We were a family group with 8 inside cabins.
Know what to expect and you will not be disappointed. 14 years ago, my friends paid over $2000.00 each for an inside room for this 7 day cruise. Food and service were much different in those days. Today, cruise prices have decreased to make cruising more affordable for families. As a result, meals are less extravagant, line ups are longer, entertainment is not like what it used to be. Still, this cruise is value for your money...just don't expect king crab legs, fresh hand-cut halibut or salmon. Service remained very good - for everyone in our group (from senior with walkers to the youngest - a toddler).
Getting to Canada Place - the cruise port terminal. Very easy by public transportation from the airport - just find the (LRT -"train")Canada Line to Waterfront Station. Lots of room on the train for luggage. You have to go out to the street and walk about 2 blocks (ask for directions).
Embarking: a nightmare because 3 ships embarked at the same time. took 3.5 hours to make it to our cabin. it was one of the few times that we arrived later than our bags! normally, embarking is very smooth and takes less than 30 minutes.
Pick the right cabin: I always choose a mid-ship mid deck (deck 7) cabin that is not under the pool,casino, gym or adjacent to the centrum. The centrum on the Vision class ships are the center for entertainment -very noisy AND if the cabin is on deck 2, 3,4, next to the centrum, your cabin may be next to the gangway. Inside cabins are OK - it is too cold in Alaska to enjoy your balcony. (I have taken this cruise in mid August, and July and May). On the other hand, when the ship reaches the glacier (Sawyer glacier on this route), you will not have to fight the crowds for a good view if you have a balcony.
Bring medication for seasickness. The Inside Passage can be quite rough.
Bring warm jackets (waterproof because you are entering a rainforest), mitts and hat, binoculars, and a GPS. There is very little info given on the cruise route so a GPS gives you some idea of where you are.
Expect lots of sales pitches on art, jewels, clothes etc. While there is little info given on do-it-yourself sightseeing or history of your ports of call, there is an abundant amount of info on what to buy at the ports. Don't be annoyed...that is how people make their living. Just go to the tourist info center for do-it-yourself touring.
Tips for ports of call (DIY):
Juneau - the ship may dock a mile away from the tourist attractions. There is a not-free shuttle that takes you to/from the main tourist area. Since the weather may be very cold and rainy, the shuttle is a good buy at $2 all-you-can ride fare. There are kiosks to buy non-ship tours for under $30 per person. Our group took tours to the Mendenhall glacier, the city tour, and used the mount roberts tram. Our ship was the only one in port so line ups were minimal. We ate king crab legs at Tracy's Crab shack - locals consider it the best place for crab - ask for directions from any one. It is a shack with a dining tent beside the multilevel car park.
Skagway - everyone enjoyed the whitepass rail trip.
Ketichikan - favourite stop. ship docked at berth 1 - right in front of the tourist info center. get a walking map from the tourist info center. There are working pay phones inside the tourist centre. We followed the map to see the eagles (west walk) and walked downtown to the Cape Fox tram (funicular) and took it up the hill, then walked to the salmon hatchery and totem park. Bit challenging walk up hill. We had lunch at the Fish House just outside of Salmon Landing. The smoked salmon chowder was good - a "cup" was almost 16 ounces (2 cups) of soup. We could have dined at the Cape Fox lodge at the top of the funicular (beautiful view from the restaurant). We bought canned smoked salmon from Simply Salmon at Creek Street - best prices and selection - great taste samples. Local art was also a good buy. We also took the free shuttle to Wal Mart because we ran out of anti-nausea medication. It was about an 8-10 minute ride. The shuttle loads at the Nature Centre and off loads right in front of the ship.
Do your homework before cruising and you will not be disappointed. this was our 3rd cruise on RCI and 3rd cruise to Alaska as a large family group.