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Sail Date: August 2018
My wife and I began preparing for this cruise 5 years ago when we took our first Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. We had so much fun, and it was so amazing, that we decided we'd do another for our 35th. And this time we'd do our ... Read More
My wife and I began preparing for this cruise 5 years ago when we took our first Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. We had so much fun, and it was so amazing, that we decided we'd do another for our 35th. And this time we'd do our own pre-cruise tour before sailing southbound. I would have preferred to sail earlier in the year this time, but as it turned out it was the same timeframe as the first one, which meant we were cruising over our anniversary again. So that was fine. We arrived in Anchorage on Sunday the 26th. Unfortunately, Delta had fun with our flights a few times and our original 12:30pm arrival ended up being 3pm. With a delay in landing and then waiting for the hotel shuttle, we didn't arrive to the Lakefront Anchorage until about 4pm. Only 15 hours after we had gotten up! Somehow we managed to stay awake until dinner time and we went for a short walk around the area and the lake with all its float planes. But that was the end of Sunday. On Monday we headed for Denali National Park. We made a few stops on the way for some supplies, and we also visited the Earthquake Park. It's always interesting to see something that I've read about in the History books. That Good Friday earthquake in 1964 was something else.. We spent 3 nights at Carlo Creek Lodges in one of their private cabins with a private bathroom. The cabin was cozy, and the bathroom even more so, but it was clean, comfortable and only $124/night. The location was very nice, about 15 minutes south of the park entrance. Fortunately, we had a chance to see Mt. Denalij on our drive up to the Park. Tuesday we took the hop-on/hop-off bus into Denali. The weather was not great, with scatterings of sun, rain, fog, low clouds, etc, so we didn't do any hopping off, hopping on. Wednesday was great weather when we went to the park again This time we started the morning off climbing Mt. Healy. And then it rained as we got within the last mile of the overlook, so we came back down. We went to the Dog Sled Camp later, when the sun was back out. Thursday we drove back to Anchorage. It was a rainy drive, but when we got to Anchorage the rain stopped and we got to explore more of Anchorage. We did some shopping for souvenirs. TIP- we found stuff up in Denali area just as cheap as in Anchorage, so you don't need to panic.. This time we stayed at the Clarion Suites as they had a shuttle to the train station. They take your name for it, but someone we were overbooked. Not sure how that happened, but we got everyone to the station on time. The train ride to Seward was so much fun, and the scenery was great. We paid for the upgraded Gold Star service. The breakfast was great and the dome car was so nice to really see things It helped me spot a family of 3 moose for all to see! We met some great people on the train. As it turned out, the couple seated behind us on the train, was our next door neighbor on the cruise. When we got to Seward, we stopped at Alaska Seafood Grill for some lunch. The chowder in a bread bowl is excellent! We had reservations with Body Abode for massages before the cruise. With arrival around 11, finding lunch, walking to our massages and all that, it was 2-2:30 when we arrived at embarkation. This was the first time that we were the ONLY people in line to check in. It was surreal and, as you might expect, really quick. Best boarding ever. The ship was clean and seemed well maintained. We enjoyed it alot. The Solarium is one of the best I've seen on RC and I've 9 of the ships so far. The Park Cafe was also nice, we ate their a couple of times. We split our time between the MDR and the Windjammer. The only bad time we had though was one of the last nights in the Main Dining room. Our service was just awful. It was the first time ever in the MDR that we had bad service over 10 cruises. It seemed like our waiter and asst waiter were too busy with one of the tables near us to even bother to make sure we had water. In fact, one of the couples at our table asked for water, and they got it. But the other 4 of us didn't, and my wife's glass was pretty much dry. We then had to ask the head waiter for water for the rest of us. (And I must say that the head waiter never actually introduced herself to us at all). They were slow on bringing us our food, especially our desserts. I've never complained before, but we did that night. One of the other couples actually told us that they pulled their pre paid tips from the wait staff. That might have been a little extreme but it was frustrating. The Hubbard Glacier is amazing. We got to within a half mile that day, and we able to see some nice calving. Then they came around with hot chocolate which we could add Baileys to, and that really hit the spot. Man, was it cold there! At Juneau, our only excursion was the twilight whale watch, so we explored Juneau on our own. We walked on the Seawalk to the new Whale fountain. We wanted to eat at Tracy's but the line was sooooo long. We went to Pier 49 and while the food was good, the wait was too long. Especially when people who ordered after us got served before us. Way before us. I would not recommend them. In Skagway we did the Bike ride down the mountain. We weren't able to book the one including the White Pass Railroad, but the ride was fun anyway. Plus we saved about $150. We also visited the local museum and we had lunch at Northern Lights pizza for burgers. Very good. And not an arm and a leg! The only about this soundbouth cruise is that all stops are one right after the other. That makes for some busy days. I would love a Sea Day in the middle to break it up, but that's probably not gonna happen. Icy straight Point is a Hoonah village and I've read where some people don't like it. I think it's great to see how the locals live and to share that experience. Not everything can be packaged and sold to lazy consumers. We just did a hike with a local and it was great. We learned a lot. It 's a nice island. Maybe next time we'll do something else. And finally in Ketchikan, we didn't do any excursions. In the morning it was raining, go Figure, so we walked to Creek Street, went up Married Man's way and saw the Fish Ladder. We went by some shops and we even bought some smoked salmon to send home. Later on, the rain stopped and the sun came out, so we went back to the fish ladder, and explored the city more. We went by Creek street again. We had a late lunch at the Alaska Fish House. seating was limited so we shared a table with a couple who turned out to be the owners of the Crab Fisherman's Experience shore excursion. Yeah, we were eating at a place the locals eat at. My wife had the chowder and I had the halibut fish and chips. I don't even remember the last day at sea, but I think it involved sleeping, reading, hot tubs and eating. When we got to Vancouver, we spent the day there, as we had a train to Seattle at 4:45pm. We went to Stanley Park and visited the aquarium there as well as walking around the flower garden. We spent time along the harbor as well enjoying the float planes. In Seattle we stayed at the Belltown. It was a nice hotel and located near some nice dining. On Saturday, we explored a bit of Seattle. We checked out the sculpture park, and visited Pike's Market again. (We had visited Seattle 5 yrs ago so all the regular tourist spots were already visited). We did go on the Locks Cruise and saw the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat. Our flight home wasn't until 12:30am, but after a nice pizza dinner at Zeeks pizza. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. Everything about this trip was perfect!! We brought our 3 grown children. We had 3 days in Anchorage. We stayed at an airbnb, which was great. We did get 2 rental cars outside of the ... Read More
We were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. Everything about this trip was perfect!! We brought our 3 grown children. We had 3 days in Anchorage. We stayed at an airbnb, which was great. We did get 2 rental cars outside of the airport to save $$$. We hiked Flattop Mountain and Winner Creek Trail. We even made it to the State Fair! We took the Alaskan Railroad to Seward. We upgraded to Gold Star. I definitely recommend upgrading! Totally worth it. When we got to Seward we went right to the ship. No need to eat lunch elsewhere!!! We all got the drink package ahead of time which saved us $$$. Again totally worth it. My husband and I had an aft extra large balcony and the kids had to slum it with an inside cabin. LOL I actually loved the ship. Super clean and our service was awesome!!!! We dined in the dining room every night. Fabio and his team went out of their way for us!!! Our drinks were great at all of the bars but especially at the Champagne Bar!!!! The excursions were great too!!! I honestly do not have one negative thing to say about anything!!!! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Detailed Review for those that like to read Cruising with Myself, Wife and two kids ages 4 and 7. Also on the cruise were Grandparents celebrating 50th anniversary and two adult brothers sharing a cabin. I really wanted to like Royal ... Read More
Detailed Review for those that like to read Cruising with Myself, Wife and two kids ages 4 and 7. Also on the cruise were Grandparents celebrating 50th anniversary and two adult brothers sharing a cabin. I really wanted to like Royal Caribbean as they are less expensive than DCL and I was hoping to switch, some of my comparisons may include what I have experienced with Disney and where Royal fell short. Cabin (all three parties had junior suites on opposite sides of the ship, Grandparents and brothers on Starboard side us on port side same floor) Pros - Large room with walk in closet, bathroom decent size with small tub/shower but larger than standard cabin. Cabin door slid open and could be locked into place to leave open. Cons - had pull out couch to sleep both kids, as opposed to DCL which has bunk beds. No curtain divider in room, when one group went to bed everyone needed to pretty much go to bed. Missed the split bathroom DCL has, and DCL shower is more spacious in the Deluxe Family Stateroom. Kids Club Pros - Organized activities split into various age groups. 3-5, 6-8, 9-11. On our cruise they combined the 6-8 with the 9-11 as there were not a lot of kids onboard. The staff was awesome, and the kids loved going. Cons - very specific open times, 9a to noon, 2pm to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm on sea days. $7/hr after 10pm till 1am and nowhere for the kids to nap if tired. DCL is open all day and until midnight, plus they have a room where if the kids are tired they can lay down and take a nap. Space very small (only 30 kids max per age group) and required going through the arcade to reach the kids club. This was very annoying as the arcade games run at full volume and trying to get the kids into the club past these distractions was annoying. DCL easily has 4 times the space, better theming and as my son stated while he liked RCCL kids club they only had one activity at a time whereas Disney had several to choose from. My son is low assistance required Autistic and while RCCL does give out pagers for parents of special needs children DCL has two wave phones in every room that can be carried throughout the ship and the DCL app that you can also be reached through if needed. The check-in/out process was cumbersome, in this day in age where you get scanned to get on/off the ship you would think they would have the same system in the kids club. Service was hit or miss. Cabin Stewards - We needed to ask our cabin steward to return the pull out sofa-bed back into a couch for day use twice, even though we used the 'please service room magnet’ provided by royal more days than not our steward didn’t make up the room till after lunch even though we went out for breakfast and took the kids to the club afterwards every day at sea and even when in port when we returned to the ship for lunch between excursions the room was not made up. We had the same problem in the evening and had to call several times to have the beds turned down and the sofa-bed made. On the other side of the ship my parents and brothers had a great experience with their steward and tipped him extra at the end of the cruise. An example is my Brother broke his pinky toe when he stubbed into a chair in the middle of the night. He called his steward to request ice and bags to ice his injury, after that whenever he came to the room he always had fresh ice and bags. Waiter at Dinner - We arrived promptly when dinner started the first night and the service was very slow. the table next to ours (same waiter) arrived 30 minutes after us. While we would get our appetizers before them we usually had to wait until the same time for the main course. When we asked our waiter about this he said it was Royal policy that he could only pick up food once and we had to wait until the other tables was ready. Seemed like an odd policy. We also requested small glasses for our children (like juice cup) as the adult size water goblets were awkward for little hands, this was a struggle to get the first four nights. Also, we were told there is no children's sized cutlery on Royal Caribbean. Explorer has a midweek survey that we turned in on day three, someone must read those things because we got a lecture from our waiter the next night about bringing problems to him and that he needs us to rate him a 10, he lectured us on this for 15 minutes making us feel very uncomfortable, so much so we stopped going to dinner in the main dining hall. Assistant Waiter was awesome, after first night had Diet Soda waiting for my wife, Ice-Tea for me and everyone else's preferred drink at the table. Various Waiters main dining room lunch - We had great service from every waited we had during lunch in the main dining room, small glasses no problem here are two juice cups, oh you have kids let me get the small dessert spoons to help them out. I feel if I had one of these waiters in the evening my dining room experience would have been different. Other interactions on the ship with crew were very positive, from the lady at the shore excursion desk who helped us change one of the excursions for one of our party who booked the wrong one pre-cruise (and gave them the pre-cruise booking deal) to the bartenders and guest services desk. Entertainment There was a group they brought onboard called MO5IAC and they were really good, other than that the evening production shows (we watched two) were not that good. The Ice Show though was the one highlight of the entertainment from the onboard production company. The enrichment lectures were disappointing as I had already Wikipedia before the cruise and didn’t need it read back verbatim with no or poorly designed slide show to go with it. Left after 10 minutes of the first one, when I saw it was the same guy didn’t bother to attend another. Other than that, they had the usual trivia games, bingo and karaoke. The Up Sell I felt a lot of the cruise was about trying to sell me more stuff. They constantly had people walking around the ship with signs saying they had opening for the specialty restaurants, they would stop while I was sitting trying to enjoy my poorly made cup of coffee and ask if I was interested, this occurred everyday multiple times a day. Same for the Spa appointments. Many of the activities centered around extra cost things, like shopping, alcohol tasting, bingo, the casino, etc.... I felt hassled by the staff from various venues into spending more money, even my waiter was in on the act. When I ordered a steak the first evening he suggested I get the $18 up charge filet in the main dining room. Activities I saw a couple of kids on the Flow Rider. The rock-climbing wall is cool, people used the pools, but I found the weather to be too chilly. Hot tubs were available for those inclined. Mini-gold was nine holes, not very challenging and had not theming. Food Some of the food in the main dining room was ok, I don’t recommend selecting from the stuff they have every day as none of that was ever good for anyone in our party, but the nightly main dishes were ok. The buffet was the same food over and over, the same food every day for breakfast, the same food at lunch. If you like High School cafeteria food then you’ll love Windjammers they have burgers, hotdogs, fries, etc. along with some mixed veggies and and some meat carving stations. Pro Tip at breakfast find the omelette made to order station to get your eggs. We ate a Johnny Rockets and I swear it was the same burgers as in the windjammers. I found the food overall to very disappointing on the cruise compared to other lines I have been on. On a side note my child with autism has some eating issue, one of our go to’s is peanut butter on bread. We brought our own peanut butter with us but can you believe that you cannot get a slice of bread (rolls, buns, etc. no problem) at any time other than breakfast? if you have lunch in the windjammers and your kid wants a PB&J you are outta luck cause you can only get those ingredients at breakfast. Also, how hard is it to make some decent chicken tenders? Alaska This was by far the best destination we have ever cruised. Every port was awesome, every excursion rocked Juneau - Whale Watching and Rainforest Hike Gastineau Guiding Company We lucked out and this was the company that we got when we booked through the Cruise Ship. Our Guide was David T. for the trip and his knowledge made the trip awesome. First we went out for the whale watching which was neat, saw a couple of humpbacks and the boat captain was able to position us to get the quintessential Tail Fluke shot as the whale dove into the water. The real gem of this tour was guided hike through the rain forest. It was not a strenuous hike and David was very good at stopping, gathering the group and giving the history of the glacier and the rain forest that has grown since the glacier has retreated. We had our 7 and 4 year old on the hike and he was excellent in including them in his talks about the rainforest. Next trip we take to Alaska will book this company for more hiking and if possible request David T. as our guide. Dinner was the Twisted Fish Company Great place to stop eat after our hiking excursion at Mendenhall on our way back to the boat. We choose this place for their menu that allowed the seafood eaters of our group to get seafood and the land lubbers to get burgers. The Seafoodies had the Alaskan King Crab Legs that were cooked to perfection and tasted simply awesome. Onion rings on the side were a great add-on, can’t recommend the mac and cheese. Our Burgers eaters had the regular burger and the bison burger both said they really good. Service was good and the next time we are in Juneau I would definitely eat here again. Skagway Alaskan Excursions - Musher’s Camp and S’more Roasting The guide who picked us up was awesome (can’t remember her name but she splits her time between Skagway and Arizona). She pointed out interesting sights along the drive out and back. She also stopped so we could take pics along the way. At the camp we got to meet someone who competed in the Iditarod and was able to give first-hand knowledge of the race and mushing in general. Then we got to meet the puppies (a highlight of our trip for the kids) and finished with s’mores roasting. Overall a great experience and one I would recommend if you’re looking for a relaxing experience that includes puppies and chocolate. White Pass and Yukon Route Railway We lucked out and had the best possible weather the day we were in Skagway. Clear skies, 68 degrees. We took the afternoon train ride up, Pro tip sit in the very front car, you have to walk a little for it, but it wasn't crowded, and you are the last car on the ride back down. Views were awesome, the narration was good if you have never been before and as I said if you ride the first car near the engine on the way up you are the last car on the way down. As they let you step out onto the platform you get great views coming back down the mountain. We wanted to do the Steam Engine ride, but it’s laid up for repairs this year, maybe we’ll get to do that next time. Alaskan Excursions - Grizzly Falls Two of our party did this excursion instead of the train trip. They both said it was great and would definitely recommend it. about 10 zip lines, said the staff was very safe but still had a lot of fun too. Victoria We rented two cars and headed up to Butchart Gardens. It was cheaper to rent a car than do the trip off the cruise ship and we thought it would give us more time. Beware the Taxi ride was $8 dollars and the cabbie tried to tell us it was $8 American dollars, the way to get around this is tell him you do not have cash and pay with your credit card, sure enough I was charged in CAD. The gardens are amazing, and the internet pictures and postcards live up to images you see. The crowds are intense making it very hard to navigate around the gardens. Two things would make this a better visit, go in the spring when more flowers are in bloom and don’t go when a cruise ship is in port something we couldn’t avoid this trip. We stopped to eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Victoria before walking around the town. The food was good and as it’s a chain if you have eaten at one...... Conclusion While I plan to visit Alaska again, possibly by cruise ship this will be last my cruise with Royal Caribbean. I know experiences vary and that if I cruised again I could very well have an amazing time but to me this just means RCCL has a consistency problem and I don't want to risk my hard-earned dollars on the chance my next experience will be better. I have never had an issue in the service area with the cruises I have taken with DCL, that along with the fact they have kids in mind when planning not just with the clubs but also the little things like cutlery, food choice, and non-kids club activities. I also really missed the movie theatre’s DCL has on all their ships showing first run movies, my kids missed the character meet and greet and unlike Royal activities are not centered around being in a bar. I have heard people say the Cruise line are comparable but in my experience that is just not the case. Good Luck and thanks for reading Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Before you book an Alaskan cruise on this ship, make sure you know about the TRUE itinerary. There was NO Tracy Arm Fjord and NO inside passage and RC knows about this ahead of time. In fact when I inquired on board as to why we ... Read More
Before you book an Alaskan cruise on this ship, make sure you know about the TRUE itinerary. There was NO Tracy Arm Fjord and NO inside passage and RC knows about this ahead of time. In fact when I inquired on board as to why we weren’t returning on the inside passage, I was told the ship is too big for it, so the route that you see advertised is totally incorrect. I would call that false advertising. After 21 cruises with RC I am disappointed on how I was treated by the front desk when I inquired. Instead of listening to my complaint I was belittled like I didn’t know what I was talking about. The dining room was great and our service was exceptional. Our state room attendant was also great. Our room showed its wear and smelled like bleach from a public restroom. Solarium and pool area was nice and the bar staff gave us great service. They somehow know your name even after one drink order. We booked whale watching on our own in Juneau and were on a much smaller boat than what RC had available. We saw about 5 different whales and did about 34 miles round trip. In Skagway we did the white pass train. Ask to be in the end car and you will have great photo opportunities from the back. In Victoria we went to Butchart Gardens and it was nice. I would go as early as possible to avoid the crowds. In summary, the three ports were good. My main complaint is the amount of time in the rolling open seas, when I expected calmer seas in the inside passage. Also, don’t expect to see Tracy Arm fjord. As I read other comments on cruise critic this is rare that RC actually goes there. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This was it first cruise and is likely to be the last. We left 4 hours late and traveled the inner passage at night, couldn't see anything. The ship is fundamentally a shopping mall - hotel on floats with gambling room, and an incredible ... Read More
This was it first cruise and is likely to be the last. We left 4 hours late and traveled the inner passage at night, couldn't see anything. The ship is fundamentally a shopping mall - hotel on floats with gambling room, and an incredible assortment of bars (who drinks $60/day of alcohol?) Aside from one glacier view nothing but far land on one side and empty ocean on the other. We were transported from one tourist trap to the next, with villages doubling or tripling population as the ship comes in. A hassle to get in and out with security and room card (I understand they don't want anyone left stranded, especially those who drink $60/d alcohol!!) The presentation on board were poorly presented with low quality visuals. One experience was enough. Not interested in social games, bingo, arcade game or whatever. Very few opportunity for photography. Incessant push to buy non sense watches and the likes. Too much smoking! The good thing about such an enormous ship is that it is very stable and food was good. Otherwise a miserable experience Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We went with seasoned cruisers daughter and husband. This was our first and probably only cruise experience. The best scenic part of the cruise was Hubbard Glacier. The rest of the ports were sort of ho-hum and it appeared that some ... Read More
We went with seasoned cruisers daughter and husband. This was our first and probably only cruise experience. The best scenic part of the cruise was Hubbard Glacier. The rest of the ports were sort of ho-hum and it appeared that some were trumped up for the cruise industry. We didn't go on any of the expensive tours such as a bear tour that out daughter went on in Icy Strait that was a futile experience. Our cabin was OK but showing signs of wear from the dowdy looking "sofa chair", the sagging vanity chair and the BAD BEDS with sparsely cushioned springs that guaranteed hip aches all night. Attendant did a good job and all of the help we encountered were helpful and courteous. The photographers and their helpers corny bear type costumes were very pushy and a fight to get through to the Windjammer buffet, where the food and offerings were no better than the average mass buffet outfits found around. Tricky to find seating tables if you were not innovative. We had reserved tables in the Dining Room and were seated promptly on our arrival. The staff was courteous and fairly efficient but the "recommendations" were not necessary and were hard to understand with old ears. Annoying was the added "gratuities" of 18 per cent to any wines or drinks, especially with the mandatory $150.00 gratuity included in the ticket. The dining menu was somewhat repetitious with the offerings nothing special. Most of the food was rather bland. Maybe they were designed that way to steer you to the pricey specialty restaurants where more gratuities were added. Trying to find a quiet spot to read or play cards around the central lounge was impossible because of the BLASTING noises from aspiring (but amateurish and uninspiring) musicians..The sounds resonated to the top of the ship. We enjoyed the abundant windows for viewing the magnificent scenery of the coast. We walked out of one show with amateur performers, but did enjoy the two comedy shows presented. Boarding and leaving the ship ran smoothly, including customs in to Canada. None of the activities listed seemed interesting enough to check out. All in all we did enjoy the ship, but found it rather ordinary in all respects. Best ti check out all reviews before booking tours. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We cruised August 17-24 to Alaska on the Explorer, round trip from Seattle. We chose this ship because of the timing, price, the ports visited and the itinerary. The Explorer was a beautiful ship and seemed to be trust the right size. ... Read More
We cruised August 17-24 to Alaska on the Explorer, round trip from Seattle. We chose this ship because of the timing, price, the ports visited and the itinerary. The Explorer was a beautiful ship and seemed to be trust the right size. I sailed on the Enchamentment of the Seas and the Carnival Ecstasy before and both were smaller. Yet I'm not sure I would want a larger ship like the Symphony of the Seas or the Norwegian Epic because of how long it must take to get on and off board with all those passengers. The best thing about the ship itself was that there was something for everyone and that it catered to diverse tastes. We were never bored on our days at sea. The ice skating performance, dance show, and music performances were all great especially the musician in the British pub. If people want to just relax in a quiet spot and read a book by the ocean, you can do that as well. I loved the food and service in the Windjammer buffet and the main dining room, and the variety on the menus (except for breakfast, but then that's to be expected). Every meal was delicious! I didn't get to try the specialty restaurants. The gym was fantastic with a great view from the front of the ship and had one of the most amazing jacuzzis I've seen, and I really loved the sauna and steam room. The itinerary was great. I went on excursions for dog sledding/helicopter ride in Juneau and the White Pass Railroad in Skagway which also included a trip to Liarsville, a former gold mining camp, and a salmon bake. We explored Victoria on our own and visited the Butchart Gardens. I liked how this ship stopped for 8 hours in Victoria even though I know the Canada stop is only really to fulfill legal requirements since the ship isn't a US flagged vessel. (The Celebrity Solstice which left and came back to Seattle with us only docked in Victoria from 6 to 10 PM. same with many of the Norwegian ships which is a major reason why we chose this one since my mom really wanted to see the Butchart Gardens.) The dog sledding and helicopter adventure was definitely thrilling. The ride over Juneau into the Norris Glacier was spectacular and the dog camp was very fun along with the ride itself. It was cool meeting the mushers and learning about the dog camp and the dog sled racing scene since our guide was a professional musher (she was real cool and told us she would be racing in the Iditarod next time). The White Pass was beautiful and the salmon bake in Liarsville was delicious and the visit to the Red Onion in Skagway was a fun experience. Our guide was hilarious in both the Red Onion and Liarsville. I enjoyed learning about the history of the gold rush and Southeast Alaska and found it cool that we followed the exact route that the prospectors took from Seattle to the Klondike. I would have liked to see Glacier Bay but I understand only a few ships get to visit there. We were supposed to visit Tracy Arm but because of weather/ocean conditions we went to Dawes Glacier instead but that was still amazing, though our visit time in the early morning made taking pictures difficult since the sun was directly above the glacier. The scenery was great though. Seattle was a great port even though it was very hazy from the wildfires from California, Canada and Eastern Washington. We couldn't see Mt Rainier from the Space Needle! But the Needle was still fun to visit as was the Chiluly Gardens and Glass the Great Wheel and Pike Place Market. I would highly recommend Ivar's on the waterfront for dinner. The Behind the Scenes tour is highly recommended if you've never been on one before! It was on that tour that I really felt I was on board a ship! The bridge and the engine control room were the coolest parts of that tour. My suggestions for improvement: - As great as this ship was, it would be better for Alaska sailings to have a ship with a full indoor pool and a solarium with a refractable roof (yes the outdoor pools were sufficiently heated but the observation areas were exposed to the wind) - I feel the alcohol on board was overpriced - The slots in the casino felt more "stingy" than the ones on land, though it was cool having a European style roulette table without the double 0 - I feel SOME of the excursions like the ones in Victoria and the Seattle city tour were overpriced compared to booking a tour independently. We saved a lot of money in Victoria by booking with CVS tours online on our own vs going through Shore Excursions - The water pressure in my cabin shower wasn't very good - I wish the ship was more clear about whether the tap water on board was drinkable. In fact the crew members we asked don't seem to agree on whether its drinkable or not. The bottled water was very expensive. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This cruise was selected due to a round trip itinerary (leaving from and returning to Seattle) and the ports the ship visited. Also the type of entertainment, restaurants, and activities on board. The ship was larger than I expected. There ... Read More
This cruise was selected due to a round trip itinerary (leaving from and returning to Seattle) and the ports the ship visited. Also the type of entertainment, restaurants, and activities on board. The ship was larger than I expected. There is a promenade, not just a Centrum. We went to a wine tasting, a cocktail making class, the all access tour and the mystery dinner theater event. None of these were free but we felt the charges were reasonable. We used the gym, attended the dance shows and ice skating show and played bingo once. Always something to do. My only complaint as in the past is with the food-mostly in the main dining room. I have felt in the past, the food was better on the smaller ships but not finding that to be the case anymore. I thought the choices were not that exciting and bland. Since I don't go on a cruise for the food, I tend to overlook this flaw. I will say also that the service during meals (lunch or my time dining) has not been as good as in the past. We were never offered a wine menu, extra bread and constantly had to ask for refills on ice tea. Not sure if they have cut their staff down, but it seems your waiter and asst waiter just disappear during your meal now. Bar tenders at the bars around the ship were hit or miss. Did like Dizzy's bar and usually just went up there where the service was better. Overall I thought this was a great cruise. Our excursions were not booked through the ship other than the train in Skagway. I feel confident in booking my own excursions and usually find them more interesting and cheaper. I liked the ports. Plenty of shopping options for us and found great restaurants. We stayed 3 days in Seattle (before and after cruise). So much to do here. We walked or took and Uber or Lyft. There is a homeless problem in Seattle, but we did not feel unsafe or bothered. Went to Underground Seattle, Food Tour of Pike Place Mkt, wine tour in Woodinville, Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens. Lots of options Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Took our 9th family cruise on Explorer of the Seas (EOS), on a 7-day Alaska itinerary from Seattle - our first visit to Alaska, and only our 2nd non-Caribbean cruise (we did Europe in 2010). Total of 11 family members, from age 4 to age ... Read More
Took our 9th family cruise on Explorer of the Seas (EOS), on a 7-day Alaska itinerary from Seattle - our first visit to Alaska, and only our 2nd non-Caribbean cruise (we did Europe in 2010). Total of 11 family members, from age 4 to age 83. (My wife and I are 49, with daughters age 22 and 19.) We visited Seattle for 3 days before the cruise, and hit the major sights including the Space Needle (newly renovated and amazing!), Chihuly Gardens, and a day trip to Mount Rainier (via Tours Northwest, also recommended). Embarkation was friendly, quick, and smooth - what a contrast from Newark (horrible). We arrived at 1pm and checked right into our Junior Suite, which to us is a worthwhile (if expensive) upgrade - the extra floor space, the walk-in closet, and the wider balcony let you "breathe." This was our 8th Royal Caribbean cruise dating back to 2008, so we're familiar with the drill. EOS felt a bit dated compared to our recent cruises on Quantum- and Oasis-class ships, but the main draw here was a chance to visit Alaska. Still, we especially missed Central Park, the Boardwalk, and the generally wider range of venues. Windjammer felt especially small, and nearly always meant a battle to find an open table. On the positive side, the gym felt huge and not at all crowded. Entertainment was top-notch, and cruise director Graham was definitely friendly and funny. But the dining experience on RCCL continues to decline in our view. We reserved MyTime dining most nights in Sapphire, and every dinner took over 2 hours, with food served at glacial speed (pun intended). Disappointingly, Chops was even worse; a single unfortunate waiter was assigned to our 11-person table without any assistance whatsoever, and he was totally overwhelmed. Only Giovanni's Table offered anything close to a special meal. That said, our main dining room waiter did an excellent job pre-ordering a vegan meal for our daughter each night, which were quite good and varied. We both signed up for spa appointments, and got talked into the inevitable pricey Elemis upsell at the end. (Feel free to decline.) The spa itself was very nice and professionally run, and something we look forward to as part of "being on vacation." We loved all 3 port calls - JUNEAU was beautiful and intriguing. We did the sea kayak excursion, and got a great close-up encounter with a bald eagle and numerous seals. The guide was a native Alaskan with good stories for us. We had dinner in town at V's Cellar Door - hands down our best dinner of the cruise. We took our kayak bus driver's suggestion to get beyond the first few blocks from the ship - basically an artificial tourist-ville - and get into the real Juneau, where we found V's. Note, the walk from the ship (we docked on AJ pier) to town was a good 30 minutes. Shuttles are available, but we're the walking type. SKAGWAY was even more captivating. Amazing scenery and fascinating history. We rode the White Pass railroad, which I highly recommend. I wished I'd read more about it in advance, to fully appreciate why the railroad exists (we learned that along the way) and why it's special. The town itself looks tourist-y at first glance, but it's more authentic than you realize, with many original gold rush-era buildings. I wish we'd had more time to spend wandering - there are numerous National Park-manned shops with history, exhibits, and information. We had lunch at Skagway Brewing Co., another excellent meal and fun place. VICTORIA is a beautiful small city and capital of British Columbia. We did the Butchart Gardens excursion. It's not cheap, but we appreciated our bus driver's narration and city tour as we drove through on the way to the gardens, which are stunning. The tour allowed 2 hours to explore, which was barely enough (3 might have been better). We did some walking afterwards, visiting the Empress Hotel and the Parliament buildings, along with lunch at NoodleBox (great vegan choices there). Also, ENDICOTT ARM FJORD was a stunning sight, with floating ice, waterfalls, and seals. (We were redirected there, instead of Tracy Arm.) We got within about 0.7 miles of Dawes Glacier, and enjoyed a good view from our balcony for about 40 minutes of some decent-sized glacier calving. A new experience for all of us - it sounds like thunder, and is a wonder to behold. Disembarkation at Seattle was much easier than we'd expected. We had a 9:30am flight out of SeaTac, so I was a bit nervous, but we were at the airport by 7:10am! We did self-checkout and were in line by 6:10am - they advertise this "starts" at 6:45am, but in reality the line starts forming around 6am (we found 22 people ahead of us) and disembarkation begins at 6:30am. There are 2 lines, at the forward and aft elevators on Deck 4. Virtually no lines inside the terminal to exit, and there were a zillion taxis lined up and ready to go (although only a few minivan taxis, which our party of 4 needed, and got immediately). Light traffic, and just a 25-minute ride to SeaTac. We will probably always do self-checkout in the future, unless we have a late flight. Thank you to the crew of EOS and to Royal Caribbean for another nice vacation! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We left August 10th on Radiance of the Seas. Our plane was late but we booked our travel through RC so they waited for us, several were on our particular plane. Embarkation was great as we were rushed onto the ship. We researched the ship ... Read More
We left August 10th on Radiance of the Seas. Our plane was late but we booked our travel through RC so they waited for us, several were on our particular plane. Embarkation was great as we were rushed onto the ship. We researched the ship prior to our cruise and saw quite a few negative comments. We were pleasantly surprised by the ship and the crew. From our room stewart to the wait staff in the main dining room to most all the crew we encountered, everyone was pleasant and very helpful. The ship is older, yes, but it is not falling apart. It was clean everywhere. We booked a junior suite and had plenty of room. The closet was large and the room was big. The food in the MDR was good as well as, of course, Chops Grill. We were not impressed with Giovanni's or the brazilian steakhouse, Samba. That might just be our personal taste. There was not too much in the way of entertainment but we usually do not attend to many shows. We did go one night to a comedian which he was very good. Most people on the ship were 40-50-60ish but there were also a lot of kids and younger adults. We had booked all our excursions prior to boarding the ship so we did get them at a discount. One excursion, dog mushing, was cancelled due to weather and no snow on the glacier but we rebooked at the dock to another helicopter onto a glacier which was awesome. All our other excursions were great too. In Ketchican, we went on a boat ride and after had a delicious lunch of all you can eat dungeonous crabs. We definitely recommend this excursion. Next stop was Icy Straight Point where we went out on a boat for whale watching. We did see whales and orcas. Then Juneau where we went up on the glacier. Next was Skagway where we enjoyed a wonderful salmon bake. We ended in Seward and continued on to the land tour. Starting in Anchorage we boarded the Wilderness Express train to Talkeetna for one night, then onto Danali by train for two nights and finally by a third train to Fairbanks for two nights. Although we thoroughly enjoyed all the sights, we wish we had had the itenerary for this land tour ahead of time. No food or extra excursions along the way were included in the cruise price. And food is VERY expensive in Alaska. Plus in some of the places you are very limited on places to eat. You are also very busy everyday especially if you went on the extra excursions that were not included in the price and were also expensive. Plan on spending about another $2000 on food and excursions. That doesn't include any souveniers you may want to buy. The three train rides were fabulous and most all of the excursions included in the price were great except for the salmon bake in Fairbanks. Of note, the bus ride into Danali National Park was long, about 8 hours, and was on a remodeled school bus. The only time you could get out of the bus was on bathroom breaks. You could only take pictures from the bus windows and on the bathroom breaks. We did see some wildlife but mostly from very far away and you really needed a long range camera len to get close up pictures. We absolutely enjoyed our cruise and land tour and would recommend it to anyone wishing to go to Alaska. It is a bucket list place. Read Less
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