Good cruise, not crazy-great.
The ship was a nice ship, though I disliked the number of dead-end decks that made getting around a bit challenging. The Blu restaurant was quite good, but employed mostly pretentious menu descriptions and was hardly worth the upcharge involved in "Aqua-class". The Aqua-class spa is a bust. It was obviously little-used, mostly because it was nothing more than a few heated ceramic lounges looking out behind glass over the bow of the ship on each of two decks. The added charge for eating in Murano and Tuscan ($50 and $35 apiece respectively) were pretty absurd. My opinion is that you have to have a high need for status to pay an extra hundred just for the privilege of eating a different menu one night.) And the drink packages on the ship are pricey...we're not drinkers and would have been much better off if we had bought a coke just individually at each meal.
The food in the Grand Epanay dining room was really excellent. The staff throughout the ship were uniformly top-notch. Friendly, helpful, and thoughtful. The ship seemed clean and well-maintained. The grass lawn on the top deck seemed like a silly use of space to me--don't we all have a lawn to take care of at home?
We hit wonderful weather, and so our float-plane ride, train ride, and visit to Buchaert Gardens were all absolutely memorable and worth the price. That garden is NOT one to miss! Whale-watching was good, though September is not the best month. We did see some whales and porpoises from the ship as well.
The shows on board were quite good. We had Lindsey Hamilton sing, which was awesome, and enjoyed a juggler, an electronic zylophone artist, a couple comedians, a very good Broadway review, an acrobatic show resembling the Cirque, Delisco--an excellent pop artist--, an impressionist musician, and regular entertaining and informative lectures by the ship naturalist. The hot-glass artists were remarkable for their physical and intellectual virtuosity, but it was cold up in the open air watching them.
The stops on this 11-day cruise were all worthwhile except for Icy Strait Point and Nanaimo, which both offered very little to get excited about. The days at sea were relaxing, as they always are. We hit an interesting day of rolling seas after Juneau, unpleasant for some passengers but nothing particularly challenging.
All-in-all, it was a very nice way to see some high points of Alaska and a pleasant ship to travel on. I don't think I'd bother with Aqua-class again, though.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Eat in the dining rooms whenever possible. The Oceanview Cafe was so-so, though a good spot to get ice-cream and gellato. The Bacio Cafe gave nice sweets just for the asking and were good to take back to the cabin. The hamburgers at the Mast Grill were very good.
Ports Of Call
Cruise Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska
Cruise Inside Passage, Alaska