June 26, 2002
Just returned from a week in Alaska on the Spirit - great cruise overall with just a couple of negatives. Ports of call and shore excursions were interestting but priced high (as are all excursions in Alaska no matter what cruise line) but worth the money. We did the Whale watching in Juneau where we had a wonderful morning viewing humpback whales (including a 5 mo. old baby) as well as eagles and sea lions. The scenery in all of Alaska is absolutely awesome. Service on the ship, particularly the dining room, purser's desk, and photo staff, was excellent. We never saw the captain - the captain's family was visiting so he never ate at the captains table and what few officers we did encounter were not friendly or sociable.
An Alaska cruise is NOT for folks looking for alot of high energy nightlife - you won't find a packed dance club on even Carnival - plan for dinner, maybe a show, then on to bed. But, the scenery, fresh air, and wildlife more than make up for the lack of nightlife.
Best shopping was in Skagway (which was our favorite port) - particularly the "Outlet" store at the end of the main street - same items as all the same stores in all the ports but definitely less expensive. Great souvenirs at reasonable prices.
Valdez didn't have much to over except great scenery - just a few shops - we wanted to take the "walk an Alaskan dog" tour but there was no one available at the animal shelter to give us a dog to walk around town!!! Definitely do a shore excursion in Valdez because your choices for entertainment in town are very limited.
We also visited Juneau and Ketchikan - both were also nice with lots of shops - Ketchikan had alot of trendy and small speciality stores selling native items, paintings/art, etc. Definitely walk to Church St. and check out the little shops (used to be the red light district) as well as the stream where the King Salmon spawn - beatiful part of this historic town.
On to the negatives - we did a southbound sailing so flew into
Anchorage and arrived 2:20 Alaska time (4 hour time difference for
us East Coasters) so we had been traveling for 12 hours at that
point. The airport is very small and the baggage areas are tiny
so all us folks that got off a DC 10 waited approximately 45 minutes
to get our luggage - then we had to wait 1.5 hours for a bus to
Seward - NOT acceptable - the line for Carnival busses stretched
the length of the airport with no chairs in sight. For older folks,
it was an ordeal to stand for such a long length of time. Then a
3 hour bus ride with a courtesy stop at a wildlife refuge finally
got us to the ship about 8:00 p.m. Carnival needs to do a much better
job at transporting folks to the ship - just young kids in charge
with no answers to any questions.