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“Live” – Alaska – Radiance of the Seas August 19, 2016 – Indecision Cruise


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Hello everyone and welcome to our cruise of indecision. We are Bill and Marie from the Seattle area and like John Wayne & Capucine we are headed North to Alaska. I hope you don't mind I am starting this early but we actually start our adventure bright and early tomorrow morning.

 

I call this a cruise of indecision for several reasons. The first is we have booked Alaska cruises at least three times in the past two years and have always bailed out and switched to somewhere else. Mainly because we were not keen on taking a cruise where the weather would be colder (and wetter) than here in Seattle. In August the average temperature here in Seattle is 74-78F (my perfect comfort zone) with about one inch total for rain. It’s hard to leave that. (A positive spin on the weather is for the next week or so it will be in the 80s & 90s here in Seattle which is way outside my comfort zone for home :D)

 

The other reason I call it a cruise of indecision is we have booked no less than five different locations before settling on Alaska. First we had booked Explorer for a late September west coast cruise. Then it switched to Harmony later in the year. After that it morphed back to Explorer just on a different week in September. That was followed by Liberty out of Galveston. That last one I had airfare, transfers, rental car, hotel, excursions, dining all booked. But a $4500 military discount for a JS was too much to pass up so off to Alaska we go. Thankfully switching over only cost me my $22 deposit at Nachi Cocom.

 

Best military rate I have ever had. :)

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Hello everyone and welcome to our cruise of indecision. We are Bill and Marie from the Seattle area and like John Wayne & Capucine we are headed North to Alaska. I hope you don't mind I am starting this early but we actually start our adventure bright and early tomorrow morning.

 

I call this a cruise of indecision for several reasons. The first is we have booked Alaska cruises at least three times in the past two years and have always bailed out and switched to somewhere else. Mainly because we were not keen on taking a cruise where the weather would be colder (and wetter) than here in Seattle. In August the average temperature here in Seattle is 74-78F (my perfect comfort zone) with about one inch total for rain. It’s hard to leave that. (A positive spin on the weather is for the next week or so it will be in the 80s & 90s here in Seattle which is way outside my comfort zone for home :D)

 

The other reason I call it a cruise of indecision is we have booked no less than five different locations before settling on Alaska. First we had booked Explorer for a late September west coast cruise. Then it switched to Harmony later in the year. After that it morphed back to Explorer just on a different week in September. That was followed by Liberty out of Galveston. That last one I had airfare, transfers, rental car, hotel, excursions, dining all booked. But a $4500 military discount for a JS was too much to pass up so off to Alaska we go. Thankfully switching over only cost me my $22 deposit at Nachi Cocom.

 

Best military rate I have ever had. :)

27933136553_292b1c536b_b.jpg

 

Holy carp, Bill! That's an amazing price for a JS to Alaska! Good for you!

 

Now I forgive you for bailing on *me* twice on the Explorer. :D

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Holy carp, Bill! That's an amazing price for a JS to Alaska! Good for you!

 

Now I forgive you for bailing on *me* twice on the Explorer. :D

 

Yeah that was a crazy good discount. Definitely the tipping point. :)

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When I looked at taking an Alaska cruise there was three options. Explorer out of here in Seattle, Radiance northbound out of Vancouver and Radiance southbound out of Seward. The Explorer cruise would have been convenient but it has a limited number of ports. Of the Radiance cruises the southbound was the most appealing as we wanted to spend time in Seward but it’s our preference to do the shore portions at the beginning of the cruise rather than the end. Also I hear that you are less likely to have fog/overcast at the Hubbard Glacier in the afternoons and that is when we arrive on the southbound route. Finally it puts our only flight at the beginning of the cruise rather than the end. Once we get off the ship we pick up a car right there at Canada Place and it’s a three hour drive home.

 

I mentioned the big military discount but it was actually smaller when we initially booked as we were only in a D1 cabin. We had 7172 which is an aft corner balcony cabin, I couldn’t believe it was even open in July. The following week the big JS military discount popped up so I called to switch over. Unfortunately I was put on hold for about 10 minutes and by the time I got through the offer was gone. A few days later it was back and this time I managed to get switched over. We gave up the aft corner balcony but Marie is happy she now has her walk in closet, so I am happy. :D

 

When we booked our flight we thought the earlier the better to maximize our first day so we depart Seattle at 6am and arrive in Anchorage at 8:30am. We wanted to spend the majority of our pre boarding time in the Seward area but it looked like we would be too late for most of the morning transportation. So we opted to rent a car with the hefty price tag around $300 for 24 hours. But if we spent the night in Anchorage and taken the train the next morning it would have been $331 and with a car we can spend the day exploring the Seward Highway.

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How do you calculate what the military discount is? Do you have to do a "pretend" booking to find out the discount for a particular cabin? I looked on RCCL's website but it just says "yes, we have military discounts" and what documentation you need.

 

We're looking at the Radiance for summer 2017, so I'll be following your thread.

Edited by Kellie in Texas
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How do you calculate what the military discount is? Do you have to do a "pretend" booking to find out the discount for a particular cabin? I looked on RCCL's website but it just says "yes, we have military discounts" and what documentation you need.

 

We're looking at the Radiance for summer 2017, so I'll be following your thread.

 

You need to go in and make a mocking booking for the cruise you are interested in and check the box for military. If there is a discount it will show up.

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Wow Bill. That is a great rate. Did you book after final payment? They ran amazing Military discounts on the Hawaii TP one earlier this year.

 

Can't wait to read your review. Hello to Marie!

 

Yeah, we booked in June, just two month out.

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As I mentioned we will be traveling the Seward Highway tomorrow. Hoping for some relatively dry weather, right now the forecast is low 60s with a chance of rain.

 

Seward Highway info

This 127 mile/204 km highway has been designated a National Forest Scenic Byway. It connects the cities of Anchorage and Seward traveling past salt water bays, ice-blue glaciers, and alpine valleys. The first 50 miles of the highway twists and turns along the base of the Chugach Mountains, and the shore of Turnagain Arm.

 

The 37-foot tides here are exceeded only by those in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy. The waters racing out of the inlet expose miles of mud flats and when they return, frequently create 6-foot bore tides.

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In Seward we booked a tour of Resurrection Bay with Kenai Fjords Tours.

 

Stop at the exclusive Fox Island day lodge for a one-of-a-kind adventure. Start with a wild Alaska salmon and prime rib lunch. Watch a presentation by a National Park Ranger and explore the “skipping stone” beach before cruising Resurrection Bay. Learn about the rich history of Resurrection Bay while viewing the jagged cliffs, seabirds, marine wildlife and alpine glaciers, including magnificent Bear Glacier.

 

 

 

 

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In Juneau we booked with Harv & Marv’s for another boat trip. (I find it humorous booking all these boat trips on a cruise.)

 

While you are on the Alaska whale watching tour, it is possible to see Humpback Whales, Killer Whales, Bald Eagles, eagle nests, Dall Porpoise, Harbor Porpoise, SeaGulls, Surf Scoters, Oyster Catchers, Harlequin Ducks, Harbor Seals and Steller Sea Lions. All of this wildlife lives here or frequents the area during the summer. We also have two beautiful lighthouses in the area, Point Retreat Lighthouse and Sentinel Lighthouse. To top it all off, we are right in the middle of the Tongass National Forest, the United States largest. Every season from 2004 through 2015, we were able to enjoy watching Humpback Whales on 100% of our whale watching tours.

 

 

 

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In Skagway we are taking a rail and bus tour to the Yukon with Chilkoot Charters & Tours.

 

ALL ABOARD! Skagway’s most scenic ALASKAN experience begins with a 28 mile journey between Skagway, Alaska, and Fraser, British Columbia, aboard the Scenic Railway of the World (this tour also operates in reverse order with a bus first option except on certain Sundays). Experience the breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles, and historic sites from the comfort of our vintage passenger coaches. See the original Klondike Trail of ’98 worn into the rocks, a permanent tribute to the thousands of souls who passed this way in search of fortune.

 

Once a water-stop for the thirsty steam engines and rotary snowplows, Fraser, BC, is now the site of Canadian Customs and Immigration. Upon arrival at the train depot at Fraser, passengers are transferred to a comfortable tour vehicle as they continue their journey into the unparalleled beauty of the Yukon Territory. Travel to Emerald Lake, Caribou Crossing, Carcross and Lake Bennett.

 

While at Caribou Crossing Trading Post, a piping hot BBQ lunch awaits as well as “FREE ADMISSION” to the Yukon Wildlife Museum. Visit an authentic dog musher camp and enjoy “FREE ADMISSION” to pet the husky puppies!

 

Upon your return to Skagway you will be entertained by professional guides with their amusing stories of local lore and captivating tales of the Gold Rush Era.

 

With stops all along the way there will be ample opportunities for photo enthusiasts to view and capture the picturesque beauty of cascading waterfalls, roaring rivers, majestic mountains, glaciers, historic sites and panoramic vistas.

 

We will be doing the reverse and taking the bus in the morning then the train in the afternoon. We have been told with that combination we want to sit on the eight side.

 

 

 

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In Hoonah (Icy Strait) we will be taking a Wilderness Tour and Brown Bear Search with Hoonah Travel Adventures.

 

Chichagof Island has the highest population of bears per square mile of any place on Earth. Our guides spend a lot of time in the pure, uninhabited Alaskan terrain and know how to spot all kinds of wildlife.

While there is a high probability of seeing bears, we can’t guarantee a sighting.

 

We can guarantee a journey into wilderness and a chance to experience the sheer beauty and ruggedness of the Tongass National Forest!

 

This tour is operated in the Tongass National Forest under special use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.

 

 

 

 

 

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Finally in Ketchikan we will be flying on a Misty Fjords and Glacier

Flightseeing tour with Michelle of Island Wings Air Service.

 

Alaska's Inside Passage or Southeast Alaska is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery on earth. One of its jewels is the majestic Misty Fjords National Monument. Completely road-less, this 2.3 million acre monument is larger than Yellowstone National Park. A seaplane tour is the only way to comfortably experience the many different levels within these deep narrow fjords. More dramatic than the Grand Canyon, the fjords are steep walled inlets of the sea.

 

Created by glacial gouging long ago, snowcapped granite cliffs, dramatically rising 3,500 feet from the sea, are ribboned with sensational waterfalls plummeting thousands of feet back to the ocean. Nestled within the steep walled canyons lie pristine bowl-shaped alpine lakes suspended at many different elevations. Fed by more than 150 inches of misty rain annually, the lush rain forest comprises giant stands of spruce, hemlock and cedar cling to the rugged terrain. Wildlife abounds with mountain goats and harbor seals being the most frequently sighted animals.

Our most popular tour lasts two hours and takes you across Revilliagegedo Island into the heart of the monument on the Alaskan mainland where the fjords are located.

 

Headsets with two-way voice communication are provided so you can chat in flight and ask questions as we fly.

 

For the highlight of the tour, we will land on an alpine lake or on a calm bay at sea level and let passengers get out of the aircraft and onto land for a quiet excursion. Relax, stretch your legs and take some photos as you drink in the silence of the vast wilderness.

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Looking forward to the review Bill.

Hope you and Marie have a great time. I will be watching the excursions for advice for next year.

 

Hey Alex, good to hear from you again. Thanks for following along

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Our accommodations for our two nights in Seward are at the Murphy’s Alaska Inn (it says ‘motel’ in the building but I like the sound of ‘Inn’ better :D). It has reasonable reviews, is centrally located and reasonably priced. Or I should say reasonably priced for summer in Seward. $159 a night for a motel is a bit steep but it will do. I didn’t spend a lot of time looking for a place to stay and this fit the bill.

 

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Books

 

When we cruise I like to bring books that in some way pertain to the locations we are going to. For our west coast cruises I had Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series about San Francisco. For the Panama Canal I had The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough and for Hawaii I read about the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in The Last Aloha by Gaellen Quinn.

 

This time I went fictional with my choices. The first is called The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.

 

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Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

 

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

I started reading this one already and am about half way done. A bit strange but entertaining.

 

 

The second is titled Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native's Life Along the River, written by Jim Rearden.

 

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“I owe Alaska. It gave me everything I have.” Says Sidney Huntington, son of an Athapaskan mother and white trader/trapper father. Growing up on the Koyukuk River in Alaska’s harsh Interior, that “everything” spans 78 years of tragedies and adventures. When his mother died suddenly, 5-year-old Huntington protected and cared for his younger brother and sister during two weeks of isolation. Later, as a teenager, he plied the wilderness traplines with his father, nearly freezing to death several times. One spring, he watched an ice-filled breakup flood sweep his family’s cabin and belongings away. These and many other episodes are the compelling background for the story of a man who learned the lessons of a land and culture, lessons that enabled him to prosper as trapper, boat builder, and fisherman.

This is more than one man's incredible tale of hardship and success in Alaska. It is also a tribute to the Athapaskan traditions and spiritual beliefs that enabled him and his ancestors to survive. His story, simply told, is a testament to the durability of Alaska's wild lands and to the strength of the people who inhabit them.

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Hi Bill,

 

We did the same southbound itinerary on the Radiance on June 10th and had a wonderful time. Like you, we deferred cruising Alaska for a number of years but are so glad we finally did. Your excursions look great and I know you all will have a wonderful experience.

 

Happy travels & Cheers!

 

Brian

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Definitely following along. We are taking this same itinerary next June on Celebrity Millennium. (also after booking Alaska 2 times already and cancelling for various reasons) We have many of the same plans as you've laid out. I'm amazed you were able to book them so late!

 

I'm most interested in your drive to Seward and the Kenai Fjord tour. I've debated coming a day early to do that tour or not.

 

Can't wait to hear all about it!

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