I NEED HELP WITH MY ALASKAN CRUISE!!!!
Several of my family members and I are going on a RCI Alaskan cruise soon and we are trying to make decisions about shore excursions, which hasn't been easy. My brother has two children ages 11 and 13 so we have to consider them when we are making plans. I have several questions that I hope some experienced cruiser can help me with.
1.) The shore excursions available through RCI are quite expensive. Are there better and cheaper (and safe) excursions to plan on your own? I have looked at serveral things on the net, but most suggest booking through the cruise line anyway.
2.) If we did plan on taking the RCI excursions we don't know which ones would be best. The following are the the ports and the choices of excursions we're considering:
Glacier View Bike & Brew
Has anyone taken the bike tour? Do you get a good view of the glacier?
Whale Watching & Wildlife Cruise
I believe this tour and the one in Sitka are both operated by Allen Marine, but they suggested booking through the cruise. Do you really get to see much wildlife? If not there, where is the best spot to see different kinds of animals? I think the kids would like it.
Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest
Is the whale/wildlife watching better in Juneau or in Sitka?
Tongass Forest Nature Hike
If anyone has been on this could you tell me if it was any good? My brother is leaning toward this excursion and going to the raptor center on our own. It just sounds like a walk through a forest to me.
ICY STRAIGHT POINT:
Whale & Marine Mammals Cruise
Is this particular cruise worth it? They don't guarantee any sightings on this cruise.
Remote Bush Exploration & Wildlife Search
My parents want to do this, but it just sounds like you ride on a bus, get out and strectch your legs for a while, and try to see some birds.
The one thing I wanted to do on the whole cruise was visit the Alaska Sea Life Center. However, because this is where we disembark, I just found out by reading the book that you have to claim your luggage at the airport in Anchorage 126 miles away by 2 pm. That stinks because our flight isn't until about 7:30 that evening. I thought that they might just store your luggage at the airport for a fee... Are you assigned to a particular bus going to the airport? If so, it sounds like we would just have to get off the boat, get on the bus to the airport, and sit around at the airport the whole day. Any suggestions or advice?
3.) If we do decide on one of the RCI excursions can you wait until the cruise to book them or do they sell out ahead of time?
4.) I have had conflicting reports of whether you can get Cokes with your meals in the dining room on RCI. I have had people tell me you can only get them free with your meal, but others have told me that you can't get them free at all anywhere. If it's the latter then that boggles my mind... I understand that you can get all you want to eat at dinner, but not sodas? It seems like food is much more expensive....
5.) Are there places to iron clothes on the Radiance? I have heard yes and no to this as well...
6.) I know that traveling withing the US one can use the TSA locks on their bags, but is it OK for purposes of going through US Direct in Canada and RCI? I have called both the TSA and RCI and no one could answer my question with any degree of certainty.
I know that was a lot of questions, but everytime I call RCI I get a lame customer service rep who can't answer any questions. Gee, and their saying when you're on hold while they're trying to get an answer is something to the effect that they are there to make your trip easier. Well, so far they haven't, but I hope someone who reads this can. Thanks!
We just got back from our Alaskan 12 night cruise (from May 20th - June 1st)
Everything thing in Alaska is a little more expensive. It's like no other place in the world but it has a very limited touring season, about 5 months. This is in comparison with other locations that have a longer season. Also remember in some of these locations...(for example Juneau) there is only TWO ways in...by sea or air. So yes...things will be a little more expensive. But we were still surprised by the good prices!
Some of the excursions are GREAT and worth every penny.
ICY STRAIGHT POINT: Is a fairly new stop...this location has only been open to the public for about 3 years. My husband enjoyed the Remote Bush Exploration & Wildlife Search...and yes it was mainly a walk and talk thing. One interesting point. While taking this excursion of the island...in front and following behind the group were two armed guides with high powered guns...BEARS you know! No joke...there is reported on this island a 1600 lb bear wandering around. Icy Straight Point is beautiful and worth the tender over even if you don't go on an excursion.
No one can guarantee animal, Mammal or Eagle sightings unless they're in a zoo. But when we were on our cruise...we saw everything! Whales, Orca's, Eagles, bears and mountain goats...etc. Most of the tour guides try really really hard to make it happen for you. But timing is everything and if the animal, whale, eagle isn't there????
The one thing you want to make sure of, if you do decide to book an excursion privately and not through the ship...make sure you get back to the ship on time! Also, make sure they have a good understanding of what you expect...and YOU have a good understanding of what they can deliver. Remember: No one can guarantee sightings!
Alaska is really unique...you will love it. There is so much to see...I don't think you will be disappointed no matter what you book.
Traveled to Alaska on Visions in August of 05. Loved every minute!
1. Shore exc. tend to be expensive, but you need to do some to get the feel of Alaska. If you book through the cruise line, they make sure you are back to the ship on time.
2. Juneau-- Did a Rain Forest exc. They had golf carts with carts pulling behind up the side of the mountain along dirt paths. Secnery at the top was beautiful. Also the gardens at the bottom were wonderful.
Our ship didn't go to Sitka.
Icy Straits was my favorite. We did the remote bush & Wildlife search. Long bus ride but it was worth it. Guide was very good. We got off the bus and walked along a path and then on to three different deck like strucures. They looked over a river with salmon running. We saw a few bears. It was great. Got some great pics. We also were accompanied by an armed wildlife person.
We left from Seward. It's a 3 hour bus ride from port to airport. Long ride but You can't beat the scenery.
3. You can book either way. If you have your heart set on a certain exc. do it ahead of time. The popular ones do fill up.
4. I had a coke with meal in the dining room each night --No chaarge.
5. No irons are allowed on board. Fire hazard. They do have a laundry service and you can send your things out, for a fee.
6. We used TSA locks in USA and in Canada and on ship, never had a problem.
Hope this helped you. Any more questions just ask. We had a great time!!!!
We did Sitka. It is such a beautiful place and very easy to get around. By the time we reached Sitka we just wanted to walk and see things on our own. It is really like visiting a foreign country. Enjoy your cruise. Alaska is breath taking.
Re: I NEED HELP WITH MY ALASKAN CRUISE!!!!
You have asked a lot of questions.
See this link and scroll to our Alaskan Pictures.
I like photo trips--
I have done a Mendenhall glacier and rapids that was fun out of Juneau.
I do a lot of Celebrity cruises and soft drinks are not free. You can buy a drink card which is probably a good idea if one drinks a lot of soft drinks.
I quit putting locks on the suitcase. It seems the TSA ought to put cables on after they check it to protect the bag. I have given them cable ties to use after they are finished, but they should furnish them. What good is the check, if they don't seal the bag from possible insertion of objects later.
I know irons are a taboo on ships, so I doubt it. Use a steamer.
If you know what excursions you want, you should book them early and though the ship on this cruise. If you book your own, just be sure you don't have to pay if the cruise ship doesn't make the port. Don't wait to try and book when you arrive in the port.
The excursions we took were the Misty Fjords flight out of Ketichican which was the best.
We did the dog sled on a glacier, but just the glacier by helicopter would have been enough. The extra fee for the dogs wasn't worth it for me.
Out of Seward there is a day cruise that is very nice if you were able to arrange lodging and transportation after the cruise. It is a National Park with much sealife seen. Not much there in Seward and it takes preparation ahead of time. Not sure about the transportation Seward to Anchorage which is about 2 hr drive.
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