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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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Day two of the land tour.

We met in the lobby at 7:30am and got on the bus with the 40 other people on tour 3B to head to the train station. Our train left at 8:15am.

1745234113_20220607_0801271.thumb.jpg.cf42a20d8b9bfdb9cce0f08db46a6172.jpgWe boarded a double decker, domed rail car. The dining car and restrooms were on the bottom level, and the seating area was on the top level. There was a narrow spiral staircase to get between the two decks, but they did also have a small elevator.

I didn't get a great shot of the train, but on the back it said it was 18 feet 1 inch tall.

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Everyone started upstairs in the main seating area, and shortly after we left the station, they started seating people for breakfast. We thought the kids would enjoy eating on the train, so we opted to skip the buffet at the hotel. The kids both ordered the Miner's Breakfast and the Blueberry pancakes, and both tried the reindeer sausage. DH And I both got the Denali Scramble thinking we would get to try some of the kids' pancakes...we were wrong. 

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Did I mention the bar? DH and I also had Bloody Marys with breakfast which I guess made up for the kids not sharing their pancakes. IMG_0692.thumb.JPG.cf885bc16a20fdea820b16de8f853bf5.JPG

The train made a couple of stops along the way to pick up people in small towns, but the main stop on our 7.5 hour journey was Talkeetna. Our tour stops here on the way back. Everyone stayed onboard and we continued to Denali. Because we took both legs of the journey, we could also order lunch. This is a partial menu from the Wilderness Express website - they also had a vegetarian and kids menu. I didn't get any good food pictures from lunch, but the birch syrup ice cream was really good.

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The views from the train were stunning, and you could go out onto the platforms on the bottom level. Here are a few shots from our trek north.

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We departed the train at 3:40pm and boarded a bus to take us to Denali Park Village. The rooms in this hotel are teeny tiny, and when you're traveling with 4 people and your land and cruise luggage, it's a really tight fit. You know what else they don't tell you in the brochure? Most hotels in the interior don't have air conditioning. It makes sense when the highs only get to the 70s or 80s, but it was pretty warm when we arrived. Our room faced the sun, and with only a fan that we found hidden in the armoire, it was a pretty miserable night. There aren't a lot of dining options at this resort - the dinner buffet and the bar were the only two venues open when we got there, and the buffet was $55 per person. 

One of the optional excursions we wanted to do was the Husky Homestead which is in Denali. It started at 7pm and was about a 30 minute bus ride to get to the Dog Gone It Kennels in Cantwell. We had about 10 minutes to hold puppies, which would have been ok (let's face it, that's the real reason we came), but a second bus load of people pulled up behind us. There were about 100 people on this tour (45-50 per bus), and those other people cut into our fur baby time! 😆 We also got to see, but not hold of course, pups that were just born the day before. So small! Then we were walked around to where the older dogs were kept and they hooked some of the dogs up to a 4 wheeler for summer training. The next 1.5-2 hours was a very well put together slideshow and presentation about the Iditarod - how they train for and run the race. It was about 15 minutes too long for me, and about 30-45 minutes too long for the kids. They just wanted more time with the dogs. It was really well run, and a lot of interesting information. It was 10pm by the time we got back to the hot hotel, so we got ready for bed. Bags had to be out by 7:30 in the morning.

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Day three of the land package.

Our room never really cooled off, even with the window open, so no one slept well. The other side of the hotel faced a river, and some people on our tour said they were cold on that side of the building.

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We were all pretty tired, but today was the day we try to see Denali. Only 30% of the people that go to see the mountain get to see it without cloud cover. We boarded the bus and headed into the park. According to the Royal Caribbean materials, we should have been able to extend the drive into the park; however, there had been a landslide, and they were not offering that upgrade. This was probably a blessing in disguise as I don't think DS would have done well on a longer bus journey.

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We were greeted by Alaska's state bird, the Ptarmigan.

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And became members of the 30% Club.

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We drove a little farther into the park and spotted a moose in the distance. Fortunately the road took us a little closer.

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We stopped for photos again just before we turned around to come out of the park. Clouds had begun to form around Denali's peak.

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From there, we headed to the visitor's center in the park. Along the way, another moose ventured into the road and stopped traffic for a bit. Then we spotted another eating in the woods.

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At the visitor's center, there was a restaurant - burgers, chicken strips, pre-made sandwiches, etc. We had lunch and then walked a short trail. The wildlife in Denali is crazy!

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We boarded our bus and headed to Talkeetna which was about 3 hours away. We wanted to take an optional fishing excursion, but it wasn't being offered on our tour. They had just had a ton of rain, and the rivers were really full. We instead went with plan b, a jet boat tour. There was some confusion with this excursion as there are two lobbies in the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge and we were supposed to meet in the secondary lobby at 6:30pm. Our bus pulled up to the hotel about 5:30pm and about 6pm we finally got off the bus (not all of the rooms were ready). The tour director walked us to the secondary lobby so we knew where to go, and the excursion was already about to leave. Apparently the 6:30 time told to the tour director was when the boat pulled away from the dock, we were actually supposed to meet the shuttle at 6pm. A little stressful, but we made it to the Talkeetna Princess.

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Both the kids enjoyed this excursion. DS especially liked that we could stand at the back of the boat while it was moving. DD was not so adventurous and waited for the vessel to stop.

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We spotted an eagle's nest and were able to see both adult birds. Towards the end of our river ride, we disembarked and took a short hike to a trapper's cabin complete with storage building on stilts to keep the bears out.  Now I swear that I saw a bear on the way back to the dock, but I didn't get a picture and no one else saw it. So the catch phrase for the rest of the trip was a sarcastic, "Yeah, Mom saw a bear."

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We got back to the hotel around 8:30 and headed to the restaurant in lobby. The views from the lobby and restaurant are of Denali, and even at 10:30pm when we finished dinner the sun was still up.

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Bags had to be out at 9am, and the bus was to leave at 10am the next day.

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Day four of the land tour.

We appreciated being able to sleep in a little after our late excursion, and we opened the window as soon as we got to the room, so it was a comfortable temperature. We had a leisurely breakfast at the buffet, and waited in the lobby for the bus to arrive. And we waited... And. We. Waited. About 10:30 the tour director said there was a delay and she was not allowed to give us any details. We thought maybe the bus driver tested positive for covid since she kept saying she wasn't allowed to give any more information. DH and the kids killed some time playing cards, and I read and took more pictures of the mountain and helicopter/plane tours. After all, we were not going to be seeing Denali again.

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About noon, the tour director finally told us that there was a problem with the bus, not the driver. Her husband, who is a driver with the same company, was bringing his bus to our hotel so we could continue our trip. We finally left Talkeetna about 1:30pm and our next stop was Anchorage. The original plan was to stop for 2 hours in the city for lunch and for those who did not bring emed tests to go to a testing center to take their test to be able to board the cruise ship. The delay threw that off a little, and we didn't get to Anchorage until almost 4pm. The covid policies for the company were changing with every tour and instead of testing at the hotel this evening as most of us planned, the tour company required everyone to get off the bus at the convention center to test. If you had your emed test, you were brought to a big open room with several tables to complete the video call. This meant the driver had to pull the luggage off the bus in the middle of downtown Anchorage as some people had theirs packed. The process seemed extremely disorganized, and you could tell the tour director was frustrated with the changes. They have only been back to cruise tours for 4 weeks since being shut down so I'm sure it all felt new. Plus they kept changing where and when they wanted us to test on her. To get everyone's results took about 2 hours, but in the end, I think this worked out the best.

1. The entire group tested all at once so no one could accidentally forget or not be able to test because of poor internet connection at the hotel. You had to show your negative results to get back onto the bus and continue the tour.

2. A couple people had invalid emed tests and they were able to get tested at the convention center while we were still there. The test at the convention center was $89, but at least they had an alternative.

3. Fortunately everyone in the tour tested negative, but if there was a positive test, you were not allowed to continue with the tour. Had we waited until we were at the hotel that night, or if we had tested the night before and tested positive, we would be stuck in rural Alaska with few options for hotel or transportation.

As I said, everyone was negative though so it was back on the bus to Alyeska which was about an hour away. We arrived about 7pm, got to our room, opened the window and went to dinner at the hotel. This was the nicest hotel as it is a ski resort in the winter. 

The day seemed a little of a waste because of the mechanical problem with the bus, but we didn't really have anything planned. We could have taken the aerial tram to the top of the mountain, but it closed before we arrived. We were ok with the way the day turned out - the kids were tired because of the long bus rides, and tomorrow we have two included excursion before boarding Radiance of the Seas! Bags in the hall by 8:30am, and the bus leaves the hotel at 10.

 

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Day five of the land tour - Day one of the cruise!

So far, breakfast buffets at the hotels have been what you would expect from the free breakfasts at a Hilton - scrambled eggs, sausage/bacon, pastry, pancakes/french toast, and fruit. Today's buffet at the Alyeska Resort was really good though - smoked salmon, reindeer sausage, lingonberry jam, grilled pineapple, vegetable frittata, and a few other items that really made it step above what has been offered so far.

DH started talking about "next time we come up here". Which was a far cry from his previous attitude of "this will be a once in a lifetime trip". After being on someone else's schedule for 5 days and seeing all the wasted time of being in a group of 40 (it takes a good 20-30 minutes just to load or unload the bus for example), we have decided we will do a future pre-cruise land trip on our own. We can spend a couple nights in a few towns so we feel we have time to get a feel for the local culture and not go from hotel to bus to planned activity. Rinse. Repeat. We've already started planning possibilities. We would stay at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and the Alyeska Resort again, but we would definitely not stay at Denali Park Lodge again. Maybe fly into Fairbanks next time. We'll see; no date has been set on this future trip.

Anyway, we got downstairs a few minutes before we were supposed to meet, and we had a bit of a wait which made us a little nervous after yesterday's delay. We boarded our bus about 10:30 leaving all our luggage sitting on the curb of the hotel. A truck picks up the luggage from all the cruise tours and takes it directly to the ship at this point. We made it to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, an included excursion, about 11am. The center is a sanctuary for injured or orphaned animals. We saw wood bison, musk ox, deer, elk, caribou (reindeer), moose, coyotes, wolves, and a couple other critters. We were on a schedule and were only given an hour at this stop, so we missed a few things. I personally think the best parts were the bears. Now everyone had seen one, and the kids (and DH) could stop teasing me. 

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We all piled back onto the bus to go the hour and a half to our last included excursion of the land tour, the Alaska Sea Life Center. We saw dall sheep along the way on the mountains next to the road, but no pictures. The Sea Life Center is at the far end of Seward, and as we drove though, we caught a glimpse of how our day would end.

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A few on the bus wanted to just be dropped off, but we continued on to the aquarium as planned. We have a pretty big aquarium close to home, so this one felt a little small, but they had a long bank of touch tanks, puffins, seals, a sea lion, an octopus, and lunch...I mean a red king crab.

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We were fortunate that our visit happened to be at feeding time for the sea lion. You could tell he knew what was going on when all the people started to gather.

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The pictures don't really do the sea lion or crab justice, they were both huge. The seal and sea lion tanks also have an underwater viewing area on the bottom floor of the center.

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The only salmon we were able to see this trip - they don't run until July. We're planning our return trip a little later in the season so we can see them in the wild.

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After about an hour, we boarded the bus one last time, and you could feel the excitement. It was cruise time!

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There she was!

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Our booking confirmation said to select a check in time between 3:00 and 6:00pm. We selected 3:00pm which was when we left the aquarium. At the pier, we showed our vaccine cards and negative tests, went through security, and were walking up the gangway by 3:30. The terminal building is not connected to the ship via gangway in Seward. You go through the terminal, then walk down the pier to get on the ramp. The luggage and supplies are lowered over the side of the pier and onto the ship by crane. We went straight to our cabin and a couple pieces of our luggage were waiting by the door already.

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Cabin 9656 - 2 Bedroom suite.

The edge of the door you see on the left is the 2nd bathroom - stand up shower with curtain, no photo because it's the same small bathroom in every interior - balcony cabin. I also didn't get a photo of the 2nd bedroom. It's just a square room with the beds and night stands, no vanity or tv on this ship.  

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We prefer the living room layout of the 2 bedroom suites on Liberty and Enchantment. It's a little roomier with a sectional. The master bedroom on this ship also did not have a window which cemented for me that I could never sail in an interior. I need to know if it's light or dark outside, and I wasn't going to turn the tv on to the bridge camera at 3am just to find out.

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Master bath is through the door just to the right of the cubby/cabinet space at the back of this photo. The top cabinet holds the safe.

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Of the 2 bedroom grand suites we've stayed on, the aft balcony on Liberty have been the biggest. This one was smaller being on the corner, but big enough for us this trip.

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There were a lot of weird angles in the cabinets and in this space on the balcony. They really tried to use every space possible in this cabin. Some of it, like on the balcony, was unusable, but none of it was so odd that it would keep us from booking this cabin again. 

We made Diamond with our double points cruise in February, and our pins were waiting on the vanity in the living room along with shore excursion tickets, masks, hand sanitizer, and water.

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We also had a plate of fruit and one of cookies waiting for us in the room. DS got to the fruit (there was also a banana) and I got to the coconut ranger cookies before I took a picture.

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All of our bags were quickly delivered to our room, and we met our stateroom attendant Keisha. All of our room stewards have always been polite and said hi in the halls, but she was really a ray of sunshine. Went out of her way to joke with the kids, always asked what our plans for the day were and if we had a good time when we got back, and she had a good recommendation of where to find Benadryl on land when we ran out toward the end of the cruise (and souvenirs too). She walked us through the laundry process and made sure we had enough bags. Plan A had been to do a load of laundry at the hotel in Talkeetna, however, they closed their laundry rooms between 10pm and 6am. DH, the early riser was going to take care of that early one morning, but 6am may have rushed it. Plan B was to catch an Uber to town in Alyeska as they have a laundromat next to some restaurants close by. Because of the bus delay, that plan was nixed. We packed enough to get us to Plan C which was to take care of it on the ship. By the time we unpacked, sorted and stuffed two laundry bags full, it was after 9pm on that first night. They were back to us before dinner on night two. Our brand new $10 off a bag of laundry diamond discounts were applied without us asking.

At this point the suite lounge was open, so off we went. Now we were on vacation. Ilona the concierge and Johnson the suite lounge bartender were both great and made a point of interacting with everyone in the lounge all week. We've had one or two that just sat behind their little desk (in fact the diamond concierge did just that - I don't even think he introduced himself to us all week), so it's always appreciated when they really make an effort. Johnson was really good at asking the kids what they were in the mood for and making something up - DS had a few off menu mango concoctions and was surprised he couldn't order them anywhere else on the ship.

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We had My Time Dining, but decided to just go to the Windjammer this first night so we wouldn't miss sail away. After dinner, DS and DD headed to the teen club and Adventure Ocean for a little bit, and we all called it a night just after 10pm. We left Seward under a bit of cloud cover, but so far no rain this trip. That of course would change.

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2 hours ago, melmar02 said:

DH started talking about "next time we come up here". Which was a far cry from his previous attitude of "this will be a once in a lifetime trip". After being on someone else's schedule for 5 days and seeing all the wasted time of being in a group of 40 (it takes a good 20-30 minutes just to load or unload the bus for example), we have decided we will do a future pre-cruise land trip on our own.

I loved the land tour we did since we did the one with the most train segments, but it definitely gave me an appetite for more land exploration of Alaska!

The land and cruise portions are so different and both were enjoyable to the point where I would definitely come back for another cruise but I would also love to explore the interior more.  I always advise anyone who thinks this will be their only time visiting Alaska to splurge and do the cruisetour so they get to experience both!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Cruise day 2 - Hubbard Glacier

We went to the Windjammer for breakfast. DS loves the buffet and DH loves the corned beef hash. He was disappointed with it on Liberty in February, and was pleased that Radiance's version was up to par. After breakfast, the kids went to Adventure Ocean / Optix, DH took a nap, and I spent some time in the casino and exploring the ship. Wandering the ship went better than my time at the slots.

There is a dedicated movie theater on this ship. It's pretty small with maybe 20-25 seats, but the chairs looked comfy. It was dark when I went in, so not a great picture.

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Hanging art in the Centrum.

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Totem pole in front of the Sky Bar was being repainted.

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The Main Dining Room was open for lunch, and we took advantage of that instead of the WJ. About 2pm, we stopped at Hubbard Glacier. Unfortunately, there was a lot of ice in the water, so we couldn't get very close. Even with the zoom all the way in on my new camera, I don't think we would have seen any calving. If we return, we'll definitely be booking the excursion that puts you on a smaller boat to get closer. 

Excursion boat leaving.

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Zoomed all the way.

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It was still beautiful, we just wish we could have gotten a little closer. 

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It got cold up on the top decks, so we headed to our balcony to finish the rotation.

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By the time we left the glacier, the suite lounge drinks were calling, so we quickly got ready for formal night. Ilona, the concierge, asked about our dinner plans, and we told her we were going to just walk up to My Time Dinning as soon as they opened. On vacation, we don't plan meals well and just kind of go when we're ready. Well she wasn't going to have us wait in any line, so she called and got us a reservation - gave us her card with the head waiter's name written on it, and told us to go straight to the front of the line and ask for him. She was adamant that we not wait in the reservation line. Apparently she described us to him, because when we went to dinner and started to walk between the two long "have a reservation / don't have a reservation" lines, he flagged us down and took us straight to a table. I wonder if this is what Star Class will feel like, only with a genie escort? Guess we'll find out in April! The head waiter said he would make us standing reservation, but suggested 7:15 or 7:30 as the lines died down by then. Being on the VIP high, we agreed. DS and I were quickly deflated though as there was no duck available. *GASP* This happened a couple times throughout the week - what we think of as standards weren't available.

After dinner we came back to the room to find our first two towel animals. Elle the elephant and Naboris the dog.

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The kids headed to Adventure Ocean / Optix. We had an excursion in the morning so we all turned in about 10pm. 

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