoping for a cruise a little more luxurious than others i have taken. Sadly there were huge problems. Naturally taking out the wharf in alaska and causing 3 million dollars damage was a notable detraction but there were more serious personal problems with the accommodation and staff. The staff other than the cabin stewards seemed distant and uninterested until we cast a few 20's around......suddenly all where friends.....room service was hit and miss, food often arrived cold. The biggest problem was the cabin that lacked any real ventilation so was usually too hot...at one point i suggested to the cruise desk that we would need to move our bedding to the lounge in order to sleep.......response? if you like sir!!!! Also there were huge problems with the toilets. Often the smell was unbearable after the flooding. Some people had to be re cabined. There were many times the toilets were unusable . Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Embarkation was smooth so was the re- embarkation because we did back to back. The ship is one of there older ships but the renovations are good. Our Cabin was fresh and always clean (we had an Ocean view room) and the housekeeping ... Read More
Embarkation was smooth so was the re- embarkation because we did back to back. The ship is one of there older ships but the renovations are good. Our Cabin was fresh and always clean (we had an Ocean view room) and the housekeeping service was great. We were partnered up with great and interesting dining companions .. the food was very good and service excellent all of the ports were great I especially liked Icy Straight Point which just opened to larger cruise ships this year! Alaska is always worth another visit and I would go on the Millennium again. We are not tour takers since they are so very expensive and in all ports we were able to walk around. One of the specialty restaurants was our favourite called QSINE (thats right no U) but the food was extraordinary and unlike anything you could get elsewhere on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was my 2nd cruise with NCL. First time beeing on the Epic. I was really impressed with the overall condition of the ship! After reading some reviews, knowing that this ship is one of the oldest in the fleet...The Sun was very clean, ... Read More
This was my 2nd cruise with NCL. First time beeing on the Epic. I was really impressed with the overall condition of the ship! After reading some reviews, knowing that this ship is one of the oldest in the fleet...The Sun was very clean, spotless and my oceanview stateroom was spacious enought. I was on deck 6A and if you are looking for a quiet aerea, this is it ! I really enjoyed beeing on that deck, since a few more steps up and I was already on deck 7. The 2 main dinning rooms were great, altought I had a preference for their Seven Seas dinning room. It is really nice, especially the entrance Hall! At both dinning rooms, food was pretty good. The only place I was dissapointed with food choices or quality was at the Garden Cafe...Compared with the Garden Cafe on the Epic, the one on the Sun was very limited... I also really enjoyed that the Sports Bar served food until very late at night! I also enjoyed a lot their Entertainment team ! Shows onboard were really good ! The Dancers as well as Tim Kamenski did a wonderful job ! Not to mention everybody else on board ! Also, since I was travelling just by myself, I really enjoyed the FOD meetings! Thanks to Jo Jo's and NCL for offering this on their ships ! Only dissapoitment was disembarkation...It took almost 2 hours to disembark ! We were lining up for really long...I Was able to got off the ship arounf 10 am... Also, I must admit that I had to call a few times their Customer Service Line for an issue with my booking 2 weeks before sailing...and I was really disappointed with the way they try to solved that issue...Finally, once on board, I found out that they had given me an extra onboard credit to compensate...So, nice touch...! Overall, I give a 9 out of 10 to the Sun ! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Firstly, may I say that my wife and I really enjoyed our recent cruise on this vessel as the entertainment was excellent, the range of activities first class and the cabins were clean and comfortable. Also, the range and quality of the ... Read More
Firstly, may I say that my wife and I really enjoyed our recent cruise on this vessel as the entertainment was excellent, the range of activities first class and the cabins were clean and comfortable. Also, the range and quality of the food was good and the customer care of the staff was also excellent. In addition, the range of ports and sights on the itinerary was spot on. And, it was so nice to feel comfortable when casually dressed on board a cruise. How can you be dissatisfied then you might ask? Well it soon became apparent that the customer care policy was geared solely to viewing the customer as a cash cow. We were bombarded every day with things to buy and places to spend money and the prices were extortionate. There were raffle tickets, additional restaurants, expensive drinks, photographs, spa treatments, paid classes and a whole range of gifts, souvenirs and other shopping paraphernalia supported by promotions galore! Also, there were the ludicrously expensive tours, on sale needless to say and heavily publicised in many ways throughout this cruise. Moreover, all the staff had targets and so they were all looking for cash cow' to enable them to meet these targets and then there was the double whammy of eighteen per cent tax and gratuities to be added to most of their services. Without much effort you could run up a seriously expensive bill and that is after paying out for the cruise itself! It may be said that the above is true of all cruises and that is why my wife and I do not really wish to be a part of what is a captive audience held to ransom again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
we did the 10 days from vancouver to Hawaii this fall. loved the 6 sea days. the staff on this ship are so attentive and personable. lots of fun activities. Steve the CD and Jeremy the AD were both a blast and planned a great trip for us. ... Read More
we did the 10 days from vancouver to Hawaii this fall. loved the 6 sea days. the staff on this ship are so attentive and personable. lots of fun activities. Steve the CD and Jeremy the AD were both a blast and planned a great trip for us. food was exceptional and the nightly shows were a good mix to make everyone happy. our favorite part was the sea days. just miles of blue water, sitting on deck, napping. forced relaxation. would definitely do this trip again. we are a lesbian couple and were concerned about how we would be treated, especially when i dressed in a tux for formal night. at all times we were treated with the best service and respect. highly recommend this cruise line for gay and lesbian travelers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Our first Celebrity cruise was absolutely incredible. We made lots of new friends on the cruise both guest and crew and had an incredible fourth trip to Alaska. We're also already booked on another cruise that we took care of onboard. ... Read More
Our first Celebrity cruise was absolutely incredible. We made lots of new friends on the cruise both guest and crew and had an incredible fourth trip to Alaska. We're also already booked on another cruise that we took care of onboard. Hawaii to Vancouver on Millennium 4/15/16 with our new friends Aaron and Edmond. Dining for us was primarily in blu although we did have a dinner in Tuscan and a lunch in Murano. Service was great and the food in nearly every instance was phenomenal. For drinks we tended to stay in the Martini and Molecular bars. Sergei and Adrian in the molecular bar became really good friends over the course of the cruise and they have our contact info to show them around Seattle at some point in the coming weeks. Also won a bit in the casino one night and got a new watch. The excursions we took were great. Weather in Skagway was incredible. Juneau and Ketchikan not so much. Icy Strait was alright but the carving house in Hoonah was definitely the highlight there. The room was great as was the housekeeping staff. Menino always took care of anything we needed without us even needing to ask. Guest Relations took care of a couple gift order questions quickly and efficiently. The spa staff was great as both I and Nick got manicures one night. Only saw a show one night. Solstice the show was fantastic. The broadway reviews etc didn't interest us but Solstice was great. Awesome Cirque Du Soleil feel to it. Bummer about Tracy Arm but that can happen this early in the season and Endicott Arm was a nice last second addition. Not sure what happened with the advertised inside passage cruising but usually going from Seattle we were more used to the open ocean through that stretch Anything I would gripe about? Service was a little slow a couple times in Blu. Nothing too bad but noticeable compared to some other nights that ran like clockwork. The buffet being nearly shut down entirely by 2pm seemed too early. 3pm seems a better time to allow more people a chance. The only big thing I have though was on Juneau afternoon we were in the hot tub and the one we were in was warm but didn't have working jets. We stayed in there around 20 minutes until another had everyone leave and we moved to it for 20-30 minutes. Kinda cool whole being rained on. As no food or other issues lining up had mutual issues for anyone else and it was gone as fast as it started I can only assume what happened within an hour of getting back to the room was a result of over chlorination - Likely due to the fact it was not bubbling and steaming out of the first one due to the broken jets. Everyone else was fine but I got very sick and rather projectile for about 20 minutes back in the room. No other symptoms. Totally done after that. Felt fine again. Everyone else unaffected and anything I ate at least one other person had. I know what to do if it were noro and it most certainly was not. I have shown signs of reactions to strong levels of bleach once before and think this was along the same lines. Next time maybe they ought to just shut off and empty the broken one. I don't blame Celebrity for this as I should have been a little more "in the moment" about it myself as well. Other than that though I would have to say this was a near perfect cruise and Nick (DH) and I can't wait to get onboard another Celebrity ship. We are now HOOKED with the experience they provide! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Embarkation was a breeze. With three ships at Canada Place, the line for security was long--but moved very steadily. That served to space out people so that there were no delays for US Customs and Immigration, nor for check-in. Once we ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze. With three ships at Canada Place, the line for security was long--but moved very steadily. That served to space out people so that there were no delays for US Customs and Immigration, nor for check-in. Once we were through security, there were no further lineups before we got to our suite. The Mariner's luncheon in the dining room was very quiet, and set a nice tone for the week.Our Cabin was a Neptune Suite (7067) directly across from the Lounge. We could not have been more pleased with it. Spacious and bright during the day, but with effective blackout curtains not only on the windows, but also between the cabin and the dressing area (very useful when one of you is an early riser and the other is not!). Our cabin stewards, Bayu and Sodiq, attended to us promptly and well. The laundry stewards took care of our clothes speedily and accurately.For dining, we opted for fixed seating--as is our wont--and received extraordinary service from Wayan and Heri (our waiter and assistant waiter) and Arnold (our wine steward). I had availed myself of the opportunity to bring half a case of wine on board, and took four bottles down on the first night. Arnold managed them faultlessly.The quality of the food in the Dining Room was absolutely first rate. I persuaded our table companions that one never goes wrong ordering the chilled soups on HAL, and they all confirmed that my advice on the subject was sound! Not one disappointment in all of the meals taken in the main dining room.The Lido was less successful. While food options were many, and plentiful, most of the choices were uninspired. The sushi at the Asian station was downright insipid. The best options on the Lido seemed to be the Deli for very good sandwiches, and the Salad bar. Ultimately, the number of people, and general atmosphere makes the Lido my least favourite place to eat. (However, the cinnamon ice cream on Day 3 was a very yummy treat!)The Pinnacle was impeccable, but service at breakfast tended to being somewhat stiff. So much so that the last two mornings we opted to breakfast in the Main Dining Room instead, and enjoyed it more, given that we had table mates, rather than breakfasting at a table for two).We only ordered Room Service twice--once for breakfast on the first full day (when the Pinnacle was not yet open for breakfast), and once for hot and cold canapes before the first formal night). The breakfast order was missing an entire breakfast (mine), but fortunately I was able to pop across to the Pinnacle for a perfect substitute. The canapes were delivered absolutely on the dot, with the hot ones hot, and the cold ones cold, and were well received by us and our guests.The dinner at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle was flawless--but excruciatingly slow. Given that these items must be made to order, the service can never match the speed of the Dining Room, but it was still remarkable for the length of time between courses.We booked two shore excursions but alas, the first had to be cancelled since the seas in Auke Bay were too rough for the whale watching. The Mushers Camp and Sled Dog Encounter in Skagway was so good that it rivals Glacier Bay for the high point of our cruise. (Confound them for counting the puppies before letting us handle them!)I booked a pass for the Thermal Suites and made use of it every day after my workout. Only once did I find the thermal suite full, and then, no longer then it took me to start in the steam room. The hydro pool never had more than four people. Very much my own space when I used it. The Fitness Centre was well equipped, and I never had to wait for a treadmill, even on sea days.Entertainment in the bars was very good, particularly fine was the duo Allegro (violin and piano) who played nightly in the Explorer's Lounge.However, there were some aspects which did not get a 9 on our surveys.Entertainment in the Vista Lounge was more of a mixed bag. The first night was, frankly, dreadful. The musicians weren't even playing, it was patently obvious that it was prerecorded track, and the staging was very poor. The first night is a tough object--trying to put all of the ship's musicians, plus the singing and dancing cast on stage is a staging and technical nightmare--but you have to do it well, because this is the first impression that passengers will have. It needs a serious rethink.The two production shows fared much better--but still suffered because some of the lighting instruments were improperly focussed (or had settled in their yokes) meaning that there were big holes in the lighting design. Sound balance was pretty awful, too. The guest artists were all very entertaining, though.By far the most unpleasant element of the cruise was the incessant push on retail sale of jewellery. I am not so foolish as to misunderstand how important the retail real estate is to HAL's bottom line. But I cannot count the number of "promotions" and "invitations" that turned up in our mailbox to jewellery sales and events. And when we did go through the shops (which was unavoidable when in transit from late seating dinner to the show lounge), there was hardly anything else for sale. Not one camera, no camera accessories. No electronics. One tiny corner of duty free, and an even smaller corner of convenience items, a small perfumerie, and the rest was wall-to-wall jewellery and watches. (And just to demonstrate the fantasy that is shipboard pricing, one of our table companions was admiring a ring with a sticker price of $9,000 and was immediately told, "But for you, $3,000.")The Vista class ships are not our favourites--we remain firm fans of the R-class ships. Placing the public decks between the decks of accommodation means shorter travel time to and from whatever activities one wants to get up to. It maximizes the number of balconies, to be sure, but makes the vessel less of a ship and more of a floating hotel.But what does it matter whether or not one loves the ships when you receive service like this! And for all my complaints about jewellery sales, and poor lighting design in the show lounge, I would return to the Zuiderdam with nary a second thought! __________________ Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Well, we've given it a second try, these HAL cruises booked through Olivia. This is most likely (never say never, eh?) our last cruise with both HAL and Olivia. We purchased this cruise via a charity auction. The cruise had been ... Read More
Well, we've given it a second try, these HAL cruises booked through Olivia. This is most likely (never say never, eh?) our last cruise with both HAL and Olivia. We purchased this cruise via a charity auction. The cruise had been donated by Olivia on behalf of HRC and we ended up being the winning bidders. The good points: Vancouver is the single nicest port we've ever sailed from! What a beautiful city, and fabulous Canada Place port. If you ever have the opportunity to sail from here, do so! The weather was incredible. It really could not have been better in any port, or in Vancouver. Sun, and a touch of rain (at night) with moderate temperatures for the time of year. Lovely on all counts. The HAL staff are amazing!! They are ALWAYS cheerful and smiling and so very willing to help. This cruise line has done some incredible training of staff, and it shows. On the extremely rare instance when a staff member is having an off day or moment it shows, but it's very rare. They are the highlight of this cruise and earn every single cent they are paid. The cleanliness of this ship was remarkable. Although the ship itself is showing wear and some shabbiness there were no unpleasant odors or obvious unclean areas. The not so great points: The food. It was passable for the most part, inedible once or twice, and the Pinnacle ended up not being worth the extra dollars. The filet mignon we ordered was cooked correctly for mine, but my wife's was burnt crunch on one side. The lobster bisque was odd. Just odd, no other real way to explain it. After a few tastes we gave up. The side dishes of mushrooms were soggy and generally not worth eating; the creamed spinach was boring with little cream flavor; the asparagus was ok. All food was either tepid or downright cold. Not much pleasant about stone cold egg yolk in a poached egg for the morning meal. We ended up dining off ship whenever possible. Olivia itself. Not sure what happened for this cruise but it was a completely different vibe from our previous Olivia Cruise. Where the focus once was on "Ladies of OLIVIA" with announcements for all activities, and encouragement to attend the activities, reminders, building up of excitement for the commitment ceremony (for those who chose to attend) etc. there was none of that this time. The focus seemed to be clearly on the solos (which is all well and good, but some of us have been in committed relationships for years and like to have "special" things too) and we often felt like we were intruding on a private party. What's with the male staffers of Olivia being on board? Everyone has a right to a job, but if men are now to be included in the Olivia group, please let us know ahead of time, thanks. The really not so good: The stateroom was terrible. Yes, terrible. Not "just not ok, " not "could have been better, " downright terrible. If this had been a hotel, we would have checked out. We did think about flying out of a port, but chose to endure. The stateroom was assigned to us, and we had no opportunity to change it. The noise from the engines kept us awake the entire first night. The vibrations from the engines and the thrusters shook the stateroom so badly, personal possessions rattled, and cause us to feel that we were on a perpetual vibration machine. All jokes aside, NOT conducive to sleeping, relaxing or even hearing one another speak (from time to time). We can honestly say that if you are assigned this stateroom, cancel the cruise. Seriously. Olivia staff and HAL staff both stated there was nothing to do about it as there were no other staterooms to be moved to. Well, that happens from time to time, but it doesn't make the experience any better. The stateroom was also very shabby with uneven flooring (dips in the floor) white and black mildew and mold in the bathroom. The bathroom was stone cold all the time, which necessitated our propping the door open trying to get some heat in there. The stateroom itself was quite chilly too. The condition of this stateroom is one of the primary reasons we'll think very long and hard about booking with Olivia or with HAL again. The really good: The Bearing Sea Excursion in Ketchikan is worth every cent! Do it!! In Juneau be sure to have crab at Tracy's Crab Shack. Delicious!! Also in Juneau seek out Wild Oven. It's a TINY bakery run by two young women who surely know how to employ their 60 year old sour dough starter!! Really nice bread and huge cookies! In Skagway be sure to visit Broadway Bites and have a cheese and sausage "biscuit" along with a lemon cake (cupcake size) for dessert. They had some very nice mulled cider when we were there too. So, after all is said and done, no regrets. We refuse to live our lives with regret, but we now consider ourselves a bit wiser with regard to choosing where to spend our very hard earned vacation dollars. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We had an all over terrific time onboard the Star. Cabin service is not something we're used to and we constantly seemed to interupt our steward or "be in his way" when we went in and out of the cabin constantly throughout ... Read More
We had an all over terrific time onboard the Star. Cabin service is not something we're used to and we constantly seemed to interupt our steward or "be in his way" when we went in and out of the cabin constantly throughout the day. We had fabulous accommodations and the food at Horizon lived up to our memories of our transAtlantic voyage. We're not big on the formal dining aspect. We had an incredible meal at the Crown. We had lovely service in the Lotus Spa for some real "girl time" and we had the outdoor hottub on the Neptune deck to ourselves most of the time. Having been to Alaska a few times before we thought we should really try the cruise route. Who better to do so with than Princess? According to us and the folks we talked with on board, no one does it better. We really enjoy the ambience and appreciate the slightly more mature passenger set. One thing, I felt that the designated smoking area on the Neptune deck was really neglected to the point of almost always being dirty??? Wistful about balcony smoking. Enough!. This is a SHORT cruise. Port times of 6hrs or less. Seattle dock 3 miles out of downtown was disappointing. Yes, it was cold and rainy but it wouldn"t be May in Alaska if it wasn't! I say go now and avoid the crowds not to mention, people are still happy to see tourists. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
EMBARKATION This cruise was out of Vancouver, which is a great city with a beautiful port. Canada Place is wonderful, modern and scenic. There were three cruise ships in port the day our cruise began, and embarkation was a mess. ... Read More
EMBARKATION This cruise was out of Vancouver, which is a great city with a beautiful port. Canada Place is wonderful, modern and scenic. There were three cruise ships in port the day our cruise began, and embarkation was a mess. Princess provided transfers from the airport by bus. But the terminal was so crowded with passengers, the buses could not approach. Instead, they stopped the buses in a "holding area" about 1/2 mile from the ship. Our bus was packed full, and on a warm day it had no air conditioning. So the bus was hot sitting there, as we waited permission to approach the terminal. People were overheated and complaining. My partner and I got out of the bus (against the advice of the driver) and walked to the ship. Despite the distance and getting lost on the way, we beat our bus to the terminal. After getting to the terminal, embarkation was smooth and efficient. The lines were long but moved quickly. Everyone was friendly and doing their best to deal with 10,000 passengers arriving nearly at once. Getting on the ship was a breeze, and we were warmly welcomed. Our suite (aft, Caribe 757) was clean and spacious. However, it looked lived-in. Colors were kind of dingy, fabrics a little bit frayed, and the carpet lumpy, but otherwise very nicely appointed and quite clean. For an Alaska trip, I recommend an aft cabin with balcony (or a suite like ours). It was the perfect location. More on that later. We left about two hours late because the terminal was so crowded. THE SHIP This is a big ship that holds 3,000 passengers, but the only time it feels crowded is when you want to get food. The lines at the Horizon Court buffet were always long, and there were rarely any tables available. The anytime dining was crowded with long lines, as well, but we always got a table. The wait for food in the dining rooms was sometimes very long. Otherwise, the public spaces never seemed crowded. We loved Movies Under the Stars (MUTS), though we read a lot of complaints about it. We only saw one movie in MUTS, but the experience was a blast, despite it being really cold outside. We just bundled up, and they brought us popcorn, food, snacks and drinks. It was a lot of fun. :) The spa is nice, but the technicians are young and inexperienced. THE CREW If there is a jewel on the Diamond, it is the crew. They were almost universally fantastic. Incredible, even. Friendly, enthusiastic, and they work very, very hard. We saw a lot of self-entitled passengers being rude or abusive to the crew, and where I would have killed such a passenger where they stood, the crew was amazingly patient, tolerant and helpful, to even the rudest of passengers. They do, however, have a term they like to use for rude passengers. The term is "FOCUS," and they will say it like, "Sir, you need to FOCUS." FOCUS, it turns out, stands for "F*** Off, Cuz U're Sh**." I heard them joke about it, but never heard them actually say it, even to a really rude passenger. I have to give a shout-out to Peter John, the Captain's Circle Host. First, he's gorgeous. That must be said up front. :) And when you get past his good looks, he's terminally friendly, with boundless energy and enthusiasm. What a great man, and he goes out of his way for absolutely everyone, and does it with wit, charm and grace. He's the best thing on the Diamond (though I hear his current contract will expire soon). There is a waiter in the lobby bar named Edwin. He is incredibly friendly, always wears a smile, and will go above and beyond the call of duty to make passengers happy. Fantastic man. There is also a waiter in Sabatini's named Christian. As suite passengers, we were allowed to have breakfast in Sabatini's. One day, the main dining rooms were serving blueberry pancakes and my partner wanted some. She asked for them in Sabatini's and was told they were not offered there and she could not have them. But Christian actually went to the main dining room and got her some blueberry pancakes and brought them back to Sabatini's for her, even after she accepted that they weren't served there. It was a great surprise, unexpected, and a real treat. I've heard that they will often do this for passengers, which is a testament to the crew's dedication to their jobs. They do things when they don't have to, and they do it with grace, style and flare. FOOD The food sucks. There's no other way to say it. We ate in every venue, and universally it was terrible. Oh, there was a nice dish here and there, but overall the food was cafeteria quality. I understand that they have to cut expenses somewhere to keep fares low, but the food has really gone down the tubes. It's really bad. Sometimes they make a nice presentation, but it's still terrible food. We couldn't wait to get off the ship because of that. At the last performance of the cruise, the cruise director joked, "You're going to have to start cooking your own meals now," and the crowd actually cheered this. That's how bad the food was. The Sterling Steak House was okay, but iffy. A filet was good, but a porterhouse was tough. A potato was good, but a vegetable bad. It was very hit and miss. Sabatini's was the best food. We especially liked having breakfast there just for the fresh squeezed orange juice. Elsewhere on the ship, the orange juice was from concentrate, with about three times too much water added. It was so weak, it was little more than orange colored water. And that's kind of how the whole food experience was. Like they were trying to feed 3,000 people with 1,000 people's worth of food, and cutting corners everywhere. When we got off the ship at the end of the cruise, we ate at the hotel at Canada Place (the Pan Pacific) and the food there was AMAZING compared to the Diamond's food. We swooned over simple scrambled eggs, when comparing the same basic dish to the Diamond's version. We marveled at how hard the Diamond must work to make the food as bad as it is, because no one can do that badly without some effort. So, am I getting my feelings across about the food? ;-) PORTS OF CALL We took no excursions, but instead went out on our own. Now, a caveat about my comments here. There are people who love the cruise experience of being on the boat and then getting off to shop in stores (which we found out are mostly owned or controlled by the cruise ship companies themselves) or to take some bus excursion to a glacier and salmon bake or some such thing. We are not among those folks. We are less "tourists" than "travelers." We like to immerse ourselves in a destination, not merely hit a few stores for some mass produced trinkets and then grab a drink in a tourist bar. So, if you are one of those people, then ignore these comments. SKAGWAY. What we found was that most of the ports were little more than excuses to get passengers to spend more money with the cruise line. For instance, Skagway is a fake town. It no longer exists except for cruise ship season. Skagway has had three "booms." The first was the gold rush. The second was World War II, when it was a military priority. And currently it is in the midst of a cruise ship boom. When cruise ships come into port, the "town" comes alive, and when they leave, it folds up shop. When the last cruise ships leave in September, so do almost all the town's "residents," many of whom spend the season living in temporary quarters like RVs and little shacks, only to return to their real homes when the ships leave. The excursions are almost all run for the profit of the cruise ship companies, and they are largely fake excursions. What I mean by that is that they run people by train and bus to other places that exist only for the cruise ships. Specifically, the White Pass and Yukon Railway to carcross, and then the passengers get on a bus that takes them to exciting places like Caribou Crossing, where they get a "famous" BBQ chicken meal and a chance to see a wildlife exhibit. We rented a Jeep and went to those places. Carcross has not a single person about or a single door unlocked when there are no trains full of cruise ship tourists about. But when the train comes in, it's as if the actors don their costumes and put on a show, collecting as much money from the tourists as possible, and then the town closes up when the tourists leave. At Caribou Crossing, there are no caribou and there is no crossing. The "wildlife" exhibit is a goat and a burro. The "famous" BBQ chicken is frozen chicken parts that are microwaved, then tossed on a grill with some canned BBQ sauce, and served to the tourists with 1/2 a plain baked potato. There's nothing "famous" about it. It's terrible and cheap, and in fact we watched them preparing it for the tourists that arrived by the busload. For this excursion, the tourists paid >$200 apiece. We, on the other hand, rented a Jeep from Green Jeeps for $180 for the day, which came with a cooler full of snacks and drinks. Expensive, but a far better expense than the terrible phony $200/pp excursion that we got to see the "behind the scenes" of. With that jeep we followed the same path that the railroad took and got to see all the same things, and we were able to go lots of places that the tourists could not. One thing we did was to drive to the historic Chilkoot Trail and hike the same trail that the gold rushers did. That was cool. And free. And real. We also met and talked with many of the "locals," who all confessed to us that most everyone lived somewhere else when cruise ships were not in, and that Skagway had really only one reason for existing: to sell trinkets to cruise ship passengers. That's why I call Skagway a "fake" town. If a town exists only to sell trinkets to cruise ship passengers, and would not exist if the ships didn't stop there, then it's a fake town. Skagway is a fake town. Now, some excursions are worth the money. If, for instance, you took the excursion to Haines (a real town) to visit the bald eagle preserve, that would be worth the money imho, because you get to see something real and interesting. But most passengers do not do that. They ride the railroad or shop for trinkets, and give even more of their money to the cruise ship company. JUNEAU is a real town, but you have to get away from the harbor to find it. The cruise lines have bought up most of the property near the harbor, and when passengers think they are buying souvenirs from local businesses, they are really buying more junk from a store owned by the cruise lines. To find a locally owned store, you have to really look for them. Almost invariably, they will post a sign in the window or indicate in some other way that they are locally owned. No sign = owned by the cruise lines in most cases. Juneau is very touristy these days. I spent a lot of time there 30 years ago, and it was a different town then. Amazingly, lots of tourists thought that Sarah Palin still lives there, and they all wanted to know where she lives. Goodness... There are some good whale watching excursions out of Juneau, but are pretty expensive, as the companies have to pay a percentage to the cruise lines (if they are not owned by the cruise lines, themselves). But rather than take an excursion to Mendenhal Glacier, you can catch a city bus for $1.50 each way. Or if you want to be taken directly to the visitors center, you can pay $16 round trip for buses that come and go ever 30 minutes. Much better than $200 for a bus trip excursion that then tacks on a (really awful) salmon bake (again owned by the cruise lines and not authentic Alaskan), imho. KETCHIKAN is a real town. It has the mandatory cruise line owned stores near the harbor, but there is a real town there to enjoy behind them. We blew off the excursions again, and opted to rent a car and explore on our own. We ended up hiking in the mountains, taking a 6.5 mile round trip hike to Lake Perseverance. We were all alone. With 10,000 cruise ship passengers in port, we saw only one local couple the whole time we were out there, and not another soul. And we saw the "real" Alaska of Ketchikan. And it was absolutely stunningly beautiful and unspoiled. Then we went back to town and did some touristy things on our own, like visit the totem pole village and do some shopping. It was hard, but we managed to find some true one-of-a-kind Haida and Tlinkit jewelry, but to do it we had to wade through a lot of pricey mass produced junk marketed to the cruise passengers as authentic. So, if like us you want to see the real ports and not just the facade that the cruise ships use to separate you from your money, you can do it, but it takes some effort. The effort is well worth it, though. We saw some truly stunning scenery and wildlife that the vast majority of cruisers missed out on. What surprised us was that most cruisers weren't interested in finding that. They were happy to be aboard the ship, and then to get off for a couple hours to sit in the Red Dog Saloon or buy a trinket or two before returning to eat at the Horizon Court buffet. That's not what we were after. Most were into the cruise ship experience. We were definitely destination travelers, and being one of those on a massive cruise ship takes a little effort and dedication, but it can be done. And cheaper than doing the typical cruise stuff. ENTERTAINMENT We thought the entertainment was universally terrible. Bad comedian. Bad magician. Bad dancing and singing shows (though the performers were giving it their all for tepid crowds). Bad string trio. Bad pianist. We didn't find one good performer. I am comparing it to Sitmar cruises to Alaska of 30 years ago, which provided top, if aging, entertainers. I recall cruising and mingling with Mel Torme, Harry James, Buddy Rich, Marilyn McCoo and others who had real star power in their day, and who brought their own professional back-up bands and singers. No headline acts these days. They market these shows as "Vegas style," but the design, choreography and execution are not very professional, and they have young but eager "talent" doing their best to make a show of it, and not succeeding very well. I did not like the entertainment. SUMMARY Some things were GREAT! The crew topped that list. The ship itself running just behind. And the destinations were amazing if you took the trouble to find them under the commercial cruise company veneer. We liked MUTS, too. Other things were truly awful. They were the food, the entertainment, and the aforementioned commercial veneer. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We had sailed the Inside Passage previously, but this cruise intrigued us as it sailed all the way to Whittier. We also knew one of the Assistant Cruise Directors from a previous Princess cruise, which was also one of the reasons for ... Read More
We had sailed the Inside Passage previously, but this cruise intrigued us as it sailed all the way to Whittier. We also knew one of the Assistant Cruise Directors from a previous Princess cruise, which was also one of the reasons for choosing this itinerary and ship. We made the right choice. We flew into Vancouver the morning of the sailing and took the subway (Canada Line) to the cruise terminal (Waterfront Station). We were early and had to wait about 30 minutes in a holding area, but were on board by about 11:45. We were very pleased with our outside cabin on the Plaza deck. There was plenty of space for our belongings. We opted to not have a balcony, but be close to the water line, which suited us fine for this particular cruise because we had excellent views of the wildlife in the water, and could easily go up on deck for a broader view of the glaciers and land. We had sailed Princess twice before with differing experiences. We had taken the Golden Princess to Hawaii and loved it. We had sailed on the Sea Princess to Alaska and found the ship to be too small and crowded. Our first impression was that Diamond was very similar to the Golden Princess because of its size, layout and overall vibe. Vancouver is a beautiful city and we had wonderful weather for our departure. It was the perfect sail-away and the scenery was wonderful for hours. The sail-away party up on deck was a great time. Dining was extremely convenient. We had anytime dining. We made dinner reservations every morning and there was never a problem getting a table. We tried each of the four anytime dining rooms at least once. One evening we splurged for the Chef Table ... which was very much worth the premium of $95. The maitre d', Silvio, was a fantastic host. We received a personal tour of the kitchen by the Executive Chef, Raggie. Each evening, we would try to catch the show and then head up to the disco, Skywalkers. The DJ, JT, was great. Unfortunately, the party crowd was limited and the scene started to quiet at midnight. We also went to the spa ... the treatments were nice, but the hard sell for product at the end was a bit irritating. The food was pretty good, though this being our third Princess cruise in two years, the menu is starting to feel redundant and kind of "basic." We believe that Princess should to jazz up its menu and not be afraid to try some more unusual or interesting items that are more interesting, unusual or gourmet (as opposed to plain). Also, this was the first cruise in which they stopped the 24 hour service in the Lido. In fact, it closed at 11 p.m., too early to get a late evening snack. This was very disappointing. We had been to two of the three ports before, but wanted to try to get the most out of nature. In Ketchikan, we rented bicycles at a great little shop across the street from the dock and cycled out to Ward Lake, seven miles north of town. In Juneau, we rented a car and then drove 25 miles north and did a 15 mile round trip hike to Eagle Glacier ... it was a fantastic hike. In Skagway, we took the White Pass & Yukon train to the Denver whistle stop and hiked three miles to the Denver Glacier. (Note that we had to book this separately from the Princess excursions, since the Denver trip was not one of the offerings). Glacier Bay National Park was amazing and we were able to get really close to the Margerie Glacier, and see other excellent views of many others. It was incredible to hear the sounds as the ice was calving. However, the highlight of the trip was the last day, sailing to College Fjord. The weather was 75 degrees and perfectly sunny. The views were breathtaking ... prettier than the brochures. The Princess team was great. Assistant Cruise Director Aleks is the best, and we just loved Emma, another perky member of the Cruise Director's Staff. They all made you feel as though you were the highlight of their day! The Captain made a special effort to make everyone feel welcome. We believe it is the people that set Princess apart from the other cruise lines. We had to say goodbye a week later. Getting off the ship was a breeze and the drive to Anchorage was beautiful. We spent another three days on land, on our own, touring the Denali National Park area - a must-do! Along the way, we stopped for an overnight at the McKinley Princess Lodge, which we highly recommend as a nice place with great views, excursion opportunities, interesting educational lectures about the area, and good restaurants. Even though it's owned by Princess, it feels "different" than the cruise - not better or worse, just different. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My husband and I are a male couple from San Francisco, CA. Legally married in our state, together 14 years. This information is important to us personally as a family but also to this review. Read on... We flew to Vancouver on Thursday, ... Read More
My husband and I are a male couple from San Francisco, CA. Legally married in our state, together 14 years. This information is important to us personally as a family but also to this review. Read on... We flew to Vancouver on Thursday, May 9. Arrived late and fell into bed. Got up to a sunny beautiful sailing day. J had the foresight to iron some shirts before we re-packed for the pier. We figured there'd be no iron in the stateroom and we were right! Embarkation: Celebrity bore no responsibility for this TOTAL NIGHTMARE. We arrived to a very confusing set up on the curbside bag pick up. Pushy passenger were already showing their colors. Oh well. Then we got in a line and were handed a tag that read 1:30 pm which was the approximate time we queued up. We also got a slip of paper that said embarkation would take 2 hours due to customs/immigration. We laughed and said "no way..." WAY! Apparently 3 ships (Rotterdam and Golden Princess) were embarking along with Millennium. 7,000 eager passengers ready to board early for lunch, etc. It was stressful because there really were no announcements made about why it was taking so long. And then we came to the US Immigration station. And it was clear that American know-how was contributing to the snafu. I was so proud. NOT. Oh well, we finally boarded. We went to our stateroom which seemed small at first but grew on me. I was so hungry and stressed out that it took an hour to feel sort of human again. It's embarrassing to admit because it's' such a "luxury problem" compared with fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico or other folks I see everyday in San Francisco. Some food, a few soft drinks and we were back on track! Sail Away Fun! Sunny and so pretty. Before we sailed away we watched float planes take off and land. Already sold on the balcony stateroom! I was already taken with the utter beauty of the land. We sailed beneath a giant green bridge and everyone on deck cheered up to some kids on the bridge. It was great. Dining So I'm not gonna do this day by day. Just by category. Dinners at the Metropolitan We loved this place. We did 'select dining', electing to dine at 8. Table for 2. We met our waiter Oscar the first night and requested him every night thereafter. He was personable, charming, and very efficient. As was Pobhrino our asst waiter. We loved the views from the tables. Large, round windows. Lots of late-evening light! (Alaska, after all). Food was good. Dabbled in the steaks once before we realized that it was best to order a bit on the rarer side. That way the steak was perfect when it arrived. Otherwise, a bit dried out. Coq a Vin was really good. Anything chicken. Salmon was really good. Desserts were sort of disappointing. But there was so much more throughout the entire ship that I wasn't too disappointed. Olympic Okay so here's where our couple-status was sort of an issue. We really looked forward to the dinner at the Olympic. It was Icy Strait Point night. Dressy Casual. So we get there. The maitre d' says "table 12". We are marched by all the romantic window tables for 2 right to a four-top in the back corner by the kitchen. I hate sitting by kitchens. I mumbled something to J. He agreed and got someone's attention and asked that we be moved. They put us right by a window, cozy table for 2. We are both in our late forties. We have been "out" for a long time. This was pretty clearly about the staff mis-reading the nature of our 'date' and putting us at a 'guy-guy' table. I think a bit more sensitivity on this could make a nice experience even better. From there the service, the food, the setting... all amazing. Scallop Wellington followed by Duck confit. Terrific. We booked for another night but reneged because we wanted to get to the show and also to see our friends in the Metro one more time. Buffets -- Lunch and Bfast Pretty happy with this fare. It's a lovely space on deck 10 (I think...) Great views. Food is various and tasty. Don't miss the waffle/pancake station located aft. Many of the breakfast stations closed at 10. So we sort of missed more variety by getting up later. We didn't really do too many lunches earlier than 3 pm due to excursions. Be warned that the only thing available that late is pizza and pasta (and dessert!) But I have to say that the pizza and pasta were really good. Esp. the pasta station. I sort of regret we never had the sushi during the week. But maybe next time... I had breakfast at the Aqua Spa cafe one morning. Just after working out. It was really cool. The inside atrium pool area has tables and wooden chairs. It was fun and felt classy. Lounges The only one we spent any real time in was Cosmos on deck 11, fore. Afternoons, esp at sea, it gets crowded. There are great comfy chairs to watch the passing wonder. We repeated this ritual a few times. One high point was the day that happy hour turned into a whale-watching party. We saw several Orcas from the ship! Splendid. Health club I used it a couple of times. Very nicely appointed. Lots of machines, treadmills, ellipticals, etc. Beautiful location (deck 4, forward). Wt area is small. Large group/class area. I liked the space. Esp when we were cruising up a BC channel on the first day at sea and were hemmed in by mountains on both sides as far as the eye could see. A workout with a view! Costa Cafe A little coffee bar/cafe on Deck 5 (?). Heard a sweet string quintet there a few times. Also the barbershop quartet there as well. Most surreal moment of the cruise was when we heard a guitarist/singer crooning "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd late one evening. It was so fun. Sort of captured the 'anything can happen' feel on this ship. Casino I settled in for some slots the last day (sea day). Fun fun fun. Slots are not too tight-fisted. Won some money... nice Stateroom We really enjoyed the stateroom. Although we spent less time in it than I expected. I really loved it when we cruised Hubbard Glacier. Seeing it from the balcony was such a treat. And closing the sliding door was nice too.. to stay warm! The stateroom was the same size as the Norwegian Star we'd cruised on 18 months earlier (Mex Riviera) But the designers made the bathroom (shower) bigger on the Millennium so the cabin is a bit smaller. But the larger shower feels so normal it is totally worth it. One weird problem: READING LIGHT? Really none to speak of. Bring a book light if you don't want to flip on the overheads. Stateroom service was really nice. Low key, attentive, consistent. Public Spaces Millennium is a gem, an angel when it comes to public spaces. Such an eye for comfort, function, and taste. The alabaster staircase to the 4th deck is such a treat. Make sure you traverse it at least daily. You'll feel fabulous, as my people like to say. The glass elevators are tucked to the side, just off the port side. Nice touch. No garish planters or tacky mobiles. I like this ship. Decks are tastefully decorated with wooden deck chairs. Wool blankets are provided as the days get chillier. Never used one but loved the classy look and feel of it. The decks are gorgeous venues from which to take in what was arguably the most spectacular scenery of my life. On one nearly-balmy night, around 10, we saw Coral Princess passing us on port side. It shimmered on the glassy surface of the water. These kinds of images populate my memory. Millennium was the perfect place to capture them. The bad news: Millennium is a great ship. Her passengers tended to be, at least on this cruise, mostly white, middle class, middle age and older. Not so bad. But I have to say that there was a disturbing air of "every party for itself". Groups did not seem to be interested in even making small talk with others. People did not speak to us on the elevator and we stopped trying after a few days. The spirit of "we're on this great cruise together... isn't this cool?!" that I had on the Star in Mexico was nearly absent on this trip. I missed it keenly at first but then I adjusted. The gay thing: I accept that a lot of Americans in particular are a bit testy about the social issues surrounding gay marriage, civil rights, etc. I understand that folks are sort of freaked out and don't know how to react. If you don't see gay people in your daily life, or know any, you probably will be surprised when you see some on board. NO, we don't have wigs or platform shoes. We're pretty shy about public displays of affection. But on at least 3 occasions we felt targeted for being a gay male couple. Once at a table where a man from Toledo refused to speak to us, let alone acknowledge our presence. Another when the adjacent table on formal night had a family of 4 at it. A teen girl was taking great delight in pointing at us and giggling. She even got her mother to look. At no point did the parents tell the kid to stop it. Bad manners + bigotry? Finally, we noticed that the photographers repeatedly skipped our table during picture time. We were never asked to stop to take romantic photos in front of stupid backdrops. This is a stupid, small matter. But it was noticed. We brought it up and got defensive responses from the photo staff. Oh well. Bottom line: Everyone on this cruise could have stepped up the cordiality and sociality. If you are on a ship with 2000 others don't expect a private vacation. Go to Sandals for that. We intend to repeat this cruise in May 2011. We are bringing J's parents and any of our other friends we can cajole. It was that fantastic an experience. So don't get me wrong. as "Millennium Approaches" we are sure there will be more "Angels from America". Seward is not listed below so I want to give a special note to the Major Marine outting. Great ranger-led talk. Up-close glacier viewing. Saw orcas and humbacks, sheep, bears, sea lions, eagles. Terrific. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010

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