We are first time cruisers. There were three couples, in our 50's and 60's, all from Michigan.
We decided to fly into Vancouver a day prior to our cruise. We took United Airlines flights, arrived on time an and proceeded through customs. We had superior rooms reserved at the BLUE HORIZON hotel, wonderful rooms and view was breathtaking!!!!! The six of us and luggage took two taxi's, and the fair was $35.00 each cab. Once we arrived to the Blue Horizon, one of our couples had discovered that they had left one of their bags at the airport. They had miscounted and simply neglected to take it off the baggage claim conveyor. The were in a panic, as it would now cost them another $70.00 to Taxi back to the airport, pick up the bag and then Taxi back to the hotel. Upon calling the airport and talking to United service desk, they found the bag and delivered to the hotel FREE OF CHARGE!!!!! We were amazed and very thankful.
We left our hotel at check out time and took two Taxi's to the pier, cost at about $12.00 per cab.
The RADIANCE OF THE SEAS was beautiful!!!!!! we checked in, got our SeaPass and headed to the Centrum bar for a drink....loved our waiter SHORTY and visited him many times during the trip.
We then decided to have lunch at the Windjammer Buffet while waiting for hour rooms to be ready. I walked up the the "sandwich station" and picked the tong utensil up from the tray to get a sandwich, once I was finished I was looking for an empty space on the tray to re-lay the tong utensil down and the station employee grabbed the tongs out of my hand and spoke forcefully "put them down!!!!", the lady next to me looked at me and we both had a look of "Oh My God, I thought he was going to spank me????" I was really upset and thought...what have I done, spent all this money for a cruise to be treated like this??? Well, let me assure you that was the ONLY employee that ever acted like that, everyone else and I mean EVERYONE else was kind, courteous and wonderful.
FORMAL NIGHTS and DINING: Our men opted for Dress shirts and ties for formal nights, ladies for dressy pant outfits and we fit right in, tuxedo's were rare, suits were common, and Dress shirt and ties were VERY common. The food in the dining room was wonderful!!! Our waiters Cecilia and Reynaldo were excellent.
The rooms were wonderful, shows were wonderful, and we had a wonderful vacation. The only negative thing we had was the weather, for the week of July 18th-July 25th, it was one of the coldest on record in Alaska, temps in the 54-59 range. We were prepared and did a lot of layering, lot of fleece and thank goodness for those thermal underwear we brought.
EXCURSIONS: We did the Taku Glacier Floatplane and Feast in Juneau, and I highly recommend this excursion, the flight was awesome, the food was great and you talk about seeing bears...I mean up close bears. One fellow is grilling salmon, while the other two have sticks to chase the bears back!!!!
Railway Trail and Camp Adventure in Skagway, took the bus up to Liarsville, saw the show , panned for gold and took the railway back. I think this is a ONE time excursion that you need to see the beautiful scenery from the train....but would not do it again if I went back. It is important to sit on the left side of the train if you are going up, and sit on the right side if coming down.
Zip Line in Icy Straight Point....WOW!!!! This was awesome and all six of us did it!!! I would do this over and over if I could. What they don't tell you until after you buy your ticket is that if you get to the top of the mountain and chicken out, they will drive you back down....but no REFUND...so make sure you can do this,......it is sooooooo worth it.
DISEMBARK and SEWARD, we had to fill a questionnaire out and it asked about your travel arrangements after the cruise, this is how they decide what color of luggage tags you are given and when you are called to leave the ship.
We opted to stay for the day and night in Seward, making reservations ahead of time at the MURPHY MOTEL, I would only stay here if you are looking on the cheaper side, you get what you pay for.
My HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION, whether you are traveling to ANCHORAGE upon departure or the next day, is MAGIC BUS transportation. I picked up the recommendation for them from another cruise critic, and what a great choice this was!!!! We were picked up on Saturday morning (they can also pick you up at the pier, or in Anchorage to travel to Seward). Our driver "Patrick" came for us in a shuttle van, and we could have fit 11 passengers in that van, luggage tucked in the back....but we had the three couples and tons of room inside!!!! Patrick gave us many options, and would discuss each one, explain what they were, how much time and then let us make the decisions. We stopped at Summit Lodge for a rest stop and browse the gift shop, then on to the Wildlife Reserve which was really great and only $5.00 per person, we saw buffalo, moose, musk ox, bear, elk, eagle, caribo...what a great stop. We stopped at the Alpine Inn and saw the beautiful hotel and they have a tram car that you can take to the top of the mountain and have lunch. We saw wildlife along the drive, a moose on the side of the road and Patrick turned that shuttle around and got us photo ops...we saw a bear walking right down the middle of rail tracks, we had a bear walk across the street in front of the shuttle and watch it go up on the porch of a house!!!! Patrick told us about a flea market shopping experience in Anchorage, and we opted to do that...he dropped us off, gave us his cell phone and let us shop until we were ready for pick up. We had dinner reservations at the Glacierbrewhouse in Anchorage (based on Tim, owner of the magic bus's recommendation) and the dinner was excellent. Patrick picked us up and showed us around Anchorage until it was time for us to be dropped off at the airport. Patrick told us many stories and brought pictures of bears that he or friends had encountered while in Alaska, and we could not have been more pleased with the service...it was a perfect ending to a great trip.
We will never forget our trip!!!!