I just got back yesterday, actually. My grandparents took me on a ten-day Inside Passage cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. This cruise left from San Fransisco, and really had a lot of at-sea days (5, although one was a detour to look at glaciers and was really neat.) My grandparents said that if they’d realized they were going to bring me when they originally booked it, they would have arranged a different one with more stops.
We only stopped in four places - Sitka, Haines, Juneau, and Victoria, and we cruised up and down the Tracy Arm south of Juneau one day, which was really spectacular. One the sea days, you couldn’t see diddly from the ship, and not being social butterflies, we all read a lot of books. We also found that the stops weren’t long enough - twice it was just enough for me to take one tour and not really get a good look at the town.
That said, I did go on some fabulous tours. I think the Tracy Arm diversion was probably better than the more crowded Glacier Bay. In Juneau, I took a helicopter ride to the Taku Glacier, where we got to get off and look around. I think that was also better than the more crowded Mendenhall Glacier tour too, but I really don’t have anything to base those opinions on.
I went on a good whale and wildlife watching trip out of Sitka and an Orca watching trip out of Victoria. I didn’t get to see anything at all of Victoria because of the time limit and the crowds from a tall ship festival in town, but I could see that it would be a fabulous city to explore.
I never did see any bears or moose, but quite a few different kinds marine mammals, which was pretty neat. I think there are some tours that invovle cruise ships and then going inland for a few days in a hotel in the middle of it - I think that would be good for touring. I also think that I may like to spend a summer towing my trailer up there and really taking my time someday, but that will have to wait until after I’m independently wealthy.
I had much the same opinion on cruise food as your friends did. I learned early on to not order beef or anything else that I can cook really well, because I would just be disappointed. I think it would really impress those of the faded-tastebuds demographic, and I have to say that much (but not all) of the seafood was really very good.
Overall, I had a great time; it was just not the sort of vacation I’d pick for myself. I prefer something a little less choreographed, but my grandparents needed the help and it was good to be there for them. Win-win, in that respect.