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By Land or By Sea - Radiance Cruise Tour 3B - June 6-17, 2022


melmar02
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Our Covid tests just came back negative, so it's official. We're headed to Alaska tomorrow!

It will be DH, DD (13), DS (10), and myself. We've been planning for a few years to take an Alaskan cruise tour to celebrate DH's 50th birthday, and we chose 3B which is the southbound 11 night Mountain Valley Explorer. His only requirement was to take the train to or from Denali. Comparing the rest of the cruise tours, this seemed to be the best fit for our family, and our kids are excited that a couple of animal centered excursion were already included. 

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Were flying to non-stop to Anchorage from Dallas on American a day early and staying at the Embassy Suites in midtown. About 6 weeks ago, we tried to book a room at the Marriott so we wouldn't have to switch hotels, but they were already full. Our plane lands about 8:30pm tomorrow night, which will feel like 11:30 to us, so we don't expect to do anything tomorrow night. Right now we're planning on spending our free morning before the tour begins at the Anchorage Museum and Discovery Center. It looks like a nice mix of art, history, and science exhibits. We'll meet the guide at the Marriott and then explore a park on the coast and find somewhere to eat dinner before heading back to the hotel.

Once onboard, we'll be in cabin 9656, which is a 2 bedroom Owner's Suite. We received our email from the suite concierge, Ilona, today - 6 days before we board. Our cruise in February on Liberty got us up to 81 points, enough to be diamond on this cruise. If the double points promotion math works out, we'll be at 125 when this cruise ends. I can see Diamond Plus in the distance!

Because of our free diamond drinks and the suite lounge, we just purchased the refreshment package this time around. We have MTD and no extra dining package, but we may eat at Chops or Izumi one night. No digital photo package has been available online. Prints only. So I'll be looking for that onboard. Because of the unreliable internet, we're just going to pay for a couple of days at the end of the cruise. Hopefully the connection will be good enough to complete our emed tests then.

We've been packing all afternoon, and it's been a bit of a challenge as we normally drive to port. I managed to get the kids into a land bag and a cruise bag with a backpack each, but DH and I are struggling. Our big bags are too big and overweight, and our carry on size bags are too small. Our pups, Moxie and Merlin, are struggling too. They know what's coming.

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I'm not sure how live this will be with only occasional internet, so it may turn into more of a trip report. I've been practicing with the new camera, so this Twansgter Wannabe will be posting a lot of pictures at some point!  

 

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Normally we sail the 7 day Caribbean itineraries out of Galveston which leave on Sunday. We finish up work on Friday, scramble to get packed, complete all the other little tasks that have to be done around the house, and rush out the door to make the 5 hour drive on Saturday morning. It's amazing the difference a day day makes, and  preparation has been much more relaxed this time. We're all packed, the dishwasher is running, lamp timers are set, and we still have a couple hours before we have to leave to drop off the dogs and get to the airport. There's a much more 'vacation-y' vibe in the house right now, which is nice since we are going to want to see and do it all once we get to Alaska. That feeling will probably vanish once we start to load the car. 

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Depending on when you get to Seward, you might want to consider one of the Kenai Fjord boat tours.  We did one after our northbound to Seward couple weeks ago and it was well worth it.  They generally leave between 10a-12noon, so it might not fit into your timing before all aboard, but if you can do it, I recommend it.

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25 minutes ago, Peter D said:

Depending on when you get to Seward, you might want to consider one of the Kenai Fjord boat tours.  We did one after our northbound to Seward couple weeks ago and it was well worth it.  They generally leave between 10a-12noon, so it might not fit into your timing before all aboard, but if you can do it, I recommend it.

Sounds fun, but I'm not sure if we'll have time since we're on the cruise tour first.

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Well, we made it. The captain must have been on island time, because his idea of a few minutes was closer to 45. The 2 hour delay put us in Anchorage around 9:30pm. By the time we got our luggage and caught an Uber to the hotel it was so late none of us really wanted anything big to eat, so it was sandwiches from the hotel lobby. Uber XL was easy to get and was less than $20 and 10 minutes to the hotel. We got to bed about 11pm local time which felt like 2am Texas time. 🥴

Here are a few pictures of the room and lobby at the Embassy Suites.

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We were on Radiance last month - have an amazing time!  We didn't do the cruisetour before hand, but wish we had. Our favorite things about our sailing were the two train rides we did. We did Goldstar on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward then in Skagway the White Pass Summit Railway.  If we ever go back to Alaska, we'll be exploring the interior more. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the delay. We got back Friday to a few problems at the house. Our main refrigerator stopped working while we were gone, so we had to run out to get a new one. Fortunately it will be delivered later this week. Then I started feeling achy Saturday and tested positive for Covid. Everyone else is negative. I'm really just having body aches and what feels like a little more than my normal allergy cough. No fever or any other symptoms.

Anyway, the short version - the scenery and wildlife were spectacular on both the land and cruise portions, but we would not do a RC land tour again. Before the cruise DH said this will probably be the only time we will make the trip to Alaska, but by the end of the land tour that changed to, "when we come up here next time we'll put together our own land vacation before our cruise." Service on the ship was phenomenal - the ship was at 70% capacity and felt very intimate. DH and I love this size ship, DS loved the Adventure Ocean as always, DD was a little disappointed in the Teen club. 

Details and pictures to come over the next few days. 

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30 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

Sorry for the delay. We got back Friday to a few problems at the house. Our main refrigerator stopped working while we were gone, so we had to run out to get a new one. Fortunately it will be delivered later this week. Then I started feeling achy Saturday and tested positive for Covid. Everyone else is negative. I'm really just having body aches and what feels like a little more than my normal allergy cough. No fever or any other symptoms.

Anyway, the short version - the scenery and wildlife were spectacular on both the land and cruise portions, but we would not do a RC land tour again. Before the cruise DH said this will probably be the only time we will make the trip to Alaska, but by the end of the land tour that changed to, "when we come up here next time we'll put together our own land vacation before our cruise." Service on the ship was phenomenal - the ship was at 70% capacity and felt very intimate. DH and I love this size ship, DS loved the Adventure Ocean as always, DD was a little disappointed in the Teen club. 

Details and pictures to come over the next few days. 

Sorry to hear about the "downs" but I'm glad that the "ups" appear to have good.

Wishing you a speedy recovery and looking forward to reading about your adventures when you're feeling better.

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Ok, better late than never, right?

We woke up on Monday the 6th and were very thankful for the 3 hour time difference since we got in so late. We didn't have to be at the Marriott to meet with the land tour director until 3pm. We had our free breakfast at the Embassy Suites which was the standard Hilton free breakfast fare with the addition of an omelet station and a pancake/French toast station. I got the impression the omelet guy was new, and most of the ingredients in mine were a little bit burnt, but otherwise the food was ok for a free breakfast. 

We decided to go ahead and check out of the Embassy Suites and move over to the Marriott as they would hold all our luggage until our room was ready. Again, it was easy to get an Uber from mid-town to down town. We checked our luggage with the bell hop, took a picture with the bear in the looby, and walked a few blocks to the Anchorage Museum and Discovery Center.

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I read reviews that it would only take an hour or two to get through the museum, and they were wrong. After 3 hours, the kids were done (and hungry), but we still had quite a bit to see. Needless to say, cranky kids always win, so we missed couple sections. This museum is a good mix of art, history, and kid's science. I wish we would have started with the kids section and skipped a couple of the modern art bits, as that's just not our thing. It was interesting, but I guess I'm more of a landscape girl. The exhibits on local cultures were fascinating and DD and I could have stayed another hour or two just in that area. 

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At about 2pm, DS had really had enough, and was ready to gnaw his own arm off. We headed back towards the hotel and stopped at Alaska's Gourmet Subs. DH had a meatball sandwich and said it was good, but he's had better. DD and DS both got the peperoni pizza (no one was ready to try reindeer sausage yet). DS said it was ok, but DD said it was the best pizza she's ever had. Big words coming from a super taster!

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We got back to the Marriott just after 3pm and walked up to the table with the Royal Caribbean sign. Turns out there's an orientation we get to sign up for! We thought this was great because we had no real details for the land package. I mean, we knew where we were supposed to be going, what things were included, and had the list of the optional excursions, but not much beyond that. They offered the orientation at 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7pm. If your flight got in after that, the tour director met with you in the lobby the next morning.

We selected 4pm so we would have the night free. We checked into the room, got our luggage delivered from the bell hop, and headed back downstairs with our pre-land tour covid tests in hand. We were ushered into a little room with 5 other people who were on the 3B tour and met our tour guide. She passed out a more detailed itinerary, which had listed most of the expected times we would be at places and when we needed to leave our bags in the halls, etc., but there were still some gaps. She also gave us a list of optional excursions, which didn't quite match what was listed on RC's excursion list. Her list was much shorter and one of the options we really wanted was not being offered. The way excursions work is that you sign up from her list, then she calls to see if there is room on the excursion, and if so, your card is charged. After 30 minutes, we were sent on our way. No one ever asked to see our covid results. With our new list of excursions in hand, we headed back to the room, ordered Chinese via Uber Eats, and called it a night. Bags had to be in the hall by 6am the next morning, and we had to be ready to get on the bus at 7:30am.

 

 

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