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Here's some information and highlights from a 7-day northbound royal caribbean cruise aboard Radiance of the Seas with a 3-night post-cruise land tour: Getting to and on the ship in Vancouver: For two people with two bags, it was $35 plus tip for a taxi from the airport to the ship. We arrived on July 1, Canada Day, so the terminal at Canada Place Pier was a sea of people heading down to enjoy concerts and fireworks at Canada Place. It added a little time due to traffic, but also added more excitement to kick off the vacation as we got to enjoy some free concerts and entertainment from our aft balcony on the starboard side. Luggage: For the two of us, we each had a checked bag and a backpack. We left our tagged bags at with the RCI luggage team once we arrived at the terminal and it showed up five or six hours later. Can't recall exactly when, but definitely in reasonable timeframe. Getting aboard, the junior suite stateroom and settling in: We arrived at the cruise terminal around 1 and were in our room by 1:30. Checking in was a breeze. We had VIP check in because or our junior suite and by booking through AAA Travel -- so we didn't really have to wait at all in the terminal. This cruise marked a jump from balcony to junior suite -- mostly to get a real shower/tub. However, the extra room in the cabin and balcony really made the cabin seem much larger. The padded lounge chair on the balcony was awesome and a great place to track down marine life. Would totally recommend it if you have room in the budget. One caveat ... the head clearance in the shower is about 5'8" ... so those tall folks will be stooping over or scrubbing the ceiling. Paid off to be a little shorter. Package selection: I opted for the $20/day Royal Replenish package. This got me bottle water, Pellegrino, fresh orange juice, a souvenir beverage mug, fountain soda and starbucks coffees (from Lattitudes on deck 5). I think I got decent value of the package and probably saved a few bucks. I wouldn't have purchased fresh OJ, so it was good to have. Soda and coffee notes: As of July 11, the soft drinks are the standard options. No freestyle machines. Lattitudes on deck 5 is essentially a starbucks location -- it just doesn't have a Starbucks marquee or associated pastries like the Oasis class ships do. Weather and clothing: For the most part, we had sunny and warm conditions throughout the cruise and tour. However, I'd recommend following all the advice and pack clothes that you can layer to handle the wide range of weather possible. Also, unless you're going to do some real hiking, you can get away with some good comfortable shoes. Cruise itinerary: July 1 - depart Vancouver July 2 - cruising Inside passage July 3 - docked at Ketchikan, Alaska July 4 - docked at Icy Straight Point, Alaska July 5 - docked at Juneau, Alaska July 6 - docked at Skagway, Alaska July 7 - cruising Hubbard glacier July 8 - arrive Seward, Alaska Tour itinerary: July 8 - motor coach from Seward to Talkeetna July 9 - motor coach from Talkeetna to Denali July 10 - motor coach from Denali to Talkeetna; Wilderness Express train from Talkeetna to Anchorage Inside passage: Ended up setting clocks back an additional hour. And saw some dolphins around lunch time. Ketchikan, Alaska: Based on other cruisecritic advice, booked a private excursion through Island Wings Air Service to visit Anan Creek. Cost for two was just shy of $1,000. But really was an awesome experience to jump into our Alaska vacation. Michelle, our pilot, was knowledgeable about the area and nature -- so we learned a lot. The float plane sat six passengers. It was a little overcast and drizzly when we started out in the morning, but Michelle let everyone know that the smoothest rides are when it is a little overcast. As we flew, the sun came out and we had a great excursion and saw four or five bears -- the salmon run was just getting started so late July would probably see more. Back on board, we sat in Schooner Bar and listened to string duo and saw about 8 or 9 whales looking out the widows. Icy Straight Point, Alaska: Sun was out most of day in port. Very quiet area. Little over mile and half walk on paved sidewalk into downtown hoonah. A few microbreweries on way into town to refresh for walk back to ship. Spotted some more whales as we sailed on to Juneau. Juneau, Alaska: Had to cancel a bike and brew excursion through the ship, but opted for a Pilot's Choice glacier landing helicopter tour through TEMSCO. The ship offered the tour, but we couldn't book it on their site ... so we went direct. This was a little cheaper than the first tour, but any time you get up in the air it runs at least $350 a person. We ended up flying to and landing on Herbert Glacier as well as Nugget Valley. The glacier was icy and had the dramatic blues. Because we were in port for about 13 hours and it is daylight the whole time, we also took a blue bus for $30/person round trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. We felt it was worth the visit. It was about a 20-minute walk from the visitor's center to Nugget falls and the closest glacier view point. If you just want to walk up to the falls and take some pictures -- you'll probably only need about 2 hours. We were going to visit Alaska Brewery, but there was a $20/person shuttle charge from the store in town to their actual restaurant and brewery. Instead, we went to the Red Dog Saloon for lunch and a beer. Skagway, Alaska: Booked the white pass train and klondike bike tour via the ship. This was a 27.7 mile ride to Fraser Station in British Columbia (so need your passport) in the train followed by a 15-mile guided mountain bike ride down the highway to the Sockeye Cycle store. It was a flat 1.5 mile walk back to the ship through town from the store. On the bike ride down, it was a little chilly for part of the ride as we probably got up to 25 mph. Different perspective from taking the train up. Bring gloves and a hat to wear under your bike helmet. Hubbard glacier: Very sunny at Hubbard glacier and about 55 degrees. Saw quite a few calvings including three or four biggies. The onboard nature expert said that they were some of the biggest and impressive ones he's seen in the 12 years he's been doing the cruise. In addition to watching the calvings, the other cool thing was watching the icebergs flip over as the bottom becomes lighter than the top. Plenty of time to get pix. Although if you want to chase the calvings--you'll need to be on deck 12 to easily wander for side to side. If you're up on 12 toward the front and get chilly, you can duck into the solarium and warm up -- and still have a view. Motor coach from Seward to Talkeetna: Boarded bus at 8 and reached the Alaska Wildlife Center at 10. Is a zoo/rescue that is all outside. Get to see bears, Musk Ox, Lynx and other animals up close. This is pretty much the best guarantee of seeing wildlife. Stopped in Anchorage for lunch. Ate at 49th State Brewery, which was less than a week old. Had outdoor balconies that you could see Denali from on a clear day (which it was). Because the weather was so clear and nice, we opted to book a flight seeing excursion in Talkeetna to get up close to Denali and the other mountains that were on display in sun. If you have the budget and it is sunny, this was a must-do. Especially as plenty of people never get to see Denali from a distance. This way you can stand on a glacier and look at it. Motor coach from Talkeetna to Denali: Upgraded to the Tundra Wilderness Tour for $70/person that turned the 4-hour tour into 8 and took us as far as Stony Pass at Mile 62. We saw some moose, caribou, grizzly bear, dahl sheep, ptarmigans, hare and a black wolf. It was clear and sunny until the ride back when a storm in the distance created some dramatic double-rainbows. The tour is long, but the seats are relatively comfortable -- not standard issue school bus seats. It is the best shot at seeing animals. We wouldn't have seen any if we didn't go on the long tour. As a tip, if you go on the long tour, check to see if your window opens before committing to your seat. Motor coach from Denali to Talkeetna and Wilderness Express train from Talkeetna to Anchorage: The final stretch of the tour was probably the most uneventful as we were back-tracking through our route out to Denali from Anchorage. We took the train leg from Talkeetna to Anchorage, but there wasn't really much to see from a scenic or photographic perspective. The ride from Denail to Talkeetna would probably be better. There wasn't any comparison between the Yukon Pass Railway in Skagway to the Wilderness Express ride from Talkeetna. Skagway was much more scenic. That said, they are two different trains and serve two different roles. We did eat dinner and desert on the train and it was good. Summary: The alaska cruise and tour was awesome and would recommend. Your tour experience will vary based on our guide and driver. We got lucky with our guide, Madonna. And our driver Mike. They were the best of the three groups.

10 Night Alaska Wildlife Express Cruise Tour; Vancouver to Seward

Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by ct8

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2016
  • Destination: Alaska
Here's some information and highlights from a 7-day northbound royal caribbean cruise aboard Radiance of the Seas with a 3-night post-cruise land tour:

Getting to and on the ship in Vancouver:

For two people with two bags, it was $35 plus tip for a taxi from the airport to the ship.

We arrived on July 1, Canada Day, so the terminal at Canada Place Pier was a sea of people heading down to enjoy concerts and fireworks at Canada Place. It added a little time due to traffic, but also added more excitement to kick off the vacation as we got to enjoy some free concerts and entertainment from our aft balcony on the starboard side.

Luggage:

For the two of us, we each had a checked bag and a backpack. We left our tagged bags at with the RCI luggage team once we arrived at the terminal and it showed up five or six hours later. Can't recall exactly when, but definitely in reasonable timeframe.

Getting aboard, the junior suite stateroom and settling in:

We arrived at the cruise terminal around 1 and were in our room by 1:30. Checking in was a breeze. We had VIP check in because or our junior suite and by booking through AAA Travel -- so we didn't really have to wait at all in the terminal.

This cruise marked a jump from balcony to junior suite -- mostly to get a real shower/tub. However, the extra room in the cabin and balcony really made the cabin seem much larger. The padded lounge chair on the balcony was awesome and a great place to track down marine life. Would totally recommend it if you have room in the budget.

One caveat ... the head clearance in the shower is about 5'8" ... so those tall folks will be stooping over or scrubbing the ceiling. Paid off to be a little shorter.

Package selection:

I opted for the $20/day Royal Replenish package. This got me bottle water, Pellegrino, fresh orange juice, a souvenir beverage mug, fountain soda and starbucks coffees (from Lattitudes on deck 5). I think I got decent value of the package and probably saved a few bucks. I wouldn't have purchased fresh OJ, so it was good to have.

Soda and coffee notes:

As of July 11, the soft drinks are the standard options. No freestyle machines. Lattitudes on deck 5 is essentially a starbucks location -- it just doesn't have a Starbucks marquee or associated pastries like the Oasis class ships do.

Weather and clothing:

For the most part, we had sunny and warm conditions throughout the cruise and tour. However, I'd recommend following all the advice and pack clothes that you can layer to handle the wide range of weather possible. Also, unless you're going to do some real hiking, you can get away with some good comfortable shoes.

Cruise itinerary:

July 1 - depart Vancouver

July 2 - cruising Inside passage

July 3 - docked at Ketchikan, Alaska

July 4 - docked at Icy Straight Point, Alaska

July 5 - docked at Juneau, Alaska

July 6 - docked at Skagway, Alaska

July 7 - cruising Hubbard glacier

July 8 - arrive Seward, Alaska

Tour itinerary:

July 8 - motor coach from Seward to Talkeetna

July 9 - motor coach from Talkeetna to Denali

July 10 - motor coach from Denali to Talkeetna; Wilderness Express train from Talkeetna to Anchorage

Inside passage:

Ended up setting clocks back an additional hour. And saw some dolphins around lunch time.

Ketchikan, Alaska:

Based on other cruisecritic advice, booked a private excursion through Island Wings Air Service to visit Anan Creek. Cost for two was just shy of $1,000. But really was an awesome experience to jump into our Alaska vacation. Michelle, our pilot, was knowledgeable about the area and nature -- so we learned a lot. The float plane sat six passengers.

It was a little overcast and drizzly when we started out in the morning, but Michelle let everyone know that the smoothest rides are when it is a little overcast. As we flew, the sun came out and we had a great excursion and saw four or five bears -- the salmon run was just getting started so late July would probably see more.

Back on board, we sat in Schooner Bar and listened to string duo and saw about 8 or 9 whales looking out the widows.

Icy Straight Point, Alaska:

Sun was out most of day in port. Very quiet area. Little over mile and half walk on paved sidewalk into downtown hoonah. A few microbreweries on way into town to refresh for walk back to ship.

Spotted some more whales as we sailed on to Juneau.

Juneau, Alaska:

Had to cancel a bike and brew excursion through the ship, but opted for a Pilot's Choice glacier landing helicopter tour through TEMSCO. The ship offered the tour, but we couldn't book it on their site ... so we went direct. This was a little cheaper than the first tour, but any time you get up in the air it runs at least $350 a person.

We ended up flying to and landing on Herbert Glacier as well as Nugget Valley. The glacier was icy and had the dramatic blues.

Because we were in port for about 13 hours and it is daylight the whole time, we also took a blue bus for $30/person round trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. We felt it was worth the visit. It was about a 20-minute walk from the visitor's center to Nugget falls and the closest glacier view point. If you just want to walk up to the falls and take some pictures -- you'll probably only need about 2 hours.

We were going to visit Alaska Brewery, but there was a $20/person shuttle charge from the store in town to their actual restaurant and brewery. Instead, we went to the Red Dog Saloon for lunch and a beer.

Skagway, Alaska:

Booked the white pass train and klondike bike tour via the ship. This was a 27.7 mile ride to Fraser Station in British Columbia (so need your passport) in the train followed by a 15-mile guided mountain bike ride down the highway to the Sockeye Cycle store. It was a flat 1.5 mile walk back to the ship through town from the store.

On the bike ride down, it was a little chilly for part of the ride as we probably got up to 25 mph. Different perspective from taking the train up. Bring gloves and a hat to wear under your bike helmet.

Hubbard glacier:

Very sunny at Hubbard glacier and about 55 degrees. Saw quite a few calvings including three or four biggies.

The onboard nature expert said that they were some of the biggest and impressive ones he's seen in the 12 years he's been doing the cruise.

In addition to watching the calvings, the other cool thing was watching the icebergs flip over as the bottom becomes lighter than the top.

Plenty of time to get pix. Although if you want to chase the calvings--you'll need to be on deck 12 to easily wander for side to side.

If you're up on 12 toward the front and get chilly, you can duck into the solarium and warm up -- and still have a view.

Motor coach from Seward to Talkeetna:

Boarded bus at 8 and reached the Alaska Wildlife Center at 10. Is a zoo/rescue that is all outside. Get to see bears, Musk Ox, Lynx and other animals up close. This is pretty much the best guarantee of seeing wildlife.

Stopped in Anchorage for lunch. Ate at 49th State Brewery, which was less than a week old. Had outdoor balconies that you could see Denali from on a clear day (which it was).

Because the weather was so clear and nice, we opted to book a flight seeing excursion in Talkeetna to get up close to Denali and the other mountains that were on display in sun. If you have the budget and it is sunny, this was a must-do. Especially as plenty of people never get to see Denali from a distance. This way you can stand on a glacier and look at it.

Motor coach from Talkeetna to Denali:

Upgraded to the Tundra Wilderness Tour for $70/person that turned the 4-hour tour into 8 and took us as far as Stony Pass at Mile 62. We saw some moose, caribou, grizzly bear, dahl sheep, ptarmigans, hare and a black wolf. It was clear and sunny until the ride back when a storm in the distance created some dramatic double-rainbows.

The tour is long, but the seats are relatively comfortable -- not standard issue school bus seats. It is the best shot at seeing animals. We wouldn't have seen any if we didn't go on the long tour.

As a tip, if you go on the long tour, check to see if your window opens before committing to your seat.

Motor coach from Denali to Talkeetna and Wilderness Express train from Talkeetna to Anchorage:

The final stretch of the tour was probably the most uneventful as we were back-tracking through our route out to Denali from Anchorage. We took the train leg from Talkeetna to Anchorage, but there wasn't really much to see from a scenic or photographic perspective. The ride from Denail to Talkeetna would probably be better.

There wasn't any comparison between the Yukon Pass Railway in Skagway to the Wilderness Express ride from Talkeetna. Skagway was much more scenic.

That said, they are two different trains and serve two different roles.

We did eat dinner and desert on the train and it was good.

Summary:

The alaska cruise and tour was awesome and would recommend. Your tour experience will vary based on our guide and driver. We got lucky with our guide, Madonna. And our driver Mike. They were the best of the three groups.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Helicopter Tour
    Did pilot's choice tour and landed on Herbert Glacier. Saw the amazing blues up close. The glacier itself had icy surface -- more so than the snowy surface from Ross Glacier near Denali.
    View All 125 Helicopter Tour Reviews
  • Mendenhall Glacier
    $30/pp round trip on blue bus. At the park, 20-minute walk 1.25 miles from visitors center to falls. Only need about two hours at the glacier if you just want to walk to Nugget Falls and back.
    View All 888 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
  • Misty Fjords Flightseeing
    Pilot, Michelle was awesome. Great experience and education about Alaska and wildlife.
    View All 154 Misty Fjords Flightseeing Reviews
  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    White pass and Yukon route train 27.7-mile ride to fraser British Columbia lasted about 90 minutes.

    Then transfer to van to summit and then 15-mile bike ride back down.

    Made three or four stops on the way down plus one stop at US customs as we came back into Alaska from British Columbia.

    Was a little chilly for part of the ride as we probably got up to 25 mph. Different perspective from taking the train up.

    Sockeye cycle tour partner: 1.5 mile walk from cruise ship when docked at railroad pier in furthest location.
    View All 1,104 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
  • Vancouver
    Easy $35 cab ride from airport to Canada Place Pier.
    View All 670 Vancouver Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Vancouver Cruise Port Review