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2Beeze

Alaska Pre and post tours

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So as we are a couple of weeks from the next cruise, I am getting the itch to get something nailed down for 2020 (even though we are also booked for Thanksgiving 2019, it is an illness 😂). The last time to AK was beyond amazing and maybe the best vacation of our lives, but then we were in the Haven on an NCL ship and had the most wonderful perks (like watching glacier chunks float by as I showered or the top deck viewing for the glacier in the inlet with warmed blankets while being served hot chocolate or coffee). We spent a week post cruise in Vancouver and it was also amazing. So it will be hard to beat, but I will try to match it at least.

soo.... I looked last night at the late May/early June options for AK (just about right weather wise). It seemed that the Radiance was the main ship from RCL to AK at that time of year. While I  didn’t find any options for decent aft jr suites, but then it would be hard to pass but that crazy cool balcony of the grand suites!  I would love some opinions of this ship for AK 😊

My main question is about the post tours - we have always done our own in the past and I am not quite sure of the value of these via RCCL. There are several that look interesting, including the 10 day with wildlife express cruisetour 1A (post). They definitely are not giving this away, it will be quite a lot more per person than even the Haven was... so if anyone has done any cruises like this, I would love to know what you thought about it!

 

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in 2014 we did the Radiance southbound out of Seward with a pre-cruise tour that went from Fairbanks to Anchorage.  The land and cruise portions are two entirely different animals and I would highly recommend that you do the land portion first so you can relax once you get to the cruise!  The land portion you have to move from hotel to hotel each night it was nice to get to the cruise and be able to unpack for the entire week.  We did the 8B cruisetour that Royal offers.   It included a visit to Denali National Park, a paddlewheel boat ride, and the glass dome train ride on several days.  Then at each stop of the land tour you had time on your own to explore the town and there were optional excursions.  My father took a plane trip and got to walk on a glacier; I got to play with sled dog puppies..we saw tons of wildlife.  The only thing that I didn't like was that the land portion ended with a bus ride from Anchorage to Seward.  We opted to take the Alaskan railroad train instead on our own and it was definitely the better choice.  We went end of May/beginning of June and it was a great time to go. 

We had two grand suites on Radiance on the opposite sides of the ship, so we would run back and forth between the two.  If you book a suite on the ship, you also get double cruise points for the land portion but there aren't suite accommodations for the land hotels.

While I'm happy to be doing Ovation for the "unofficial" group cruise next June, I will miss visiting Icy Strait Point.  That was my favorite port on the cruise.  We took a private whale watching trip and went out on a boat with 6 people and saw so many whales and had an excellent time.

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We did the 3 day pre-cruise followed by the 7 day South Bound cruise from Seward  to Vancouver late July 2017.  Fairbanks two days with Gold Dredge visit, River Cruise, Train ride to Denali,  Tour of Denali, Bus ride to Seward.   Liked the hotel in Fairbanks.  The Gold Dredge and River Cruise in Fairbanks had great production value and exceeded my expectation.  Museum of the North at UofA Fairbanks is well worth it.  The train ride from Fairbanks to Denali was 1st class with a great fresh cooked breakfast.   Did not like the Hotel in Denali.    The long bus tour of Denali was great, but long.  Bus ride from Denali to Seward was long with a stop in Anchorage for lunch on your own.

Radiance was great. We had a JS port side amidship with adjoining ocean view for the DD's.  The balcony partition was a solid bulkhead and could not be opened. Great ship, service, food, outings.  

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Thanks for the information everyone! The one thing that I didn’t think about was the moving hotel to hotel that Ashley mentioned, I can see how that would be kind of chaotic. Part of what we loved about our last cruise there is that I found this great hotel that had basically a nice 2 br 2 ba condo and we stayed 5 nights using that as a base and making some day trips. 

As much as we enjoyed Vancouver, and it was a blast, it was not a great deal of fun flying in and flying out bc of passport issues – and the access to the port was not the easiest. But all or most of the RCCL AK cruises have Vancouver as one anchor point. I would love to sail from Seattle (I spent my 16th summer there and it remains one of my favorite memories) or even San Francisco (I was so young the last time I was there I actually don’t remember much of it). If someone could call RCCL and get that done?! 😗😂

I liked the look of the Radiance, but so glad to get that verified. Thanks again! 😊

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1 hour ago, mworkman said:

@2Beeze Seattle is not the city that you remember.

Oh no  🤦🏼‍♀️ It was such an amazing place in 1976. I was there at an academic camp at perhaps the oddest college in the world (Evergreen State in Olympia, WA). I loved everything about it - the people, the air, the flora and fauna, and the boys (I cannot lie). The tag end of the yippies (for those born recently that is not a spelling error) came through while I was there; they were unlike any of the people I had encountered to that point in my young life and I was mesmerized by the entire experience. Like so many other things from the past, maybe it is best just to leave that memory a memory. Thanks for letting me know, as disappointing as it was to hear!

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Ovation does roundtrip Seattle sailings to Alaska if you're looking for a taste.  Certainly makes logistics easy.  If you want to do the June 5, 2020 sailing with us check with MEI for the unofficial group rate 😏

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50 minutes ago, AshleyDillo said:

Ovation does roundtrip Seattle sailings to Alaska if you're looking for a taste.  Certainly makes logistics easy.  If you want to do the June 5, 2020 sailing with us check with MEI for the unofficial group rate 😏

Oh, great, I will go back and check that one! I don’t know much about the Ovation, I will look it up. We had already decided to use MEI this time around as we didn’t get to the last time mostly due to an email glitch on my side. I like Vancouver fine, although not the entry from the exhaust filled basement level parking deck, but that in and out with the passport in the airport and disembarking is just a giant pain no matter how you look at it (even with the passport app). 

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5 hours ago, 2Beeze said:

 

As much as we enjoyed Vancouver, and it was a blast, it was not a great deal of fun flying in and flying out bc of passport issues

My wife is not a morning person and neither is US Customs Agent Brown.  My wife and Agent Brown clashed over the look my wife gave her when Agent Brown told my wife to remove her hat and sunglasses, while declaring ourselves at the airport in Vancouver.  The entire family had to spend 15 minutes in the penalty box while Agent Brown investigated my wife's passport.  Yes, it is a glass holding area that only opens with a key card.

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2 hours ago, wstephensi said:

 The entire family had to spend 15 minutes in the penalty box while Agent Brown investigated my wife's passport.  

That referred to in the south as being put in time out....northerns call it a penalty box. 🤦‍♂️😆

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@wstephensi and @mworkman

OMG. And here it was just the time issue that worried me! So if the side eye, eye rolling, or the “mother look” can also be an issue well I am sunk because if there is anything a Belle can do it’s to let you know exactly what we think of you and everything else on the planet with just our eyes in half a second 🙄😭😭😭😭 if someone is going to put me in a penalty box for “a look” then I definitely need to avoid CA (as should Mrs. @wstephensi 🤣). Or maybe I should take my CA brother-in-law with me. 

My only question is something I think I may already know the answer to... was she talking to herself and maybe at him while in time out (aka the penalty box?!) 😉

 

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So this was at the Vancouver Airport US Customs Station on our way to Seattle following our cruise.  My wife was bringing up the rear when I presented the family to Agent Brown.  From her Judge Dread elevated seat she asked who the last person in our group was.  I replied my wife.  As I turned to confirm  Agent Brown, firmly but politely, told my wife to remove her hat and sunglasses.  I completed my turn just as my wife removed her sunglasses and gave Agent Brown the biggest eat poop look.  I have been on the receiving end of the look many times and instantly knew that Agent Brown was going to have to prove to my wife that the US Customs Service was not to be taken lightly.  "It seems there is a problem with your passport Mrs Stephens.  You and your family please follow me."  She led us into a glass room that she had to open with a key card, directing us to have a seat and wait while another agent investigated the problem.

15 minutes later another agent used his key card to open the door and directed us out.  With the door open the agent yelled sarcastically, "Thank you Agent Brown!"

Our flight was delayed for two hours.  I'm curtain that Agent Brown had our bags unloaded and searched or at least my wife's bags.

My wife and I get a good laugh out of the situation today.  Not so much as it was happening.

4 hours ago, 2Beeze said:

My only question is something I think I may already know the answer to... was she talking to herself and maybe at him while in time out (aka the penalty box?!) 😉

 

No.  My wife knew that she had started the war of wills and was losing fast.

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We LOVED our southbound cruise on the Radance from Seward to Vancouver AFTER Fairbanks, Denali, and Anchorage. Land portion before cruise is the way to go. Not wild about our international flight from Vancouver at all. Next time we will drive across the border into the US and fly a domestic flight from Seattle. We booked our flights through Royal Caribbean (can't remember what that part of company is called right now.) 

i also did an inside passage cruise round trip from Seattle. Remember that this is the part of Alaska that runs along the western border with Canada, not the large land mass that is Alaska. It was beautiful, but as Denali was on my bucket list, I made sure to do that itinerary the 2nd time around. 

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If it is your first trip to Alaska, I recommend doing the RCCL pre-cruise.  It was a good value and well executed.  Unpack and rest on the ship.  The land tour is busy with early mornings and late nights.

When we go back we will cruise again, but we will plan our own land tour.  I will use the train as much as possible to travel and avoid the bus.  We want to go above the arctic circle and spend more time in Denali.  We also want a better hotel than the one RCCL put us up in in Denali. 

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