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LIVE from Radiance of the Seas Alaska September 22nd 2023

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Hello, everyone! Good to see you again! It’s been a while since I posted on these boards and a lot has changed since my slightly cursed cruise on the Anthem last year. Let’s get you all caught up on the highlights of the year before I get to the nitty gritty: last spring, I sailed on the Celebrity Beyond with my mother, which was an amazing experience because for the first time I felt that I was the target customer for a cruise ship. It was amazing! Also, I bought a robot vacuum which I love almost as much as my cat. Maybe even more when it’s shedding season, but don’t tell the cat. And that’s it! Those are the highlights of my year. 

For those who don’t know me, my name is Laurie and I am from beautiful Quebec City in Canada. I am somewhat flirting with 40 and I’ve been paralyzed from the waist down since I was 20 years old. Because of that, I tend to focus on the accessibility aspects of my trips in the hope that people with disabilities will stumble upon my review while researching Vancouver, Alaska, or the Radiance of the Seas and that it might be useful to them.




It happens to me sometimes, actually. I’ll be researching a ship’s accessible staterooms and Google will show me pictures of other ships from my own reviews. Thanks, Google. 


But if you’re not into shower benches, wheelchair lifts and elevator etiquette, fear not! I will also share loads of pictures as well as my thoughts about the food, the entertainment, the ship, and hopefully some things that will help you plan your upcoming vacation, relive a past cruise or just entertain you. You are always welcome to jump in anytime to ask questions, share your experience or post pictures of your pets. 


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I booked the Radiance cruise last fall while I was on the Anthem of the Seas. Originally, I had been hoping to book an Icon crossing, but since that wasn’t an option I decided to do Alaska for the first time because I was peer pressured by the guy at the Next Cruise desk. I chose that particular sailing (September 22nd), because a couple of cruising friends who were with me on the Wonder were already booked on that sailing. Eventually, our two other friends from the Wonder cruise decided to join and now the whole gang’s going!


Because I have never been to Vancouver, I decided to extend my trip by arriving six days before the cruise to give me plenty of time to explore. I left Quebec City on September 16th on a direct flight (jackpot!) to Vancouver. The Radiance will leave on September 22nd on a round-trip cruise and will be stopping in Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan. At least, theoretically that’s what the Radiance will be doing. 


The Radiance experienced some propulsion issues that resulted in the cancellation of two cruises (September 1st and 8th). Then, when she was finally fit to sail again on the 15th, she couldn’t because of bad weather and she had to stay docked in Seward for a few more days. 


I wish I could tell you all about the excursions I plan to do, but those have not been confirmed by the Accessible Shore Excursions department yet, so it will be a surprise. For you and for me. 


It’s the ship’s last cruise to Alaska of the season and originally I was supposed to stay onboard for a B2B to San Diego. However, I had to cancel the second leg when I realized I would need to buy a new computer as well as have my cat’s teeth cleaned under anaesthesia. It’s fine, that second cruise would have made packing quite complicated, anyway, because of the big weather difference. 


My robot vacuum never needs to have its teeth cleaned. Just saying…

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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 1


Hello from Vancouver’s Granville island! Yes, this live is starting a bit late, but please bear with me while a catch up. Get it? Canada? Bears?


Wow, though crowd. Ok. Let’s get this party started, then. 


Quebec City’s airport was very quiet when I arrived around 7:20 for my 9:00 flight on September 16th. I had hoped to arrive earlier, but when I called the taxi company the night before to confirm my ride in an accessible vehicle they couldn’t find my reservation. So close to the requested time, they couldn’t book me anything, accessible or not. 


If you plan on visiting Quebec City and relying on accessible taxis to get around, I recommend you don’t. It could be a struggle. The number of accessible taxis is very limited and need to be booked at least 48h in advance. Even then, judging by my experience, that reservation could end up lost. Thankfully, I had booked a ride with our accessible public transportation service, but on weekend a weekend the earliest they could get me to the airport was 7:30. 


With a 9:00 flight, I think YQB is the only airport where I felt confident I could easily make my flight by arriving 1:30 before. And I did! There was almost no wait at the check-in desk and at security, so I had plenty of time to consider snacks before boarding. I might be biased, but I think my home airport is my favourite. 





The flight was one of the smoothest and most relaxing I’ve ever experienced. The whole plane was eerily quiet despite being full and the five hours flew by. 


It was quite a trek to make it from my arrival gate to the bagage carousels. Why so much carpet, Vancouver airport? There are vehicles making rounds to offer rides to people with mobility issues, so don’t hesitate to make good use of those. At least the scenery was pretty.



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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 1 - continued 

If, like me, you want to take the Sky Train to downtown Vancouver, simply follow the "Train to City" signs after exiting the baggage claim area.








It costs 9.25$ to take the train from YVR to downtown (4.25$ two-zones fare + a 5$ up-charge that’s added to all tickets leaving from YVR). Because I’m here for six days and plan on using public transportation a lot, I pre-purchased a Compass Card before I left home and added a day pass for me to use on my first day, which only cost 2$ more than the single trip from YVR to downtown. I ended up saving a few dollars that way because I used public transportation a couple more times that day. For the rest of my trip, I plan on adding money to my  Compass Card as needed. 




It’s approximately 25 minutes from YVR to the Waterfront station (which is where you want to go if you’re boarding a cruise ship). I then changed to the Expo line to get to my hotel. It was a very easy ride, considering I was hauling my heavy suitcase behind me. The trains are almost completely level with the platform and the gap is small, so only the smallest of wheelies is required to get on and off. 


I even spotted a Princess butt on the way. 







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I have to laugh, our robot vacuum has become a running joke over the past few years.  I always turn it on Saturday/Sunday mornings while my wife is out on the front porch drinking her (necessary) coffee.  Almost every time she comes back in and see/hears it running, she'll say "Oooooooohhhh, I'm vacumming!!!"

Edited by Husky1987
Also...enjoy! Vancouver may be my favorite city on the planet.
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Just now, Husky1987 said:

I have to laugh, our robot vacuum has become a running joke over the past few years.  I always turn it on Saturday/Sunday mornings while my wife is out on the front porch drinking her (necessary) coffee.  Almost every time she comes back in and see/hears it running, she'll say "Oooooooohhhh, I'm vacumming!!!"

It’s amazing! It just…vacuums! On its own!


I may or may not have composed a song for it set to the tune of Ti Amo to encourage my cat not to be scared of the robot. 

…I need help…

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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 1 - continued

The hotels in downtown Vancouver were very pricey, but I found a pretty good rate at the YWCA Hotel for a private accessible room with ensuite bathroom. The room was recently renovated and looks very clean. The location also seemed ideal with a SkyTrain station only a few minutes away. 

















Accessibility-wise, it’s not perfect but when is it ever? The bed is on the high side so transfer could be difficult for some people. The bed is also super close to the wall and window, so closing the curtains required some creativity. If I were travelling with someone, that person would also need to get creative to get into bed. 


The shower was probably designed by someone who has never sat on a shower bench, which often seems the case. The shower controls are on the same wall as the bench, which means the person sitting on the bench needs to twist and turn to reach them and that bench doesn’t have much twisting space. Also, the shampoo and soap bottles are fixed to the wall and completely unreachable from the bench. I bring my own stuff, so not an issue for me, but perhaps the front desk would be able to provide some small bottles to compensate. Never hesitate to ask if you need something. 


But despite that, I genuinely like the room. My favourite three things about it are: the bedroom is large and has a lot of counter space, there are plugs and usb outlets next to the bed, the bed is very comfortable. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again. 

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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 1 - continued


After dropping off my things in my room, it was time to start exploring Vancouver. Things got super festive super fast because people were tailgating before the BC Lions game at the BC Place Stadium. I soaked up the ambiance for a bit before I started going up Robson Street. The only thing I had eaten that day was a breakfast of Pringles on the plane, so my first mission was to feed myself. 







Once you start googling what foods to eat in Vancouver, one thing that pops up on a lot of lists is a Japanese-inspired hot dog from Japadog. Since they have a location on Robson Street, that was my first stop. One item on the menu had caught my eye: a hot dog topped with some noodles. I love hot dogs and I love noodles, so it seemed like a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, it was unavailable on that day so I went with the Love Meat: a hot dog featuring a pork sausage, secret meat sauce and charred cheese. 








It was quite tasty! The meat sauce was very similar to beef chili and the charred cheese tasted exactly like what I imagined when I read the words charred cheese. I also got a pink lemonade, which was sweet and refreshing.


(Quick note from present day Laurie: I ended up regretting my life choices after eating that hot dog. It sat so heavy in my stomach for the rest of the day that I was struggling to get around. Perhaps the secret meat sauce was a bit too heavy for me.)

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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 1 - continued


Fuelled by all the protein in my hot dog, I headed for my best destination: the Vancouver Lookout. 



I thought it would be a good thing to experience the city from up high first to get acquainted with the layout. You don’t need to select a time when you book online, just a date, so I had pre-purchased a ticket for my arrival day. 





The experience ended up being extremely ridiculous. It’s not the whole wall that’s clear, so most of the time I could see absolutely nothing. I had a good laugh, but I absolutely do not recommend this activity for anyone in a wheelchair. The audio tour was nice, but once that was done I didn’t see any reason to extend my visit. 




I could only see outside when I was up that small ramp. 





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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 1 - continued


Then, I headed to Canada Place to check out the cruise terminal situation and enjoy the area. There were two ships in port: the Majestic Princess and the Holland America Koningsdam.










I was lucky enough to arrive just in time to see the Princess ship leave and I enjoyed waving to perfect strangers as they were sailing towards fun adventures (I’m guessing). 


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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 1 - continued


I bought tickets to the FlyOver Canada attraction, because it sounded very similar to Soarin’ at Disney World which is one of my favourites. It was indeed the same type of attraction. You sit suspended in some sort of swing and it feels like you’re flying over scenery from all over Canada. With the visuals, the wind, the water and the scents, it almost feels like you’re there. It’s a bit pricey for a relatively short experience, but I enjoyed it a lot. 





Unfortunately, I couldn’t take pictures while inside and I can’t show you the swing. It was about 3 inches higher than my wheelchair, but the armrests offered good transfer support and it was easy for me to get on. 

After that, I headed over to Gastown where I had booked a tour with Forbidden Vancouver. This tour shares the dirtiest secrets of the prohibition era. Our guide was a historian for Parks Canada and he was very knowledgeable, engaging and funny. I would recommend it to anyone who likes to learn about the seedy underbelly of the cities they visit. 







After the tour, I made my way back to the Waterfront station where I took a train to Stadium-Chinatown, which is the station closest to my hotel. By then, it was around 2am for my body and way past my bedtime. 

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Thanks for getting this started.   I am excited to follow.  October 7th will be my 1st cruise with a wheelchair.  I am renting a Whills.  Last May we cruised from Hawaii to Vancouver.   I used a rollator on that cruise for the 1st time.  There were some super nice volunteers outside the port in Vancouver that helped us get to the taxi area.

We have a deposit on an Alaskan cruise for next June on Ovation.  I will be interested to see what you want to do at the ports.  

Have fun!

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Just realized that it's 18 years ago this week that I sailed on Serenade to Alaska from Vancouver.


My favorite cruise ever.  Love the Radiance class ships


It was the last cruise of the season to Alaska and I came home with some great bargains (that I still have)


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Following along.  You will let me relive my Alaska Cruise on Radiance, I got off in Vancouver on 8/25/2023.  What a great cruise.  Hoping you will enjoy yours as much as I did mine.


Will be cruising to your home soon. Cape Liberty to Quebec City with several stops in-between on Jewel of the Seas late September into October and spending a couple extra days in Old Quebec before returning home.  Will be flying out of Quebec City so your comments regarding the ease of using your airport make it sound like a good decision.


Enjoy your time in Vancouver and your cruise!

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5 hours ago, joand452 said:

Following along!  

Thank you for letting me take along!

Well, that came out all kinds of wrong. 

I believe I wanted to say, “Thank you for letting us tag along on your cruise”!

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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 2

I had a 10am walking tour booked with Forbidden Vancouver and I decided to go to the meeting point on foot. 


This seems like a good time to mention that Vancouver is SO HILLY! So is Quebec City, to be fair, but Vancouver is so sneaky about it. Looking around on Google Street View it looked relatively flat, and even here looking at the streets they look pretty okay, but it feels like I’m always uphill and I’m not sure what kind of sorcery is involved, but it’s very hard on the shoulders. 


Quebec City is more of an "in your face" type of hilly. Just one look at a street in the old city and you think yeah no that’s not happening and you hop on a bus. Vancouver is guilty of making me believe it will happen. 


So I went up up up Robson Street, stopping on the way to say hello to Terry Fox. I had plenty of time before I had to meet the tour guide next to the YMCA, so I hung around for a while in Robson Square. 














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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 2 - continued


I was able to use the accessible washrooms at the YMCA before our tour started. Then I met up with Glenn who was dressed in all pink for The Really Gay History Tour. Glenn was fantastic, very knowledgeable and had plenty of very touching stories to share with us. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone who is interested in discovering Vancouver’s history through the eyes of the LGBTQ2+ community. 







Our tour ended in Davie Village and I rolled down (yes, down, it was wonderful) Davie Street and then Seymour Street until I reached Robson. I remembered seeing a small shop called ikoi selling mochi donuts and I was intrigued, so I got a mango flavoured one. I liked it a lot; the texture reminded me of those honey tractor wheels donuts from Tim Hortons. 





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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 2 - continued


I did a quick pit stop in my hotel room before heading to Chinatown. There were three places I wanted to visit, only two of which involved food. 


I started by going to the T&T Supermarket for some exotic snacks. I could have spent hours as well as hundreds of dollars in there, but I was reasonable and settled on one bag of cappuccino candy and a couple bags of chips. 










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Pre-Cruise in Vancouver Day 2 - continued


Then, I visited Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. If you follow Google’s instructions, they will tell you to enter via Carrall Street. That entrance isn’t wheelchair accessible. If you have someone with you, they can get in and fetch someone who will direct you to the accessible entrance. If you’re travelling alone, head to East Pender Street and someone at the Sincere Gift shop should be able to let you in. 







The garden was very peaceful and beautiful. I could have parked myself there for hours to read and eat my snacks. 







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