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Hello, this Alaska cruise was our honeymoon trip and our first time to Alaska. We are 53 and 61 years old and have both cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past. We really enjoy the itineraries we find on Royal. The Radiance of the Seas really is the perfect ship to experience Alaska. There are views from every direction on this ship, even on the outside elevators! We stayed on the 4th deck and had a oceanview cabin which featured a big round window at the head of our bed. This was the first time either of us were in a cabin without a balcony, but since we were traveling for two weeks, the monies we saved by going with the oceanview cabin helped fund our time on land the next week. It was a perfect tradeoff for us. With 19 hours of daylight each day, we often ate dinner and after walking around the ship a bit, would come back to the cabin, turn our pillows to the foot of the bed and just watch the scenery. We embarked in Vancouver, and visited Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, and the Hubbard Glacier before disembarking in Seward where we spent the day before beginning our "do it ourselves" land tour! Radiance of the Seas The ship is just what we expected, we felt at home with the layout since we have both been on several different Royal ships in the past. The employees and staff are exceptional, as is the cabin and all the public spaces. The entertainment was just average, which had not been our previous experience. The time difference could have something to do with our attention span... 7 pm Alaska time is 10 pm Central time. Service in the MDR was wonderful, the food was very good too, and if it wasn't it was quickly replaced. Portions are ample and not too much (I hate feeling like I'm wasting food). We ate in the Windjammer a couple of nights and found the food to be very good there too, with more choices. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants this time around. Excursions and Ports We had pre-booked one excursion with Royal and then arranged private excursions in two other ports. The only excursion we did with the ship was in Ketchikan -- Snorkeling with Snorkel Alaska! Do yourself a favor and experience this excursion! You are picked up in a schoolbus and an instructor fills you in on what to expect, how to put on your 1/4 thick wetsuit (zipper in the BACK!) and tells you a bit about what you will experience. Once you arrive at the shop, you get your gear and change and place your belongings in a waterproof bag which is stowed in the truck while you are in the water. Getting into the water was fun -- the wetsuit makes you so buoyant that it is difficult to sit. There were 5 instructors with our group of about 15 people. The wetsuit is designed to let a small amount of water in between the layers. The water quickly warms up to your body temperature and keeps you warm. The water was about 60 degrees but I was not cold at all. Once the instructors helped us put on our flippers and gloves, we are off. The first thing we notice is we are SURROUNDED by tiny, beautiful white jellyfish (non-stinging) and some occasional orange ones (stinging but not dangerous). You are swimming among the jellies when you focus on the bottom and notice starfish, bigger fish, and sea creatures everywhere. The instructors pulled some of these starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and other interesting creatures up and told us a bit about them before handing them off to each of us to hold and check out personally. We were in the water about an hour, and we were tired at the end of the hour. It was an amazing excursion. Before our excursion, we had time to walk around Creek Street where we checked out the salmon ladder (too early for salmon), and the boardwalks and older shops and businesses. Many of the shops didn't open until after 9 am. We then walked the shops closer to the shore while we waited for our excursion to begin. In Icy Strait, we are among the first ships to utilize the new pier which was just installed! Once on land, we watched the zip riders (looked like high energy fun and excitement), walked the nature trail (an easy half hour walk on level, cleared path), looked for interesting shells on the shore, walked through the shops and the displays about Alaska and the Salmon cannery machinery, bought some souvenirs, and took the shuttle $5 RT to Hoonah (about 1.5 miles away). There, a totem carver and his team are finalizing a clan house wall which will be permanently displayed in Glacier Bay National Park in commemoration of the National Park Service's 100 year anniversary this August. The carver also explained how he makes his tools like his ancestors did and told us the story of his carving. It was a very cool "work in progress" experience and quite an honor for this gentleman and his clan. There's not much else happening in the town since many of the residents are working at Icy Strait. A few restaurants and shops. There were five or six bald eagles that were hanging around as well as many ravens -- a symbol of this clan. We jumped onto a blue shuttle bus (bought tickets at the pier $30 RT) at 8 am which was the first departure to Mendenhall Glacier. We saw many more bald eagles on the drive to the Glacier and several sightings of it on the way. We opted to walk down to the Nugget Falls for a closer look and it was AMAZING! The walk was well paved and maybe a mile and a half or so down to the falls. We stayed and took pictures of the area and then walked back to the visitor center to see the displays and we watched the movie about the park. We then caught the shuttle back to the pier where we walked around and shopped a bit before we met our hosts for our Whale Watching tour with Harv and Marv's. A shuttle picked us up along with others from each of the 4 other ships in port and away we went to Auke Bay where our tour began. What a beautiful area of Juneau! The amount of marine animals we saw was amazing! We learned a great deal about humpback whales from Katie who was our on-board naturalist and our captain. We got to see many flukes and flumes and even some fin tapping by the baby whales. It was a very exciting tour, and when someone saw the breath or blow of the whale, the ship (14 of us) would be so silent and scanning the waters for the whale to come back up for another breath before diving down for food. We were very fortunate to see many whales including a mother humpback and her calf, and yet another mother and calf who was playing in the water with a sea lion friend (!!!). We also saw bald eagles and a whole noisy group of sea lions hanging out on some rocks. Our trip took us past a lighthouse and several glaciers and just wonderful landscapes every way you looked. Skagway is not a very big town. I believe there are less than a thousand residents. Not a lot to do so we did the requisite White Pass train ride in Skagway on a tour with Chilkoot Charters where we had a small tour bus with 26 or so people and traveled to the Canadian Border (Frasier, I think) where we picked up the train back to Skagway. Along the way to Canada, we stopped at numerous sights to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. The wait through "customs" was long and sucked some of the fun out of the day, but we were finally on the train and once we were moving we were able to see the sights from a slightly higher elevation than the road. We were able to take pictures from the outside areas of each car, and the engineer pointed out a black bear as we passed him. It's a historical train with narrow gauge tracks and the history of the area was well told during the tour. We walked through the town to check out the stores and restaurants. A couple of totem poles and the Alaskan Brotherhood building (the front of the building is entirely covered in driftwood, and the huge snow plow car that the train uses to clear snow from the tracks were among the more interesting sights. Hubbard Glacier was spectacular. We spent about an hour close up and saw many, many calving events, although not any really big ones. It was hard to take your eyes off of the glacier, it was so huge and beautiful -- one of the only tidewater glaciers in the area that is still advancing (growing) rather than receding. The naturalist onboard gave a good commentary on glaciers and the Hubbard in particular and we learned the technical terms for the floating icebergs, bergy bits, and growlers we saw scattered around the area as our ship slowly turned circles in front of the glacier. It was an amazing morning. Disembarking in Seward I have to say, Seward was the smoothest disembark I have had. The Seward port is not very large. We had pre-arranged a tour with Major Marine to see more whales and glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park so we collected our luggage and hoofed it over to the train depot (maybe a bit more than a half mile, not really well signed) where we picked up our train tickets (pre-purchased) and stowed our luggage. This Major Marine tour featured a National Park Ranger onboard to explain and educate us on what the Park encompasses and point out wild life facts. Ranger Colleen was FANTASTIC and went above and beyond, including a Jr Ranger experiment that us "kids at heart" were able to try and marking a map with all of our wildlife sightings. Resurrection Bay was spectacular and the two glaciers we visited up close (Holgate and Aialik) were breathtaking; but the whales, birds, seals, and otters... they made this tour our best one yet. Who knew that puffins were so adorable! But the star of the show was the best; a BREACHING humpback. We saw this whale leap out of the water and splash down to earth not once, not twice, but THREE times. It was pure joy! I now understand why so many people return year after year to Alaska. After our tour, we had just enough time to catch the train heading to Anchorage for the start of our land tour... I will post that portion on tripadvisor soon.

Amazing Alaska!

Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by dawnmarie386

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2016
  • Destination: Alaska
Hello, this Alaska cruise was our honeymoon trip and our first time to Alaska. We are 53 and 61 years old and have both cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past. We really enjoy the itineraries we find on Royal. The Radiance of the Seas really is the perfect ship to experience Alaska. There are views from every direction on this ship, even on the outside elevators! We stayed on the 4th deck and had a oceanview cabin which featured a big round window at the head of our bed. This was the first time either of us were in a cabin without a balcony, but since we were traveling for two weeks, the monies we saved by going with the oceanview cabin helped fund our time on land the next week. It was a perfect tradeoff for us. With 19 hours of daylight each day, we often ate dinner and after walking around the ship a bit, would come back to the cabin, turn our pillows to the foot of the bed and just watch the scenery. We embarked in Vancouver, and visited Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, and the Hubbard Glacier before disembarking in Seward where we spent the day before beginning our "do it ourselves" land tour!

Radiance of the Seas

The ship is just what we expected, we felt at home with the layout since we have both been on several different Royal ships in the past. The employees and staff are exceptional, as is the cabin and all the public spaces. The entertainment was just average, which had not been our previous experience. The time difference could have something to do with our attention span... 7 pm Alaska time is 10 pm Central time. Service in the MDR was wonderful, the food was very good too, and if it wasn't it was quickly replaced. Portions are ample and not too much (I hate feeling like I'm wasting food). We ate in the Windjammer a couple of nights and found the food to be very good there too, with more choices. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants this time around.

Excursions and Ports

We had pre-booked one excursion with Royal and then arranged private excursions in two other ports. The only excursion we did with the ship was in Ketchikan -- Snorkeling with Snorkel Alaska! Do yourself a favor and experience this excursion! You are picked up in a schoolbus and an instructor fills you in on what to expect, how to put on your 1/4 thick wetsuit (zipper in the BACK!) and tells you a bit about what you will experience. Once you arrive at the shop, you get your gear and change and place your belongings in a waterproof bag which is stowed in the truck while you are in the water. Getting into the water was fun -- the wetsuit makes you so buoyant that it is difficult to sit. There were 5 instructors with our group of about 15 people. The wetsuit is designed to let a small amount of water in between the layers. The water quickly warms up to your body temperature and keeps you warm. The water was about 60 degrees but I was not cold at all. Once the instructors helped us put on our flippers and gloves, we are off. The first thing we notice is we are SURROUNDED by tiny, beautiful white jellyfish (non-stinging) and some occasional orange ones (stinging but not dangerous). You are swimming among the jellies when you focus on the bottom and notice starfish, bigger fish, and sea creatures everywhere. The instructors pulled some of these starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and other interesting creatures up and told us a bit about them before handing them off to each of us to hold and check out personally. We were in the water about an hour, and we were tired at the end of the hour. It was an amazing excursion. Before our excursion, we had time to walk around Creek Street where we checked out the salmon ladder (too early for salmon), and the boardwalks and older shops and businesses. Many of the shops didn't open until after 9 am. We then walked the shops closer to the shore while we waited for our excursion to begin.

In Icy Strait, we are among the first ships to utilize the new pier which was just installed! Once on land, we watched the zip riders (looked like high energy fun and excitement), walked the nature trail (an easy half hour walk on level, cleared path), looked for interesting shells on the shore, walked through the shops and the displays about Alaska and the Salmon cannery machinery, bought some souvenirs, and took the shuttle $5 RT to Hoonah (about 1.5 miles away). There, a totem carver and his team are finalizing a clan house wall which will be permanently displayed in Glacier Bay National Park in commemoration of the National Park Service's 100 year anniversary this August. The carver also explained how he makes his tools like his ancestors did and told us the story of his carving. It was a very cool "work in progress" experience and quite an honor for this gentleman and his clan. There's not much else happening in the town since many of the residents are working at Icy Strait. A few restaurants and shops. There were five or six bald eagles that were hanging around as well as many ravens -- a symbol of this clan.

We jumped onto a blue shuttle bus (bought tickets at the pier $30 RT) at 8 am which was the first departure to Mendenhall Glacier. We saw many more bald eagles on the drive to the Glacier and several sightings of it on the way. We opted to walk down to the Nugget Falls for a closer look and it was AMAZING! The walk was well paved and maybe a mile and a half or so down to the falls. We stayed and took pictures of the area and then walked back to the visitor center to see the displays and we watched the movie about the park. We then caught the shuttle back to the pier where we walked around and shopped a bit before we met our hosts for our Whale Watching tour with Harv and Marv's. A shuttle picked us up along with others from each of the 4 other ships in port and away we went to Auke Bay where our tour began. What a beautiful area of Juneau! The amount of marine animals we saw was amazing! We learned a great deal about humpback whales from Katie who was our on-board naturalist and our captain. We got to see many flukes and flumes and even some fin tapping by the baby whales. It was a very exciting tour, and when someone saw the breath or blow of the whale, the ship (14 of us) would be so silent and scanning the waters for the whale to come back up for another breath before diving down for food. We were very fortunate to see many whales including a mother humpback and her calf, and yet another mother and calf who was playing in the water with a sea lion friend (!!!). We also saw bald eagles and a whole noisy group of sea lions hanging out on some rocks. Our trip took us past a lighthouse and several glaciers and just wonderful landscapes every way you looked.

Skagway is not a very big town. I believe there are less than a thousand residents. Not a lot to do so we did the requisite White Pass train ride in Skagway on a tour with Chilkoot Charters where we had a small tour bus with 26 or so people and traveled to the Canadian Border (Frasier, I think) where we picked up the train back to Skagway. Along the way to Canada, we stopped at numerous sights to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. The wait through "customs" was long and sucked some of the fun out of the day, but we were finally on the train and once we were moving we were able to see the sights from a slightly higher elevation than the road. We were able to take pictures from the outside areas of each car, and the engineer pointed out a black bear as we passed him. It's a historical train with narrow gauge tracks and the history of the area was well told during the tour. We walked through the town to check out the stores and restaurants. A couple of totem poles and the Alaskan Brotherhood building (the front of the building is entirely covered in driftwood, and the huge snow plow car that the train uses to clear snow from the tracks were among the more interesting sights.

Hubbard Glacier was spectacular. We spent about an hour close up and saw many, many calving events, although not any really big ones. It was hard to take your eyes off of the glacier, it was so huge and beautiful -- one of the only tidewater glaciers in the area that is still advancing (growing) rather than receding. The naturalist onboard gave a good commentary on glaciers and the Hubbard in particular and we learned the technical terms for the floating icebergs, bergy bits, and growlers we saw scattered around the area as our ship slowly turned circles in front of the glacier. It was an amazing morning.

Disembarking in Seward

I have to say, Seward was the smoothest disembark I have had. The Seward port is not very large. We had pre-arranged a tour with Major Marine to see more whales and glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park so we collected our luggage and hoofed it over to the train depot (maybe a bit more than a half mile, not really well signed) where we picked up our train tickets (pre-purchased) and stowed our luggage. This Major Marine tour featured a National Park Ranger onboard to explain and educate us on what the Park encompasses and point out wild life facts. Ranger Colleen was FANTASTIC and went above and beyond, including a Jr Ranger experiment that us "kids at heart" were able to try and marking a map with all of our wildlife sightings. Resurrection Bay was spectacular and the two glaciers we visited up close (Holgate and Aialik) were breathtaking; but the whales, birds, seals, and otters... they made this tour our best one yet. Who knew that puffins were so adorable! But the star of the show was the best; a BREACHING humpback. We saw this whale leap out of the water and splash down to earth not once, not twice, but THREE times. It was pure joy!

I now understand why so many people return year after year to Alaska.

After our tour, we had just enough time to catch the train heading to Anchorage for the start of our land tour... I will post that portion on tripadvisor soon.
dawnmarie386’s Full Rating Summary
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Icy Strait
    In Icy Strait, we are among the first ships to utilize the new pier which was just installed! Once on land, we watched the zip riders (looked like high energy fun and excitement), walked the nature trail (an easy half hour walk on level, cleared path), looked for interesting shells on the shore, walked through the shops and the displays about Alaska and the Salmon cannery machinery, bought some souvenirs, and took the shuttle $5 RT to Hoonah (about 1.5 miles away). There, a totem carver and his team are finalizing a clan house wall which will be permanently displayed in Glacier Bay National Park in commemoration of the National Park Service's 100 year anniversary this August. The carver also explained how he makes his tools like his ancestors did and told us the story of his carving. It was a very cool "work in progress" experience and quite an honor for this gentleman and his clan. There's not much else happening in the town since many of the residents are working at Icy Strait. A few restaurants and shops. There were five or six bald eagles that were hanging around as well as many ravens -- a symbol of this clan.
    View All 332 Icy Strait Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Icy Strait Cruise Port Review
  • Mendenhall Glacier
    We jumped onto a blue shuttle bus (bought tickets at the pier $30 RT) at 8 am which was the first departure to Mendenhall Glacier. We saw many more bald eagles on the drive to the Glacier and several sightings of it on the way. We opted to walk down to the Nugget Falls for a closer look and it was AMAZING! The walk was well paved and maybe a mile and a half or so down to the falls. We stayed and took pictures of the area and then walked back to the visitor center to see the displays and we watched the movie about the park. We then caught the shuttle back to the pier.
    View All 888 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
  • Whale Watching
    We met our hosts for our pre-booked Whale Watching tour with Harv and Marv's. A shuttle picked us up along with others from each of the 4 other ships in port and away we went to Auke Bay where our tour began. What a beautiful area of Juneau! The amount of marine animals we saw was amazing! We learned a great deal about humpback whales from Katie who was our on-board naturalist and our captain. We got to see many flukes and flumes and even some fin tapping by the baby whales. It was a very exciting tour, and when someone saw the breath or blow of the whale, the ship (14 of us) would be so silent and scanning the waters for the whale to come back up for another breath before diving down for food. We were very fortunate to see many whales including a mother humpback and her calf, and yet another mother and calf who was playing in the water with a sea lion friend (!!!). We also saw bald eagles and a whole noisy group of sea lions hanging out on some rocks. Our trip took us past a lighthouse and several glaciers and just wonderful landscapes every way you looked.
    View All 841 Whale Watching Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    The only excursion we did with the ship was in Ketchikan -- Snorkeling with Snorkel Alaska! Do yourself a favor and experience this excursion! You are picked up in a schoolbus and an instructor fills you in on what to expect, how to put on your 1/4 thick wetsuit (zipper in the BACK!) and tells you a bit about what you will experience. Once you arrive at the shop, you get your gear and change and place your belongings in a waterproof bag which is stowed in the truck while you are in the water. Getting into the water was fun -- the wetsuit makes you so buoyant that it is difficult to sit. There were 5 instructors with our group of about 15 people. The wetsuit is designed to let a small amount of water in between the layers. The water quickly warms up to your body temperature and keeps you warm. The water was about 60 degrees but I was not cold at all. Once the instructors helped us put on our flippers and gloves, we are off. The first thing we notice is we are SURROUNDED by tiny, beautiful white jellyfish (non-stinging) and some occasional orange ones (stinging but not dangerous). You are swimming among the jellies when you focus on the bottom and notice starfish, bigger fish, and sea creatures everywhere. The instructors pulled some of these starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and other interesting creatures up and told us a bit about them before handing them off to each of us to hold and check out personally. We were in the water about an hour, and we were tired at the end of the hour. It was an amazing excursion.
    View All 30 Snorkeling Reviews
  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    Skagway is not a very big town. I believe there are less than a thousand residents. Not a lot to do so we did the requisite White Pass train ride in Skagway on a tour with Chilkoot Charters where we had a small tour bus with 26 or so people and traveled to the Canadian Border (Frasier, I think) where we picked up the train back to Skagway. Along the way to Canada, we stopped at numerous sights to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. The wait through "customs" was long and sucked some of the fun out of the day, but we were finally on the train and once we were moving we were able to see the sights from a slightly higher elevation than the road. We were able to take pictures from the outside areas of each car, and the engineer pointed out a black bear as we passed him. It's a historical train with narrow gauge tracks and the history of the area was well told during the tour. We walked through the town to check out the stores and restaurants. A couple of totem poles and the Alaskan Brotherhood building (the front of the building is entirely covered in driftwood, and the huge snow plow car that the train uses to clear snow from the tracks were among the more interesting sights.
    View All 1,104 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
  • Vancouver
    We had a late night flight into Vancouver arriving at midnight. We stayed at the Days Inn on West Pender Street just four short blocks to Canada Place where we boarded the Radiance. We dropped our luggage at the ship and took some pictures of the float planes and art around Canada Place. Wish we had more time to see the sights.
    View All 670 Vancouver Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Vancouver Cruise Port Review