May 2015 - Radiance of the Seas to Alaska - Gulf of Alaska
This was my first cruise and after reading many reviews on this website, I decided to book the 7-night Alaskan cruise from Radiance of the Seas.
The overall experience was very positive for me. We splurged a little and booked the balcony which was quite worth it. Imagine watching snow mountains and glaciers out of your window 24/7! Plus the days are so long in Alaska (the sun sets at 11pm in Seward) you want to be able to have at least a window to look outside.
By day 1, all the servers remembered our names and were able to recall our names for the rest of the cruise, which was pretty darn impressive given that there were some 2500 passengers. Speaking of which, the crowd is not what I had imagined at all: mostly retirees and very few families with kids. I'd say the average age on the cruise was 50. However, there still was lots of entertainment on the ship. Amy, the cruise director was amazing. So were the orchestra, the singers and dancers, and all the headline shows. They threw a 70s disco party in the Centrum which was the BEST party I have ever had. It was seriously a great time. Food was amazing. Not the most luxurious food I've ever had. But hey, this is a cruise! I had tiger shrimps, Alaskan salmon, lamb shank, king crabs etc. And they were all done to perfection. Speaking of food, we were very pleased with their My-Time(TM) dining, which allows you to dine at a different time everyday (at your request). The flexibility was AMAZING.
The weather was seriously fabulous. We did not have a single day of rain, which is quite rare from what I hear of Alaska. Even Ketchikan, the wettest town in the country (with 300+ days of rain a year) was sunny and bright with beautiful blue skies. As a result, we did not get to use any of the heavy rain coats, or water-proof hiking boots that we brought (boy were they heavy!). The ports of call were BEAUTIFUL. However, the excursions were EXPENSIVE. I mean like 500/person/2-hour excursion expensive. We easily burned through $5000+ for the whole trip (and that's not including flights!). But they were so worth it. I will give a detailed port-by-port list below, but in general, things you want to do in Alaska are: whale watching, glacier watching, (snow) mountain hiking, rain-forest hiking, wild-life (bears) watching, and TRAINS (who would have thought)! The trains were seriously the highlights of the ENTIRE trip. Then there were small ports with essentially nothing to do (Icy strait point, AKA Hoonah). That's where you do the world's longest zip line (which was SO MUCH fun).