Heard about this fantastic deal thru the internet and decided to do a back to back on the Royal Caribbean ship, Radiance of the seas. Spent 11 nights on this ship in 2010 doing a Mexican Rivera cruise and enjoyed the ship very much at that time.
We were not disappointed.
Embarkation Vancouver: Arrived at YVR via air Canada flight. Used Canada Line to get to Waterfront station and then walked to cruise ship terminal. Rolling luggage was not an issue as elevator was available except for final exit from Sky train where escalator was necessary.
Walked down ramp to Cruise ship area and dropped off luggage with longshoreman. Very polite and wished us a great cruise.
Many helpful people along the way directing you to Security as well as informing you what papers are required and checking them. Very smooth setup in Vancouver.
As Platinum cruisers we were directed to the priority lineup and were checked in very quickly. After going through US Customs we had a short wait at ship security check point getting our picture taken for the ship pass we were issued.
After walking the ramp to the ship we were welcomed on board, asked if we required any extra dining or liquor plans and had no problem locating the Windjammer buffet on deck 11 for a light lunch while waiting for our stateroom.
Since it was three hours till all passengers were required to be on board I decided to see friends in downtown Vancouver. This is not prohibited but you have to leave the ship via the crew ramp and then go through Security and US Customs again before getting on board. Make sure you have Passport and ship card.
Got back on time and went to stateroom where we met our Cabin Attendant, Mauricio, who looked after us for 14 nights. He was excellent and ensured we had bathrobes, plenty of towels and always had the cabin cleaned. Thank you.
Staterooms received flat screen TV during the refit of the ship and was very interactive user friendly.
Cascades dining room was excellent. Eloisa and Bram looked after the large table for ten with expertise and humour. Thank you. The food was satisfying if not always inspired. Cannot expect it always to be 5 star dining in such a large room.
Windjammer buffet for breakfast and lunch was always a busy experience. More than enough food to keep anyone happy. Found out that you can use the Sushi restaurant tables during breakfast and found it quieter than the main area. Love that Seattle`s best coffee they serve and, oh those desserts.
Next to Windjammer entrance was a small kiosk where you could get different style hot dogs and trimmings. Very nice Coney island dogs. Great for a snack.
There is also a small kiosk in the Solarium serving a variety of dishes, sandwiches, desserts, drinks, and pizza until 0100AM every day.
Paul Rutter, our cruise director had a great lineup of activities during the cruise. As a back to back trip it did repeat itself but that was to be expected.
Bowser and the Sting rays were excellent both times. Ivan the juggler is extreme to say the least and funny at times. 70's disco night with Paul as John Travolta was extremely wild.
The orchestra and ship players were very good and offered great entertainment as well as the lounge bands.
Ports of call:
Juneau - Took the shuttle to Mendenhall glacier on a beautiful clear day. Outstanding. Take the hike to the waterfall and you won't be disappointed. Walked around town and noticed a lot of street people about asking for money or smokes near the library and docks.
Icy straight point - Whales, whales and more whales - excellent watching, right off ship and shore. Walked into Hoonah. Small town Alaska but you have to try the crab at the local pub. Wow and only 15.00 dollars.
Skagway - Love the train. Prepare to be crowded out with 4 large cruise ships in port.
Ketchikan - Great for the last stop and shopping was excellent. Try the Float plane trips for value off the ship.
Hubbard glacier was the high light of the trip. Clear blue sky and got within a few hundred yards of the glacier and witnessed numerous small calving. Sounds like thunder cracking.
Captain Bill Wright was excellent as ship's master and was always willing to discuss issues. Captain's talk was well attended and featured Capt. Wright with a one hour documentary as master of the Oasis of the Seas and how this largest cruise ship was built. Excellent.
The only issue of note was the cleanliness of the ship seemed to be suffering as we noted a lack of staff cleaning in all areas especially the Windjammer. Even the walls were dirty in that area.
Service in the Windjammer seemed hit and miss at best with crew chatting a lot among themselves in the service areas. Kudos to the young Filipino greeter with all the funny head gear for his enthusiastic greetings every day.
All in all, an excellent experience and definitely value for money spent.