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NCL Pearl Cruise to Alaska out of Seattle July 22-29, 2018

 

Juneau:

- we did the Mendenhall Glacier raft float; which was fun and a great experience. You really get to experience the nature and cold water of Alaska without getting miserably cold/wet. We would have liked to get closer to the glacier though.

- Start with a bus ride to the edge of the lake where the staff gives you heavy duty rain pants, boots, and life jacket. You turn in your backpack and shoes for the duration

- You get in a 8-10 man raft that has been rigged with a tube frame and seats.

- We wanted to row, but none of the "row yourself" boats were available, so instead our guide did all the rowing for us.

- Ride the raft over the lake and see Mendenhall Glacier and the falls from a distance but never get close (disappointing). This is the chilly part... it's a bit colder depending upon wind chill than the shore.

- The boat crosses the lake and flows along a river; mostly class 1, some class 2. Fun and safe yet feels "risky". Our kids had enough thrill. The adults have been on class 3 and 4 before so this is tame. Water is a frigid 34F and you feel it when it splashes, which makes you thankful for the waterproof pants/boots.

- After, we walked around Juneau and ate at Tracy's King Crab shack... $24 for a leg of king crab, crab bisque, 4 crab cakes. Expensive (expected) and yummy. Tourist trap.

 

Skagway:

- Musher dog camp; real sled dogs pull you on a wheeled cart (because no snow). This was fun, but short. Then you get to hear a presentation on dog sledding. Then a very short time to pet the puppies. Expensive for the time you get, but partially due to the 20+ min bus transportation required to get to the site

- Walked around the town afterwards and tried the Alaskan fried bread... which is fried flat bread sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Fresh and exactly what it sounds like.

 

Glacier Bay:

- Pinged at 7:30AM in the morning that we had arrived at Glacier Bay. We thought we were sleeping in, but oh well.

- Amazing views and we were lucky with amazing weather; clear blue skies and sunny

- The boat entered a few major inlets right near the glaciers and hung out for 1 hour near Maggie (?) and Pacific Coast (?) Glaciers

 

Ketchikan: really short stay: (6am to 1:30pm)

- lumberjack show was entertaining like a Universal Studios show; fun for the family and see some lumberjack skills

- Saxman Village was educational; this seemed like a "church cultural performance" with the village (amateur) doing the speaking, dancing, etc; which we realized made it more authentic (as far as we could tell). This is not Las Vegas... it's like stepping onto a reservation... with 2 year old toddler, 80 year old grandma, and young mother with her baby in a baby bjorn while they dance the traditional dance.

 

Victoria: (really short stay and too late; 6pm to 12 midnight)

- only available tours were "night tours". We went to the Butchart gardens but it got dark within an hour of arriving there. Included a nice fireworks display, but we would rather have experienced Victoria during the day

 

Cruise report here:

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2662339

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  • 3 weeks later...

Radiance of the Seas - northbound from Vancouver to Seward. 2 days pre-cruise in Vancouver. Multi-generational trip with my 75 year old mom, one 10-yr old child in a wheelchair much of the time, another 10-yr old child with celiac disease, and a 6 yr old, plus hubby and me (young 40s).

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2669741

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RT from Seattle, Aug 10-17.

Overall:

My family had cruised more than a dozen times in the past,on Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean. We are all Platinum, including our 2 teenage kids. This is actually our 3rd time onEOS, with the first 2 times to Bermuda and Caribbean when EOS was home-portedat NJ. This review is not much of a blow-by-blow description of thetrip, but more of a collection of practical observation and tips.

 

Seattle:

 

Our family of 6 (3 generations) flew to Seattle on Wed. We spent 2 nights at Fairfield Inn by theSEATAC airport. I had lots of Marriottpoints from business travels, so it came in handy for summer peak season whenthe room rate would have been more than $250 per night. If you stay there, and if you are sensitiveto noise, ask for rooms on the top floor. The building is wood-framed, not concrete. You could hear the footsteps of the guestsabove you if you were a light sleeper.

 

We bought ORCA cards ahead of time and loaded them withRegional Day pass for our sightseeing on Thur.

 

Tips: (1). Senior andYouth pay half price for the Day Pass, but I had to order the special ORCAcards ahead of time via postal mail. Ibasically had to prove to them the users were indeed senior and youth. (2). Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express, andHampton Inn were next to each other, all within 3~5 minute walking distance tothe Angle Lake Light Rail station. (3).For the day, we took the Light Rail to downtown Seattle for a walking tour,then took a bus to Ballard Lock, then another bus back to Chinatown for latelunch, and finally Light Rail back to the hotel. Google Map was great for directions – I couldchoose the option of “public transit”, and it would tell me how to walk to thenearest bus station and when the next bus would come. I could optimize on Quickest Trip or LeastAmount of Walking or Fewest Number of Bus Transfer.

 

Embarking:

 

We booked Seattle Express for roundtrip to Cruise port. 6 of us plus luggage would have been toolarge a crowd for any normal vehicle. Asmaller family might be able to spend less money by taking an Uber ortaxi. Seattle Express offers a discount forAAA member, and there is another discount if you take the earliest shuttle at 9AM. I initially was concerned that 9 AMwould be too early, but as it turned out, it was perfect. And due to the time difference (we are fromthe east coast), everybody was up and about by 7 AM anyway, so it was noproblem at all to get ready by 9.

 

We arrived at the cruise port about 10 AM due to 3 stops atdifferent hotels for pickup, and a little bit of traffic through downtown. Already quite a few people had arrived, andthere was somewhat of a line, but the line kept moving at a good pace. We basically never stood still in the line,and went through security and check-in within 20~25 minutes. 5 minutes after we finished check-in, theyopened up the ramp for getting on the ship. By 10:45, we were on the ship. Wecamped out at the library, played some board games, picked out some books, andtook turns to go to lunch, and before you know it, it’s 1 PM and the cabins areopen.

 

Cabins:

 

I booked this cruise on the first day the itinerary openedup (about 18 months before the departure date). I accidentally stumbled upon a new category of rooms called PanoramicOceanview room, on 12th floor all the way to the front, basicallyright above the ship’s bridge. Isnatched up room 1864 for my family of 4 and room 1866 for my parents. There were a lot of discussions of theserooms on the boards. You can go and seesome photos for yourself. 1864 wasespecially gorgeous with 5 floor-to-ceiling windows covering the entire frontwall that faced the ocean. For an Alaskacruise, it’s especially nice because we were able to sit in the cabin and watchthe postcard-worth view of Seattle skyline and later the fjord andglacier. However, there were some practicalconsiderations: (1) If there is a fog at night, the ship is required to soundthe fog horn repeatedly. I didn’t timeit, but it seemed to be about every 30~60 seconds. The horn was above the bridge, so basically rightoutside of our window or the windows of any of these panoramic view cabins. On this trip, the horn went off for 2 hoursfrom 10:30 to 12:30 during the first night and 3 hours (1 to 4 AM) during thesecond night. It was brutal. The Guest Service desk gave us freeearplugs. I also had a White Noise appon my phone. I turned the volume to thehighest level, and with the earplugs, my kids and I were able to drift off tosleep. My wife, who must have had moresensitive hearing, got barely any sleep in those 2 nights. (2) The closet space was bad. The quirk in the layout of the room that madethe cabin twice as large as a normal cabin also made the closet space only halfas large as a normal cabin. We had tohang our windbreakers and sweatshirts in our parents’ cabin next door. (3) When the ship was going at full speed andthe wind picked up, it was rocking! Thehigher the floor, the closest to the front, the more you would feel it, andthis cabin was basically on the highest floor and closest to the front. (4). We had 4 people in the cabin and wasable to sleep comfortably. I wasinitially a little concerned about the pullout couch since my teenage son anddaughter wouldn’t want to share a couch bed. To our delight, the cabin steward converted the couch into 2 separatetwin beds. Problem solved!

 

Food:

 

We had My Time Dining and I made reservations ahead of timefor most of the days. For the 2 days inport we didn’t have reservations because we didn’t know how late we were goingto be. When we did come back and decidedto go to the dining room, even though we didn’t have a reservation, we wereseated without any wait. The actual foodin MDR was so so. My family and many ofthe fellow passengers agreed on one thing: all the dishes, from appetizer to entrée to dessert, looked better thanthey tasted. Don’t get me wrong. They were not bad, but they felt more likeApplebee’s or Friendly’s food than a fine dining establishment.

 

We ate 2 evening meals at Windjammer. I had to admit that I was pleasantlysurprised. In the past, the eveningbuffet was basically the same food as MDR but sitting under heat lamps for along time. This time, they had uniquechoices and the food was all very fresh. One night was Asian night – not genuine dim sum or sushi, but at least avaliant attempt with roast duck, bok choy, snowpeas, noodles, miso soup, andetc. And the other night was Seafood –raw oysters and clams on ice, freshly fried crab cakes and tempura fish andshrimps… And they always had a bigselection of dessert, including a chocolate fountain. They definitely had put more efforts to makeWindjammer a better dinner option. If Ihad known, I might have gone to Windjammer for dinner more often.

 

Entertainment:

 

Nothing new to say about the regular entertainment. Having been on multiple RCCL ships, I haveseen the same ice show and production show a few times.

 

They did have a new game show which was basically an EscapeRoom, but adapted to an open lounge area with 30 or so teams competing to solvea series of riddles. That was veryenjoyable. I hope they keep trying andcoming up with new entertainment ideas. In reality, they probably could set up a real Escape room on board andtake reservations for one group at a time to solve it.

 

Ports:

 

Juneau had terrible weather, resulting in our HelicopterRide to Glacier being cancelled. We wentwith the backup plan of Whale Watch. Itwas ok, not that great. I never understoodthe fascination of some people had with watching whales. This was not like a BBC or Animal Planetdocumentary. The boat had to stay atleast 300 ft away from the whale. All wesaw was a spray of water which indicated there was a whale, then everybody onboard rushed over to the side and stared intently at a lump of a thing barelypeaking above the water. A few seconds later, the tail flipped up when thewhale dove down into deep water. Theneverybody started scanned the horizon for the next spray of water. Repeat this process 5 or 6 times during anhour, and that was it.

 

In Skagway, we chartered a private small bus from a companycalled Trail of 98 Tours. The owner Tomwas the driver and tour guide. That wasthe highlight of our trip. The famousWhitePass railroad sounded good, but most people only rode on it for a veryshort segment – without even leaving Alaska. Our driver took us about 3 times as far, leaving Alaska, going throughBritish Columbia, and into Yukon, stopping at various scenic spots as well asmajor stopping/playing locations such as Tutshi Dog camp, Village of Carcross,Bennett Lake, Emerald Lake, and Carcross Desert. I highly recommend Trail of 98 Tours if youhave a large group or if you are able to find some people to share thebus. The bus could seat 14. We teamed up with 2 other families (throughRoll Call on CruiseCritic) to split the flat rate of approximately $900 for awhole day’s worth of sightseeing, which worked out to be about $70 perperson. That’s a great deal!

 

Victoria was ok. Thewalk from the dock to downtown was only 20 minutes, about 1.5~2 miles. There were things to look at and most of thesidewalk was under shady trees – very easy and pleasant walk. The CruiseCompass mistakenly said it would take 40 minutes to walk. I wondered if they tried to scare people intotaking the shuttle bus ($13 round trip – a ripoff in my opinion). After walking to and back from downtown, wewalked 10~15 minutes in the other direction to the beautiful Beacon Hill park,where my wife and I sat on a bench on the cliff, overlooking the ocean and theship in distance. It was very relaxingand a great end to the vacation.

 

Disembarkation:

 

It was very easy. Wehad a late flight out of SEA (around 2 PM), so we chose as late adisembarkation time as possible. We wereassigned to leave at 8:45. The LCDscreens by every elevator showed which group could go off – much better alternativethan loud speaker throughout the ship. Westayed in our room until 8:40 when the screen showed that our group could gooff. We could have stayed later if we wanted, but since we were ready, wewalked off. It was very quick to get offthe ship and pick out our suitcases in the designated areas. The customs agents were not checking any IDor asking any questions – they simply stood by the door and asked everybody tohold up the passport showing the ID page (regardless which country’s passport). Everybody just walked on at a normal speedwith the passport in their hands. Ididn’t see them stopping anybody. By 9AM we were outside the terminal.

 

Seattle Express had its dedicated spot for their vans. We went to it, checked in with somebody whohad a list of names who had reservations, and boarded the bus.

 

As the bus was pulling out of the area, I noticed a fewinteresting things: (1). 3 lanes oftraffic had to merge into one. Theperson directing traffic always gave shuttle buses the priority. Quite a few yellow taxis were lined up inqueue waiting for the buses to leave first. (2). There was a sign advertisingfixed rate for taxi rides: up to 4 persons, $40 flat rate to airport. For a party with 2, 3 or 4 people, this wouldhave been a better deal than Seattle Express shuttle. (3) As our shuttle was driving away, I saw lotsof people were dragging suitcases and walking on the side of the road. The normal sized 3-ft wide sidewalk certainlywasn’t big enough for the number of people and suitcases, so a lot of peoplewere walking in the road where the buses and cars were squeezing by with inchesto spare. They literally looked likerefugees. I thought they were walkingtoward the parking lot to their own cars, but a minute or so later, I realizedthat they were going to a remote area that’s designated for Private andRide-sharing pickup. That place wastotally congested with hundreds of people and dozens of cars. Walking ½ mile with suitcases, spending 20~30minutes trying to find your driver, then another 10 minutes trying to get outof the port – in exchange for a saving of $5 or $10? Not worth it.

In summary, it was a nice trip. The ship was good, the food/service/entertainmentwere about par for the course for RCCL. Our room was great 99% of the time, when the fog horn wasn’t goingoff. The pictures taken out of the cabinwindows certainly elicited a lot of “cruise envy” or “cabin envy” amongfriends. Weather didn’t completelycooperate but it’s expected. Is it timeto plan my next cruise vacation yet?

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Hopefully lots of you will be returning soon, wanting to share information about your cruise experience, excursions, activities, vendors, land travel, etc.

 

A report can be one paragraph outlining each port you visited and your activity at each port, OR, it can be a 20 pg report with photos of your cabin, public areas, meals, dailys, activities of each port, and every sight along the way. Or it can be something in between! Whatever you have time for.

 

Please CREATE YOUR OWN THREAD to post your trip report, then paste a link to THIS thread. That way, if people have questions they will post directly to your report. Best to keep this list as an informational tool, not gunked up with questions and comments.

It would be helpful if the first line included the SHIP, ITINERARY, DATE, EXCURSIONS, and who travelled ( family with children, a multigenerational

trip, active 30 somethings, etc). [/quote

Edited by Ski Mom
Posted in wrong place!
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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is my long review from August 2018. We (myself and 2 kids- age 12 and 14) sailed on the Nieuw Amsterdam, round trip from Vancouver, with 2 days at Whistler and 2 days at Vancouver prior to sailing. I have included LOTS of photos and details, and I am happy to answer any questions!

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2666119

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/27/2018 at 3:37 PM, mleng said:

RT from Seattle, Aug 10-17.

Overall:

My family had cruised more than a dozen times in the past,on Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean. We are all Platinum, including our 2 teenage kids. This is actually our 3rd time onEOS, with the first 2 times to Bermuda and Caribbean when EOS was home-portedat NJ. This review is not much of a blow-by-blow description of thetrip, but more of a collection of practical observation and tips.

 

Seattle:

 

Our family of 6 (3 generations) flew to Seattle on Wed. We spent 2 nights at Fairfield Inn by theSEATAC airport. I had lots of Marriottpoints from business travels, so it came in handy for summer peak season whenthe room rate would have been more than $250 per night. If you stay there, and if you are sensitiveto noise, ask for rooms on the top floor. The building is wood-framed, not concrete. You could hear the footsteps of the guestsabove you if you were a light sleeper.

 

We bought ORCA cards ahead of time and loaded them withRegional Day pass for our sightseeing on Thur.

 

Tips: (1). Senior andYouth pay half price for the Day Pass, but I had to order the special ORCAcards ahead of time via postal mail. Ibasically had to prove to them the users were indeed senior and youth. (2). Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express, andHampton Inn were next to each other, all within 3~5 minute walking distance tothe Angle Lake Light Rail station. (3).For the day, we took the Light Rail to downtown Seattle for a walking tour,then took a bus to Ballard Lock, then another bus back to Chinatown for latelunch, and finally Light Rail back to the hotel. Google Map was great for directions – I couldchoose the option of “public transit”, and it would tell me how to walk to thenearest bus station and when the next bus would come. I could optimize on Quickest Trip or LeastAmount of Walking or Fewest Number of Bus Transfer.

 

Embarking:

 

We booked Seattle Express for roundtrip to Cruise port. 6 of us plus luggage would have been toolarge a crowd for any normal vehicle. Asmaller family might be able to spend less money by taking an Uber ortaxi. Seattle Express offers a discount forAAA member, and there is another discount if you take the earliest shuttle at 9AM. I initially was concerned that 9 AMwould be too early, but as it turned out, it was perfect. And due to the time difference (we are fromthe east coast), everybody was up and about by 7 AM anyway, so it was noproblem at all to get ready by 9.

 

We arrived at the cruise port about 10 AM due to 3 stops atdifferent hotels for pickup, and a little bit of traffic through downtown. Already quite a few people had arrived, andthere was somewhat of a line, but the line kept moving at a good pace. We basically never stood still in the line,and went through security and check-in within 20~25 minutes. 5 minutes after we finished check-in, theyopened up the ramp for getting on the ship. By 10:45, we were on the ship. Wecamped out at the library, played some board games, picked out some books, andtook turns to go to lunch, and before you know it, it’s 1 PM and the cabins areopen.

 

Cabins:

 

I booked this cruise on the first day the itinerary openedup (about 18 months before the departure date). I accidentally stumbled upon a new category of rooms called PanoramicOceanview room, on 12th floor all the way to the front, basicallyright above the ship’s bridge. Isnatched up room 1864 for my family of 4 and room 1866 for my parents. There were a lot of discussions of theserooms on the boards. You can go and seesome photos for yourself. 1864 wasespecially gorgeous with 5 floor-to-ceiling windows covering the entire frontwall that faced the ocean. For an Alaskacruise, it’s especially nice because we were able to sit in the cabin and watchthe postcard-worth view of Seattle skyline and later the fjord andglacier. However, there were some practicalconsiderations: (1) If there is a fog at night, the ship is required to soundthe fog horn repeatedly. I didn’t timeit, but it seemed to be about every 30~60 seconds. The horn was above the bridge, so basically rightoutside of our window or the windows of any of these panoramic view cabins. On this trip, the horn went off for 2 hoursfrom 10:30 to 12:30 during the first night and 3 hours (1 to 4 AM) during thesecond night. It was brutal. The Guest Service desk gave us freeearplugs. I also had a White Noise appon my phone. I turned the volume to thehighest level, and with the earplugs, my kids and I were able to drift off tosleep. My wife, who must have had moresensitive hearing, got barely any sleep in those 2 nights. (2) The closet space was bad. The quirk in the layout of the room that madethe cabin twice as large as a normal cabin also made the closet space only halfas large as a normal cabin. We had tohang our windbreakers and sweatshirts in our parents’ cabin next door. (3) When the ship was going at full speed andthe wind picked up, it was rocking! Thehigher the floor, the closest to the front, the more you would feel it, andthis cabin was basically on the highest floor and closest to the front. (4). We had 4 people in the cabin and wasable to sleep comfortably. I wasinitially a little concerned about the pullout couch since my teenage son anddaughter wouldn’t want to share a couch bed. To our delight, the cabin steward converted the couch into 2 separatetwin beds. Problem solved!

 

Food:

 

We had My Time Dining and I made reservations ahead of timefor most of the days. For the 2 days inport we didn’t have reservations because we didn’t know how late we were goingto be. When we did come back and decidedto go to the dining room, even though we didn’t have a reservation, we wereseated without any wait. The actual foodin MDR was so so. My family and many ofthe fellow passengers agreed on one thing: all the dishes, from appetizer to entrée to dessert, looked better thanthey tasted. Don’t get me wrong. They were not bad, but they felt more likeApplebee’s or Friendly’s food than a fine dining establishment.

 

We ate 2 evening meals at Windjammer. I had to admit that I was pleasantlysurprised. In the past, the eveningbuffet was basically the same food as MDR but sitting under heat lamps for along time. This time, they had uniquechoices and the food was all very fresh. One night was Asian night – not genuine dim sum or sushi, but at least avaliant attempt with roast duck, bok choy, snowpeas, noodles, miso soup, andetc. And the other night was Seafood –raw oysters and clams on ice, freshly fried crab cakes and tempura fish andshrimps… And they always had a bigselection of dessert, including a chocolate fountain. They definitely had put more efforts to makeWindjammer a better dinner option. If Ihad known, I might have gone to Windjammer for dinner more often.

 

Entertainment:

 

Nothing new to say about the regular entertainment. Having been on multiple RCCL ships, I haveseen the same ice show and production show a few times.

 

They did have a new game show which was basically an EscapeRoom, but adapted to an open lounge area with 30 or so teams competing to solvea series of riddles. That was veryenjoyable. I hope they keep trying andcoming up with new entertainment ideas. In reality, they probably could set up a real Escape room on board andtake reservations for one group at a time to solve it.

 

Ports:

 

Juneau had terrible weather, resulting in our HelicopterRide to Glacier being cancelled. We wentwith the backup plan of Whale Watch. Itwas ok, not that great. I never understoodthe fascination of some people had with watching whales. This was not like a BBC or Animal Planetdocumentary. The boat had to stay atleast 300 ft away from the whale. All wesaw was a spray of water which indicated there was a whale, then everybody onboard rushed over to the side and stared intently at a lump of a thing barelypeaking above the water. A few seconds later, the tail flipped up when thewhale dove down into deep water. Theneverybody started scanned the horizon for the next spray of water. Repeat this process 5 or 6 times during anhour, and that was it.

 

In Skagway, we chartered a private small bus from a companycalled Trail of 98 Tours. The owner Tomwas the driver and tour guide. That wasthe highlight of our trip. The famousWhitePass railroad sounded good, but most people only rode on it for a veryshort segment – without even leaving Alaska. Our driver took us about 3 times as far, leaving Alaska, going throughBritish Columbia, and into Yukon, stopping at various scenic spots as well asmajor stopping/playing locations such as Tutshi Dog camp, Village of Carcross,Bennett Lake, Emerald Lake, and Carcross Desert. I highly recommend Trail of 98 Tours if youhave a large group or if you are able to find some people to share thebus. The bus could seat 14. We teamed up with 2 other families (throughRoll Call on CruiseCritic) to split the flat rate of approximately $900 for awhole day’s worth of sightseeing, which worked out to be about $70 perperson. That’s a great deal!

 

Victoria was ok. Thewalk from the dock to downtown was only 20 minutes, about 1.5~2 miles. There were things to look at and most of thesidewalk was under shady trees – very easy and pleasant walk. The CruiseCompass mistakenly said it would take 40 minutes to walk. I wondered if they tried to scare people intotaking the shuttle bus ($13 round trip – a ripoff in my opinion). After walking to and back from downtown, wewalked 10~15 minutes in the other direction to the beautiful Beacon Hill park,where my wife and I sat on a bench on the cliff, overlooking the ocean and theship in distance. It was very relaxingand a great end to the vacation.

 

Disembarkation:

 

It was very easy. Wehad a late flight out of SEA (around 2 PM), so we chose as late adisembarkation time as possible. We wereassigned to leave at 8:45. The LCDscreens by every elevator showed which group could go off – much better alternativethan loud speaker throughout the ship. Westayed in our room until 8:40 when the screen showed that our group could gooff. We could have stayed later if we wanted, but since we were ready, wewalked off. It was very quick to get offthe ship and pick out our suitcases in the designated areas. The customs agents were not checking any IDor asking any questions – they simply stood by the door and asked everybody tohold up the passport showing the ID page (regardless which country’s passport). Everybody just walked on at a normal speedwith the passport in their hands. Ididn’t see them stopping anybody. By 9AM we were outside the terminal.

 

Seattle Express had its dedicated spot for their vans. We went to it, checked in with somebody whohad a list of names who had reservations, and boarded the bus.

 

As the bus was pulling out of the area, I noticed a fewinteresting things: (1). 3 lanes oftraffic had to merge into one. Theperson directing traffic always gave shuttle buses the priority. Quite a few yellow taxis were lined up inqueue waiting for the buses to leave first. (2). There was a sign advertisingfixed rate for taxi rides: up to 4 persons, $40 flat rate to airport. For a party with 2, 3 or 4 people, this wouldhave been a better deal than Seattle Express shuttle. (3) As our shuttle was driving away, I saw lotsof people were dragging suitcases and walking on the side of the road. The normal sized 3-ft wide sidewalk certainlywasn’t big enough for the number of people and suitcases, so a lot of peoplewere walking in the road where the buses and cars were squeezing by with inchesto spare. They literally looked likerefugees. I thought they were walkingtoward the parking lot to their own cars, but a minute or so later, I realizedthat they were going to a remote area that’s designated for Private andRide-sharing pickup. That place wastotally congested with hundreds of people and dozens of cars. Walking ½ mile with suitcases, spending 20~30minutes trying to find your driver, then another 10 minutes trying to get outof the port – in exchange for a saving of $5 or $10? Not worth it.

In summary, it was a nice trip. The ship was good, the food/service/entertainmentwere about par for the course for RCCL. Our room was great 99% of the time, when the fog horn wasn’t goingoff. The pictures taken out of the cabinwindows certainly elicited a lot of “cruise envy” or “cabin envy” amongfriends. Weather didn’t completelycooperate but it’s expected. Is it timeto plan my next cruise vacation yet?

We will be going to Alaska next June.  Did you add any other options to the tour in Skagway?  What did you do for lunch?  Do you remember what time you arrived back to port?  

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Mabones,

 

On our tour with Trail of 98, we were given the options to do extra stops at the Suspension Bridge, and the Dog Sled camp (there are 2 different camps).  These places are run by other entities and charge separate admissions.  Tom and Michelle, the owner of the Trail of 98 Tour, will give you the info before the trip, during your reservation, so that you can decide which of these extra stops you want to make.  You don't need to do any if you don't want to.  We stopped at one of the Dog Sled camp, I think it's called Tutshi Camp.  Some of us just walked around and petted the dogs.  Some others actually did a ride on the sled.  The sled ride cost something like $35 for a 10 minute ride.  There was an admission ($5) to just enter the camp, but because half of our group did the sled ride and probably also because Trail of 98 had some kind of relationship with the camp, they didn't charge the rest of us who just wanted to walk around. 

 

For lunch, we stopped at the village of Caribou Crossing.  It was basically 90 minutes of free time.  There were a sit-down restaurant and a quick sandwich place.  Some of us (myself included) had a big breakfast on the ship and then just brought some granola bars, while some others went to the sandwich place.  There was a beautiful lake in the village, with a beach and a railroad bridge nearby.  My wife and I spent most of the hour walking around, also used the free wifi at the town visitor center to catch up on some emails.

 

We left about 9:30 AM and got back to the ship around 4:30 PM.  But the exact timing really isn't that important.  Our ship wasn't scheduled to leave Skagway until 8 PM, so there was no risk of missing the boat.  Because we were basically hiring the van and a tour guide for the whole day, Tom made it clear to us that we could make the trip as short or as long as we like.  He had no other tourist to pick up that day.  And along the way, as he stopped at each "sightseeing" spot, the group decided to stay longer or shorter based on our preferences.  We had 3 families, so some people might decided after 10 minutes they had enough at this one spot, so they just went back and sat in the van, while others could stay out and spend more time until they felt that they had enough.  For instance, at Caribou Crossing, originally it was supposed to be a 60-min stop, but our group went each other's way and didn't get back until 90 minutes later.  On a tightly scheduled tour that would have angered some passengers because that would mean a shorter stay at the next stop in order to make up time, but since we didn't have a deadline, there was no hurry.  

 

If you are thinking about going with Trail of 98 tours in Skagway, go for it, you won't be disappointed.  I assume you have a relatively large group?  They don't charge per person, but for an entire van.  If you have at least 6 or 7 people, the cost will work out to be better than booking individually with other tour operators.  

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