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950 Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruise Reviews

Ship was super clean and was a perfect fit for Alaska. With all the indoor activities, there is little need to be outside. Now with that being said, the outdoor spaces where great and we had really good weather. I had a Family Jr Suite ... Read More
Ship was super clean and was a perfect fit for Alaska. With all the indoor activities, there is little need to be outside. Now with that being said, the outdoor spaces where great and we had really good weather. I had a Family Jr Suite and it worked out just fine. The balcony was awesome, as we did not have to go up top to take in the breath taking views. MDR was OK, but everything else was outstanding. We did not go hungry at all. Great selection of entertainment and activities ( we barely saw our teenage boys, they were so busy with all there stuff. The staff was over the tops in service and making us all feel special. Ports were good, easy to navigate. Saw lots of wildlife from the ship ( whales, seals, otters). I would totally recommend this ship for an Alaskan cruise, you will not regret it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Pros: Almost everything Cons: (listed below...) luggage handling, and a couple of technical issues. We were EXTREMELY happy with our recent Alaska cruise on Radiance of the seas. We did the 3 day Denali land tour before the ... Read More
Pros: Almost everything Cons: (listed below...) luggage handling, and a couple of technical issues. We were EXTREMELY happy with our recent Alaska cruise on Radiance of the seas. We did the 3 day Denali land tour before the cruise, which was absolutely amazing with the scenery. The hotels picked for us were amazing and very comfortable. Our tour guide was very friendly, informative, and helpful. Once we got on the ship, things went overal very well, too. We had an ocean view cabin, and a week before the cruise, we were emailed a chance to bid for a balcony. We made the minimum bid, and even with an extremely low chance of getting it, we got the upgrade. The balcony was amazing, especially when we cruised past Hubbard Glacier. The cabin was small but had enough room for both of us. Jaya, our steward was amazing. Anything we needed, he was there. The ship itself is a midsize ship. It doesn't have an ice skating rink, or a wave pool, but it doesn't need it. it has plenty of activities that kept us busy for the week. The trivia was fun, the shows were good, lots of places to get something to drink, and my friend had a blast in the casino. We only ate in the buffet one time for breakfast, and the food was hot, tasty, and varied. Most breakfasts, we had in the dining room, and while fewer choices than the buffet, obviously, the choices of omlettes, fruit, breakfast meats, eggs, was plenty to choose from. For dinner, we purchased the premium restaraunt pass. We ate at Chops and Giovanni's multiple times, Samba Grill Once, and Izumi once. My friend was having mobility issues, so Izumi actually delivered room service for us. All the food was amazing. Ports were great. We did a whale watching dinner cruise in Juneau, and a sled dog ride on wheels in Skagway. I did the duck boat in ketchikan, but wasn't really that impressed with it. it did a quick lap of the city, and didn't go very far once it got into the water. Shopping and dining in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan are good. if you get a chance, take the brothel tour in Skagway. it's a fun tour that doesn't glamorize it, but tells the history. On the whale watch in Juneau, our excursion was the last one back, and my friend and I were literally the last two people on the ship. They closed the doors behind us. That's why we ALWAYS purchase the shore excursions from the ship. The few cons we had were in the way they handled things. The first day, they accidentally sent my main bag with all my clothes to the cabin we had BEFORE we got the upgrade, and I didn't get it until almost 11:30 at night. Debarkation day, we had an excursion in vanciouver. They didn't give us luggage tags for the excursion group, and we almost missed the bus. The bus was getting ready to leave, and our luggage still hadn't come out. Somehow, it came out at the last minute, and we made the bus by 1 minute, having to dash through the terminal, my friend being pushed in a wheelchair. As for technichal, my friend's internet worked fine, but mine didn't work at all over half the time. They tied to reconfigure my device, and it worked a BIT better, but overall not good. I had purchased the streaming speed internet, but they gave only the surfing speed internet. The other problem was our TV set. Sometimes our remote wouldn't work at all, other times the TV would just come back on at random. They said they fixed the problem, but they never did. We just ended up turning down the volume and using the TV as a night light. Other than the minor mis-steps, the cruise was awesome!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We did the 7 day Land tour before our cruise. With the exception of Denali Village which we found our room not cleaned they moved us to a new room only to open door and find it already occupied. Rooms small had no hot water just a bad ... Read More
We did the 7 day Land tour before our cruise. With the exception of Denali Village which we found our room not cleaned they moved us to a new room only to open door and find it already occupied. Rooms small had no hot water just a bad experience! Our tour guide Kacie was amazing and tried to resolve everything! She took time and care with each of us and made sure we had the best time! On board the balcony cabin we had was spacious and perfect for to people. The staff from our steward to the bartenders were the best. The food not so much main dining room food was ok but nothing special! We ate at the Chophouse it was terrible both steaks were full of fat and gristle and was unedible! Thankfully the appetizers and salads were filling! The windjammer is same old same old but good for breakfast and lunch! The day of disembarking was a nightmare going into Vancouver airport is an experience let alone with the ship getting you off late shuttle bus lanes are ridiculous we got to the airport 1 hour before our flight and made it to our gate 10 minutes before boarding. My advice do not take shuttle take a taxi! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Ship The Radiance of the Seas is one of the older ships of the Royal Carribean fleet. The condition was good, but the equipment definitely did not meet the standards expected today. Embarking or disembarking worked smoothly. However, we ... Read More
Ship The Radiance of the Seas is one of the older ships of the Royal Carribean fleet. The condition was good, but the equipment definitely did not meet the standards expected today. Embarking or disembarking worked smoothly. However, we had expected a better service as guests of the suites. Cabin We had booked an Owner Suite. It was very spacious with space. The balcony was a bit small. The bathroom was big and beside a shower there was also a bathtub. Concierge Club Suites guests and very loyal Royal customers were allowed to go to the Concierge Club. There were small snacks and free drinks (soft drinks, water, wine, beer and some drinks) from 16.00 o'clock. Dining We had the greatest expectations concerning the dining. We heard so many good things from Royal and could hardly wait. But our expectations were disappointed. The food never came close to the good quality of the Princess or Hurtigruten shipping company. Entertainment We're not the party people, and we've mostly abandoned here. Service Compared to other shipping companies, the service was "ok", but not as good as suggested by other guests. As a suite guest we were rather disappointed. Ports and Excursions In comparison to other cruises we have booked all excursions through the shipping company. These were more or less well organized, but simply a mass check-in, although they used the more expensive offer. The train trip to the White Pass is very recommendable, even if it is not a mass service. Here you will also find two videos on our YouTube channel "Swisstravellerslife". Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
To put it mildly.....We really need a vacation after this Cruise! We ~hesitantly booked this Alaskan Glacier cruise with 7 other family members from around the US. This was to be a true "Bucket-List Cruise". There were 3 ... Read More
To put it mildly.....We really need a vacation after this Cruise! We ~hesitantly booked this Alaskan Glacier cruise with 7 other family members from around the US. This was to be a true "Bucket-List Cruise". There were 3 Seniors with our party..one of them a "Diamond RC" member. We aren't typically cruise people, but we wanted to participate with this one for the aging members of the family. We are Luxury Vacationers and Platinum Marriott Members. We enjoy fine food, fine wine and luxury amenities. Yes, the Ovation is a sparkly new ship. The balcony stateroom was adequate, the staff were quite nice. That's all the positive energy I can put into this review. The biggest disappointment..BY FAR...was that THIS Alaskan Cruise did not get to see the glacier we had on the itinerary...This ship is TOO BIG to get to the glacier!! So I'll bet no one will ever see the glacier if you take this ship! The 3 other ships that sailed with us all went to the glacier. Also, the same cruise the week ahead of us didn't go to the glacier either. Safety aside..this was THE hallmark of the trip. If they couldn't do it, they should've told us ahead of time. Right off the bat, they want your individual picture! Not because it's " A time to Remember" ...it's all about facial recognition. Don't believe it's true? Think again! For beginners, the embarkation was total chaos, stress and disorganization from Seattle. The seniors were exhausted and so were we. The dining experience.... Some of our family were staying in Junior Suites...They ate at a separate dining room every night. We were not allowed to attend that dining room. So unless we wanted to pay the upcharge for a specialty dining venue we never ate dinner together....NOT ONCE! So we did lunch together instead. Here is where we ate our meals and our thoughts on the experience.... Where ARE the fantastic Buffets? The ice sculptures? The shrimp towers? The chocolate fountains? Not on this ship! None of it.... We ordered coffee/Juice & danish from room service each morning..free with a tip. OK Windjammer is like a hospital cafeteria. Food was Eh... Cafe Two70 another hospital cafeteria. Food was Eh... Cafe Promenade 24hr coffee/ stale pastry & Sandwich shop is the size of a kiosk at the mall. Nothing special here. Chic MDR dining where we ate dinner was ok, staff was very attentive. Average food, nothing special, didn't leave hungry. Solarium Bistro Breakfast to order was a hidden gem in the mornings and decent. Solarium Bistro Dinner...not that great. Eh... Lunch in the The Grand was ok, good place to gather if you are with a group. The smoking/vaping sections of the ship. If you are a smoker, vaper or enjoy a cigar...Beware! There are only 3 places on ship to indulge in your stress-reducing cigarette. #1 The 5th Floor patio near Vintages Wine bar- the quietest place and most difficult place to find (but closed many times for cleaning?, without any cleaning going on?) #2 The 14th Floor open air hallway between the Solarium and Splashaway Bay. This is quite a hike from most staterooms. Not a favorite place to go. #3 The back left section of Casino Royale if you want to be out of the weather & wind. Another not-so-favorite place to go, but nice at 6:30 am if you'd like a little peace & quiet. Night time activities were mediocre at best. We usually ended up in the Music Hall for a silly game or two and some music...not as good as my local bar. Schooners had some nice piano music. We never did see any of the shows. They were booked up from day #1. We did the Skagway train excursion, which was nice. We booked that several months in advance. The " Refreshment package" was expensive, but covered all of our bottled water & Virgin Mary drinks & Mocktails. We also used it for other mixers because we purchased a few "Royal Gift" packages of Absolute Vodka for our room so we could mix our own drinks. We also brought on 2 bottles of wine from port on embarkation day. The others with us hardly got their money's worth from the alcohol packages they spent almost $1,000 on. Most of the bars were closed during days in port. FYI... The PUSH to SPEND MORE ! OMG!!! The constant push to spend more money blew my mind! As if you haven't spent ENOUGH already!!!! Every activity is put in place to help you spend more money. From the "Smokey-Eye" Demo (to purchase Urban Decay Makeup Pallets) to the Seminars. They want you spending..spending...spending! Even the TV stations...non-existent so you are out spending instead of watching tv. VOOM Experience..=...DOOM Experience...need I say more...totally NOT worth it. Even in an emergency. Formal nights....FWIW what is the point? Nothing special...No fancy dinners here or reduced drink prices...Just more opportunity for pictures to sell you later. The Captains Reception....Hahahaha....reception? I though most receptions came with a drink and a small bite? My mistake. Ports..Interesting tourist traps...bought a few things, saw a few things, drank a beer, ate a lunch....maybe did an excursion....got back on ship This is just the tip of the iceburg...haha..But you've got the idea. Perspective...If you're a cruiser, you'll always be a cruiser...it's your thing. No offense, but I just don't see how this is a relaxing or pampering way to vacation. I would not classify this as a Luxury Cruise. When the bills roll in and begin to hover near the $8,000 mark and we have nothing special to say about this vacation, that's just sad. I can put a much better vacation together with 1/4 of the money we spent and say.."I have had a vacation"...Ahhhhh. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The Ovation of the Seas is an amazing ship, and was almost perfect for a cruise to Alaska. I'd say you need to enjoy a "big" ship experience to get the most out of cruising on Ovation. This is most definitely a great ship ... Read More
The Ovation of the Seas is an amazing ship, and was almost perfect for a cruise to Alaska. I'd say you need to enjoy a "big" ship experience to get the most out of cruising on Ovation. This is most definitely a great ship for a multi-generational group; it has something for everyone. Most of the time I was able to find a quiet place or an activity depending on my mood. We didn't travel with children so the Solarium was a nice retreat as was Vintages. We booked one of the forward facing cabins just under the bridge. I spent a lot of time looking out of the picture window in the cabin. I think I enjoyed it more than I would have a balcony. The cabin was excellent; I really appreciated the space allocation. The washroom was very adequate and well designed. Please know that the beds are very hard, and after seven nights I was a bit grumpy about that. This is even with an extra mattress pas installed by the room steward. There was some "not friendly" service in some areas. It seemed like everyone working in a good area on Decks 4 and 5 were a little tired. This was in stark contrast to the excellent, happy service in the Windjammer and other locations. The service and experience at the NorthStar, however, was unacceptable. The person coordinating that experience was very rude to several passengers waiting for the "ride". I was honestly shocked by their behavior. We had a three night dining package. I'd say skip Wonderland if you are thinking about it. The food was very unremarkable. Chops was a good as ever; Jamie's Italian was my favorite specialty restaurant. We only ate at the dining room for lunch and it was good. The Windjammer was good, especially for breakfast. There's a huge selection. Room Service Continental Breakfast was my cruise treat; I loved it. Overall, it was a good experience. The ship is new and beautiful. The crew seems dedicated. Alaska is a must see! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Embarkation wasn’t bad. Wife had wheel chair assistance. The problem we ran into was that there wasn’t a dedicated lane for wheel chairs to board the ship so the limited number of pushers they had got stuck in long lines on the ... Read More
Embarkation wasn’t bad. Wife had wheel chair assistance. The problem we ran into was that there wasn’t a dedicated lane for wheel chairs to board the ship so the limited number of pushers they had got stuck in long lines on the gangway. They need to have dedicated ramp for handicap. The ship is beautiful. Loved the solarium the best. Seeing alaska scenery from pool / jacuzzi was nice. The cabin was13642 a jr suite. It was spacious and perfect for a scooter. Located under coastal kitchen but not a lot of noise. The dual bathrooms were a nice touch. Bumper cars was fun roller skating would have been fun if I could find right size safety equipment. Silent Hush party great. Pixels was great. Love and marriage was hilarious. The illusionist / comedian was good. Would have like to see him do some tricks that weren’t table tricks. Service was excellent. Did not notice any over pushy sales reps. Food was warm and good despite being a little bland. There was some confusion on the 2nd formal night as the cruise schedule had smart casual incorrectly marked. Soft serve ice cream was served by an attendant on the pool deck only on some days and only during afternoon hours / not 24 hours. Would like to have seen a candy shop on the main floors. One other negative was the windjammer only open 6;30 -10 for breakfast and 12;00-3;00 for lunch and 6;00 till 9;00 for dinner. Would have liked to see longer hours. Also when it was closed no one could enter the area and sit at tables, enjoy scenery, access coke free style. You had to go to hot dog truck or pizza shop during closed hours to get coke free style. Wish we could have made it to see Dawes glacier. Train in Skagway was a highlight for us. Loved it. North Star was neat. Casino was nice environment. Also seen whales on at least 4 occasions from the ship and got video from our balcony. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
This cruise line and dates were chosen were based on starting/ending port, and season. First, let me start by saying that after 23 cruises, we FINALLY made it to Alaska. Just never found the right time, price, port, ship; well, just a ... Read More
This cruise line and dates were chosen were based on starting/ending port, and season. First, let me start by saying that after 23 cruises, we FINALLY made it to Alaska. Just never found the right time, price, port, ship; well, just a combination of things. Yes, an Alaskan cruise is everything we were told it would be. Great sights, wildlife, hiking, glaciers, whales, educational, entertaining, and on and on. We will definitely be going back. Our ONLY disappointment is that the ship couldn’t make it all the way up Endicott Arm to to the face of the glacier as there was too much ice in the fiord. Safety first and the Captain made the decision to turn around. Did we miss seeing Dawes Glacier, yes. Did me miss having our trip interrupted by damage to the ship, no. Smart decision. Out cruise started and ended in Seattle with a day early arrival for sight seeing. Ports of call included Juneau where we enjoyed an excursion which included whale watching boat ride, Mendenhall Glacier, and nature hiking. Skagway where we took a tour bus up to BC, Canada and rode down on the White Pass railway. Learning about the Yukon gold rush. The actual trail size came as quite a surprise. Again, some disappointment at not seeing Dawes Glacier up close. Then it was Victoria, BC. What a beautiful city, and Butchard Gardens is not to be missed. We’ve never seen so many flowers or such detailed landscaping. A NOT to be missed sight in Victoria. As for the ship, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas. It’s the largest cruise ship we’ve ever sailed on. First impression is that we’d get lost. Yes, even after 23 prior cruises on many different ships, Ovation is impressive. Took a day or two to figure it all out. Dined at two of the three specialty restaurants, and thoroughly enjoyed them both. Regular dining room service was exceptional with a nice selection of entree options. Windjammer (self service) dining area was well staffed, well maintained, with tasty choices. Late night options were not available. We did appreciate the mandatory hand washing station at the Windjammer entrance. Sports and children activities make sea days very entertaining, even if just watching. Of note, the show “Pixcels” is shown every night. It’s the name of the show, not the venue. We had booked reservations for each night thinking a different type show each night. Lesson learned. Only one late night comedian on a 7 night cruise? The main show was entertaining, but LOUD. Luckily we had seats near the back of the theatre at the edge of a row and were able to leave. Overall impression, we would book on the Ovation of the Seas again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The Ship We chose the Ovation for our 30th wedding anniversary cruise to Alaska, partly due to our past experience with RCCI and also because the ship seemed like a good fit for the unpredictable Alaska weather (which is often rainy, we ... Read More
The Ship We chose the Ovation for our 30th wedding anniversary cruise to Alaska, partly due to our past experience with RCCI and also because the ship seemed like a good fit for the unpredictable Alaska weather (which is often rainy, we understand), given features like the Solarium. Overall, we really enjoyed this ship and most of the activities on board. We took advantage of the bumper cars, NorthStar, Ripcord by IFly, attended several trivia "contests", enjoyed music in the Music Hall and various lounges, including an outstanding Led Zeppelin tribute band. Our stateroom attendant was lovely. She knew us by name almost immediately and greeted us by name throughout the cruise. We were treated to a bottle of champagne courtesy of RCCI for our anniversary as well as a very nice chocolate cake. Nice touches. Ovation is large ship (Quantum Class, over 168k gross tons with probably about 4,500 passengers). Ours was the first cruise for Ovation from the Port of Seattle to Alaska. For the most part, the ship didn't seem excessively crowded for us, especially toward the end of the 2nd day. For the first day or so, some of the more commonly traveled spaces seemed a bit congested, but that seemed to subside a little once most passengers found their favorite places on the ship. Key Program We signed up for the Royal Caribbean Key Program, which was definitely worth it for us. For not much more than the cost of the internet package, we were able to have an embarkation lunch at a specialty restaurant (Jamie's Italian, in our case), had priority debarkation on port days (which came in handy at least once), and were able to get appointments for both the North Star and IFly skydiving simulator--both of which likely would not have been available to us, since the originally scheduled appointment(s) were cancelled due to high winds on the first sea day and remaining slots booked quickly. Priority embarkation was also nice, but it took a bit to appreciate, given the crowds at Seattle’s Smith Cove Cruise Terminal (Pier 91) when we arrived (see below). Embarkation We took Lyft from our Hotel (Grand Hyatt downtown--nice hotel) at about 10:30am to the terminal in order to arrive around 11am. Once we arrived at Smith Cove Cruise Terminal (Pier 91), embarkation seemed a bit of a mad house. The porters appeared a little overwhelmed when we arrived, as the traffic at the terminal was heavy. Both Ovation and Celebrity Solstice were in the process of debarkation while passengers for both ships were arriving. We arrived about 30 minutes prior to our scheduled check in time, and apparently the rest of the passengers did also. The passport check for the Key Program members seemed to go slower than did the non Key Program passengers. Once we got past the first check, we went upstairs and waited until the ship was allowed to board (probably around 11:30 or so). At that point, the terminal seemed to be wall to wall people, with little seating area. Once the Key Program participants were called, we were able to move, but practically had to push our way through the mob of people to get to the gangway. Once on board, we met up with crew that identified us with the Key Program. We were directed to the main theater where we dropped off our carry-ons, which they then delivered to our stateroom, so we didn't have to lug them around while we waited. We then went to Jamie's Italian and had a nice lunch and began to relax a bit. Don't get me wrong--the Key Program really sped up the process for us, but the initial arrival at the terminal was a bit overwhelming for us (and I suspect somewhat for those working there on that day). The ship was supposed to have departed at 4pm, but apparently did not have all of the luggage on board until much later. Consequently, we did not leave Seattle until nearly 6pm, if memory serves. Our luggage also did not arrive at our stateroom until well after that, which wasn't a major issue for us, but I know there were many at the guest services desk late the first evening inquiring about their luggage and complaining about the wait. Entertainment We attended some of the enrichment seminars, such as a discussion on the Alaska gold rush, which was interesting. We enjoyed music in Bolero's lounge as well as in the Music Hall. For the featured entertainment, the ventriloquist was fantastic and hilarious, and the stand up comedian was good too. The Led Zeppelin tribute band (ZOSO) was also very good. The 270 lounge wound up being one of our favorite places on the ship. Some of the enrichment seminars were there, as was "Pixels", a nice production that included a combination of multimedia, special effects, dazzling costumes, singing and dancing. It was quite different from what we'd seen before. I really enjoyed that. The performers on the ship are very talented. The only drawback to 270 is that some of the seats close to the floor have low backs and are rather uncomfortable. Other than those seats, the rest of the venue was really nice. 270 is also a nice location to relax during the day to enjoy a drink and look over the wake behind the ship. As much as I enjoyed "Pixels", I did not enjoy "Live Love Legs", the other big production on our cruise (which was in the main theater). Although the performers were talented, it was a bit tacky for our tastes. I'm sure there were others that enjoyed it, though. Dining We dined in three of the specialty dining restaurants while on board. Wonderland, Chops Grill and Jamie's Italian. All three were really good and worth the additional cost (we booked a 3 night specialty package). Wonderland was our favorite--a unique and incredibly tasty dining experience. On other nights, we dined in one of the main dining room options. The service and food overall were good each night. Solarium Bistro was good for lunch, as was the 270 Café. We also enjoyed 270 Café for Breakfast. We dined for breakfast in one of the main dining rooms a couple of times also. The quality of food was good at all of our meals. Ports The cruise itinerary was round-trip from Seattle, visiting Juneau, Skagway, Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier (sea day) and Victoria, BC. Juneau - Due to the late embarkation, we had to cruise at top speed the first couple of days to get to Juneau on time (which we didn't). We arrived about 1.5 hours later than normal, so the port schedule was modified to allow sufficient time in Juneau. When we got off the ship, we had time to walk around Juneau near the dock and visit the Red Dog Saloon to purchase a souvenir. We ate lunch at Twisted Fish Company Alaskan Grill. We really enjoyed their halibut and crab cakes. Very good food. We booked the Mendenhall Glacier with Wildlife and evening Whale Watching excursion, which didn’t begin until later in the day. We enjoyed that excursion. However, the time at the glacier was way too short and not really long enough to visit Nugget Falls for any amount of time, so we decided to skip that. I would have preferred more time at the Glacier and less time with the whale watching (which was fun, but a little disappointing--not much to see on our trip). The food on the whale watching portion (during dinner) was good, though. Overall, a fun stop in Juneau. Skagway - Here we did a dogsled and musher’s camp excursion which was really fun. The guides did a great job, told us a bit about the town on our way to the camp and informed us about the dogs and the Iditarod. We enjoyed the experience, getting to ride a sled pulled by a team of enthusiastic dogs, pet the team of dogs (which were friendly) as well as the pups (ranging from weeks to months old). After the excursion, we had a meal at the Red Onion Saloon. Great food and friendly waitresses dressed as if they were still the 19th century. Victoria, BC – In Victoria, we took a bus tour to the Butchart Gardens which we booked through RCCI. The bus driver was nice and had plenty to say on the tour. Unfortunately, the speaker system on our double-decker bus wasn’t working properly, so hardly anyone could understand what he was saying the entire trip to the Gardens. To make matters worse, what was supposed to have been already a relatively short visit to the gardens (about 1:45 hours) was cut short by an additional 15 minutes. We enjoyed it and would like to return, but booking this through RCCI wasn’t worth it, especially due to the abbreviated schedule and technical difficulties encountered. On the way back from the excursion, we asked the driver to drop us off by the Parliament House, which was a beautiful site. We walked back to the terminal from there, stopping to eat, visiting a boardwalk and floating homes at Fisherman’s Wharf, and enjoying the nice weather and beautiful town. It’s a little over a mile from the Parliament House to the terminal. I’d love to visit Victoria again, and Butchart Gardens again as well. This visit was too short. Cabin Description Very nice, comfortable room on deck 8, with a good-sized balcony which was nice to have on the Alaska cruise, especially at Endicott Arm (Dawes Glacier). There were adequate outlets and USB ports for charging electronics. Blackout curtains were nice also, and necessary since the nighttime darkness is brief in Alaska. The couch in this room was situated between the bed and the entrance, so the bed was very close to the balcony. We would have preferred it the other way around, but it was fine. General My wife and I probably would prefer a smaller ship next time, especially if we try an Alaska cruise again. Although it’s our understanding the size of the ship limits where the ship can maneuver within an inside passage cruise, I would have no problem sailing on Ovation again. It’s a very nice ship with lots to do, plenty of good dining and entertainment options, and the crew do a very nice job. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We sailed on Ovation of the Seas out of Seattle, Washington in May of 2019 and visited the ports of Juneau and Skagway, Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. FLIGHT: Okay, I had to fly this time instead of just driving or ... Read More
We sailed on Ovation of the Seas out of Seattle, Washington in May of 2019 and visited the ports of Juneau and Skagway, Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. FLIGHT: Okay, I had to fly this time instead of just driving or taking the train. So, I’ll be up front, I don’t like flying because all of the checks make it inconvenient. Understandably so, but still not a relaxing part of my vacation. We flew on American Airlines (American). I booked directly with American months in advance. But, if I had waited about 4-3 months in advance, I could have gotten a slightly better hotel and flight deal on Expedia. However, I’m a planner, so that’s cutting it close for me. We flew out of Philadelphia Airport (Philly) and I liked the fact that restaurants were right there where the terminals are. No need to purchase food on the flight. Also, airport staff at Philly were very helpful, Seattle Airport staff not so much. Seattle Airport restaurants also weren’t as conveniently located and were even pricier than Philly. It also took me awhile to find my luggage at the Seattle Airport. I got baggage information such as how many bags I can carry on the airplane, dimensions, weights and costs for bags from Americans website. The website link was in the confirmation e-mail that American sent me. I went to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for information on what I could pack in which bags. My Mom uses a motorized scooter, so I had to call American’s Special Assistance Desk to let them know about the scooter and her need for assistance since she can’t take any stairs. I also had to give them information on the scooter such as weight, total weight with rider, type of battery, dimensions and whether it was collapsible. Note that for lithium batteries there may be some special instructions that you have to follow. You’ll also have to get to the airport about 90 minutes early. (I have to put some additional information here. I saw where a man’s scooter was denied for flight and he had to drag his self around his entire vacation. Even though this should never happen in my opinion, there are companies that rent scooters. Scootaround (www.scootaround.com) is one of those companies. We also saw rental scooters during embarkation to the ship right outside the port. They seemed really friendly and even approached us to ask about my mother’s scooter, which is a fancy collapsible one.) Again, American treated my Mom and Dad (her companion) very well and Philly airport staff were awesome. As for the flight itself, there were no monitors in the headrests. Food was available for purchase beforehand, but I suggest just eating at the airport or ahead of time. You’ll have more of a selection and about the same cost. Soda, water and a snack, such as peanuts were included. Alcohol was available for purchase. I’m glad I had my Kindle and headphones since there were no monitors for a non-stop, cross-country flight. I loved how our luggage was handled upon departure from the ship. The cruise line partnered with the airlines so that before departure you could complete paperwork for your luggage to be delivered directly from the ship to the airport. You pick-up your luggage at your destination airport, so don’t pack anything in your checked baggage that you’ll need for your flight. Except for getting the name on one of our flight tickets wrong, the process worked fantastically. HOTEL: We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites SEATAC (by the airport). The hotel has an updated, contemporary look. The hotel was undergoing renovations, but the work occurred during the day and never bothered us. (By the time you are reading this, the renovations may be completed.) There’s a complimentary hot breakfast every morning. Coffee, hot water, tea bags, iced tea and cookies are available throughout the day. I highly recommend this hotel. The planned renovations look great. They’re adding an indoor pool, patio with fire pit, suites and a green roof among other updates. There’s also a complimentary airport shuttle that we picked up upon arrival at the airport. Just check with the hotel ahead of time to ensure the shuttle is running at the time you arrive at the airport and where to meet the shuttle. The hotel also offered shuttle service to the pier for a fee (approximately $18 per person in August of 2019). I can’t remember if that was roundtrip, but the price was on par with Uber. I suggest taking the shuttle service from the hotel because these shuttles drop you and your luggage off near the entrance to the pier. My brother took a group Uber and they were told they had to be dropped off at the road that leads to the pier entrance. We were at Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 and it was a long walk from the road to the pier entrance. TOUR OF SEATTLE: For the first time I booked an excursion through TripAdvisor. Royal Caribbean didn’t have a tour of Seattle before the cruise, just after. We flew in two days early in order to be able to tour Seattle. I booked the Premier 3-Hour Seattle City Tour. The tour operator was Tours Northwest. I chose the tour that would pick-up at our hotel near the airport. I called the tour company to ensure they picked-up at our hotel. (Also, let the tour company know in advance if you need a handicap accessible tour bus. The tour company needs to know in advance if you need a tour bus that can fit a mobility device on it.) The tour was great. We stopped at the Freemont Troll (for pictures), Pioneer Square, Commodore Park (where Chittenden Locks are) and Kerry Park Viewpoint. The tour guide also gave us the option to be dropped off at the Space Needle or back at our hotels. We chose to be dropped off at the Space Needle. The stop at the Fremont Troll was short, just long enough to get a picture with the troll. The stop at Pioneer Square was a nice rest stop and allowed me to get a nitro at Caffe Umbria, a coffee shop recommended by our tour guide (Yum!). The locks were amazing, a must see especially for the wildlife, and Kerry Park provided the best views of the city. The Space Needle was nice, but, again, the best views of the city were at Kerry Park. I liked that the Space Needle ticket included free online photos that you could choose a background for and down-load. (Other attractions that charge extra for pictures should take a cue from the Space Needle.) From there we went to Chihuly Garden & Glass, which was included in our Space Needle ticket. The glass art was absolutely beautiful and left me wondering how they did all of that with glass. Then we were off to Pike Place Public Market where we visited the famous fish market. We watched them throw fish and went to the near by Spice Market where I bought some spices and coffee. (Note that Seattle Airport had me open my luggage so they could test my spices and coffee.) We took an Uber back to our hotel and ordered in-room food delivery. It was a jam-packed day and we were exhausted. EMBARKATION: We got a good night’s sleep and caught the shuttle to the pier in the morning after eating the complimentary hot breakfast provided by the hotel. The shuttle dropped us off not too far from the building entrance and helped us with our luggage. Luggage drop-off was right where the shuttle dropped off as well. The check-in process was relatively fast and easy since we checked-in online ahead of time and have priority boarding. (There’s also a separate line for the handicapped.) Once on the ship, we were directed to The Café @ Two70 (The Café), which is included in the price of the cruise fare and is considered a deli that has hot sandwiches, salads and soups. The Windjammer Buffet (Windjammer) was apparently full. But The Café was too small to redirect all the people coming onboard to. So, we were redirected to the Windjammer, which is also complimentary. This is the first time I felt like I was being herded once on the ship during embarkation. Normally, I find a lounge to sit and relax at while sipping the drink of the day. Then, I go to the Solarium Bistro Restaurant for the complimentary lunch buffet there to avoid the crowds. But, since we were being directed where to go, we went to the Windjammer, which was packed. I didn’t like the herding. The food at the Windjammer was good, as usual though. CRUISE CABIN: We stayed in an oceanview balcony, which was decorated very chicly and used a design that utilized the space well. There were two separate closets, so two people could get to their clothes at the same time. The desk pulled away from the wall, so it could be used as a table. The bathroom had plenty of shelving, pegs on the back of the door and a good-sized capsule shower. The sofa bed was very comfortable and could be converted to fit one or two people. (When the sofa bed is converted to fit one person, then there’s plenty of room to get to the balcony and my Mom’s collapsible scooter could fit in the corner in front of the desk and balcony window.) The balcony was a good size with two chairs that could recline, two foot-stools and a small table. We still had room to maneuver around and take amazing pictures of the Alaskan scenery from our balcony. AROUND OVATION DINING: 1. MAIN DINING ROOM – We were assigned to the Chic Main Dining Room for dinner, but all the main dining rooms have basically the same menu each night. Meaning the menu in the main dining rooms changes every night, but each night all of the main dining rooms have basically the same menu between them. Dinner was always good in the main dining room and the atmosphere was nice and occasionally festive. We shared a table with another couple and their friend. The staff sometimes danced and sang which made it fun and once they know the drink you like they automatically bring it to you every night. (Mine was lemonade. Iced tea, lemonade, coffee and water are included in your cruise fare. Alcoholic beverages and specialty coffees are not included.) For breakfast, one of the dining rooms was for buffet and another was designated for ordering off the menu. However, we could still order off the menu after being seated in the one designated for buffet. So, that’s what we did every morning. (Breakfast in one of the main dining rooms is less crowded than in the Windjammer.) The breakfast was excellent. I don’t think I tried anything I didn’t like and the French toast was awesome. (Juices, like orange juice, tea, coffee and water are complimentary. I’ve heard something about fresh squeezed orange juice costing extra, but the regular orange juice is normally great.) We occasionally ate lunch in the main dining room, but we preferred the Windjammer for lunch. We liked being able to get smaller portions, the varied selection and the taste of the lunch food in the Windjammer. 2. WINDJAMMER – We only ate dinner once in the Windjammer. It was very good and it was the night we returned from exploring Skagway. There was sushi on the buffet that was so good, yes, on the buffet! We only ate breakfast in the Windjammer about twice. It could be really crowded in the morning for some reason so crowded that it was hard to maneuver around to see what was on the buffet. (People would walk around aimlessly and just stop in the middle of the aisles for no reason. So, I think there needs to be a map and larger signage, especially when all you want is some scrambled eggs, waffles and turkey sausage. LOL) Lunch in the Windjammer was good. Just find a table before getting your food and have someone in your party hold it. That will prevent your food from getting cold while you’re looking for a table. I really loved being able to order a soda from my seat and having it brought to me in the Windjammer. 3. SPECIALTY DINING, WONDERLAND – I purchased specialty dining at Wonderland in advance through Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner, which was less than purchasing it onboard. The food was delicious and the experience was fun and unique. It’s not as out there as you may think, so definitely try it. Your “guide” will try to get a feel for what you like and choose your courses based on that. There were three courses (and there was three of us so the number of items per course may change): three appetizers, three entrees and some desserts. Everything was shared by the table. I don’t want to give too much away because you really need to experience Wonderland for yourself. ACTIVITIES: I was worried that the top deck activities wouldn’t be open since it was an Alaskan cruise. No worries, the top deck attractions were only closed when there was rough seas and high winds, which was one day. Try to schedule as many activities as you can before you get on the ship through Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner. Activities showed up in the Cruise Planner to reserve sporadically. I would find out a new activity was available to book through word of mouth from family and friends I was sailing with or through the Cruise Critic message board for the particular sailing I was on. (Cruise Critic is good site to use and normally you can sign-up for a Cruise Critic reception held onboard the ship.) Note that most activities are included in your cruise fare. Unfortunately, my iFly session was scheduled the day the entire top deck was closed. I heard that you can get in-line and maybe take a no-show spot, but I don’t like lines, so I didn’t do iFly. Note that there’s no extra charge for iFly. One day we put on our wetsuits and hit the Flowrider, which was so nice. The Flowrider is no extra charge as well. Now, even if you filled out your activity waivers online (which I highly recommend that you do), you will still have to get wristbands (that remain on) before you can do the Flowrider. It probably works the same for the Rock-Climbing Wall, but I didn’t rock climb this time. I believe the place to get the wristbands was near the entrance to the iFly. Don’t worry about having to keep the wristbands on, they’re waterproof. But you’ll have to do some strategic posing so it doesn’t show up in your photos. Hahaha Next, we went on the NorthStar. The views from NorthStar were amazing. The only times available when I reserved online were during port days. I’ve heard that the best views are when the ship is sailing. But I loved the views in port at Skagway. We brought binoculars, but they also had binoculars available in the NorthStar pod. You can also stand in-line and wait for openings if you didn’t get a chance to reserve it online before sailing. There were definitely more activities such as bumper cars and skating in the SeaPlex, but I didn’t get a chance to do them. I heard the line for the bumper cars was long, but I didn’t experience it myself. SPA: I went on a tour of the spa on the first day of the cruise, entered the spa giveaway and didn’t win. Hahaha. One of my Platinum Crown & Anchor loyalty member perks was a 15% discount at the spa, so I scheduled a bamboo massage. I was massaged from head to toe. That massage was so good. I highly recommend a bamboo massage if a regular Swedish massage is not enough to relax your muscles. Some say that the spas on cruise ships are overpriced and maybe some treatments are, but I compared the massage prices to Hand and Stone non-member prices and they’re on par. GYM: The gym had weight machines, weights, plenty of treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines and a SoulCycle studio. I went jogging on one of the treadmills, used the free weights and did some yoga from memory in the small open area that they have. I also brought The Essential Guide to Yoga magazine by Yoga World, which had poses in it as well. I think of it as a way to have a wellness cruise without booking a wellness cruise. They also have yoga mats for use and, of course, plenty of wipes to wipe down the mats and equipment. Unfortunately, no punching bags, so no need to pack the gloves. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows I saw in the theater were: The Beautiful Dream, Live. Love. Legs. and Two Funny Guys comedy show. I really enjoyed The Beautiful Dream and Two Funny Guys. The Beautiful Dream had a story behind it and was so imaginative. Two Funny Guys was hilarious (and pretty clean, which I like) and the brothers headlining the show were very talented beyond being hilarious. Live. Love. Legs. was a dancing, singing and feathers old time Vegas show, which was good. I just prefer plays, Cirque du Soleil or alternative dance type shows. There were also movies shown under the stars on the pool deck. They provided blankets and hot chocolate or you can get the drink of your choice from the bar. I saw Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse in the theater and Bumblebee out on the pool deck. Of course, Into the Spider-Verse was awesome! Bumblebee wasn’t bad either. (Bumblebee happens to be my favorite Transformer.) Also, all of the entertainment I’ve mentioned is included in the cruise fare. EXCURSIONS: 1. JUNEAU - I booked all of our excursions through the ship ahead of time online through the Cruise Planner, which saved us some money. We booked Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau. Mount Roberts Tramway was just a short walk from the ship and the cruise line’s price was about the same as I would have paid at the Tramway. How far a walk you have to the Tramway depends on the pier your ship docks at. Mount Roberts had a lot of activities at the top of the mountain. I really liked the video they showed about the native people. I learned about the other activities at Mount Roberts from a free Alaska travel guide I had mailed to me from Alaska’s official travel website www.travelalaska.com. 2. SKAGWAY - In Skagway, we didn’t schedule an excursion. We walked into town, which was a nice not short, but not too long walk. We passed a small trail, the Pullen Creek Trail, on our way into town, which I walked a little of on the way back to the ship. I bought the best coffee I’ve ever tasted at one of the shops, Raven’s Brew Coffee Double Dead Dark Roast Coffee. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s really smooth. We visited a few gift shops and then returned to the ship for a late dinner in the Windjammer where they had sushi on the buffet! The weather was great, really warm for the end of May and I saw some ducks in the water near the boat piers. 3. VICTORIA - We went on the Butchart Gardens Tea and City Highlights excursion in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The tea was at Butchart Gardens and was so filling and tasty. (Don’t eat before going because there’s plenty of food.) Butchart Gardens is beautiful and huge. You probably won’t be able to see it all, so pick the top spots you really want to see. You’ll be provided a map upon arrival. Try to remember how to get back to where you started and to get back early enough to check-out the gift shop. Note that all of the excursions were handicap accessible for individuals that use a collapsible, power scooter and can walk short distances. Definitely contact the cruise line to discuss your handicap needs and if a particular excursion can accommodate your needs. DEBARKATION: I loved that the cruise line partnered with the airports so we could check our bags right on the ship. Now, this means you will not have access or even see those bags again until you arrive at your destination airport and retrieve your checked bags. We didn’t have any issues with this and had no lost bags. However, we should have left the ship early with those carrying their bags since we were carrying our bags. But we went to breakfast in the dining room and left at our designated time. The port was a mess. If it wasn’t for some lovely people letting is in front of them, we would still be there. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the lines were long. Especially so when we didn’t have to worry about getting bags. However, by the time you read this, the Port will probably have worked it out. We had roundtrip shuttle service back to the hotel, which worked perfectly. We caught a nap at the hotel and then took the hotel shuttle to the airport. Awesome, once in a lifetime vacation over. (I always say once in a lifetime vacation and then we do another once in a lifetime vacation, so stay tuned to PhoenixBlue Designs & Travel on YouTube for some of my video vacation reviews. LOL) Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
YES....This cruise should be on everyone's bucket list. Whether a suite or just a balcony it's a must the views are breathtaking. Dining_ The Wait staff in the my time dining which we did for the 1st time was so attentive . ... Read More
YES....This cruise should be on everyone's bucket list. Whether a suite or just a balcony it's a must the views are breathtaking. Dining_ The Wait staff in the my time dining which we did for the 1st time was so attentive . The choice of meals were for all tastes. Portions were were good Cabin- We stayed in a balcony room and purchased the key totally recommend it. Ports and Excursions... We used RCL for all our excursions I felt comfortable and secure knowing my cruise line endorsed these companies. Juneau we did the whale watching / photo excursion Of course the whales didn't corporate. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly when we got to Mendenhall I did however expect more wildlife to photograph but none was seen. Skagway we did the best of excursion absolutely the highlight of the trip. Victoria we did on our own I highly recommended the History museum nothing like that in the states. All in all I can stress enough how beautiful this trip was and the weather was also amazing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise because it was a one way inside passage which meant more time in each port. This was important because the ship doesn't have much to offer in terms of entertainment. We are east coast (4 hours difference) and they ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was a one way inside passage which meant more time in each port. This was important because the ship doesn't have much to offer in terms of entertainment. We are east coast (4 hours difference) and they frequently wouldn't start activities/entertainment until 10pm (2 am east coast time). When we did go, the shows were nowhere near the quality of the large Caribbean ships. That being said, the food was decent (excellent in the specialty restaurants) and the landscape views were intoxicating. Think of the ship as a nice resort, you eat, sleep, and relax there, but go somewhere else for your entertainment. The long port times (8 to 12 hrs) allowed us to do an excursion and still have plenty of time to explore the towns and have lunch or dinner in a nice restaurant before boarding the ship. We also booked a land tour with RC that continued on to Denali and finished with a train ride back to Anchorage for our flight home. The land tour was so well handled that I was able to turn off my brain and just enjoy myself which is rare for me. Patricia, our tour director was very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. She and our driver Pineck made sure everything went off without a hitch. Keys were handed to us right off the bus so no check in hassles. Luggage was waiting in the room and taken back to the bus magically. optional excursions were handled thru Patricia and there were no unpleasant surprises. This was our first group tour and I would definitely do it again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I had done an Alaska cruise on this same ship a couple of years ago with friends, but this time it was with my mom and SO. TL/DR: * Suites are sweet and you should do it at least once in your life * Royal Caribbean is awesome ... Read More
I had done an Alaska cruise on this same ship a couple of years ago with friends, but this time it was with my mom and SO. TL/DR: * Suites are sweet and you should do it at least once in your life * Royal Caribbean is awesome onboard for special needs, like food allergies and limited mobility * Radiance class ships are the absolute perfect size * RCCL invests in great entertainment * RCCL staff are second-to-none * RCCL does need to invest in refinishing all surfaces, and maybe more durable materials * RCCL should do more communication with people with special needs before cruises * Cruise travel with a service dog is not easy * Vancouver port needs a lot more work to be customer-friendly * Don't count on the same level of onboard activities with the entertainment staff The deets: About my crew: me and my SO are active, 40-ish, and are Emerald Level (I've been on over 12 cruises). I have a capsacin food allergy, which is uncommon and comes up a lot as peppers are in like everything. My mom hadn't been on a cruise in 40 years and is limited mobility, using a walker and a large, 90-pound mobility service dog. She has a black pepper allergy, even harder to avoid. My mom lives in Seattle, and the journey starts there. We took the morning Amtrak Cascades up to Vancouver, which was a perfect start to the cruise. We got into Vancouver in plenty of time to take a cab to the cruise port and get on the ship for lunch. I'm used to walking/public transport to cruise terminals, so it was cool to see the cabs at Canada Place drop you off inside the parking garage (so no worry about weather) and right where the bag porters are. So when we entered Canada Place, we expected the check-in to be right there, and wheelchair valets for folks with disabilities (no such luck). Instead, we were directed to elevators. We probably walked 1/2 mile or more overall, between check-in, customs, and so on before we got to the ship. We even passed wheelchair valets waiting for a call, and no one in the process indicated how long of a walk it may be. With my mom obviously mobility limited, I was surprised at that. Luckily, after several breaks, she managed onto the ship. Once on the ship, she was quickly taken care of for an easy way to get to a sitting spot. This was my first suite (see details below). It is awesome to have a taste of the upper tier. Leaving all that relates to being in the suites in the cabin review below. We ate at the MDR every night. I like that the my time dining has been moved to the lower floor of the MDR so there are more seats and variety of seats. We were able to reserve the same table and same time for the whole cruise. My mom and I both have weird food allergies (above), so it's really important to have consistent dining staff. We did fill out the special needs form beforehand, but you really have to communicate food allergies to the head waiter and your specific wait staff the first meal. I prefer to bring a paper listing all of the foods/types that I can't eat so there's no confusion. Our wait staff were excellent, not only taking care of us for dinner, but passing along meal requests to Windjammer and other venues for breakfast and lunch and special meals. You can't be as spontaneous, since you have to order food the day before, but you have peace of mind. Being as it was early in the season, they had Atlantic salmon on the menu the first few nights, but then had Alaskan seafood near the end once we hit the Alaskan ports. The food was excellent as always, with a broad variety, inventive dishes, fresh, and delicious. The biggest bummer was that the MDR wasn't open for lunch during port days (so most all days). During the day, the stars were the ports. I've done the active shore excursions and the cultural ones, you really can't go wrong. But you have to always plan that your day will contain rain, and book accordingly. We didn't have that problem this particular cruise; all of our days were sunny or partly cloudy and mid 60s. But, if you happen to get back early on the boat or decide to stay on the boat, don't count on a wide variety of entertainment staff activities. Maybe some trivia, games here and there. But they really don't program much of anything, expecting everyone to be out on shore. Note: even though the Icy Strait Point port said we would be tendering, we did dock. Accessibility excursion notes: the Saxman Totem tour was awesome as they set up a smaller bus; you have to be able to board the bus, but it was nice to have the shorter steps and easy seating. The Icy Strait Point whale watching tour was very good on the boat, but because of low tides we had to go to the far end of the boardwalk to get aboard (usually it's on the dock right next to the ship); luckily, they have an electric cart for mobility access. The WP&YR railroad is also great for accessibility, short walk if you can make it; if not, they have a cart--they also have a dedicated handicapped car with a larger bathroom. The ship had just taken on a new dance crew, so we didn't have any production shows. The one night we were to have a production show (Piano Man), the seas were rough and some of the crew were seasick, much less the difficulty of dancing on a rockin' ship. The acts we had were awesome: comedy, magic, juggling, etc. There was always an option of movies day, afternoon, and evening both beside the pool and in the cinema. I was pleased by the variety of movies they showed, from Blue Hawaii to Bohemian Rhapsody to Carmen (the opera). Speaking on onboard activities, the Alaska cruises always have some kind of enrichment speaker. We had a retired mountie who was new,so I'm sure he'll get better as he goes. The couple doing the Alaska history talks were awesome and should be onboard most this season. Ship environment: Radiance OTS was last refurbished in 2016, but honestly, it doesn't look it. There's a lot of wear in the wood and fabrics that make it seem older. However, the ship mechanicals all worked the whole cruise. This ship is a perfect size to have a variety of activity centers, like the cinema, pub, and Starquest lounge, while not being too big for walking (especially if you can't walk far distances). We got to meet most everyone on the ship--you don't get far with a dog without people noticing. Ship accessibility: This was my first cruise where I worried about accessibility. We had a cabin just off the Centrum elevators, so my mom had only a short walk to get anywhere. The longest was a 75 ft. walk to the theater. It was easy to get in and out of and get an accessible seat in the MDR and theater, and you could get into every venue. Handicapped bathrooms were well-placed to the main venues. I could see, though, if there were more than 4-5 scooters or mobility devices onboard, the accessibility would get more frustrating. Where my mom had problems was getting over the thresholds of the exterior doors (i.e., walking to the deck 5 exterior deck). These thresholds need to be smoothed out to meet ADA requirements--she had to physically lift the walker to get over them. Service dog: RCCL did accommodate the service dog, but could have done better. We filled out all of the requisite paperwork, and the ship seemed ready for us. By booking RCCL shore excursions, they passed forward info about the service dog. However, the dog relief station could have been better. It was located right next to the smoking section, on the walk to the helipad. So mom had to endure smoke to take her dog out, and since it is not used to people being around when it uses the facilities, I had to literally stop people coming down from the helipad. The box is 4'x4', with a plywood lid that mom couldn't lift and needed my help when the staff put the lid back on. The box was filled with shavings litter, even though they offer sod on the accessibility form, but the shavings weren't replaced or refreshed the whole cruise. There was a little can beside the box to dispose of poop. We wish that RCCL had been in communication with us before the cruise about the litter box and its location (I had to hunt it down once on board because no one knew about it). If we had known they couldn't provide sod this journey, we could have trained the dog to use shavings. And if we had known the location of the box and the distance from our cabin, we could have trained the dog appropriately. Lastly, let's talk about why to choose RCCL. There's always people that like one cruise line over another for some reason, so here's my spiel for why this line. I've been on all the major lines but HAL. I love the people that cruise RCCL--not too party, not all old, great balance of ages, and not too many kids. And I love even more the staff of RCCL--I've run into staff that remember me 4 years later on a different ship, and there is a loyalty to the cruise line and the customers that I like to come back to every cruise. And you get a great value for your $$. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
To be fair it’s a beautiful ship for cross ocean travel. For Alaskan cruises, not so much. Ship is too big. Can’t hit the best ports. Follow of people on boat typically a traffic jam. Eating locations are overflowing with people with ... Read More
To be fair it’s a beautiful ship for cross ocean travel. For Alaskan cruises, not so much. Ship is too big. Can’t hit the best ports. Follow of people on boat typically a traffic jam. Eating locations are overflowing with people with small to no sitting. The 24 hour cafe is no bigger than a small stateroom. Selection is poor. Food quality is so-so. Breakfast foods like donuts, pastries, muffins are hard as rocks as ate the biscuits and rolls. If you are luckily and get a fresh baked item from the fresh baked station, that item is great. But the lines and people pushing to get the hottest foods is terrible. I’m in day 5 of a 11 day cruise and so disappointed. I won’t sail RC again. Food quality is so so. Some staff is friendly and fun. Spa person was nice but pushy and bad when I didn’t buy additional product. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I posted the bulk of this on another thread, but figured it would be good here, also. Some people are questioning whether they should do this ship to Alaska. Others are giving a more negative view on things like the food, etc on other ... Read More
I posted the bulk of this on another thread, but figured it would be good here, also. Some people are questioning whether they should do this ship to Alaska. Others are giving a more negative view on things like the food, etc on other threads. Here is my summary of my impressions on this ship/itinerary: We also just did the 11 night Alaska cruise on the Ovation and had a wonderful time! I would not hesitate to sail her again. Our cabin (8520 - forward large ocean view balcony) was wonderful. Very spacious. Our cabin steward did his job. We were taken care of and requests called down from the number on the card he left were promptly filled. But we only saw him briefly twice in 11 days. We called him "The Ghost"! The rest of the crew was welcoming and friendly. We cannot complain about any of them. However, none really stood out as spectacular to us. The CD Chris grew on me as the cruise went on, but he was not the best we have had, or the worse. I think that for all the crew the change from a mostly Asian market to Australian to US based in just a few short months was a daunting task when it came to figuring out what appealed to each market. But they were always trying to make things better and I think they succeeded as the few things that concerned us in the beginning got better as the days went on. The public areas were beautiful, spacious and welcoming. A lovely ship. Food is subjective and we are not foodies, but we never left a food venue hungry. I enjoyed all of my meals. We had the BOGO package, so we ate the first night in Jamie's and the second in Wonderland. One lunch in Chops, which was very good. One night in the Solarium Bistro, which has a Mediterranean theme at dinner. I love the Greek style food, so it was good for me. I don't think it was good for everyone in our party of 8, though. We only had one dinner in Windjammer and it was ok. Nothing amazing for me that night. But, I didn't leave hungry. We had dinner the other nights in MTD. It was always good. A couple of nights when we arrived they told us that we would have to wait for a table of 5, but they somehow managed to always seat us within 5 minutes. Lunches were usually light. We had Sorrentos's pizza (I liked the artichoke salad along with a slice or two of pizza). Twice we just had a hot dog. We were disappointed at first that they didn't offer the Tutti Salad in the MDR. It had never before been offered on this ship as it is not popular in Asia. However, they did figure it out after many requests and offered it the last three days of our sailing and told us that it would be standard on sea days from then on. I think from the lines that it was a hit! Our cabin was forward so we usually went to the Solarium Bistro for the small buffet there. It had an egg station where I could get a fresh omelet. Never crowded. We discovered the Two70 Cafe for a light breakfast late in the cruise and wish we had found it earlier. On early port days we usually like the Continental Breakfast room service. My oatmeal usually arrived cold ,so that was disappointing. But, the other offerings did the trick and got us off on our excursions with full bellies. The ship felt quite crowded on the first day, but then everyone found their spots and it seldom felt crowded after that. The biggest negatives are the slow elevators. That never improved. If you can take the stairs a few flights you are better off, and my DH did that quite a bit. But my arthritis won't allow it, so I had to wait. I can't comment on the bars as we don't drink much. The Diamond Lounge evening cocktail was good for me. One glass of wine or a rum punch was all I can do and my DH will only have an occasional glass of wine. Service was slow and my DH had to go get our beverage from the bar most nights himself, but there were a lot of us in there getting free drinks! I like the atmosphere of the Schooner Bar on most ships and this one was no exception. It is very relaxing to me to enjoy the piano player at night, although we had so much to do we didn't make it there most nights! Paul O'Shea is a very talented and popular piano player with excellent rapport with the guests. If he is playing, make sure you spend some time there to enjoy his talents! The ports on our 11 night itinerary were amazing. 4 ports and 2 glacier days. On our glacier days we would usually begin them on our balcony as they were early, breakfast in the Solarium to have coffee with a view, then go up to the Sports Deck and finally end up in Two70 for the amazing views from there. Make sure you make it out to the wings from Two70 on glacier days! It is the perfect ship for viewing Alaska when the scenery is available to view. The biggest disappointment is that this ship is just too large to go through the BC Inside Passage, so our 4 days at sea were truly at sea. No beautiful scenery floating by. For that reason alone I would choose my next cruise to Alaska on another ship. For our 11 night itinerary it was great. For 7 nights, if seeing Alaska is your priority, I would not recommend the itinerary. Only two ports and 1 glacier day without the Inside Passage I think you are missing too much. The exception would be for those who have already seen Alaska and want to experience this class of ship close to home and in a beautiful setting. This ship, with it's multiple enclosed viewing areas, would be perfect for routine round trip Seattle longer cruises like the one we had with an obligatory port stop in Victoria. I think if it were offered later in the season it would sell well. Princess does r/t to Hawaii 15 nights on a regular basis. RCI could find a niche in Alaska with this wonderful ship! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
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 ... 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
Sail Date August 2018
The bottom line is that we loved Alaska, loved our cruisetour, and loved the Radiance. It was a fabulous vacation! Because I was dealing with a first time cruiser and two elderly people, I wanted everything to be as easy as possible so ... Read More
The bottom line is that we loved Alaska, loved our cruisetour, and loved the Radiance. It was a fabulous vacation! Because I was dealing with a first time cruiser and two elderly people, I wanted everything to be as easy as possible so we chose to do a pre-cruise tour with Royal Caribbean (the 1B Wildlife Express). And I'm not gonna lie, it was a great choice! Everything ran smoothly, we had great weather, a wonderful guide and driver and there was nothing I could fault. Getting there was rough (hello 2am) so I definitely recommend going in a day before the day before (we had some folks who didn't join us until Denali!). Arrival and getting to our hotel could have been better and I blame RC for not communicating with us what we needed to do even though we specifically told them we were arriving the day before. Luckily the local folks who work for the other cruise lines (and maybe RC?) were extremely helpful and got us to our hotel relatively quickly. The Anchorage Marriott is a beautiful hotel in downtown and within walking distance to pretty much everything, but wi-fi is not included and the options for food and drink are limited. Luckily, so many better options are within walking distance. I do think there are better values to be found, especially if you opt for something outside of downtown. For us, I'm glad it was part of the package. We ate a late lunch on the patio at the 49th State Brewery. The food and drink were plentiful and very good and the view was fabulous! After meeting our tour guide and getting the scoop on our land tour, we did a mini pub crawl hitting two nearby places, both of which were worth the stop. Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse had a Belgian flight with good beers and tasty appetizers. We then went across the street to Williwaw Social to sit on the top deck and watch the sun go down. The next morning we boarded a large, chartered bus and set off. I think there were about 20 of us altogether, so it didn't feel so much like being in a herd. I'm really glad we started with the bus and then got to board the train in the middle instead of the other way around. The Wilderness Express train ride was a highlight with a bright sunny day. It was almost hot in the upper deck with all that glass warmed by so much sun. We definitely got to take the "better half" of the train ride, from Talkeetna to Denali instead of from Anchorage to Talkeetna. And it was gorgeous scenery. Breathtaking. Eating lunch on the train was a plus. In Denali Park Village we were put up in the Miner's Village in relatively new rooms. Great location in the large complex. Then we opted for an excursion to visit sled dogs. The RCI tour took us to Jeff King's place and it was informative and fun. Who doesn't love active, happy puppies and dogs? The next morning was the trip into Denali itself. It was raining, but that didn't lesson our enjoyment of it, especially as it wasn't overly cold. The half day tour was plenty since the Denali buses are pretty much basic school buses and my parents really didn't need to ride for eight hours on one of those. Then we were back on our charter bus and headed back down. We stopped in Talkeetna to stay at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge which was beautiful. It's a wooden lodge with a huge indoor fireplace and large outdoor terrace with a breathtaking view. The town of Talkeetna is tiny and unique. We had one of the best meals I've ever eaten at Wildflower and I managed a very rapid shopping stop. Then we enjoyed the rest of the evening watching the sunset from the lodge. Wonderful! The next day was a fairly long bus ride from Talkeetna all the way to Seward to embark on the ship, but it was broken up with an early lunch stop in Anchorage and then a visit to the Wildlife Conservation Center which was the only place we could see bears and moose up close. Worth a stop! Embarkation was smooth and quick. Because it was already after 4pm, our rooms were ready and most of our bags had already arrived. My parents were in a balcony while my brother and I were in an inside cabin. Because I'd been on two of the Radiance's sister ships, I knew what to expect and nothing was jarring. We had anytime dining, but requested the same table every night as the service and attention we received was outstanding. We all enjoyed every meal there. I know the radiance class ships don't have all the "activities" that the larger ships do, but there's something about this class of ship that, to me, makes it almost perfect. It manages to be completely full yet never feels crowded or hemmed in. It's definitely "sea" focused with most everything having views of the water. And the service just seems to be that little bit friendlier and attentive. The Radiance's itinerary and size made it perfect for Alaska. The ports were the reason we were there, so I don't have that much to say about the on board entertainment. The disco was dead every night and a couple of the broadway style shows were so-so. I didn't really like the comedian at all. The jugglers/comedians were funny. We had nice long days at every port. And I noticed that other cruise lines would be there and gone while we still had hours to explore. That's why we came to Alaska and this itinerary really delivered. We had an incredible day to see Hubbard Glacier. It was sunny and relatively warm and we were so very close to the glacier. It was so cool to see it calving. In Juneau we took a Harv & Marv's whale watching excursion and had a fabulous day on the water. It was sunny and mild and it was a delight to see the whales and sea lions all while surrounded by mountains, sky, water, and even views of few glaciers. Then we had to eat at Tracy's King Crab Shack! It was amazing and an experience worth standing in line for. Lastly we took the tramway up the mountain to see the views. All in all, Juneau was a great first stop, with twelve hours in port and incredible weather. Skagway was the next stop and we did a Chilkoot Rail tour. We opted to take the train down so had a "short bus" on the way up. It was nice to be in a smaller group. We could stop more often and didn't have to dodge crowds for photos. Again we had incredible weather, a sunny warm day, and the train ride down was breathtaking. Plus, because it was the end of the season we made out like a bandit on souvenirs. The town itself has a lot of character with a lot of old buildings preserved for the tourists. In Icy Strait Point, the day started foggy and drizzly, but it all burned off into another beautiful day. We did a ship tour which was informative about the local culture and entertaining. This was an early departure, especially compared to any other port, but we still had plenty of time to see what we wanted to. The port was especially nice since they had these little extended golf cart shuttles for those who needed extra help getting into the port proper (which is a bit of a walk). Last port was Ketchikan and rain. But it dried out and the Saxman village was interesting and it was great to learn about the totem poles and Tlingit culture. We spoke to a famous carver a little bit before shopping, which was a great place to get Native souvenirs. Lastly, Vancouver Port was the nicest, most efficient port I've ever arrived in. Seriously, we were off the ship, turned to our left and there were our bags. A porter arrived a minute later and the next thing I knew we were loaded onto the bus for the airport! All in all it was worth every penny. Everyone had a great time and we'd definitely do it again. Read Less
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
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
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 weren’t ... 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
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 ... 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
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
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
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
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
Sail Date August 2018
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