Just back from the 08/18/06-08/25/06 Alaska Cruise.
Vision of the Seas was a beautiful ship. Tons of areas to watch from! The indoor pool was the nicest spot of all. The temperature inside was warm while looking out at Alaska!
Yes, kids were allowed in the pool, but they had certain times that they were allowed, and they came around and kicked them out when time was up. It was never crowded; I think a lot of people didn't bother with the pool on an Alaska cruise.
Anyway, we flew Alaska Air, booked on our own, no problems. We flew in the night before and stayed at the Ramada SEA/TEC Hotel. We got a free shuttle to the hotel from the airport. After we checked in, we asked the shuttle driver if he knew of any transportation to take us around to see the sights. He called a friend, who showed up with a 9-passenger van. (We were 8 in total). He drove us to the Space Needle, came back and picked us up when we called him, then drove us to the Pike's Place Market Place, came back and picked us up again. He even made a stop at the Mall for my daughter to run into Radio Shack to purchase something she forgot to bring. Then he drove us back to the Hotel. All this for $190.00 (split by 8). We took his card, and arranged for him to pick us up and take us to the airport for $75.00 the next morning. We also called him when we got back to Seattle and he picked us up at the port, drove us downtown, came back and picked us up, took us to the Zoo, came back and picked us up, and drove us to the airport. I have his name and number and would be happy to pass it on to anyone that is interested. He was great!
DAY 1 - We boarded ship around 12:30, smooth and easy. Our rooms wouldn't be ready until 1:00 so we headed up for lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day in Seattle, many people were in or lying around the outdoor pool, and in the hot tubs.
DAY 2 - Day at sea. Very relaxing. Spent most of it in the Solarium Pool area. This was also Formal Night, FYI.
DAY 3 - Juneau - This was a beautiful sunny day, in the 60's the first one they have seen in over 40 days. The workers all were so giddy, they wanted to close the doors and take the day off. We did the free tour to Mendenhall Glacier. This was very nice, and very informative. When we got back to town, My Dad (72) & Husband (45) took a Helicopter ride for $199/each to take a walk on a Glacier. They said it was unbelievable. They waited until we got to town to book this tour; they wanted to make sure the weather was going to cooperate. It was no problem booking a tour in town. I was really hesitant about booking through ship ahead of time, or even through an independent ahead of time. You never know what the actual day will bring. I'm glad we waited, and it worked out great. My mom (70), daughter (19) and son (21) walked around town, shopped a little, and headed back to the ship. After dinner on the ship, my daughter and I went and took the Tram up to the top of the mountain. The views were beautiful, and there were many hiking trails. My friends had gone earlier in the day, and did some trails, and saw the eagle they had in captivity. The eagle was sleeping by the time we got there though.
DAY 4 - Skagway - this was my favorite port. It was so historical. The weather was absolutely beautiful. This was the best weather they have seen all summer. Actually the tour guide said it was the coldest summer they have had in 45 years. We were so lucky with the weather. Again, we waited until we came ashore to book a tour. There were many, many choices. We ended up booking a Van ride up to the Yukon. It picked us up right at port, and our driver was great. We drove up along side of the railroad, and met the train at the station. We then picked up people from the train, and continued up to Caribou Crossing. This place was really nice. We had a barbecued lunch (which was included in our $99.00/pp price), there were sled dog rides available (we didn't do this though it was included in our price.) They had 9 day old puppies there we could hold, and other sled dogs to pat. The views were unbelievable. We made stops all the way up, and all the way down. Emerald Lake was so beautiful! When we got back to town, we chose to be dropped off in town and did a little shopping. We then went to a free movie/documentary about the gold rush. It was great. We walked the very short walk back to the ship. I took TONS of pictures. Just a note, we planned on getting rental cars from Avis (I made a reservation online), and follow Murray's guide. But after rethinking, we though it would be better with a guide narrating the trip, and no one really wanted to drive! This was much more relaxing. A little more expensive, but well worth it.
DAY 5 - Icy Strait - I have to say I was disappointed. I heard it was very small and the newest port, and most untouched by tourism, but I cannot believe how small it was, and there really weren't many people around that actually live there. It felt as if they make themselves scarce when the ship is in town. The best part was the shuttle bus into town round trip for $5.00. The driver was most informative, and a native. There were 3 Whales in the harbor area that she pointed out. There were several Bald Eagles she pointed out, and we were lucky to see a Black tailed deer on the side of the road. She said that the only reason it would be down this far in town is because of a bear. Our friends actually went on a Bear Tour, and were quite pleased. They did see a bear (there was a 70 percent chance). I also heard that the people that did whale watches from this port were also pleased. Anyhow, the driver dropped us off in town; there was absolutely nothing to do, and nowhere to go. We stopped in a the little store called The Galley, and looked in a very small gift shop, but there was nothing informative or historical to see. We jumped right back on the bus when it returned to go back to the dock. Again, the shuttle drive gave us some more history of the island. The dock itself had a museum on the cannery, but it was pretty gross. I was greeted by the slime table and the guillotine ug!!! There was also a big store owned by the cruise line, again, ug!!!. We did do the Nature Trail, completely man-made by the cruise line again. UG!! We got back on the tender and went back to the ship. We enjoyed the rest of the day on the ship. Again the weather held out and it was mild.
DAY 6 - Day at sea. Weather was beautiful again! Some people were sunning themselves and in the pool & hot tubs. The Flag parade was actually held outside for the first time in weeks around the pool area! I chose this day to workout in the Gym. It was a nice gym, it was the only day I went, but I got all kinds of exercise all week walking around the ship, up and down stairs, and all over the ports. There was a $10 fee for Yoga or Fitness on the ball. I do these at home for free, so I didn't bother. I also never do any of the Spa treatments, so I don't have any input on that. This was the second Formal night, FYI.
DAY 7 - Victoria, British Columbia - we took the shuttle to town for $5.00 pp/round trip. We booked a city tour on a Double Decker bus, (just like in London!). It was a beautiful warm sunny day. But it was a little cold up top of the bus. They supplied some blankets, or you could go downstairs. This was a hop on/hop off tour, but we just stayed on the whole time (90 minutes). Our guide was very knowledgeable. Tour cost was $22.00 pp. We then whet into the London Wax Museum for a $10.00/pp fee ($9.00 for seniors). We then walked around the marina a little and hopped the shuttle back to the ship for early seating (6:00 pm). There was a ton to do, many tours & much shopping available, on the bus tour, there was a beautiful garden, that the tour guide said was a nice as the big name gardens, and free, you could get off here if you liked. You could also get off at the beach, or China town. It would have been nice to have more time at this port, but we sailed at 7:00 pm.
All shows were great, comedians were funny, and food was excellent, and service superb!
What a great Alaska cruise. This year, the Vision of the Seas cancelled their Tracy Arm Fjord part of the trip, this was very disappointing, but I decided to stay with them anyway, because of our personal schedules, and we got a great price. Besides, we had never been to Alaska, so it was all new and wonderful to us. I would have like a glacier run, and would recommend booking a cruise with a Glacier run. I believe the Vision of the Seas will be doing Tracy Arm next year, but one never knows. They can cancel a glacier run any time because of weather and such.
My 19 and 21 year old really enjoyed the whole trip. My daughter keeps to herself and stays with the family. My son met some other kids his age (girls & guys), and hung out in the nightclub/disco. Drinking and Gambling age was 21 as of July 28, 2006. My daughter was a little disappointed as she wanted to try the slots. We really didn't gamble much, a little on the last night, I lost $30.00, but my husband won $80.00. BIG DEAL!
Hope I wasn't too long winded. If you have any questions, just ask. I will post this on the Alaska board, and on the Review board.