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A 99 Day Journey to Alaska (Serenade by the Sea) with a Teen and Young Adult (over 21)


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15 hours ago, tallgirl97 said:

Amen!

 

We just booked a zodiac excursion in Sitka. If it were just 3 of us going, we would have booked kayaking instead. But our 4th would have been miserable kayaking, so the zodiac seemed like a reasonable compromise.

 

I was thinking about your excursion.  I am not sure how long it is, but note that it is uncovered in an area that is known to rain 2 out of ever 3 days.  However - June and July are the dryer months of the year for Sitka, so it may turn out to be decent weather for both of our weeks in the 50th state.

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[Today]

 

I could not sleep last night, so I wrote . . . . a lot . . . . and hopefully what was mostly written at 3 AM makes sense . . . .

Drink Packages (the Non-Alcoholic ones)

 

Although I probably talked about drink packages in my journal, I am currently looking at them now (final payment is coming up quick and want to add it to the cost now). I am going to be discussing non-alcoholic packages, which some may not believe actually do exist.

 

I, unfortunately cannot drink alcohol due to a medical condition (luckily I got most of my drinking out of (or into) my system during my early years.  My DW is a very light drinker, and my DD21 is even more of a lightweight. This negates us having to purchase an alcohol beverage package – they will just purchase the drinks ala carte.  But now I am looking at the other packages – specifically the drink/soda package and the refreshment package. I am trying to figure out if it is worth it (there is a $9 difference per day x7 = $63. With an 18% tip = $74.34. I do not think my DDs requires it, but if both myself and my DW order it, that is an extra $150 ($148.68 to be precise). I am pretty sure I will be going down to get a coffee for my DW a few times during the cruise ($4-$5 x 7 = $28-$35), and even if I get 2 or even 3 mocktails (~30), the $65 we would spend does not equate to the $148. If there was a Johnny Rockets, then maybe the free shakes would be worth it (not that I should be having them), but there is no JR on the Serenade.

 

 I think I have already made my decision – the regular soda packages for all four of us it is.  Although I do not drink very much soda at home, I will still get the soda package for myself – hey, I am on vacation.  My DW is very picky with her soda selection.  Serenade does not have a Freestyle machine, so I will need to figure out what sodas are available.

 

Question: Does anyone know what soda selection is available on the Serenade of the Seas? Yes, I know it’s coke products, but how extensive is it besides Coke, Sprite, and Diet Coke?

 

Some comments about these soda packages.  Depending on the ship (or the bartender), they seem to get really annoyed when you order a soda from the bar instead of an alcoholic drink (I found that to be the case from many bartenders on various ships). Also, sometimes getting a drink even from the MDR is not easy/quick – especially with My Time dining (I know, it was my choice).  In regular dining, if you have the same wait staff, after the first day they know not only what drinks everyone at my table wanted but will either have it on the table before, or as soon as, we arrive; and a second glass will arrive almost as soon as the first one is about empty.

 

There are some wonderfully amazing wait staff and then there are those that are not – it’s the amazing ones that get the praise (by name) and the extra tip. Same goes for the cabin steward. I have had some completely amazing stewards (see my Legend of the Seas review in my signature) and some that were adequate at best (I never met or saw my steward on my one Carnival Cruise, and never cleaned our cabin appropriately, always leaving behind garbage).

Charity Run/Walk

 

It’s been a while since I have been on an RCI ship, but I could have sworn I took part in a charity walk/run early one morning. In fact, if I can remember correctly, it was only $10, and you even got a t-shirt (which I had lost somewhere between the event and the time we departed to go home).

 

I cannot find any info about it, so either I had imagined the whole thing, it was a different cruise line, or they had discontinued it (along with many other things) over the years. Does anyone else here remember those charity walk/runs?

 

As mentioned before, I will be exercising during this cruise. I am in training for a 120-mile bike ride.  This event, BTW is a charity ride I am organizing in memory of my father to fight Alzheimer’s Disease. I guess that I have charities on my mind which led me to think about that long ago charity walk atop a cruise ship.

Ship Capacity

 

There is no lack of rumors running around Cruise Critic.  On a thread that had nothing to do with ship capacity, a member mentioned that Alaskan cruises are running at 50%. Another said they were at full capacity, and yet another member opined that it was somewhere in-between.

 

The upgrade genie has been asking a number of people on my threads to put in a bid for an “better” room (I am staying where I am), and there have not been any new members to join my Roll Call in a long while (come to think of it, only one), so I wonder if either out cruise was sold out quickly or they only offered a limited inventory. I am not a stock owner, so as a cruiser, I am A O K if we are not sailing at full capacity (although I do feel sorry for the vendors, supply-chain people/companies, and business people in ports, etc., that are counting on as many people as possible to come and support their businesses – and this sympathy extends to those that work in the cruise industry itself such as staff).

 

The first ships to hit Alaska arrive in the next few days and will receive real-life data when people begin to return home and write their reviews (or maybe get a live review). I believe the first sailing of Serenade in Alaska begins on May 1st.

 

If capacity had not been capped, I wonder now that we have passed the full payment date if there was a price drop on this cruise?  I am not going to look myself, but I am still curious.

Food on RCI

 

I am already thinking about what I am going to eat while on the ship. It’s been 9 years since I have been on RCI, and although the praises and criticisms have been for the most-part good, I hope there will not be much of a huge difference in the quality of food or service in the MDR since we have last cruised a decade ago. A lot of times it is the individual wait staff. For instance, on one cruise we had sat in a section with one horrible waiter, after two nights (the first could have been a fluke) we said we preferred a different section, and had a completely different experience with a change in wait staff.

 

It’s been a while, and in my memory the RCI service in the MDR was superior to our tryst with Carnival and NCL – although nothing yet beats the service or dining selection on my first cruise (Royal Majesty – no relation to NCL). Memory, however, is often selective and loses clarity as the years drift by.

 

As long as the food is decent, and the wait staff is okay, I’ll be good with anything. However, I am hard pressed to remember my “favorite” food or dish on an RCL cruise. I always enjoy escargot, regardless of where they are served. I may have mentioned it before, but I have always enjoyed lobster night. Yeah, I know, how can I say I liked those measly low-quality lobsters. First of all, the lobsters are not that horrible (I’ve had much worse), and secondly, it is the combined atmosphere of lobster night (which also coincides with formal night) that I enjoy which enhances the taste of the food.  Taste is subjective, however, having worked as a chef in a restaurant does give me a smidgeon of knowledge into reviewing food.

 

Let me say that I have never gone hungry on a cruise, even after the elimination of the midnight buffets. Although I did have a few bites to eat during those late evening indulgences, I have to agree with many that it was a waste of food (I am not sure if my DW ever had a bite), although aesthetically, they were set up very nicely. Although in the back of my mind I wonder – since they took that away, what was it replaced with?

 

I think it is a fun night (for those of us that are able to dress nicely [NOTE: I DID NOT SAY TUX OR SUIT, but I’ll still wear a suit myself, if possible.] along with the family and/or people at your table and enjoy yourselves.  There seems to more energy in the air as well. Although many anti-formalnightists cite that the only reason cruise ships have it is to sell photos, in only 2 out of 8 cruises had we ever purchased a photo, and one of them was the welcome photo on the very first cruise I took with my wife (which was not during formal night).

 

The other was on the Baltic cruise, where my DW wanted to capture the moment. On many cruises, we just say “no thank you” to taking a photo and move on. My favorite lobster night was a cruise we took a long time ago – where they sat us with three other couples on a top-8 and each of us left our kids behind. We had 6, yes SIX lobster tails each that night; at least the husbands did. More than one glass of wine also flowed. I am still FB friends with one of our fellow passengers from that table/cruise.

You are Reading This!

 

Thanks to all that have provided a little comment or a response.  I know that there are over 6k hits to this thread, but not sure how many people were actually reading it, and more importantly getting something out of it – a good hint, tip, a useful checklist or maybe even some type of inspiration (maybe I am going too far with inspiration, but you never know).

 

Thanks for everyone’s support and I know I am not talking to an empty room [insert meme with crickets].

 

Although there is less than 60 days remaining until we set off for Alaska, there is still a lot of planning (and last-minute rushing to do as well).

 

In due time this thread will become a review of our wonderful cruise. If you have read any of my prior reviews, they are fairly detailed and included a number of photos (which I know all of the voyeurs out there enjoy). I do not know if it is because I was a chef, but I had always hated taking food porn, unless the plating was exceptional, but I am thinking about changing my tune for this cruise and providing a photographic culinary journey alongside the regular review. [For those that do not know, I write a monthly food history blog, so I may go into the history and origins of some of the dishes as well, which is more my cup of tea since it may teach the reader something new.]

MyTime Reservations

 

I still have not received any response from RCI regarding the linking of my reservation # and my daughter’s # in regards to reserving dinner for MyTime dining.

 

I shall update when I do hear back from them. However, if I do not receive a response by Monday, I will try to call and endure the wait for someone to assist me.

 

Cheers,

 

Travel R

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August 3, 2021

Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska

 

I have finally completed the list of things to do, see, and experience while in the port of Sitka, Alaska. Although rain is a given while in port, unless there is some sort of torrential storm, we will most likely be visiting via a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) walking tour of the port. Luckily, June and July are the “dryer” months, but that is all relative (see data). I have been working on creating a tour, which contains a list of places I would like us to visit, which includes both the Russian historical sites and the local cultural sites, as well as immersing ourselves in nature (Raptor Eagle Rehab Center). I also added a note to stop off at a pizza place while walking through town so my family can try yet another pizza from a different place. [We have made it a point to go to pizzerias while on vacations in different areas of the world. If you ask my daughters (both self-proclaimed pizza experts) where the best pizza in the world is served, they would quickly respond “Brooklyn, NY” (particularly L&B Spumoni Garden). And yes, they have had pizza while in in Italy.]

 

The Excel file (on which this list had been created) has been downloaded to the Roll Call thread for my sailing.  Once I finish the list for Juneau and Vancouver, I will post it on the general Alaska thread so that it can be of help to a larger number of cruisers.  Because of COVID, the days and times that some of these sites are open may be different than when we visit, so I did not add that information to most of the items on the list. [Update 4/26/22: As you have probably already noticed, I have uploaded the file to this thread as well a few dats agi, which includes information on excursions for most of the ports.]

Researching Alaska

 

Third world problem: Being a researcher and planner, I am kind of disappointed on how little there is to research without going too far into the weeds. Not that I was expecting there to be a huge amount based on what I already know of Alaskan history. It is nothing like the deep history of ports we had visited on our European cruises. Fortunately, this itinerary includes Sitka, where there is Russian, early American, and Tlingit history. I have been performing research on each of the ports we will be visiting, in addition to research on the wildlife we may encounter (and have already watched a few documentary videos on whales and bears and recently began watching a lecture on the Tongass National Forrest). Eventually I will also include research on Alaska as a whole (including the Gold Rush) and the glaciers.

 

Yeah, I know, most people just want to sit back and take it all in while it occurs, and maybe even be surprised by what they see, experience, and learn.  Personally, I would rather read, see, and learn as much as I can beforehand, and be able to understand all that is around me. If we (hopefully) encounter a pod of humpback whales and they are acting in a certain way, I would like to already know that they are bubble netting and all about that method of feeding so I can really enjoy watching their technique in-person. 

 

When we visit a historical site, I want to know all about its history beyond just the highlights so I can pay attention to the details of the architecture and how this site plays a part in the history and makeup of the surrounding area. If we have a tour guide, they usually only tell you the minimum. If there are young kids on the tour, they may even dumb-down the basic facts. I remember when we were in the Forum in Rome, I was giving a “tour” to my family and there was another family following us and listening in, thinking that I was an actual tour guide.  Note, I have actually given guided tours of Hoboken (New Jersey) to groups (two types: history of Hoboken and a combined History with a Frank Sinatra focus).

 

Since I have my mind set on whale watching in Juneau, I am not very motivated to research other activities for that port.  However, it may be wise to conduct the research and have the information on hand as a backup, just in case we are unable to go ahead with that tour (I know that it is rain or shine, but who knows what might happen, and if the wake is too rough, they could cancel the tour).  Researching Vancouver might wind up being a bit more interesting – or at least I hope it will.

 

Travelling in the Northeastern United States

 

This has been a very busy summer in regard to weekend travel.  I have been taking a few trips to visit my older DD at her school, which is a few hours away. My younger DD is looking at colleges and we have been taking many tours. By September I will have driven to states as far north as Maine, as far west as West Virginia (and Pittsburgh, PA), and as far south as Virginia [this is not including a quick vacation to Nevada, which also perused Arizona]. Even after the summer, we will probably be making return trips to a number of these states.  Although travelling afar is amazing, America, if I have not mentioned it before, is a beautiful country. All of this travelling means that my hotel loyalty points continue to accumulate.

 

[COVID comments deleted]

 

Recently I have also been watching the CC boards for Royal Caribbean; RCI continues to change its guidelines for sailing, requesting more stringent procedures, such as testing 3 days before sailing for all passengers, even if the passenger has been immunized. In the meantime, the Serenade has completed its first revenue sailing (i.e., sailing with paying passengers), and other ships (RCI and other lines) are performing their own test sailings.  There is a lot of anxiety by members on the boards due to continued changing itineraries on upcoming sailings (August & September), and a few expressing their concerns over 2022 sailings.  [More COVID comments deleted]

In-Laws

 

If you have been following along and wondering about my in-laws coming or not.  Nope, they have still not come to a decision.  They have made it clear that they are still very interesting, so we are still waiting. But I am getting anxious to book the whale excursion.

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[Today]

 

It's been a busy last few days (which included almost 700 miles of driving on Saturday to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley).

 

Not much to really update on the cruise front - at least for Alaska.  I would like to complete my "All About Serenade" document by this coming weekend; but will need to find the time.

 

As I had mentioned last week, tonight I will be leading a discussion on cruising which will include various topics like the history of cruising, cruise basics, and religious restrictions for various groups. 

 

There has not been much talk about cruising amongst my family as of late.  My DW has also been busy with work and helping out my daughters (really support and shopping for my DD17).  My DD22 is going to be graduating her university at the end of the month, so she is getting ready for her last set of finals, examinations, and projects. My DD17 is going to be graduating HS in about 2 months, so she is busy getting ready for Prom and Graduation - and I am sure studying for her finals.  Her biggest concern right now is waiting for this guy to ask her to the Prom.  He has told all of his friends that he is going to take her, he has told all of her friends that he is going to take her, but he has not asked her yet. She said that if this guy does not have the courage to ask her soon, then she would rather go alone or go with someone that is brave enough to ask.

 

I have not heard anything back from RCI yet about the linking of MyTime reservations. If I have time sometime this week I will have to physically call them. It's been more than enough time for them to have responded.

 

The Serenade is back in Alaska - waiting to find out how it went and how many passengers were aboard.

 

Something to keep an eye on - the # of positive COVID cases on cruise ships being reported - https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2022/04/27/ruby-princess-coronavirus-outbreaks/

 

 

Edited by Travel R
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[Today]

 

Amazing B2B

 

I found out that one of the passengers on my Roll Call is doing a B2B from Hawaii to Alaska. That is a GOAT move - cruising from one extreme to the other.  If I can eve afford to retire, that is a cruise itinerary I would like to take.

 

My Cruise Lecture

 

Last night I gave my lecture on cruising. It went well and there was a decent crowd.

 

Some of the bullet point of my discussion (which was very interactive) included:

 

History

  • 1st "cruise" was SS Savanah (1819)
  • 1st ship created specifically to cater to passengers (instead of cargo) - (Prinzessin Victoria Luise -1901)
  • 1st pool & tennis court - Olympia (1911)
  • 1960's = evolution of "modern" cruising"
  • 1977 - biggest boon to cruising with "Love Boat"
  • Expansion and mega ships the past few decades

Choosing a Cruise

  • Time of Year
  • Location
  • Ocean vs. River
  • Cruise Line (luxury vs. mainstream )
  • Ship (what bells and whistles do you want/not want)
  • Choosing a stateroom
  • Budget
  • Excursions

Religious Restrictions

 

Note - this was not a religious discussion, merely facts about the needs of the faithful and possible restrictions to cruising. In fact, this part of the discussion was more of me spewing facts instead of allowing for discussion (the the exception of answering a few questions - if I knew the answer).

 

Christianity

  • Are there religious services on cruises?
  • Roman Catholics - Obligation to Attend Mass
    • Priests are required to perform
    • There is a database of cruise ship priests (Apostleship at Sea)
    • There may not be a priest on your ship (Holland America is one of the few that do (only mainstream) - Celebrity stopped not long ago)
  • Easy to refrain from eating meat during Lent
  • Cruise Lines usually have clergy for major holidays (priest for Easter, rabbi for Passover, etc.)
  • Past line - New Creation World Cruises
    • Currently - there are faith-based theme cruises

Islam

  • Requirement for Halal food
  • Modesty rules
  • Prayer 5x Day (chapel?)
  • Cruise line recently started in Asia for Islamic passengers

Judaism

  • Requirement for Kosher food
    • Usually frozen meals, except for Kosherica tours
  • Multiple restrictions on the Sabbath (Friday night to Saturday)
    • When to board ship
    • How to celebrate start/end of Sabbath (require light candles - No No on cruise)
    • Carrying items on Sabbath - on and off the ship
    • What they can do if stay on ship (restrictions on use of electricity)
    • Restrictions on swimming on the Sabbath

It was a good discussion, and the audience filled the gamut from those with many cruises under their belt to those that have not been on a cruise (and do not want to - even after how glamorously I spoke of it). The lecture ran about an hour and I think everyone learned something new - even the long-time cruisers learned a thing about some of the theological aspects of cruising (since it does not affect those that are not observant) and many people did not know of the history of cruising.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

Things To Do

 

There are a few things on my list of things to do for this week. It is going to be a very busy week at work (my calendar is pretty much filled up through Wednesday):

  • Call RCI about linking MyTime reservations with my DDs
  • Order drink package
  • Remind my DW to order a spa treatment
  • Finish up info sheet on the Serenade
  • Re-review checklist for things to do 2 months prior to code
  • Talk/reconfirm with dog sitters
    • For those that have large dogs, you know that this is a big concern.  My dog is a 70+ pound Pitt mix.  His breed is considered "aggressive" so some boarding places will not take him. Those that do take him will place him in a non-communal area, so he is confined to a small area, which is not fair to him for over a week.  The best option is a dog sitter/walker. Although I have a friendly dog, he is very territorial, so I need to have someone that he knows and will allow them to enter the house. I have two amazing people that will not only walk him, but also hang out with him for a few hours each day (we do pay for their time, but also make sure there are plenty of snacks and soda for them to eat/drink when they stay over).

 

 

 

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August 9, 2021

Choosing an Alaskan Cruise . . . What I have Learned after a few Weeks of Research

It’s been over a month since I booked a cruise to Alaska.  I have discovered that an Alaskan cruise is unlike other cruises I have taken before.  In some ways it is its own animal, and in other ways it is the same as any other cruise. Having cruised before has helped me chose what’s best for me and my family as opposed to what is best for others in different situations.

 

I will be going through this same exercise in a few months, and then again when I return from our cruise to see if I still agree with my below thoughts. Most of what is below is really a summary of what I have written over the past few weeks:

 

Itinerary

  • If I were cruising with my DW and no teens or young adults, I would choose the itinerary first, and the ship/line would be secondary considerations (along with budget).
  • Since I am travelling with an older teen (DD17) and young adult (DD 22), the ship becomes just as important as the itinerary.  Because of this, one should choose a ship and cruise line where the demographics are similar to the age groups of those you are travelling with.
    • When travelling with a family, the primary requiem is to ensure that everyone enjoys themselves, that is what family vacations are about. Viewing one site for three hours over the course of the entire cruise should not be the determining factor for the rest of the vacation. No matter what you see, and I believe every Alaskan itinerary includes at least one glacier, you are on an Alaskan vacation as a family.
  • If I were to pick the perfect cruise itinerary (for me), and not travelling with our DDs (based on what I have read, and obviously not having experienced any of it yet)
    • Northbound out of Vancouver [to ensure traversing the Inner Passage]
    • Balcony on Starboard side [to always face land]
    • Endicott Arm, Tracy Arm, or Hubbard [we are currently seeing two of the three]
    • Ports (if I can only chose 3): Juneau, Sitka, and Skagway [two of three on this cruise]
  • Glacier Bay National Park
  • Cruise ending in Anchorage (actually Whittier)
  • Post-land tours to Anchorage, Denali, & Fairbanks - and other points of interest

Ship / Cruise Line

  • If travelling with teens and adults, go with one of the larger mainstream cruise lines. My DDs have enjoyed RCI and NCL for their teen clubs.  Since we are travelling with a 22-year-old, these lines also have greater number of others in their demographics compared to a HAL or Princess or even the smaller / luxury cruise lines.
  • If travelling without teens or young adults, as I have read on the CC boards, HAL & Princess are touted to have some very good Alaskan Cruises. As members have pointed out, they have been doing it for a long time. But then again, although experience does matter, sometimes the newer players have taken their lessons from the old-timers and try to do it better).
  • What would be the perfect cruise line?  It will depend on you, the people travelling with you, and your situation.

Time to Travel

  • It would be nice to choose the month or be less stringent regarding when you would be able to vacation.  However, if you have family in school (K-12, college, and even post graduate), your window of travel can be very short especially if the members of your family have summer jobs, camps for their sports-teams, or summer internships. In these cases, you will not have a choice, but luckily the Alaskan cruise season is from late spring to early fall when at least one week may be conducive for everyone in your family. Even the difference of two may be the deciding factor between one cruise/ship/itinerary or another.
  • We are travelling the week that leads from June into July.  So far, from what I have read, this is a good time to travel as far as seeing Humpback whales and bears. This time also has the least amount of average precipitation (although there will be some).
  • If I do decide to return to Alaska, I would like to return in late August to see the Orcas and the salmon running in the streams. I know it will be a little cooler and a lot “wetter.” But it seems like a fun time of year to go. Yes, I know it gets wetter as the season progresses, but maybe experiencing Alaska in September when the tourists have dwindles would also be interesting.

My family took a family vacation to Italy a few years back and we did not have enough time to visit the Sistine Chapel (although I am not religious, as a lover of art, it would have been an amazing place to see). With the time we had, we (as a family) decided it was not a priority for us. We did, however, see most of the other highlights of Rome, and although some have stated that it was the one place we should not have missed, we still had an amazing time.  We found Italy so amazing, in fact, that my DW and I will be returning (we would have cruised this year, but COVID put it on hold) and will visit the Sistine Chapel upon our return.  As with Italy, if we like what we see, Alaska may be a place we return to at some time in the future.

 

I know, I know, I keep on defending my choice of ship and itinerary, but I continue to read members on CC criticize (put down) people that chose ships other than Holland/Princess or do not include Glacier Bay in their itinerary – especially when those being harassed are doing so for the sake of their teenagers. [Maybe I need to stop reading the Alaska thread.] I keep thinking that those making the criticisms have: (1) never taken an Alaskan cruise with teens (or children of any age), (2) just love to provide their “wisdom” and rack up their posting #s, or (3) are just selfish in what they want to see/do and have little regard for the feelings of the younger members of their family they are travelling with. In hindsight, I’ll add a 4th item to this list . . . . (4) they feel that their teens/children would approved of their choice because that is what the planner likes, but have not asked anyone in their family what they think.

 

I had decided a long time ago that there are some members on Cruise Critic that I would probably become instant BFFs with if we ever met in person. On the other hand, there are some people on here that I would try to avoid at all costs if I suspected they were on the same cruise.

Travel Books on Alaska

 

I was ordering an item for my DW on Amazon, so sine I was already ordering one item, I decided to browse the travel books for Alaska and found two that I thought were of interest.  The first book is “Fodor’s The Complete Guide to Alaska Cruises,” which covers of the ports (including those we are not seeing). I find these cruise guides helpful; although I did not see the Rick Steve’s book, I figured that this should just as good.  The second is more to satisfy my geeky-historian interests, and purchased “The Great Book of Alaska: The History of Alaska With Amazing Random Facts & Trivia.” I am sure that these will not be the only two books I will purchase on Alaska over the next year.

 

There is a thread on CC, where members have listed Alaskan-related books (see https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/topic/2784436-books-on-alaska/). Although some are non-fiction, many are not. But to tell you the truth, I am not really interested in reading a fictional or a semi-fictional book on Alaska. The one non-fictional book mentioned on the thread, “An Alaskan Anthology: Interpreting the Past” seems interesting and will considering purchasing it between now and the cruise.

 

A few members had mentioned “The Alaska Cruise Handbook – A Mile by Mile Guide,” but the last update was in 2012. Although the information is 10 years old, I wonder how much has really changed in these ports over the past ten year besides the opening/closing of restaurants and hotels, and a change of the excursion providers.

 

One member mentioned a fictional book that interested me due to its author, Michael Chabon.  I few years ago I read “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” and thought that book was a great read and cleverly written (it’s got comic books and golems, what’s not to like).  So, I may read “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel,” which provides an interesting take on an alternate-history in which the story is based in Alaska. But this is something I’ll be downloading to my Kindle.

 

About two years ago, while I was on my old-classic reading phase, I did read “Call of the Wild.” Although the book does not really provide much history of Alaska itself, I was amazed that it was not listed in the thread. At least as a great book that was based in the 49th state.

 

Future Trip to Italy

 

We were at our very good friend’s house this past weekend; the couple that we are planning on taking the Italy trip.  We were talking to our friend’s sister about the Alaskan and Italian trips, and she (and her husband) are interested in going with us to Italy as well.  I am going to be taking a short hiatus from my Alaskan research to revise some of the documentation I have compiled on Italy (with a possible cruise to Greece) so that I can send it to her. [The document is about 120 pages – seriously.]

 

The 2021 trip was originally going to be half land and half cruise, but then due to COVID, it changed to all land.  But with a hopeful end in sight to this pandemic, maybe a cruise is warranted again.  The additional couple are also cruisers, which may be a factor in our ultimate decision, which is not going to be until 2023 or 2024. [Update 5/2/22: This vacation has now morphed into a few days in Rome (land), followed by a river cruise on either the Rhine or Danube. Don’t be surprised if it changes again – I have been telling everyone about the differences between ocean vs. river cruises which does not seem to deter anyone yet. Personally, although we have only been on a few ocean cruises, we are willing to give the river cruise experience a try.]

 

[Update 5/4/22: From hereon, my journal skips weeks at a time, so there are not many more journal entries left (and some of you are saying "thank goodness"). Once I get past the current mountain of work on my desk I should be able to write more about the progress for this upcoming cruise.]

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[Today]

 

During my lecture the other night I went around the room asking people about their own cruise experiences.  While some were avid cruisers, a few had not only never been on a cruise ship, but had no intent on ever doing so.

 

Personally, I never wanted to go on a cruise myself.  I thought it would be boring and would basically be imprisoned on a floating hotel for a week.  It was for the love of my wife that I had booked a cruise for our honeymoon - and it was that experience on the Majesty of the Seas that I was hooked on a vacation at sea and was stricken with Cruise Fever.  The service was amazing, the food was superb, and there was a ton of things to do and keep my interest.

 

My first "cruise experience" was not a real cruise experience. The Discovery Sun was a cruise ship, however, we only sailed on her for few hours journey to/from Florida to the Bahamas and did not stay aboard the ship while on the islands for the week. [A week in which it rained almost nonstop for 5 days straight.]

 

What got you hooked on cruising?

 

 

 

 

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[Today]

 

Cruise Expectations and Attitude

 

Last night I took some time to look for hints and tips about the Serenade.

 

Sometimes I may find a few needles in the haystack of the ship's reviews.  Well due to COVID, not so much. Besides being much more sparse, there was a lot of negativity which I am attributing to the various protocols.

 

However, as usual, many of the complaints are witless.  A little research prior to the cruise would have gone a long way to ensuring that these people did not have the worst cruise of their life.  The hysterical thing is that many of these people claimed to have taken 10 cruises or more. Assuming that these people have never sailed on Royal and one may have expectations based on a certain cruise line, it would be illogical to think that these people thought that all cruise lines do everything exactly the same (or everything would be the same when cruising first began last year)?

 

There were a few legitimate gripes, but some complained about them and moved on, still having a wonderful vacation, while others let one hiccup completely destroy their groove and entire vacation. I do not get that. Yes, there are some things, but very, very few that can dampen a cruise vacation, but most are not worth spending much time worrying about.

 

Speaking of complaints. Here's a link to some outrageous complaints people have had about travelling in general. For example, one person's complaint was that too many people were speaking Spanish on their trip to Spain!!! https://constative.com/lifestyle/travel-reviews-is/7/ - some of these sites are fictional and created to entertain, and this does entertain me because it is not hard to imagine that many of these are real.

 

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Posted (edited)

[Today]

 

20-Something Cruisers

 

I did some research on cruising for those in the 20's. Below are a few of the articles I found:

 

8 Reasons You Should Take A Cruise in Your 20’s and 30’s (TheTravelHack)

  • Standard article

Are Royal Caribbean Cruises For 20 Something Year Olds? Review Of My First Ever Cruise! (EscapeSetC)

  • Written by 20-something blogger

Early 20s, 1st-time cruisers...is Royal Caribbean for us? (Trip Advisor)

  • A few ideas and suggestions, but answers seem to be written by people way beyond their 20’s

Suggestions for Mid 20’s First Time Cruisers (RoyalCarribeanBlog)

  • Although first time cruisers, still plenty of advice for pax in their 20s

Why You Should Cruise in Your 20’s (Sophie’s Suitcase)

  • Written by 20-something blogger

Why You Will Enjoy Cruising in Your 20’s (Ellies Travel Tips)

  • Written by a 21-year-old blogger

Bonus

 

Best Cruise Line for 20-Something (CruiseFirst)

  • This article is a little old, #1 is RCI

Best Cruises for Young Adults and College Students (HighSeasCruising)

  • From 2022

 

Bummed - No Meet and Mingle

 

Last night the decision was made to forgo the Meet and Mingle on our itinerary since there were not enough people interested in going.

 

It will still be a great cruise, but was looking forward to it. But at least it means less papers and pens I have to carry with me.

Edited by Travel R
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I have finally made it through this thread, so now I just need to keep up (this my long post)As a planner, I have poked around Alaska cruise posts and Baltic cruise posts. Etc for a few years. I had dreams of doing a med cruise since my wedding 25years ago. My husband was always against cruising but I insisted for my 40th bday in 2012. We have taken 4 Caribbean cruises on carnival as a family all in the same cabin. Kids are 19 and 22. Last cruise in 2018 was just after DDs 18th bday and it was a pain because there were many grade 12s on board and those who were still 17 could still do the older kids club but not those 18. And then my 15yr old didn’t want to go then either.

 

I do need to take the kids on a family trip to celebrate graduations etc but I don’t think a cruise is it. Son (19) may have went for Baltic cruise but this would not be the year for it. He actually has been talking about visiting Poland for a few years, which pre-war would have been cool as we could visit hubby’s  grandparents/fathers home near Lviv, Ukraine where his cousin still lives. As for states, he is interested in visiting ones he hasn’t seen but no to Florida, California and Hawaii as he’s been to each more than once (We’re from Canada, and these were usually conference destinations). I think Washington DC is high on his list so up to suggestions from some of your travels. We have to fly almost everywhere but have collected many airline points on our credit cards over the pandemic.

 

As to Alaska trip, we had $662 FCC between us from a cheap 5 day Bahamas cruise added on to a conference trip from 2020. It supposedly expires at the end of the year. My 50th bday and 25 anniversary is this year and I did look at a Mediterranean cruise. We have done a lot of that via land now. But I was just too concerned with changing covid protocols. Alaska seemed a little safer. I’ve had the Glacier Bay discussion, but the FCC is with Royal so nothing I could do there. Even their one way cruises don’t go there. I had a mental list of priority stops from past reading. And the route you chose was the same one I had picked from the options (I had prioritized inside passage and Hubbard Glacier or Tracey Arm.  I did a search to check for reviews and came across this post. We are on the July 24 sailing. Really weird to be booking a cruise just 3 months out. So now I need to cram my planning. So you documents will be useful to me. 

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15 hours ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

We are on the July 24 sailing. Really weird to be booking a cruise just 3 months out. So now I need to cram my planning. So you documents will be useful to me. 

 

Glad that my documents/info will be of help.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to post them (or even PM me).

 

15 hours ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

Kids are 19 and 22

 

Those are two ages that, IMHO, might fight it the most difficult to cruise.

 

The 18-20 crowd are too old for the teen clubs, yet depending on the itinerary (e.g., Alaska) are too young to gamble or drink (not that I am condoning underage drinking, but it means that this age group are not allowed to be in those venues).

 

The 21+ crowd (20-something, but not yet involved with a partner), are usually not in abundance on cruises outside of the college holidays, making it hard to find friendship for those travelling with families.

 

However, it is conjecture on my part of this difficulty, since my older DD was 17 the last time we cruised and is now 22. Although she is 22 (when did she grow up?), in my mind she is still the little girl that I would read stories to so she could go to sleep at night. She has grown into an amazing young woman and she will find friends.

 

From my own Roll Call, I do know that a number of families are travelling with their DS's and DD's in those age groups.  Knowing young adults and older teens, they will all find each other eventually.  On some cruise lines there are meet ups for these groups (usually on the first night of the cruise - I wonder if they will put on the schedule for the current Serenade Alaskan itineraries).

 

When I return and post my review of the cruise, I will try to detail the activities and events that are geared towards the 20-something age group.

 

 

 

 

15 hours ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

I have poked around Alaska cruise posts and Baltic cruise posts. Etc for a few years. I had dreams of doing a med cruise since my wedding 25years ago.

 

I have been very, very fortunate to have been able to have sailed on both Baltic and Med cruises, and soon to be taking an Alaskan cruise. Doing even one of these seemed like a pipe dream while growing up. Unfortunately the Baltic cruises are currently not at a premium; although there are a number of amazing ports to visit, the highlight for us was St. Petersburg, which has been taken off the itineraries (I would add a few things, but do not want to get too political).  I have very fond memories of visiting the Mediterranean with my family and looking forward to going back to the Eternal City in two years (sans the kids. although the cruise (at this time) will be on a river further north).

 

Before I forget welcome to the 25-year club . . . . .Happy Anniversary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

Thanks. do you mind sharing which tours you booked for Juneau and Ketchikan?

 

Juneau: Whale Watching (3rd Party - Jayleen)

* I am really looking forward to this excursion - whale watching on a small boat with only 6 passengers. We should also have a little time afterwards to also see the Mendenhall Glacier. [Reserved]

 

Ketchikan: Off-road and Canoe Adventure (RCI)

* This was a hard one to decide upon.  There are a lot of great excursions from this port and everyone in my family has their own interests - and this was one that we can all agree on. This one gives us a look at Alaska beyond the sea and the ports, as well as provides us with activities that will get us moving (via canoeing and walking).  It also allows us to do some off-roading. FYI - RCI was giving a discount on excursions and it wound up being cheaper via RCI.  [Reserved]

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2 hours ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

For Juneau JWW has 2:30 or 3:30 pm combo tours and H&M is at 2pm but no Glacier 

 

I have heard good things about H&M. 

 

Not sure if your port schedule is the same as mine, but depending on how much time you have in-between the excursion and the ship departing, it may be possible to take a taxi up to the Mendenhall Glacier and then back again.

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Posted (edited)

[Today]

 

Cruise Compass from Prior Cruises - Planning Help

 

As a planner, I do not like anything to be a surprise.  Yes, I will go with the flow, if I have to, but want to have options B, C, and D all ready so I do not have to waste my precious vacation time trying to figure out what to do when Plan A needs to be scratched.

 

No, I am not that anal (am I allowed to say that on CC?), but my attitude when it comes to a vacation that I spent my hard-earned money on is to do as much research as you can beforehand so you are ready for (almost) anything, and not have to think (or spend time thinking) about planning.  For instance, if you save up for that cruise out of Rome and the Vatican is on the top of your bucket list and you want to spend the day pre-cruise to visit it, you should hopefully have done enough research to know not to book a cruise that departs on Monday. Or in a link to vacation complaints I had provided above, if your son loves beef burgers, maybe India is not the place to vacation.

 

Note - it also depends on what type of vacation or even what type of cruise/itinerary I am going to be on. For some of what I call "once-in-a-lifetime" cruises, I am going to spend as much time researching and scheduling to ensure a perfect trip. In contrast, for something like a Caribbean/Bahamas cruise, there are really no more "must do" sites to visit or excursions to go on, so it does not matter what is on the schedule.  I'll run in the early morning, have breakfast, chill until lunch, eat lunch, find something to do in the afternoon (maybe even an excursion), shower, have dinner, and then go to some type of evening entertaining. The priority is to chill out.  On something like the Alaskan cruise, my priority is to be a tourist.

 

When we go on the extended family cruise next year, outside of researching the best rooms on whichever ship we take, I am not going to spend much time doing much. I've been to most locations a 7-day or less cruise out of NYC goes, so I do not really need to research the ports.  Although I may provide some input on excursions, etc., I'll go with the flow if the family wants to do anything as a group. I think I have mentioned it before, sometimes the best days in port are days when I stay on the ship.  For the river cruise the following year, I am sure i will perform an immense amount of research.

 

Being able to see a Compass from a former cruise will allow a planner like me (and some of you) to get a sense of the timing for certain things and be able to schedule it into your vacation.

 

Cruise Compass Availability

 

Part of the "cruise experience" for me is looking at the Cruise Compass each morning and seeing what is on the schedule and what it is I would like to do. For me, sometimes things are different than in previous schedules, and for my family, they are seeing it for the first time.  Although I do not bring a highlighter, I do mark off what I want to do. I then keep the Compass (or at least the page with the scheduled activities) with me (in my pocket) throughout the entire day.  [Note: I like what Carnival does (are they still doing this), where the schedule is on a perforated page that is intended to be removed.]

 

Usually my phone goes into the safe at the beginning of the cruise and stays there until we disembark at its conclusion.  Yes, I know that you can access the schedule from various portals/screens around the ship, but they do not have my notes on them.

 

Yes, I'll survive and adapt, but change is not always the best path forward. But keeping a piece of paper in my pocket is a heck of a lot easier and convenient than my phone.

 

But if I ask my steward to bring me a copy I will be fine . . . . you say.  But what if they forget, or as I had mentioned earlier, I was once on a cruise (on Carnival to Canada) where we never once saw the room steward. [No, they did not do a great job of cleaning the room either.]  That may have been a one-time type of a thing, but no steward = no Cruise Compass.  Although I wonder if they will still keep a few copies near the front customer service desk.

 

Still No Response from RCI

 

Recap: About a week ago I had made reservations for MyTime dinner that did not link to my daughters. I emailed RCI as to the issue and have not yet heard back from them.

 

It was a busy, busy week.  I had a ton of things going on at work - I am at the busy point with my regular responsibilities, a large project that I am leading was extremely eventful takin up much of my time, including doing a presentation on this project to other groups.  I did the lecture on cruising earlier in the week, and been busy with exercising and a number of personal things. I have had no time to call RCI myself (and waste my time staying on hold).

 

FYI - now the time slots that I have chosen are no longer available.

 

I do not think they have business hours during the weekend, so I will hopefully have time during the week to call.

 

 

 

Edited by Travel R
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We have the same port schedule so adding on the Glacier ourselves would be tricky but I can do the 1:30pm one with Juneau whale watch which will give us a bit of a stop at the Glacier. 
I think we will just take bus in Ketchikan to Totem park and the walk downtown after. But I am still checking other options  
I like your walking your on Sitka but I think I was to see Fortress of the Bear too. Thinking the park, fortress of the bear and the raptor Center are my main stops

 

as for Compass, on carnival they always had good things in there that they would t promote so you often need to be told what to look for (like the fun farewell party with free drinks that they then canceled saying it wasn’t popular enough- would have been if the advertised)

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17 minutes ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

Fortress of the Bear

 

The Fortress of the Bear is too far to include as part of walk - especially if it is going to rain. I believe it is about 5 1/2 miles from the Harrigan Centennial Hall (which is approximately the center of downtown).

 

An option would be to take a taxi to/from the Raptor Center or Park (east of town - about 5 miles from the Fortress)

 

I have been told  by a friend that visited Alaska few years ago that if you have been to the Bear Exhibit at the Bronx Zoo you get too see a lot more bears, and close up (although obviously in Alaska, it is their natural habitat). When we lived in NYC, we visited that zoo a number of times. He said that it was nice (it was part of a tour that also took him to other sites), but he told me if I skipped the Fortress, it would not be a biggie.

 

[If anyone is in the NYC area, and has the time, the zoo is amazing. It is really large so be ready to walk. Also avoid hot days (although there are indoor exhibits, animals are not active and too hot to walk around) and weekends or holidays (it gets very, very crowded there - also avoid free school or camp days). But I digress . . . . ]

 

I have also had the experience of seeing a few bears up close and personal while camping, A short story, if I may digress even further . . . . .

 

Myself and two friends were walking along an old trail (in Pennsylvania) away from our camp.  All of a sudden a huge brown bear walks onto the trail about 5-6 feet ahead of us.  The bear stops and looks at us.  We freeze.

 

A moment later a cub cuts across the trail between us and mom (closer to the mother). The mother looks at the cub.  We still do not move a muscle, not even to speak. Once the cub crosses (and out of view), she stares back at us, looks towards the cub, looks back at us, then walks on her merry way in the direction of the cub.

 

I have had a few other encounters with bears (I did a lot of camping and it's their land I am hiking on), but I was usually in a "safer" location or much further away.

 

 

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On 5/7/2022 at 11:38 AM, familycruzinnewbie said:

Fortress of the Bear

 

I started to rethink visiting the Fortress of the Bear.  If there is enough time, maybe a taxi ride from the Raptor Center (and back) would be something to consider. I wonder what the availability of cabs/taxis there will be at either one of these locations.

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Posted (edited)

[Today]

Happy Mother’s Day (and a movie review)

 

A belated Happy Mother’s Day to everyone. It was a sad day (first holiday without mom), but spent most of my energy focused on my DW.  Besides the usual foo-related celebrations, the day included going to the movies as a family and family puzzle time (a 2000-piece monstrosity).

 

The last Fantastic Beasts movie was not great, but it was entertaining and hoped for better for this fourth installation.  The plot itself was weak with even weaker sub-plots. There were some interesting characters added to the movie, but they lacked even the minimal of character development.  The few times where an actor showed some prowess of their art form or the screen was alive with some amazing special effects were wasted in a story line that had more holes than Blackburn Lancashire. Even the special effects were nothing we have not already seen before on the big screen.  As a fan of the Harry Potter Series and the cinema I was disappointed. To sum up my review in two words . . . . not magical.

 

As to movies on the Serenade – I hope it will not be too cold to watch.  As per most cruise ships, they are outside hovering over the pool deck.  However, thinking about it, there were only a very few times when I have watched movies while on a cruise ship.  The only exception was when we had other family and friends on a cruise, with my younger nieces, and we did watch at least two from the deck.  When we were younger before kids, one of our rituals was that my wife would get a spa treatment while I stayed back in the cabin watching movies on their little TV. I would order room service (back when it was free) and had an extra meal, usually sometime between lunch and dinner.

 

Always Learning Something New

 

No matter how much time I spend reading, watching videos, and researching, there is always something new to learn. A few of the things I had learned recently:

 

Pools – The pools on RCI are not heated.  I usually do not go in the pools on cruises, but the ones on RCI have usually been during the summer or in warmer climates (the one we took in October was during a Hurricane and we could not use the pool – or even go onto the top deck). This is where I have to again mention the veracity of what people post (including myself).  I have read multiple post stating that the pools were heated on the Serenade or only the indoor pool was heated.  I have also read that all Radiance Class ships, except the Serenade was heated.  I did ask the question myself on these boards, but I have to be honest, until I am on the Serenade myself and try to go swimming (which I may now, only to prove or disprove the hypothesis), I will not be 100% confident in any answer I read.

 

App – One of the differences between my last cruise and now is the Royal App.  As mentioned in my previous post, I do not like having to carry my phone around while on a cruise ship/vacation. Although I can see a definite benefit for it, I am not sure I am going to like it. One feature I think I will enjoy – the muster.  I have seen some mentions of the muster check-in, and finally saw a thread on it.  It seems that you can watch a video (even before getting to port) on the safety protocols, then just check into the muster area instead of the whole drawn-out muster drill where more time is spent waiting for the late people than the muster itself (the life preservers are still in the stateroom if you want to take a photo wearing one – remember those days?).  That is something I am looking forward to.

 

Back to the Journal

 

I realize that I have not posted from the journal in a while, so here's another entry . . . .

Edited by Travel R
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59 minutes ago, Travel R said:

Pools – The pools on RCI are not heated.  I usually do not go in the pools on cruises, but the ones on RCI have usually been during the summer or in warmer climates (the one we took in October was during a Hurricane and we could not use the pool – or even go onto the top deck). This is where I have to again mention the veracity of what people post (including myself).  I have read multiple post stating that the pools were heated on the Serenade or only the indoor pool was heated.  I have also read that all Radiance Class ships, except the Serenade was heated.  I did ask the question myself on these boards, but I have to be honest, until I am on the Serenade myself and try to go swimming (which I may now, only to prove or disprove the hypothesis), I will not be 100% confident in any answer I read.

 

I have to correct the above misinformation.

 

From a passenger currently on the Serenade in Alaska:

 

On Serenade now.  Solarium pool is heated but not as warm as hot tubs.  Stuck my hand in it, didn’t feel cold.  Outdoor pool is not heated. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

August 25, 2021

My Mom

 

I have not updated in a few weeks because of a number of factors.  First, I have been busy at work, and secondly (and more importantly), my mom had been in the hospital for the past week and I spent every evening at the hospital with her (driving back and forth between NJ and NY (about an hour) each and every day [one day 2 hours due to traffic].  I am also going by to visit my dad. I have been just too tired and too distracted to really do any researching.

 

Growing up we had very little money and vacations were literally spent driving from place to place by car and spending the evenings in our old Baker Tent in a campground. When my parents started to make a little money (not until the mid-1990s), they found cruising, and every few years (if they could afford it), they would go on a cruise – and my mother loves cruising (although not with us kids). I am hoping that one day my mom can get to cruise again, we had begun talking about a family cruise for next year.

COVID Protocols on Cruise Ships

 

I have been unable to log into CruiseCritic as much as I would like to as of late, but I have been on it enough during this month to see how the industry is reacting towards COVID and its variants.  The various lines continue to enact more and more stringent protocols, which (IMHO) is good. However, the changing rules have made it difficult for some cruisers to follow or comply.  Wearing a mask in public areas has become commonplace for many of us, so having to do so on a cruise ship should be no big deal (at least for me and my family) – [deleted]. I can also understand being masked for many of the excursions. The problem I have is that the rules keep changing and hope I do not miss a step and be stopped from boarding – e.g., what type of tests are needed to cruise, and where and when to get them. At one time RCI was not accepting pax that had a combination of two different vaccines (not sure if that still the case). I know it is an evolving issue [deleted].

 

[deleted] I am hoping that most of these protocols have extinguished by the time we cruise next June.  I would still go on the cruise and I am sure I will still enjoy it – but still hoping for a protocol-free cruise. However, in the deep recesses of my mind I still have fears of yet another variant being released which will cause even greater havoc.

 

[Note: some of the content has been deleted since I want to stay within compliance with the banned content on Cruise Critic.]

Specialty Dining & Cruise Ship Dining

 

There is a thread on CC right now where a person asks if they should get the ultimate dining package for her and her husband (her husband has never cruised before).  Since the thread was already 4 pages long, I decided I did not want to add one more post to this already too-long thread. So, figured I would provide my thoughts on specialty dining here:

 

A pax's desire for the UPD, I believe would also be influenced by the amount of times they usually cruise and the availability of different genres of food in your vicinity.

 

For instance, I only cruise every few years and I live in the NYC area (used to live in NYC). For me, the MDR is just fine. Since I am only cruising every few years, the menu is not getting "old" (as some frequent cruisers have complained).  Also having access to so many amazing restaurants nearby, the specialty restaurants (to me) are not so special.  I could see the point of someone that is cruising 2, 3, 4, or more times a year (which are many that regularly post on CC), going to the MDR on every cruise, every night, could get a little boring (especially when on the same ship) – so the specialty restaurants add a variety to the menu choices.

 

 

To be honest, I have never really been amazed by the food at any of the specialty restaurants I have dined at on cruise ships.  Yes, the enjoyability of food is very subjective, but since I am spending the extra $ upcharge (or even when it came “free” as part of a promotion), I am comparing the specialty restaurants to local NYC/NJ area restaurants. For me, they just do not compare. Even when I worked as a chef, I did not have to like all the same foods that you like, but I need to make food that will be enjoyed by people with many different tastes. What is not subjective  if/when a dish is prepared correctly, which many are lacking the knowledge. To tell you the truth (and having heard (and reading) complaints and opinions from customers in the food industry) most people may know how they prefer something to be cooked, but could not tell the difference between a roux and mayonnaise.

 

Can I say that the MDR always has the best food?  Nope, not at all - but I have always found things I have enjoyed (and as it has been said many times before – you will never gone hungry). However, I do have a big appetite - especially when training for some type of run/cycling event. I will order two entrees (which I cannot do at specialty restaurants) and eat both [unless inedible, I will clear both plates].  Probably 65-70% of the time I will enjoy both dishes, and it was very rare that I completely disliked a dish where I could not eat it. I have found that the MDR menu has a large enough of a variety to choose from, so there are always 2 things that seem interesting enough for me to try. Every now and then there is a dish that I had never tried, which automatically becomes one of my choices.

 

I know that some people want to get served, eat quickly, and leave.  At home, I am the person that scoffs down the food and is quick to take off. I admit, I am not someone that likes to just sit around a table, especially on a normal day where there is no company – I am always in the middle of 100 things and there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything finished with work, family, hobbies, exercising, volunteering (which finally had begun again), etc.  When on a vacation, especially when on a cruise, I am not rushed. I do enjoy sitting down and being served where the wait staff is not trying to rush me out. [Although there was that one night where my table were the last to leave the MDR – we were having so much fun (it was the formal night where none of us brought our kids on the cruise) that we did not even realize that the rest of the passengers in the venue had left.]

 

I will admit that when at home, unless we are with a larger crowd having a conversation, after the entrée, I am usually ready to get up and leave. Waiting for the waiter to take my order, sitting for the appetizers, then entrees to me is a lot more relaxing in comparison to rushing to find a table and dealing with getting up and down at the buffet. Not that there is anything wrong with the buffet (I frequent them many times at home), but to me, the Windjammer is not the relaxing atmosphere I am looking for during a cruise (and I even prefer the for MDR on sea days).  I also try to book the My Time dining (or whatever it is called on each particular cruise line) so that if there is a late or early show I would like to see, or I have an excursion that returns late, I can move the time for my dinner so that it does not interfere.  My only preference for the buffet over the MDR is for the breakfast meal. However, my DW enjoys the MDR breakfast, so I will sit with her each morning. Shhhh . . . although there are some days where I will enjoy both.

 

Speaking of breakfast – one day I would like to do the grand slam.  After my early morning run, I  have an early snack (which most ships have out somewhere, like by the Park Cafe), room service, MDR breakfast, and topped off with the buffet. Although on most cruises I will knock out a triple at least once or twice (each of the above minus room service). The problem with room service is that they are not always prompt, which really messes up the timing for each of the morning options.

Edited by Travel R
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I think we will just put Fortress of the bear as a maybe to be decided when we get to the raptor center. Problem is Sitka is the first port so we do not know if we will see bears at the other ports in the wild. We don’t have a zoo, we do have a nature park which has local animals. We also have a lot of opportunities to see animals in the wild. We just had an Atlantic walrus on the beach 10 min from my house this weekend (we’re in Newfoundland so it was quite a ways south for him). 
My whale watch and glacier is now booked for 1:30 with Juneau whale watch. My only other question is Ketchikan because of port times - if we want to go to the Totems we have to get the first bus and I think most museums and such will be closed before we get back, unless the extend openings. We can still do the downtown walking tour.

We are sticking with the MDR, being new to Royal. I am a gym person but started doing triathlon (sprint distance) a few years ago. I am doing one in June in Montreal, haven’t finalized any local ones post cruise yet but will do 100-120km Ride for Mental Health in August. Typically I would eat small breakfast, hit the gym and the have family breakfast after. I may try MDR for breakfast but while I don’t mind slow dinner, slow breakfast is a pain. I often order multiple appetizers, just because hubby is so picky that he never wants to share what I want to try. 

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1 hour ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

We just had an Atlantic walrus on the beach 10 min from my house

 

That is not something I see very often (except the aquarium - very cool. Quick note - it is rare, but an occasional harbor seal has been spotted in the harbors around NYC. I have spotted a few salt water fishing (usually when heading northward - if I remember correctly, usually just before summer (Mayish), if it is a nice day out).

 

1 hour ago, familycruzinnewbie said:

We are sticking with the MDR, being new to Royal. I am a gym person but started doing triathlon (sprint distance) a few years ago. I am doing one in June in Montreal, haven’t finalized any local ones post cruise yet but will do 100-120km Ride for Mental Health in August.

 

There is always something to eat in the MDR - as long as you can finish what they serve (or share with someone) order two entrees. There are usually plenty of healthy options which I tend to ignore while on a cruise (I have lots and lots of salad while in training), but I will usually either skip desert or opt for some type of fruit.

 

There are a few givens in life - taxes, death, and a runner/biker cannot refrain from talking about running/cycling. . . .

 

I do the running thing (only 5Ks this year, but signing up for the Disney Run in May, running a 5K, 10K, then Half Marathon in three consecutive days). I was also big into mud runs for a while (although have not run any in a few years), but have begun trail running. I also do the cycling thing, I have organized a ride for Alzheimer's bike ride in honor of my dad.  It is going to be 120 miles (~193 km) over two days.

 

Swimming is not my strongest ability. However, I did sign up for a sprint triathlon in 2010 which was to be performed in 2020.  I even had a friend who used to swim semi-professionally give me some tutorials on improving my form. However, like everything else, COVID cancelled the event. I would think about another, but I gave up my gym membership due to COVID, so most likely will not have access to a pool long enough to get in a decent workout.

 

While on a cruise I enjoy running on the deck early in the morning. As a runner, and you probably agree, the cold will not be a detriment (you are also starting out in a cooler climate to begin with.  However - I do not plan on bringing my running shoes, so runs will most likely be limited to 5K. It is going to be my "off" week, so also want to rest my body. There will be two months left before the rid when we return from the cruise, where my training plan begins to get intense, with a number of long rides and HIIT workouts/rides.

 

 

 

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