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OCD Planner's Live ALASKA Photo Trip Report 16 day Cruise Tour aboard Radiance

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did you enquire about the optional land excursions that are available ? I am particularly interested in the kenai Fjords tour in Seward..not sure if it is available through the land excursion.

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Geez, I'm gone a couple of days, and I have to read three pages to catch up! I know, I know, I'm a slacker! Glad you got off to a great start. As a fellow OCD planner, I'm freaking out that I'm missing something, but I try to remember just to breathe....

 

I second all of Cindy's tips and recommendations for saving money on flights, hotels, etc. We got the Alaska credit card, too. We did not end up using any coupons from Toursaver or Northern Lights, but sometimes that'll happen depending on what you want to do. However, we're using points from our BoA card to pay off anything we put on our card; you can use the points just like cash. We didn't get the RCI card because we're not sure if we'll get to another cruise....

 

For those who tip, the best advice I saw for Alaska excursions - especially because they're so expensive - is to figure "about" $5-10 per person for shorter tours, and $10-20 a person for longer tours (like half day or longer). Excursions can be high because they need to cover the costs for fuel, maintaining planes, etc., but if you guesstimate the "service" portion of the excursion cost, it comes out much more manageable than a straight percentage of the total tour cost.

 

Hope that makes sense! Cindy, see you on the ship in FIVE DAYS!!! :D

 

Miss 9256

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Is it 1100? Because we have it in 4 MORE WEEKS! So excited to see this thread!!

 

Masonpips: You are in for a real treat!! We had 1100 on the Radiance in 2011 for our Alaska cruise!! Enjoy!!

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#2. I have reserved Glacier Brew House in Anchorage for dinner at 8:30PM but train doesn't get in until 8. I'm thinking we will eat dinner on train and cancel reservation and go to brewery for beers only when we get there.

 

I had thoughts of using the train from Seward to Anchorage and then getting to the airport for a flight. Numerous people advised me that the line to get a taxi can take more than 30 minutes and getting your luggage could take some time too. We are renting a car and making the drive from Seward with a one way car rental.

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Good Morning! Thanks for taking time to follow along and to ask questions. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge.

 

First of all, you will get all kinds to responses to your tipping question. In the US, it is customary to tip at all dining venues (except fast food where you order at the counter then go back to pick up your food). The minimum amount that is considered for good service is 15% of the cost of the meal before taxes are added. For great service you would tip 20%.

 

I posted the picture of the suggested amounts to tip the RCI tour guides, drivers, etc. in my last post.

 

The hotels normally leave an envelope for the person who takes care of your room... that is something new to us and I wasn't sure how much to tip but did $5 for the night.

 

If you go on small group tour they usually have a tip jar at the front of the bus or van. If they continually harp on giving them tips - for me, their tip goes down. We usually tip $5 per person for a longer tour and $5 a couple for something short. I've read on CC in Alaska to tip 10% of the tour cost, however some of the tours are $250-$500 per person... that is not normal for me & I don't plan to tip an extra $50 on top of a huge amount I've already paid for their services.

 

You are correct, in that no meals are included in the RCI land portion. We will be on the train this morning and I will try my best to get picture of the menu and post it later tonight. I did see one yesterday when we met with our tour guide, Cam. He said since they serve food on board the train you are asked not to bring food onboard from elsewhere. I saw that the cheapest breakfast item was oatmeal for $6 and I think the most expensive was a skillet breakfast for around $14-15.

 

Maybe this will get you started. I'll try to find more answers as we go along.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

 

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

It seems tipping is going to be a bit of a hit & miss for us, remembering to tip is going to be the hardest thing. :)

 

Life over here is much less complicated - all prices for goods & services in Australia are as ticketed or advertised. No surprises at the check out with additional taxes & no tips expected as they get paid I believe a higher wage, so no need to rely on tips to make ends meet (although often hoped for I'm sure).

 

Luckily from our past experience many years ago on a trip to the US we know the portion sizes are often way oversized, so we can easily order 1 meal & share to save some dollars that way.

 

I don't recall tipping back then though, mostly because we stayed with friends so didn't encounter baggage handlers, hotel staff etc etc.

 

So do I need to carry a whole heap of small $1 & $5 dollar notes to tip?

I'd assume asking for change from a $20 when you want to tip $5 isn't the done thing when tipping?:confused:

 

Thanks!

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Great review Cindy!! I notice you are in a short sleeve shirt. What are your temperatures?

 

I booked our air reservations on Southwest in February this year for our July cruise. I booked with them to avoid luggage charges. We fly into Seattle and take a shuttle bus to Vancouver. Cost of the airline tickets is $260, shuttle $110. Return trip on Jet Blue out of Anchorage $722.00 to Austin. One bag flys free on Jet Blue as well as one carryon. Like Southwest cancellation policy that you can cancel and use your credit for a future flight one year from the date of the original booking.

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Love your pictures. Post one each day of what you are wearing so we can see how you mix and match. Bravo on the packing.

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I had thoughts of using the train from Seward to Anchorage and then getting to the airport for a flight. Numerous people advised me that the line to get a taxi can take more than 30 minutes and getting your luggage could take some time too. We are renting a car and making the drive from Seward with a one way car rental.

 

Can you tell me how much the car costs? There will be five of us so the train may be too much and the car a little cheaper.

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Cindy,

 

Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. We are planning an Alaska cruise but it will not be until 2015. Although that's still two years away I can tell that there are SO man more details to arrange un comparison to other trips or cruises.

 

There will be a party of 8 in our group---all family members-- but since I am the OCD in our bunch guess who they rely on to make the arrangements? I really enjoy the planning almost as much as the trips themselves and I can already see this thread will be a tremendous asset. Over the past few days there have been many times I have carried the iPad to my wife to share information and pictures

 

You are doing an incredible job sharing and I can't thank you enough as I begin gathering information to plan our trip. Thanks again and I hope you have a GREAT trip!

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OK I am along for the trip too :) Thank you so much for the INCREDIBLE job you are doing! We are on Radiance Aug. 30th, and love living vicariously thru you right now and all your planning and advice. Looking forward to future postings, thank you so much, Kathy

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Wow! I take a little personal time off to take an excursion & you guys bombard me with questions :)

 

We had great day today! It's 11:44pm and i just showered and climbed in bed and am taking advantage of the free WiFi. I will try to answer everyone's questions as best I can with what I know so far.

 

If you have asked questions that I do not know the answer to yet, I will try to find out tomorrow or whenever I come across the answer during our cruise tour.

 

I'm HOPING to get some pictures uploaded tonight and post about what we did today. But first I'l try to answer a few questions!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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We did the Alaska cruise tour in 09 and found the food on the train to be very good and reasonably priced. Good size portions too. There is something romantic and nostalgic about eating a nice meal on a train as the beautiful Alaskan scenery passes by.

 

I couldn't agree more after having experienced it. I'm glad that we skipped the buffet at the hotel and choice to do the dining on the train. We plan to have lunch on the train tomorrow afternoon and dinner the following night.

 

 

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I was hoping I could read your review without asking any questions because I am sure you would cover everything. But, after reading the tour schedule, I think I may have booked a few activities that might be cutting the times close.

#1. My party of 8 wants to upgrage to Tundra Wilderness tour. How hard is it to upgrade, are the upgrades limited?

#2. I have reserved Glacier Brew House in Anchorage for dinner at 8:30PM but train doesn't get in until 8. I'm thinking we will eat dinner on train and cancel reservation and go to brewery for beers only when we get there.

#3. I have tickets for the Anchorage Museum and Planaterium for the next morning. We will set out our luggage and leave about 7:00AM and walk to Dark Horse Coffee Company, enjoy breakfast then get to museum at 9AM and leave at 11:30AM to walk back to Marriot to board bus. I really thought we would have more time in Anchorage.

#4 Last morning at Seward Windsong, we have 8:15 AM exit glacier hike lasts for 2 hours, we should be back by 11:15 for bus, but if not I thought we could take shuttle. We will be in Seward July 4 and 5 and I am not sure how crowded it will be with the annual race up the mountain. Does this sound doable?

#5. Are there laundry facilities at any of the lodges and hotels?

#6. Can you check to see if Radiance has new dining menus? I read that it was suppose to be implemented on May 24.

Thank you for your wonderful review. You are putting my planning uncertainties at ease.

 

Ok I can answer some but not all yet, according to only my personal experience as of today:

 

#1. They will ask you on the train on your way to Denali who wants to upgrade. I think it is probably pretty much unlimited as they place a call to the park and tell them how many will be on the NHT and TWT. We didn't do either and instead went on our own on the Eielson (pronounced: I'll-sun) shuttle. It costs an additional $59 per person to upgrade from the NHT to the TWT. We did the shuttle for $33.50 each and got further into the park.

 

#2. Sounds like a plan. You could probably still be at the Brewhouse by 8:30 if you take a taxi should you decide you want to keep your original plans.

 

#3. Anchorage is pretty tight. We probably won't do anything the night we arrive other than go to the hotel. We do have plans for that next morning before we leave though.

 

#4. We have the same excursion booked thru the hotel. I think that we should be back to the hotel in time for the transfer. If not we'll see if the hotel offers a free transfer or worse case scenario take a taxi... I'll let you know how it works out.

 

#5. I called ahead for Seward Windsong Lodge, Hotel Alyeska & Anchorage Marriott and none of them offered self-serve laundry. Seward & Anchorage both told me there are laundromats in town but are quiet a ways away from the hotel.

 

#6. Yes, I will let you know about the menus once we are onboard.

 

Thanks for taking time to read my review and ask questions. If you think of anything else, feel free to ask!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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did you enquire about the optional land excursions that are available ? I am particularly interested in the kenai Fjords tour in Seward..not sure if it is available through the land excursion.

 

Hi! I do not have a printed copy of the excursion list. Our particular cruise tour (#13 pre) includes a 3 hour Kenai Fjords tour. I know there is a 5 hour tour also, but not sure if RCI offers it, or if you have to book that one independently.

 

I will try to get a list of the excursions offered and the prices from our tour director in the next few days.

 

Until then, here is a link for what is shown on the RCI website to give you some idea of prices:

 

http://www.royalcaribbean.com/statichtmlpage.do?pagename=brochure_alaska_land_excursions

 

 

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Cindy, see you on the ship in FIVE DAYS!!! :D

 

Miss 9256

 

Kathi,

 

I'm looking forward to meeting a fellow OCD planner! Maybe we can PLAN to have a drink of the day or a glass of wine :)

 

 

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T

 

So do I need to carry a whole heap of small $1 & $5 dollar notes to tip?

I'd assume asking for change from a $20 when you want to tip $5 isn't the done thing when tipping?:confused:

 

Thanks!

 

 

We generally get $200 in change for our trips. We break it up as follows and use bigger bills to pay for smaller purchases if we need smaller change. I usually take:

 

5 x $10 bills = $50

6 x $ 5 bills = $30

20 x $1 bills = $20

5 x $20 bills = $100

 

Then we have 1's for the porters, room service, drink tips, etc. The fives and or tens for excursion tips and small purchases. And usually we have exceptional service onboard the ship from our waitstaff and stateroom attendant and we generally add cash to the pre-paid tips we've already done when booking our trip. We normally have money left over in the end.

 

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Great review Cindy!! I notice you are in a short sleeve shirt. What are your temperatures?

 

I booked our air reservations on Southwest in February this year for our July cruise. I booked with them to avoid luggage charges. We fly into Seattle and take a shuttle bus to Vancouver. Cost of the airline tickets is $260, shuttle $110. Return trip on Jet Blue out of Anchorage $722.00 to Austin. One bag flys free on Jet Blue as well as one carryon. Like Southwest cancellation policy that you can cancel and use your credit for a future flight one year from the date of the original booking.

 

Well, so far we've experience a great difference in temps just in the 3 days we've been here. The first night we had on short sleeves and jeans & just basically went to the hotel.

 

Saturday in Fairbanks we toured all day in jeans and short sleeves and we were HOT. It got up to 80 degrees on Saturday. We saw lots of people in shorts.

 

Today, on Sunday we were in Denali. I wore tech pants and a Northface long sleeve light weight top and was comfortable. Hubby wore jeans and a short sleeve tech shirt by Under Armor. We both took our 3 in 1 jackets with us. About 4pm or so as we got into higher elevations at the park we put on our fleece jackets. We wore them pretty much the rest of the day. When we returned around 9pm and were standing outside for about 30 minutes waiting on a shuttle it got colder and started misting rain so we pulled out our top coat which is waterproof and it made us much warmer. The high today in Denali was in the 50's.

 

Tomorrow we are going white water rafting at 7:30am and I plan to wear my tech pants with thermasilks underneath and a longsleeve tech shirt with thermasilks and plan to take my 3 in 1 jacket again. Plus we'll have on Gore-tex wet suits over top of everything.

 

 

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Ok, I had high hopes of answering all the questions asked up until this point, but CC is not cooperating and won't let me quote your questions to answer.

 

I had intended to upload at least some pictures from today and post my trip report for today but its now 12:30am & my alarm will be going off at 6:15am. I'll have to be up, dressed, bags outside, have breakfast and be in the lobby for our white-whiter rafting trip by 7:30am :D

 

Tomorrow after we arrive in Talkeetna at 4:45 we have a pretty leisurely night planned so hopefully I can get caught up on what we will have done the last two days. I'm praying that the internet is quick and I can upload the menus from the train and lots of pictures from Denali!

 

 

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Fantastic info so far. We will be visiting Alaska in Aug 2014 and joining Radiance on the 29th southbound then spending 7 days around Vancouver or in the Rockies before re-joining Radiance to continue on to Hawaii.

We have just completed the Sydney to Hawaii TP cruise in 9256 - I think this cruise is also on your wish list. Do it - you won't be disappointed - best cruise ever.

Just like Avalon007 we too are unfamiliar with tipping for everything. We are learning though to carry lots and lots of $1 and $5 notes. Didn't care too much for all the 1c coins we ended up with in Hawaii- they ended up in one of those tip jars.

Wonder if Australians can get an Alaskan Air credit card? We will be flying with them either on the direct flight (red eye) from Honolulu to Anchorage or from LAX depending on how many FF points we have. Virgin Australia has a similar programme - 4 free partner flight sectors per year.

Enjoy.

Hugh

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Well, so far we've experience a great difference in temps just in the 3 days we've been here. The first night we had on short sleeves and jeans & just basically went to the hotel.

 

Saturday in Fairbanks we toured all day in jeans and short sleeves and we were HOT. It got up to 80 degrees on Saturday. We saw lots of people in shorts.

 

Today, on Sunday we were in Denali. I wore tech pants and a Northface long sleeve light weight top and was comfortable. Hubby wore jeans and a short sleeve tech shirt by Under Armor. We both took our 3 in 1 jackets with us. About 4pm or so as we got into higher elevations at the park we put on our fleece jackets. We wore them pretty much the rest of the day. When we returned around 9pm and were standing outside for about 30 minutes waiting on a shuttle it got colder and started misting rain so we pulled out our top coat which is waterproof and it made us much warmer. The high today in Denali was in the 50's.

 

Tomorrow we are going white water rafting at 7:30am and I plan to wear my tech pants with thermasilks underneath and a longsleeve tech shirt with thermasilks and plan to take my 3 in 1 jacket again. Plus we'll have on Gore-tex wet suits over top of everything.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

 

Loving the review so far- you're doing a great job! Is the rafting trip the Canyon Run? My eldest son is doing that one (on his own- the rest of us chickens are seeing Husky Homestead:o) I would love to know what photo ops there are on the raft trip, as he will only have his phone with him to take pictures. I believe they take one at some point? Keep dry!

Alison

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OK I am along for the trip too :) Thank you so much for the INCREDIBLE job you are doing! We are on Radiance Aug. 30th, and love living vicariously thru you right now and all your planning and advice. Looking forward to future postings, thank you so much, Kathy

 

Kathy: we get on the day you get off.....you must come back and tell me all about the latest and the temps for your week!:D

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Hi! I do not have a printed copy of the excursion list. Our particular cruise tour (#13 pre) includes a 3 hour Kenai Fjords tour. I know there is a 5 hour tour also, but not sure if RCI offers it, or if you have to book that one independently.

 

I will try to get a list of the excursions offered and the prices from our tour director in the next few days.

 

Until then, here is a link for what is shown on the RCI website to give you some idea of prices:

 

http://www.royalcaribbean.com/statichtmlpage.do?pagename=brochure_alaska_land_excursions

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

 

Thanks a bunch...didn't know the website listed the land excursions, I was told that land excursions are run by a different company and so RCL doesn't have a lot of control on it....apparently I heard wrong.

 

 

Thanks again....

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Do you think you could post a pic or link to what tactical and technical clothes are? I'm not sure I have heard those terms (I'm picturing fishing type clothes, lol). I have a 21" Ebags TLS Mother Lode Carry On, but I'm not sure it would hold all your items! I would have to try it. But I have to draw the line at using the ship's mystery shampoo in the thing on the wall. Perhaps a JS will have nicer stuff?

 

 

I can't use their shampoo either & most places don't have conditioner which I have to have. So I get a lot of shampoo & conditioner samples so I save them for trips. Good quality shampoo & conditioner and completely free. ;)

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Don't forget the other coupon book: Northern Lights. I found this has more restaurant coupons than Toursaver. I purchased 2 books of each and just between my Denali hotel savings & the savings on the rental car, I've paid for all 4 books!

 

Since you aren't doing this, I thought I'd add a savings tidbit: join the frequent renters club (Avis's Wizard program for instance) for your fav car rental place. We saved I believe about $600 just because DH has a Wizard Club number - and that was for a 1 week rental of a Standard SUV. Also - price out the different rental sites and see what the price difference is. We saved a couple hundred by renting from a downtown Anchorage location as opposed to at the airport.

 

One other money saver: use those frequent stay points! We are staying at the Embassy Suites in Anchorage for 2 nights for FREE! Prices I have seen for that hotel were right around $300/night. Also, if you don't have enough points, consider buying points. We did this for the Holiday Inn Express in Seward and it still came out cheaper than paying the AAA rate (by about $50, not super significant, but enough for a few pints of beer!).

 

Bet you can tell I'm the OCD planner in my house huh? And yes, I too have a binder (AKA bible)!:):D

 

Oh and that frequent flier mile suggestion is GOLDEN! 5 of us are flying first class from Atlanta-Minneapolis-Anchorage and then Seattle-Atlanta for a whopping total of $37.50!!! And if you fly Delta, the frequent flier miles no longer expire! Guess who'll be hoarding miles for our European trip in 4 years???

 

When does the Northern Lights book come out for 2014 and what is the price of that one? Also wheredo you get it from?

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