We booked our cruise to Alaska on RCCL after reviewing several Alaska itineraries and other cruise lines. In the end we decided on RCCL because we have cruised with them in the past and have had enjoyable trips. I will run through this start to finish to give all a good overview.
Getting to Seattle: Being from Maryland we flew out to Seattle a day early in case of weather and flight delays. We checked into the waterfront Marriott and enjoyed a day in Seattle seeing the sights. My husband had been several times and this my my first time to Seattle. I enjoyed the city. Went to a great dinner at Anthony's which was a great deal for 19.99/person. The food was excellent and the service was good. We walked through town and visited the Pike St Market which was a lot of fun. Lots of smoked salmon snacks and other sea food options. There is a market in which local vendors sell goods. Toured the shopping district and made some last minute purchases for the cruise. Also plan to stay again in Seattle the day we return just to make the most of our vacation and to prevent rushing around from port to airport. We will likely do more sight seeing, go to the space needle and a nice dinner. Wear comfortable shoes and a lightweight jacket. There is a lot of walking and hills. Good photo ops and a lot of starbucks to choose from.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: We took a cab to port which dropped off right near entrance. There is a lot of staff available to direct travelers to the right spot. We were lucky enough to have preferred check in because we were staying in a grand suite. From start to finish this process only took about 45 minutes from the time we arrived to port until we were able to get into our room. Staying in a suite expedited our check in process. For other travelers the lines were quite long but it did appear to move efficiently. Leaving the ship we did express check out so we walked off the ship with our bags in hand. We were the first group to exit and once the line started moving it went quickly about 20 minutes total to exit, go through customs and get a cab to bring us to hotel.
Cabin: My husband surprised me with a grand suite which I did not expect. It was very nice cabin with a lot of storage space, a wall of closets and drawers at every corner. The bathroom had double sinks and a large enough shore/tub combo. The highlight of the cabin would be our balcony. It was very nice pulling the curtains back to see clear out to the snow capped mountains. Our stateroom attendant Oliver was very nice. He took good care of us and made our room look very nice each morning and evening while we were at dinner
Dining: We enjoyed our meals, some more then others but overall food was good in the windjammer. The food in the main dining room at dinner was fabulous. We did the main seating at 6. Our waiters Lester and Jun Ma were personable and attentive. The service was superb. When we skipped the main dining room 2 nights in a row to eat in the specialty restaurants the head waiter called us to make sure we were happy and to to make sure they had done anything wrong for us to skip the main dining. We appreciated their concern and honestly we just wanted to try Chops and Giovanni's. Our meals in the specialty restaurants was amazing as was the service.
Ship/On Board: There is plenty to do and having the computerized system in the halls with the list of activities was helpful. We enjoyed the walking track and the views from every area of the ship. The live music was the best I've experienced on any of my cruises. Rosario Duo and Robert Goldberg were my favs but all were very talented. The live shows in the evening were good, not great but still entertaining. We did have Bowzer from Sha Na Na as a headliner and i loved that show. We even got to meet him and take photos with him the next night. he was kind enough to sign autographs for me and my mom who wasn't even on the cruise with us.The Centrum was a hot spot to gather for random ship activities. The shops on board were in a narrow hall so when there was a shopping event it got really crowded and some people behaved badly, pushing and trying to squeeze you out. Probably best to hit the shops following the event since most times there were still plenty of selections to choose from. The ship was very nice and clean. The bathrooms were very clean. The ship is a good size but after the first day easy to navigate.
Ports: Juneau- did whale watching tour on St Herman. Saw pod of 7 orca, humpbacks, stellar sea lions, bald eagle. Loved this tour. It was long but worth it. Dress warmly. From there we went to the Mendenhall glacier. The glacier was great. We took lots of pics. There are several short and easy hiking trails. Once we arrived from our excursions back to downtown Juneau we went to the Red Dawg Saloon for a beer and food which was pretty good. The staff very friendly and the guitar player was great. We did some shopping as we walked back to the ship. Skagway- we did our own thing and I loved the freedom we had.. We rented a car from Avis and drove in the Yukon Territory so we could search for wildlife on our own. It was nice doing our own thing and more cost effective then a booked excursion. We traveled the Klondike Hwy and stopped at all the photo spots except we didn't have a crowd of ppl getting on and off with us. We saw black bear and moose. We walked across the suspension bridge which was a bit of a challenge for me as I am afraid of heights but the beauty of the bridge and its surroundings was worth it! Went to Carcross, there isn't much there but it is worth the stop for photos. Nice little town. Stopped at a musher camp to see husky puppies but I have mixed feelings about it. The dogs and puppies were all sleeping and the puppies were not easily aroused. There is a petting zoo and a taxidermy museum. This facility in whole appears to still be under construction so maybe in the future there will be more to do. I don't think I would return to this musher camp or any. It made me feel sad for the animals. Victoria- Pretty city. We walked the harbor and dd some shopping. Went to the Irish Pub for a bite and bought some Irish linens.. We were low key on Victoria but it is lovely and the locals were friendly.
Tracy Arm Fjord: due to the large ice fields we could not make it the channel. Our Captain was awesome though he made sure we got to glaciers a d he turned around and took us to Dawes Glacier and Endicott Arm. The ship was so close to the mountains it felt as though you could reach out and touch them. Our captain did a full turn so all could see and it was so breathtaking and special. This was one of my highlights of our vacation. We saw mountain goats and one passenger was able to photograph a wolf, yep, a wolf, swimming in the water next to the boat. We spotted seals riding glacier ice. Nothing short of natures miracle.
Other info: I wish we had one more Alaskan Port. We loved our itinerary but I think another Alaskan Port would have added so much more to the experience. The days at sea are very relaxing. As a suite guest we were able to use the concierge lounge which we enjoyed almost every night and met some really nice people. Preston and Victor, our concierge staff, were helpful and nice. Our trip experience was so special we are already talking about cruising Alaska again.....