Well this is going to be a bit long, but we had such an amazing time that I wanted to share what we enjoyed. Plus, prior to our trip I read lots of reviews to help plan our adventure...hope this helps those of you in the planning stages.
My husband, son (age 6) and I just returned from the May 24 sailing of the Rhapsody of the Seas. We are experienced cruises and we like excursions that are active and outdoors.
The ship departed from Vancouver so we flew in a few days early to enjoy the sights before boarding the ship. Thanks to input from other reviews, we chose not to fly directly to Vancouver (due to the huge expense) and instead flew from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle and then took the Amtrak Cascades up to Vancouver. We used the LightRail system to take us from the Airport to the train station. It cost $4 for the three of us for the 30 mins ride. The LightRail station ended up being only 3 blocks away from Amtrak. We checked in to the station at 2pm, dropped our bags and explored Seattle until it was time for our train to depart. If you are hesitant about the Light Rail, don't be - it was easy, clean, cheap and not hard to figure out. The ride on the Amtrak train was enjoyable. We upgraded to business class where we ended up having plenty of room. Beautiful sights and a nice ride.
In Vancouver we stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn which is downtown, but away from Stanley Park and Canada Place. We chose this hotel based on our ability to use points and get a free night's stay. It was a nice hotel in a decent part of town - no complaints.
We spent the morning our first day in Vancouver at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. This park was simply fun. It was a great day to stretch our legs after a long travel day. Afterwards we went to the top of Grouse Mountain. It was cloudy and cold at the top, but we didn't care as there was lots and lots of snow to play in. For Florida folk, this is a big deal! This too was a nice spot to visit.
The next day we headed over to Victoria on the ferry. If you are taking the 9am ferry, ignore the 45 min to 1 hour travel time to the dock. It was rush hour and it took us 1.5 hours. We left early and had plenty of time, but just plan ahead. Victoria was nice, beautiful weather. Based on reviews, we ate at Pagliacci's Restaurant. The reviews were right - good food at good prices.
We took the 7am ferry back to Vancouver and after dropping off our rental car, were at the dock by 10am. Three ships were in port so it was busy, but very well managed. It took about 1.5 hours to check in and soon we were on-board the ship. Our cabin was an inside on deck 3. By the time we booked, all 3-person outside and balcony cabins were booked. The room was fine - plenty of storage, clean and quiet. The shower is small - very small - but it worked fine. No complaints other than hot water ran low on a few nights.
Our first port was Juneau. The weather was sunny and cool - perfect. We were interested in the dog sledding, but heard mixed reviews. A family friend lives in Juneau and he recommended the float plane trip to Taku Lodge. Long story short - amazing trip, our favorite of the cruise. Saw 3 bears (including a cub) and enjoyed the outdoors. This was a 5 start excursion - it is a must.
Onto Skagway. In the morning we rode the train up to and back from White Pass. Lovely trip. Beautiful scenery. Nice time was had by all. The afternoon was the Chilkoot Trail Hike and Float Trip. We booked this independently. It was a nice time. Again the weather was perfect and our guide was good.
In Ketchikan we took the Alaska Coastal Expedition - Zodiac Tour. Hands down a first class tour. You drive the zodiac yourself, following a guide in his boat. Along the way you stop to see sights - in our case, a whale feeding a mere 50 feet from us and an eagle swooping down 15 feet from us to catch a fish. Warm gear is provided and I was not cold at all on this adventure (and being from Florida, I'm always cold!). If you are hesitant to take the tour because you don't know how to pilot/drive a boat, no worries as it's easy. If you are an outdoors/adventure seeking person, this is your excursion. It was a bit pricey, but so worth the money.
We chose Anytime Dining which worked well for us. We always had the same table and waitstaff - both of whom were wonderful with our 6-year old son. The food was decent. We are not foodies, but we enjoyed our meals and though that for how many people are served per day, it was well done. Chops was an enjoyable dinner out - made more so by a spotting a whale outside our window during dinner.
My son really enjoyed the Adventure Club. In fact, if he had his way, he would have spent all day, every day in there. The children made crafts (colored pillow cases, masks, etc..) played games and of course, became pirates and took over the ship during their pirate parade.
If I had any complaint about our days at sea, it was that there wasn't much to do that we were interested in. The movies being shown in the main theater were not that great (Really, a showing of Rod Stewart's One Night Only?!) Activities were typical - napkin folding, horse racing, etc. So instead of doing ship activities I did a lot of reading, playing ping pong and napping - which honestly I needed after our active shore excursions!
Upon our return to Seattle we took a taxi to the airport for our 11:45am flight. We had plenty of time to catch our flight, but in hindsight we would should have avoided the very long queue for taxis and booked the cruise ship transfers. In our case, our taxi ride cost more that the bus transfer.