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Hello all,

 

Wife and I are thinking of doing an Alaska cruise in 2022 (hopefully the world is back to normal by then) and I am looking for some advice/opinions. 
 

I know there is an Alaskan board and I will be seeking their advice as well but the Royal board is kind of my “home” here on CC so I wanted to start here. 
 

Looking for opinions on which itinerary to choose. A north/south route on Radiance or the Seattle round trip on Serenade or Ovation. 
 

Opinions on cabin type? I would love a balcony but they are quite expensive (understandably so) are they a “must?” Will I feel cheated if we do an inside cabin? Again, looking for your opinions (typing that so I don’t get the condescending “we can’t possibly tell you that only you can” responses). 
 

Thanks in advance!

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I am booked on Radiance from Seward to Vancouver next year.  Booked that itinerary because it includes more port time and we are getting to Seward early and exploring.  However, the airfare round trip from Seattle definitely would have been cheaper.

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Posted (edited)

I did a 7 day out of Seattle RT.   Ports were Ketchikan , Juneau, Skagway and Victoria.

disclaimer.  This was a NCL Cruise.  But my post is about getting a balcony.    
7-Day Awe Of Alaska: Glacier Bay & Inside Passage From Seattle "
 

was my first trip to Alaska. And I have to say it was my best cruise as of yet.  
so good I booked another one I should have been on May 2nd. 

I picked this itinerary because of the price as I found a good deal.  
I wanted to be in a balcony because I didn’t want to just have a window to look out of 
and wanted to be able to go out on the balcony early mornings and eat my breakfast away from the crowds.  And also be able to watch the nature float by as we made our way from port to port. My side hobby is photography so I had a nice set up out there both camera and a gopro.  I Goproed the entire cruise. I added one of my videos for ya.   Was very cool watching the ice float by  also had a few bald eagles fly by the room.   Also seen a few whales while being on the balcony.  
its also cool if you have a good neighbor.  Which I did. We had some very cool conversations through out the trip.  We would see each other in the mornings.  And before dinner and sometimes later in the evenings.    But never seen them around the ship. Which was kinda funny.    
If you can spend the few extra bucks and get a balcony.  You have a few years to cruise so save a little here and there for the balcony.  Was well worth it.   
I actually stayed in a mini suite.  Not much of a difference from a regular balcony. 
Another nice advantage was sleeping with the door open.  The sound on the water and the very cool breeze made for some great sleeping.   
 

 

 


 

here’s a video from Skagway.    The White Pass and Yukon excursion.
 

 

 

Edited by Ptroxx

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2 hours ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Hello all,

 

Wife and I are thinking of doing an Alaska cruise in 2022 (hopefully the world is back to normal by then) and I am looking for some advice/opinions. 
 

I know there is an Alaskan board and I will be seeking their advice as well but the Royal board is kind of my “home” here on CC so I wanted to start here. 
 

Looking for opinions on which itinerary to choose. A north/south route on Radiance or the Seattle round trip on Serenade or Ovation. 
 

Opinions on cabin type? I would love a balcony but they are quite expensive (understandably so) are they a “must?” Will I feel cheated if we do an inside cabin? Again, looking for your opinions (typing that so I don’t get the condescending “we can’t possibly tell you that only you can” responses). 
 

Thanks in advance!

Hard to lead you to the right ship and itinerary, Princess and Royal Caribbean have yet to post the itineraries for the 2022 Season.

Advice: Look at all cruiselines, just not Royal Caribbean. I'm sure you can find a balcony in your budget range.

 

If picking a 7 day cruise, pre or post land DIY land tour is nice to add on if only doing a cruise try for a longer cruise if you can do 10-14 days so you get to see more ports.

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We have cruise Alaska on Radiance X2 and Ovation.  Our opinion is that the Ovation is to big for Alaska.  We booked again on Radiance for 2021 as it offers great views from all over the ship and can get into more ports 

including Vancouver.

 

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3 hours ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Looking for opinions on which itinerary to choose. A north/south route on Radiance or the Seattle round trip on Serenade or Ovation. 

Opinions on cabin type? I would love a balcony but they are quite expensive (understandably so) are they a “must?” Will I feel cheated if we do an inside cabin?

I have done two Alaskan cruises, neither of which was one way to Alaska. One was inside and one ocean view (not balcony) cabin. I have also flown to Anchorage and done a round trip 16 day self guided 3000 mile driving trip (camped at Wonder Lake in Denali, drove to Arctic Circle, spent time in the Yukon, ferried across Prince William Sound, etc). 
On board I like to be in the open air on the top deck where I can have a 360 degree view, and I enjoy sharing this with new friends. Personally I save money for the next trips, and truly have few regrets of bypassing a balcony. The money saved has meant I’ve been able to sail to all seven continents.

There is no wrong way for an Alaskan trip, but My OPINION: If this is a one time trip to Alaska take a one way trip and also spend time inland either as part of a tour or on your own (or a combination of both). Yes, the air will be more than for a round trip cruise out of Seattle, but Alaska deserves to be seen from both sea and land. 

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3 hours ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Hello all,

 

Wife and I are thinking of doing an Alaska cruise in 2022 (hopefully the world is back to normal by then) and I am looking for some advice/opinions. 
 

I know there is an Alaskan board and I will be seeking their advice as well but the Royal board is kind of my “home” here on CC so I wanted to start here. 
 

Looking for opinions on which itinerary to choose. A north/south route on Radiance or the Seattle round trip on Serenade or Ovation. 
 

Opinions on cabin type? I would love a balcony but they are quite expensive (understandably so) are they a “must?” Will I feel cheated if we do an inside cabin? Again, looking for your opinions (typing that so I don’t get the condescending “we can’t possibly tell you that only you can” responses). 
 

Thanks in advance!

 

Roundtrip (B2B) on Radiance.  Truly.  If you can swing two weeks, this is your best bet on RC, IMO.

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Thanks everyone for the info. Much appreciated! 
 

A few of you touched on this: if we end our trip in Seward should we do the RC based land tour or do it ourselves?

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Thanks everyone for the info. Much appreciated! 
 

A few of you touched on this: if we end our trip in Seward should we do the RC based land tour or do it ourselves?

I always recommend doing the land  tour prior to the cruise.  Then you have the cruise to relax and an easy flight home. 

Edited by Ourusualbeach

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3 hours ago, Merion_Mom said:

 

Roundtrip (B2B) on Radiance.  Truly.  If you can swing two weeks, this is your best bet on RC, IMO.


Whoa! I hadn’t even thought of that! I’m a teacher so the time off would t be a problem. And if we did inside both trips then it’s pretty much the same as one week in a balcony. 
 

I’ll have to consider this!

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Do a search because this was mentioned about a week ago for someone looking at 2021, you can limit the search to the rccl board if you don't want other cruise lines.

 

Seattle is cheaper for most to get to

Vancouver one ways are good if you want to spend more time in alaska,but cost a lot for as transportation and airfare (excursions, food and hotels are pricey there).

 

If you have only have a week do Seattle

 

The Seattle itineraries have the larger ships with more bells and whistles than the Radiance class, which does not have some of the "fun" items like bumper cars.

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55 minutes ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Whoa! I hadn’t even thought of that! I’m a teacher so the time off would t be a problem. And if we did inside both trips then it’s pretty much the same as one week in a balcony. 

If time is not a problem, you could rent a car for two weeks and catch the ship on its next turn. A week cruise up, two weeks on the road in Alaska and Yukon, and a week cruise back would allow you to see a LOT of the area. A quick check of rental cars in Seward this summer (I couldn’t see prices for next summer) turned up car rentals with unlimited mileage for ~$900 for two weeks. When we flew in years ago (we were in our forties) we brought camping gear and camped most of the time for very little expense, and met lots of Alaskans and lots of travelers and had a great time. Of course I was an experienced camper, but we were camping in formal campgrounds most with hot showers etc, with only minimal experience required. 

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You could even do that on a one Week turn If you sailed different cruise lines opening up a few different ports as well and taking 3 weeks instead of 4. 

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Doing the land portion first does have the advantage of relaxing on the way home but going north on the cruise you experience better scenery each day.  You get up in the morning and see more and more every day.  I would image the other way around would be a little anticlimactic since you saw the best at the beginning.  Going North the excitement builds.  Doing a land package is less stress, but doing your own thing is not difficult.  We got off in Seward, spent a couple of nights there in an awesome cabin, did a bit of sight seeing and whale watching.  Rode the train to Anchorage, rented a car and drove North stopping along the way at our leisure.  Rented another cute little cabin outside Denali park and spent a few days exploring the park.  Continued the drive to the Fairbanks area then flew home from there.  I will say the flight home was a killer and we would probably have been better rested doing it the opposite direction but since you are an educator it's not like you will have to rush back to work!  Either way will be great! It was one of my favorite trips and I am totally not a cold weather person, will pick the beach over mountains typically but I would love to go back at some point.  If you go with an inside cabin at least try to pick one that is strategically located close to an exit to an upper outside deck.  We spent a lot of time on the balcony, but there were also times that we would run outside to have the entire expanse of deck to take in the sights on both sides of the ship. The balcony is great though especially late in the evening with a cup of hot chocolate in pjs just watching the sights go by before bed.  It stays light so long making for even more opportunities to see things than you might realize.   Whatever you decide I am sure you will love it.

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7 hours ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Thanks everyone for the info. Much appreciated! 
 

A few of you touched on this: if we end our trip in Seward should we do the RC based land tour or do it ourselves?

Here is our review. We did the DIY land trip first.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/topic/2552880-reviewradiance-june-2018-southbound/

 

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12 hours ago, TravelerThom said:

There is no wrong way for an Alaskan trip, but My OPINION: If this is a one time trip to Alaska take a one way trip and also spend time inland either as part of a tour or on your own (or a combination of both). Yes, the air will be more than for a round trip cruise out of Seattle, but Alaska deserves to be seen from both sea and land. 

My suggestion on doing the one way trip was to be able to spend 1-2 weeks seeing inland Alaska (and Yukon if time allowed). IF one is able to have the time and money to do inland AND split round trip that should DEFINITELY be considered. Generally air to or from Alaska is a lot more than Seattle, so savings on airfare may cover some of the second cruise fare. Air from the Lower 48 to Vancouver is often much more than air to Seattle. I have arrived in Vancouver by ship and rented a car one way to SEA airport and saved a considerable amount (at the time I could not find a one way drop from central Vancouver, but hopped the Skytrain metro rail from Canada Place cruise terminal to the airport and was good to go). I had allowed time for potential hang ups at the Border crossing, but breezed right through in 5 minutes, so stopped in Everett WA at the Boeing wide body plant and took the tour. And the 3 hour loop on the Washington state ferry from Anacortes out through the San Juan Islands is gorgeous. So many things to see.... ENJOY!

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17 hours ago, TravelerThom said:

My suggestion on doing the one way trip was to be able to spend 1-2 weeks seeing inland Alaska (and Yukon if time allowed). IF one is able to have the time and money to do inland AND split round trip that should DEFINITELY be considered. Generally air to or from Alaska is a lot more than Seattle, so savings on airfare may cover some of the second cruise fare. Air from the Lower 48 to Vancouver is often much more than air to Seattle. I have arrived in Vancouver by ship and rented a car one way to SEA airport and saved a considerable amount (at the time I could not find a one way drop from central Vancouver, but hopped the Skytrain metro rail from Canada Place cruise terminal to the airport and was good to go). I had allowed time for potential hang ups at the Border crossing, but breezed right through in 5 minutes, so stopped in Everett WA at the Boeing wide body plant and took the tour. And the 3 hour loop on the Washington state ferry from Anacortes out through the San Juan Islands is gorgeous. So many things to see.... ENJOY!

Flying into Seattle and then driving to the cruise port in Vancouver is definitely something I have considered. 
 

No problems at the border with it being a rental car? And picking up the car in one country and dropping it off in another?

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Flying into Seattle and then driving to the cruise port in Vancouver is definitely something I have considered. 
 

No problems at the border with it being a rental car? And picking up the car in one country and dropping it off in another?

No issue at all we picked up a car in Vancouver and drove across border to  Portland, Oregon and flew home from there after our our Alaska Cruise. Spent 5 days in the Portland area post cruise.

Edited by Jimbo

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51 minutes ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Flying into Seattle and then driving to the cruise port in Vancouver is definitely something I have considered. 
 

No problems at the border with it being a rental car? And picking up the car in one country and dropping it off in another?

 

Amtrak runs twice a day too, when things are normal, and is a comfy way to get between the two cities!

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Having done both Radiance northbound and Coral Princess southbound, I would encourage you to consider a cruise itinerary that included scenic cruising in Glacier Bay NP, and one big advantage of sailing Princess is you sail from Whittier, not Seward, giving you a very scenic evening on departure as you cruise through Prince William Sound.

 

However if you are absolutely set on RCI, I suggest a either a northbound or southbound cruise, rather than round trip from Seattle. I think on the round trip you sail west of Vancouver Island and not east? I recommend sailing east, its very scenic. You also get (or should get, it was cancelled due to poor weather when I was on Radiance) Hubbard Glacier on a one-way itinerary. If you do one-way, can you afford the time and do some travel on land within Alaska? We had a week with a rental car after our northbound cruise and went as far as Denali. Prior to the southbound cruise we had 5 nights with a rental car and focused on Girdwood/Seward/Kenai Fjords before taking the very scenic train from Anchorage to Whittier the morning of our cruise, then glacier quest small boat cruise in the afternoon before boarding Coral Princess for an evening departure - that was a fabulous day.

 

We had internal cabins on both these cruises, we couldn't afford the balcony on top of airfares from Australia and extra time in Alaska. We didn't regret it - we were very careful in choosing ships with plenty of public outdoor viewing decks, in fact both Radiance and Coral had decent indoor viewing spots too, lots of glass.

 

Hope that helps

Lou

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1 hour ago, BigHouseFootball said:

No problems at the border with it being a rental car? And picking up the car in one country and dropping it off in another?

As long as the rental car company says it’s okay and your contract is written that way, no problem. (Obviously not currently okay, as the the US Canada border is closed for tourists) Whatever company I used (I think Avis) would not authorize an international drop from their downtown Vancouver office, but would from their YVR airport location (YMMV). I probably was doing a return leg on a car that had come up from Seattle. I had an advance reservation and the pick-up, border and drop off all ran smoothly. The Blaine, WA border crossing has been known to have several hour back-ups if the US has heightened alerts for terrorists or drugs, but we were through in less than 5 minutes. 

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Since we are discussing US residents entering Canada:

As a general rule Canada will deny entry to anyone who has a felony conviction. 
Canada considers DUI a felony. If one has a DUI misdemeanor conviction in the US, Canada will still treat that as a felony conviction and deny entry. 
Canada has access to most US conviction records. After 10 years of clean record one can go through a legal process to be allowed entry to Canada. The conviction is not automatically cleared and people have been denied admission for 30-40 year old DUI misdemeanors. 

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12 hours ago, BigHouseFootball said:

Flying into Seattle and then driving to the cruise port in Vancouver is definitely something I have considered. 
 

No problems at the border with it being a rental car? And picking up the car in one country and dropping it off in another?

Here is a DIY pre Land tour we were going to do this July, followed by boarding Radiance of the Seas in Seward.

This will give you an idea what can be done time wise and how far things are in miles apart. This would be by flying into Anchorage on Friday night one week before cruise start date and flying home from Vancouver or Seattle after cruise.

 

Always best to do land tour first before cruise. So you can relax on the cruises and makes for an easier shorter flight home.

 

Friday Night.... Girdwood. AK (Alyeska Resort-1 night) (Wildlife Conservation Center, Williwaw viewing platforms)

Saturday Night.. Palmer, AK ( Half Day Knik Glacier Tour) (Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge - 1 night)

Sunday Night.. Denali National Park (Denali Park Hotel - 2  nights) 

Monday Night.. Denali National Park  (Kantishna Air Taxi Excursion) (Fly-in at 12 noon from Denali Entrance to Kantishna and then Bus back from Mile 92 to Denali Park Entrance) Air and Bus tickets all included.

Tuesday  Night... Anchorage, AK (Anchorage Grand Hotel 1-night ) 

Wednesday Night.. Seward, AK (Train from Anchorage to Seward) (Shuttle to Exit Glacier. Visit the SeaLife Center) (Breeze Inn Motel - 2 nights)

Thursday Night...Seward, AK (6-Hour-Major Marines Kenai Fjords)

Friday Night (Radiance of the Seas)

 

Rental Car from ANC airport, Pick-up..... Friday Afternoon  3pm.--------- Drop off Tuesday Night 7pm

 

Timewise and mileswise I think this is just about what we are looking at besides adding additional time to the below times for stops.

 

 Friday        Day 1  Anchorage Airport to Alyeska Resort,Girdwood, AK   (41 miles  1 hour)

 
Saturday     Day 2 Girdwood, AK to  Knit Glacier Tours, Palmer, Ak         (88 miles   1 hour 45 minutes)
                   Palmer, AK to Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, Trapper Creek, AK  (121 miles   2 hours  15 minutes)
 
Sunday        Day 3 Trapper Creek , AK to  Denali Park Hotel, Healy, AK (115 miles 1 hour and 55 minutes)
 
Monday        Day 4 Denali Park Hotel to Denali Vistors Center  (11 miles   15 minutes)
 
Tuesday        Day 5 Denali Park Hotel to Anchorage ( 250 miles    4 hours 30 minutes)
 
 
 Turn Rental Car back in at Anchorage Airport at 7pm
 
Wednesday  Day 6   Anchorage Train to Seward, AK   ( ? miles   4 hours)

Edited January 16 by Jimbo
 

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Four times to Alaska, one on X, Explorer, Radiance and Ovation.  

 

Each has their own merit.  Each has favorite moments.  The one-way North/South typically go to Hubbard Glacier which is pretty awesome.  

 

Top ship would be Ovation.  Top itinerary were the one-way with an exception.  I was fortunate to be on Ovation's maiden Alaska 11 night cruise which was an all time favorite but that was a one time itinerary never to repeat.  

 

Twice in inside cabins.  Balconies are great if you have the money but I'd rather put my money into excursions which are pricey in Alaska.  Excursions are the way to experience Alaska and by booking an interior cabin I saved thousands which went directly into pricey excursions like a helicopter ride to a glacier.  I'll never forget walking on the glacier and with each subsequent cruise to Alaska those memories flood back everytime.  If I was rich I would do expensive excursions AND a balcony but sadly I'm not rich so given the choice I put my money into excursions.    

 

For one-way I prefer Southbound, starting the cruise with some time in Anchorage followed by a ride on the Alaskan Railroad from Anchorage to Seward.  The train through Alaska is an incredible experience and great way to kick off the adventure.  

 

For the one-way cruises I booked airfare as two separate flights which wasn't that bad and not that much more than Seattle round-trip in the bigger scheme of things.  

 

I wouldn't hesitate to book out of Seattle or another one-way.  The idea of B2B one-way is very appealing and something I looked at on a last minute basis this year before cruising abruptly stopped.   My first time was one-way because research seemed to indicate that a one-way was the proper way to do Alaska.  Having since done a Seattle round trip it was pretty awesome as well so I don't preach the "one-way is the only way" philosophy any more.  No wrong way to cruise to Alaska, just find a way to do it.

 

I'm planning my next Alaska cruise now and will be booking Quantum class.  Having been to Alaska four times before it's now more about the ship and Quantum class beats Radiance class for my needs and likes.  

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