August 2015 - Norwegian Pearl to Alaska - Inside Passage
We really enjoyed the cruise. It took less than an hour to check in and board the ship and less than an hour to leave at the end. We decided to walk off with our luggage and the process was quick and easy. It was extremely quick to leave and enter the ship when docked. As long as you follow the signs and listen to the crew it's no trouble at all. The ship crew was friendly and helpful. The ship itself, though 10 years old, seemed a little outdated, but was kept clean and presentable. The food was really good, especially the Indian food, pasta and fresh fruit. We ate at one specialty restaurant and the food was cooked perfectly. I thought the price was a little steep, but we received four courses. We didn't want to pay extra for soda and we don't drink alcohol so for us the price for the amount of food received was more than fair. The room was a decent size for two people. The bathroom small, but that's to be expected on a cruise ship. I booked a guaranteed inside room rate and when we arrived was given an obstructed view room on the lifeboat deck. It turns out, it was perfect. The view was amazing and the room was mid-ship, mid-deck and very convenient to the rest of the ship. The entertainment was fun. We participated in trivia, game shows, demonstrations, some dancing, and all the theater shows. We tried to keep busy, which wasn't hard as there was always something to do. When not busy, we often visited the library or top deck to see the beautiful scenery, wildlife and landscape. On our first night we took advantage of the spa special and did a stone therapy spa treatment to set the tone for a relaxing vacation.
The shore excursions were also great. Many tours in Juneau were cancelled (anticipated this as much is determined by the weather), but we took a cheap bus ride to the visitor's center at Mendenhall Glacier and ended up seeing a bald eagle and a black bear fishing for salmon. Skagway was hiking, rock climbing and the White Pass Railroad. The railroad takes you to Canada and was great for the first hour or so, but on the way down many people, including us, were bored, tired and cold. It's more of a "once is enough" kind of excursion. Glacier Bay was amazing. Great weather, great sites, great history from the park ranger who boards the ship and narrates what you're seeing. The glaciers were beautiful. In Ketchikan our excursion was riding out in zodiacs and touring the inlets and islands. We were able to steer our own boat and follow the guide as he gave us the history of the region. It was another beautiful day at 72 degrees (very rare for Ketchikan) and the sun was shining bright. By far, this was our favorite excursion as we rode the channels, viewed the Saxman village, held jelly and star fish, got close to harbor seals and saw two bald eagles glide very near our boats. Our last port was Victoria. We didn't make any plans so we set out on foot. After about a 30 minute walk into downtown we decided to take a sightseeing bus to the Butchart Gardens and even stayed for the great fireworks show. The grounds were beautiful.
Overall, I would highly recommend this trip for anyone wanting to see the beauty of Alaska.