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Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by cntrymum: Amazing Way to See SE Alaska


cntrymum
2 Reviews
Member Since 2012
57 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 3.0
Dining 2.0
Embarkation 2.0
Enrichment Activities 4.0
Entertainment 2.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0
Rates 4.0
Service 4.0
Shore Excursions 4.0
Value for Money 4.0

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Amazing Way to See SE Alaska

Sail Date: July 2012
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Seward

The first thing that struck us as we boarded the ship is that there was nothing or no-one there to tell you how to get about the ship, where you need to go, what you need to do and what facilities were available on board. You just kind of had to find your own way to your cabin and work out what was on board either by reading your daily Cruise Compass or watching the RC channel on the TV. We were cruising in Alaska and really didn't want to spend time in our cabin watching TV. On our 2nd last day we found the ships directory in one of the drawers in our cabin. Would have been nice if that was left out for new arrivals to peruse. Guest services were helpful when we needed to consult them but very brisk and much more attentive if you were enquiring about extra cost items.

Being intrepid travellers, we made our way to the bar and worked out where we needed to go for dinner on the first night. Extremely helpful staff in the bar & dining room helped us out a lot with ships More protocol. Our stateroom seemed nice enough - quite compact and we were glad to have the verandah - particularly on this cruise with such magnificent scenery. The sofa was small & hard so we just used it to store a suitcase. Would not have like to have our son sharing with us as it would have been a tight squeeze with the sofa bed out. Bed & pillows weren't that comfortable and shower was minute. Wouldn't like to be a large person trying to fit in there. Our cabin steward Rolly (as with all staff on the ship) was just lovely.

As our first day was spent at sea, we used the time to explore the ship deck by deck. Radiance is quite large so we certainly got our exercise for the day. In the afternoon we were treated to close up time at Hubbard Glacier. What an experience and we were so lucky to get within 1/3 of a mile & witness some massive calvings. The onboard commentary is really terrific and anyone on the ship that day will never forget the experience.

That night, we again ate in the dining room and by now had worked out that the food on board was pretty ordinary in both the main dining room & Windjammer. It stayed that way for the remainder of our trip and it was only on about day 5, we discovered the fresher options on offer at Park Cafe on Deck 11 in the solarium. This it the best place to eat on the ship (free dining) for breakfast and lunch. We didn't partake of optional dining as we weren't there to spend our money on the ship. We were there to enjoy SE Alaska. We did go to a show in the theatre that night and found it quite corny so didn't bother to attend any more shows. We also went to a couple of the music trivia sessions in Quill & Compass and the Colony Club which were fun. We also attended some destination specific presentations by a Canadian Mountie & an Alaska Park Ranger. The Mountie presentation was odd but the ranger one was terrific.

Mostly in the evenings, we went back to our cabin with a bottle of wine & sat on our balcony enjoying the views. We also needed early nights for early starts on excursion days :)

Our first port of call was Juneau and we came to learn about dockside spruikers. Some were quite rude when we declined their services and certainly wouldn't have encouraged us to enquire further. We enjoyed a self-guided walking tour of the Capitol (maps available from the visitors centre by the dock & it's signposted) along with a ride on the Mt Roberts Tramway and a short hike around the top for fantastic views. We had independently pre-booked all our shore excursions prior to departure but had a couple of ports of call open for options in case there was something we particularly wanted to do or had missed out on during our 2 week driving tour of South Central Alaska prior to the cruise. Otherwise - we were happy to just wander about & explore.

2nd Port of Call - Skagway. We had to meet our independent tour at 8am so were up bright & early to start our day. We took a small coach from Skagway to Carcross & return with lively commentary and many stops along the way. A very enjoyable tour with time to explore & shop in Skagway prior to ships departure.

3rd Port - Icy Strait Point. Again, we had a tour booked and had to meet on the dock at 9am. We got one of the first tenders around 8am so had time to explore the ISP complex & cannery museum. Very interesting & worthwhile. Our day was spent driving around Chichagof Island with our guide from Brown Bear Lodge hunting for bears and ending with some salmon fishing. Absolutely great day out in the Alaskan wilds and would highly recommend to anyone seeking an alternative to whale watching or the cruise tours. This was the earliest departure of any of the ports (3.30pm last tender) so we didn't have time for anything else in ISP on our return from our tour.

Final Stop - Ketchikan. Another free day and the visitor centre again provided us with a map for a self-guided walking tour. Ketchikan has so much to offer the visitor and it can be done very economically. We visited the SE Alaska Discovery Centre, Salmon Hatchery & Totem Heritage Centre and Creek Street - all within a short walk of the cruise docks and enjoyed the quirky architecture of the city along the way. You really don't need to spend your money on tours out of town to see the same things you can see right within the downtown area.

Final day - cruising Inside Passage to Vancouver but really you are in open water much of the way until the morning you approach Vancouver. We found this quite a boring day as we weren't interested in Bingo Jackpots or the Casino. The weather was nice and many people were out on deck or in the pool??? (Still a bit chilly for my liking at 17oC). Spent a lot of time on our balcony & watched a movie on the TV. Went to the Spa for an accupunture treatment prior to our 24hr plus transit home..... (I went earlier in the week for a deep tissue massage and wasn't very impressed).

The Captain had urged us to get up early and enjoy the approach and entry into Vancouver Harbour - so we did and it was spectacular on a gorgeous sunny day. The ONLY cruisetour we booked (City Highlights with Airport drop off) was so worthwhile to ensure a smooth departure and transfer to the airport. The tour itself was a quite comprehensive trip around the city centre and Stanley Park with a passionate local guide. Mostly, it didn't make me wish I'd made the effort to stay a bit longer in Vancouver though. It's just a city and a bit of a culture shock after 3 weeks in Alaska! Less


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Cabin review: Radiance of the Seas Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom Deck 8 7658

Extra large balcony. Small shower. Fairly quiet as it is near aft.

Port and Shore Excursions


Wildlife Tour

(4)
Booked a Bear Search trip with BBL after I found them on the Hoonah website whilst trying to avoid cruise ship charters. What a treat and delight to have such an avid & enthusiastic guide as Phil who is just so passionate about all he has to share with his guests. It wasn't the best weather on the day of our visit however we did a brief trip around town, had to stop & chat to a couple of locals along the way, visited the nearly complete lodge and then headed out of town on our search. We'd mentioned to Phil that we hadn't seen any salmon on the run during our entire 3 weeks in Alaska - we just kept missing them. Well - were we in for a treat. Not only did he do his very best to search out some bears for us (we only saw 2 but we DID see them and quite up close & personal with one......) he then took us out to the mouth of a river on Freshwater Bay to not only SEE the fish - but also try & catch some (we had licences....) And did we catch them! All catch & release but soooooo much fun hooking these cranky monsters who are just trying to get upstream & spawn! If I ever have the opportunity to return to SE Alaska, I would definitely come back to Chichagof to try and make the most of this rich & diverse part of the state. If the hospitality shown to us on our daytrip is anything to go by, I would LOVE to stay at Brown Bear Lodge once it's ready as these guys are the best!

Our first port of call was Juneau and we came to learn about dockside spruikers. Some were quite rude when we declined their services and certainly wouldn't have encouraged us to enquire further. We enjoyed a self-guided walking tour of the Capitol (maps available from the visitors centre by the dock & it's signposted) along with a ride on the Mt Roberts Tramway and a short hike around the top for fantastic views. We had independently pre-booked all our shore excursions prior to departure but had a couple of ports of call open for options in case there was something we particularly wanted to do or had missed out on during our 2 week driving tour of South Central Alaska prior to the cruise. Otherwise - we were happy to just wander about & explore.
Read 841 Juneau Reviews

Final Stop - Ketchikan. Another free day and the visitor centre again provided us with a map for a self-guided walking tour. Ketchikan has so much to offer the visitor and it can be done very economically. We visited the SE Alaska Discovery Centre, Salmon Hatchery & Totem Heritage Centre and Creek Street - all within a short walk of the cruise docks and enjoyed the quirky architecture of the city along the way. You really don't need to spend your money on tours out of town to see the same things you can see right within the downtown area. Utterly sick of all the "gift shops" by now - same stuff, different port. If Ketchikan is your first port of call - don't buy up big as you could be disappointed by the time you've been to all the others. Icy Strait actually had the most unique gifts and Skagway and some different offerings.

City Tour

(4)
Whilst the YWPR is the major attraction out of Skagway, we choose the Dyea Dave Tour based on recommendations in the TA forums and didn't include the train in our trip although DD Tours will collect or drop off passengers to include the train one way. Right from the start, we knew that we'd made the right choice for our style of touring. While all the other drivers were hustling their guests onto buses to get started, Cathy leisurely directed the DD guests to their small buses to start their day. We began with a visit to the cemetery and heard the tale of the infamous standoff between Soapy Smith & Frank Reid who are both buried there. We also had time to hike out to the falls above the cemetery which are quite pretty. Our guide, Shelby, then started off a long the road to Carcross. We had many stops along the way with informative commentary. We saw the train at many points and even with all our stops including a couple of U-turns to go back & see bears, we still arrived at the rail head about the same time as the train. Collected some passengers off the train & proceeded into BC Canada then on into the Yukon Territories. Lots of opportunities for stops and photo ops continued together with continued commentary. On arrival at Carcross, we first visited Carcross Desert before stopping for lunch in the town itself after a brief tour. DD's recommends the bakery but we walked across behind the visitors centre to the cafe in the colorful building which offered fresh toasted sandwiches & coffee. After lunch, we had time for a quick walk around and a visit to the SS Tutshi. Unfortunately we had passengers who were anxious to get going in order to meet the train which cut short our time in Carcross. We made the train in plenty of time so had more opportunities to stop on the way back including going out to a lookout above the town for a birdseye view. We are glad we took a small group tour for the extra opportunities to stop as we watched the large coaches whizzing by to take their passengers to the Disney Like Caribou Crossing theme park near Carcross. Would have preferred a little more time in Carcross itself however but overall a good daytrip.

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