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Ocean Victory to Alaska 7/7/23?


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Hi there! New member and first post! 
We are doing our very first cruise in July! We chose Ocean Victory because we wanted the "small ship" and "close-up" experience. We're excited to have the chance to get out on the water and see some stuff that is not part of a routine Alaska cruise. 
Wondering if any other Cruise Critic members are going to be on the same trip? 

Anyone who has done this trip and has some advice about stuff not to miss? Our stops are Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Kake, ending in Sitka.
 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Submitted a review of the cruise, which was mostly positive except that I brought home a case of COVID as a souvenir 😞 
As far as stuff not to miss. We were reluctant to splurge further on "premium" excursions after laying out so much for the cruise itself. We ended up booking independently for the Stikine River jet boat tour in Wrangell. We went with Alaska Vistas, which has a storefront right at the dock, and ended up saving $200 AND going with a smaller group (7 people) AND getting to get out of the boat a couple of times which was not an option on the tour set up by Ocean Victory. We enjoyed our trip and getting to talk to the captain and move around the boat a little more. Would recommend! 
The other passengers RAVED about the Anan Bear Observatory. They saw so. many. bears. And the creek was full of salmon. We just couldn't stomach the extra $1000 it cost, though. We did see eagles, salmon and bear in Kake on our last port day. It did not cost anything!

The whale watching tour out of Petersberg also got rave reviews. The winner of our photo contest got a picture of a breaching humpback whale almost completely out of the water- truly the shot of a lifetime! They also saw whales bubble feeding. We did not go on the tour, though I was tempted, because we saw whales EVERY DAY from the deck of Ocean Victory. On the cruise through Frederick Sound after our day in Petersberg, we had glassy calm seas and after dinner there were humpbacks all around the ship for more than an hour. We saw whales spouting and diving everywhere. 

For Ketchikan the walking tour with the former mayor got good reviews. No one booked the zip lining tour, I'll be interested to hear if they continue to offer it. We went hiking. The Deer Mountain trail above town is a good hard climb but very pretty and gets you into the rainforest. We took a cab to the trailhead and walked back to town afterward.
Lastly, we didn't want to pay $50 each for a ride from the dock to the airport. We contacted Amy with Sitka Shuttle and she picked us up from the dock at exactly the time we requested, drove us in a comfortable van to the airport and charged us $20 each. Find her online and set it up before you leave and save a few bucks. 
We had a wonderful time on our cruise, except for the COVID thing. Ended up with 11 cases onboard at the end of the cruise. If you're worried, bring a mask. Look at my review for additional details!

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How was the ship?  I'm still getting used to the look of this new design, which they say makes it sail better in rough conditions.  But how is the inside?

 

We did Alaska on Princess and enjoyed it.  But if we go back, I would like to be on a small ship like these.

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On 7/20/2023 at 7:47 PM, Host Jazzbeau said:

How was the ship?  I'm still getting used to the look of this new design, which they say makes it sail better in rough conditions.  But how is the inside?

 

We did Alaska on Princess and enjoyed it.  But if we go back, I would like to be on a small ship like these.

It is a very new ship. I think this is only it's second year in service. Mostly everything was in good condition and clean and working well. There was plenty of room to move around, halls were wide, the forward observation lounge was comfortable and had great visibility, there were plenty of places you could sit in a comfortable chair or couch and look out the window. I did like that the ship is designed so you can see the scenery! Decks are spacious, and they have two observation platforms on deck 5 forward that are extended in good weather and make viewing and photographing whales easier! There are two bars. A main dining room and a more casual dining area that serves breakfast and lunch only. Deck 8 has outdoor seating available for dining, which was used on a couple of warm days. They also have a self serve automatic machine that brews "fancy" coffees (lattes, cappuchinos, etc) available 24 hours a day and 24 hour a day chocolate chip cookies, too! 


There is a nicely stocked library which I used to get ideas about what to do on port days (there were a ton of Alaska guidebooks available). Two open air hot tubs on deck 7 that were open 10 AM to 10 PM.  
The main stairway indoors is pretty steep, big steps. But they have a nice elevator if that is challenging for you. The fitness center has cardio machines and a weight machine (and a scale, if you want to track how much weight you are gaining) and it got a lot of use! There is a spa but I didn't use the services so not sure what it is like. 

 

The "mudroom" where you gear up for zodiacs and kayaks has a cubby assigned to each cabin for you to store your lifejackets and wet gear. 

The pool was not opened during our cruise. I wonder if they get much use of it at all.

There are board games and chess/checker tables available. 

There are maps everywhere that you can consult to follow your route. 

Information about wildlife, birds, excursions, menus, etc are posted where they are easy to find. The TV has movies and a very limited selection of TV shows available for demand viewing. We kept the live "ships position" map on most of the time so we could see where we were and what was outside the window. 
I hope some of that information is what you were looking for! We did have a little noticeable motion when we were out of sheltered waters, but it was very minimal. I guess the new design works...?PWAY4294.thumb.JPG.d3b3f72ad5d91fe9b1a70750408767c3.JPG

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On the 7/18 cruise, which we are on now, there was no other place to eat besides the main dining room. On port days a smaller eating area on deck 8 was opened in lieu of the main dining room.

I would have enjoyed an alternative to the main dining room.

As on the previous cruise the pool was never filled with water, but the hot tubs were open.

Have not felt any motion at all as seas have been calm with minimal swell.

The deck 8 observation lounge is a very nice area to view the sights, however the music from the speakers was extremely loud and totally annoying. They did turn it down when asked however.

We are on deck 6 and smelled cigarette smoke in the hallway most of the time. Even after complaining we could still smell it coming in from the crew smoking area. I heard other passengers complaining of cigarette smoke in the deck 7 hallway.

We wanted a cruise that had not many passengers (110 on our sailing), not visiting cities everyone who has done Alaska has already seen, and anchoring in remote coves with opportunities to see wildlife...we got all of that.

The expedition team is a great bunch of enthusiastic kids. I call them kids because I am almost 80 and they are all in their 20's and early 30's. You can tell they like their jobs.

Other staff very caring and efficient.

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On the 7/18 cruise, which we are on now, there was no other place to eat besides the main dining room. On port days a smaller eating area on deck 8 was opened in lieu of the main dining room.

I would have enjoyed an alternative to the main dining room.
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Interesting! We had around 145 passengers on board. I wonder if they only open the 8th floor restaurant if they have a minimum number of passengers. My husband heard that they have to throw out uneaten food from the buffets, so maybe a smaller number of guests causes more food wastage if they have both dining areas open for breakfast and lunch? 
It sounds like a few minor issues but overall a good experience so far? I do recall occasionally smelling cigarette smoke in the stairwell, but never noticed it on deck 7 where we were. How do bigger ships handle smoking areas for passengers and crew?
I hope the remainder of your trip is enjoyable! 

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On 7/27/2023 at 7:25 PM, gbldcl said:

On port days a smaller eating area on deck 8 was opened in lieu of the main dining room.

 

Wow.  Are you saying that on port days the main dining room was closed -- dinner available only at the Bistro?  This itinerary visits a port on most days, right?  Or did you mean just the embarking/disembarking port days?

Edited by DaveinCharlotte
clarity
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On 7/29/2023 at 7:27 AM, DaveinCharlotte said:

Wow.  Are you saying that on port days the main dining room was closed -- dinner available only at the Bistro?  This itinerary visits a port on most days, right?  Or did you mean just the embarking/disembarking port days?

MDR was open for dinner and breakfast everyday. Closed for lunch on port days.

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We leave on August 8th from Sitka.  Its my mother and myself.  Did you see anyone using a walker?  My mom is concerned she won't be able to get into the zodiacs.  

 

Do they have single kayaks?  I will be doing that alone.  

 

Thank you for your great review.  

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We leave on August 8th from Sitka.  Its my mother and myself.  Did you see anyone using a walker?  My mom is concerned she won't be able to get into the zodiacs.  

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Yes, there were several people with walkers. Depending on how mobile your mom is, she may be able to get into the zodiacs. She will need to negotiate two steps- one on to the side of the zodiac and then a wooden step they put in the boat to make the step down easier. Usually at least 2 staff to assist people in and out of the boat.
No single kayaks but they'll pair you up with another single or a staff member. 

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Forgot to add- there are stairs to negotiate from level 4 into the "mudroom" and from the mudroom down to the level where the zodiacs launch from. Hopefully your mom can negotiate stairs? It would probably be a good idea to chat with the expedition team when you get aboard to see what they can do to accommodate.

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For the stairs down to the mud room, talk to the expedition staff - on our cruise they mentioned that they had a “secret” way to accommodate those who couldn’t manage the steps.

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