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408 Royal Caribbean Vancouver Cruise Reviews

This was a family "bucket list" trip for my dad and unfortunately it was not the ultimate experience that he was hoping for. Embarkation was a long meandering walk and when we boarded the ship no one was giving any ... Read More
This was a family "bucket list" trip for my dad and unfortunately it was not the ultimate experience that he was hoping for. Embarkation was a long meandering walk and when we boarded the ship no one was giving any directions as to where we needed to go. Finally another guest told us that most people were in the Windjammer, since rooms were not read at by 1 pm. When we got to the cabins (1 for Hubs & I and 1 for Dad & Son) around 3 pm Dad & Son's luggage was not delivered. Their luggage was finally delivered around 8:30/9 pm after we got Room Attendant involved. Ship was OK overall, but definitely some maintenance and repairs needed. In Aurora Theater, a handrail on right side, facing stage, was broken away from upright the entire cruise. The trim on the sofa in Cabin 3050 was frayed and sticking out from bottom. Most of the wood railing on the ship needs to be sanded, stained and varnished. Another pet peeve for my dad was that hallways were frequently cluttered with housekeeping equipment and dirty dishes, which impeded movement and could be considered a fire/emergency hazard. Dining - We did all of our dinner using My Time Dining in Cascades. The food was hit and miss. Most beef steaks were tough and cut very thin, resulting in overcooking, especially since we ordered medium rare. Also many items were over salted, which is problematic for those of us that need low sodium diets. The highlight of our dining experience were our wait staff (Ajay & Antonio) who always were attentive and soon learned our names and preferences! We attended some of the enrichment programs. Dr Ryan was OK, but he seemed bored, except for the day we were at Hubbard. Dad & Hubs enjoyed Canadian Mountie talk. Entertainment was decent for first half of week (Piano Man tribute and Mo Town review), but comedians were blah. Our teenage son attended Optix, the teen club. He said it was mostly fun. He liked the various competitions they did. Excursions were very good overall. Definitely the highlight of the trip. We did Lumberjack & Town tour with stop at Saxman in Ketchikan. In Icy Points, Dad & Hubs did nature tour and got to see bears. At Skagway we did the combo White Pass Train, Gold-panning and Sled dogs - AWESOME! In Juneau we did Roberts Tram, Glacier Gardens and Mendenhall Glacier. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was the first Alaskan Cruise for our family of 6 adults, and the first overall cruise for 3/6. We stayed in Vancouver at the Pan Pacific, which was a perfect location for boarding the ship. We had a very smooth embarkation, and were ... Read More
This was the first Alaskan Cruise for our family of 6 adults, and the first overall cruise for 3/6. We stayed in Vancouver at the Pan Pacific, which was a perfect location for boarding the ship. We had a very smooth embarkation, and were on the ship within minutes! All our staterooms were well-maintained (9636, 9508, and 1532 - Grand Suite). The cruise itself was beautiful! I've read other reviews saying the ship looked worn, but I disagree. While you could see minor details that may be worn down, the overall ship was still breathtaking! I mean, c'mon, the ship is 15 years old, what do you expect?? Room stewards were attentive, but usually invisible. The water in one of our rooms did go out the last evening, but did not cause too many problems for us as we left the next morning. We loved our cruise directors, Jamie and Lizzy! Just hilarious! Our captain was also great. We had slightly rough waters the first day, but after that day, you couldn't even tell we were moving! Main dining room service was good, but a little stressful at first. Our waiter seemed a little distant and was difficult to hear/understand, but we got used to him and his dry humor. Food was for the most part delicious, and we loved that we were brought extras of appetizers and entrees so everyone could try them! Service elsewhere was great, especially the Schooner Bar (Lincoln the bartender was fantastic towards my two sons!) My husband a adult sons each purchased the beer packages, and all loved the convenience of it and felt they each got their money out of it!! Wished there was a way to get their drinks without having to swipe their SeaPass each time. In addition, it would have been nice to have somewhere on my daughter's SeaPass that stated she was 21 so she didn't have to carry her ID with her wherever she went. We were worried about losing it! On previous cruises we had loved the Concierge Club (since we usually get a suite), but this club was slightly disappointing. Food selection was limited and the bartenders were very skeptical of my 21 year old daughter's ID, seeing how she had just turned 21 at the beginning of July. They seemed unwilling to serve her and questioned her age many times, even asking other passengers if she looked 21. It made her feel uncomfortable. She also had a bad experience when she forgot her ID one time at a bar, and the bartender snapped at her, saying "I will not serve you here." and walked away. Other than that, service met expectations. We went to Chops Grille on my sons birthday, and loved it! Atmosphere was calm and our waiter was wonderful. All the food was excellent and well worth the $30 per person price tag. Filet Mignons were a hit with everyone and they even sang happy birthday to my son! We also did a wine tasting at Giovanni's, which was fun, but I wish they would have had more white wine and a little more information about how to actually taste the wine, etc. Still fun. My eldest son loved the Windjammer, though seating was usually tough to come by. I do wish there was another food option, rather than the DogHouse, which seemed dead at all times...maybe a Johnny Rocket's or pizza joint, like on some other ships? We just got a little sick of the food by the last day! Ports of call were great! We liked Skagway and Juneau the best. Ketchikan was very touristy, and we did not like all the jewelry shops. Icy Strait was very quaint and beautiful, but there wasn't as much to do as some of the other ports. Heres what we did in each port (all RC Excursions): Ketchikan: Seafeast & Alaskan Lodge Adventure (AMAZING crab feast!!) Snorkeling (Very fun!) Floatplane - a once in a lifetime experience Icy Strait: ZipRider - fun, but very quick! Whale & Marine Mammal Cruise - very good, saw lots! good narration Juneau: Halibut fishing - Highlight of the trip! Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake - beautiful sights, fun hike, and good food! Skagway: White Pass Railway - beautiful views, highlight of my trip personally! White Pass Railway + Klondike Bike Tour - same train, plus 15 mile bike ride! Cold and rainy but a great time for all my adult children! The captain got us very close to the Hubbard Glacier which was so gorgeous! Definitely get up early and get ready for the day (by like 7 am!) so you can go out and get a good view on the helicopter pad! Most people just stood on the deck in their pajamas and warm coats! Wonderful narration by the expert over the speakers, and a good amount of time allotted so everyone had a chance to see it! As for entertainment, comedians were very funny and music in lounges were always nice to listen to! The Love and Marriage show was great as always, as well as The Quest- Adult Game Show! A hilarious time, and we loved meeting other people there! Bingo was a little disappointing, as it only happened 3 times during the week, and I remember playing it every day on my last cruise! Harry Potter trivia was a fun time for my family. Casino was nice and not too smoky, though we didn't win much! Musical events in the centrum, like the Rock and Roll Night were a blast, with great music and dancing. Photography on the ship was sub-par, with many photos that cut my husbands head off, and unflattering photos. Seems as though they didn't try too hard to find flattering angles or focus in nicely on the group. Probably just trying to take as many photos as possible and not caring how they looked. Temperatures were usually in the mid 50s to mid 60's outside, and most days were cloudy and drizzly. Ship temperature was comfortable, and shorts were wearable on the ship, especially when you use the nice fitness center!I recommend a nice rain coat for sure, and long pants and sweatshirts. Definitely want to pack layers! Disembarkation was easy, as we put our luggage out the night before. Once off the ship, we just had to walk over to the tent and collect our luggage. Pain free! Overall, we love cruising with Royal Caribbean and will definitely recommend this cruise to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I thought a cruise was a great way to explore Alaska and to see the Glacier. I wish that Royal Caribbean International would of included a day to explore the city at the port.The speaker in the cabin to hear the captain speak doesn't ... Read More
I thought a cruise was a great way to explore Alaska and to see the Glacier. I wish that Royal Caribbean International would of included a day to explore the city at the port.The speaker in the cabin to hear the captain speak doesn't work in the cabin. When the captain spoke we had to open the cabin door to hear him.The meals in the dinning room were disappointing for the portion of food was small but were very elaborate looking and very good tasting. The food in the food and services in the Windjammer Cafe was excellent.The service of the personal on the cruise were very friendly and their services were excellent.The ports and excursions were very good. The photographer in the dinning room did an awful job.I didn't buy many photos for they were poorly done. I bought the Cruise Review DVD and it was also poorly done. Some of the DVD didn't have sound and I was on the Cruise 7 days but there was only 5 days coverage. The DVD was not worth 29.99. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We have sailed with RC before, numerous times, and I have to say, I was truly disappointed in the level of service on this cruise. The trip itself was lovely, and Alaska was an amazing destination. But the cruise itself: Just ... Read More
We have sailed with RC before, numerous times, and I have to say, I was truly disappointed in the level of service on this cruise. The trip itself was lovely, and Alaska was an amazing destination. But the cruise itself: Just "meh". FIrst, the "good" stuff: ALASKA: This was an amazing destination, and each port of call was a fabulous experience. Despite the negative review I am giving of the ship, I will say that their shore excursions were flawless. We were delighted to have plenty of time in each port. While in Juneau, we met a couple who had to get back to their ship by 1pm for its departure, and were disappointed not to have more time in town. To RC's credit, we had plenty of time and space in every port we visited. We also had PRIME timing on the Hubbard Glacier on our last day at sea. We arrived at 7am, in time to see the sunrise over the glacier, and have PLENTY of viewing time before leaving the area. So kudos to RCI for excellent scheduling. Now, the more critical pieces: THE SHIP: The ship itself lacked some of the more modern features that other ships in the fleet have, such as automatic bathroom doors. Taking the midship elevators was like playing a game of "whack-a-mole". A door would open on one side of the bank, and by the time we sprinted to it, it had closed. And we were all disappointed that the ship did not have a self-service soft drink machine onboard, and those of us who count on our morning caffeine infusion by soda had to stand in line to wait for service at the bar. And yes, there were LOTS of lines. THE FOOD: The WIndjammer food was just barely edible. Most of it was over-salted, overcooked, and left under the heat lamps too long. I know that it's buffet style food, and that always presents a challenge to chefs and servers, but we've had much better on our other ships. The food and service in the main dining room was also sub-standard to what we've been used to.The individual servers were plenty courteous and helpful, but there seemed to be a disconnect between them and the kitchen. Food often arrived cold or under/overcooked. Sometimes, one person got served and then waited 5-10 minutes for the others at the table to get their food. Bar service was OK, but slow. GENERAL SERVICE: I can't quite put my finger on it, but, across the board, the service team on this cruise was not nearly as helpful, courteous or polite as we have previously experienced. Our room steward was nice, but did not go above and beyond. We had to ask for extra towels every day. I would have hoped that after the first two days he would have just done it automatically, especially upon seeing that our family of four used all the towels that were left for us. Guest services was particularly difficult this time around. There were several occasions that we had to pay a visit to the desk to resolve something, and each time, they acted as if they were "handling" us, rather than "helping" us. When we had a problem with our account (they neglected to apply a credit that we received the first day), the woman at guest services said she "couldn't" help us, but that someone from accounting would "call us back". Only when pushed did she eventually, and reluctantly, make the appropriate adjustment -- proving that her first answer was a complete lie. The education series on Alaska was truly disappointing. We were looking forward to learning as much as possible, and the lecturer that was onboard this cruise was about as dull as watching paint dry. I wish they'd had someone more vivacious. An overall observation on this cruise is that it seemed like there was some sort of underlying problem or issue with the entire staff on this cruise. Maybe something upsetting had happened prior to embarkation? Maybe the previous cruise was exceptionally difficult and they were burned out? I guess we'll never know, but there was definitely a decline in service from the last cruise we took (Bermuda on Anthem) to this one. The kids' club was just awful. On more than one occasion, they simply closed down and sent our kids back to the cabin, saying there weren't enough children there there to do any activities. Good heavens, people --- that's the whole purpose of booking a cruise with a kids club! I don't care whether there are 2 kids or 20... there should always be stuff you can do to keep the kids entertained! I would definitely take another cruise to Alaska, but would probably do so on a different line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
The cruise itself was very nice, but the state room we had was a real problem for noise and cigarette smoke. I recommend to take this cruise, but stay away from cabin 7504. I will put in a bit of detail since it was hard to understand ... Read More
The cruise itself was very nice, but the state room we had was a real problem for noise and cigarette smoke. I recommend to take this cruise, but stay away from cabin 7504. I will put in a bit of detail since it was hard to understand the details from the description given on the site. Vancouver - The cruise starts in Vancouver BC which is a great city with lots of fun stuff to do and tons of restaurants. It tends to be a bit expensive, but you can generally find something for every price range. Suggest spending some time there before the cruise. Inside Passage - This was pleasant enough, but far less dramatic than I was expecting. Living in the Northwest this was simply typical ocean and river views. Ketchikan - was not a very interesting place for me. It is a lot of tourist shops with high prices. I thought the people there were not very accommodating compared to other parts of Alaska. Icy Point Strait - Although there is not a lot to do here, it is a very nice walk from the docks over to Hoonah about 1.5 miles along the water. There is not much in Hoonah, although we did see a whale and a beautiful eagles nest. There was also a great place called the office bar there with fresh Dungeness Crab for $25 which was great. Juneau - This is where the trip really gets a bit more special. Juneau has lots of great things to do. We took a glacier flight which was spectacular. We also went up on the Mt Roberts Tram which has spectacular views and then took a bus to Mendenhall glacier (riding the blue bus over is much cheaper). Overall this was one of the better stops, but prices can add up quickly as nothing is cheap. Skagway - This is really a quite small town with nothing in particular to do except to ride the White Pass Train which is nice, but way too expensive in my opinion (may be cheaper to book outside of cruise ships). It has nice views here, but not much more. Hubbard Glacier - This was definitely a highlight of the trip. The ship spends several hours cruising around the glacier and going in circles so everyone gets a great view. It comes very close to the glacier so you can get some stunning photos. We were also lucky enough to have a bright sunny day while there and there was a lot of calving going on with the glacier which is spectacular to watch up close. Seward - This was actually a great place with lots of great restaurants and shops as well as a great walk along the shore. There is a very short bus ride to the sea life center which is included in the tour. They give about two hours to see the sea life center, and get some lunch and then leave around noon for Alyeska. Alyeska - They stopped along the way at exit glacier and gave us 45 minutes which was just enough time to do the .9 mile walk to the glacier and back. We then continued to Alyeska and arrived in the late afternoon. Included is a pass to ride the Alyeska tram which has some nice views. You stay at the Alyeska Lodge which is quite spectacular. It is about a 1.5 mile walk to Girdwood along a scenic trail on which we were just a few yards away from a young Buck Moose. There are a couple of good restaurants in Girdwood, but the hotel restaurants are good as well and highly recommend the Pond Cafe at the hotel for breakfast. Anchorage - From Alyeska you head out the next morning for Anchorage and they dropped us off at around 10 AM at 3rd and C street by the Saturday market. You get 2 hours to see the market (or whatever you choose) and get some lunch. There are a number of good restaurants in teh area, but you need to watch the time, or you can just munch at the Saturday Market booths. Denali - From Anchorage they head for Denali and put you up at the Denali Park Villiage for 2 nights. This was by far my least favorite place on the tour. If they put you up there insist that you do not stay in the 800 building as the road noise is terrible. Elsewhere it is OK. Also the prices for everything here are outrageous (sandwich for $9 as an example - lunch basket $16). Fortunately you can head for glitter gulch for a $5/person shuttle and eat there for much less, or walk across to the Thai food trailer. Denali is a spectacular park and they include a history tour for free, but if you look on line you can get the green bus in Denali for just $27.50 that takes you in 53 miles to the Toklat river. there is a free shuttle from the lodge to the WAC where you catch the green bus. We took the history tour which is free and goes in 18 miles, then took the green bus (need to reserve in advance) at 3PM to the Toklat river. Only downside was that the 3PM bus gets back at 9:30PM to the WAC so we had to walk 2.5 miles to glitter gulch to get a shuttle back to the Lodge. Need to do some planning, but this is a fun area. Talkeetna - The next morning you get up and they take you back to glitter gulch or the Deanli visitor center (your choice) and you can go on a trail or just hang out at the visitor center. You need to get some lunch before you leave there as the next stop at Talkeetna is in the late afternoon, but there are place at glitter gulch or the visitor center to get lunch to go and eat on the bus. Once you arrive at Talkeetna it is a spectacular Lodge (the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge) with beautiful views of mount Denali and spectacular grounds with lots of trails. They have a free shuttle to town, or you can choose to walk the 1.5 miles on a nice path to get there. There are plenty of restaurants and shops in town to look around in the afternoon, but the shuttle back to the lodge ends at around 6PM, so difficult to eat there unless you take a taxi back or do what we did and walk. Overall this was by far and away my favorite place on the cruise and tour and will go back if I get the chance. The next day you take the train back to Anchorage from Talkeetna which is the famous glass dome trains. This means you have most of the day to spend in Talkeetna - we went on a jet boat excursion, but in retrospect I would have rather saved my money and walked around town that spend $70/person to go a couple of miles on the river. Anchorage - the train to Anchorage is quite nice and they serve a good albeit expensive dinner on the train, but you arrive in the evening, so it is hard to avoid eating on the train. They put you up in the heart of town in Anchorage at the Marriott which is quite nice and an easy walk to see much of the city or take a tour around. The next morning you are free to go at your leisure and they transport you back to the airport irrespective of your flight time. We left at 11:59 PM so that we could see the city on our last day. The Marriott held all of our luggage so we could walk about easlily. Anchorage is a great city with lots of great restaurants and fun stuff to do. Highly recommend you take the opportunity to see everything you can while there. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Here's some information and highlights from a 7-day northbound royal caribbean cruise aboard Radiance of the Seas with a 3-night post-cruise land tour: Getting to and on the ship in Vancouver: For two people with two bags, it ... Read More
Here's some information and highlights from a 7-day northbound royal caribbean cruise aboard Radiance of the Seas with a 3-night post-cruise land tour: Getting to and on the ship in Vancouver: For two people with two bags, it was $35 plus tip for a taxi from the airport to the ship. We arrived on July 1, Canada Day, so the terminal at Canada Place Pier was a sea of people heading down to enjoy concerts and fireworks at Canada Place. It added a little time due to traffic, but also added more excitement to kick off the vacation as we got to enjoy some free concerts and entertainment from our aft balcony on the starboard side. Luggage: For the two of us, we each had a checked bag and a backpack. We left our tagged bags at with the RCI luggage team once we arrived at the terminal and it showed up five or six hours later. Can't recall exactly when, but definitely in reasonable timeframe. Getting aboard, the junior suite stateroom and settling in: We arrived at the cruise terminal around 1 and were in our room by 1:30. Checking in was a breeze. We had VIP check in because or our junior suite and by booking through AAA Travel -- so we didn't really have to wait at all in the terminal. This cruise marked a jump from balcony to junior suite -- mostly to get a real shower/tub. However, the extra room in the cabin and balcony really made the cabin seem much larger. The padded lounge chair on the balcony was awesome and a great place to track down marine life. Would totally recommend it if you have room in the budget. One caveat ... the head clearance in the shower is about 5'8" ... so those tall folks will be stooping over or scrubbing the ceiling. Paid off to be a little shorter. Package selection: I opted for the $20/day Royal Replenish package. This got me bottle water, Pellegrino, fresh orange juice, a souvenir beverage mug, fountain soda and starbucks coffees (from Lattitudes on deck 5). I think I got decent value of the package and probably saved a few bucks. I wouldn't have purchased fresh OJ, so it was good to have. Soda and coffee notes: As of July 11, the soft drinks are the standard options. No freestyle machines. Lattitudes on deck 5 is essentially a starbucks location -- it just doesn't have a Starbucks marquee or associated pastries like the Oasis class ships do. Weather and clothing: For the most part, we had sunny and warm conditions throughout the cruise and tour. However, I'd recommend following all the advice and pack clothes that you can layer to handle the wide range of weather possible. Also, unless you're going to do some real hiking, you can get away with some good comfortable shoes. Cruise itinerary: July 1 - depart Vancouver July 2 - cruising Inside passage July 3 - docked at Ketchikan, Alaska July 4 - docked at Icy Straight Point, Alaska July 5 - docked at Juneau, Alaska July 6 - docked at Skagway, Alaska July 7 - cruising Hubbard glacier July 8 - arrive Seward, Alaska Tour itinerary: July 8 - motor coach from Seward to Talkeetna July 9 - motor coach from Talkeetna to Denali July 10 - motor coach from Denali to Talkeetna; Wilderness Express train from Talkeetna to Anchorage Inside passage: Ended up setting clocks back an additional hour. And saw some dolphins around lunch time. Ketchikan, Alaska: Based on other cruisecritic advice, booked a private excursion through Island Wings Air Service to visit Anan Creek. Cost for two was just shy of $1,000. But really was an awesome experience to jump into our Alaska vacation. Michelle, our pilot, was knowledgeable about the area and nature -- so we learned a lot. The float plane sat six passengers. It was a little overcast and drizzly when we started out in the morning, but Michelle let everyone know that the smoothest rides are when it is a little overcast. As we flew, the sun came out and we had a great excursion and saw four or five bears -- the salmon run was just getting started so late July would probably see more. Back on board, we sat in Schooner Bar and listened to string duo and saw about 8 or 9 whales looking out the widows. Icy Straight Point, Alaska: Sun was out most of day in port. Very quiet area. Little over mile and half walk on paved sidewalk into downtown hoonah. A few microbreweries on way into town to refresh for walk back to ship. Spotted some more whales as we sailed on to Juneau. Juneau, Alaska: Had to cancel a bike and brew excursion through the ship, but opted for a Pilot's Choice glacier landing helicopter tour through TEMSCO. The ship offered the tour, but we couldn't book it on their site ... so we went direct. This was a little cheaper than the first tour, but any time you get up in the air it runs at least $350 a person. We ended up flying to and landing on Herbert Glacier as well as Nugget Valley. The glacier was icy and had the dramatic blues. Because we were in port for about 13 hours and it is daylight the whole time, we also took a blue bus for $30/person round trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. We felt it was worth the visit. It was about a 20-minute walk from the visitor's center to Nugget falls and the closest glacier view point. If you just want to walk up to the falls and take some pictures -- you'll probably only need about 2 hours. We were going to visit Alaska Brewery, but there was a $20/person shuttle charge from the store in town to their actual restaurant and brewery. Instead, we went to the Red Dog Saloon for lunch and a beer. Skagway, Alaska: Booked the white pass train and klondike bike tour via the ship. This was a 27.7 mile ride to Fraser Station in British Columbia (so need your passport) in the train followed by a 15-mile guided mountain bike ride down the highway to the Sockeye Cycle store. It was a flat 1.5 mile walk back to the ship through town from the store. On the bike ride down, it was a little chilly for part of the ride as we probably got up to 25 mph. Different perspective from taking the train up. Bring gloves and a hat to wear under your bike helmet. Hubbard glacier: Very sunny at Hubbard glacier and about 55 degrees. Saw quite a few calvings including three or four biggies. The onboard nature expert said that they were some of the biggest and impressive ones he's seen in the 12 years he's been doing the cruise. In addition to watching the calvings, the other cool thing was watching the icebergs flip over as the bottom becomes lighter than the top. Plenty of time to get pix. Although if you want to chase the calvings--you'll need to be on deck 12 to easily wander for side to side. If you're up on 12 toward the front and get chilly, you can duck into the solarium and warm up -- and still have a view. Motor coach from Seward to Talkeetna: Boarded bus at 8 and reached the Alaska Wildlife Center at 10. Is a zoo/rescue that is all outside. Get to see bears, Musk Ox, Lynx and other animals up close. This is pretty much the best guarantee of seeing wildlife. Stopped in Anchorage for lunch. Ate at 49th State Brewery, which was less than a week old. Had outdoor balconies that you could see Denali from on a clear day (which it was). Because the weather was so clear and nice, we opted to book a flight seeing excursion in Talkeetna to get up close to Denali and the other mountains that were on display in sun. If you have the budget and it is sunny, this was a must-do. Especially as plenty of people never get to see Denali from a distance. This way you can stand on a glacier and look at it. Motor coach from Talkeetna to Denali: Upgraded to the Tundra Wilderness Tour for $70/person that turned the 4-hour tour into 8 and took us as far as Stony Pass at Mile 62. We saw some moose, caribou, grizzly bear, dahl sheep, ptarmigans, hare and a black wolf. It was clear and sunny until the ride back when a storm in the distance created some dramatic double-rainbows. The tour is long, but the seats are relatively comfortable -- not standard issue school bus seats. It is the best shot at seeing animals. We wouldn't have seen any if we didn't go on the long tour. As a tip, if you go on the long tour, check to see if your window opens before committing to your seat. Motor coach from Denali to Talkeetna and Wilderness Express train from Talkeetna to Anchorage: The final stretch of the tour was probably the most uneventful as we were back-tracking through our route out to Denali from Anchorage. We took the train leg from Talkeetna to Anchorage, but there wasn't really much to see from a scenic or photographic perspective. The ride from Denail to Talkeetna would probably be better. There wasn't any comparison between the Yukon Pass Railway in Skagway to the Wilderness Express ride from Talkeetna. Skagway was much more scenic. That said, they are two different trains and serve two different roles. We did eat dinner and desert on the train and it was good. Summary: The alaska cruise and tour was awesome and would recommend. Your tour experience will vary based on our guide and driver. We got lucky with our guide, Madonna. And our driver Mike. They were the best of the three groups. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Northbound Alaska Will include stuff we would do differently and anything else that would improve our experience (and maybe yours too). Embarkation in Vancouver Check-in is 11am-3pm. Don’t check in at noon. You will have 2,000 ... Read More
Northbound Alaska Will include stuff we would do differently and anything else that would improve our experience (and maybe yours too). Embarkation in Vancouver Check-in is 11am-3pm. Don’t check in at noon. You will have 2,000 people in front of you. Next time, I would get to Canada Place at 10:30am or after 1:30pm. Once on board and preparing for the rest of the week (Day 1) Buffet (Lunch): The Windjammer buffet should be open when you board. The food is pretty good for a buffet. Once you learn where the different stations are (main course, drinks, desserts), you should be able to stuff your face multiple times in less than an hour. If you don’t find seating, they will open Rita’s (near the desserts) which is covered and outdoor. It’s nice if it’s warm outside. Use the time between lunch and dinner to explore the ship. Outdoor pool: If you want to take a dip into the outdoor pool, this is the day to do it. Vancouver will be the warmest day of the cruise. Alaska is cool; average high is 60F for July. We didn’t see anyone in the pool during the last half of the cruise. Most everyone migrated to the Solarium and there was a smell of raw turkey and cornbread. There were people using the outdoor hot tubs on each day of the cruise. Main show: There will likely be a featured show in the Aurora Theater every evening. There will be either one show for all guests at 7:15 or two shows (6:30 and 8:30 to accommodate the two dinner seatings). Go to these shows! Dinner: We had dinner in the Main Dining Room (Cascades) every night. You order off a menu; part of the menu changes every day and a part remains the same for the entire cruise. The portion sides are small, which was nice after overeating at the buffet for breakfast and lunch. You can order as many entrees as you want. You will also get to know your fellow diners (since everyone is seated at the same table every night) and your server. When you purchase the cruise, let RCI know about any special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, etc). That information will get to the server and they will get together and sing after dessert. It’s a nice touch to your special day. The dress code changes from casual (days 1, 3, 4, 7) to smart casual (day 5) to formal (days 2, 6). As we were preparing for the cruise, we were trying to decide if we wanted to pack formal attire or forego formal nights and eat at Windjammer. We bit the bullet and packed the extra clothes. We enjoyed dressing up since we don’t do it very often at home. If you’re worried about enforcement, there is very little. For the guys, if you don’t want to bring a suit, a pair of slacks and a dress shirt, with or without a tie, are good enough. Then wear the same thing without the tie for smart casual night. If it’s any incentive, they did serve lobster during one of the formal nights. On-board Credits: Before you spend your OBCs, you might want to understand them first. We learned later in the week that there are two types: refundable and non-refundable. You can check your account through your in-room TV. When you purchased the cruise, you were probably told it included on-board (or shipboard) credits. Ours amounted to $150/person. What we weren’t told was you paid that $150. That’s why you can use it for gratuities or whatever because it’s your money. If you don’t use it, you get it back. It’s a ploy to make it look like the cruise line is giving you free money so you spend it. There may be instances where you receive bonus credits. In our case, we received $100/person for booking early, so we had $250/person total. The $100 is non-refundable and probably comes with more restrictions. It appeared like the non-refundable portion is spent down first. Go to Guest Services if you have any questions. Shore Excursions: There is no single way to handle the excursions. Some excursions can be reserved directly with the tour company or through RCI. You might be able to save some money doing it directly. Some companies will accept reservations through RCI only; while some must be reserved directly. We checked the RCI website and Trip Advisor months before the cruise to get a comprehensive list of what is available. We recommend reserving your excursion as early as possible because some will sell out. If you want to use your OBC, you must do it after boarding, so do it on boarding day. On-ship Activities: Your room attendant will leave a Cruise Compass publication each day at around 6pm for the following day’s activities. Casino: There is a casino on-board with slots, the coin-pusher game, blackjack, roulette, and craps. The casino hours are posted in the Compass. It opens early on sea days and the evenings on port days. The craps table opened at 7pm on all days. They seemed to put inexperienced craps dealers in during the slow periods, but most of the dealers were competent. $5.00 min with single odds. Day 2 (sea day) Rough day! It must have been heavy winds or something, but the ship was rockin-n-rollin all day. All passengers were walking around “drunk.” I didn't notice anyone getting sick. Day 6 (also a sea day) was much calmer, although there was some movement. The rest of the days were so smooth you didn't know you were moving (having land on both sides of the ship helped a lot). With this being a sea day, we read the Compass to find stuff to do. Since this was our first trip to Alaska, we elected to attend the Alaska Enrichment Talk by James Clement. It was a poor presentation with no flow to it. He jumped from one thought to another without any transition. He was generally a poor speaker with poor organization and not much content. Then we went to the Alaska Port Shopping Show with Kimberly (my mom wanted to go), and this was WORSE! OMG!! Everything out of Kimberly’s mouth was “exquisite,” “one of a kind,” “a must have,” “rare,” “cannot find anywhere else.” We were given a store list and she wanted us to mark certain stores that we had to visit. Yeah sure, Kimberly, I’ll be there! She seems to favor Diamonds International (maybe she’s their sales rep) but it just felt like a scam. AVOID! The Casino Seminar and Quiz was another waste of time. We were advised to pour A LOT of money into the slot machines to build our points and be eligible to win a gazillion dollars at the end of the cruise. Yeah, ok. We got thirsty so we went to the Art Auction for the free champagne. We attended the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Gala Reception in the Centrum. You will set your clocks back one hour. Day 3 (Ketchikan) We had the 8:00am reservation on the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour that we booked directly so we were up early. Windjammer knew of the early start times of the excursions, so they opened the buffet at 5:30am, which was great! When we got off the ship, the tour rep was at the gangway and directed us to their boat. The Trip Advisor reviews sold me on this excursion. The highlight was indeed the eagles. After throwing some fish into the water, there were about 10 bald eagles flying around. That was really cool and worth 5 stars. Truly amazing! The boat made several stops. One was where they had a line with a bunch of hooks. They pulled the line in to see what they caught. That was ok too. There were several varieties of fish, including a shark. It was hard to see the fish, especially for those sitting in the back. And that brings me to the main complaint about this excursion -- it was way too crowded. The stage wasn't that big, but they managed to seat about 150 people with viewing on only one side of the boat, so people were climbing on top of each other to see the eagles. When they brought up the crabs, everyone rushed to the stage and, again, there was little room to maneuver. The website makes it sound like they are actually fishing for crabs, but that is false. There are crabs in the pot. Once everyone is done holding and taking pictures of them, the crabs go back into the pot, and the pot gets dropped into the ocean, only to be repeated for the next tour. Then they bring up another pot with plastic king crabs (apparently king crabs are really hard to catch so they use fake ones for the demonstration and store live king crabs in the live tank on the boat). Then they go to another location and bring up a large live octopus that is stored in the plastic barrel. The octopus slimes around with the crew, goes back into the barrel and into the ocean, only to be brought back up for the next tour. The tour felt like a glorified aquarium. Why are we on this boat? And the kicker was the Deadliest Catch. It's on the website, there's a video in the gift shop, and the crew talks about it ad nauseum. Enough already! They are lucky to have it on video, otherwise there would be nothing to talk about. If it weren't for the eagles, this tour gets one star. After the tour, the kids were hungry for food and wifi, so we walked around Ketchikan and found both at Annabelle’s. The food was ok. My daughter said the Chicken Tenders were "weird." She prefers fast-food chicken fingers and McNuggets. I had the Jack Daniel's Burger and had to run to the bathroom a short time later. The wifi was good for her, but bad for me. Their router had limited logins and I guess she took the last one because I was getting the "maximum logins exceeded" message. In fact, my repeated attempts made things worse because I eventually got locked out for "one hour." Ugh! So, if you are one of the lucky ones to login, you have one hour of access. If you are unlucky, you are allowed about 3 attempts per hour. After returning to the ship, we all took a nap and got up in time for the Ronn Lucas Ventriloquist Show, which was outstanding! Great show – don’t miss it. Day 4 (Icy Strait Point) We had the 9:30am reservation for the ZipRider, so we got to sleep in a little later than yesterday. Booking this was unclear. If you go through icystraitpoint.com, you can buy one ride ($139) or combine the ZipRider with the ATV ($259) or whale watch ($269). We booked the ZipRider package through Royal Caribbean ($179) and was able to schedule two rides instead of doing the ATV/WW. The second ride was a lot less scary and allowed me to focus on steering the harness. A little bonus is the bus driver who takes you up to the top gives you a tour of Hoonah, talks about the history, points out some key buildings, an eagle's nest, and the airport, while getting some fantastic scenery. The ZipRider accommodates six people at a time. When you get to the top, there are six guys (maybe seven) setting everyone up. When you are the next group, they will talk you through the ride and let you know what to do, how to steer, and how the braking system works. There’s nothing to it, really. I almost soiled my pants at the start, but after the first 5 seconds, it's like flying and it doesn't feel like you're going 60mph, probably because there's a huge cliff below you! Take a light jacket. It's about 10 degrees cooler at the top, plus you might feel some wind on the way down. Also, if you want to take a second ride, be sure to reserve a time ASAP. We weren’t sure how things worked with the excursions, so we waited too long and found ourselves waiting 3 hours for the second ride. With that much time, we went back to the ship and had lunch. Icy Strait Point is the least touristy port. There are only a few buildings (one of which has a view of the ZipRiders) and you can walk along the shore. Hoonah is a short walk away where you are not inundated with diamond and souvenir shops. Once back on board, we went to see Piano Man starring the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers with musical accompaniment from the Radiance of the Seas Orchestra. Then dinner, then a dance party in the Centrum. Day 5 (Juneau) We reserved the City & Glacier & Whale Watch through Juneau Tours. When we got off the ship, the van was waiting to take us to Mendenhall Glacier. I think they split the group into two: one goes to Mendenhall, the other goes whale watching, then they swap. Once you arrive at Mendenhall, you have 60-90 minutes until they pick you up. That’s enough time to hike the one mile to Nugget Falls Trail (that we recommend) or you can walk to the Photo Point which is 1/3 mile round trip. It’s a big waterfall to the right of the glacier. There was also time to watch a 15-minute movie about glaciers at the Visitor’s Center. Mendenhall is the main attraction so expect a crowd on the ground and helicopter traffic above you. Then the van took us to Auke Bay Harbor to board the whale watching boat. It was about a 20-30 minute boat ride to the west side of Admiralty Island where six other whale watching boats were hovering. It took a few minutes to understand what we were looking for, but apparently there was a group (or pod) of humpback whales feeding on herring. They work in groups, building a bubble net to trap the fish, then they come up together with mouths open and blowholes exhaling. Basically, there is dead calm, then a flurry of activity. The pod moves around so you never know where they will be coming up. During the tour, we were lucky enough to see three breaches (where the whale launches itself into the air). That was cool! When the whale watch was concluded, we boarded the bus and they took us back to the cruise dock. We had about 90 minutes before the start of the city tour, and 15 minutes before the buffet closed, so we RAN back onto the ship and went straight for the food because we were starving. The city tour was nice. We saw the dome-less capital building and other notable buildings, went across the channel to the east side of Douglas Island and looked back towards Juneau, returned to Juneau and had the opportunity to visit the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. My teens wanted to do something much more enjoyable and that was to go to the library and spend an hour on the free wifi. Once back on board the ship, we had dinner, then went to the Love and Marriage Game Show. It was similar to the Newlywed Game, but they selected one couple who had been married the shortest time (12 days), the longest time (50 years), and somewhere in the middle. They didn’t really keep score; all couples received the same prize for providing the evening’s entertainment. Day 6 (Skagway) We had no scheduled excursions, but we did get off the ship to visit this town. After a week of overeating, we decided to walk to the Gold Rush Cemetery. It's about 2.5 miles from the docks and you have to walk through town to get there. The two notables at the cemetery are con artist Jefferson "Soapy" Smith and good guy Frank Reid. The theory is that both shot each other simultaneously in a gun fight. You get a sense of poor vs wealthy: the poor had a single wooden headstone, the wealthy had a granite headstone and/or a fenced-in grave. Many buried were "Unknown" or very young children who apparently died of meningitis. Most died between 1898 and 1910, the end of the Klondike Gold Rush. The Frank Reid waterfall is about 10 minutes further up from the cemetery. Very nice. If you can sift through the usual diamond and souvenir shops, you will find the stores, saloons, gambling houses, and dance halls to accommodate the 20,000 people who stampeded into Skagway in 1897 in search for gold. You can ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway, the same route the miners took to the goldfields. Back on the ship, the headliner show was musician David Meyer playing the xylosynth and lasersynth. It was remarkable! Excellent show. Day 7 (sea day, Hubbard Glacier) Ship arrived at the Hubbard Glacier at around 8am and spun around a half a dozen times, giving everyone on all sides of the ship a great view. The captain put James Clement on the PA system to talk about the glacier. If it weren’t for his incoherent ramblings (see Day 2), the morning would have been fantastic. After breakfast, we went to the Towel Folding Demonstration in the Centrum. The room attendants used towels to make various animals and left them in the rooms. It was cute, so we were curious to see how they were made. On this last full day, we attended the Captain’s Spotlight with Captain Goran, “A Celebration of Live Music” with the Radiance of the Seas Orchestra, and the Farewell Showtime starring Comedian Kellen Erksine. You will also pack up to leave the ship the next morning. If you have made your own arrangements after disembarking, it’s not necessary to leave your luggage outside your stateroom by 11pm. It’s only going to save you a few steps to the baggage claim area. Remember, RCI needs to sort through thousands of bags and the last thing you want is for them to lose yours. Debarkation Day (Seward) Since we were not on any RCI-sponsored excursion, we were one of the last groups to disembark. We walked off the ship, picked up our luggage, and had planned on walking to the train depot, but we saw Seavey’s van and asked if we can hitch a ride since we were on that excursion. Sure, no problem. We got our train tickets and checked in our luggage at the depot. Since we were a little early for Seavey’s, we walked along the water to the SeaLife Center, then back to the depot, where Seavey’s picked us up. The first stop was the kennel where we sat through an oral presentation of Seavey’s involvement with the Iditarod, then we went to see the dogs. These dogs are athletes. Skinny and all muscle (or our house pets are just fat). When the trainers started hooking up the dogs for the sled, ALL of the dogs went crazy because they wanted to run run run! The dogs train year-around for the Iditarod, so Seavey's uses these summer tours as part of that. Instead of sleds, they use golf carts and have the dogs pull 8 humans along a dirt path. The more experienced dogs are at the front because they know what to do and follow commands better. The beginners are at the back, and you can see the difference. The second part of the tour are the adorable puppies! You get to hold the 12-day-olds and the 7-week-olds. They are so cute and will eventually be trained for racing. The great part of this tour is you see the progression of newborns becoming top-notch racers. Lunch was a part of the tour. They will take your order at the beginning of the tour and drive you to the restaurant. Exit glacier: After lunch, you will stop at Exit Glacier. Kenai Fjords National Park has placed signs as to where the glacier was since the late 1800s and there has been a dramatic recession. You get a feel for the effects of climate change. From my estimation, poor Exit Glacier will be gone in about 10 years. Salmon run: You will also be driven to Bear Creek. If the salmon are running, you will see it. There was evidence (poop) of bear(s) in the area and there was a bald eagle flying overhead. At the end of the tour, they will take you wherever you need to go. For us, we were on the 6pm train to Anchorage, so no problems. Alaska Railroad: We took the train from Seward to Anchorage and it was nice. A live person narrates many of the features along the route, and tells us to keep an eye out for wildlife. We didn’t see any. But the train slows down so you can see and take pictures of the glaciers and waterfalls. As you ride along Turnagain Arm, they pointed out a bore tide. A bore tide is seawater refilling an inlet; it looks like a continuous wave, unlike the ebb and flow of waves on a beach. We saw surfers riding the bore tide. I would have missed it if someone didn’t point it out to me. Harbor seals and beluga whales follow the tide in too, although we didn’t see any of those either. We arrived in Anchorage late Friday. Since our flight was late Saturday, we took the bus to downtown Anchorage in the morning. The teenagers wanted to go shopping so they spent some time (and money) at the 5th Avenue Mall. We also walked to the Anchorage Market and Festival on 3rd & E Street. It is a free, outdoor, weekend venue with hundreds of vendors under tents. There’s everything Alaska: food, arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, wood carvings, paintings, and entertainment. It’s a good place to stop by if you are in the downtown area for other reasons and have an hour to kill. I would consider most of the products as dust-collectors and just another thing to carry on the plane. The pictures of the Aurora Borealis do make me want to return to Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This cruise ship was wonderful! This was our 3rd cruise to the Alaska Inside Passage, but the 1st time on Royal Caribean. We choose this cruise ship because we wanted to be able to stay in Alaska another week. Other cruise ships leave ... Read More
This cruise ship was wonderful! This was our 3rd cruise to the Alaska Inside Passage, but the 1st time on Royal Caribean. We choose this cruise ship because we wanted to be able to stay in Alaska another week. Other cruise ships leave and return to Seattle. The staff went above and beyond. I highly recommend Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas. The food was wonderful. We made arrangements the 1st evening to eat at the same time in the dining room and each evening we walked straight to our designated table with no waiting at all and there were 8 of us. The meals were beautifully presented and delicious, and the waiters and staff were awesome! Our room steward was wonderful too! We booked some excursions from the ship and others we booked when we got off. In Skagway a must do is the White Mountain train ride. In Ketchican we booked the Crab feast and Lumberjack Show combination. I've never had better Dungeness crab - all you can eat! In Icy Point we did the Zipline and what a rush! In Juneau we did the whale watch and the Mendenhall Glacier and of course the Red Dog Saloon. We stayed another week in Seward and went out on 3 fishing trips with Puffin Fishing Charters and they were wonderful. We brought home 500# of fish fillets. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was only my second cruise, and I thought the cruise itself was fine. I took it more for convenient transportation than for the cruise experience. We stayed at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver, and they took care of transporting our ... Read More
This was only my second cruise, and I thought the cruise itself was fine. I took it more for convenient transportation than for the cruise experience. We stayed at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver, and they took care of transporting our luggage to the ship. We did the Kenai Fjords Cruise with Airport Drop Off at the end of the cruise in Seward, and they took care of delivering our luggage to the airport in Anchorage. Perfect! I read quite a bit about the history and geography of Alaska before the cruise so I had an idea of what interested me at each port. I'd get off the ship, head in the direction I was interested in, and let the day unfold. I had a great time exploring! The only port besides Seward where we did an excursion was in Juneau, the Mendenhall Glacier Paddle and Trek. The onboard activities that interested me were extremely limited. They did have enrichment talks which I attended - whales, glaciers, the northern lights. All these talks interested me and all the information was interesting, but I fell asleep at every one of these talks. I think it was the tone of the lecturer's voice. It was irritating because I wanted to hear what he had to say but could not keep my eyes open. There were also talks by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which were interesting, and I was able to stay awake during these. I was not impressed with the shows that I attended although others seemed to be. There wasn't much offered in the way of night life for me. I don't gamble, don't drink much, don't care to be around people who do drink much, and can't stay awake for a movie. I enjoyed the My Time Dining in the main dining room. The dress code was not strictly enforced. The only thing about the ship that actually bothered me was the constant attempt to sell me something or upgrade some experience. The amount of time and effort the ship put into shopping was amazing. They had all kinds of shopping programs and would hand out shopping guides when getting off the ship in a port. I didn't go all the way to Alaska to shop! The other thing that bothered me was the way they handled tips. It's probably the same on all cruise lines, but I'm not sure I like being forced to leave an 18% tip and also being expected to leave more. There was only one person that I dealt with who truly deserved an additional tip for her service. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We have sailed three times previously on Disney and greatly enjoyed their ships and service. However, for this vacation, we decided to give RCI a try for several reasons. First, we really wanted a one way sailing and not a round trip. ... Read More
We have sailed three times previously on Disney and greatly enjoyed their ships and service. However, for this vacation, we decided to give RCI a try for several reasons. First, we really wanted a one way sailing and not a round trip. We had visited Alaska's interior many years ago and wanted to tour the interior again after sailing. Disney does not offer this option currently. Also, let's face it, Disney is quite a bit more expensive. For what it would have cost us to put two adults and two kids in a single balcony stateroom on Disney, we were able to book two balcony rooms and an inside room and bring my parents along for a once in a lifetime trip for them. Our agent was able to book us two nearby balcony rooms and an inside room across from one of them that my two teenage children stayed in - more on that later. With that as our background, we were off for our first go with RCI. Embarkation actually went pretty smoothly and we boarded with no drama. While there was the "opportunity" to take a start of cruise picture in front of a fake background, it was off to the side in the waiting area and there was no pressure. Very different from our Disney experience where you pretty much have to run a gauntlet through the boarding photo area and its a hassle to go around it. We came on board near lunch time and headed up to the Windjammer buffet for our first meal. Overall, we were quite pleased with the buffet. There was a great selection of options and the space available during breakfast and lunch was impressive. Izumi, Rita's, and the back open deck are all available for seating in addition to the tables in the buffet area. With the good weather, we enjoyed eating meals outside on several occasions during the cruise. We took all our dinners in the main dining room and didn't try any of the specialty restaurants during this cruise. We were assigned to My Time Dining, but we book the same time slot for our group of six each evening. We were assigned to the same table and servers each night. I don't know how common that is for MTD, but it worked extremely well for us. Our two servers were excellent. It was a bit rough the first night as they were getting to know our group and preferences, but they very quickly learned what we liked and didn't and service was smooth throughout the rest of our time. One thing Disney is noted for is their service in the rotation dining rooms and we've generally found that to be true - however, this pair of servers that we had were as good as the best we experienced on Disney. While RCI probably doesn't want to hear this, I didn't really feel like we missed out by not visiting any of the extra cost restaurants during our cruise. The main dining hall served us quite well. Some of that was due to the restaurants available. Being an older and smaller ship in the RCI fleet, it doesn't have the number or variety of choices that the newer megaships have. Of those that it does, ones like Rita's Crab Shack and Izumi don't serve food that we're interested in. And, while I'm sure Chops is a find enough steak place, I generally have a hard time justifying "steak house" prices for a piece of meat compared to what I've learned to prepare for myself at home, so that option wasn't greatly appealing, either. On to the room. For the six of us, we booked three rooms, an outside balcony for my parents, another for my wife and I, and an inside room across the hall for our kids, aged 11 and 15. For the booking, I was in the inside room with my son and my daughter was in the balcony with my wife as we needed an adult on each reservation. However, at guest services, we were easily able to get two extra room only key cards for each of the two rooms, so we could freely move across the hall as needed. With my kids at this age, this turned out to be a fantastic way to travel. Having two people as the 1st and 2nd passengers in an inside state room was about the same price as having them as the 3rd and 4th passengers in the balcony room. However, we effectively had a large suite with two full bathrooms, closets, TV's, etc along with the privacy of being able to have separate spaces. On Disney, this wouldn't have been possible as the price on the inside rooms is too high compared to the balconies. As for the rooms themselves, they were clean and very well maintained. Our room steward was excellent throughout our sailing and quickly learned our habits and preferences. We founds the bends to be comfortable and had plenty of space to be able to relax. The balcony had good space with a couple of chairs and a table to be able to sit and enjoy the gorgeous scenery in Alaska. While the whole ship is designed for viewing, we definitely appreciate having the balcony space to be able to sit and enjoy on our own, both while sailing as well as in ports. I would say a balcony on this itinerary is worth it if you can afford it. As for activities and entertainment, while they are admittedly secondary to the scenery and ports, I still felt there was plenty on board to see and do to keep us entertained. While Disney is certainly for kid focused, with adult concerned feeling somewhat tacked on, with the Radiance, it felt more family focused with a better balance of activities and areas for kids, families, and adults to enjoy themselves. The shows that we saw in the main theater were a lot of fun, both with the onboard singers and dancers, as well as the other guest entertainers. This was also true of the musical entertainers playing during the day and evening in some of the other spaces of the ship as well. These were quite the more lavish productions that Disney has come up with for their ships, but there was still plenty of talent on display and it served well. The diversity of activity was also such that I almost never really felt too crowded. My son greatly enjoyed the adventure ocean program. We had gotten used to giving the kids a good deal of freedom to take advantage of the kids programs. Being a summer sailing, there were a lot of kids on board and my son in particular enjoyed spending time with the kids activities while we were at sea. He said he enjoyed it more than the Disney kids clubs. My daughter's experience with the teen group wasn't as good, unfortunately. Some of it was probably the nature of the itinerary, but she found that the teen age group mostly just wanted to play on the game consoles in the club area. Several times she would go for some of the scheduled activities that she was interested in and had enjoyed on our Disney sailing, only to find they didn't end up happening due to apparent lack of interest. However, this was offset by her participation during the week in the practice for the "Thriller" dance number. The cruise director (whose name, sadly escapes me now) was excellent through the cruise in general. In particular, he lead a group of volunteers through several sessions over the course of the week learning a dance sequence to perform to Michael Jackson's "Thriller". The first session attracted about 100 people, but after that, she and about 30 others of all ages kept coming to the follow up sessions and learning the routine. On the last night, she and the others improvised zombie costumes and performed with the cruise director in the Centrum (the central atrium that is open from the bottom on deck 4 up to deck 12) while hundreds of the rest of us watched from the various levels to support our dancers. My daughter really enjoyed this experience and the bonding she was able to get with the group that went through it over the week. As for the rest of the ship, overall, it's in pretty good shape for it's age. From up close, you can find rust spots, which stand out more with the white main color of the exterior. Still, it has been well maintained, especially on the inside. I know the Disney Wonder, which is of a similar size and age, and which we had sailed on a few years ago, while also in decent shape, did not seem to have held up quite as well as the Radiance has. That's strictly a personal impression with the overall effect that I got from each ship inside and out. Being an older ship as well, Radiance doesn't have quite all the whiz bang of the new super ships. The pool areas are nice and the standard miniature golf course was a nice diversion, especially with the view. The rock wall was the big attraction. My son enjoyed it the most and climbed it just about every time it was open. My daughter hit it the first day and made it to the top, but lost interest after that. This area was probably my one disappointment. Not with the wall itself, which was impressive, but with the limited availability. Over the seven days, it was probably open a total of 12 hours. While I certainly didn't expect it to be open 24/7, I did expect more than a couple of hours each day and it was never open while we were in port. As a result, the line to climb could often get long since everybody was on board during sailing and it was one of the only major activity areas. With all that said, the reason to take this sailing is the itinerary. The destinations are the real point of this cruise and they generally did not disappoint. After a relaxing sea day, our first stop was Ketchikan. The ship had a good spot with easy access to the downtown area. As the cost was the same, we booked the "Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show" through the ship. The show was cheesy but fun, sort of a cross between wrestling and a reality TV show. It consisted of a "contest" between an American and Canadian lumber camp to see whose lumberjacks were the best. Along the way, they showed off aspects and tools of the history of the lumberjack trade. It was fun and well produced. This was our one port adventure booked through the cruiseline. After some research, I felt everything else was reasonably close enough to the ship that there was little advantage to taking other scheduled excursions. We walked around the different shops and museums, including the Totem Heritage Center (there's a free city shuttle bus that makes a loop to the various stops that are father away from the dock). The Heritage center was a small, but interesting stop with a collection of Totem Poles salvaged from various villages in southern Alaska. From here, we went to Icy Strait Point, which is a rather strange place for a stop. Located near a small village called Hoonah, it once served as a cannery. After that shut down, the locals turned it into a museum and have tried to build up the area as a tourist stop. There are a number of pricey excursions that you can do there, of note is the very expensive and quick Zipline. We had planned a zipline adventure in Alaksa after our cruise, so we skipped this one. We largely treated this as an extra sea day. We spent a couple of hours walking around the area, touring the cannery museum and forrest area near the ship. Honestly, this stop feels like a bit of cheap filler for the cruiselines. I'm sure they hope to sell lots of high priced excursions to passengers since there is little to do at this stop otherwise. The next stop was Juneau, the state capital, which can only be reached by boat or plane. In doing some research online, I learned that there would be a total of four ships with up to 9000 tourists in town that day. I wanted the flexibility to move freely in case we found something too crowded. AVIS has a small rental facility near the docks and I rented a van for the six of us for the day. It served us very well. While the staff at the rental place were slow in processing the several of us who were getting vehicles first thing, I had no trouble getting back to the ship and picking up the rest of the family. We drove out to the Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier is in an area managed by the National Forest Service. We first went up to the visitor center, which was nice, though a bit small. From there, we made the hike out to Nugget Falls along a one mile trail. The falls were very active and we spent a good bit of time just hanging out here, taking pictures, climbing the rocks, enjoying the views of both the glacier and the falls. The area became more and more crowded with other tourists, though few stayed long. We learned from several folks who had take various shuttles out there that they only had about 45 minutes to an hour to visit. I really appreciated having our own vehicle at that point and not having to rush through this experience. Afterward, we drove out to the Shrine of St. Therese, a retreat center of the Catholic Church located along the water about 20 minutes north of town. The drive out there through the woods and along the coast was breath taking and the shrine itself was a beautiful and serene place. Definitely well worth the trip and having our own vehicle to get out there. Our final land stop the next day was Skagway, another fairly small village, though much more developed than Icy Strait Point. The big claim to fame here is it's history as part of the Alaksan Gold Rush and the Klondike Gold Rush National Park. We booked our one other excursion through the cruiseline here - Panning for Gold, Sled Dogs, and the 40 Below Experience. We took a big shuttle bus from the cruise dock (and this one was a pretty long walk - because of the way the ships were positioned, we had to walk the full length of two ships, not quite half a mile, to reach the area of the shuttle bus pick up and drop off). The bus took us through the town to a facility on the outskirts. It was a fun adventure where we first got to pan for gold using dirt brought down from the remote gold fields. After that, we met an Iditarod sleg dog trainer and his team of dogs, learning about what it takes to train for, supply for, and run the iditarod. The highlight here was getting to play with some very young puppies. Finally, we got to freeze our butts off for a few minutes in a large deep freeze meat locker to experience the -40°F that the sled dog teams can experience during the race. Man that was cold. After lunch back on the ship, we went back out to take advantage of a free walking tour that the National Park Service runs several times a day. It was a fun and well narrated tour. They only take 30 per group, so either get their first thing in the morning, or, do like I did and get a reservation spot through their online system ahead of time. The last day of the cruise was the pinnacle, the visit to the Hubbard Glacier. We arrived early in the morning under clouds and fog. Thankfully, the fog cleared and we were able to make our way up near the glacier. It was an impressive sight as it is several miles wide at the water line. We got to see several good calving events in the ice while ship sat on station spinning around in a tight circle. The ship had on board a retired professor who had given a couple of lectures on glaciers, whales, and something else that I can't recall. He also spoke over the ships PA system while we were at the glacier, explaining several aspects of glaciers and what made this particular one so interesting. While informative, he was sadly, not a great public speaker. Still, the view was well worth it and truly provided an excellent finale for the cruise. Final morning debarkation went smoothly. We were able to have a final breakfast in the Windjammer before reporting to the main theater to wait for our exit call. I haven't experienced any other RCI debarkations at other locations yet, but I would say that they handle things better than Disney in this regard. Overall, the cruse was a fantastic experience that exceeded even my high expectations. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Royal Caribbean handled everything. We were met at the airport a day ahead in Seattle, driven by taxi prepaid to a lovely downtown hotel a short walk from the tower area. The next day driven by bus around as we picked up passengers from ... Read More
Royal Caribbean handled everything. We were met at the airport a day ahead in Seattle, driven by taxi prepaid to a lovely downtown hotel a short walk from the tower area. The next day driven by bus around as we picked up passengers from other hotels and then on to the ship. Our luggage appeared in our room. The inside passage was great with fantastic shore trips to choose from. Our twenty something did zip lines, jeep trips near Denali, the Great One, in Alaska. Food and long lovely meals were daily on the ship and the week bus trip that followed was excellent with a fine driver and guide. Luggage always handled for us. If you are going to Alaska take both the cruise and the land trip. It costs about 12k for the package with some meals and booze above that. Even tips were included in the cost but we gave our favorites a little extra. Alaska was everything positive we had heard from friends who went before us. Mountains, wilderness plus a baby moose and family, mountain sheep, bear, and half the eagles in the world. Take the cruise. Royal Caribbean and Alaskan Airlines were fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This is our fifth cruise. Our room and the ship overall was just not up to par. Our room had several problems. The AC did not work. We needed it in Vancouver the first day and it was not working and it was very hot. The bed was ... Read More
This is our fifth cruise. Our room and the ship overall was just not up to par. Our room had several problems. The AC did not work. We needed it in Vancouver the first day and it was not working and it was very hot. The bed was terrible and very worn and the worst part of our experience. The mattress was obviously badly in need of replacement. The fridge was not working whatsoever. When we made note of this with the front desk, they sent someone to look and they said it was a "chiller," not a fridge, so things would not really get cold. Then really, what's the use? Room temperature beer in the fridge was not very enticing. There was no hot water two mornings in the shower. The water was not even a little warm. We set up room service three days in a row and received it two, and the third day, upon calling, we were told they didn't get the order. They just missed it we believe. We could not hear any announcements in our room. We would have to go into the hallway. Apparently the speaker in our room didn't work. As for service, it was good. The porter for our room was excellent and always responsive. The servers for our meals were absolutely outstanding, although they did bring me the wrong meal one night. The server caught it before I could mention it and left what she brought me and what I initially asked for and was very apologetic. We were very upset the first night because they could not find one of our bags. They finally find it about midnight the first night, although it was tagged correctly. They apparently just put it on the wrong floor. The ship is bad need of repainting and replacement of glass throughout. Hallways were nice and clean. There is rust all over the place on the outside. Shore excursions were okay, but incredibly expensive for what you got. Ketchikan was by far the most boring. There just wasn't anything to do in the town on a Sunday. Entertainment was mediocre at best. The dancers were okay, but were more like high school performances. It kept us entertained a couple of nights, but we avoided subsequent shows. Overall, I would recommend to never take a cruise on this ship. While RC might be a good line, this boat is badly in need of a serious refurb. The service and most of the people were great, but the boat is just not up to par and certainly not work the cost. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We decided that the best way to see Alaska was on a cruise ship doing a one way trip that included a stop at Hubbard Glacier. That led us to Royal Caribbean, and the price seemed acceptable even though we had heard warnings about the ... Read More
We decided that the best way to see Alaska was on a cruise ship doing a one way trip that included a stop at Hubbard Glacier. That led us to Royal Caribbean, and the price seemed acceptable even though we had heard warnings about the Radiance of the Seas. We loved Alaska, but after this trip we will probably never take another cruise, and if we do it won't be on Royal Caribbean. To start with, the staff on the ship were uniformly great. All very friendly, especially in the concierge lounge. We went there pretty much every day, because there was not much else to do on the ship. The Radiance had just gotten out of a dry dock refurb a couple of weeks before but it still did not seem like the ship was in very good shape. Our balcony flaked paint all over us and our cabin the entire week, but at least ours was painted. The ship seemed like it was half closed most of the time. Bars were closed, recreation places were closed, food places were closed, it was often a struggle just to find a place to refill the soda mugs. Embarkation was something of a nightmare, as the crowds were intense and nothing was ready that first day. Every bar was out of everything and the buffet was overcrowded. That first day left a bad taste in our mouths that somewhat tainted the rest of the trip. As for other stuff to do on the ship, it was pretty awful. We had no interest in the cheesy cruise ship activities, such as formal night or 70s dance party night. We might have seen a movie but the tiny theater was always packed and the movies were no good anyway. All we really did was a couple of lectures, which were fairly poorly attended. The My Time dining was a complete disaster. The main dining room was so cramped and hectic, I cannot even imagine how people could sit there pretending to enjoy their meal or wine. We went to the main dining room once and hated it, decided to give it another try, still hated it, so we never went back. Turns out the buffet was the only enjoyable place to eat on the entire ship (though we did not try the extra cost restaurants, which always seemed totally empty when we looked at them). People who say that dining is the best part of the cruise must be on other ships, or must have very low standards when it comes to dining. I generally don't like dinner to be bright, noisy, cramped, and full of constant server traffic jams. And "My Time" means "within half an hour or so of when we tell you to arrive." What is the point of a reservation if walk-ins are accommodated first? Cannot emphasize this enough: hated the main dining room. The shore excursions were the one true highlight of the cruise, but the good ones were the ones we booked separately. The only one we booked through the cruise line was a great trip (plane ride over glaciers in Juneau) but it had a very industrial feel to it, like we were all cattle being herded through. Felt more like being at a theme park than somewhere real. If you do this trip, definitely do your research and set up for shore excursions that are not offered by RCI. The ports were mostly good as jumping off points to elsewhere. Ketchikan was pleasant, but Juneau was a disgusting tourist trap down by the docks and Skagway was simply overwhelmed with people. I don't know why they think dumping 6000 cruise passengers from four ships onto a town of less than 1000 is a good idea. Best thing to do in Skagway is rent a car and get out of Skagway. Icy Strait Point was a custom built tourist trap but it was very pleasant because it was not as crowded. Hoonah is a sad little town, though, try not to think about it too much. Best stop by far was Hubbard Glacier, but unfortunately it was too short; we could have stared at that thing for another two hours easy. Now that we are no longer trapped on the ship it is easier to look back on the trip fondly, but at the time it seemed like a giant series of frustrations. Try not to think about the cost! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We are pretty loyal RC cruisers. We'd sailed to Alaska 11 years ago on the Norwegian Dawn from Seattle with 15 family members. At that time decided we'd return as a couple in the future to see more of Alaska. The cruise ports and ... Read More
We are pretty loyal RC cruisers. We'd sailed to Alaska 11 years ago on the Norwegian Dawn from Seattle with 15 family members. At that time decided we'd return as a couple in the future to see more of Alaska. The cruise ports and acommodations were similar for both cruises. This time we started in Vancouver, BC then sailed the Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Icy Strait, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier and ended in Seward. We did a seaplane tour with Misty Fjords Air while in Ketchikan and words can not describe the beauty. I highly recommend it! David is a great pilot and was very informative. We had decided to do the inland tour and had heard that RC has beautiful land coaches and rail cars. Yes, they are beautiful and the 6 night land tour was amazing. Cheri S. was our tour guide and Kevin S. was our driver. They were fun, informative and over all just wonderful! We chose to do the extended tour into Denali ($70.00 additional per person) and it was so worth it! We were part of the 30% of people that got to see Denali! The weather was beautiful. June is the time to go. The land tour combined with the cruise was a vacation of a life time. Go - see Alaska, it will take your breath away. The ship: The Radiance of the Seas was just in dry dock earlier this year for maintenance on the lower (beneath the water line) part of the ship. She is in need of some maintenance in the public areas and state rooms also. Some of the carpets in the main public areas are coming apart at the seams and torn in other places. There were other items in need of repair but all in all we felt she seemed tired and just needed a good face lift. We did not like "My Time Dining". We went twice and both times the front desk was very chaotic. We were seated the first time and the second time we decided to leave and not wait. We dined in Chops 3 times (can't go wrong in Chops) and once in the Brazilian restaurant, Samba Grill. My husband liked Samba but I didn't care for all of the meat. We were taken aback by our young waiter in Samba when he said if we were going to leave any additional tip to please leave it in cash otherwise he wouldn't see it. Awkward! I would recommend this cruise and land tour to anyone - any age. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Hello, this Alaska cruise was our honeymoon trip and our first time to Alaska. We are 53 and 61 years old and have both cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past. We really enjoy the itineraries we find on Royal. The Radiance of the Seas ... Read More
Hello, this Alaska cruise was our honeymoon trip and our first time to Alaska. We are 53 and 61 years old and have both cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past. We really enjoy the itineraries we find on Royal. The Radiance of the Seas really is the perfect ship to experience Alaska. There are views from every direction on this ship, even on the outside elevators! We stayed on the 4th deck and had a oceanview cabin which featured a big round window at the head of our bed. This was the first time either of us were in a cabin without a balcony, but since we were traveling for two weeks, the monies we saved by going with the oceanview cabin helped fund our time on land the next week. It was a perfect tradeoff for us. With 19 hours of daylight each day, we often ate dinner and after walking around the ship a bit, would come back to the cabin, turn our pillows to the foot of the bed and just watch the scenery. We embarked in Vancouver, and visited Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, and the Hubbard Glacier before disembarking in Seward where we spent the day before beginning our "do it ourselves" land tour! Radiance of the Seas The ship is just what we expected, we felt at home with the layout since we have both been on several different Royal ships in the past. The employees and staff are exceptional, as is the cabin and all the public spaces. The entertainment was just average, which had not been our previous experience. The time difference could have something to do with our attention span... 7 pm Alaska time is 10 pm Central time. Service in the MDR was wonderful, the food was very good too, and if it wasn't it was quickly replaced. Portions are ample and not too much (I hate feeling like I'm wasting food). We ate in the Windjammer a couple of nights and found the food to be very good there too, with more choices. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants this time around. Excursions and Ports We had pre-booked one excursion with Royal and then arranged private excursions in two other ports. The only excursion we did with the ship was in Ketchikan -- Snorkeling with Snorkel Alaska! Do yourself a favor and experience this excursion! You are picked up in a schoolbus and an instructor fills you in on what to expect, how to put on your 1/4 thick wetsuit (zipper in the BACK!) and tells you a bit about what you will experience. Once you arrive at the shop, you get your gear and change and place your belongings in a waterproof bag which is stowed in the truck while you are in the water. Getting into the water was fun -- the wetsuit makes you so buoyant that it is difficult to sit. There were 5 instructors with our group of about 15 people. The wetsuit is designed to let a small amount of water in between the layers. The water quickly warms up to your body temperature and keeps you warm. The water was about 60 degrees but I was not cold at all. Once the instructors helped us put on our flippers and gloves, we are off. The first thing we notice is we are SURROUNDED by tiny, beautiful white jellyfish (non-stinging) and some occasional orange ones (stinging but not dangerous). You are swimming among the jellies when you focus on the bottom and notice starfish, bigger fish, and sea creatures everywhere. The instructors pulled some of these starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and other interesting creatures up and told us a bit about them before handing them off to each of us to hold and check out personally. We were in the water about an hour, and we were tired at the end of the hour. It was an amazing excursion. Before our excursion, we had time to walk around Creek Street where we checked out the salmon ladder (too early for salmon), and the boardwalks and older shops and businesses. Many of the shops didn't open until after 9 am. We then walked the shops closer to the shore while we waited for our excursion to begin. In Icy Strait, we are among the first ships to utilize the new pier which was just installed! Once on land, we watched the zip riders (looked like high energy fun and excitement), walked the nature trail (an easy half hour walk on level, cleared path), looked for interesting shells on the shore, walked through the shops and the displays about Alaska and the Salmon cannery machinery, bought some souvenirs, and took the shuttle $5 RT to Hoonah (about 1.5 miles away). There, a totem carver and his team are finalizing a clan house wall which will be permanently displayed in Glacier Bay National Park in commemoration of the National Park Service's 100 year anniversary this August. The carver also explained how he makes his tools like his ancestors did and told us the story of his carving. It was a very cool "work in progress" experience and quite an honor for this gentleman and his clan. There's not much else happening in the town since many of the residents are working at Icy Strait. A few restaurants and shops. There were five or six bald eagles that were hanging around as well as many ravens -- a symbol of this clan. We jumped onto a blue shuttle bus (bought tickets at the pier $30 RT) at 8 am which was the first departure to Mendenhall Glacier. We saw many more bald eagles on the drive to the Glacier and several sightings of it on the way. We opted to walk down to the Nugget Falls for a closer look and it was AMAZING! The walk was well paved and maybe a mile and a half or so down to the falls. We stayed and took pictures of the area and then walked back to the visitor center to see the displays and we watched the movie about the park. We then caught the shuttle back to the pier where we walked around and shopped a bit before we met our hosts for our Whale Watching tour with Harv and Marv's. A shuttle picked us up along with others from each of the 4 other ships in port and away we went to Auke Bay where our tour began. What a beautiful area of Juneau! The amount of marine animals we saw was amazing! We learned a great deal about humpback whales from Katie who was our on-board naturalist and our captain. We got to see many flukes and flumes and even some fin tapping by the baby whales. It was a very exciting tour, and when someone saw the breath or blow of the whale, the ship (14 of us) would be so silent and scanning the waters for the whale to come back up for another breath before diving down for food. We were very fortunate to see many whales including a mother humpback and her calf, and yet another mother and calf who was playing in the water with a sea lion friend (!!!). We also saw bald eagles and a whole noisy group of sea lions hanging out on some rocks. Our trip took us past a lighthouse and several glaciers and just wonderful landscapes every way you looked. Skagway is not a very big town. I believe there are less than a thousand residents. Not a lot to do so we did the requisite White Pass train ride in Skagway on a tour with Chilkoot Charters where we had a small tour bus with 26 or so people and traveled to the Canadian Border (Frasier, I think) where we picked up the train back to Skagway. Along the way to Canada, we stopped at numerous sights to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. The wait through "customs" was long and sucked some of the fun out of the day, but we were finally on the train and once we were moving we were able to see the sights from a slightly higher elevation than the road. We were able to take pictures from the outside areas of each car, and the engineer pointed out a black bear as we passed him. It's a historical train with narrow gauge tracks and the history of the area was well told during the tour. We walked through the town to check out the stores and restaurants. A couple of totem poles and the Alaskan Brotherhood building (the front of the building is entirely covered in driftwood, and the huge snow plow car that the train uses to clear snow from the tracks were among the more interesting sights. Hubbard Glacier was spectacular. We spent about an hour close up and saw many, many calving events, although not any really big ones. It was hard to take your eyes off of the glacier, it was so huge and beautiful -- one of the only tidewater glaciers in the area that is still advancing (growing) rather than receding. The naturalist onboard gave a good commentary on glaciers and the Hubbard in particular and we learned the technical terms for the floating icebergs, bergy bits, and growlers we saw scattered around the area as our ship slowly turned circles in front of the glacier. It was an amazing morning. Disembarking in Seward I have to say, Seward was the smoothest disembark I have had. The Seward port is not very large. We had pre-arranged a tour with Major Marine to see more whales and glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park so we collected our luggage and hoofed it over to the train depot (maybe a bit more than a half mile, not really well signed) where we picked up our train tickets (pre-purchased) and stowed our luggage. This Major Marine tour featured a National Park Ranger onboard to explain and educate us on what the Park encompasses and point out wild life facts. Ranger Colleen was FANTASTIC and went above and beyond, including a Jr Ranger experiment that us "kids at heart" were able to try and marking a map with all of our wildlife sightings. Resurrection Bay was spectacular and the two glaciers we visited up close (Holgate and Aialik) were breathtaking; but the whales, birds, seals, and otters... they made this tour our best one yet. Who knew that puffins were so adorable! But the star of the show was the best; a BREACHING humpback. We saw this whale leap out of the water and splash down to earth not once, not twice, but THREE times. It was pure joy! I now understand why so many people return year after year to Alaska. After our tour, we had just enough time to catch the train heading to Anchorage for the start of our land tour... I will post that portion on tripadvisor soon. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We really really enjoyed our first cruise ever. We planed for a long time for this cruise and we had the best time. I did a lot of studying of the different Alaska Cruises and Cruise Lines and I chose Royal because of a few reasons. It ... Read More
We really really enjoyed our first cruise ever. We planed for a long time for this cruise and we had the best time. I did a lot of studying of the different Alaska Cruises and Cruise Lines and I chose Royal because of a few reasons. It hit the spots we wanted to see and spent a lot of time there. Most of the other cruises didn't spend as much time in each of the ports which was really important to my wife and I. We also went with Royal based on reviews and demographics. We didn't want to be the oldest or the youngest on the ship but wanted to be with people our age. We in our mid 40's and we felt really comfortable with our other ship mates. I would highly recommend doing the one way trip and not a round trip cruise. We had more time and had more stops and Hubbard Glacier was amazing. The one way trips are a little cheaper but you end up paying more for airfare. It was totally worth it. The room was great. We had a family ocean view room for just my wife and I. A little problem with our first room we reserved occurred and we lost the room but thanks to Royal Caribbean they upgraded us to this room and we loved having all the extra room. We used the small bedroom for our luggage and to lay our jackets out on the bed. We never heard anyone else, very quite room. The drapes were also really nice and kept the light out. Sunset was around 12 AM and Sunrise around 4 AM so this made sleeping nice. The food at night was fantastic and so was the service. We usually ordered multiple appetizers, main courses and deserts. Once and a while we found something that we didn't care for but since we had a couple of things ordered we just ate the other one we liked. We did the my time dinning which worked great. We ended up with the same waiter every night and sitting next tables with the same guests almost every night. We traveled with another couple and had a table for 4 each night. The buffet and other food on the ship was pretty good. Some days better than others but we always found something we liked to eat. I would recommend eating breakfast and lunch in the main dinning room when it's open because those meals were so much better there. Tip - if you go to see a movie get there early the little movie theater filled up quick. The shows were fun. It was our first cruise and although the shows were a little cheesy we had a great time. The comedians were a lot of fun too. Steve the cruise director was really fun. He could sing, dance and was really a good entertainer. FYI - DON'T GO to the little presentation they do on shopping in the ports. It's pretty much just an infomercial for buying diamonds in the ports..... we left it early after getting some pretty good laughs especially when the shopping director told all the women to look at their rings and look how small their diamonds looked. The first day out at sea just above Vancouver got a little rough in the water and some people were getting sick. We didn't. We did take a sea sick pill each morning. I would recommend the Bodine pills. They are non drowsy and seemed to work for us. At the end of the trip we got a shuttle to Anchorage where we rented a car and then spend a couple more nights in the Denali area which was really neat. Wish we could have seen Denali but as for most visitors it was hidden in the clouds. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We chose to sail on Radiance of the Seas due to the timing, itinerary, and all of our cruise points are with RCCL. Radiance was the first ship we ever sailed on and it was new at the time. The ship is badly in need of a major dry dock. It ... Read More
We chose to sail on Radiance of the Seas due to the timing, itinerary, and all of our cruise points are with RCCL. Radiance was the first ship we ever sailed on and it was new at the time. The ship is badly in need of a major dry dock. It had just come out of dry dock in Portland when we sailed, but that was mostly for mechanical issues. So much of the furniture is shabby and needs to be recovered and/or replaced. We had a Junior Suite and the chair in our room was well worn. Even the edges of the sheets on the bed were worn. The bathtub is looking very old and there was a crack in the vanity on both sides of the sink. Also, what in the world is going on with those hard beds??? We sailed Oasis two years ago and the bed was great. This was like sleeping on a rock in spite of the fact that there were two mattress pads put on top of the mattress! The Solarium was the worst with peeling paint on railings and cracks/holes in tiles. Just really needs to be refurbished. It looks like nothing has been done to it since it was built. Very disappointed in the overall appearance. The staff was wonderful and service throughout the ship was great. Our cabin steward, Sheryl, was great. We had My Time Dining but our waiters did a great job. We purchased a dining package so we were only in the main dining room for three nights. The Samba Grill was our favorite. The food was great and so was the waitstaff. Chops was good but the food was not the best we have had in that venue. Again, waitstaff was great. Giovanni's Kitchen was good too and the waitstaff was great here as well. Entertainment was pretty good...both comedy acts were great. We really didn't participate too much in daily activities as this was a port intensive trip and we were pretty worn out at the end of the day. The shore excursions we had booked were good as well. The prices were exactly the same whether booking on board or at the pier. The ports were all good. Icy Strait Point was a nice stop, but there is really nothing to do there unless you take an excursion. Don't bother walking into the town of Hoonah. There is absolutely nothing to see in this town of 800. We especially liked the Whale Watching Tour/Salmon Bake in Juneau. We loved all the ports and especially loved seeing the Hubbard Glacier. We really did have a great time on this cruise. Again, the staff on this ship was wonderful. and the views are absolutely amazing. Would definitely recommend taking an Alaskan cruise! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Wanted to see Alaska had went with Royal on prior cruise. Best service on ship ever. A+ The drink package was good, food at windjammer great. The nice man that cleaned our room left animals made out of towels it was great. The ship ... Read More
Wanted to see Alaska had went with Royal on prior cruise. Best service on ship ever. A+ The drink package was good, food at windjammer great. The nice man that cleaned our room left animals made out of towels it was great. The ship was just the right size, just big enough but not to big, would see same people often made friends. Some of the staff learned your name, that was nice. The ship was very clean and pretty. I loved my cabin it was not to small, very nice. Would tell anyone to take this cruise, it was on Radience of the sea. It had 5 different ports so always something to do and see. If any one is interested in Alaska check n this cruise. The staff on the boat were all great A+. Have never went with anyone other than Royal, but I always stay with them because it is so nice, I hate to book a cruise spend all that money and then have a terrible time, so i stay with Royal. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
An Alaska cruise... another item on our "Bucket List" and we found a great price for the "first sailing of the season" on Radiance of the Seas. The flights from Tennessee to Vancouver were long but we were filled with ... Read More
An Alaska cruise... another item on our "Bucket List" and we found a great price for the "first sailing of the season" on Radiance of the Seas. The flights from Tennessee to Vancouver were long but we were filled with high anticipation of a great trip. Our flight into Vancouver actually arrived thirty minutes early but we were surprised at the lengthy process of getting off of the plane and going through customs, immigration, and long and winding lines to finally be able to retrieve our luggage. (That was the hardest part of the entire trip!) A taxi took us to our hotel for the night prior to our sailing on Radiance and we enjoyed that evening even though we were very tired. The following morning the hotel provided us a free shuttle to the port where we were quickly checked in and "on the ship" and headed to the Windjammer for a delicious lunch. Rooms were ready by 1pm and we were delighted to find that our Oceanview stateroom on Deck 3 was very nice. The large window afforded us a great view to the outside and the water that was only a short way below us. We ordinarily get a room with a balcony but for this trip we chose the Oceanview stateroom as we expected it to be cold and rainy in Alaska since it was so early in the season. We were surprised that all seven days were comfortable with temperatures in the upper 50's and low 60;s and absolutely NO rain all week! Each port was delightful with Juneau being our favorite for many reasons. The town was right there where we got off of the ship and the tram up Mt. Roberts was directly across from our ship as well. We had a close friend (from Elementary through High School) who lives half the year in Juneau and she met us following our 5 hour excursion to watch whales and gave us a private tour around Mt. Roberts and the city of Juneau. We were very happy that we had so much time in this port that we could fit in so many special things beyond just our excursion we booked through the excursion office on Radiance. Our stateroom attendant was excellent and we were delighted with four nights when we returned to our stateroom to find a different animal made out of towels lying on our bed. The wait staff in the dining room were delightful and the food was great too. We ate breakfast and lunches in the Windjammer most days and found the variety of foods to be good and plentiful. The staff at Guest Relations were helpful in answering questions and assisting us with our "post cruise transfer" from Seward to the airport at Anchorage. The train to Anchorage was an excursion of it's own even though we did not expect it to be so. For two or three miles, our train car was followed by an American Eagle who flew directly over our heads... great photos were taken of this majestic bird though the glass top of the train car! We have been on several cruises and each ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet is different and is enjoyable in their own yet different ways. We loved all the things you can do on the "larger" ships but we also loved the ambiance of the "smaller" ships too. We consider ourselves to be "loyalist" to Royal Caribbean and we have never been disappointed by any cruise we have taken on one of their ships. With seven cruises under our belt now (a total of 55 sailing nights), we are looking forward to planning our next cruise on Royal Caribbean and to start our next "count down to Sail Away". Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We cruised the Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver to Ketchikan to Prince Rupert and back (5 nights / 6 days) as our first Royal Caribbean International (RCI) adventure, and we will not sail with this cruise line or its affiliates again. ... Read More
We cruised the Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver to Ketchikan to Prince Rupert and back (5 nights / 6 days) as our first Royal Caribbean International (RCI) adventure, and we will not sail with this cruise line or its affiliates again. (FYI-our platinum cruise with Carnival is this September, so we know what to expect when cruising.) The following commentary reflects our viewpoint and opinions organized by the “the Good,” “the Bad,” and “the Ugly.” THE GOOD Cost.The cruise was inexpensive comparatively, and it met our date requirements. We selected a balcony room (although we normally select suites), and the cost for three was somewhat less than that of our normal cruise line, Carnival, so we thought we would try RCI. Main Dining Room.Dinner was a pleasant experience in the main dining room. We selected the Carnival equivalent of “Your Time” dining, but the method involved actually coordinating the time either daily or for the entire cruise on the first day. The method was solid, because we did not queue for food. The staff was expecting us and had the table ready every evening. The main dining room wait staff was outstanding, as is typical of most (but not all) ships we have sailed. Compared to the typical Carnival food in the main dining rooms, I would suggest that they are about on par. Some of the food was (in our opinion) better (e.g., some of the meat selections..); some of it was worse (e.g., the deserts…no real equivalent of the warm chocolate melting cake…cold rolls…). Overall, our experience in the main dining room met expectations. Solarium. The Solarium was a nice place (pool, waterfall, etc.), and some of the lounges were (in our opinion), prettier than many of the Carnival equivalents. Pre-Paid Packages. RCI Pre-paid packages up front (Internet, pictures, drinks) are awesome. I appreciate not having to coordinate this on the ship. Pre-paying just makes it a done deal. Pool Table. The gyro-based pool tables were a hoot, even if they didn’t work all that well sometimes. Having a climbing wall is nice, but we did not take advantage of it. Excursion. We only selected one excursion, kayaking at Prince Rupert. Wow. It was one of our favorite excursions in all of our cruising. About three hours on the water with seals, fish, and wildlife…So much fun. Casino. The casino was not crowded. One-arm bandits were always available, and there was always room at the craps table. Drinks. The drink plan was outstanding. It included everything we needed, and there was no “counting,” which is kind of artificial with Carnival. THE BAD Herd Dining. The “buffet” was not what we expected. The breakfast food, in our opinion, was not nearly as good as the Carnival fare. The selection wasn’t totally terrible, but (in our opinion) they did not have the diversity of food types that we have seen on other ships. And coffee is “protected.” You have to queue to ask for a cup (probably due to fear of spreading germs.) We hadn’t seen this technique applied to Carnival. Specialty Dining. We didn’t try the steakhouse, because it was not as appealing to us as the Carnival steakhouse menus. It might have been just as good or even better, but we just didn’t try it. We did try the Samba Grill to do something new, and we were disappointed. The Samba Grill is supposed to be a Brazilian steakhouse. To us, the taste (perhaps quality?) of the meat was not what we have come to expect from our annual excursions to these steakhouses. Perhaps, we went on an “off night.” We don’t gorge ourselves, either, so taste is the most important factor. Pictures. We pre-paid the pictures; however, the quality was hit and miss in our opinion. During the formal night, I had my jacket open on some pictures, and my son has his closed. The prep prior to the pictures just wasn’t quite spot on. We would rather have paid more for better quality. Entertainment. We tried to stomach a show. In our opinion, the opening singer couldn’t sing. (We actually looked at each other and started laughing when he tried a rendition of Piano Man.) They also provided a former “Star Search” winner as an option. Carnival isn’t great, but it is better in our opinion. The demonstrations that we attended were silent (no commentary). For example, the fruit and vegetable carving was interesting, but it was not narrated. Some commentary would have been better in our opinion. Taste-Bar? Free Samples? On Carnival, we have always been able to sample the specialty dining at a taste-bar equivalent / demonstration. We attended demonstrations by the Samba Grill and the Asian specialty dining (name escapes me). Neither provided samples. Had we been able to sample the fare up front, I guarantee we would not have chosen the Samba Grill. THE UGLY On balance, we would have considered Royal Caribbean for another cruise if it were not for “the Ugly.” And here it is. Sewer Smell. The smell of sewer backed through the drains in the state room, an issue that we have never experienced in ~90 days at sea on cruise ships. This seems to be fairly well-documented issue for this class of ships. Here are three reviews I found that reference the issue, and there are more. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1128866 http://www.cruisecritic.com/radiance-of-the-seas-deck-plans/dp/deluxe-ocean-view-stateroom-with-balcony-e1/cc/ http://boards.cruisecritic.com.au/showthread.php?p=48422305&highlight=radiance Attempts to Resolve. The apparent “solution“ of the housekeeping and maintenance staff was to try to hide the smell with cleaner and to use “biogel.” (We were having this done routinely.) The small was sufficiently bad that we asked for a different room. None were available. We asked a maintenance staff, who came to place “biogel” into the drains. He indicated that they receive between 20-25 complaints every cruise. Wow. Customer Service. So we approached Customer Service. One of my family members has an auto-immune disease, and this was made clear to the staff. (Check out the International Medical Guide for Ships, 3d Edition by the World Health Organization for information on the toxic effects of Hydrogen Sulfide. Although I doubt the concentrations were sufficient to be of concern, why would I want to risk continued exposure of my family to elevated levels?). The Customer Service solution (which came quickly, perhaps due to the history of issues with this problem?) was to offer a 20% discount on a future cruise. We would never take a vacation again with a cruise line that has a commonly discussed smell issue and does not inform consumers about that issue in advance. Had this been a hotel, we would have checked out early. CONCLUSION I am quite sure that RCI would like to fix the issue with the sewer gas smells, but in my opinion, they have not been successful at all. Perhaps, some of their other ships do not have the same issues. That said, I would not have purchased our vacation through RCI had I known about the problem. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose this cruise because it was an Alaska (if condensed) trip that fit our schedule. Overall, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. Ship: The layout is decent. You never feel like you are on the 90,000+ ton ship you ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was an Alaska (if condensed) trip that fit our schedule. Overall, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. Ship: The layout is decent. You never feel like you are on the 90,000+ ton ship you are on. The only thing I'd say poorly of it was the external appearance. When we got off the ship in Vancouver, it sat across from the Crown Princess. And there the Radiance sat, with rust spots every 15 feet or so along the hull while the Crown Princess across the pier was not only nearly perfectly white, but still had two deckhands already scampering about the hull and superstructure with extender paint rollers whitening once again. Dining: Eh. I've been on Carnival, Celebrity, and Norwegian before this (this was my first RCI trip). And I have to say, it would be ranked in this order: Celebrity in a distant first place followed by Norwegian, and then neck and neck for third between Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Selection was ok. Presentation, again, ok. Food itself was good, but honestly, not something I'd request seconds for. Entertainment: In my opinion, RCI is the Universal Studios of the sea. Universal knows it can't compete with Disney in certain areas, so they go all out with roller coasters and the thrills. RCI has lots to keep you busy, but is less focused on the elements that are more of what many would consider the classic cruise experience. Shows are on par with other lines. The casino was never really hopping. The live entertainment in the lounges were also on par with other lines. Service: Ugh. 1st: Half of our luggage wound up 1/2 way down the ship on the same deck because apparently the staff thought a 7 was a 3. How, I have no idea, since it was a printed tag, not hand-written. 2nd: I had a half-drunk can of soda magically appear in the mini-bar (I only noticed because we were using it as a place to store some nutrition drink for our little one and went in from time to time). I reported it and they spent 2 days trying to figure it out. Either they were trying to pull one on us, or the cleaning staff/mini-bar staff has memory issues with their own drinks while they work. I'm guessing the dishonesty though, because 3rd: One of the water bottles from the mini-bar up and disappeared the next day and they tried to charge us for it. And finally, 4th: We got a call at 11pm the night before disembarking telling us our room service was almost ready...which I suppose would make me happy except that I didn't order room service and was fast asleep. Lastly, 5th: I once walked away from a bar after attempted to order a drink for 15 minutes...it was that slow. In 7 cruises I've never done that. Ports/Excursions: Very good. Good selection. Cool adventures. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This short itinerary fit well into both vacation time and budget. Also, it was a great introductory to the Inside Passage and Alaska. This was my 3rd time sailing from Vancouver - so was familiar with Canada Place and surrounding area. I ... Read More
This short itinerary fit well into both vacation time and budget. Also, it was a great introductory to the Inside Passage and Alaska. This was my 3rd time sailing from Vancouver - so was familiar with Canada Place and surrounding area. I took the Sky Train from my hotel (stayed in nearby Burnaby). The Sky Train is very safe, efficient and inexpensive and I would recommend it! Although it was my 6th cruise - it was my first on RCL. Up until now I've sailed only on Princess - so it was also a good opportunity to experience a different cruise line. The Radiance was lovely - however I was very surprised at how narrow the Centrum was. It was tall - but very narrow - so the bars and public areas around the Centrum were very compact. The shops and entire shopping area was very small and congested. My favorite areas of the ship were the Thermal Spa Suite, The Solarium and the Sports Deck - because of the fantastic views from there. My cabin - Deluxe Balcony on Deck 8 was nice...plenty of storage, desk, small sofa, safe, small fridge, flat screen tv. The balcony was average size and had two chairs and a table. I had the best cabin steward ever - Lu Lu was genuinely friendly, attentive and thorough. My only dislike was the bathroom - it was small! Dining: I had My Time dining and never had to wait to be seated for dinner. Service was good. With regards to food quality and selection - I'll just say the best meals I had were at the Park Café in Solarium - period. Entertainment: Nothing was really bad - but nothing was really great either. Ketchikan: lived up to it's reputation for being one of the wettest towns on North America...it was raining sideways! Still - was very interesting. I had a walking tour map and followed it to see some of the local attractions. Many of the excursions still took place according folks I talked to who went on them. Prince Rupert Island: Absolutely beautiful scenery...pristine and lush. Again, I enjoyed visiting some of the local sites by using a self-guided walking tour map - provided by the friendly Visitor's Bureau folks who were there as we disembarked. The scenery during this cruise was jaw dropping gorgeous! I'm looking forward to taking another Alaska Cruise for the full 7-days and to visiting Glacier Bay, however I'll stick with Princess. At least now I know. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This cruise was an amazing deal! I only had 1 week vacation, so a 5 night cruise fit our schedule perfectly. We live close to Vancouver, it is a very convenient port for us to cruise out of. I was interested to see Prince Rupert as the ... Read More
This cruise was an amazing deal! I only had 1 week vacation, so a 5 night cruise fit our schedule perfectly. We live close to Vancouver, it is a very convenient port for us to cruise out of. I was interested to see Prince Rupert as the US/CDN exchange rate is quite high right now, a port in Canada would be a better value for us. We stayed at a 'stay and cruise' hotel in Burnaby. You can park your car for free for 1 week. We caught the skytrain from the hotel to the cruise port (cost is $4 one way per person). We were able to board the ship by noon, we arrived at the cruise port at 11am. There is a large intake room for people, not to long of a wait really-complimentary snacks and water. We had smooth sailing all the way to Ketchican. We did get drenched on our shore excursion there. We went on a rainforest, totem pole tour-totally enjoyed learning about the areas from our tour guide/naturalist. We ate at the 'Fish House'-it was recommended by our tour guide. As we were wet and cold, we enjoyed the wood stove and quickly dried out and were revived by the fish & chips. Ketchican is a good port for souvenir shopping. There are 4 Tongass shopping stores-if you can't find a souvenir there, I'm not sure you could find it anywhere! In Prince Rupert we went on a city tour including the railway and museum. Informative and a nice way to see the city (big town really!) PR is a fairly new port. The tours were all sold out (including Grizzly bear reserve, flight seeing etc.), so book early if you are interested. I did enjoy the Radiance of the Seas. our room was 7092, 2 doors away from the central atrium/elevators. I loved the convenience and didn't mind all the music/activities at all. One of my favorite spots for a drink was Café Lattetudes-they had starbucks drinks-chai tea latte! caramel Frappuccino! We had 'my time' dining, we were in a separate dining area than the grand room. We had great tablemates (hi Kelly & Allen!), the service was OUTSTANDING-TY Purmana & Alexander. The food was terrific and plentiful. If you have a favorite don't hesitate to ask for doubles! They even made key lime pie at our request! Our last night of dining we had the delight of seeing mini dolphins swimming in the wake of the ship..They were there for about 5 minutes..so fun, and so CUTE!. Disembarkation was quick! We didn't need to fill out any paperwork or show an ID. Grabbed our luggage and away we went to the skytrain! (note there is no elevator at the skytrain entrance close to the cruiseport) Overall very fun cruise, great value, good food, beautiful fresh air. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
starting with my embarkation was great, smooth despite the great number of people getting aboard.during my time on the ship everything was excellente, service people were very atented,helpful,friendly with excellent attitude;including ... Read More
starting with my embarkation was great, smooth despite the great number of people getting aboard.during my time on the ship everything was excellente, service people were very atented,helpful,friendly with excellent attitude;including waiters at the restaurant whom were very friendly,courteous with great manners;room service was top of the line ,pool people very good,restaurant people were great.It was my first cruise along with my wife and overall it was just AMAZING AND WONDERFUL!! ,altought we had no kids with us we saw some families with kids and they were having excellent time ,you can see on their faces and we were able to meet very interesting people along us including a lady that said it was her 100 cruise trip with royal caribean and she was going to do 3 more in next 3 months ,we said waoo thats amazing. so I recomend this 5 alaska criuse and we will cruise again with this company. Great job Royal Caribean. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Pre-Cruise: ========= stayed at Best Western Plus Downtown Vancouver; Excellent Hotel with location within walking distance to the Mall and restaurants. Lots of REAL bargains on shoes, handbags, purses, dresses, etc. FREE ... Read More
Pre-Cruise: ========= stayed at Best Western Plus Downtown Vancouver; Excellent Hotel with location within walking distance to the Mall and restaurants. Lots of REAL bargains on shoes, handbags, purses, dresses, etc. FREE Shuttle provided by Hotel to the Cruise Port Victoria: ======= Took FREE CVS shuttle from cruise port to Fairmont Empress Hotel where we boarded the CVS bus to the Butchart Gardens (price $45 US per person) . What a wonderful place with over 5 -themed gardens which are very well maintained. Boarded the Hop-On Hop-Off BUS ($20 US per person) upon return to Empress Hotel and took a 90 min tour of Victoria travelling thru various points of interest. Excellent way of sight seeing. Bus dropped us off at the Ogden Port as a courtesy. What a wonderful Bus driver Astoria/Oregon ============= Took the RCL excursion to Seaside and Canon Beach. Excellent tour with quit a bit of time spent at the beach San Francisco ============ Took RCL tour of Muir Woods and Sausolito on day#1 Took BigBus 1-day pass ($45 US per person) on Day#2 and saw entire San Francisco. Palace of Fine Arts, Lombard Street (crooked street), Fishermans Wharf, Civic Centre, China Towne, Union Square, GoldebGate Bridge. Monterey ======== Took RCL excursion of Monterey and Carmel. Excellent tour with lots of stops Santa Barbara ============ Took RCL excursion of Monterey and Carmel. Excellent tour with lots of stops Los Angeles ========== Took -hr tour of Malibu, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and drop off at airport. This tour was okay since it only had 3-stops instead of 5 to 6 as promised Shows & Movies ============= Excellent daily shows ini the theatre; Broadway productions are top-rated and they had extremely good comedians Hollywood movies were good too although they could have done better with other choices Food ==== Windjammer Café food was edible but lacked variety. Very few vegetables and main dishes; Most dishes were repeated but nevertheless it did the job Ship Condition ============= For a ship of its age, it was in Excellent Condition. No complaints whatsoever and the inside cabin was excellent as well (cabin #8021). We have sailed on the Explorer, Adventure, Allure, Oasis and Voyageur in the past and this was our 1st on the Radiance Class Ship. We will definitely travel on this ship again. Extremely well maintained and easier to find your way around. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
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