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morgan5

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About morgan5

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Arkansas
  1. Thank you both for the feedback! I wasn't even thinking about the holiday decorations, so the Riverside does sound like a good option for us.
  2. Staying 2 nights pre-cruise in FLL. December 28-30. After searching for the right hotel the last couple of weeks, I realize that this is a crazy time to be a tourist in FLL! I thought I was shopping early, but apparently not early enough. Several places are already showing sold out. So far I have reserved 3 free cancellation hotels that are all around the same price range $250-$300 a night. We are a family of 2 adults and 2 older teens (boy & girl) and would prefer a suite or 1 bedroom type of room. We do not want a 2 queen room (no one will get any sleep if we do that). Ideally 2 rooms would be perfect, but the prices during December don't justify that, and I don't want to be out in Plantation. Residence Inn Il Lugano (King studio w/sofa bed) Element Hotel downtown (Executive suite) *new hotel opening in August Riverside Hotel downtown (Tower king room w/sofa bed) My question is what do you think would be best taking into consideration traffic and crowds? Are there any other hotels we should look at? I looked at some of the hotels on 17th street area, but I was hoping for a little more ambiance and character. The free day we have before boarding the ship will probably be spent decompressing and vegging out by a pool or water view somewhere. We will also not have a car so relying on uber. I see that the Residence Inn Il Lugano is a bit removed from the hustle/bustle, and even though the uber will cost more to and from FLL and the port, I do like the idea of being away from some of the craziness. Will it be hard to get to the port on Sunday morning, Dec. 30th from Il Lugano? TIA! Sorry my post is so long! I've been a lurker of this forum for a while. Great information!
  3. Whale right in front of boat. I can't remember where this was, but we were leaving Hobart Bay and heading to Petersburg that evening. The ship stopped for the whale show. That's all the pics I have for now. Quality isn't that good, because I was just using my phone.
  4. The ship docked in Hobart Bay.
  5. The ship nosing up to a waterfall in Tracy Arm.
  6. OP here. I tried to attach several photos from our trip, but I can only seem to attach 1 at a time, so here it goes.
  7. I'll try and post some pics, once we get them uploaded. (May be a while). Sorry about all the typos in my last post. I should have waited to reply when I wasn't on my phone. There was some downtime. However, my kids are perfectly happy reading, playing games, etc.. So it wasn't a problem. I thought it was the perfect mix of active vs inactive time. Sometimes kids (my son especially) can get into overload if the day is filled with non-stop activities. The ship had a game cabinet in the lounge with about a dozen different games. My kids tried out a lot of them. All of the kids on the boat liked hanging out in the lounge, playing a game and sitting at the bar asking for Shirley temples 1 right after the other. Now that Alaskan Dream has some designated family cruises, I would think that you could book one of those cruises with any age kids (even on the younger side like yours). I would imagine that most of the passengers on those itineraries would be families, and that there would probably be a few more activities incorporated to keep the kids busy. On our cruise, there weren't a lot of kids-only activities. One of the deckhands, Gordon, was great with the kids, and he spent an hour or so 1 day showing them how to tie knots. There was also the polar plunge, which all the kids did. Otherwise, all activities were for the group, adults and kids. So, the family cruises would probably have a few more kids-only things.
  8. Rjm11, my kids are 10 and 12. I wouldn't say there is a minimum on the age that should go because that depends on the child and his/her personality. Personally, we could have taken a trip like this when outlets daughter was 6 or 7, but our son being a little bit more rambunctious, 9 probably would have been the minimum for him. Keep in mind that the majority in these cruises are older folks, not elderly, but it seemed that the bulk of passengers were between 50 and 70. So, you would probably feel more at ease if you didn't have a 5 year old running around the ship knocking people over :-) We did look at Innerse as well, and their activities did look great, but we chose Alaskan Dream for 3 reasons... First price. Alaskann Dream was quite a bit less than innersea. We booked almost a year out and received a good discount over the regular fare. They also had an additional discont for children. Second, Alaskan Dream went to Glacier Bay, which I really wanted to go to. I couldn't get an Innersea itinerary to work for us that included Glacier Bay. And lastly I was drawn to Alaskan Dream's connection with the locals and the natives. If I'm not mistaken they are the only cruise company actually based in Alaska. We had 2 cabins. We put mom and daughter in 1 and dad in son in the other. Keep in mind the cabins are not connecting. We did it this way because my daughter (12) was not keen on sharing a room with her brother. Also my son sleepwalks, so we thought it best for dad to be with him. As far as food, the chef came out on the first night and said that he could make lots of other dishes for the kids (hamburgers, grilled chess, Mac n cheese,etc). So if they didn't want anything on the menu, just to ask. I think I answered all your questions. I'm on my phone so I can't see your post once I start typing. If I didn't, I'll post some more later. Happy planning!
  9. dfb - On the morning of day 1 (about 8:30am), someone from the cruise will come to your hotel to pick you and your luggage up. You will have tags to put on your luggage with your cabin # on them. They will take you to their hospitality room at the Centennial Harrigan Hall (downtown). Here they will have some coffee, rolls, donuts, and other snacks. They will brief you on how the morning will go. They will take your luggage separately to the ship. With our group we went to the Bishop House, the Sheldon Jackson Museum and then the Cathedral. It was a little loose where we didn't have to go to these places at the exact same time as others, but we could if we wanted to. At any time we could go back to the hospitality room to get a drink, snack or sit. After these morning stops, we were to meet at the dock at 1pm right by the hospitality room to board their tour boat for the sea otter and wildlife quest. Once on this boat, they fed us lunch (wraps, pasta salad, chips and brownies). This tour lasted about 2 1/2 hours. We met up with the Admiralty Dream about 3:30pm. Not sure why the change on your itinerary, but regardless you will have a great time. 1 of the crew members was talking about Red Bluff and Lake Eva and they sounded nice, so they must go there occasionally. Have fun!
  10. I found very little information about small ship cruising in Alaska prior to our trip, so I thought I would post a review about our week on board the Admiralty Dream with Alaskan Dream Cruises. It was wonderful! We are a family of 4, so we had 2 rooms right next to each other on deck 3 of the Admiralty Dream. Rooms were cozy, but plenty of storage for everything, and beds were incredibly comfortable. Bathroom took a little getting used to. One of those multi-task bathrooms :-) All excursions were included! In fact at the end of our trip we received our on board account bill and were surprised at how little it was. All sodas were included, and a beer or wine with dinner was also included. We started our trip a couple of days early in Sitka and thoroughly enjoyed everything to do in this town. Highlights were the Raptor Center, the historic totem park, the Sitka Summer Music Festival, and the Sheldon Jackson Museum. Most fun for my son was a float plane ride with Ken of Air Sitka down to a lake where he learned to fly-fish. We stayed at the Fly-In Fish Inn in Sitka and loved this place! We ate dinner here every night as well. Great restaurant. Day 1: Sitka - Included in the cruise was a walking tour of Sitka. In the morning they guided us to the Bishop's House, St. Michael's Cathedral, and the Sheldon Jackson Museum. Prior to boarding the ship, the cruise line arranged a sea otter and wildlife tour around Sitka on 1 of their tour boats. This was great and we saw tons of sea otters and even a whale. The tour boat met up with our ship in a calm bay and we walked off the tour boat right onto our ship. Our luggage was waiting in our rooms. We had a social hour in the lounge with food and drinks where everyone become acquainted with each other. Afterwards was dinner. (Food was exceptional the entire trip). An educational program followed dinner. Day 2: Glacier Bay - We had a gorgeous warm sunny day. The ship was able to spend the entire day in Glacier Bay. We picked up a native Tlingit and a park ranger early in the morning. They both stayed on board until 8:30pm, so they had breakfast, lunch and dinner with us. They both led many different talks and activities with us, as well as narrate where we were going. The park ranger spent some time with the kids as well. We went through a few of the inlets and bays that the big ships don't go through. Of course we stopped for a very long time at Marjorie Glacier. Saw several calvings. Saw some of the other glaciers as well. Throughout the day we saw just about every type of wildlife from grizzly bears to whales to puffins to seals. The day ended with a stop at Bartlett Cove (the Glacier Bay visitor center). Here we were able to get off the ship and explore the area and take a walk. Day 3: Juneau - Today was our only really rainy day, but we still had a great time. Our guides took us to Mendenhall Glacier. We had ample time there and were able to hike to Nugget Falls. After Mendenhall, guests had a choice of either a whale watching tour or the Mt. Roberts tram. Even though the whale watching was probably the more popular choice, we opted for the tram because that is what our kids wanted to do. We were lucky and were able to see everything when we got up there. After we were finished and were ready to head back down, it had clouded up and we couldn't see much though. After the tram we had lunch at the Hangar (paid for by the cruise), and then had some time to stop by the Taku Salmon fishery and do a little shopping. The highlight of this day was going to Orca Point Lodge. After Juneau, we sailed for about 45 minutes to Colt Island. At the Orca Point Lodge we had a King Crab feast. It was fabulous! The setting was beautiful. The rain had cleared. The kids were able to play on the beach, and there is a touch tank. My son spent 45 minutes feeding the sea urchins. After dinner there was a campfire with s'mores. A great night! Day 4: Tracy Arm - Truly spectacular. Our ship anchored about a mile or so from Sawyer Glacier. We then took the inflatable boat over to the glacier. We were able to get really close. We saw some great calving. Some even saw a shooter (ice shooting out of the water). The inflatable boat was able to maneuver over to inspect some blue ice, seals and different types of birds. After spending all morning at the Sawyer Glacier, we slowly sailed out of Tracy Arm stopping at a couple of waterfalls. The boat was able to get so close that we could feel the spray. Day 5: Hobart Bay - This is an Alaskan Dream exclusive. The entire day is spent kayaking, riding zegos and riding atv's. We did all 3. We were able to see bears, otters, seals, and eagles. Guides were with us all the time and were able to narrate and point things out. We also learned about the different flora and fauna that grows in Alaska. A fun day! As we were sailing away from Hobart Bay we encountered many humpback whales. The ship stopped so we could watch the show. The captain then slowly followed them, and we watched them for literally several hours. They were all around us. Sometimes they were so close we could feel the spray from their blow holes. Quite a sight! Since it was getting late, and the kids needed to get to sleep, we laid in bed with the window open and could still see and hear the whales as we went to sleep. Day 6: Petersburg - A local took us on a tour of the town and led us on a walk through a bog. It was the 4th of July so we watched their parade and were able to watch and even participate in many of their downtown activities. Favorites were the log rolling, boot stomp and the duck race. The highlight was the fireworks show that evening. Quite fantastic show for such a small town. Day 7: Kake - We spent several hours in this small village. We watched a master totem carver, saw the tallest totem pole, watched a local Tlingit dance, and visited a salmon hatchery. At the salmon hatchery we watched a mother black bear with her 2 cubs for quite a while playing in the woods and in the creek. Day 8: Disembarked in Sitka Just a couple of notes: We have been on big cruise ships before in the Caribbean, and after this small ship cruise, both of our kids said it was by far their favorite trip and they liked it much better than the big ship. That is saying a lot! We won't ever go on a big cruise ship again. On our ship the entire time was a Tlingit guide and an exploration leader. Between the 2 of them, we learned so much. Every night there was a program in the evening to learn about whales or bears or the Tlingit culture. The cruise line now has designated "family" cruises. When we booked our cruise last year, they did not offer this. There were 5 kids on our boat ranging in ages of 10-13. They all had a great time. I would highly recommend this type of cruise for families if your kids are a little older and enjoy learning about new things and don't mind having no tv or internet access.
  11. morgan5

    Joe upton "Explore Alaska" DVD

    Saw this on amazon. Anyone have this? Wondering if it's worth buying. It's a DVD and map, not the book.
  12. morgan5

    Admiralty Dream

    I noticed no one has responded to your questions. I don't know all of your answers, but I thought I would chime in because we have a cruise booked on this boat for next year as well. We chose the 8 day for 2 reasons: time off from work and cost. I have not booked Plane tickets yet, but looking at this summer's fares, it is pretty pricey to fly in and out of Sitka. It may not be much more $, and maybe even less to fly into 1 port and out of another. Having an extra 5 days might be nice, but if it were me, I wOuld probably opt for the 8 day, and then have some extra days onland somewhere. Maybe take the ferry to a stop that your cruise didn't go to. Just a thought. In regards to cabins, when I called Alaskan Dream, the gentleman I talked to was very helpful with cabin descriptions. He advised me that categories B and C are above the engine room and have no windows. Category A is on the upper deck. They are about 95 square feet, have a large window, and they have an outside entrance. AA cabins are actually 1 deck below A, a large window, are a few feet bigger and have interior entrances. There are 2 additional AA cabins on the upper deck next to the owners suite. One has an outside entrance and 1 has interior entrance. They have a slightly different floor plan due to their shape. That's about all I know. I didn't ask about the AAA's or the suites. I do know that all cabins are small and minimal features (like most small ships). Hope this helps a little. Maybe someone else will post that knows more. I did find a nice article and Photos of the ship on the USA today small ship Alaska article they featured last month. You can google it online and find it if you haven't already.
  13. morgan5

    Small ship? mid-size? or just land tour?

    Sorry to pull up an older thread, but I'm the OP, and I wanted to thank everyone on this thread and the hundreds of others I read in the last few months. We have finally made our decision and are extremely excited to be booked on an Alaskan Dream cruise for next summer. We involved our tween age kids in the decision, and showed them the options and differences between the HAL round trip Vancouver we were considering and the 8 day round trip Sitka on Alaskan Dream. In the end the kids were excited about the small boat. Even though there will be no kid Planned activities, and maybe even no other kids onboard, they are so looking forward to kayaking, whale watching, a carving demonstration, s'mores campfire in Juneau, just to name a few. It is more $ than the HAL cruise, but they are offering an early bird discount right now, and they do discount for kids. In the end, it probably won't be much more than the HAL cruise, because we would have spent quite a bit for excursions on HAL. We won't spend anything on excursions on Alaskan Dream. Thanks again for everyone's comments. We'll report back afterwards. Now We just have many months to wait!
  14. morgan5

    Alaskan Dream Cruises

    Thanks for all of your insight. When I start looking to book flights, I'll have a better idea of what I'm looking for now, and we'll plan to arrive 1-2 days in advance. I wish we didn't have 11 months to wait now!
  15. morgan5

    Alaskan Dream Cruises

    After much debate going back and forth between a HAL cruise and this Alaskan Dream cruise, we are going to splurge and go for the Alaska Dream cruise round trip Sitka, next summer 2013. Very excited! My question is, how are most of you getting to Sitka? We are from the midwest, so we have lots of connections to make in order to get there. Are any of you flying to Seattle or Juneau for a long overnight layover, and then flying the next day to Sitka? What about flying to Juneau and taking the ferry to Sitka? Is that even a possibility. It seems to be a little less $ to fly to Juneau. Just curious on the logistics of getting in and out of Sitka, and what most of you are planning transportation wise. Thanks for any tips!
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