My husband and I and our children (16, 10, 8) travelled aboard the Radiance of the Seas from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia the last week of August 2011. The ship stopped at Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan. It also sailed to the Hubbard Glacier and through the Inside Passage.
This was our fourth cruise with children and my ninth, however our first venture outside the Caribbean.
We thought the itinerary was the best of all worlds. We chose the ship because of its updated features and amenities for adults and children. We were not disappointed. The ship was probably my favourite of the nine cruises I've been on. It boasted friendly staff throughout and classic elegance. The atrium area with the glass elevators was insanely beautiful. Even our inside cabins were exceedingly comfortable and well thought out.
We travelled from central Canada to Anchorage and on to Seward in one day. I would not recommend that to anyone! It was a total of 18 hours in travel time from door to cabin door. In Anchorage, we had prepaid a company to take us by bus to the pier through the internet. Because of a flight delay, we missed that bus. Originally we were told that no shows would receive only a 50% refund. However, we came to a satisfactory agreement. At first I was disappointed that Alaska Cruise Tours left us behind at the airport but in the end, I would say they handled the situation very professionally. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this company to future cruisers. We considered a rental car, but in the end we were able to find transport and we made the cruise on time which is the important thing.
Dining: We ate dinner in the dining room every night. Our table was set for 10 but we were the only ones to dine most nights. The service was excellent and there was almost always something appealing on the menu. Our other meals were eaten in the large buffet or the Park Cafe. I have to mention that the Park Cafe and Solarium was one of my most favourite spots aboard ship. There and the Colony Club on 6 aft. Beautiful spots for looking out over the ocean. The Park Cafe offered fresh, healthy options for breakfast and lunch, which I enjoyed numerous times.
Entertainment: I wouldn't rate the entertainment all that highly on this cruise, but I'm okay with that. I prefer to turn in fairly early and rise early to enjoy the quiet morning on the upper decks. The ship's entertainment crew were very good; the shows just aren't really my style.
Kids' Club: Perfect and wonderful. Couldn't have asked for more.
Juneau. We took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier and walked the trails there. We happened across a young cub while on a trail and observed him for a while. It's a beautiful place. The shops were interesting to pop in and out of.
Skagway. We explored the town in the morning (an hour is all you need to do that). In the afternoon, we went on a ship excursion by bus to the Summit of the White Pass and into the Yukon, on to a suspension bridge over some raging waters and back down to a gold rush reinactment at Klondike Gold Fields. It was a fine way to put in 4-5 hours.
Icy Strait Point. A tender stop. Should have just stayed on the ship.
Ketchikan. My favourite port, but I don't know whether that's because of the actual town or because the sun came out for the first time on our vacation, lol! I really liked watching the salmon swimming in the streams here and learning the story of their struggles and journey to spawn. We did all our souvenir shopping here, which was fine--lots of choice. However, one of the really nice souvenir shops that was in Juneau and Skagway (Alaska T-Shirt Company) was curiously absent in Ketchikan. Go figure. Shopping tip: use the coupon book that's handed to you at embarkation. It has lots of deals in it. Second tip: say no-thank you to the Ulu Knife. Security doesn't like them and complicates your vacation.
Once in Vancouver, we disembarked using the Walk-Off option. Super easy. We were off the ship by 8 a.m. and at our hotel (downtown Holiday Inn a little later). We spent the day on a hop on/hop off bus tour, which wasn't a bad way to see the city sights in limited timeframe. One tip: don't use Grayline's Big Pink. We had a lot of problems with unnecessary delays. The other two busses that do similar routes were always cruising by us while we waited endlessly at the stops.
I would highly recommend both this cruise itinerary and the ship The Radiance of the Seas.