August 2015 - Jewel of the Seas to Alaska - Inside Passage
Novices soon learn that there are two parts to a cruise: cruising time and shore time. Fur us, these were very different. Cruising time was boring; this is because (a) we are not big bar drinkers, late night dancers, or gamblers, and (b) there is constant selling and pressure to buy "upgraded" dinners, drinks "packages", jewelry, pathetic art (which occupied the largest salon making it unusable for the cruise), etc. The exercise facility and spa (at steep prices) were available and first class facilities and enjoyed immensely. The shore excursions were terrific opportunities and gave us delightful experiences (at additional costs of $1000, of course). Highly recommended that you take every advantage of these. However, if you buy the excursions through Skymiles, Royal Caribbean does not recognize them as "Their" shore excursions and the ship won't wait for you if you are late getting back. This of course makes shipboard purchases preferred, but risks your not getting and make real planning harder. We made the 8:00 pm all aboard time at exactly 8:00 once and the pulled the gangway up behind us. The crew always gave excellent service--and with a smile, but tips (required plus "optional" come to 10 % or more of the cruise costs). Food quality was good to very good throughout; quantity was to excess. I hope the crew ate leftovers.. Movies were very limited, "show" were generally deafening din--but you do not have to go to these. It was a good trip overall. Would we do it again? Well not a Hawaiian Islands tour from SFO because of all the cruise time, but a one along the Italian coast with daily stops seems a very good bet.