August 2016 - 7 Night Alaska Tracy Arm Fjord (Seattle Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Legend
The ship was fine. Not the latest and greatest ship in the fleet, but plenty good enough. The service was great, from cabin steward to food service and everything else. The food was good. I'd rate it a solid B. Our cabin was very good. We had a balcony room and there was plenty of space. We were told that if you can afford it, the balcony is well worth it. For us it was. The TV in the cabin was the old rectangle style with a bad picture. On board entertainment was good. The musical reviews were very well done. Two of the four comedians we saw were hysterical. The lounge acts were ok, nothing special. The cruise director and entertainment team worked their butts off.
Not so good; in one port of call, the ship sailed at 1:00 pm. That means that everybody who went off the ship came back around noon or 12:30. Plus the people who didn't leave the ship all were ready for lunch at the same time! The only place for lunch was the buffet, so that meant long food lines and not enough seating. Very frustrating and not the kind of experience I wanted.
The shore excursions were good (except 1). We booked through Carnival and a 3rd party. No difference in the quality of the tour provider. I would caution you on booking a combination tour, such as whale watching AND Mendenhall Glacier viewing. You can't do both adequately in a few hours. That was our worst excursion and WAY too expensive for the experience. The Mendenhall Glacier can be seen from the fantastic park and trails for chump change. Or, you can do a kayak tour to get up close. Better yet, you can take a helicopter tour to land ON the glacier. We talked to some people who said the helicopter tour was the best thing they ever did and didn't care if it was over their budget. We also took a post cruise tour of Seattle which was horrible. The city is worth seeing, we just had a very bad tour guide.
The bad; the itinerary was stupid. Whatever the reasons for making that schedule, somebody needs to rethink it. Juneau; ship sailed at 3pm. Ketchikan; ship sailed at 1 pm. After a tour, there was no time to see the towns! We were scheduled to stop in Victoria, BC from 7:30 PM to 11:59 PM. That's right, a very short visit IN THE DARK!! Our ship had mechanical problems and we got to Victoria 90 minutes late, so they canceled all shore excursions. Why couldn't they extend the time in Juneau and Ketchikan and eliminate the ridiculous night time, short stop in Victoria? We really felt cheated in our time in two ports.
More bad; The cruise ship is a sweat shop. The workers put in 70 hours a week minimum with no days off for months. Their pay is paltry and the customers tips are critical for their income. So basically, you're paying the employees salary for Carnival. Most workers are Asian or Eastern European. I read that the employees have to pay a recruiter fee and their airfare to the ship. That means they can be over $1000 in debt before they even start to work, making them modern day indentured servants. I also read that some rat bastard supervisors require kickbacks for servers to get prime sections in the dining room. If we had good service in the dining room, which we almost always did, we tipped the waiter a few bucks with a handshake on the way out. If you like a particular waiter, ask to be seated in his section every day. Slip him $5 or $10 after dinner (depending on the size of your party) and you'll be treated like royalty. I have mixed feelings about the way cruise lines treat their workers. They work the hell out of them for very low pay, but the workers know that going in. That's why the workers are almost all from countries with horrible economies. It bothered us a little, which is why we tipped our servers and cabin stewards extra cash, directly to them. Who knows how the shared tips get distributed and skimmed.
We liked Alaska a lot. There were several once in a lifetime sights. I'm not sure I would recommend this particular cruise, though. Check out other ships and compare itineraries. We would prefer more time in fewer ports, than short time in too many.