There are so many Alaskan cruise options, it might be hard to choose the right fit for your trip to Alaska. While most vacationers visit Alaska aboard a cruise ship, there are unlimited options to consider how to make the most of your vacation.
There are ships that cater to families and lines that don’t allow children under certain ages. Sizes also range from a dozen people to several thousand onboard. Some itineraries include stops in Hubbard or Glacier Bay. While this may drive the cost up due to permits and entry fees, it also allows nature lovers to experience the Alaska they’ve dreamed of. There are cruises that spend more time in port and of course, endless itineraries with endless ports.
Some ships are really set up to entertain, while others are focusing on wildlife viewing and unique experiences. There are always themed cruises as well as multi cultural and multi generational tendencies to consider. Sometimes it may seem mind boggling figuring out how you will get the best value for your vacation dollar.
I sailed in May with my daughter, who was a first time cruiser and saw the world through her eyes. Just arriving at the port in anticipation of boarding is exciting for a first time cruiser. We weren’t even out of the van when our bags were taken care of; the tags we printed out last week indicated which ship and stateroom the bags would be delivered to. After a quick ID check, we went through security, just like the one in the airport but with fewer restrictions. Our next stop was the twenty station check in desk where we each received a key card, a map of the ship and instructions on the meeting time for the emergency drill. If we hadn’t completed the online pre-cruise check in, this would have been a much longer and more complicated process. Online check in is a must!
What a great place to do some people watching. The experienced cruisers are easy to spot; they have their bottles of wine with them. Some are carrying a case of Mountain Dew or other favorite soda. A few people have huge beautiful bouquets of flowers, knowing the crew will supply the vase in their stateroom. They also arrive early for check in to make the most of their vacation time and also to avoid the rush during the last hour of boarding
We see the many baby carriages and loads of assistive devices to help the seniors navigate on board. I happen to be certified in Special Needs Travel and help arrange those rentals for people. It makes cruising possible for people right into their 90s. We met a solo traveler who was 95 and she was having a great time for herself.
The dress runs the gamut, as do the ages of guests as well as nationalities and personalities. Some people are in their finest clothes, while others are ready for the pool. Lots of groups, large and small, seem to be gathering around the boarding area. Again and again we learn that just two were planning to travel, then a sister decided to come along, her daughter and friend added a few weeks later and before they knew it, the cruise became a family reunion.
Since we boarded at 1 PM, we had a few hours to explore the ship. We went to the upper decks to enjoy the fabulous
Seattle weather for a few hours before setting sail. We knew Alaska would be cooler and wetter. Since the ship was still actively boarding, we had the chance to watch other guests as they arrived. Even from our balcony, on the starboard side of the ship, we had a view of the port. In the days when there was just a single ship in the harbor, the port side would be the one facing the port, but now, with sometimes six ships in port at any given time, the rules have all changed.
Food is always available onboard. Formal dining rooms, although they have set hours, are open for most of the day and night. Read More
I don’t worry about many belongings when traveling, since there are stores available onboard and at ports with almost anything you could need or want. The most common item that clients say they needed and didn’t have was an extra suitcase for all the stuff they purchased. See a winter vacation packing list for Alaska to compare.
Electronically speaking, I would be really disappointed to forget my gadgets. Be sure you have:
Camera, charger, memory cards
Cell phone and charger (most carriers include Alaska in their US plans, but check)
Headphones for your personal music as well as any bus tours you might take Read More
Whether traveling solo or with a group, you may want to meet new people while onboard your cruise ship. No matter what your interests, age group or heritage, there are endless opportunities to meet people on board a cruise ship.
If you feel shy, just take the first step and attend a seminar or training session. Almost everyone else in the room will have something in common with you, the session topic. Chat with your neighbor about their interest or experience in that field.
For those with a little more nerve, go to one of the meet ups on board during the first few days. Within the first twenty four hours on board, there were meetups for LGBT, swing dancers, bridge players, gamblers, young adults aged 18-25, singles and solo travelers and Friends of Bill. Get to one of the meetups and just commit to stay for 20 minutes. Again, you will have a common goal with other guests, if they joined it, it means they also want to meet people.
Choose a ship where all guests are assigned a table for dinner each night. Solo travelers will have the most opportunity to meet people if they choose the larger table option, say 8 or 10 people. Dinner conversations often lead to finding common interests and networking opportunities. You already have one major dinner topic in common – travel.
Shore excursions are also a great way to meet people from your ship as well as from other ships. Read More
Guests often ask me to help them navigate the dining experience onboard a cruise vacation. Specifically, I was asked which restaurants
are included on the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas cruise. While many guests want to avoid paying extra for meals, some guests are looking for upgraded or unique dining experiences about ships and the cruise lines are adding specialty restaurants to their fleet. About 10% of guests take advantage of the specialty restaurants onboard cruise ships. The cost for this experience ranges from $10-49 per person.
Vision of the Seas complimentary dining options include:
Main Dining Room
Room Service (5am-midnight)
Those with a charge:
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
The Vision of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s 2000 passenger ship mainly sails the Caribbean and Northern Europe with seven to seventeen night sailings. In addition to action packed adventure including an upper deck jogging track, rock climbing wall and video arcade, they offer several options for rest and relaxation including their Vitality Spa, fitness center, 2 pools and 6 whirlpools. Entertainment and shopping highlights include broadway shows and a Vegas style casino. There are also eight bars and lounges on board, most with entertainment included.