Friday, July 14, 2017

Alaska Cruise Final Thoughts and Tips

 The last day of our Alaskan cruise would take us through the Inside Passage, the narrow route that extends from the Alaskan coast line down into Canada. This route can be scenic because the ship's are close to land rather than just boring ocean. But on this day the weather would choose to obscure the mountains with a thick cloud cover and an occasional drizzle that kept the majority of people indoors.

  As I've mentioned before, sea days are not my favorite but we did make the best of it. It was, after all, our last day aboard the Radiance of the Seas. Misty spent a little time in the casino where she was entertained and didn't lose a lot of money. This fact of course makes me happy. We also participated in two, yes two rounds of trivia. The crew put on multiple trivia games throughout our days on board and we took advantage as often as we could. We put in solid performances at each game but our last game would be our best. We won that round and ended up taking home half a dozen Royal Caribbean hats as our prize. The hats were the best of the prizes we had seen so far. Much better than the pens and zipper pulls they gave out earlier. 
  We ended the night watching our singing comedian for the second time of the week and like before, he did a pretty good job. We hit a few shows during the week but not as many as we had during our cruise to the Caribbean a few years ago. I believe the reason for this ended up being the time zone. In Alaska we lost an hour due to the time zone and while it shouldn't have been a big deal it seemed like we were constantly tired during this cruise. While in the Caribbean the time zone was more in our favor and staying up for the later shows didn't seem to phase us. In the end it didn't really matter because we had a great time and we enjoyed the shows that we did make it to.

  Now that I've been on a few cruises, each with a different cruise line, I feel comfortable giving a few tips on what I think may help you on your next or even your first cruise.
  First, book early. In order to feed thousands of people they have to split dining times. On this cruise the dining times were 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm. The earlier dinner time slot was already filled so we had to eat at 8:00 or we could skip the more formal dining experience and try the pay restaurants. For some the late dining time may not be a problem but to me I didn't like waiting that long for dinner and by the time the meal was finished we ended up going right up to bed. It's all up to your preferences but if you want a choice in the matter, book early.
  Breakfast can also be a problem. The hours of the buffets vary from ship to ship but you'll be fighting for a seat if you don't get up early. Being early risers this wasn't a problem for us but on sea days it didn't seem to matter what time you showed up. If your group is small (under 4 people) you will have an easier time finding a seat. There were eight of us and it proved to be challenging on some days to get us all together. 

  When it comes to excursions we take advantage of the cruise line's web sites. You can see exactly what excursions are offered at each port of call and you can book them for your group right there in the comfort of your home long before your departure date. You can still book excursions once you're on the ship but you risk not getting the excursions or time slots that you want because they had already been booked. We booked an excursion on all but one of our stops on line months in advance to make sure we got what we wanted. We managed to book our whale watching tour at Icy Strait Point on the ship just two days before we arrived and it worked out but I wouldn't recommend waiting to book if you know there is an excursion you really want to experience.
  You will not be able to use cash on the ship. Period. Your room key is attached to your credit card and is your lifeline on the ship. Depending on where in the world you are cash will work in port but not on the boat. 
  If you want to save money stay in an inside cabin. A balcony is nice but they are more costly. If you can handle spending time on the upper decks when you want to see the sea then I would save the cash and skip the balcony. We spent the same amount for four people to stay in our inside cabin as others spent for two people in a balcony room. 
  Airplane mode on the phone. You're in international waters so if you choose to make phone calls or you need to send text messages know that it's going to cost you. Turn your phone off or keep it on airplane mode while on the ship. When you are in port in Alaska you can use your phone because you are in the U.S. (depending on your phone plan.) This won't apply when you're cruising outside the United States, however. Disney Cruise Line supplies their rooms with two cordless phones that allow you to talk with your kids (or whomever you're traveling with) while on the ship. This fills in great when you can't use your cell. Too bad other cruise lines haven't picked up on this perk.

  Well there it is. The end of our trip to Alaska. I started missing it the moment I got off the ship. I don't know when I'll return to this beautiful state but I know I'll get back up there soon. Hopefully by Jeep rather than a cruise ship, though. Regardless of which cruise line you choose I would urge you to go to Alaska. It may not be as warm or glamorous as the Caribbean but I don't think you will find a more scenic cruise anywhere.

Brandan  
   
 

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