15 Seward Fitness Cruise Reviews

Alaska has been on our bucket list for years, and when Viking announced they would be sailing to Alaska we jumped at the opportunity, having experienced a Viking River Cruise in 2014, the Romantic Danube. The Viking Orion had not yet been ... Read More
Alaska has been on our bucket list for years, and when Viking announced they would be sailing to Alaska we jumped at the opportunity, having experienced a Viking River Cruise in 2014, the Romantic Danube. The Viking Orion had not yet been completed when we made our reservations, so watching her development was exciting. Viking truly has transported the finest of their river cruise ships into their ocean cruise ships, and it felt like coming home when we boarded at Seward. One aspect of the cruise that was attractive to us was the specific itinerary that included more of Alaska than just the fabled Inside Passage. We did the pre-cruise extension in Anchorage, where Viking picked us up at the Anchorage airport and transported us to the Anchorage Hilton for 2 nights, then onward from Anchorage to Seward to join the ship. The weather was not always cooperative and in Seward it was raining and chilly outside, but warm and welcoming onboard. Embarkation was smooth and fast, and the primary downside was the distance we had to walk from the point where we cleared security to the ship itself mostly in the rain. From then on the weather was either cloudy and cool or clouds and sun. Valdez was beautiful, sunny and clear; overcast at Hubbard Glacier and Icy Strait Point and Skagway, sunny and warm at Juneau, mostly sunny at Sitka, cloudy at Ketchikan, and gloriously sunny on arrival at Vancouver. Of the many attributes offered by Viking, having all outside cabins with balconies was a definite plus, the small size was wonderful with just 930 passengers, and perhaps the one consistent comment we heard was how thankful our shipmates were that there were no children (us included). Folks, this is not a party ship, yet it packs in more entertainment options than are possible to sample in the 11 days we had available. We would definitely cruise again with Viking Ocean and River Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
NCL surely had the best entertainment on board. Thats the best part of the cruise other than of course the shore excursions which we have to book at additional cost (so not really part of cruise experience). However there were a few ... Read More
NCL surely had the best entertainment on board. Thats the best part of the cruise other than of course the shore excursions which we have to book at additional cost (so not really part of cruise experience). However there were a few negatives. Sports facilities are not good. There were just broken tennis rackets, no tennis balls available to play other than some rain drenched old balls that were left on the court and there was no one to help even when they advertise open play hours. For other Indian vegetarians out there planning a cruise this is probably not the right food option. Rice used is jasmine rice and other sticky rice instead of basmati which is non sticky and goes well with indian palate. Also in general the veg options were not the best dishes of the chefs on board. Desserts section however was excellent. Also none of the other restaurants (other than garden cafe) had an selection of veg options which was really disappointing as we could not visit any onboard restaurant like azura or tsars palace even though we tried booking a table. This was disappointing as we travelled with parents who are a bit aged. The other cruise line we did before had much better food selection for Indian vegetarians. Lastly, one of the other things we observed was that none of the ships crew other than some specific location we had to go to had any idea as to where any place on the ship was. Simple questions like where is "tradewinds" which is the shopping store would get blank stares when that crew member was literally a few feet away from the tradewinds location. That was really funny and i think they can do a better job of training all crew members of every available facility on board. This tradewinds was not an isolated incident, crew members regularly failed to point out where things were when asked although tradewinds was very funny because of how close this crew member was to the actual location we were looking for. I won the ping pong competition on board but did not have any option to select my prize. Only available option was an XXL T shirt which i cant use. Could have been better managed. However it is also nice to point out some nice things. We enjoyed the dance classes they offered, the movie shows, the music (fire and ice, onboard musician crew and on and on) and MOST SPECIAL was the daily Broadway type shows they did in star dust theatre which were beyond fabulous. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this cruise on the recommendations of several people we have met since we started cruiseing just over six years ago. It was also somewhere we wanted to go. We enjoyed the Land tour and saw some wonderful sites and a lot of ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the recommendations of several people we have met since we started cruiseing just over six years ago. It was also somewhere we wanted to go. We enjoyed the Land tour and saw some wonderful sites and a lot of wildlife, some that are not seen frequently. But the train rides were to ch at times. Luckily we had a good group of people to break up the time spent onboard. However the cruise was what we are use to by RC's crew, had a fantastic time, but after 31 cruises now it is difficult to say which ship or crew is the best, because we find every one has been wonderful, we know some people would disagree, but it's what you make out of the vacation to how well it goes off. Roll on our next cruise, which is in five weeks time from Copenhagen around the Baltic. Keep providing RC. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I cruised with a group of runners, and that part of the cruise was fantastic. Our group was well taken-care-of, from start to finish. Our group breakfasts (private buffet) were FANTASTIC! That said, there were some odd issues I have ... Read More
I cruised with a group of runners, and that part of the cruise was fantastic. Our group was well taken-care-of, from start to finish. Our group breakfasts (private buffet) were FANTASTIC! That said, there were some odd issues I have not seen before on Royal Caribbean. The dining room service was mediocre at best. Very poor bar service in the dining room--you were better off getting your own drink and bringing it in. I LOVE breakfast in the dining room most of the time, but on Radiance it was indifferent. Poor service and barely adequate food. I'm not a foodie, not really fussy at all, but if you requested something specific, you weren't going to get it. Some of the shows and entertainment were fun, but there was one truly terrible show (Piano Man), and one duo that was pretty awful. The Piano Man show made no sense--it was like they all decided which songs they wanted to sing and then tried to find a theme to unify them--totally did not work. Also, it would have been better if the main female singer was not singing flat--ouch! Alaska was incredible, and we liked Dr. Ryan, the naturalist, who told us what to look for and where to go. The captain took us in really close to Hubbard Glacier, and got us into all the ports early. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We were a group of eight and decided to treat ourselves to an upscale vacation and tour Alaska by cruise ship. Although it was expensive, Regent came recommended by a friend in the travel industry, and the idea of an all-inclusive land and ... Read More
We were a group of eight and decided to treat ourselves to an upscale vacation and tour Alaska by cruise ship. Although it was expensive, Regent came recommended by a friend in the travel industry, and the idea of an all-inclusive land and sea adventure in Alaska was appealing. Regent offered a wide variety of shore excursions, beautifully appointed and spacious balcony suites, professional, and courteous staff on board, and fine dining. Sounded perfect and other than the weather which was beyond anyone's control, they met expectations for most of our trip. The entertainment was pretty lame and paled in comparison to what is offered on Royal Caribbean cruises. Not sure what demographic Regent was targeting, but it is pretty hard to be motivated to dance to tunes by Tony Orlando and Dawn. We had a great swing dancing lesson on board but no opportunity to practice what we were taught. With the exception of biking in Sitka, our excursions were great - especially the hike to the Mendenhall Glacier. In steady cold rain, Sitka's bike tour was disorganized, limited to unscenic roads, and ended with a Subway sandwich lunch under a tarp. We would have selected a different excursion had we known this was the sum total. Juneau zip lining and train rides were wonderful but sometime after we departed Juneau, our ship experienced engine trouble and instead of sailing to Ketchikan we headed back to Juneau for repairs. Originally, while repairs were underway, last minute excursions and the opportunity to explore Juneau again were offered. Then these excursions were cancelled because we were told that the repair would take less time than estimated and we would be leaving Juneau earlier. Some of us had gotten off the boat just to walk around the city but with the uncertainty of timing, many of us stayed put. This meant the loss of our last port and excursions on a ship where there weren't a lot of entertainment options. We were delayed returning to Vancouver, missed our flights home and Regent did put us up in a nice airport hotel. My husband had a work commitment that was impacted by the delay, and although Regent paid for the lodging, dinner that night and breakfast the next morning were on us. Understandably, mechanical problems occur, but Regent's compensation for missing out on our final port, excursions and inconveniences, was to offer us "15% off our next cruise with them." This was completely unsatisfactory customer service. Several of us have written to corporate and as of five weeks later, have not heard back from them. Really sad to have an expensive, but quality cruise line handle a problem like that. Since we missed out on approximately "15%" of our trip, it might have been a better idea to offer a 15% refund. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We explored the Alaskan Cruise prior to selecting Princess Cruises. We determined that we wanted to do Land and Sea and the Princess package gave us everthing from the start to the Finish! A Princess Guide met us in Fairbanks and we must ... Read More
We explored the Alaskan Cruise prior to selecting Princess Cruises. We determined that we wanted to do Land and Sea and the Princess package gave us everthing from the start to the Finish! A Princess Guide met us in Fairbanks and we must say an exceptional young lady who went out of her way to show us a good time! Princess had everything with lodges to ship which was outstanding customer service! We had experience with ship dinning however the dinning while at the Princess Lodges was as nice with the same attention of the wait staff and the food quality was first class! The ship met all our previous expectations and more! The cabin steward goes out of his way to make our stay comfortable and all the staff are very friendly and go out of their way to assist. We travel with 4 other family members and enjoy interacting with the waiters and their assistance. We are always treated professionally however we feel they are part of our family when we leave! We consider Princess Cruises as our only choice when booking our next trip! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Background: I am a Disney Cruise Line girl through and through, but the group I was traveling with uses Royal Caribbean, so I was giving it a try. Sixth cruise overall, first on Royal Caribbean. Overall I found the Radiance to be a ... Read More
Background: I am a Disney Cruise Line girl through and through, but the group I was traveling with uses Royal Caribbean, so I was giving it a try. Sixth cruise overall, first on Royal Caribbean. Overall I found the Radiance to be a beautiful ship and found myself very comfortable with the service on Royal Caribbean. (So much that I booked a new cruise while onboard!) My cabin steward was fantastic - the first day she seemed a little brusque, but much of that was just first day busy-ness I think as once I got to talk with her the next morning, she was delightful and always checked on me. Dining room servers were great as well. We spent the night in Anchorage the night before the cruise, and then our group split about 50/50 between taking a train to Seward or taking a bus. I opted for the bus as it was the less expensive option, and having done Alaska last year this was to be my budget trip. The road ran parallel to the train tracks for a good portion of the route, so unless you absolutely MUST ride on a train, I'd say the bus is fine. I'd definitely go with Royal's shuttle service though, because there is one road going between Anchorage and Seward. And if something happens... In fact, we were delayed leaving Seward because there had been a bad accident that shut down the road between Anchorage and Seward for hours and some 800 people were stuck on Royal Caribbean shuttles, so we waited. This meant that we didn't sail until around 2:30am and we had to miss the Hubbard Glacier. Disappointing, but these things happen - and we were all alive and safe. I opted for an interior cabin (was assigned 3067) and had no issues with it. I had never been in an inside cabin before and will admit to being nervous about it. The first couple of nights I left the television on to the bridge view channel, but once I discovered I didn't really need it, I stopped. There were lights on either side of the bed, so it's not like I had to walk across a totally dark cabin if I needed to get up in the night. My one quibble is that for some reason the mattresses, while pushed together, did not seem to be tethered at all and I would find myself waking up with an arm and leg between them. There was a covering that kept them from sliding totally apart, and I went to speak with guest services who sent a note to the deck supervisor to have another covering put on and tightened, which worked for a couple of nights. But they could really benefit from talking with Holland America to see how they keep their mattresses from coming apart when the twin beds are requested together. (The one thing Holland has over Royal in my mind. Since Disney is kind enough to have regular queen beds, they win in this category.) There is clearly a strap or something that makes them not come apart. But other than that the cabin was fine, and I never felt cramped. The shower is small, yes. But I didn't have the issue with the shower curtain getting all over me and water getting all over the floor that some people seem to have. I guess there are some advantages to being accustomed to a small shower in my NYC apartment. I found the food to be good in the main dining room. I fell in love with their cold fruit soups, and could have made meals off of just those. The Windjammer Buffet was nice, but I did wish that at least one day they had had chicken fingers. There were always burgers, hot dogs, and fries; Indian food; pasta; salads; soups; some other kind of meat and vegetable; but never chicken fingers. I'm not picky, and I'm not addicted to them, but it would be nice to have the option at least once! Our servers in the dining room were all great (we had 9-10 tables and rotated between them) - very helpful in making suggestions, and very vigilant about anything that might contain peanuts due to my sensitivity (not full-blown allergy yet...just get itchy and wheezy). I can't comment on the kids' clubs as I don't have children. I didn't really do the activities onboard either as I'm not into BINGO, casinos, or silly games. When I cruise, I cruise to relax and enjoy myself - those things don't make me enjoy myself, so I skip them. I would rather hang out with the group I was with - or if I'm solo, just wander, or sit and read, or just watch the water and scenery go by. I did sit through one of the Royal Caribbean-produced shows one night, and while the singing was good and the dancing was acceptable, they desperately need to hire a storyteller to make the shows make coherent sense as this one did not. I won't rate a cruiseline down on that though as you are not required to attend the entertainment. I tried it, and I know I don't need to go back. Port-wise, they were beautiful. Icy Straight Point (Hoonah) is one where there is not much to do unless you are doing an excursion. This may change as they complete the dock and other cruise lines begin to go there when a tender is not required, but for now I'd definitely plan on either a ship day or doing an excursion when you hit that port. I kind of wish I'd done an excursion in Skagway as well - but I did opt to hike to a lake people told me about (it is steep, rocky, and not for the inexperienced though), so it was ok. Juneau has inexpensive shuttles out to the Mendenhall Glacier, and that is gorgeous. Plus I got to see a 2 year old bear cub trying to learn to catch salmon! Ketchikan is fun as well. Disembarkation was super! I love the group system they use - as well as the fact that I was able to go to breakfast and then back to my cabin to hang out for a couple of hours before reporting to my assigned debarkation lounge. I had a slight issue finding my luggage as my little bag had been turned sideways and put between other larger bags, but once those were moved there mine was. Getting out of Canada Place was a breeze - they only took our declaration forms and never even glanced at our passports! (Granted, you need it when getting out of Canada, so don't think you can skip it.) Overall I had a great time on Radiance of the Seas. There were a few things I missed - but those were Disney touches I wouldn't expect to find anywhere else. Still, I loved Royal Caribbean enough I did book another cruise onboard! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Upon arrival in Anchorage we were greeted byes the transfer representative.It was very disorganized.to make a long story short it took 1 hour and 20 minutes to get from the Airport to the Hotel.The airport is only 10 minutes and ten ... Read More
Upon arrival in Anchorage we were greeted byes the transfer representative.It was very disorganized.to make a long story short it took 1 hour and 20 minutes to get from the Airport to the Hotel.The airport is only 10 minutes and ten dollars away so all of us were quite frustrated by the time we got to the Hotel.we stayed at the Hilton which is equivalent to a Days Inn.The room was clean but very small.The check in was easy but it was not clear as when we should arrive to leave for departure.That being said if you want to board the ship early you should plan to be at breakfast early.We arrived at 9:00 but our bus did not leave until 12:00 PM,So far we were not impressed with Regent.I do have to say that Anchorage is a very casual town with low key hotels so were not expecting anything fancy but we were definitely disappointed about the lack of organization upon arrival/On a side note we had dinner at Marx Bros cafe in Anchorage and really enjoyed it. The ride to Seward was very nice and we were finally starting to feel like we were on vacation..The check in was easy and the ship was amazing.There was a slight problem with our room so i was offered a lower level room at the same price.This did not make me happy.They were able to solve the problem so all worked out well. The ship is very upscale and so easy to navigate.we stayed mid ship on the 8th floor.The room was well appointed and lives up to the reviews others have posted.. We did hear some vibration but it did not bother us.The service was amazing,.Hats off to Jamie our cruise director for taking care of everyone. Restaurants Compass Rose-We loved this restaurant.it was never busy and the service and food were excellent..Loved lunch and dinner Prime 7-Loved it,Steak,crab legs,lobster etc.we were able to eat here twice by just checking to see if they had room.Be sure to make a reservation prior to departing La Veranda-Excellent breakfast buffet,Dinner was good but the atmosphere was more casual Pool restauranExcellent table service and Buffet. What really makes this ship special is the service.The crew is amazing and there was never a line or wait for anything. The casino was small but fun although we never won.lol There was a lounge area for dancing,and live music,and two piano bars.All upscale and nice. The crowd was older so there were not many people dancing.By mid week there were more people out and about at night..We did not mind having the dance floor to ourselves. The shows were entertaining and we enjoyed them. The pool area was great.There were two jacuzzi's that people enjoyed and it was a great way to meet people.service at the pool area was great too. All the excursion we took were excellent and i was able to switch some of them and add too.They have destination experts on board to help you although I would do your research prior and pre book.Jamie was always waiting outside the cruise ship with helpful hints about each port if needed.There was always time to explore the small towns prior to or after the excursions. To sum it up Regent runs a tight ship.First class in every way once you are on the ship.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We sailed from Seward to Vancouver June 2013. We were pleasantly surprised with our vacation on the Navigator: Fitness - Great Spin Class and decent sized gym for the size of the ship Spa - We each got a massage and I got an oxygen ... Read More
We sailed from Seward to Vancouver June 2013. We were pleasantly surprised with our vacation on the Navigator: Fitness - Great Spin Class and decent sized gym for the size of the ship Spa - We each got a massage and I got an oxygen facial - very pleased with both La Veranda - Ate breakfast there most mornings. Dinner once. The dinner was good but I preferred the atmosphere of Compass Rose Compass Rose - Never had a bad meal and REALLY enjoyed the waitstaff: Olga, Norman and Faustine to name a few Wine selection - We are red wine drinkers and enjoyed Simi Cab, Hess, and Chilensis - Prime 7 - Ate here the last night and LOVED to atmosphere. Shrimp cocktail and crabcakes were great. Chowder outstanding. Steak could have been better. Crew - NEVER had a bad experience!! Entertainment - Very talented dancers and we really enjoyed the crew production on the last night Room Service and Room attendants - Always very attentive Excursions - Sitka - Advanced Bike Tour (free) had fun and it also presented a challenge Juneau - Taku Lodge Flight and Feast - FABULOUS! Saw a black bear and cub! Skagway - White Pass (free) - Loved this beautiful, scenic trip Ketchikan - Chose not to do an excursion and just walked around town (this was our least favorite town) Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Someone once said that once you experience a great thing, you expect that level of greatness from everyone, each time. I will be the first to say that I am the Type A-ist of the dreaded Type A personality, just this side of "Big Bang ... Read More
Someone once said that once you experience a great thing, you expect that level of greatness from everyone, each time. I will be the first to say that I am the Type A-ist of the dreaded Type A personality, just this side of "Big Bang Theory's" Sheldon Cooper and when it comes to my vacation tours, I want organization, fun, and that all-pervasive sense of greatness when it comes to an end something I can rave about for years to come. Back in 2009, I experienced that on the 13-day Celebrity cruise tour in Alaska. For the past 4 years, I have praised this tour to the skies. This time, the stratospheric heights of the land tour took a walloping in the guise of our land tour guide and bus driver. Overall, the entire trip was utterly fantastic, but Celebrity has got to do something about those land tour guides. Our story begins as follows: THE LAND PART - Wow. Day 1 Pike's Landing, Fairbanks What a beautiful little hotel. There was lots of fun décor, and my picture-taking started very early. I didn't care for the mattresses in the room they were a little too soft but kudos for the terrific water pressure in shower. My backache cheered up immediately. There was great coffee available in the lobby. The breakfast buffet looked wonderful but we didn't eat breakfast there because we planned to eat on the Wilderness Express train. This was the day I got my first impression of our land tour guide, DJ, and our bus driver, Jon. You know what they say about first impressions they're usually correct, and lasting. My first impressions were of a pretty frat boy and a sullen, middle-aged man with a "Why are you bothering me?" air, both with a serious case of scatterbrain syndrome. DJ spent more time conversing in French with a group of people from Toronto than passing information on to the rest of our group, which consisted of a lot of elderly people or people escorting elderly people who were trying to figure out what was going on. On our first day alone, this lack of communication resulted in two embarrassing moments on the bus in which I was left standing in the aisle without a seat and holding a good deal of carry-on medical equipment that was supposed to be stored in the under-bus holding area. Contradictory directions and public humiliation do not sit well with me, so strike 1 for the pretty boy and the annoyed bus driver. We also wanted to upgrade to the Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park and DJ told us to meet him in the lobby to purchase the upgrade. The meeting in the lobby went sour when he was talking to other people (the French) and told us over his shoulder to meet up with him the next morning. We ended up running after him as we were boarding the bus for the train station, got sidetracked with the second of the above-mentioned carry-on debacle, and by the time we got to the train, we still hadn't purchased the upgrade. Strike 2, DJ. Day 2 Train to Denali and Tundra Wilderness Tour DJ redeemed himself a bit by getting my family group all in one area near the front of the train. The weather was glorious; we got the best views of Mt. McKinley that I have ever seen. Breakfast was outstanding. The coffee was outstanding. Our seats were outstanding. Just overall awesomeness on the entire train ride. I would take the land tour over again just for the train; it's that good. DJ lost whatever momentum he had going by walking off with the French group again while we were trying to figure out where to meet our group for the Tundra Wilderness Tour. By this time we still hadn't purchased our upgrade meet me on the bus turned into meet me on the train, which turned into meet me at the bus loading area for the tour. We began to worry we wouldn't be able to purchase the upgrade. Finally we found him chatting with the French tour leader and managed to pull him away long enough to demand some answers to our own questions. We were finally told we were approved for the upgrade, and where to meet for the tour. The Tundra Wilderness Tour People, this is SO worth the money to upgrade. We had an absolutely wonderful tour guide, David Langdon. We saw lots of caribou, a couple of very large cow moose with sweet little long-legged calves, a whole herd of Dall sheep as they crossed the road in front of our bus, and a big fat grizzly bear romping in the distance. The breathtaking Polychrome Pass has to be seen to be believed; no pictures do it justice. Mt. McKinley obligingly stayed out of the clouds, setting the mood for some beautiful photos. Overall, a simply glorious tour. Only two very, very minute issues, and not anyone's fault: the a/c on the bus didn't work, so we had to open the windows. We were consequently driven crazy by the hordes of mosquitoes, and the grit and dust from the road was all over all of our camera equipment, up our noses, in our hair, etc. Bring bug repellent and cleaning wipes to clean your equipment, just in case! We overnighted at the Grande Denali Lodge beautiful landscaping, lovely rooms, and hey, air conditioning! Pull the curtains back to find it, though; several of our party kept the curtains closed to keep out the late summer sunlight and never found the a/c. On the downside, food service has slipped a little bit. In 2009, we came back from the TWT tired, hot, and hungry. The restaurant was still open for business, as was the coffee stand. This time, the coffee stand was closed, the grab and go food section was practically empty, and the restaurant was closing in 30 minutes. People on our tour were annoyed with that. However, the mouthwatering buffet breakfast they offered the next morning was so worth the wait that all was forgiven. Day 3 Train to Talkeetna Again, no issues with the train ride. In fact, the tour guide was even better than the first one. The Fruits of the Forest pie on the menu was just as delicious as I remembered I recommended it to everyone, and I heartily recommend it to you if you take this tour. We stayed at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, another beautiful place with a stupendous view of the mountain range. Weather was simply perfect, and once again, Mt. McKinley was in full view the entire time. What a rare treat! We were up at 3:30 in the morning for some of the best photos on the trip. (One wee little gripe really, no a/c in the rooms? At least they provided fans, but c'mon, some people are hot no matter how cold it is outside.) The Bistro was excellent. I recommend the steak for dinner. For breakfast, the Joe's Special dish, with scrambled eggs, spinach, mushrooms, onions, and Parmesan cheese, was mouth-watering. I'm very picky with how my eggs are cooked and they did them just the way I asked for them. Delicious hot coffee and thick slabs of sourdough toast topped it off. I'm hungry just thinking about it. Internet service and phone service is an improvement over 2009 at least I didn't have to go to the lobby to get a signal this time. Great shopping in the gift shop, and wow, incredibly fast luggage service. In fact, I was handing my luggage to the hardworking man who stopped to pick it up. These guys deserve a lot of tip money. As an aside, I did manage to corner snarky driver Jon and asked him just exactly how he wanted me to deal with my carryon equipment was I to leave it with him or was I to take it on the bus? He sighed and explained how he knew what it was, and there was just no room underneath, and I could take it on the bus if I wanted to, or he could try to squeeze it in, yadda yadda. As he walked away, I wondered aloud to the couple behind me if I was being a pest, but they assured me the problem definitely was not mine; he was being very rude. I felt better after that; at least it wasn't me. Day 4 Train to Anchorage Once again, the train was wonderful. I just don't have enough good words for the train or its crew. This time we had dinner on board, and the halibut with lemon cream was to die for. And I got more of the terrific Fruits of the Forest pie! We were taken by bus to the Anchorage Marriott for the night. Nice, comfortable rooms with a/c. Very friendly staff. We met in the lobby to catch the bus to Girdwood, our next stop. The tour director for the other Celebrity group, Leah, was gathering her group and was available for any questions about the day's activity. Naturally, DJ was missing. When Leah's group left the lobby at the allotted time, she made a clear announcement for her group, and our group was left milling around wondering where DJ was and if we should go out to find our bus. We scattered out the door in twos and threes, only to find that DJ was already outside with the French tour group, who were already on the bus. Thanks for the heads up, DJ! I had all my carry-on bags in tow again, since Driver Jon didn't give me a clear answer the night before; I glanced at him as I boarded, but he didn't even look my way. I managed to get a seat this time and safely stowed my equipment overhead. While on the bus, I remember from my 2009 trip that our guide talked through most of the trip. She told stories, gave us great information about the countryside, pointed out wildlife, etc. DJ talked too, but for only about 10 minutes at a time; the rest of the time he sat in his seat, checked his iPhone, or allowed the tour leader of the French group to take the mic and talk to her group in French, of course, so no one else could understand what was going on. It was apparently a good talk because they laughed a lot. Did I mention that DJ actually spoke French, so HE could converse with them and understand? Meanwhile, everyone else sat there feeling like red-headed stepchildren, wondering exactly what we were looking at or what was being said as we rode along. Good job, DJ. We stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center. The weather turned on us for the first time at the WCC a small cloud of vicious rain poured down as we entered the grounds. Those who wanted to venture out in the downpour were allowed out; the rest of us stayed on the bus until the cloud passed. The animals were just as I remembered very used to people, and just hung out, relaxed, while people snapped their pictures. There is a very nice gift shop. I think everyone on the bus bought something here, either food or souvenirs, or both. We stopped for the night in Girdwood at the Alyeska Resort. Definitely the best hotel on the trip. It's absolutely gorgeous with beautiful décor, luxurious rooms, and delicious, albeit pricey food. We also got to experience a 4.4 magnitude earthquake that shook us awake the next morning, how exciting! And we had the same problem with bus loading in the morning that we had in Anchorage Leah and her group got directions and paperwork and left the lobby; we wondered if we should leave as well, and found DJ and the French group already outside, getting on the bus. We all finally learned to ignore the directions and not meet in the lobby, just go directly to the bus instead. Drive to Seward and Kenai Fjords Cruise on Resurrection Bay DJ roused himself a bit and talked about some good history during the drive to Seward. He also showed some of his own Alaskan pictures and provided some books for us to peruse. The weather stayed perfect, the drive was gorgeous, and lots of pictures were taken through the windows. We enjoyed how much Seward has grown up as we drove into the center of town. We were given an hour to look around and have a quick bite before meeting back at the center of town for our whale-watching Resurrection Bay cruise. Leah was already there, handing out boarding passes to her group and telling them where to go and which boat to get on; as usual, our group was wondering where DJ was. He showed up about 10 minutes later with tickets in hand, absentmindedly passed them out, and ended up in the middle of the French group again, speaking in French so we couldn't understand what he was saying. Which boat was ours? Where were we supposed to meet? I finally hunted down Leah and asked her if we were on the same boat (she said yes), asked her what time we were supposed to go (she said now). I grabbed my family and the surrounding people and we headed down the plank to the dock. DJ moseyed behind us with the French group. Our group was muttering mutinously; we were really getting tired of Pretty Boy by this point. The tour itself was extremely well done. The crew was friendly and knowledgeable, the surroundings were breathtaking, and the animals were abundant. We were treated to a mother humpback whale and her calf, a pod of playful dolphins, a pair of adorable cavorting otters, lots of fat puffins, hoards of sea lions, and several eagles and seagulls. There was a definite chill in the air, but some inexpensive, tasty coffee and tea helped to keep us warm. The three hours passed quickly. I highly recommend Kenai Fjords Cruise Tours. We stayed for the night at the Seward Windsong Lodge. How neat this place was! It consisted of little birchwood log cabins in the woods, each named after an herb or flower (we were in Rosemary) with about 10 rooms apiece, each smelling of freshly-planed wood. It was obviously newly renovated. Sliding doors in the back provided a small patio overlooking the woods (which we didn't bother to try out because of the mosquito population). The restaurant on property is very expensive, but the food was worth the cost. You could also take a shuttle into town on the hour. The lobby building boasted a beautiful stone fireplace that practically begged for you to pull up a squashy armchair and read a good book. We slept like the dead and woke up refreshed and ready for our cruise. Overall Impressions of the Land Tour Positive: I still think this is the biggest bang for your buck the 6 days of the land tour really give you the big picture of what The Last Frontier is all about. The train rides are absolutely magnificent, the hotels get more beautiful as you go south, Denali National Park, Mount McKinley, abundant wildlife...spectactular. Spend the extra money and take the land tour. You won't regret it. Negative: As you've already figured out, my biggest complaint was our tour guide and bus driver. Where on earth did Celebrity (or whoever manages Celebrity's land tours) find these guys? I found out later that the land tour part of this cruise tour vacation is actually not handled by Celebrity, but by a company called Premier Alaska, who are subcontracted to Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. I think Celebrity ought to seriously reconsider these particular guys are giving them a very, very bad name. Outside of the French-speaking tourists and their own tour guide, no one in our group was impressed with them. I seriously considered not tipping them at all, but my conscience wouldn't allow it - however, they only got a portion of what Celebrity suggested. As I read back over this, I realize that it sounds like we were annoyed with the French group. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Their leader, Louise, and the rest of the group were so fun personable, and all were willing to teach simple French to the rest of us who hadn't a clue it made for very memorable moments on the land tour. Louise, if you just happen to read this, I want you to know that you are an ideal tour guide, and our group should have given YOU the tips. DJ and Jon, if you read this, well you need some work, guys. DJ, get a bullhorn, speak English at least as much as you speak French, and show up with information when you're needed. Jon, just smile, will ya? You're very unapproachable. If you really dislike this line of work as much as you appeared to, maybe you should go elsewhere. THE CRUISE PART I love Celebrity cruises. I couldn't wait. And I wasn't disappointed. Embarkation: So fast and easy; we were on the ship before we knew what was happening. Celebrity shines here. You're given a mimosa with a warm Welcome aboard and a smile. By 1:30, your room is ready, and your bags are delivered quickly. These guys work hard, and it shows and is always appreciated. Day 1: Hubbard Glacier Cruising Oh, just beautiful weather. We couldn't get close to the glacier because of heavy ice in the water, but that just made it even more picturesque. We give high fives to the Captain and his crew for getting us as close as he did...we were still seven miles from the glacier, but it still was beautiful. If we were still using film today, I think my husband and I would have filled up 30 rolls just on this day. Day 2: Juneau We took a tour to Mendenhall Glacier, on another beautiful day. You shouldn't miss this gorgeous place. Great shopping, too! Take advantage of the on-board Cruise Shopping Talk the guide can be kind of hokey, but you get some terrific pointers on where to shop and who to talk to. And don't miss the Red Dog Saloon - there's fun to be had "behind those swingin' doors." Day 3: Skagway Five words: Yukon and White Pass Railroad. I've heard people say they wouldn't do this because they couldn't afford it. My advice: Save some money. The views are just amazing. This was our only day with rain, but for some reason it made the scenery even more striking. We opted for the longer tour, which consisted of a 3-hour bus ride up to the Yukon border, and we took the Y&WP train back to Skagway from Fraser. I enjoyed stopping at the Inuksuk Overlook in Tormented Valley, where you could get out and build your own little stone monument from the glacial rocks. I hope my little guy stands guard by the creek for many years. Day 4: Icy Strait Point Wellll I think Celebrity could drop this port from the itinerary. Aside from the World's Longest Zip Line and some pretty shops and a cannery, there's really nothing to do here. It was an improvement over 2009 (when we didn't even get off the ship), but I think time could be spent at somewhere better. Celebrity, maybe you could consider putting College Fjord on your itinerary. This was Princess Cruise's strong point -College Fjord is even better than Hubbard Glacier, in my opinion. Think about it! Day 5: Ketchikan If you want to shop, this is the place to go. The typical cruise stores Diamonds International, Milano's, etc. beckon right from the pier. And if you get on board without getting a picture of the Ketchikan Salmon Capital of the World sign, then you didn't get the full Monty. We took a quick tour of the city by means of an old-fashioned trolley with open sections in the front and the back. I thought I'd be intelligent and sit in one of the open sections so I could take some pictures without having to focus through windows. If you're going to do that, please wear a coat. Not a sweatshirt, a coat. Brr! After a quick stop at the Totem Pole Park (very neat!), we were dropped off at the Alaskan Lumberjack Show. That was fun, pure and simple: Canada vs. the USA in chopping, climbing, and general lumberjack jokes. Canada won by a splinter. We ended the day with a great deal of shopping along the pier. Some really nice stores include Caribou Crossing and the Rain Barrel. If you're looking for authentic Alaskan works (carved and/or handmade pieces, totem poles, Alaskan jade, etc.), these stores won't let you down. The quality is incredible, and they ship to your home! Day 6: Inside Passage Cruising This is a much-needed day of relaxation and beautiful scenery. We were hoping for some whales, but sadly they stayed hidden. I still enjoyed numerous cups of hot tea while snuggling in my green plaid blanket and reading. The Ship: Well, I just love Celebrity for its service and its cleanliness, and they didn't disappoint. Everywhere you looked, someone was cleaning, painting, or scrubbing. Our bathroom was clean enough to eat off the floor. Within minutes of getting into our room (after the customary mimosa upon embarking), we were greeted by our friendly steward, Nonet, and his assistant, Clive, who were just simply out of this world. Our every wish and whim was granted in minutes. I didn't have enough good things to say about them; if I could have graded them above excellent, I would have. The Metropolitan Restaurant: No complaints here. Our waiter, Putu, and assistant waiter, Vlada, were the epitome of Celebrity's spectacular service. I know I've gained about 10 pounds from the excellent food. We were celebrating two 50th anniversaries in our party, and the wait staff and the wonderful maitre d', Ajay, helped us celebrate with individual chocolate cakes and singing. If you have something to celebrate, don't forget to tell the server. Those cakes are amazing. The Olympic Restaurant: Three words - Oh. My. God. It was worth being on the ship just to experience this wonderful place. We weren't sure at first, because, being country folk, we were a little intimidated by the French menu and the overall elegance it was just the kind of place where I'd drop gravy on my dress with the first bite. But thanks to the impeccable service of the waiters, we experienced what was probably the best food on the ship, if not the best food we've ever eaten. I highly recommend the lobster and the Crepes Ballon Rouge. Strawberries with balsamic vinegar and brandy taste incredible. Definitely worth making a reservation and spending the extra money; don't miss it. Disembarkation: Ah, Celebrity, you lose a star here. Please take a page from the Disney Cruise Line and allow people to leave the ship after eating breakfast, like we were just in port, instead of herding them into locations to wait for hours and a number to be called. Really, this just does not work. While calling groups of people at a time to leave seems to be the way to make people leave a little at a time, the end result is actually a stampede, resulting in clogged elevators, clogged hallways, clogged waiting venues, no seats, elderly people accidentally running over your toes with wheelchairs just a mess. No one wants to leave their luggage unattended, so you're constantly climbing over other people's bags. I shudder to think what would happen if there was an actual emergency in which we had to evacuate the ship. (Insert Titanic soundtrack music here.) Disney knows how to move the masses. Please check with them on how things are done. And while having a TV to watch in the theater is great while you wait, the volume should be turned off when announcements are made so we can actually hear that the gangway has been moved to another deck. Overall Impression of the Cruise: Despite my gripes, if I was offered a chance to take this tour again, I'd do it without question. In a second. Alaska is so utterly gorgeous, and it's so worth the time and effort for a land tour and a cruise. By plane, by train, and by ship, while you sit back with a delicious hot drink and a warm blanket, pampered every step of the way no one does a cruise tour like Celebrity, even with a few dings and dents. No trip is 100 percent perfect, but Celebrity sure comes close. Thanks again, guys. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Alaska Pre-Cruise Tour #13 in case you were wondering which meant relocating every night. Seeing the interior of Alaska starting in Fairbanks was well worth it, but it renewed my love of cruising (unpack once, repack at the end). ... Read More
Alaska Pre-Cruise Tour #13 in case you were wondering which meant relocating every night. Seeing the interior of Alaska starting in Fairbanks was well worth it, but it renewed my love of cruising (unpack once, repack at the end). Celebrity is my eight cruise line and is now my favorite (right after Windstar). The ship is clean, well maintained and the staff is excellent. The service was prompt every where without being intrusive. The lack of continuous sales pitches from oversea speakers was refreshing. It seemed like those who wanted to play Bingo were able to find the location and play with out the rest of us being hassled. The Captain's Club events were nice and low key which would not be surprising considering that there were only about 100 of us on the ship. This is in contrast to the Cruise Critic Get Together which rated somewhere around pathetic. Yes, we had a location and some coffee and tea: a couple of crew members came by and introduced themselves but that was it. Considering the support and fun with RCI and NCL, one has to wonder. The fitness facilities are excellent. The entertainers were great including a terrific classical string trio, a pianist and an incredibly funny comedian. Caissie - the Cruise Director - is a better vocalist than any in the performing group but I am inclined toward classical rather than funk. Our visit to Hubbard Glacier was amazing - the day was clear and almost windless enabling us to get within .5 miles. Whales were along side the ship on several days. Rain in Icy Point Straight and Ketchikan didn't do anything to dim my fun, but there were a lot of people completely soaked. We transfered from late dining into Celebrity Select and had a wonderful time meeting interesting people from around the world at dinner while also being able to sit with new friends from the pre-cruise tour on several occasions. Our dining times ranged from 1745-2100; we never waiting more than 15 minutes for a table even with a group of six. Can't comment on any of their tours since I didn't take any after boarding the ship. The naturalist had numerous interesting presentations. Celebrity again? Took advantage of the on-board booking program for 2013 and 2014. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We were cruise virgins & went on this cruise with some ambivalence. We went with several other couples, all of whom were new to cruising. I was concerned because of a couple of negative reviews that were posted here after we had signed ... Read More
We were cruise virgins & went on this cruise with some ambivalence. We went with several other couples, all of whom were new to cruising. I was concerned because of a couple of negative reviews that were posted here after we had signed on to the cruise. Bottom line: we loved it, as did all our friends!! The level of service was impeccable. The staff on board practically stood on their heads to make us all comfortable & happy. Every person with whom we dealt was pleasant & accommodating. The wine was surprisingly good, the food excellent, the service delightful. Cleanliness was maintained fastidiously. Even the fresh flowers in the room & in the public spaces were a delight. The excursions were fabulous and, without exception, our guides were great fun. We hiked, kayaked, rafted, took float planes, saw bears, seals, whales, eagles, & calving glaciers. It was a fabulous trip. That was the unanimous opinion, and, by the way, this is a group that included oenophiles & gourmet cooks. To the complainers who posted previously, I cannot imagine how hard it is to please you in life & I wish you good luck. To the rest of you, I heartily recommend this cruise. It was worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Alaska Cruise Tour Package No.11 August 1, 2010 Pre Trip July 31, 2010 Flew from Wilmington, NC to Seattle, WA arriving at SeaTac airport on US Air. Upon arrival at the airport we ... Read More
Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Alaska Cruise Tour Package No.11 August 1, 2010 Pre Trip July 31, 2010 Flew from Wilmington, NC to Seattle, WA arriving at SeaTac airport on US Air. Upon arrival at the airport we proceeded to the baggage claim area. Sky caps were nowhere to be found. Grab a luggage cart. Packing for a two week trip we had 4 large bags and a couple of carry ons. Distance from baggage claim to the hotel shuttle pick up is considerable. Take an elevator up to the first level, cross over a skyway and take an elevator down to service island number 1. Called the Hampton Inn to arrange for transport to the hotel. Service island number 1 is about 100 yards long. Stand at the front end of the service island and hail the shuttle van. Standing at the back end of the island can result in the van filling up with passengers prior to getting to your position. This happened to a woman and her family who had been waiting for the shuttle and were told they would have to wait until the shuttle to return. Our stay at the Hampton was good. Hotel was very clean. Three hour time differential and seven hours of travel made it a long day. Day 1 Fairbanks, AK Flew from Seattle, WA to Fairbanks, AK on Air Alaska. We had first class tickets and found Air Alaska to be one of the best airlines I have ever flown with. Prior to our flight we were given access to their Board Room. Very comfortable seating areas, excellent service and decent light fare. During our flight the crew was very accommodating, the meal excellent, wine glasses were real glass. No comparison between USAir and Air Alaska experience. Air Alaska 10 ..... USAir 4. Upon arrival at Fairbanks airport we were immediately greeted by a RCC representative near baggage claim and were directed to another representative located in a kiosk. He checked our name off a list and directed us to a group of luggage attendants who grabbed our luggage. Very organized and painless arrival to Fairbanks .... props to RCC. We met our tour guide, boarded a motor coach and were transported to the Wedgewood resort. Upon arrival at the resort, we were given keys to rooms and luggage was delivered. The Wedgewood resort is a complex of different buildings. Apartment style suites, hotel style accommodations, restaurant and lounge. The accommodations that RCC have contracted at the resort are the older apartment style suites. Although the entire resort is reported to be smoke free, our suite in the "Laurel" building had been smoked in. The apartments are carpeted and the flooring appears to be original. We informed our tour guide that the room was unacceptable. We were shown another room in another building and it also smelled like an ashtray. After discussions between RCC's tour guide and a resort representative we were given a hotel style room in the "Bear Lodge" building. The room was excellent. The Bear Lodge building also houses the restaurant and lounge ..... great place to stay. It appears that several other tour groups have their customers booked in the Bear Lodge. RCC would do well to offer these accommodations as standard for their customers. If you've never visited Fairbanks, several wild fires were burning on the outskirt of town and large volumes of smoke can negatively impact air quality. I was told that this is a common occurrence during the summer months. We were fortunate that the wind direction kept most of the smoke away from the Wedgewood resort. The second day we were at the resort we could smell smoke. Day 2 Fairbanks, AK Two land tours were scheduled for the day. The morning tour was a paddle wheel boat trip up the Chena river. This trip was excellent. The paddle wheel boat, it's mooring and choreographed cruise were developed by a local family over several generations. After a lunch stop in downtown Fairbanks we motor coached to the Discovery Gold mine located just outside of town. This trip was interactive and informative. After viewing a sluicing operation each person is given a sack of dirt and pans for gold. Most folks discovered small quantities of gold flakes and were given small black plastic canisters to put the flakes into. We then were directed into the obligatory gift shop where people were encouraged to have their gold weighed and purchase a small locket to put the flakes into. The entire trip was a little hokey but worth the time. Day 3 Denali Park, AK At 9:00am we boarded a RCC railcar in Fairbanks and took a 4 ½ hour train ride to Denali National Park ..... very comfortable ride. Large leather seats are located on the top level of the car and a dining room is located below. The cruise lines and tour companies supply their own rail cars that are connected to a train operated by Alaska Railroad. A note about dining. There are 80 seats located in the passenger section of the railcar. The dining section can accommodate 38 people at a time. You do the math. We ended up doing 2 ½ seatings for breakfast. By the time the last few folks got to eat "brunch", the kitchen had run out of some food items ...... eggs, pancakes and potatoes. Be advised that the normal seating for meals is from the back of the railcar to the front. Avoid sitting in the first few rows of a railcar if you want to eat a meal at a normal time. Scenery during the trip to Denali was good. Our weather was clear and warm. We saw Mt. McKinley very clearly in the distance. We arrived at Denali and were scheduled to travel on the Wilderness Tour into the National Park. The Wilderness tour is an 8 to 9 hour bus ride into the park ...... 120 miles round trip. We saw all kinds of wildlife during our trip ...... caribou, Dahl sheep, grizzly bears, moose and a wolf. We also had a great view of Mt. McKinley up close. To be honest, after a 4 ½ hour train ride and a 9 hour ride on a school bus, it made for a long day. At 9:30pm we checked into the Grand Denali Lodge. The dining room was still serving .... the food was OK. Day 4 Talkeetna, AK At 10:30am we boarded a RCC railcar in Denali and took a 4 hour train ride to Talkeetna. Scenery during the trip to Talkeetna was very good. Our travel weather was partly cloudy and cooler. Our group was seated at the back of the train and we were seated first for lunch. Food and service in the dining car was excellent. We arrived in Talkeetna and were met by our motor coach. We checked into the Talkeetna Lodge. The main lodge had a restaurant and bar. The lobby area was very beautiful with a large fireplace, comfortable leather chairs and weather permitting a great view of the mountains. As with the Wedgewood Resort, our RCC tour accommodations were not located in the main lodge. We received rooms in satellite buildings. The rooms were small and very clean. I checked on retail rates the at the main lodge and was told that there are three room categories in descending order, main lodge with mountain views, main lodge no views and satellite buildings. Day 5 Anchorage, AK At 9:30am we boarded the motor coach and took a 3 hour ride to Anchorage. We stopped at the Native American Heritage Center and spent a couple hours touring the facility. There were several lecture and dance presentations as well as a walking tour of Indian homes, ect. Lunch was served outdoors with several folks manning gas grills. Food included grilled chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and the soon to be famous reindeer hot dogs. After the tour we boarded our motor coach and headed to down town Anchorage where we checked into the Marriott hotel. Excellent accommodations ...... 17th floor corner room overlooking the harbor and city. We had made reservations at Simon and Seafort which was within walking distance from the hotel. Had an excellent seafood meal at a window table overlooking the harbor. Let me make a comment about the way RCC handled our rooms and luggage during the land portion of our tour. We never once had to handle our luggage .... it was always delivered to our rooms before we arrived. Room keys were always handed to us upon arrival at each resort or hotel by our tour director and we never had to check out. Excellent, hassle free way to travel. Day 6 Seward, AK We were given an option to take our motor coach or a train car operated by the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward. The train trip took a couple hours longer then the coach. We opted to take the train. We were shuttled from the hotel to the train station located at Anchorage's airport. It was a beautiful trip. The Alaska Railroad cars were not as comfortable as RCC's but the train does drop you off right on the dock were your ship is waiting. We arrived at 4:30pm proceeded through check in where we received our Sail Passes and boarded the Radiance of the Seas. Our stateroom was number 1604 located on deck 10. The room is one of six located at the aft section of the ship. It had a balcony and turned out to be a great room for the cruise portion of our trip. We set sail at 9:00pm .... still very light outside to enjoy the spectacular scenery. Our dining time was 8:30pm. We had a window table on the starboard side of the ship and were able to enjoy our trip out of Seward while we were dining. Day 7 Cruising at Sea Our first day aboard ship was spent cruising to Hubbard Glacier. Being at sea gave us a lot of time to explore the ship. We got in a work out at the ship's fitness center, dined at Portofino's Grill and saw a show headlined by the original Drifters. The ship's fitness center along with its spa facility was awesome ...... very clean and accommodating. Portofino's restaurant is one of two specialty restaurants located on the Radiance. The atmosphere was great and the food was OK. We took in the first of two show times located in the ship's Aurora theater. Show time was 9:00pm. We arrived at the theater at 8:30 and the place was packed. There were no seats available. We found a standing spot located near the bar and saw the show. The Drifters put on a good show albeit a couple of the original guys had been doing this a long ... long time. Day 8 Hubbard Glacier Highlight of the cruise portion of our trip. Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidal glacier in Alaska. This thing is huge. After a slow cruise into Yakutat Bay accompanied by Celine Dion's theme song to the Titanic movie playing over the ship's intercom system, we spent several hours at the front of the glacier. The sounds of "white thunder" and the sight of large chunks of ice falling into the ocean were awesome. The ship turned a 360 in front of the glacier before departing ....... unbelievable. Day 9 Juneau, AK We awoke in the morning already docked in Juneau. We had pre booked a shore excursion and departed the ship at 9:00am. Our excursion was called the "Bike and Brew Tour". We were driven by van to the University of Alaska Juneau campus where we were given a hybrid bike and departed to the Menenhall Glacier. There were 23 hardy souls and three guides that made the trip in the rain. The total bike trip was 9.3 miles in length with a stop at a half way point along the lake below the glacier. Once at the glacier we were given 30 minutes to walk to the visitor's center and a salmon/bear observation deck. There were salmon in the stream and a mother bear and her cub having lunch ...... not something you see every day. We were transported by van back to Juneau to a unique bar near the ship where we sampled 5 or 6 beers that were brewed in Alaska. Most of the beer was brewed in Juneau by the Alaska Brewing Company. They're Amber Ale is an exceptional beer. You will find it served during your whole Alaska adventure. Too bad we can't get on the east coast. We highly recommend this excursion. The bike ride was easy to moderate, making for a great way to get off the ship and get some exercise. It did help to burn off the 1,000 calories we drank after the bike ride. Day 10 Skagway, AK We awoke in the morning docked in Skagway. We chose to not book any shore excursions and just relaxed for the day. Breakfast was delivered to our stateroom and we ate on our balcony. Room service was always prompt and consistent. The sun was shining .... it was a beautiful morning and a great way to start the day. During breakfast we noticed a sea lion swimming right off the back of the ship. He was munching on a 10-15 pound salmon! Now that's something you don't see every day in North Carolina. (I found myself saying that a lot during our trip) Skagway was one of our favorite ports. The city has focused on maintaining the historic flavor of their downtown buildings. We did a little shopping and had lunch at a local watering hole. Day 11 Icy Point Straight (Hoonah), AK We awoke in the morning already on anchor. I stepped out on our balcony to check the weather and to my surprise there were two humpback whales feeding right off the back of the ship. The sound and sight of them blowing air and water at the surface was quite an experience. We had pre booked a shore excursion and were tendered off the ship at 9:00am. The landing area at Icy Point Straight is a refurbished salmon cannery. Some of the canning machinery has been preserved making for an interesting short tour. We also had time to walk along an improved path that rounds a point close to the landing area. Our excursion was a whale watching trip on a tour boat. We headed toward Glacier Bay and saw many Humpback whales that appeared to be feeding on large schools of herring. The total trip lasted 3 hours. Before returning to the ship we chose to eat lunch on the dock at The Crab Shack. You can't beat Dungeness crab pulled from the water, cleaned and steamed. It doesn't get any fresher than that. It was very expensive ... but worth the money. Day 12 Ketchikan, AK Awoke docked in Ketchikan. We chose not to book any shore excursions and see the town for ourselves. We disembarked the ship started out on foot to Creek Street ..... Ketchikan's historic red light district. Area was crowded with tourist and shops were very typical. The big attraction during our visit to Ketchikan Creek were thousands of salmon stacked up in the creek trying to make their way upstream to spawn. We made our way down to the harbor area where the creek empties into the salt water. Thousands of salmon where in the harbor. It was a spectacular sight. We decided to follow the creek upstream to the Native American salmon hatchery. The walk was an uphill moderate hike along streets that followed the creek. All along way were thousands of salmon swimming upstream. Total distance to the hatchery was perhaps 1.5 to 2 miles ..... uphill. We toured the hatchery. At the hatchery salmon arrive up a series of ladders from the creek where they are collected, eggs extracted, and small fry are raised to be released back into the creek. A salmon fact ... once the salmon spawn they die. We were told that after two to three years at sea, a salmon will return to within 50 feet of where it was born, spawn and die. Its body then feeds mammals and birds. Nutrients from its decomposing body feed baby salmon born from the spawn. A remarkable circle of life. Day 13 Cruising at Sea Day 13 was spent making our way through the inland passage south to Vancouver, Canada. Spectacular scenery with some narrow passages. The Captain pointed out interesting sights and history along the trip ..... even stopping to do a 360 degree turn allowing everyone on board ship to share an equal view. We got in another workout at the fitness center. I can't say enough good things about the fitness center and spa. During the evening we dined at Chop House restaurant. This was our best meal aboard ship. We were given instructions to set our luggage outside our cabin door prior to 10:00 pm our last evening of the cruise. The luggage was to be transferred to an area just outside of customs at the Canada Place Pier during the morning of our disembarkation. Day 14 Arrival at Vancouver Depending on where you were going upon disembarking the ship we were assigned a group and time to muster at the Schooner Bar. The whole disembarking thing appeared somewhat disorganized. Our time to leave the ship came and went while we sat and watched streams of people leaving the ship. Finally a RCC representative shouted out our group number and we were led off the ship. We followed a line of passengers into a large open area at the dock where our luggage was sitting ...... along with the luggage of 2,100 other passengers. This is where I think RCC dropped the ball. After being right on with regard to the logistics of moving people and their luggage on and off motor coaches, hotel rooms and aboard ship, now we appeared to be in free for all to find our luggage, find a luggage cart and figure out how to get through customs. We had pre booked motor coach transportation with Quick Coach Lines from the dock in Vancouver to Seattle's SeaTac airport. This turned out to be a great decision. We planned to overnight at the SeaTac Hampton Inn and catch our flight back to the east coast the next day. Several groups had booked 2:00 pm flights out of Seattle and spent 4-5 hours on the motor coach stressed out whether they would make their flight. The Quick Coach driver was excellent getting us through US customs at the border and dropping passengers off in Seattle at the airport and various hotels. He dropped us off right in front of the Hampton Inn and unloaded our luggage. I don't know if this is a standard practice but he earned a nice tip from us. Final Thoughts This Alaskan trip was the trip of a life time ...... if it's not on your bucket list please put it there. Speaking with other folks who have done different itineraries to the State, I believe starting in Fairbanks, working your way south by train and coach and boarding a ship for a seven day south bound inland passage cruise was a great way to see the sights. Alaska is a huge State. Royal Caribbean did a terrific job with both the land tour and ocean cruise. Hopefully this blog will lend some insight to first time cruisers and stir memories of those who have made the trip. This was our first cruise ....... we didn't think we were "cruise" people. Will we do another cruise with Royal Caribbean? Maybe we'll see you on the October 3rd 2011 Mediterranean / Egyptian trip out of Civitavecchia, Italy. Ciao. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I wanted to write a short review to address what you can expect on Millie when there is a problem with illness, it's something a lot of people are considering and I've just seen it first hand. I'm not going to address the ... Read More
I wanted to write a short review to address what you can expect on Millie when there is a problem with illness, it's something a lot of people are considering and I've just seen it first hand. I'm not going to address the usual - just merely say that I thought Millie looked great after her recent refurb and that food and service were usually excellent and never disappointing. Except the coffee, which is still appalling. About three days after we set out, we started getting notices through typed leaflets in our cabins and on one of the TV channels about a norovirus outbreak. Essentially the information said that you might see enhanced cleaning procedures and it might be necessary to end self-service in the buffet area. Nothing further was said, but here's what I observed and heard from other guests. The TV channel notified us that a "small percentage" of guests had experienced stomach flu-like systems. It also said passengers were required to notify the medical staff if they had symptoms and hinted that you might be disembarked if you did not comply. Once that started, cleaning procedures became much more noticable and at every dining room and ship entry point, crew members insisted on hand sanitizer - I had one guy literally chase me through a ship re-entry line with the little bottle because he hadn't seen me use the dispenser. Frequently touched fixtures like elevator buttons and railings throughout the ship often had a residue on them - other guests told me it has bleach in it, and if you leaned on it, expect your clothes to be ruined. I didn't experience that personally but it smelled right. On one of my shore excursions, someone in our group mentioned that they were with a large group and that about a quarter of the people had come down with stomach flu. It was a 24 hour type of thing with mostly diarhhea, and those with symptoms were being quarentined (although apparently their cabin mates were not and were out and about.) On day five, it must have really been getting bad - they stopped self-service in the buffet. When that happens, only crew members can put things on plates and there is no beverage self-service. This does create a short wait at beverage areas and more grumpy-competitive buffet behavior, but it's not a huge inconvenience. Carpet vaccuuming stopped (it makes viruses airborne, apparently). There was a cloudy disinfectant residue on pretty much any surface likely to be touched by many passengers. I didn't get the bug, and I don't know how many people did, but there seemed to be a lot of "do not disturb" signs on doors. But by the last few days of the cruise, it was difficult to go anywhere onboard without constant reminders and a somewhat nasty film getting on your hands whenever you touched things. In summary, Celebrity handled it with as little inconvenience to passangers as they could, but also as little information as they could provide. I don't know if "a small percentage" means 1% or 10%, but I think it was probably closer to the latter. If this happens on your cruise, it won't be a cruise-ruining experience but don't expect it to be out of mind either. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
A fabulous cruise experience on the refurbished Veendam This is a review of Veendam after its recent dry dock. We were on the 5/24 Southbound sailing from Seward.As a young couple in our mid 30s, we've been on Princess cruises about ... Read More
A fabulous cruise experience on the refurbished Veendam This is a review of Veendam after its recent dry dock. We were on the 5/24 Southbound sailing from Seward.As a young couple in our mid 30s, we've been on Princess cruises about 10 times but never on Holland America.We are forced to take a last minute vacation with just 3 weeks notice and I couldn't believe my eye when I saw the last minute deal of Veendam for less than $330 per person. We grabbed it immediately just 20 days before the sailing date and were eventually upgraded and assigned a category DA standard ocean view cabin 10 days before sailing. Booked a pre-cruise hotel from hotwire at about $70. It turns out to be Inlet Tower at the edge of downtown Anchorage.Flew in to Anchorage on Saturday night, took the free shuttle to Inlet Tower hotel, and walked to Benihana to have a late teppanyaki dinner.Sunday morning the hotel dropped us off at the Alaska railroad train station around 6AM. Booked the train together with Major Marine boat tour. The train ride was very scenic. We revisited turnagain arm and it's our first time to see Spencer Glacier, which is only visible from the train. There are still huge amount of snow and ice along the rail tracks.Arrived Seward at 11AM and took the Kenai Fjord 5-hour boat tour. Saw lots of humpback whales, goats, and bald eagles. Checked in the Veendam ship around 6PM. It took us about 10 minute to go through the process. Cabin was pretty spacious compared to previous experiences on Princess. We were pleasantly surprised. The bed was very comfortable. It's a Tempur-pedic with pillow top. A bit softer than our bed at home but still extremely nice. The new LCD TV and DVD player is also a nice plus. We brought a few DVDs from home and enjoyed it in our room a few times. Other times the TV was constantly on channel 44 (the bridge cam).So I know what exactly is ahead of us and what is on the starboard side (from my own window). The food is surprisingly good. We preferred food with lighter taste with less sauce, and we were able to enjoy it very well in both Lido and Rotterdam dining room. The selection of Asian food is also better than Princess cruises, in my opinion.Crews are all Indonesian, and they were very polite and friendly. They were trained very well and can communicate well with good humor. The service was very good. The average age of passengers on this cruise was around 65, which is the oldest we've been on. We're okay with that. It's my 4th time to College Fjord, but it's still great to see it again. Enjoyed the pool. Water temperature was on the low side, around low 70s. Only a few kids and myself dared to be in the pool. Glacier bay: We visited Margerie glacier, Grand Pacific glacier, and John Hopkins glacier. The calving of Margerie is unbelievable. Somehow I feel the calving is more vigorous than 4 years ago. I believe global warming is at its work. A few tidal glaciers even retreated way back and no longer touches the sea. Haines, AK: My favorite place. Not because it's the only place I haven't been to, but because it's one of the few remaining genuine Alaskan town in the area. Picked up a rental car from Avis inside Hotel Halsingland. Drove the Haines highway about 120 miles all the way through British Columbia into Yukon.Saw a grizzly bear right next to the Canadian custom. We did some hiking and picnicking at Million Dollar Falls. We turned around at mile 115: St Elias Lake trail head. We hiked into Kluane National Park for about a mile and turned around. We then drove back to Haines and onward to Chilkoot Lake State Park. The scenery is magnificent, even to Alaskan standard. Juneau, AK: We decided to hike up Mt Robert and took the tram down, to save $27 per person. The trail head is at the end of 6th St, about 12 blocks from where we docked (Steamship dock).The trail is 2.5 mile, with a vertical gain of 1800 ft. The trail condition was pretty good. We met a total of about 10 hikers along the trail, all local people. At the end of May, the snow level is about 1500 ft in Juneau, so the trail became covered by snow above that altitude. It wasn't too bad though and we hiked comfortably with our sneakers.We're rewarded with the nice view, the eagle exhibit, and a free ride down after hiking for 1 hour 45 minutes. The ride down supposed to cost $5 but could be free if you buy something from gift shop.We then took the $7 MGT blue bus from the tram station straight to Mendenhall glacier. My gosh, the glacier retreated quite a lot from 4 years ago. After hiking a few trails there, we decided to walk 1.5 mile out to take city bus back to downtown. To our surprise, We met another 4 cruisers doing the same thing along the way, two of them in their 60s.Another group of cruisers rent bikes from downtown and biked there. We should give that a try next time. The city bus costs $1.50. Quite a deal. Ketchikan, AK: The weather magically cleared up the minute we docked. We were very lucky. We took the city bus to Totem Bight State Park. There are about 15 cruisers on the bus. It was a nice 30 minute ride, and the bus was free! (supposed to be $1) I still don't understand why, but a local people said the bus will be free by the 10th for some reason. It was a very nice park with a clan house and dozens of Totems.We enjoyed the self guided walk and the beautiful coastal scenery. Afterwards we took the bus back and got off at Safeway and bought some souvenirs there. It turned out the same or even better items are cheaper at Safeway than in downtown, which makes sense. We bought some great Alaska made souvenirs here. We then got back to downtown and got the famous $1 coupon deal. We spent a total of $3 to get 2 mugs, 2 ULU knives, 1 baseball cap, 1 bear paw salad mixer, and 2 tote bags. (well, you know where these items are made.)Anyway it's a ridiculous deal, and I saw many other cruiser grabbing the same deal without other purchases. The store must be hurting.Inside passage: We spent time at pool side. The water temp was very warm this time. It was in mid 80s. Many kids and their parents had a great time in the pool. The water is a bit too warm for lap swim.We went through Seymour Narrows around 10:30 PM. We saw 4 ships lining up and passed us from the other direction. Vancouver: Picked up a rental car from Hertz. Drove to Burnaby metrotown to do some shopping and bought some exotic food from T&T supermarket there. Visited Aldergrove Lake regional park and had a picnic and short hike. Got through the Aldergrove border crossing in 2 minutes. I always loved this border crossing. So little traffic.We visited another friend in Redmond Washington then finally arrived Sea-tac around 7PM and flew home. Bottom line we had a fabulous time on the recently refurbished Veendam. I believe the reason I saw so few young cruisers on board is because the school season is not over yet and also the economy. Entertainment was exceptional. I was blown away by the numerous Broadway vocalists. One of them even performed on the same stage with Luciano Pavarotti before. The Ice cream bar was a big hit. Apparently it's one of the most popular spot on the ship.I also loved their terrace grill hamburger. They have one of the best hamburgers I've ever tasted. All in all, it's a fabulous experience on Veendam. Combined with the price I paid and the stateroom I got assigned, I would do this again with no doubt. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009

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