Alaska Gulf Coast-Southbound Cruise – Seward to Vancouver
notes from Koehn/Brown Family
The cruise was just fabulous! The weather was good with a little misting. The service was outstanding. LaVeranda was loud; Compass Rose was very good. Prime 7, food was consistently good. Book your own table rather than offer to share because if the other couple cancels, your reservation gets moved.
I liked the cooking demonstrations;
they should do more of those.
There were big cancellations on the <free> shore excursions. RSS isn’t doing a good job of monitoring/managing these free excursions. People no-showed at the last minute. They should use tickets. That way, if you don’t pick up a day before, you would be cancelled from the excursion and other people could go in your place. Julian’s helicopter tour was cancelled—weather wasn’t clear enough. Mine was supposedly full, so Julian couldn’t join me. As it turned out, there were four spots open when mine departed, and he could have joined in. There is no skin in the game for the passengers if the shore excursions are free. The cruise though is high value for the price with the shore excursions included. The Ketchikan cooking shore excursion was good.
People on the cruise were very friendly. We enjoyed tea, the quizzes. The talks on Alaska were good but would have liked say, more art focus. Terry Breen was good, but they relied almost too heavily on her every day. Entertainment was a small troupe. Four different shows on a week cruise. Very good and people didn’t seem to appreciate what it took to do this weekly.
Your shipboard ID is not your room key. I almost left mine in the room, and you need it to show you’ve left the ship.
On disembarkation, the RSS person was too close to the bus to find her when we exited the terminal.
Wonderful things about the Navigator and Regent Seven Seas Cruises in general:
2. The Navigator was very clean. The staff was always polishing and cleaned the bathroom well each day. There are Purell stations throughout the ship and extra sanitizing tissues in the public bathrooms (which were immaculate). So we weren’t surprised that the ship got a high hygiene rating from the federal inspectors in charge of visiting all cruise ships.
3. The staff was very friendly as were our fellow guests. We didn’t meet a single snob. One night they had a meet your neighbors gathering. Everyone met in the hall outside the rooms and shared canapés and wine served by the room stewards. The ship’s staff came down and mingled among us. Great idea!
4. There are no FIXED seatings as there are on many other cruise ships. So you can eat whenever you want with whomever you desire in whichever restaurant you choose. We liked this flexibility as did many other guests who said they preferred this cruise to other luxury liners they had been on.
5. The wine list rotated, and if you don’t like a particular wine, the staff replaced it with a comparable vintage. You may always have the house wine for free. Some alcoholic beverages are considered premium spirits, and you do have to pay for those.
6. Book your shore excursions in advance as many do fill up quickly. Remember, though, these excursions are subject to a “weather permitting” clause so you may want to book some excursions that do not involve zip lines or flights. Our helicopter flight got cancelled in Juneau and getting on a different excursion was not easy.
7. The menu featured light fare and dishes with no added sugar (good for diabetics I suppose?). The fish was unbelievably fresh and delicious and well-filleted. I didn’t encounter a single bone, and I ate fish every day. The premium ice creams with hot fudge sauce were yummy.
8. The bathroom in our suite on the 8th level was spacious and came with shampoos, etc plus a hairdryer.
9. The room had an umbrella in the closet—a nice touch. The room also had an easy to operate safe.
10. The closet was a good size and easily accommodated our suitcases in the corner. Each of us had four shallow drawers and ample space for hanging our clothes.
11. There were free washing machines and dryers on our floor. I don’t know whether each level had these machines, but ours got used a fair amount. Many on the cruise seem to have come up a week early or were planning to stay on in Vancouver a week or two, so maybe that’s why the machines got so much use.
12. The fresh fruit in the room was exceptionally good and the fresh flowers in the room and all around the ship were a very nice touch.
13. The ship had been recently remodeled and looked quite spiffy. The glass elevators down the middle of the ship were cool.
The Not So Great:
1. The coffee on board was not very good. I found that the automatic cappuccino machine pool side made the best coffee, perhaps because the machine was better or maybe because it used less of the ship’s water.
2. The ship’s water tasted a bit funky the first day out. After that, I only drank water in the form of tea or coffee. Otherwise, I drank the bottled water in the room (always an ample supply) or asked the wait staff for sparkling mineral water.
3. I heard from several guests that the chocolate cakes were only so-so. I didn’t order them, so cannot say one way or the other. The bread, however, was consistently tasty.
4. La Veranda restaurant was fast, and the buffet was handy for breakfast. But we didn’t eat there often because we found that restaurant much noisier than Compass Rose or Prime 7.
Key Things to Remember:
1. Bring your passport. You will need it if you cruise even for a single mile in international waters. We definitely needed ours when we cruised Alaska. Also one of our shore excursions took us about two miles into Canada, and so we needed to return through immigration/customs when crossing back into the US. I carried my passport at all times when on or off the ship. You may also need it to reboard the ship since photo ID may be required.
2. Jeans and sneakers are not acceptable after 6 pm as cruisewear on “informal elegant” cruises. The first night, the ship sails before all guests get their luggage, so I would suggest wearing something onto the ship on embarkation day that will be acceptable evening wear. Slacks, nice shirts, blouses, etc were always acceptable. I only saw a few women in dresses during the entire cruise.
3. Don’t forget casual workout clothing if you want to do the yoga or Pilates classes or walk on the treadmill.
4. I brought my swimsuit, but it was too cold to use it. Plus the “pool” was more of a soaking or dipping pool than a full-fledged lap pool.
5. It was COLD in Alaska. I wish I had had Ugg boots or fleece-lined or down booties for wearing in the cabin. Long silk underwear would have been nice. I found that layering lightweight Gap long sleeve tees under one or two lightweight cotton sweater was pretty comfortable. I recommend a sleeveless down vest—I wore mine every day on and off the ship. A waterproof windbreaker is a necessity as is a warm-ish hat or cap and lightweight gloves.
6. Make sure your cell phone is set so you do not incur roaming charges. Cellular at sea was hugely expensive.
7. Our first night out of Seward, we had a forty knot head wind and the seas were rough. Lots of folks got seasick that night. I’d recommend bringing a 30 pill box of Bonine and taking a small dose shortly after you sail. I found that I could get by with a half or even a quarter of a pill and thus avoided extreme drowsiness. Alternatively, keep the pills, some water, a ginger ale, and some saltine crackers next to your bed just in case you find that you need these things at 3 am.
8. Lots of guests were wearing the anti-motion sickness patch, and I wish I had thought to get a prescription from my doctor.
9. A plug-in night light is useful. Don’t forget your power cords or battery packs.