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  1. Anyone brave enough to join us on the LAST sailing of the Alaska Season?
  2. Hi Cruise Friends- We’re sailing out on Serenade on 9/6/21 with ports of call in Sitka, Icy Straight Point, Juneau and Ketchikan. This will be our first time experiencing Alaska. We’d really like to go whale watching, but was wondering if the experience would be better in Juneau or Icy Strait Point. It appears Juneau has a greater variety of whale watching adventures compared to Icy Strait. Are the whales more plentiful in Juneau? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you
  3. Hello ? from Arlington, Virginia, We’re headed out on Serenade from Seattle on September 6th, 2021. Curious to see what others have planned for their Alaskan holiday! What excursions have you booked? What are you looking forward to most? Have you been to Alaska before? Hope to hear from fellow cruisers soon!
  4. Are there any off the beaten path things to see/do in either of these towns? We’re already whale watching in Icy Strait and kayaking in Juneau and was hoping to find some unique experiences here. Decided not to do any organized excursions in either place. Thanks in advance!
  5. We decided to pull the trigger and give it a shot. I am taking a positive view on the progress made with the CDC so far. I think it will happen.
  6. The wife and I along with some friends are thinking of going on an Alaskan Cruise in June 2022. I was wondering if anyone has a preference on which ship they liked and why? I also would like to know if June is the best time to go or should be move the dates (we would like to see the northern lights if possible)? Also one itinerary goes through Ketchikan and the other through Skagway. I would like to hear some opinions on which one you liked more and why. Any help would be great! This is only our second cruise so we are still kind of new to this but loved our other Royal Caribbean cruise so we thought we would try another!
  7. We've been Royal Loyal and have not ventured to other cruise lines. We are booked for an 2022 Alaskan cruise on the Solstice [Sky Suite]. We've done the Radiance AK Cruise before and I've lived in Alaska for several years. So, most of my questions are about Celebrity benefits and ship questions. 1. What should I not miss on the ship? 2. Thoughts of The Retreat versus Royal's Sky Class? 3. Restaurant recommendations? 4. Seattle Port tips for embarkation and debarkation. 5. Thoughts on Celebrity's Captains Club Elite level. 6. Daily routine recommendations? 7. Define Chic dress code? Thanks!
  8. Very excited about this news! So excited that we changed our Serenade July 2021 sailing to the Quantum out of Seattle! This change leads me to wonder if QOS will receive a refurb/update besides the laser tag to appeal to the American market. Since this ship has been in the Asian market for quite some time, it has a noodle shop among other Asian specialties and interests. Does anyone have any idea? Heard anything? Granted, we will still be in the #teamCK crew as we will be Sky Class, but just wondering about some of the other offerings. So Psyched! Now, if we could get that intern to show up again! Thanks Sharla at MEI for making this happen!!
  9. Finally the 2019 Alaska cruise season is beginning and so has the single digit dance! Looking back I always put off an Alaska cruise despite all the good things I heard over and again. Now I can't get enough. This will be my fourth cruise to Alaska and hopefully it will not be my last. Why did I wait so long to cruise to Alaska? Itinerary Day Port of Call Arrive Depart 1 Vancouver 5pm 2 At Sea 3 At Sea 4 Icy Strait Point (ISP) 9am 8pm 5 Sitka 7am 6pm 6 Hubbard Glacier 8am 11am 7 Juneau 7am 9pm 8 Skagway 7am 8:30pm 9 Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier 7am 12pm 10 At Sea 11 At Sea 12 Seattle 6am source: CruiseCharts.com The Ship This is a special cruise in many ways. This will be Ovation's first cruise to Alaska and the first time a Quantum class ship visits Alaska. It will be the largest cruise ship ever to visit Alaska edging out the NCL Bliss by a small margin. It's a repositioning itinerary unique for this season, starting in Vancouver and ending in Seattle. There are two glaciers on the itinerary, Hubbard and Dawes. The itinerary includes two ports not normally on Royal itineraries from the South - Sitka and Icy Straight Point. It's eleven nights compared to the normal 7 night Alaska cruise. This will be the earliest in the Alaska cruise season for me, beating out my previous early Alaska season cruise by several weeks. Hubbard Glacier is pretty far North and it's not normally on Seattle based itineraries. Sitka is infrequently on Royal itineraries. Icy Strait Point is a favorite port for me and usually only found on Royal's North or South one-way Alaska itineraries. When considering any Alaska cruise paying attention to the times in port is important and Royal has planned some awesome times in each port on this itinerary. Ovation is a "cold weather" ship which should pair very well with Alaska. The ample sized indoor pool will be great for families leaving the beautiful Solarium for adults to enjoy the sweeping views forward as we sail the Alaskan inside passages. Combined with the sweeping views aft from Two70° and this is shaping up to be a fantastic Alaska cruise experience. Pre-Cruise Plans I fly to Vancouver with a connection in Salt Lake City arriving noon the day before the cruise departs Vancouver. I found a nice but inexpensive hotel near the airport with a free airport shuttle. Vancouver features a train system that will allow me to reach downtown pretty easily while saving substantially by not staying downtown. Once settled I plan to visit downtown and may even head out to the Lion's Gate Bridge Sunday evening to watch Ovation arrive being the largest cruise ship ever to visit Vancouver harbor. Cabin I normally scale back my cabin to Alaska so I can splurge on excursions but Ovation changes the math. Quantum class ships have a much higher balcony cabin count relative to interior or ocean view cabins. Because of the balcony cabin ratio on Ovation the marginal price difference to book a balcony was small enough to motivate me to spend a few extra hundred dollars and book a balcony plus it's eleven nights. In years past an interior cabin was less than half the price of a balcony so the savings basically paid for the excursions. Consequently this year I am in a 2D ocean view balcony on deck 11 forward port side. On these ships I like being close to the pool deck so I can take the stairs and my cabin is a few steps to the elevator lobby. Specialty Dining None planned. My travel agent did throw in one specialty dinner so I'll probably visit Jamie's based on an Anthem cruise where I really enjoyed Jamie's over all the other options. Excursions To experience Alaska you need to get out of the ports and see Alaska. To this end I always plan a healthy Alaska excursion budget and this year's excursion budget approaches $900 per person. When I booked this cruise I grabbed a bunch of Royal excursions as place holders while I looked at all options. Several cruise planner sales occurred and I was able to save hundreds by cancelling and rebooking my excursions. With those price drops I couldn't find many cheaper options and all things being equal I always prefer booking excursion through Royal in case of itinerary changes. I did find one Viator excursion in Sitka that looked interesting so I booked it outside of Royal. Icy Strait Point (ISP) With Royal gaining access to Glacier Bay in future years I thought a fly over Glacier Bay National Park would be a great way to look forward to a future visit by ship. Going on a bear hunt to shoot pictures has always appealed to me in ISP so these are my two excursions for this day leaving lots of time to explore ISP on my own. Sitka The raptor center in Sitka sounded like a great way to see some birds including (hopefully) some Eagles. Throw in a nature walk and it sounded like a winner. Having hopefully seen bears by this point, I thought beers and bears sounded pretty good so I found this Viator option in Sitka. Juneau Visiting Juneau I have always watched the float planes coming and going but always found something else to do. So this year I am going to continue my small plane obsession and see some glaciers from the air in a SeaPlane. Skagway Glass blowing has always fascinated me and having done many of the other must do Skagway activities this year is going to blow. I figure what better way to find a keepsake memento from an Alaska cruise than on a glassblowing activity leaving me a lot of daylight to explore Skagway on my own. Internet I bought Voom Surf and Stream on sale for $11.99 per day. Given the 11 night duration this was more economical compared to buying it on board with my Crown and Anchor discount and waiting until day two. While Ovation uses the newest O3b satellite platform I'm not sure that is going to help North in Alaska where O3b has "limited services". source: www.ses.com/our-coverage A Royal O3b enabled ship has never ventured this far North into the limited services area so I'm not sure what to expect from Voom. If the ship switches to conventional satellite internet I know from past experiences that can be hit or miss at times while cruising Alaska. Consequently this may not be a live blog and I might have to finish and post pictures once home. With that the count down continues... more to come.
  10. Today is day 4 of our cruise and I purposely delayed starting this blog. Voom suffers in Alaska being so far North and knowing I would take a bunch of photos I will be writing the bulk of thread after I return home and can go through thousands of photos to select the best ones. Consequently keep any eye out for updates next week, but in the interim if anyone has any questions they would like to ask while I am on board feel free to add those now. Itinerary Day 1 - Embark in Seward Day 2 - Hubbard Glacier Day 3 - Juneau Day 4 - Skagway Day 5 - Icy Strait Point Day 6 - Ketchikan Day 7 - Inside Passage Day 8 - Disembark in Vancouver So far every port has been awesome and weather has been great. Our time at Hubbard Glacier was incredible and very different from Explorer's trip to the Dawes Glacier in June. That's just a tease, I'll get into that in more detail once I go through the pictures and videos of calving I have. We've just arrived in Skagway and I am heading out for my day of self exploring. Later...
  11. Hey fellows and learned cruisers. I am just about to sail on Ovation of the Seas for a 7 night journey to Alaska .... set to depart on 31st May, 2019. I was just curious, is there any chance I can get to see Northern Lights from aboard the ship ????? Royal Caribbean does mention on the Ovation of the Seas webpage ... "See the Northern Lights in Juneau" Its hard to believe..... any experiences / thoughts ? See the Northern Lights in Juneau
  12. The Alaskan Cruise Experience Last year while on Symphony, we used NextCruise to book a vacation for this summer and decided on skipping the beach again and enjoying the cold temperatures (oh, and the views) of Alaska. There's also dog sledding and puppies in Alaska so that's a big plus too! I plan to get lots of pictures and videos of the Alaskan scenery, and will also be live streaming parts of my adventure on Periscope (if possible, Alaska is too far north for VOOM). I will be traveling with my parents again and we are all excited for our fourth cruise together. This cruise will be a Back-to-Back like the past two cruises have been, but with one small twist... I'll mention that later. This cruise will have many firsts for us, one of which includes a new class of ship! We have never sailed on a Quantum Class ship and I am excited to explore the new class, and use the different activities and spaces that Quantum Class offers. I will go more in depth about the ship later as well. The Itinerary Like I stated before, this cruise has many firsts for me. One first includes that we will be doing our origin port activities after the cruise, and will arrive in Seattle the day before the cruise. We don't have as much on board activities planned like we have on previous cruises, and will be going more day-by-day and booking things once on board. [ I find it ironic that for July 4th, we are in British Columbia! It will be a busy but fun few weeks for vacation in Alaska. The Ship This will be the first time for all of us to cruise on a Quantum Class ship, and I am excited to explore Ovation of the Seas. I'm especially excited to use the North Star and 270, which will hopefully give great views of glaciers and the Alaskan views. I am also excited to use the activities offered at the Sea Plex. We were lucky to sail on Ovation during its inaugural season sailing to Alaska. This is the first time a Quantum Class ship is sailing in Alaska, making it the largest cruise ship to ever sail in Alaska. This is also the farthest north that Ovation has gone, making this a first time season for Ovation. We are excited to be apart of this special season for Ovation! The Cabin We will again be staying in a Grand Suite (GS) for this cruise, but the twist is that we will be switching cabins between weeks. This will be a little annoying, but hopefully Royal Caribbean will make the process smooth and easy. If anyone has any insight on how this works, please post below! Being in a suite, this will give us access to the Sky Class exclusive features, amenities, and experiences. We have enjoyed these perks on our last two cruises (especially Coastal Kitchen) and hope that our experience will be the same as on other Royal ships! For the first week, we have a cabin on the 8th deck port side, while the second week is a cabin on the 11th deck starboard side. This will give us different views for each week while on our balcony. It will also be interesting to compare the deck levels, as we usually stay on a lower deck than we will be on the second week. I will provide a room tour on both Periscope and a tour on this blog. Shore Excursions, Dining, and Entertainment Because of Alaska being so scenic and beautiful, we have booked many shore excursions for the two weeks. We hope to experience and see many different things while in Alaska, and have booked excursions for every port that are different than the last. You can see the excursions we have booked above. We do plan to do self exploration while in Victoria the second week, as we couldn't find another excursion that peaked our interest. I hope that on the ship we can book the North Star Alaskan Experience, as I couldn't find that on my pre cruise planner anywhere. Since the excursions are plentiful and expensive, we plan to limit our onboard expenditures. This includes specialty dining. We plan to optimise our suite perks, and use the included dining offered to suite guests at the Coastal Kitchen. We find that the food is delicious at Coastal Kitchen on the Oasis Class, and hope that this will continue on Ovation of the Seas. We have planned to eat at Chops and Jamies, because we have previously eaten at and enjoyed the food at both of these restaurants. I'm excited to enjoy the Grilled Bacon at Chops and the Planks at Jamies again! There is only one show that requires reservations on Ovation: Pixels. Because of our Sky Class status, we don't need to book reservations for shows (at least on our last two sailings) so we hope we can just show up, or book on the Royal iQ app. It does seem like the shows on Allure and Symphony were longer and more robust, but this shouldn't matter as Alaska is our entertainment! Technology I am a major tech nerd, and this continues while on a cruise. Ovation doesn't use the new Royal app, but uses the older Royal iQ system. This should provide some of the same features, but the app hasn't been updated since 2016, so it might not be accurate and buggy. Ovation does WOW Bands though, and we found these useful while on Symphony, limiting the amount of pocket shuffling needed with our Sea Pass. Reading Twangster's blog, I imagine the internet will be slow and spotty being north in Alaska. This might lead to gaps in blog posts and make things harder for me. Luckily, I won't have to pay to post this blog, as we get complimentary VOOM because of our Sky Class status. I'm excited to see and use the tech that is built into Ovation, and compare it to Symphony and Allure. Pre and Post Cruise Plans We will fly into Seattle on Thursday, leaving a day for any flight or baggage screw-ups. We found a nice but semi-budget friendly hotel close to Terminal 91 for the night near downtown Seattle. We plan to use the hotel shuttle to the terminal, but if that doesn't work out we will use Uber or a taxi. When we get back we will spend 4 nights in Seattle to see things such as the Boeing factory, Pikes Market, and the Space Needle. We haven't booked anything yet, and that's the plan after I post this blog. On the 16th, we will fly back home and enjoy the rest of the summer at home! Miscellaneous Periscope: CraftyCat05 Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157709255492608 We didn't get any drink, specialty dining, or spa packages, as we find we never get our money's worth on these. Unlike last year, I plan to bring my DSLR to take pictures of glaciers, wildlife, and Alaska in general! This is only my second blog, so hopefully this will be more polished than last years... Hopefully I'll finish it too! The days of cruising will hopefully make it easier to blog than it was last year. There was only one sea day in the Mediterranean! I will be leaving my 21 pound Schnoodle at the Pet Resort in town. He will also be staying in 5 paw accommodations, which include a webcam for us to view him while traveling. After the cruise I will post the cruise planner and other documents that we received throughout the week. Don't be afraid to ask questions! Hope you enjoy the SemiLive blog! More to come....
  13. Has anyone stayed in the Ocean view cabins on deck 4? We will be booking 2 connecting ocean view rooms but we are curious about noise level from promenade above? Thanks ?
  14. For any Alaska cruisers who have Icy Strait Point (ISP) as a port of call here is a handout that was provided by Royal during a recent cruise that called on ISP. ISP.PDF
  15. Hello All. RCCL, in all it's wonderful glory, has removed our scheduled shore excursions from the CP offerings. As has been a hot topic several times in the last few weeks, I suspect that the current CP sale possibly may have them at a lower cost but doesn't want me to cancel and rebook at the new lower price (although, I did purchase most of our excursion on the BF Sale, so they needn't worry, but I digress). So, I'm wondering if any of you Alaska cruisers could shoot me the price of these excursions, that is if you're seeing them in your CP: Fly-out Fly Fishing in Juneau, Icy Strait Point Stream Fishing in ISP, and Knudson Cove Salmon Fishing in Ketchikan. Many thanks! aisle=grocery isle=RCCL
  16. Does anyone have any insight to whether there will be changes to Ovation when it moves to Alaska next summer (2019). We are booked for June 14-21 and have been on Anthem, just wondered if they will have Broadway/West End type Broadway show, etc. It does not appear to have this type of entertainment now. I understand there is a NOODLE place instead of Johnny Rockets? Any other differences that folks are aware of.
  17. T minus 2 days. Bags packed. Boarding pass printed. SetSail pass printed. Luggage tags ready. Check, check, check and check. I think I'm ready. Amazingly I don't feel like I forgotten anything, which means in about 10 hours at 35,000' I will remember exactly what I forgot. Such is cruising. For the flight to Seattle tomorrow I have a 6am departure. I had plenty of choices of flight times all day but I chose 6am so I could visit something in Seattle I've always wanted but haven't been able to yet. The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit at the base of the Space Needle. I'm a sucker for blown glass so I'm looking forward to this as a pre-cruise excursion. I'm flying with Delta, my favorite airline since I am heavily vested in it's frequent flier program. At 13,500 Skymiles this may be the cheapest round trip flight I've booked using frequent flier miles. A direct flight was available departing later and arriving at nearly the same time but at several thousand more miles so I chose a connection in Salt Lake City given the early time of day plus day before cruise booking. Connections don't bother me since I've flown a bunch. Loyalty pays - I've been upgraded to first class on both segments. Not bad for an 'award' ticket. My son is joining me on this cruise flying in from the East coast. With a Friday to Friday cruise itinerary it meant an extra day of vacation for him so another day on top of that to fly in the day before was a problem. He doesn't get that much time off at this point in his career. He elected to fly in the day off the cruise, something I tend to avoid. Flying from the East coast the time change is working in his favor. Fingers crossed. I booked my cruise through MEI Travel and added the official hotel for the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise when it was offered oh so long ago. Time flies, it's almost cruise day! Shout out to Jacki York at MEI Travel for proactively checking each and every sale over several months to verify I had the best price. Our cabin on this cruise is an interior with virtual balcony. A full balcony cabin was nearly twice the price, per person of course. I did an Alaskan cruise last year on Celebrity with a balcony. One Alaska lesson I learned last year was that good excursions can be pricey. Alaska excursions are well worth the price in my opinion to experience Alaska however adding up the total cost of a vacation experience on my second Alaska cruise I chose to spend money favoring excursions that were my second choice from last year over the cabin so interior virtual balcony it is. Basically by booking an interior cabin we got our excursions 'included' compared to the cost of booking a balcony. Excursions this time around: Juneau Skagway (The description read much better when I booked it!) Victoria Booked during various sales it definitely pays to book excursions early and watch sales. Most of them have increased in price over the months since booking. I booked our excursions with enough time for us to self explore before or after as weather permits. Alaska here we come! With that it's time to close my laptop and pack it, else I might forget it in the morning at oh-dark-early when my ride arrives to carry me to the airport.
  18. When we are in Skagway next summer, we are scheduled for two excursions for the day: the White Pass train from 8:10 to 11:25 AM and then Ziplining from 1:40 to 5:40 PM. Any ideas as to meeting places? Since we will already be off the ship, do they have a meeting place on pier for those folks? Given that there are roughly 1:45 minutes of lunch time in there, do we eat lunch in port or go back to the ship? pinging @KJ1231 @twangster
  19. For lunch/dinner in Juneau: Tracy's Crab Shack or The Hanger?
  20. I was on the website looking st the options for Alaska and there’s a ton of options. Boat and land tours. Overwhelming to say the least. Does anyone know if there’s a brochure or can offer some guidance on how to sort through all the different cruises. What are your suggestions of which one to do or which ones to avoid. i know Alaska is super expensive, when is the best time to book for 2020? Thanks
  21. We've done five cruises (4 RCC) in the Caribbean: west, east and south; But now we're looking for Alaska 2019 and the inside cabins are more than the balconies we've had in all of our previous cruises. Is this "normal price" for Alaska?I I was thinking "ok, interiores in the Ovation are all virtual balcony" but Expedia has a +$500ish for interior rooms with virtual balcony! Do you think these prices are because the ships they have for 2019?
  22. First Alaskian 7 day cruise from Seattle is booked. We have two 18 yr olds and a 15 yr old. Share your experiences on the Ovation.
  23. If anyone has a cruise compass from THIS past summer's Alaska sailings on Radiance, may I request that you upload them to the Cruise Compass section of the blog? Many, many thanks!!
  24. We are scheduled for July 2019 Southbound Alaska on ROTS. We have the following shore excursions booked and would be interested in your experiences. DS will be 14 1/2 on this trip. In ANC two days before embarkation Rust's Fly-out Fly fishing. Day 3 Juneau Fly-Out Fly Fishing (DH and DS), Mount Roberts Tramway (will buy tickets on shore) whole family, and Tracy's King Crab Shack (late lunch/early dinner) whole family Day 4 Skagway On our own: Klondike Gold Rush/National Historic Park whole family @twangster: Many thanks for the recommendation Day 5 Icy Strait Point In Alaska's Wildest Kitchen (me), Icy Strait Point Stream Fishing (DH and DS) Day 6 Ketchikan Knudson Cove Salmon Fishing whole family, hopefully will have Mystery Dinner theater this evening. Day 7 Cruising Hello Chops!
  25. Simple question: Alaska Soubound. Stateroom starboard or portside?
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