My sister and I decided to take this cruise as a birthday celebration for a big milestone birthday. We started out in Anchorage for a few days before starting the land portion of our trip to Mt McKinley and Denali. The McKinley Princess lodge and Denali Princess lodge were both very nice. We lucked out with the best weather possible, 6 days of sunshine and clear skies, which is unheard of up there. The train ride between McKinley and Denali was a nice change of pace from the bus rides, had lunch in the lunch car. We took the 8 hour ride thru Denali National Park, saw a few animals, but not as many as we would have liked, altho that can't be guaranteed. The bus ride to Whittier was long, but they did break it up with a 2 hour lunch stop in Anchorage. We did not get a chance to explore Whittier, we went right into the cruise building where we waited in line to get our cruise packets with our keys and excursion tickets then on to the boat. Our bags were already in the room when we arrived.
We dropped in at the buffet to grab something to eat after seeing the room, we weren't sure if our scheduled dinner was being served since it was during the muster drill. The first two days were at sea, with stops at the different glaciers which were fun to watch. We felt the ship was light on entertainment, or it was options for an older crowd and didn't interest us (we are in the 30-40 age group). The movies on deck were a little too chilly for us.
We loved the excursions at the different ports. In Skagway our excursion was the Kroschel Wildlife Center, which was fantastic. The guy that's in change is very entertaining and for photographers there are tons of opportunities to get fantastic photos of the animals without all the fencing in the way. In Juneau we did a Mendenhall Glacier/Salmon Hatchery/Salmon Bake excursion. We could have used a lot more time at Mendenhall Glacier. It would have been fun to be able to hike around there. The Salmon Hatchery tour was ok and the salmon bake a little disappointing (the food was just ok, nothing great). Wish we had done the glacier/whale watching tour instead. In Ketchikan we did a black bear excursion and it was fantastic. We got lucky and it rained the night before, bringing in more salmon so the black bears were there to collect. Got some great photos, really enjoyed it.
We booked an obstructed view cabin and were generously upgraded to a port side balcony cabin. It was awesome! We are forever spoiled. Instead of having to be up on deck to see the glaciers (where it was cold and windy), we were able to go to our room and be sheltered from most wind which cut the cold in half. The closet area was a lot larger than expected, plenty of room for all our clothes and bags.