We have just gotten back from the most amazing Alaska Inside Passage cruise.
This is the first time for us - first time to Alaska, and first time on a cruise ship. I've always wanted to go to Alaska- it is one of those destinations on my list, before there was such a thing as a bucket list. Thanks to the availability of resources available on Trip Advisor, and Cruise Critic, we figured that a cruise to Alaska would be a perfect way to see Alaska for the first time.
Through Cruise Critic I found a plethora of information, including how to travel on a budget, and how to find a good deal. Approximately 2 months prior to a sail date, I found the deal that I was looking for - Seattle round trip, including one night in a hotel prior to departure, and transfers from airport to hotel, hotel to port, and port to airport.
I used Sky Scanner to keep track of the best deals for flights, and found one - flights from Denver to Seattle on Delta, and the return on Alaska Airlines.
We flew to Seattle the night (Saturday) before our ship was due to sail. Our cruise itinerary:- Seattle, day at sea, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria BC, and back to Seattle. Our flight back was in the evening... so we had a day in Seattle on our return.
Our hotel was the Radisson at the airport. We didn't realize how close the hotel was from the airport. It is walking distance from the airport. You just have to know which way to walk. In fact, the wait for our complimentary hotel shuttle was longer than the actual shuttle ride.
The next morning (Sunday) we waited as instructed in the lobby for our transfer to the port. The lobby teamed with passengers waiting for their transfers to their ports. I saw luggage tags for the Norwegian Pearl (our ship) and Holland America.
We boarded without too much trouble, and made our way on board.
Our boarding time was between noon and 12:30pm.
Our staterooms were not quite ready (scheduled to be ready by 2pm) so we decided to make our way to the aft (back) of the ship to sit outside on Deck 12, at the Great Outdoors. So we sat with the most amazing view of Seattle, and ate a light lunch.
We could look down and watch the bustling activity as the ship prepared to set sail.
We could watch our baggage being loaded on board.
And then promptly around 4-ish we started to leave Seattle.
Time for our cruise.
As I've said before this was the first time aboard a cruise ship. We took some time to explore, and soon found our favorite spots, away from the hordes.
We found that the Great Outdoors - an outdoors buffet- located aft on deck 12. This is where we had breakfast each morning. It was also our default spot - I just loved being outdoors. Our other favorite spot was Deck 7 promenade deck. This deck was the spot for the smokers (nasty habit) but it was also a good spot to walk around outside, enjoying the sea air. Shuffleboard was located on this deck. And lastly our other favorite spot was the Spinnaker lounge - on Deck 13 located forward. It had gorgeous sloping windows to give the most amazing sea views.
Our stateroom was 8060 - located on Deck 8. I had been expecting a closet, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well designed & surprisingly spacious our cabin was. Another surprise - we had a window or a porthole. Not a great view, we got to see the life boat. But since we were expecting a windowless closet our stateroom was a nice surprise.
For our first dinner we tried one of the complimentary dining establishments - the Lotus Garden. It was not very good - tasteless to our palates. We did not return.
Monday was our at sea day. We ate breakfast outside at the Great Outdoors. This was our view...
We had a great day exploring. The highlight of the day was a special bridge tour. We decided to eat lunch at the Summer Palace, one of the complimentary main dining rooms. We liked this. It was nice and quiet away from the hordes. We sat at one of the windows and ate our lunch, and watched the sea.
The bridge tour was arranged specially for the Cruise Critic Roll Call forum. We all met at the bridge viewing room, and then were escorted to the bridge. We had a very nice tour, and were shown how the ship is operated. It is quite the ship... and for something of its size it can turn on a dime. I was very impressed. One thing that was very disappointed with the size of the steering wheel... I was expecting something a little bit more ... substantial.
I think they need a bigger joy stick.