On to Alaska with RCI! Last year we had booked an Alaskan cruise, but had to cancel for health reasons, so we were geared up for this long delayed trip. We were not disappointed! You may quote us: "Alaska is beautiful beyond words and the best way to see it is from the deck, or your balcony aboard the beautiful ship, Vision of the Seas." The wonderful sensation of the cool arctic air, and even the rain only enhanced the total experience of cruising through bays with blue icebergs in the water and the Hubbard glacier's white/blue cliffs of ice rising out of the mist in front of you (It's the largest tidewater glacier in North America). As the ship Captain Nikolaos Antalis said, it is the only way to go and he is right.
The temperatures ranged from the upper 40s to the low 60s, what we call "sweater weather." The pristine Alaskan coast, with its natural wonders of fjords and miles and miles of cruising through the Inside Passage with no hint of civilization in sight, is worth preserving: The Hubbard glacier, the Misty Fjords, the immense landscape of snowcapped mountain peaks, rain forests, valleys and torrents visible from our veranda, and the 16 to 18 hours of daylight all combined to make this trip memorable.
This was our eighth cruise aboard RCI and our ninth will be the end of this month, on the Grandeur of the Seas, in the Mediterranean traveling from Italy to Turkey and Greece (Captain Antalis' homeland). Altogether we have cruised 18 times in the past 5 years, in addition to some transatlantic crossings on luxury liners in the 50's and 60's; we hope to keep on cruising since for us it is "like no vacation on earth."
Embarkation: We flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Vancouver, B.C. the day before sailing and TWA allowed the companion wheelchair on board, so transfer in St. Louis was simple. We stayed at the Best Western Downtown and Sunday morning we toured the city on the Vancouver Trolley Company (ancient looking red cars) and saw Stanley Park, Gas Town and China Town. Vancouver was in bloom with rhododendrons, tulips and roses. It's just a short taxi ride to the port where boarding was simple. We dropped off our luggage curbside and a crew member pushed the wheelchair to a special counter, where we were checked in at noon and in our suite in about ten minutes. Boarding was simple and pleasant.
The Ship: The Vision of the Seas has the sleek shape of the Royal Caribbean Vision Class ships with the traditional aqua widows on top and glass everywhere which gives cruisers a constant view of the ocean, even while dining. She was built at Chantiers de L'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France and launched April 16, 1998; she is 78,000 tons; 915 ft. long, 106 ft. wide, with a draft of 25 ft. and cruising speed is 22 knots. She carries 2,400 passengers and has a crew of 778. Of her 1,000 staterooms, 14 are wheelchair accessible and 539 have ocean view.
Her condition is incredibly good, considering the number of cruisers who travel aboard the ship every week. Among her memorable features are the Viking Crown Lounge (Deck 11), characteristic of RCI ships, with its 360 degrees surround view of the ocean and the upper structures of the ship, and the Centrum, which is six decks tall, lovely and enhanced by a huge suspended chrome helix sculpture with hints of aquatic life in its design. The over all color scheme of white/platinum silver and pale aqua and lavender is refreshing. The two deck Aquarius Dining Room is a study in white with a tapestry on the far wall depicting an astrological theme and, at the opposite end, an intaglio in a marble wall with lighted stars in a figure representing the Constellation Aquarius, very nice indeed!
The Solarium Pool (with two adjacent jacuzzi tubs) is circled by white columns; the entrances are flanked with interesting Aztec inspired block sculptures of terra cotta colored travertine by Helaine Blumenfeld. These are quite wonderful as are the glass sculptures by Gianni Arico` outside the Masquerade Theater, and the bronze sculptures near the Centrum by Fritz Roel of the "Italian Circus Dog" and the figure of a woman entitled "Carnevale in Venice." The Library has a wooden Pinocchio staring out to sea (6 ft. tall). On deck 8, adjacent to the Centrum, on the starboard is the Crown & Anchor Study and on port side is the Explorers Club, an Internet Lounge with plenty of stations where cruisers could check their e-mail and surf the web at 50 cents per minute. Among the newer ships we found the Vision to be one of the more tastefully decorated with fine art works, although not as abundant as the amazing Costa Atlantica (a floating art museum), yet many cruisers commented on her beauty and we agree. For the athletic minded cruisers on deck 10 there is a jogging track and the Shipshape Center fully equipped with aerobic and weight equipment. Health Spa and Beauty Salon are on deck 9. The nightly entertainment performances were in the two-tiered Masquerade Theater (decks 5 and 6). The Captain's receptions and the Bingo games were in the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge (deck 6). The Casino Royale (deck 5) was busy whenever we passed through to donate.
The Cabin: Our wheelchair access Suite #8550 is a spacious stateroom (approx. 280 sq. ft.) with a veranda (approx. 80 sq. ft.) and a wooden deck foyer. When entering on the right there is a large bathroom/shower, rails all around, single sink with two medicine cabinets (unfortunately no towel rack near the sink, but only across the room on the far walls). Next, there is a console with TV, refrigerator, personal safe, and six shelves and three drawers. There is also a sofa, upholstered chair and small glass coffee table, too small for breakfast in the cabin (as on most ships). The one thing that would improve the comfort of this wheelchair cabin would be to make the furniture a bit higher (4 or 5 inches to match the height of the wheelchair) especially, the bed and sofa which are a tad too low for the physically challenged (as on most ships). Entering on the left is a double armoire, lighted desk vanity with six drawers, a queen size bed with two night stands (two drawers each) and another bureau with two huge drawers, Needless to say, there is enough storage space for 4 people even on a two week cruise. The color scheme is pastel gray, aqua and lavender with white painted wood and two large watercolors by Andrea Hansen Hobby. It is a spacious and airy stateroom.
The Food: The food was generally good with flashes of wonderful. We ate at the welcome aboard buffet in the Windjammer Cafe` on Sunday, and it was the usual buffet: good cafeteria food. We did not return there because we had excellent breakfasts served in our stateroom (full American, omelets w/cheese, ham, bacon, croissants, Danish, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juices, fresh fruits and cereals). We mostly lunched in the main dining room and there was a nice selection in both the Ship Shape menu and the Chef's recommendations. Soups were especially good, black bean and lobster bisque excellent. Twice, Vincent went for snacks at the Solarium Grill (Deck 9), where good pizza, hot-dogs, hamburgers and fries were available most of the time (10:30am - 6:30pm and 11:00pm - 6:00am).
Evenings we always dined in the Aquarius Dining Room where the service under the Maitre d' Clive Page was "Class A." The food was hot even though our table was the most distant from the galley! It was also plentiful. We heard from other cruisers that they would like the choice of half portions. Our waiter Yalcin was courteous, the asst. waiter Suzette was always smiling and the head waiter Veli Azari was always around to see that service ran smoothly. All were extremely pleasant and competent and made our dining a pleasure. At dinner the food was all good and some dishes were exceptional, such as the halibut, lobster tails, pate`, and seafood appetizer. The desserts were great and not overly sweet. As for the pastas Vincent had two hits and a miss: The Bolognese sauce was great, the seafood pasta with cream sauce was also good, but the third pasta dish with tomato sauce was better forgotten. Two out of three is not bad for a pasta aficionado; however, if cruise lines want to offer Italian specialties, in our opinion, an Italian chef, with a discriminating Italian palate, is a must. Somehow, the quasi Italian taste of some dishes did not meet our expectation.
We had a wonderful meal at Captain Antalis' table on Monday Gala Night. He is from Greece and was gallant, kind and humorous throughout the meal, more later on the Captain. The menu included Shrimp Cocktail, Terrine, Lobster Bisque, Caesar Salad, Alaskan Salmon and Halibut, Duck a` l'Orange and Filet Mignon, accompanied with fine red and white wines. This was a delicious dinner and a memorable night mostly due to the wonderful company of the Captain and the other invited guests. Thank you, Captain!
The Service: We truly believe that RCI knows how to select their captains, officers and crew. We are happy to say RCI has excellent service on the Vision of the Seas. The staff was smiling and most accommodating for the entire week. Captain Antalis has a love for the sea and nature which he displayed by his enthusiastic approach to this itinerary. He spoke of how a ship should be handled in iceberg waters (always slowly forward so as to avoid any damage to the propellers). He graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy of Greece and has extensive experience in the cargo and cruise ship industries. He is active in the ongoing continual education and training of his junior officers. As former teachers, we were interested to know that he requires his men to continue the learning of traditional navigational instruments, such as the sextant and compass, for historical purposes and for a better understanding of navigational principles, even though these appear unnecessary with the computerized hi-tech system of modern liners. This combination of both theory and practice can only make his men the ultimate sailors. Captain Antalis exhibits a great sense of responsibility for the safety and happiness of his passengers: A great Master and a Gentleman!
We also dined with Hotel Director Bjorn Erik Julseth, Chief Purser Doug MacLennan, Social Hostess Susanne Hanson, and International Ambassador Federica Pernechele. Bjorn runs a tight ship, his priority is passenger contentment and he achieves it. Doug is cordial and busy, busy. Susie is everywhere and her personality can only be described as dazzling (bright, smiling and a touch of elegance). Federica's fluency with many foreign languages was impressive and finally Jeffrey Jack, Guest Relations Manager, was very pleasant and informative. These people, our new friends, made this cruise memorable and gave us the desire to return to the Vision soon.
The Entertainment: There were three musical revues and all were very good , "Make Mine Broadway" and "Rhythm Nation" were excellent; the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were bouncy and pert and deserved the hearty applause. Unfortunately, we did not see Susan Anton, but have it on good authority from many cruisers (whom we made a point to ask) that both she and her show were beautiful and that she did some Bette Midler's songs with flair; however, some complained that the show was a bit too loud.
The hit of the week was the virtuoso violinist Maria Neglia, billed as "Fireworks on Four Strings"; she received three standing ovations. Accompanied by the Vision of the Seas orchestra, she mesmerized the audience. People were talking about her for the rest of the cruise. She comes from a long line of musicians and it shows! Maria appeared in the 50's and 60's on many Ed Sullivan and other TV shows. We saw her later at the Vancouver Airport with her sixteenth century Amati (Cremona, Italy) violin strapped to her back. She was a pleasure to hear, unforgettable. Finally the Cruise Director Tim Seivert (Minnesota) was sociable, approachable and a master of witty repartee. He had the audience in stitches whenever he was on stage.
Ports of Call: 1. Skagway (population 800): The shore excursion we chose was the White Pass Scenic Railroad (3 1/2 hrs). This is the original route for miners into the gold fields. The terrain is mountainous, so the best way to see it is by train (there is a wheelchair lift to facilitate access). There are also many other tours with biking, hiking, kayaking, dog sledding, flight sightseeing and fishing available.
2. Juneau (population 20,000) is the Alaskan capital. We took the Juneau Highlights Tour (2 1/2 hrs) to the Gastineau Salmon Hatchery (an attempt to keep the various species of salmon alive and well in the Alaskan waters). We then saw Mendenhall Glacier, Chapel by the Lake, and University of Alaska. Other tours were to the gold mines or to the glaciers by float planes. On the way back to the ship we stopped at the Red Dog Saloon (swinging doors and all), for the old time atmosphere, it was great. Juneau is a nice town for souvenir shopping.
3. Ketchikan (population 15,000) is a small town 1/2 mile wide by 7 miles long, most of which was visible from the ship. We did not disembark here, but did enjoy watching fellow cruisers kayaking in port. There were tours here for the Misty Fjords (which the ship also sails through) nature hikes and a Jeep Safari: All great for the hale and hearty.
What we admired around the ports of call and from the ship are mostly natural wonders. There are a few totem poles and some interesting log buildings, scattered around, and a daring mountain climbing railway (the White Pass Scenic Railroad) and a few other artifacts, but what amazed us most of all are the breathtaking views of the wild unspoiled nature, the calm and icy waters of the fjords and bays, the floating blue colored icebergs and the still quietness in the misty coastal air which touched our hearts and minds. There are very few signs of human encroachment, but rather a lot of natural beauty. No oil derricks here yet! Let's keep it that way for posterity!
Debarkation: We were given white tags for priority debarkation and told to wait on deck 5 at 7:45am for wheelchair assistance. When our color was called, we were escorted through customs to the luggage area and then to the taxi stand. In ten minutes we were on our way to the airport. It was all very simple and expeditious and we never lifted a bag.
1. Some guests would like to know if half portions could be made available in the dining room. We hate to waste good food. We realize that many guests like the ample meals, but most mature people tend to limit their quantities.
2. Perhaps smoking could be limited to either port or starboard side cabins. It would be more accommodating if non-smokers did not inherit a cabin with a residue of smoke scent.
3. The trundle carts used to haul bar supplies in the Solarium are quite loud when empty and can be heard at odd hours in the suites below.
These suggestions are minor things in light of a magnificent cruise. RCI has done it again! It gave us one of our most pleasurable cruising experience. Thank you RCI and Arrivederci on the Grandeur of the Seas June 30, 2001 for our first cruise from Civitavecchia (Italy) to Greece and Turkey! Happy Cruising to all!
Vision of the Seas is the last, and perhaps loveliest, of Royal Caribbean's Vision-class series of vessels. Four prior cruises to Alaska have been on Princess and Holland America and this review will focus primarily on cruising Alaska "Royal Caribbean style."
Expansive windows throughout the Vision's public areas, the Solarium with its retractable roof, promenade deck, and numerous balcony staterooms make this ship ideal for the often unpredictable cool, misty weather along Alaska's Inside Passage. A bridge cam on in-cabin TV showed only a view from the bridge but the additional information on weather, wind, location etc. weren't available and daily announcements from the bridge at noon were barely audible in the Solarium, not broadcast on open decks and difficult to hear in any public area where there was any background nose.
An earlier cruise this year on Grandeur of the Seas was a surprise in that food, entertainment and service were well below what we were used to on Princess and Holland America. We had not crusied RCI in over six years, however. The week on the Grandeur wasn't a fluke! Many of the problems on Grandeur were also apparent on the Visionand RCI is especially deficient in providing passengers with a well-rounded, informative Alaska experience.
As on Grandeur, the general impression was that crew who work for tips are friendly, efficient and anxious to please but those do don't go about their jobs in a very perfunctory manner. Boutique salespeople were often engaged in deep conversation amongst themselves, cruise staff often spoke only when spoken to (if at all), and wait staff in the Windjammer buffet area never offered to carry trays, refill beverages and often left tables uncleaned for several minutes during very peak times. Dining room service at open sitting meals was "hit and miss" and bar service was spotty at best. On three occasions we were automatically served an the "upsized", more expensive drink (availability of these is noted in small print on the bar menu).
On the end of the spectrum, dining room service from our assigned waiter and assistant waiter was absolutely top-rate (as it had been on the Grandeur) and among the best we've experienced on 30+ cruises. Complimentary soft drinks in the dining room are a plus!
Ships' photographers were reasonably restrained in their artificially created photo opps and turned out lovely photos, but the upsizing of embarkation and selected other pictures throughout the week to 6x8" (who has frames that size?) and then charging $9.95 for them is ridiculous!
Dining hours, which are often adjusted on an itinerary such as Alaska or Europe when passengers are returning throughout the day from often long (and in Alaska, damp!) tours were geared to the convenience of the crew and galley rather than the guests.
Surprisingly, on a ship the calibre of the Vision, one would not expect the "burger bar" to consistently be the best food onboard but the Solarium Cafe which served up individual made-to-order pizzas, burgers, hot dogs and perfectly seasoned, crisp french fries daily from 10-6:30 and again late at night was very popular all week with young and old alike. For the health conscious cruiser or those on a medically restricted diet, this option is obviously not satisfactory.
Food in the Windjammer Cafe for breakfast and lunch was mediocre with lukewarm and even cold "hot" items at both meals and limited buffets compared to those offered on Princess and Holland America. The breakfast menu in both the dining room and Windjammer was the same throughout the week. Lunch buffets were very limited compared to those on Princess and Holland America and afternoon "snacks" were the same small tuna, ham or turkey sandwiches every day, ice cream and desserts but no salads or fresh fruit. Interestingly, the desserts (cookies and a warm dessert such as bread pudding, apple crisp) during "snacks" were much better than those in the dining room.
Menus in the Aquarius Dining Room offered up a good variety of entrees, appetizers and desserts at lunch and dinner and, for the most part, food was well presented, hot when it was supposed to be, and quite good. The lobster on the last formal night and desserts nearly every night were the exception.
Entertainment was average at best in lounges and for cabaret shows. The main production show "Rhythm Nation" ran way too long but the celebrity entertainer, Susan Anton, whom we went to see out of curiousity more than anything, has a decent voice, great stage presence, and was surprisingly enjoyable!
Alaska a la Royal Caribbean:
We prebooked two tours with Royal Caribbean prior to sailing which went off without a hitch and we thoroughly enjoyed the White Pass & Yukon Railway excursion in Skagway and the tour of Totem Bight State Park in Ketchikan. I highly recommend sitting back and enjoying the White Pass RR and purchasing either the informative video ($7.99) onboard the train instead of trying to finagle the perfect "shot" although there are plenty to be had especially from the back of the cars. The Totem Bight tour which was only $5.00 more than those offered by the locals left immediately on arrival leaving more time in town afterwards. In Juneau we went whale watching on the Awesome Orca with Captain Larry of Orca Enterprises and it was, in a word, "awesome"! His price is on par with wildlife cruises offered through ship tour desks, but he takes a much smaller group (ideally no more than 22-23) and the onboard naturalist, Jeff, a delight! Orca can also coordinate glacier flightseeing and other tours in Juneau for you. In Haines I prearranged a tour with a local, Steve Hayes, of Yeshua Tours who also offers tours at the dock. Steve is a native of Haines, knowledgeable, reasonably priced and his van was much preferable over the big buses trying to navigate this picturesque little town and its surrounding environs.
An Alaska cruise is a voyage through a scenic wonderland, from the remote wilderness of British Columbia's inside passage, to Alaska's dramatic glaciers and mountains, unique wildlife and a culture steeped in Native tradition that can only be fully appreciated and enjoyed when enhanced by a knowledgeable and interactive onboard staff. For passengers who are not taking a tour of the Alaskan interior, the Inside Passage cruise is their "Alaskan experience" and in this aspect, Royal Caribbean falls woefully short of Princess and Holland America. The most glaring deficiency is the lack of on-deck commentary by an onboard naturalist in Hubbard Glacier (or Glacier Bay), Misty Fjords and other areas of interest and while entering/leaving ports of call. This commentary has been excellent on each of our four prior Alaska cruises, so imagine my surprise when the Captain announced that due to "Alaskan law" (who knew???), no commentary would be heard on the open decks in areas Hubbard Glacier and Misty Fjords! Not only was commentary not made on the open decks, but there was no ongoing commentary in the interior public areas or cabins in these areas and only perfunctory comment prior to entering them. Several "enrichment lectures" were held in one of the lounges during the cruise but these were not well-publicized. On checking with others who have cruised this summer on Crystal, Princess, Holland America and even one Celebrity ship, to this point Vision of the Seas appears to be the only ship adhering to this "law." If this lack of detailed, throughout-the-ship commentary is in fact Royal Caribbean's policy, it should be stated as such.
The shore tour staff knew very little about the ports of call. It's only good business for the cruise lines to encourage passengers to book shore excursions through their tour desks, but personnel staffing that desk should have a working knowledge of each port and what it has to offer (hiking trails, cabs, sites of interest in town, restaurants etc.) to assist passengers who may want to spend a little time poking around on their own after a tour. Not everyone "does their homework" before a vacation, and mst passengers cruisers rightfully expect this type of information to be available onboard.
Not only was the shore tour staff not knowledgeable about our ports, the the ongoing tour talk by the shore tour manager on in-cabin TV was for the most part a mere recitation of the brief descriptions in the written tour information but had several glaring errors. One of the most notable was with respect to tours including the bald eagle preserve near Haines. During only one of several tour descriptions did he mention that the eagles leave this area during the spring and summer and migrate back during the mid-late fall, making the mid-September cruises the only time one will see even a fraction of the preserve's huge winter population.
The ship's "shopping expert" was basically a jewelry salesperson and knew very little about the art galleries and uniquely Alaskan stores on the ship's "recommended" list, much less other stores in our ports. Diehard shopaholics were disappointed to find that maps of Juneau and Skagway including descriptions and locations of the recommended stores weren't available on our cruise, but one wonders how difficult it would have been to type the name and address of each store on the back of the map before photocopying them. I'm not an advocate for shopping recommended stores, mind you, just commentin on the lack of initiative to solve what some perceived as a major problem here!
One hopes that enough passengers who have cruised Alaska previously will note these deficiences, especially since Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises recently announced the formation of a new venture, Royal Celebrity Tours, to provide passengers with expanded, "in house" tour options in conjunction with their Alaska cruises beginning in Summer, 2001 and plan to introduce two new ships, Radiance of the Seas and Infinity, respectively, in Alaska. This is a huge undertaking and one that Holland America, Princess and Cruise West, pioneers in Alaska cruisetouring, have continued to tweak and improve over the years. One wonders, however, considering the major deficiencies found onboard Vision of the Seas despite RCI's presence in Alaska for some time now, how long it will take this operation to get up to speed.
This was my first cruise. I won't go into details of the ship, as that has been beautifully detailed in other reviews. I loved the Vision. It was an awesome sight as the bus drove to her in Vancouver. I felt like a little kid at Christmas -- and that feeling stayed with me most of the cruise. I enjoyed the Centrum; the seating around the center was comfortable, and I enjoyed people watching and listening to the light classical music played. We went to the shows each night, and thought the comedians funny; Vision Singers and Dancers good & the shows excellent. The Quest had my eyes watering; the "horse race" was fun; played my first bingo game (no winnings), and "donated" to the casino; most other nites we spent around the ship. Didn't do any dancing. The staff was great!! Very friendly and accommodating -- my waiter was more than happy to bring me what I wanted and to make sure I was pleased with my selection. I returned and asked for another filet mignon, and he accommodated my request. Poor Emre -- he brought us Bananas Flambe oneevening, and didn't realize at first that the banana was in the middle (small and curved to the left) with a scoop of ice cream on each side!! The table was in hysterics for about 10 minutes. I just had to have a picture of it!!
The food was great in my estimation. I wasn't expecting gourmet foods, and found the style and variety to be comparable to what I would pay in a good resturant. We usually ate breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer Buffet -- I liked the selections and found them mostly tasty.
We had a balcony on the Commodore Deck, cabin 7148. That was a little smaller than I expected! Two twin beds, shower, sofa, TV, adequate closet space & drawers. And we didn't need an over-the-door organizer, other than a small travel organizer bag for my cruisemates' bottles -- another thing she hardly used!!
Only take half of what you think you need!! Didn't need shorts this trip -- jeans, nylon running suit, t-shirts, rain slicker, hooded sweatshirt, formal wear & casual wear was all that I needed. Didn't use gloves, hat. Temps in 60s, mostly with scattered showers.
The Captain's Reception was held Monday evening, 8/20, formal. Debbie & I chose to have our picture taken. Then we met the Captain & had our picture taken with him.
It was shortly afterward that he announced that one of the engines overheated and had to be shut down. Since we were cruising only 17+ knots, we would not make Hubbard Glacier but continue on to Skagway. We were greatly disappointed, as that would have been a highlight! The engine was repaired and we were able to finish our cruise. The Captain announced a few days later that we would receive a stateroom credit of $400. I know there were some "Diamond" members that were insulted with this amount, but we were happy with it, $200 each paid for my facial & massage!
The spa area was very busy; so busy that when I had my massage, it always ended with "..oh I forgot to give you this..." But relaxing nevertheless. The inner pool was heated, but small. Had 2 jacuzzis or hot tubs by outside heated pool -- didn't use either, but weather played a large part of that. Didn't use the gym facilities, but they always looked busy with a fair balance of men and women.
Words could never describe the scenery of the Inner Passage and Alaska; green trees surrounded by light mists, with snow-topped mountains glaring in the distance. It took my breath away; so much so, that many times I forgot to take a picture!
Most of the time I spent on our balcony with my trusted binoculars and camera!! It came in handy to see the dolphins cavorting around the ship as we sailed; the eagles flying from one branch or another, or just at ease at the top of a branch. Saw pods of whales, but always at a distance; could see blowholes but they didn't show up in my pictures!
Took WhitePass train in Skagway; scenery was breathtaking! and enjoyed the narrative! Glacier Helicopter Tour in Juneau was AWESOME!!!!! Walking on the glacier; taking a sip of cold water; looking for rocks; crevasses were awesome. In Ketchikan, we walked alot. I toured Dolly's house and have pictures of the flowers on her shower curtain made from French condoms! Watched salmon swim upstream; spawn, or watched 2 males fighting over a female; spawn, and then die. Totem carvings were spectacular!
All in all I loved this cruise, and definitely plan on returning to Alaska for more!!