Alaska06 Posted September 1, 2006 #1 Share Posted September 1, 2006 This is a review/summary of our entire experience (except the flights, but that's another story). It does not really focus on the ship, which we thought was wonderful, but on the trip as a whole. I am an RCI C&A member and have not travelled on other lines, so I cannot compare them. I have not yet had reason to travel on ther lines. The Alaska trip was great. We sailed from Seattle on a seven-day trip up through the inner passage and back. Our ports were Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), and Victoria. We would recommend it to anyone. Sailing along the inside passage is too beautiful for words. To enjoy the beauty that God has created is someting that one can only experience for oneself. Our trip was a member’s cruise, which I heartily recommend. From what I can tell, the difference between a member's cruise and a regular cruise is that on the member's cruise RCI provides gifts in your room each evening and there are special events throughout the week exclusively for C&A members. The higher level C&A members have a few more options and bonuses. We attended a class on digital photography headed by one of the ship’s photographers and a cooking class/exhibition taught by the executive chef of the ship. There were too many events available to attend them all. Gifts for gold members included field glasses, scarves, and blankets. There are some somewhat nicer gifts for Platinum and Platinum Plus members. We had an ocean view cabin and late dinner seating. I was initially disappointed in the late dinner seating. However, for this cruise it worked out great. This is a port intensive cruise. With an early dinner seating, we would have had to get back to the ship earlier that we would have liked or eaten dinner more nights in the Windjammer. I say more nights, because we did eat there two nights. Once because we went in for a snack before dinner and to meal and service was so good we decided to just have dinner there. Another time because we wanted to watch the whales from the front windows of the ship as we ate (our dining room table was not near a window). The food in both areas was great and we had a wonderful waiter - Salihd. We did have a disappointing experience with breakfast in the main dining room. One of the waiters asked one of our tablemates to hold onto hs muffin so that he could take his plate.Breakfast in the the dining room took about 1/2 hour to 45 min to arrive. We had two other couples at our table for dinner. One was a couple from New York. The other was a couple from Phoenix. The couple from Phoenix has a daughter who is a dancer on the entertainment staff of the ship. She sat with us, as did her boyfriend. He is part of the ship’s staff also. He sold excursions and helped the cruise director with some of the events. It was interesting to discuss the cruise and hear the perspective from the other side. Alaska cruises have a lot of excursions that can significantly add to the cost of the trip. In Skagway, you can save some money by booking in town when you arrive, not so much in Juneau, and not at all in ISP. We did not look into excursions in Victoria. The weather was cool, about 60 degrees or so most days. We had a somewhat miraculous occurrence in that Juneau and Skagway had not had sun in 21 days and the sun was out all day for each of the days we were there. It was light at about 6 am and did not get dark until about 9:30 pm. From what I understand, June is a better month to go through this area: there is more of a chance of sunny days; the temperatures are a bit higher; there are more hours of sunlight (though we had 15 or so), and the snow and ice has not yet melted most of the mountains as you go up, resulting in a more picturesque view. Juneau has a lot of excursions, ranging from $25 trips on the Mt. Robert’s Tram to $500+ for dog sledding on the glacier. We did the Mt. Roberts tram on our own and the price is the same as booking it on the ship. We also did a whale watching tour through Captain Larry and Orca Enterprises. It is not available on the ship and is about the same price as whale watching tour offered on the ship. The difference is that Orca is a 40-passenger boat (we had 22 on our trip) and the trips run by the cruise lines have 100+ passenger. We had personal access to the naturalist and it was a more intimate excursion. We also went to Mendenhall Glacier. This excursion was provide free of charge by the cruise line due to an itinerary change. I would recommend it anyway. In Juneau, several companies offer a bus to the glacier for $6 each way. If you go this route, ask about the bus in advance. Some of the companies use school buses; others use coaches. The zip-line through the canopy tour came highly recommended by our tablemates (Phoenix), as did the dog sledding (NY). I don’t think they realized that you can dogsled for under $100 in many parts of the US and Canada (http://www.dogsledrides.com/dogsled-price.php). I was surprised to find that five hours of sledding and overnight accommodations can be had for $150 in Maine - http://www.katahdinvalley-outfitters.com/dogsled.html We did not do any excursions in Skagway. We were pretty worn out from Juneau and Christine wanted to do some shopping. We needed to get to the library so that Christine could log-in to her class at school. By the way, you probably know this (but, I didn't realize it), you can spend a lot more money per hour shopping than you can on excursions. As we walked through Skagway, I saw some of the tour companies offering discounted trips on the White Pass Railroad, some of them advertising 50% off the cruise ship prices. Icy Strait Point was hard for me to research before the trip. I found out on the tip that this is because it really isn’t the name of the town. It is the cruise ship’s name for the village that they created in the town of Hoonah. There is no place for the ship to dock, so we were tendered to the ISP by lifeboat. Because the area is pretty much only an RCI destination, they are the only people offering tours. As we disembarked the tender, we entered into a reconstruction of an old salmon cannery. This was a very interesting self-guided tour and there is no cost involved. We were going to do the bicycle tour of the town, but decided against due to the damp weather. A lot of people walked into the town of Hoonah, we followed suit. Upon returning to ISP, we decided to take the nature walk. This is a nice path through a second growth forest and along the beach. During dinner on the ship, we found that our tablemates had done the ATV exploration and thoroughly enjoyed it. In Victoria, we took the shuttle into town and found the motorcycle rental shop that I had previously researched (BC Cycles). We rented motor scooters and took most of a two-hour tour along the beach of Victoria that the rental shop suggested. We took three hours, but made several more stops and spent more time at those stops than some people might have. This was easy to do. Victoria is a beautiful place. Upon returning, we walked around town and did more shopping. Christine has a sister named Victoria so we had to find a “Property of Victoria” shirt for her husband. Part of the reason for not doing an excursion in Victoria was the short scheduled port time. If we went to the gardens or had an “Afternoon Tea”, we would not have had enough time to see any of the city. Overall, I would heartily recommend an Alaska Cruise. I think we will go again, most likely on a longer, one-way, cruise that goes further north. We would go earlier in the year, probably late June. Other than that, I don’t know that we would change anything. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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