Just Back - Vision of the Seas 6-30-06

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#1
4 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
We are just back from the 6/30/06 Vision with DH, DS16 and DS13. We had an amazing trip with a little help from these message boards. Alaska was amazing and we each gave the trip a 9 out of 10 review. My 13 year old immediately met a group of about 10 kids, and they were inseparable. We came in a day early and spent the day in Seattle. We stayed at the Westin, which was very comfortable and a great location. Great tip on these message board was to press #55 at the airport and you get a stretch limo for $35 from the airport to downtown with no wait.

Boarded the Vision at 11:30 in the morning. No lines, extremely easy and had lunch on the ship. We had adjoining outside cabins which worked very well. Service on the ship was extremely friendly. No problems of any kind with service.

1st stop was Juneau. My 16 year old and dh went with Coastal Helicopters to glacier and dog sledding. Expensive but well worth it and a highlight of their trip. My 13 year old and I went to Mendenhall glacier, did not realize that this was a free excursion through the cruise line oh well, and then went on the Tram prior to our whale watch with Captain Larry. We had amazing weather the entire cruise. On the tram they said that they only had 5 days of sunshine the entire summer so far. We had great weather the entire trip. On our whale watch with Captain Larry was great. We saw mom and baby whale, sea lions that were a riot and a porpoise. We also saw lots of sleeping whales - who knew? We ate at the Red Dog Saloon which was very good and a lot of fun. Great day in Juneau.
In skagway we took the white pass railroad which was literally right outside our cabin window. This was beautiful especially on a bright sunny day. However, and I hope I am not being politically incorrect, we all fell asleep on the way back as did many others. If we had to do it again, especially with kids, I might chose another excursion such as kayaking or hike and float. Everyone we spoke to loved their excursions no matter what they did.
Icy Straight - we ended up getting off the ship late and walking into town along the waters edge. Beautiful, real Alaska. Everyone was very nice. We ate at the Office Bar, watched them bring the crabs right from the beach to the boiling pots and to our table. Crabs were amazing $15 for one crab or $8 for 1/2. They provide free soup, bread with a delicious crab spread and butter and condiments for free.Did you know this dive bar was ranked as one of the top 10 in esquire magazine? I do wish we did an excursion in Icy straight. Those who went on the brown bear expedition saw 5 bears including mom and two cubs as well as a blonde bear. Others went fishing and caught halibut and salmon that they will smoke or filet and send back to your house for your return.

Next day was cruising the inside passage. Very beautiful and we were all suprised to see how narrow it was in spots. We all agreed that if we had to do it again we would book a cruise that took us into glacier bay and that had a ship naturalist. A ship naturalist from another cruise was on our whale watch and he was a great guy with tons of knowledge. We did not get to see any glaciers calving from the cruise ship. Unfortunately, this was our one big regret.

Final day was in Victoria which is a beautiful city with lots of street performers near the pretty waterfront. We ate lunch at a great pub - the sticky wicket - slow service but good food, and a neat atmosphere and did the royal british museum and the imax movie "whales" which was amazing. The museum is very interactive and interesting.

Just some final thoughts for other first time cruisers.
Don't overthink your excursions like I did- everyone seemed to really like whatever exursions they did.
If you have kids, really encourage them to go to the kids programs. The kids that did had an amazing time. I think a cruise is what you make of it. There is definitely something for everyone and there is no way you won't have a great cruise if you try. Oh well I rambled on long enough, I have about 20 loads of laundry. Will be happy to answer and questions.
#3
Toronto, Ontario
976 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Great review - thank you. We'll be going on our Alaskan cruise with Serenade on Aug. 6. I think, I'm thinking too much about the excursions - want to make everyone happy. My husband and I will be travellling with our 3 children (2 boys 16 and 8 and daughter 13). My children are the active type.

We're seriously considering doing the helicoptor -glacier walk at Mendenhall however, $$$$ but, will it be OK for the 3 children?

We've booked the White Pass Railway in Skagway and the Amphibius duck ride in Ketchikan. I could easily cancel the duck bus ride and put that money (about $160 CDN) towards the helicoptor). Your opinion since you were just there would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
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#4
15,049 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by baseballfan1
In skagway we took the white pass railroad which was literally right outside our cabin window. This was beautiful especially on a bright sunny day. However, and I hope I am not being politically incorrect, we all fell asleep on the way back as did many others. If we had to do it again, especially with kids, I might chose another excursion such as kayaking or hike and float. Everyone we spoke to loved their excursions no matter what they did.
I'm glad you mentioned this, because it has me thinking the 3.5-hour rail/bus combo excursion might be the best choice for us rather than a roundtrip train ride.
#5
4 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Fiveparty - I think any helicopter/glacier walk is probably worth it if you have the $$$$. In our case, my younger son really was not that enthusiastic so we only sent my older son and DH. They had an incredible time and in retrospect I probably should have encouraged my younger son to participate. With the dogsledding adventure you don't get to really walk around on the glacier but you do land on it and dogsled. What a neat life the mushers have. They live on the isolated glacier with no modern day conveniences for 5 days a week with two days off the mountain all summer long. My older son really got to realize how people have different lifestyles.

Nancy, I can't really answer about the train/bus combo. Sounds even longer. I would have liked to rent the car with Avis but they were all sold out.
#6
15,049 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by baseballfan1
Nancy, I can't really answer about the train/bus combo. Sounds even longer. I would have liked to rent the car with Avis but they were all sold out.
Not really - it's a train ride up to Fraser, BC (1-3/4 hours) and a bus ride back, with stops along the way: http://www.skagwaysbesttour.com/summitrail.htm
#7
Plymouth MN
67 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
baseballfan1--

Welcome home!! Thanks so much for your reviews. We are leaving in about 6 weeks for the Vision and we can't wait. I would love to hear more about your activities on the ship and the entertainment!!! We have 5 kids (6-13) and would love to hear more about what your teenagers did. Was your 13 yo allowed in the teen disco at night??? Are there 2 formal and 5 casual dinners? What did your kids wear...I have girls, so maybe not relevent!!!

We are planning kayaking in Juneau, train-hike to Laughton glacier-train in Skagway and biking in ISP. No clue what to do with our kids in Victoria.

Thanks again for your input. We also have connecting balcony rooms and are looking forward to breakfast on the balcony...was it warm enough??

OK..I will stop now as I could keep going. We are getting so excited!!!

MNmom
#8
4 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
MNMom- There were so many activities for the kids. The main hang out place for the teens was "fantaseas". It was a nice hang out area with sofas and was used as a teen club at night. To be honest, I think the older kids would use fantaseas as a base and then go off on their own, playing hide and seek etc. They had "the best" time. The younger kids also seemed like they had a great time. There were two formal nights where my boys wore suits. Most girls wore skirts or dresses. The kids can eat with the other kids on formal night if you want in the Windjammer. This is offered through the kids programs. They also had a talent show, pool party night, karaoke prom night, a variety of games, etc. Regarding entertainment for the adults, there were two or three comedians, a broadway review, a seventies style review, everyone who went to the game show Quest really enjoyed it- we missed that one. The newlywed game was very funny also. Lots of people participated in the games such as sports trivia and name that tune. We were all up till 2 in the morning everynight- there is something for everyone.

The connecting rooms worked out great. I would suggest that you try to arrange meeting times and places throughout the day when on the ship. It is very hard to find everyone. You might want to have a meeting place at the end of the night also so that you can round up the kids that are on their own. Depending on the weather, you may really enjoy your balcony. We had gorgeous weather but I don't think it was typical for that time or year.

Your excursions sound great. I saw a lot of people on the icy straight bike tour but never got to hear a review. In Victoria, it is fun just to walk around the waterfront. you can take a horse and carraige ride. We really enjoyed the Royal British Museum but this can be pricy for your size family.
#9
Plymouth MN
67 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
basballfan1--

I just realized you said you were out until 2am each night....very impressive!! We are also late nighters and I guess I just assumed that the ship was pretty dull after about 10-11pm...especially an Alaskan cruise!! Where did you guys hang out?? We love live music and we also like to dance. What were your favorite lounges? I am beginning to feel a little like the tourguide for our group. My bil and sil are lots of fun too so they were glad to hear there might be some activity at night. Any suggestions?? Thanks

MNmom
#10
122 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
"We're seriously considering doing the helicoptor -glacier walk at Mendenhall however, $$$$ but, will it be OK for the 3 children?"

I just want to say something about helicopter tours. My family has NOT personally taken a helicopter tour on any of the many cruises we've been on, but there's a reason for that. My hubby is a helicopter pilot and flies all day, every day. That's the very last thing he wants to do on vacation. Our family has been on many a flight with him, and when we go on a cruise, we prefer to have different types of experiences.

But, if you have a chance, and can afford a helicopter tour for the entire family, I would strongly encourage you to do it. Your children are the perfect age for it...all three of your kids will love it. We started taking our boys in a helicopter when they were still in diapers, and they have loved every trip they've been able to take.

One other thing: we started taking cruises with our children when they were about 10 and 11 years old. They are now 26 and 27. Be sure they sign up for the camp onboard. We did an Alaskan cruise with our kids 10 years ago and they had penpals from that cruise for years.

We'll be on Vision of the Seas 8/11, so I appreciate all the info posted here. Thanks! Sue
#11
Trumbull, CT USA
333 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
This is my take on the same cruise -

Vision to Alaska
6/30-7/7/06

My daughter, 16, and I had a wonderful time. We flew out of CT the night before and stayed in Seattle at the Red Lion South. Not my favorite place, they originally put us on the 2nd floor and they have no elevator, and we had lots of luggage. I sent my daughter to the room with the biggest piece, and she came back and told me there was no bed! After I made sure it wasn’t April Fools, I went to the front desk and firmly requested a room on the 1st floor with a BED! Request granted.

We left for Terminal 30 around 11:30 and were there before noon, and in the Windjammer by 12:30. This was the easiest embarkation we’ve had yet, very quick and organized. Just make sure you go up the right ramp when boarding, I was half way to HAL before I realized my mistake. We ate and went to our cabin at 1 pm, and our luggage was already there! We were in outside cabin 4536, right next to the stairs and elevator, and down the hall from the dining room. Great location. Our room steward was Ornelio, and he was the best ever! He always worked around our schedule, and even let us keep our bags in the cabin until 9 am before disembarking. He got an extra tip and a very nice write up.

We left Seattle on deck 10 forward, and the views of Mt Rainier and Mt Baker were fantastic. The Meet and Mingle was Saturday at 12:15, and probably one of the better attended ones I’ve been to. It’s so nice to meet people early on that you see and talk to the rest of the cruise. The Gold C&A gift was a small Vision tote bag.

This was the first cruise that we had late dinner, and it was an excellent choice. We would be in the dining room at 9 pm and the sun was shining like it was noon! We were at table 164, and our original table of 10 ended up being a table of 6. We sat with a couple and their 2 teens, so my daughter and I both had good company. The menu was not much different than other cruises I’ve been on, although the menu referenced fresh Alaska Salmon instead of Norwegian Salmon you see in the Caribbean. We are not food critics, so I would say the dinner in the dining room was more than adequate, and sometimes excellent. I love the scallops and risotto appetizer they serve on Italian night, I ordered 2. My daughter had steak several times and said it was very good. I stuck with mostly fish and was very pleased. Our waiter was Levison, he was not very jovial but took good care of us. Our assistant waiter was much more personable. We ate all of our other meals in the Windjammer, which was standard buffet fare. Because we had late dinner, we usually went to the WJ for tea, which was really a smaller version of lunch. You will never go hungry on a cruise. My daughter had some treats from Café Lattitudes as well. Formal nights were not as formal as I’ve seen on other cruises, and casual nights were very casual.

We had absolutely gorgeous weather. Every day was sunny and in the mid to upper 70s, except for the day we cruised the inside passage, which was cloudy and in the low 60s. We brought a whole bag of sweatshirts, heavy shoes, fleece, etc and never opened it. I wore my Crocs all week. People were in the outdoor pool every day. I spent an hour by the pool soaking in the sun and drinking a cold one in Juneau myself.

We did not attend any of the shows this cruise, and only played bingo once. However I did meet Keith Williams the cruise director out on deck the first day, and he remembered me and was very friendly all week. My daughter attended a number of the kid’s activities, and oftentimes they would just end up hanging out and playing cards. She liked Voyager class better as there are more places to “hang out”. I spent most of my spare time in the casino and closed it every night ; if anyone else was there I was the lady playing 3 card poker all week. I ended up $600 ahead, even though I was up to almost $1000 at one point. Lots of big, big slot ($2k-$6k) winners the first 2 days, and the inside passage day.

We booked all our excursions though the ship this time, although you can certainly book locally for a lot less.

In Juneau we went river rafting down the Mendenhall River. It was beautiful, we had great weather, and I got a sunburn. After that we went to Mendenhall Glacier, I could have stayed there several hours just taking in the beauty, but they only gave us an hour on the ship sponsored bus, I’m not sure why. It was so nice out people were swimming in Glacier Lake!

In Skagway we went dog sledding. This was not on a glacier, but on a wheeled cart on a dirt path. The ride itself was pretty short, but we had an interesting talk afterwards by of the mushers, and then a good amount of time with the puppies! The ride there and back was very entertaining, and we had a photo stop or 2. We also took the White Pass Train Midnight Run, and the only word I can use to describe everything was majestic. I would have liked to have gotten off, but that wasn’t offered on this excursion. I slpt on the way bacl also .We were still back in time for dinner.

In Icy Strait we went on the whale watch, and again everything was awesome. We saw about 12-15 whales, lots of sea lions, and bald eagles. We had one whale come right up under the boat, and another breach. My favorite picture is of a sea lion with fish in its mouth and the eagles swooping in trying to steal it!

In Victoria we did not book anything in advance. We took the bus into town and went to the Wax Museum, which was great fun. We also had proper tea at a local tea room, it was only about $25 for 2. Victoria is a beautiful city with lots to see within walking distance.

On Friday we left the ship at about 9:30 and were at our hotel by 10:15. We stayed at the Sleep Inn Seatac, which I highly recommend. We stayed in Seattle until Sunday, and went to the Market, the SciFi Museum and Experience Music Project, and the Space Needle. Another great city to visit.

We thoroughly enjoyed our Alaska cruise, and hope to return someday. The only thing I wish we were able to do was cruise up to the glaciers, maybe next time!
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Alberta

Explorer - Bermuda and Caribbean 6/19/08
Explorer - Bermuda and Caribbean 6/8/07
Vision - Alaska 6/30/06 Vision Review
Voyager - Western Caribbean 6/17/05 Voyager review
Grandeur - Bahamas 7/11/04 Grandeur review
Majesty - Bahamas 8/18/03
SS Oceanic - Big Red Boat 7/93
#12
Warren, MI
111 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Thank you, berd0625, for the wonderful review!!

We'll be on the Vision next Friday, and I can't wait!!!!!!!
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#13
36 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
I think is is amazing how different people view the same cruise! I was the first person the register for the Meet & Mingle and was there also and everytime I tried to talk to someone they looked the other way! We were supposed to have 55 people attend and I don't think there was more than 25, were we at a different party? We got a thing to hang around around our neck with a pen, is that what you got?
We were in a suite on the port side and I do not even remember any clouds in the inside passage. I agree with most of the posters that the people on that worked on the Vision seemed like they all would rather be somewhere else with a few exceptions.
I am really glad you had a good time.
Lisa
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Carnival Tropicale-Cariabbean 6/90
Carnival Ecstasy-Baja California 12/04
Carnival Pride -Baja California 6/05
Vision of the Seas-Alaska 6/30/06
Carnival Fascination 9/2/2013