Hello, Gardener! (I'd suggest that you post this question on it's own.)
We love the Anytime Dining, but other's have a different opinion. We like it because we don't have to be anywhere at any time. We can go out and explore the port and not have to worry about getting back for dinner.
I don't know what you consider "expensive" for a hotel (it really does depend on where you live and what you're used to). We stayed at the Hampton Inn in downtown Vancouver and it was very nice.
My only other advice would be that you MUST take a whale watching tour (ship's or independent). While the whole cruise was wonderful, this excursion was something I'll never forget.