Visit to Chateau St. Michelle winery. Very nice winery - bought a Cab Sauvignon, and a Chardonnay for the trip. Went to the Red Hook Brewery in Woodenville WA afterwards for lunch - and drank some good beer. It was very hot in Seattle that day.
Sunday June 27th, 2004
Embarkation was quite easy and very quick - about 15 minutes total from the time we got out of the cab until we got on the ship. They recommend getting there before 11:30 or after 2:00. Wife and I got on the ship and toured the ship. The ship was on it's 3rd sailing since being delivered from the Nagasaki shipyards by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. The ship holds 2600 passengers and is one of the nicest we have been on. The kids club is the nicest we've seen - almost one whole end of a deck - right under Skywalker's disco. Of course the ship is brand new - so you would expect it to be nice. Our room was on the Caribe deck (C205) BB category was very nice and the balcony was very large (a bit longer than a mini-suite balcony) and partially covered unlike the Dolphin deck balconies which are not covered. We had three chairs a small coffee table, and two larger deck chairs with a large square table, and even with all that furniture had plenty of room to walk around. We had our first ever woman cabin steward, Dorotyya from Hungary. She was great - the best Steward we have ever had. We ate at the buffet and were disappointed - only ate there one or two more times the rest of the cruise. The desserts were lousy on the buffet. The log of the cruise (a nice patter type log given at the end of the cruise) says we departed Seattle at 4:52pm. We had traditional dining in the international dining room - seating at 6pm. It was great! Not one meal was mediocre - all very good, and I thought a bit better than our last Holland America cruise on the Zuiderdam. I had the New York strip from the Sterling dining room, and I must say it was probably my least favorite meal all week. After dinner we saw the Welcome Aboard Show. A little opening number from some of the singers, dancers, and cruise staff, a quick talk from our Cruise director Alastair Greener (who was also our cruise director on the Grand Princess in 1999), and ending with comedian Kevin Hughes. Liquid Blue played each night in the explorer's lounge, and they were not good. This was their last week on the ship.
Monday June 28th, 2004
Day at Sea. Enjoyed a relaxing day at Sea. Went to the gym. The gym is very nice and lots of amenities. However I think the Zuiderdam gym was nicer and much larger, and a much better view! Formal dining at night. I brought my tux, I'd say about 40% of men wore one - it was a nice evening with friends - wife and I both had the Salmon - it was very good and ended with a very nice souffle. Saw the show Piano Man - it was very good. They were rehearsing for another show that did not get ready in time for this sailing. Overall the entertainment was lacking. Our dining service - overall it was fantastic.
Tuesday June 29th, 2004
Arrived Ketchikan at 5:21am. Got off the ship in the morning and went on the Clover Passage Kayak excursion. It was great and worth it. Wife and I paddled a two person kayak out to Clover Passage Island, went around it and over to a smaller island and saw a Bald Eagle and it's nest. Then headed back to the excursion dock. Back in Ketchikan we walked to Creek Street and took photos and saw many salmon in the river. We stopped at a couple of shops on the way back to the ship, and had to be back on board for a 3:30 spa appointment. We did the Raisul (mud) experience. Not such a great experience. Overall the SPA is very nice. Not sure how reasonable prices were. We left Ketchikan at 4:56pm.
At 8:50pm we entered Snow Passage, the narrowest part of the voyage. It was somewhere in the Snow Passage we saw our first whales, first some Orcas, then a Humpback. That was very exciting.
A bit of a note on the Personal Choice dining. Although we signed up for the international dining room, we were told we could go to any of the restaurants with a reservation. The first day on the ship my wife made reservations for Tuesday night at the Sterling Dining room for all of us (8). We showed up there and they said they did not have a reservation nor could they take us. They did say they could try and seat us after 8:30 depending on availability at that time. They were not apologetic nor accomodating in any way. We went to our traditional dining room late - around 6:30 and were seated. We spoke with the maitre d' and told him how unhappy we were with the situation. He gave us two bottles of dessert wine on the last formal night and an apology. I thought that was nice and really was just wanting an explanation on how it was supposed to work - never did get a good one - I think they are ironing out the Personal Choice dining options. As far as ordering from other menus you can and each night they will bring one menu from one of the other four restaurants (except one night - I don't remember which one). I found we rarely ordered off of the other menu unless it was just one or two items to try.
The layout of the dining room is a bit frustrating to get to it you either have to go to the aft elevators and take it down to deck 6 or you must go to deck 7 and walk down to deck 6. You can't walk through on deck 6, as the kitchen divides up the deck.
Wednesday June 30th, 2004
Awoke this morning to a waterfall and then a large iceberg amongst mountains that were no more than 50 yards from the ship. From inside the room I could not see the tops of the mountains and had to get out on the balcony to see them. This was the most spectacular site of the whole cruise. It was Tracy Arm, and the ship cruised up to about a half a mile away from the Sawyer glacier, that may sound far but it didn't seem that far, given the huge mountains surrounding us on all sides and the fact that a large ice field (broken up icebergs) was between us and the glacier. On the way out we saw the South Sawyer Glacier. From there we headed to Juneau. We arrived in Juneau to many seaplanes taking off from the dock area and layed anchor at 1:15pm (about an hour late). We tendered to shore and took our bike and brew excursion - which was shortened a bit due to our late arrival. This was also a great tour. We biked up a doubletrack trail in a canyon along a river and saw some amazing scenery. Not a difficult ride at all. At the top of the trail we hiked down to the river, where a couple of bald eagles were resting in a tree nearby. From there we biked to Mendenhall lake, where Mendenhall glacier is. It too was spectacular. If I return I would like to raft up to the glacier. From there we went to the Alaskan Brewing Co. for a tour and taste. Some really fine brews. The Alaskan Brewing Co. was small and a little crowded with about 30 people but I really enjoyed it. It was part of our Bike and Brew tour - so all the samples were free and we did sample. We got back on board and ate dinner. Again very good.
Thursday July 1, 2004
Awoke around 7am in Skagway. It was very foggy. Friends of ours went on the White Pass train excursion. We told them to wait till the noon ride to wait for the fog to burn off - it never did. All six of them went, when they returned the first thing they said was "well that's 3 hours of my life I'll never get back", they showed me a photo of a guy sleeping on the train on their digital camera and needless to say - said that was about the most exciting thing they saw. They called it the White Pass White Out train - the fog was so thick. After wife and I walked around Skagway a bit we got back on the ship around 4pm. We went to the trident pool Alaskan grill party. We had Salmon with Bar-BBQ sauce, Halibut & Shrimp skewers, and venison stew - the Halibut was FANTASTIC! This was a little pre-dinner snack and we met for dinner - we all shared a very large and very good plate of prawns with Alaskan King Crab legs and then ended with Baked Alaskan dessert with melted chocolate sauce on it.
Friday July 2, 2004
Day at Sea. Very relaxing - slept alot.
Saturday July 3rd, 2004
Morning at Sea - arrived at Victoria BC at 4pm. When we arrived at Victoria, wife and I walked around near the harbor and went to Chinatown for dinner. We ate at the Peking House restaurant. Had the best Chinese food we have ever had in Victoria. We had the dinners for about $10 US per person.
Sunday July 4th, 2004
Arrived at 6:30 am. Ate breakfast in the Lido buffett, disembarked early - with the new take your own luggage off procedure and it was the smoothest yet - highly recommend it. Overall the cruise was a 10 out of 10!! The ship was great, the food was great in the dining room, the service was great, the scenery was FANTASTIC, and our company was equally fantastic!
RC Rhapsody 10/22/2006 - W Carribean
Grand Princess 1/2005 - W Carribean
Sapphire Princess 6/2004 - Alaska
HAL Zuiderdam 10/2003 - E Carribean
Grand Princess 9/1999 - E Carribean
Carnival Fantasy 1/1997 - Bahamas
Carnival Imagination 1996 - W Carribean