Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Radiance of the Seas
Sailing Date: September 13th, 2003
It was the 2nd to the last cruise of the season to Alaska. Shopping in Juneau and Skagway were great. Most of the shops have 50% off. Ketchikan didn't have sale & it was the worst port since it was very commercialize & too much like a busy city rather an a small Alaskan town.
Ports: Juneau was the first port of call. We were 5 hours late leaving Vancouver. But the caption ensured us we wouldn't be late for Juneau. Sure enough, we sail very fast & arrived at Juneau on time. You definitely feel the movement of the ship. It was very windy so the ship was tilted. Cruise ships take their turn to dock on each port. It was our turn to anchor away from the dock & take the tender boat from the cruise ship to the dock in Juneau. People brought the tours package from the cruise ship got priority to leave. All others have to wait for your turns. So you need to have patient. There are several companies have stand on the dock so you have plenty of choices for land tours. We joined the tour after we got to the dock to Mendenhall Glacier and around the city. It was very informative. There are shops across from the dock so you'll have plenty to choose from. If you drink bottle water, it cost $4 for a litter of Evian on the ship. You should buy them in Juneau. We went to the shirt company store and they them for $1.50 for a litter, pure Alaska Spring water. We brought 5 bottles to hold us to the next port.
Skagway was the 2nd port. It's my favorite. The famous attraction is the White Pass Rail. You can book it on the ship or you can save $15 by buying the ticket at the rail office off the dock. You can book it online at the White Pass Rail website, too. But I don't recommend it since you won't know the weather and the time you dock. So it's better of wait until you get to the port. That's true for all ports. We didn't book any tours until we get to the port so that we can see what options we have & what mood we're in for the activities. If you do want to ride the White Pass rail, it sells very fast so you need to go to the office to buy the ticket after you get up. The ship dock at Skagway so it was easy to walk off the ship into town (a 10 minutes walk) to buy the ticket. Then came back to the ship to have breakfast. We had a balcony room so we can see the rail station from the ship. There are only 850 residents in Skagway. Cruise passengers pour from 4 ships and cover the tin town by thousands. Skagway is still pretty even with all the touristy shops.
Ketchikan was the last port.
It was rainy & windy. We didn't feel like doing anything. Good that we didn't
book any tour ahead of time. The Totem Heritage Center and Salmon & Eagle Center
are only 20 minutes walk from the dock. It was nice to see the native works
there. Creek Street is pretty where you can see Salmon. We didn't stay in town
for long. We went back to the ship, so as many others. The ship dock is right in
town so you're only 20 ft. away from the shops.
Foods: Food on the ship is good, but not great. Formal dinners have better food than nights. The Italian dinner is server with rice rather than pasta, which was kind of odd. It's not on the menu but you can order Alaska Salmon every night if you want.
Room: Our room is on deck 9 port side toward the center with balcony. It was worth it to have a balcony. I can't imagine staying at a inside room. The room was good size with a tiny bathroom. There is a shower stall, no tub. Room and the ship have every nice wood detail decorations. I was very impressed. With the balcony, you can stay outside to see the glacier & the port. When you get cold, you can go back to the room.
Ship movement: I definitely feel the ship rocking when we sail at high speed or it was windy. We hit a storm with 25 ft. wave. It was rocking left & right. The amazing thing was that we had the Gala Midnight Buffet at the same time. The ice sculptures stood still while we went through the storm. Any that one stormy night, we didn't feel anything anymore even we had rough sea. If you have motion sickness, take the pill and still go on the cruise. Don't worry about it.
Vancouver: Our cruise sail round trip out of Vancouver. We flew from Boston to Vancouver, waited for an hour to clear Canada custom at the Vancouver airport along with thousands of passengers. Then an hour later, we had to wait at the cruise terminal for 2 hours to clear the American custom before boarding the ship. We didn't go anywhere but had to go through custom twice. I wouldn't do that again. I recommend you to fly to Anchorage from any U.S. city. Take the south bound cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver or Seattle to avoid the long custom line.
Vancouver is a beautiful city. If you have time, you should spend 2-3 days before or after the cruise. Take a day tip to Victoria. It is really a pretty garden city. We stayed at Vancouver for 3 days. Take a day trip to Victoria by the Pacific Coach bus. It was $59/person for the bus & the ferry. It was a 3 1/2 ride each way from Vancouver to Victoria. So you need to leave Vancouver early. You can see the bus schedule on the Pacific Coach bus website. If you don't mind spending, you can take a tour from Vancouver to Victoria, it cost about $100.
Cruise is not for everyone. The average age on my cruise is about 45. There are a lot of retired people on the ship. There are some younger passengers as well. It's very relaxing & slow pace. I felt tight up after 1 day at sea. I couldn't wait to get on land in Juneau even there were a lot to do on the ship. So if you are go-go person, this cruise is not for you. To pass time at sea, I climb the rock wall (never claim it before). It was fun and tiring. You can have another big meal after the climb. Overall, it was a good trip. We saw glaciers, killer whales, salmons. Wish we had more time on each port.